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Exclusive 'Chuck' boss on who's in, who's out, and what's next!

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I don’t know about you, but NBC’s official renewal of Chuck has been the highlight of upfront week for me. (ABC’s cancellation of According to Jim finishes a very close second.) But it’s time to bring the victory celebrations to a close and get down to business — the business of asking questions. Will a tighter budget lead to a less awesome (and populated) show? Does the massive Subway deal mean an end to Sarah’s yogurt shop? Will the midseason launch kill the show’s momentum? Will Chuck and Sarah start dating for real? Will exec producer Josh Schwartz answer all of these and then some in the following exclusive Q&A? I can tackle that last one: Yes!

NBC said the show’s budget will remain unchanged from last season. I’m hearing different. What’s the deal?
I can tell you that [Warner Bros.] asked us to make budget cuts to meet a decrease in the NBC license fee. That’s how it was presented to me. That’s as far as I know. My job is to then be able to produce the show at the number the studio is able to deficit it for.

How will the cuts affect what we see?

SCHWARTZ: Hopefully, you won’t be able to tell. I don’t think the look

of the show is going to change. We might have certain episodes where

Chuck’s mission is such that we don’t get the opportunity to go to the

Buy More [as much]. We love our cast and, obviously, we want to use

them as much as possible in as many episodes as possible.

I heard Julia Ling [Anna] might not return. True?

SCHWARTZ: No. We have plans for Anna to return.

Has she been taken off contract?

SCHWARTZ: We actually haven’t finalized all of our actor deals yet.

It’s all being sorted out. But, like I said, we’re going to do whatever

we can to try to keep the ensemble together.

Will the show’s central trio be in every episodes?

SCHWARTZ: Yes. Chuck, Sarah, and Casey are in all episodes.

Will Sarah be working at a Subway next season?
[Laughs] You

know, I don’t know the full details of the Subway integration yet.

I know it will be significant. Chuck is a show that happens to be well

positioned for effortless product integration, especially because Chuck

works at an electronics shop in a strip mall. If Sarah or someone

worked at a Subway it would hopefully be no more intrusive or

unrealistic than Liz Lemon working at NBC.

Are you concerned at all about the show being off the air for 10 months?

SCHWARTZ: It was really a tough choice that the network faced: Put us

on Friday or [hold us until] midseason. I really believe Chuck is the

little show that could. Our fans are clearly passionate, clearly loyal,

and hopefully all we’ll do is get them more and more [excited] for our

return. And we’ll come up with fun ways of stoking the fans throughout

the fall. We also have something very, very fun planned for Comic-Con

this year.

How about a season 3 spoiler in honor of the show’s renewal?

SCHWARTZ: The biggest thing, obviously, will be dealing with the

ramifications of how we ended the season. What does it mean for Chuck

[and] how will it manifest itself? And I think for anyone who is

concerned that he’s no longer going to be the Everyman, or an

accidental hero, fear not.

Will Chuck and Sarah start the season off as a full-fledged couple?

SCHWARTZ: I don’t want to give anything away, but obviously, Chuck

having the Intersect in his head will severely complicate their ability

to be a couple. Oh, here’s something: Look for… [the rest of this

answer will run in this week’s Ask Ausiello, posting tonight.]

Really? For who?

SCHWARTZ: [The rest of this answer will run in this week’s Ask Ausiello, posting tonight].

Male or female?

SCHWARTZ: Gosh, isn’t it more fun to tease?

I guess.

SCHWARTZ: Teasing is what you’re good at.

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