August 8th, 2011
04:59 PM ET
As we noted in an earlier round of "Everyone's A Critic," it's hard to drum up a lot of enthusiasm for a new show when the basic selling point seems to be that it's just like another critically acclaimed program.
In this case, the '60s era ABC series about the drama and intrigue surrounding a crew of stewardesses and pilots, "Pan Am," has been referred to as the high-flying version of the similarly retro "Mad Men." But executive producer Thomas Schlamme would beg to differ.
"Television is about execution," he said during the Television Critic's Association summer press tour, according to the Hollywood Reporter. "It's not the time period it takes place in, it's not the characters. It has nothing to do with 'Mad Men.'" Plus, there's another obvious difference.
Although the boozehounds of AMC's show have never seen a cigarette they didn't want to light, ABC is stamping out smoking for the likes of the show's key characters, according to Entertainment Weekly.
The network did something similar with the '70s-set cop show "Life On Mars," and downplayed the smoking element that was commonplace in a police station at the time. Since smoking was just as prevalent in airports and planes during the '60s, "Pan Am" extras will be seen holding cigarettes, but the stars themselves won't be taking any puffs.
"It’s understandable,” Schlamme said. “It’s an enormous impressionable element. It’s the one revisionist cheat.”
One other tweak producers are going to work into the time period of "Pan Am's" plot is to add an African-American stewardess to the crew even though the story takes place in 1963 and the first African-American stewardess didn't receive her job until the mid-'60s, Schlamme said.
"Pan Am" premieres on ABC September 25.
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