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Newsday: Chris Carter On the Conspiracy

Chris Carter On the Conspiracy
Noel Holston

To boost interest in Sunday’s final episode of “The X-Files,” creator-executive producer Chris Carter, 45, proposed a whirlwind series of 10-minute telephone interviews with TV critics. Here’s part of his conversation with Newsday’s Noel Holston.

Will you really be wrapping up the “loose ends” Sunday, or is that going to require a second theatrical film?

No, my hope is that we can come full circle here, that we can make it all make sense. I won’t be answering questions per se. That can be a little tedious, but hopefully we can make everything that’s been part of the mythology over the past nine years come together.

When you first pitched “The X-Files” to Fox, was the conspiracy aspect already prominent in your mind, or did it assert itself once you got going?

It was actually part of the pitch – the idea that the government knows about extraterrestrials and is keeping it a secret. You can see that in the pilot. It’s laid in very distinctly. The Cigarette-Smoking Man appears at the end putting [Scully’s] piece of unexplained evidence away in a kind of vault at the Pentagon.

Has this been like writing a novel for you?

In a way. Maybe like Dickens used to write novels episodically. You have to have a big idea about where you’re going. The challenge was just how we would get there: What were the paths to this so-called truth?

How did you keep track of it?

In our heads. But to be honest, we actually go back and review once in a while. I think the thing we maybe haven’t gotten credit for over the years – because everybody talks about the complexity of the conspiracy and the unanswered questions – is that we’ve worked very hard with each mythology episode, trying to reintroduce elements that the audience needs to go forward and may have forgotten.

If you had to give a capsule update for someone who was coming in at the tail end of this, what would you say they needed to know about the mythology?

There has been a deceptive, willful and complicated attempt by the U.S. government, or factions within the U.S. government, to deny the truth about the existence of extraterrestrials to the American public. And that Mulder and Scully, who’ve been searching for the truth, while they were once of opposing viewpoints, have now come together, and they know what the truth is. But you will see in the finale that Mulder has now discovered a larger truth that he can’t even tell Scully.

One of the hallmarks of “The X-Files” is its movielike look. How did you manage that on a TV budget?

A tremendous amount of ambition and a certain amount of naiveté. We just tried everything. We figured out ways, by hook or crook, by hiring the right people, to get done what we wanted to get done, including bringing submarines out of polar ice caps. Luckily, with the popularity of the show, we were able to increase our budgets as time went on. This may be the last of a certain kind of TV show because the economics of the business have changed. I don’t know that anyone will get an opportunity to do what we did again.

Were you ready to quit?

I was going to leave at the end of last year. I figured I had done everything I had set out to do when I had come around to a nice moment of completion with Mulder and Scully. Fox picked up the show, anyway – it was still their top-rated show. They convinced me – and I didn’t need much convincing, to be honest – that we could do a next generation of “The X-Files” with the addition of these new characters (played by Robert Patrick and Annabeth Gish). I believed it, and I still believe it. But for whatever reason, the ratings diminished this year, whether it was the prevailing attitude and mood in the country after 9/11 or that we premiered so late, and viewing habits had already changed. Less people came back this year, so my feeling was that people sensed something had been completed.

What’s next for you?

I have lots of ideas, but I can guarantee you that whatever I do, I will try to do something that is not typical franchise television.

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