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"Master of the Carnival"
Howard Klein

Executive producer Howard Klein pays attention to every detail, from the original pitch to music cues.

HBO: How did you first get involved with Carnivàle?

HOWARD KLEIN: Scott Winant introduced me to Dan Knauf. They came in and pitched me the basic premise of Carnivàle. Dan mentioned that the idea was in his head for many years, however, he wasn't sure if it was a movie, a TV show or a mini-series. After a few meetings and conversations, I felt confident we had a fantastic episodic television series that could last for many years.

HBO: Is it unusual for you to get involved with a project when it's as unformed as that?

HOWARD KLEIN: Not at all, it's what I do every day. Many great ideas start as just notions in a writers' head. Sometimes they end up as feature films, or television series or sometimes they're just sketch ideas. Dan started out with a complex world with an intricately woven set of characters. I think I provided the sounding board he needed to help structure and define the show.

HBO: What were some of your other first impressions when Dan started talking about this thing?

HOWARD KLEIN: Well, I thought the guy was crazy [LAUGHTER]. But after our initial set of meetings, I realized that Dan had keyed in to something really special. The originality, the richness, the scope, texture, the epic nature got me positively charged.

HBO: What was the next step after that?

HOWARD KLEIN: We needed to get the "pitch" ready. My job was to prepare the writer the best I could to articulate the concept, the world, the characters, the stories and be able to answer any potential questions that a network might have. I felt that HBO was the logical first place to go, so I set up the meeting with HBO's Chris Albrecht and Carolyn Strauss. They loved the "pitch," and made us an offer to develop it.

HBO: Is this show more demanding than other projects you've worked on?

HOWARD KLEIN: Yes, I've never done anything on such a grand scale as Carnivale. It's a huge show from beginning to end. The Dustbowl is a difficult era to replicate on a weekly basis, but we do our best to capture the conditions and recreate the desperate feeling of hardship.

HBO: As Executive Producer, are you pretty much at the nexus of all the decisions?

HOWARD KLEIN: Yes, but we have a fantastic team of dedicated, experienced, hardworking and passionate professionals who make the show possible. This is a giant sized production, and we could not do it without the expertise of all the Producers and the brilliant exec's at HBO.

HBO: What about when you put on your casting hat? Did you find this a challenging show in that sense?

HOWARD KLEIN: [Laughs] It was very challenging. First of all, for the pilot there were about twenty "lead" roles to cast, along with some smaller roles. As the series went on we had some very interesting and specific types to cast. Our job was to find great actors who had the face of the 1930's. The casting process is always challenging anyway. It is not a very black and white thing. You listen to quite a few auditioners for the same part, and then-boom-- someone walks in and you just say, "Wow, that was incredible, the words just came to life." Needless to say I am incredibly proud of the cast we assembled.

HBO: You had a happy set?

HOWARD KLEIN: Yes, I think we were very fortunate to have a cast and crew that got along amazingly well. I believe everyone connected with the show felt we were involved with something really special. Although the conditions at times were harsh, I know everyone looked forward to coming to work every day on this magical production.

Interviews
Daniel Knauf
- Carnivàle Creator

Rodrigo Garcia
- Carnivàle Director

Mary Corey
- Historical Consulant

Casting Directors

Co-Executive Producers

Music Supervisors

Sara Ingrassia
- Set Decorator

Howard Klein
- Executive Producer

William Schmidt
- Supervising Producer

Jeff Beal
- Composer

Michael J. Anderson

Clancy Brown

Amy Madigan

Carnivale Features

Carnival Fact

The first "sideshow" was P.T. Barnum's American Museum in Downtown Manhattan. It opened in 1841 and quickly became known as "the most visited place in America."
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