When executive producers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis first pitched networks Once Upon a Time — a drama about a cast of fairy-tale characters trapped in the real world by an evil queen — they didn’t get the happily-ever-after they were hoping for. ”We were completely rejected,” recalls Horowitz. ”We were young writers and we were pitching an idea that involved fairies and wolves and all these big, difficult concepts.” It wasn’t until eight years later, after he and Kitsis found their footing as writers on another show about big, difficult concepts — Lost — that they felt ready to revisit the idea. This time the outcome was different, thanks in part to ABC’s newly installed entertainment president, Paul Lee. ”When we saw the pilot, we knew it was an extraordinary piece of television,” says Lee, who was impressed by the showrunners’ ability to create emotionally compelling characters within a complicated narrative bridging two worlds. ”I think it’s a testament to their power as storytellers.” Both Horowitz and Kitsis say that their time on Lost helped shape Once. ”One thing we learned on Lost that [exec producers] Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse really put into us is: Character first, mythology second,” says Kitsis. ”At its core, Once Upon a Time is about the characters. It’s about the journey of Snow White to find love. It’s about the journey of Jiminy Cricket to regain his conscience. That is more important than anything else.”
Like Lost, Once (Sundays at 8 p.m.) has developed a passionate fan base — nearly 12.9 million people tuned in for the first episode, and viewership has settled in between 11 and 12 million viewers since. And all those fans have lots of questions. Does Regina (Lana Parrilla) know she’s the Evil Queen? Will Henry (Jared Gilmore) be able to convince Emma (Jennifer Morrison) that she’s the daughter of Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) before the end of season 1? And what can fans expect for season 2? EW hit Kitsis and Horowitz with the biggest burning questions about Once Upon a Time.