Will viewers be left happy ever after?

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TO once upon a time

Fairytales have, over the years, been fertile ground for filmmakers in need of ideas. Some movies, such as The Brothers Grimm, are dark, while other movies, such as Beastly, Red Riding Hood, Sydney White and A Cinderella Story, have adopted a more schmaltzy approach.

Now Edward Kitsis (famed for Lost), and Adam Horowitz (Lost, Felicity, One Tree Hill and Life As We Know It), both screenwriters and producers, have conceptualised a fantasy drama titled Once Upon a Time.

The ABC network was so impressed its execs commissioned nine episodes over and above the initial 13, making the first season 22 episodes long.

The story is set in a fictional town known as Storybrooke, Maine. The residents are made up of the Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla), who is plotting the downfall of Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin), who is hopelessly in love with Prince Charming (Josh Dallas).

Sound familiar?

Don’t get too comfortable with the story, though – there is a twist, after all this is a modern fairytale.

Added to the mix are several interesting characters: Henry (Jared S Gilmore), the adopted son of Storybrooke’s mayor, Regina Mills (also played by Parrilla), who is searching for his biological mother, Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison).

She, however, is a bounty hunter and, to get her to Storybrooke, Henry casts a spell taught to him by his teacher (also played by Goodwin).

By the way, Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle) also features in this fairy tale, where conflicts are as rampant as the enchantments.

On the catalyst behind the story, Horowitz explained to Collider.com: “The idea for the show really started eight years ago, when Eddie (Kitsis) and I had just come off of working on Felicity. The seed of it was that we were trying to figure out what it is about storytelling that we really love, and what we love is the mystery and excitement of exploring lots of different worlds.

“Fairy tales clicked with us because they were so much in the DNA of what made us storytellers to begin with. If we can go between two different worlds and see two different sides of these characters, for us, as writers, that was a new way to explore characters and what makes them tick, and come at them from different angles. What you always want, as a writer, is to find different ways to explore the characters, and that’s what got us excited about this idea.”

As for the casting, he offered: “What’s amazing about our cast, and the casting for this, is that everyone we wanted, did it. That’s no joke. We went to Ginnifer Goodwin. We went to Jennifer Morrison. We went to Robert Carlyle. We sent them the script and we said: ‘Would you want to do it?’ and unbelievably they all said: ‘Yes’. It was very heartening. “

The actors who got to play dual roles were even more chuffed.

“That’s what’s exciting, for the actors and for us, as writers. We’re able to constantly play with the duality of these characters and what unifies them. It’s fun. We get to write for Ginnifer as Snow White and Mary Margaret. We get to explore different parts of the same character,” he said.

With the cast and crew bubbling with excitement over this new series, I guess viewers are going to have to tune in to find out if it is as spellbinding.

• Once Upon a Time airs on Saturday on M-Net Series at 8.30pm.

FACT FILE:

SNOW WHITE/ MARY MARGARET BLANCHARD (Ginnifer Goodwin):

• She was born Jennifer Michelle Goodwin in Memphis, Tennessee.

• She changed her name to Ginnifer to help distinguish herself from the plethora of Jennifers in Hollywood.

• Her sister Melissa is a stop motion animator and was involved with the Emmy award-winning Robot Chicken. Interestingly, Ginnifer provided the voice for various characters.

• Her first TV role was in Law & Order, followed by Ed.

• She is perhaps best recognised for her role as Margene Heffman in Big Love.

• Some of her most notable film roles have been in Mona Lisa Smile, Win a Date with Tad Hamilton!, Walk the Line, He’s Just Not That Into You and Something Borrowed.

PRINCE CHARMING (JOSH DALLAS):

• At age 16, he received a Sarah Exley Scholarship and attained his degree in performing arts at the Mountview Conservatoire in London. After

graduation, he joined the Royal Shakespeare Company.

• His Hollywood career was honed in the movies Ultimate Force, 80 Minutes, Doctor Who, The Descent (part 2), The Last Days of Lehman Brothers, Ghost Machine and, more recently, Thor.

• His TV credits include Hawaii Five-O and CSI.

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