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Paleyfest: ‘Revenge’

By RICK KISSELL
Its rookie-season ratings and buzz would suggest a renewal is a lock, but the folks at “Revenge” aren’t taking any chances.Revenge1

Speaking at the Paley Festival event for the show on Sunday, series creator Mike Kelley took a rather humbled and unassuming posture when discussing the drama’s life beyond May’s finale. Either way, the show — as would be expected of any sudser in the “Dallas” mold — will end the season on a cliffhanger.

“We want a second season, but it’s not a guarantee,” said Kelley, who did broadly outline where key plot points and reveals would happen going forward, including the resolution of some key plot points this spring and the introduction of new revenge possibilities. “We’ve got a lot to wrap up, and we’ve got a lot more story if we’re able to get into season two.”

Actor Josh Bowman, whose character Daniel was assumed to be the victim of a deadly spray of bullets only to survive in a twist revealed last month, hoped for the best, but he wasn’t counting his chickens.

“It was nerve-racking,” said the young thesp in his native British tongue. “I didn’t know for sure (that he’d survive) until the table read.”

Revenge2Of course, as Ashley Madekwe, who plays Ashley Davenport, put it: “On a show like this, everyone thinks they’re dying … all the time.”

Kelley was strategically situated between series leads Madeleine Stowe and Emily Van Camp, who were joined on stage by the show’s other seven regular castmembers.

Film actress Stowe, in her first major smallscreen series role, said she’s having “a ball” playing matriarch Victoria Grayson.

“It’s really great to be heinous and twisted and loving and compulsive,” said Stowe. “I’ve never seen a woman like this on television. I love that she is a mess.”

VanCamp said her biggest fear upon taking the role was that her character wouldn’t be likable.

“People want to see the takedowns, but we’re also trying to maintain a moral code with this character even through she’s doing these horrendous things,” she said. “There’s definitely a line that she won’t cross.”

The young actress said Emily and Victoria identify with each other, including their upbringing and love for the same men.

“We have this bizarre competition for Daniel, but come at it from different places,” said VanCamp.Revenge3

Kelley said the contemporary pace of the show means “we rocket through story,” adding that he had been personally frustrated by the slow reveal in other serialized series over the years. “This is the trickiest show I’ve ever had to do.”

Other tidbits from the panel session, which followed a presentation of the opening two acts of the show’s next episode, slated for April:

— An entire episode airing this spring will flash back to 2002, showing where Emily first came into contact with many of the victims of her revenge.

— Kelley said he enjoys reading feedback online and having viewers taking guesses about what’s going to happen next.

“It inspires me. … I love it when you’re right exactly half the time,” he said.

“It feels like you guys are participating in the fun of the show and engaging on a level that I haven’t had the privilege of sharing with an audience before.”

— Asked how her character might alter her revenge plans if the show had only five episodes remaining, VanCamp said: “I’d take them all out Dexter-style.”

— Henry Czerny, who plays patriarch Conrad Grayson, likened his character’s love-hate relationship with Victoria to George and Martha of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.” “This could go on for years,” he said.

— Kelley said the relationship between misfits Emily and Nolan (Gabriel Mann) brings a “warm, beating heart to a show that otherwise has a lot of nastiness.” Added Mann: “Our friendship (in real life between Mann and VanCamp) informs some of what you see onscreen. There’s a comfort level.”

— Mann, who gets to deliver some of the show’s funniest one-liners and phrases, said he’s most fond of “Fauxmanda,” “revengenda” and getting to describe the character of fake Amanda as “the homicidal stripper version of Whack-a-Mole.”

— When an audience member asked if a certain character — presumed dead — might appear at some point, Kelley didn’t rule it out. “We love to disappoint and titillate. Our rule is that if it’s realistically possible, we would do it.”

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