ABC's 'Pan Am' Aims for a Glamerous Destination

The Clicker/Today: Tired of all the security checks, restrictions and airlines nickel-and-diming you when you fly? The new ABC drama “Pan Am” wants you to forget about all that and go back to a time -- the 1960s, specifically -- when flying was a fun part of your travels.

“(Glamour) is a huge part of the show,” said creator and executive producer Jack Orman during the Television Critics Association's summer press tour on Sunday morning. “The idea that you get to go on an airplane was part of the whole trip. It wasn’t something you wanted to get through. It almost feels like sci-fi right now.”

“It’s escapism at its best,” said actor Mike Vogel, who plays pilot Dean. “These airlines were competing at the time to see who had the shortest wait period to get a ticket. You could show up five to 10 minutes before your flight, purchase your ticket and go. It’s something for a new generation raised under the standards that we fly under now, you kind of can’t fathom that. So it’s fun to bring that back and see people getting on an airplane and enjoying the experience.”

A big part of the flying experience during the era of “Pan Am” was the stewardesses. “Every time we step on the plane, we’re excited,” said star Christina Ricci of playing stewardess Maggie. “These stewardesses were looked at as glamorous symbols. We have so much pride in welcoming these passengers on the plane.”

When asked about the way the airline treated its female employees and the restrictive nature of the job (women were subjected to weight and grooming requirements), the cast and producers stressed that female viewers today would still be drawn to the new series.

“For the stewardesses, there was this sense of excitement and freedom,” said Ricci. “In reality, the job allowed the women to have a freedom that they weren’t given in a regular role in life. Yes, they had to pass the girdle checks and grooming checks.”

Orman agreed. “It was a coveted position at the time,” he said. “They needed to be college educated, they needed to speak several languages. They were pioneers in a lot of ways.”

Director and executive producer Thomas Schlamme isn’t worried that any perceived oppression might drive viewers away. “It all goes back to execution,” he said. “(The stewardesses were) having an incredible adventure. … They did have one foot in the fact that they were weighed. In the other, they were traveling. That combination, and their exciting camaraderie with each other will attract an audience.”

“Pan Am” premieres at 10 p.m. on Sept. 25.


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