September 10, 2010 at 04:00 AM EDT

In 2006, a young, untested writer named Nick Wauters decided to write his dream TV show, ”like the shows I liked — 24, Lost, Battlestar Galactica — a nonstop action thriller with character development and mythology. That was my modest ambition.” He began with a simple idea: Girlfriend vanishes, boyfriend begins searching, mysteries unfold. Wauters pitched the show and got no takers, yet continued developing the script and a long-term vision for the series. Then last fall, NBC let it be known that it was in the market for a new high-concept event series, à la its soon-to-be-canceled Heroes, and Wauters’ aptly named The Event was in business. Blair Underwood plays the president, whose decision to shut down a mysterious military prison (ER‘s Laura Innes costars as one of the detainees) sets in motion political intrigue (Damages‘ Zeljko Ivanek plays a shady CIA honcho), airplane terrorism, and that aforementioned abduction (Jason Ritter is the boyfriend; Sarah Roemer is the girlfriend; Gilmore Girls’ Scott Patterson is her dad). The Event team promises grounded reality for the drama and swift resolution to the mysteries. But what is the ”event” itself? ”We won’t be telling you right away,” says showrunner Evan Katz (24), ”but we will say you won’t have to wait until the end of the series to find out.” SEPT. 20

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