THE EVENT -- Pilot -- (l-r) Blair Underwood as President Elias Martinez, Lisa Vidal as Christina Martinez, Sayeed Shahidi as David Martinez

*From the trailer below, we know exactly what “The Event” is not.

It’s not the assassination plot.

It’s not the disappearance.

It’s not the CIA cover up.

So what is it?

Blair Underwood says he doesn’t even fully know — and he stars in the NBC drama as the President of the United States.

“I have a very strong idea,” he tells EUR at the recent Television Critics Association press tour. “I know enough about it to be very comfortable about where we’re going with it.”

Executive producer Evan Katz, a former writer on the Fox series “24,” is also banking on viewers being comfortable enough to stick with “The Event” until it gets to wherever it’s going.

“It’s an entertaining and fun exercise as actors not to know, because usually we know everything,” says Underwood. “I have to say, though, it’s voluntary not to ask the questions. I mean truly, if we push any of the producers – ‘I wanna know what “the event” is’ – they would tell us. I don’t really wanna know.

“What I can say is [the writers] know. Evan Katz and the producers know exactly what it is. You’ll find out a lot of answers in the second episode. But, in terms of what the event is? We’re gonna wait and see.”

Underwood as President Elias Martinez in "The Event"

Here’s what we do know going into the Sept. 20 premiere: Jason Ritter stars as Sean Walker, who unwittingly begins to expose the biggest cover-up in U.S. history. Whatever this is draws in Underwood’s character, President Elias Martinez, an Afro-Cuban Yale grad born to Cuban refugees in Miami.

Moral, idealistic and hugely popular at home and around the world, Martinez was part of the first bipartisan ticket into the White House and runs the first truly bipartisan administration in recent history.

“I’m having more fun than I should be having playing the president,” Underwood says, adding that his joy comes from more than just the role itself. “It’s playing the president in the context of this show, with this cast, with this team of producers, and frankly, with this network.”

While NBC is not the first to air a show featuring a black president, it’s about to be the only network in history to feature two black lead characters in a primetime drama when “Undercovers” debuts on Sept. 22 – and the history is not lost on Underwood.


Underwood with co-star Zeljko Ivanek at the panel for "The Event" during the summer Television Critics Association press tour on July 30, 2010 in Beverly Hills

“This network, at this time in their history, and in nighttime television programming, they’re very enthusiastic about this show and it’s perfect timing for us,” he says.

“The Event” is the latest in a string of high-profile TV gigs for Underwood – including “The New Adventures of Old Christine,” “Dirty Sexy Money,” “In Treatment” and “Sex and the City.”

Underwood fans of a certain age can still remember him as Bobby Blue on “One Life to Live” during the mid-eighties, followed by his breakout role as Jonathan Rogers on NBC’s “LA Law” — which fans still like to discuss with him some 16 years later.

“I am surprised but it’s very endearing. I’m very grateful for that,” he says. “I mean, to have longevity in this industry is no joke, so I don’t take it lightly and don’t take it for granted. This journey right now, with ‘The Event,’ it’s kind of coming full circle – even with the network, NBC, coming back home.”

Below:  “The Event” full length trailer, followed by two preview clips.