From the twisted minds of Nick Antosca & Lenore Zion, the creators of Channel Zero, comes their next terrifying project, a nightmare-induced adaptation of Todd Grimson’s BRAND NEW CHERRY FLAVOR. The limited Netflix series centers around Lisa Nova (Rosa Salazar) a filmmaker who heads to Hollywood in the early ’90s and finds herself falling down a hallucinatory rabbit hole of sex, magic, revenge – and kittens.
Recently, Nightmarish Conjurings had the opportunity to speak with show creators Nick Antosca and Lenore Zion where they discussed everything from adapting the book for the screen, the design of the creatures, and more.
Thank you both so much for taking the time to speak with me today! To start things off, how did you hear about Todd Grimson’s novel, and what made you want to adapt it?
Nick Antosca: I’ll try and give the short version of this [Laughs]. I became email pals with Todd Grimson back in late 2007/2008 because he was writing some short stories online. Then he told me he had written this novel and I read it not knowing what I was in for. I never heard of it before and was really just sucked into it. It’s so many different genres blended and it’s like satire, but it has this really intense kind of amoral, but still relatable and lovable protagonist. I love that the journey is her trying to get this stuff that’s inside her head out into the world and she has to navigate this insane nightmare obstacle course of Los Angeles and Hollywood. It really stuck with me. Eventually, I moved to LA and started writing TV and scripts and stuff, and Lenore and I became friends. We started working together on Channel Zero and in 2016 I said, “Hey I got this book I’ve always wanted to do something with. It feels like your vibe. Take a look at it and see if you think there’s maybe a show here.”
Lenore Zion: He sent it to me and I read it and he’s right. There’s this wild, unrestrained imagination to Todd’s writing that is one of my favorite tones and one of my favorite types of things to read. It’s also just so ripe for adaptation because so much happens and the world is wide open in the way that he writes. It’s just a lot of fun to put yourself in that space and I was really excited to do it.
Since the book is so dense, were there aspects that you took out or scenes you wanted to add to expand upon a certain scenario?
Nick Antosca: There is some substantial superficial difference between the book and the series. The book has a certain kind of demonic energy that we wanted to capture and a nightmare feeling. We wanted to faithfully adapt Lisa Nova’s core drive and her spirit. There’s a lot of stuff like the kittens that aren’t in the book, [so] there’s a fair amount of changes. The series.. we always want to do a contained series, we want to do it in one season but the book is way too big for that. So we took all the themes and ideas and moods that we loved from the book and tried to stay spiritually faithful to that and built it into a story about an artist trying to get this stuff out into the world.
The series features some wild-looking creatures, one of which looks like it could be related to Channel Zero‘s Tooth Child. Did you both have a lot of say when it came to the design of the creatures?
Lenore Zion: I love the Tooth Child.
Nick Antosca: Francois Dagenais who built the Tooth Child also worked on this. He had done the creature designs for all Channel Zero and this, he’s a genius. The kittens were Lenore’s idea and we loved it. We knew that it was right as soon as the idea was kind of out in the air.
Lenore Zion: Nick and I both love kittens.
Nick Antosca: One of the things that’s so brilliant about Todd’s book is that you really never know what’s coming next. We really tried to honor that spirit.
Everyone in the series is phenomenal and features quite a unique performance by Catherine Keener, but the series really rests on the shoulders of Rosa Salazar’s performance as Lisa Nova. How did you know she was right for the role?
Lenore Zion: We thought of Rosa pretty early on because we needed somebody who had this tremendous range that she has. Nova had to have the ability to be incredibly strong, incredibly vulnerable, have good comic timing, she needed to be able to do everything. We’re huge fans of Rosa, we’ve loved her since Alita: Battle Angel, Undone, all of these things that she’s done have made us really want to work with her. She brought this brilliant acting to this role. I honestly can’t imagine Lisa Nova without it being her.
Nick Antosca: Catherine Keener, we were obviously huge fans. She kind of seemed like a rock star a little bit. She had this cool quality that we felt had never been brought out to the max, and we wanted to see a different side of her that we felt we had seen hints of. We met with both of them before they signed on and everybody just really wanted to make this really weird show [Laughs].
What do you think people are going to be more surprised by when they watch BRAND NEW CHERRY FLAVOR?
Nick Antosca: I never want to speculate, like you never know. The release [is tomorrow] but we’ve been living with this for a while and when you’re creating something, it’s not really about…we are excited for people to see it. We’re really excited and we want people to love it, and the people who love the same things that we do because there’s definitely going to be people who are like what the fuck is this? We loved the experience of making it and we loved getting to create something that has this interesting nightmare texture. It’s rare that you get to do something that feels so strange and isn’t a reboot or a superhero thing. So just keep watching!
BRAND NEW CHERRY FLAVOR arrives exclusively on Netflix on August 13, 2021.