Back in 2004 I had read news that there was a reality show being developed based on the Nightmare on Elm Street series entitled "Nightmare on Elm Street: Real Nightmares." The show was to be hosted by Robert Englund and had an initial order of 6 episodes.
You can find a link to People Magazine's coverage of it HERE.
As a big fan of the franchise, I was very interested in checking the series out. And then... nothing.
There was no press.
I scoured the TV listings and set my TiVo for the appropriate keywords. Nothing.
Web searches turned up old tidbits from the initial announcement but no new information. It's like the show was the Roanoke Island of television shows and no one ever seemed to mention it again.
Well HalloweenAddict.com tracked down Jon Kroll who was the Executive VP at New Line Television at the time the series was being developed. Jon was gracious enough to grant me an interview so I could try and get some answers.
Halloween Addict: "Halloween Addict readers are big horror genre fans, too, and I'm sure are curious: It's been 4 years, whatever happened to this show?"
Jon Kroll: "We produced six episodes of the show for CBS. The idea was to make people live through their actual nightmares. The results were uneven. When it was good, it was very, very good. Ultimately, CBS chose not to air the show because they didn't feel it would sustain, and while it's expensive to produce a show, it's also expensive to launch it. It was heartbreaking."
HA: "How far along did the show get in production? Was anything ever shot?"
JK: "Six episodes were shot and finished. They are in my closet!"
HA: "I had no idea the episodes were completed! You think there's any chance they'd dump 'em on a channel around Halloween just to get them aired?"
JK: "That's been discussed, but ultimately it is not likely."
HA: "How involved was Robert Englund?"
JK: "He was really fantastic. He traveled the country surprising people in their homes and getting them to recount their inner thoughts. And he was there coaxing them to relive them. He's a gentleman, a professional and an immensely talented actor."
HA: "As host was he in full Freddy makeup?"
JK: "No. he was himself."
HA: "Was Wes Craven involved with the show at all?"
HA: "If the show was further along in production, can you talk about some of the scares/dreams/challenges that were either developed or designed for the contestants? I remember reading about a minotaur that a contestant needed to face..."
JK: "There were three main types of nightmares: ones that involved stunts, ones that involved animals and bugs and psychological nightmares. The stunts were fantastic but really expensive so we couldn't do too many. We once dropped a woman off a building without telling her we were going to! Her "safety harness" was actually a descender.
"The animals were tough-- on 'Fear Factor,' people are willing to be covered with cockroaches. Someone who has had nightmares about cockroaches doesn't want to go into a room with one! The psychological nightmares were super cool, but the participants knew they were not really in danger. My favorite though was a woman with a fear of clowns. We trapped he in a house with a bunch of insane, cannibalistic clowns!"
HA: "Was a certain special effects company used? Like KNB, Stan Winston, etc.?
JK: "There were dream sequences done by Peter Kuran of VCE."
HA: "The latest remastered DVD of "A Nightmare on Elm Street" has a segment in the Special Features entitled 'The House that Freddy Built - The Legacy of New Line Horror.'
Under your reign as Exec VP of TV Production were there any other shows developed at New Line around either the "Nightmare" franchise or the acquired "Jason/Friday the 13th" franchise?"
JK: No, but i had an idea for a series based on "Final Destination" that never took off..."
HA: "Are there any other New Line horror/Sci-Fi properties that fans would like to hear were/are being developed for television?"
JK: "New Line has contracted and is part of Warner Bros. now. I haven't been there for nearly a year, so i don't know."
HA: "You also have an Executive Producer credit on the 'Blade' TV series. What were some of the challenges in bringing that to the small screen?
JK: "Doing effects, stunts, makeup and shooting nights on a cable budget sure is a challenge! But it's a great series and is available on DVD. The later episodes are my favorite. It was a wonderful experience."
HA: "As a director of such films as Menno's Mind and Amanda and the Alien and a producer on shows like 'Movie Magic,' 'Masters of Fantasy' and 'From Star Wars to Star Wars: The Story of ILM' you've been involved in the Sci-Fi and horror genres for some time. Do you have a dream project that you'd love to direct or produce?"
JK: "I'd love to do Neal Stephenson's 'Snow Crash!' I tried to get the rights years ago. For twenty years, I tried to get Robert Silverberg's 'To Live Again' off the ground to no avail. Now I'm buying some graphic novel properties... and I just wrote my first comic! It's called 'Tales of a Hippy Kid.' It's about as far from horror and Sci-Fi as you can get! You can see it at www.talesofahippykid.com. I've also just started a new company called 'Lost Marbles Productions.' We have a lot of projects in the works but nothing I can discuss at this time."
HA: "Thank you so much for your time Jon and for setting the record straight on exactly what happened to this show."
JK: "No prob. Hopefully nothing here will get me sued."
So there you have it. Jon was pretty open about the whole thing and it's good to get answers.
This is one of those Hollywood tales that most people can't believe. "How can they have shot six episodes but have no intent on releasing them?" But even with effects pioneer Pete Kuran (he worked on Carpenter's The Thing, Star Wars: ESB, Robocop, The Howling, etc. etc. etc.--- see his IMDB list HERE), Robert Englund on board, and New Line and CBS backing it... it's not enough to get this show on the air. It's cheaper to toss it in Jon's closet, wash their hands of it and order another incarnation of CSI.
Oooooooo, wait. What about CSI: Elm Street???!!!