Archive for May, 2000

Entertainment Weekly: X-Factors: Carter & Spotnitz Talk Season 8

May-26-2000
Entertainment Weekly
X-Factors: Carter & Spotnitz Talk Season 8
Dan Snierson

[typed by alfornos]

A part time Mulder. A pregnant Scully. What does it all mean for The X-Files?

Jesus finally had his Second Coming. Chandler at long last popped the question. Yes, the TV season had officially drawn to a close, meaning everyone can toss their remotes and bask in the frivolous joys of summer. Well, everyone except those poor fans of The X Files, who are blinking blankly in front of their 27 inch Trinitrons, still reeling from a recent rash of paranormal activity. On May 16, after a frenzy of speculation, Fox announced it would bring back the spooky seven year old drama for another season with or without holdout David Duchovny (Mulder). Then, less than two days later, on the eve of the network`s fall schedule announcement, Duchovny agreed to return for 11 episodes – about half of a full season – for a reported $20 million. (“The last two weeks have been quite a roller coaster,” understates exec producer Frank Spotnitz. “Every day I thought it could fall apart at any minute.”)

Finally came Sunday`s surprise-packed season finale (Mulder abducted! Scully pregnant!), leaving viewers, in typical Files fashion, with more queries than a U.S. Census long form. This time, however, we graciously did the work for you, providing answers to your burning questions.

How will The X Files deal with Duchovny`s part time schedule?

A likely scenario, according to X-Files sources, will have the Duchovny episodes sprinkled throughout the year, though that`s still being decided. To fill the Mulder void, they`re looking to cast a new buddy for Scully (Gillian Anderson), a character that definitely won`t be in the mold of the conspiracy-obsessed Mulder. Says X-Files creator Chris Carter: “Certainly Scully`s character has evolved to this point now where she is a believer of sorts… I think that the partner would probably be a skeptic. And more likely than not it will be a man.” (See below). The producers will also bulk up the roles of supporting characters like Skinner and Krycek (but not the Lone Gunmen, who will be starring in their own series). “We`ve got a lot of great players on the bench,” says Spotnitz. “It makes sense to use those assets more heavily than we have in the past.”

Will we, perhaps, see more high-profile guest stars?

“We`ve always hesitated to do that because we`ve felt it would take away from the show,” says Carter. “But this may be an opportunity to do that.”

Is next season the final one?

Don`t bet the crop-circled farm on it. Carter hints the franchise could continue – even if both Duchovny and Anderson call it quits. “If we plan carefully, there could be [more seasons], but I`m not telling you that there will be,” he says elusively. Which is why, he adds, choosing a new partner for Scully is “very important for not just this year but perhaps the future…. I still think there are a lot of stories to tell. If the characters worked, and we liked to write for them, I could say yes to another season.”

[color photo of M&S in Requiem]

If Scully is really with child, who`s the father?

This being the X Files, don`t rule out aliens – or the possibility of Papa Mulder. “There was a [recent] episode written and directed by Gillian that began and ended in Mulder`s bedroom,” Carter teases. “That would certainly bring up some questions for me.”

Did the producers shoot an alternative ending, as reported?

That`s just crazy talk, insists Carter: “I would have played it the same way whether [Duchovny] came back or not.” In fact, Carter says he`s been planning Mulder`s abduction and Scully`s pregnancy since the start of the season. “I thought it was a finale that would work for any eventuality. And because we had planned to do movies, I thought that would be a place to pick up with those
things.” Perhaps the alternative-ending rumors stem from the producers` clandestine high jinks: Because they wanted to keep the prenatal plot under wraps, the pregnancy scene wasn`t revealed to the crew until the night it was shot. “The last page of the script was never published,” says Spotnitz. “That was a secret we were trying to hold as long as possible.”

What the heck was Krycek doing in an African jail?

As usual, all roads lead to you-know-who. “Cigarette-Smoking Man put him in that prison as a result of [Krycek`s] stealing information from him,” says Carter. That explanation never made it into the final cut, he adds.

And what are we to make of the return of U.N. babe Marita Covarrubias, miraculously cured of the alien cancer?

“She actually got it from a test,” says Carter. “But she was not dying, she was just weakened from the tests.” Uh-huh. Guess it was one of those 24-hour alien bugs.

Didn`t the aliens cure CSM of lung cancer a couple of seasons ago? Why was he dying of it again?

Says Carter: “Remember that he had an operation, which was the same operation that Mulder had where there was a transfer of genetic material. [Not really, but okay.] The operation didn`t work. This is the result of that.”

Answer us this, then: Did Krycek`s pushing CSM down the stairs finally kill that black-lunged bastard?

“Wait `til next season,” Carter says. Now, *there`s* a shocker!

(Additional reporting by Tricia Johnson)

Men in Black

Who will fill Mulder`s flat-footed shoes? Exec producer Chris Carter will only say he wants a “very, very good actor,” famous or not. Carter chuckled at our first suggestion – Martial Law`s Sammo Hung. Here, some other deputy Duchovnys to ponder:

[there`s a small color photo of each “contender”]

ERIC CLOSE UPSIDE The foxy star of the now-canceled Now and Again has the brawny charm to lighten Scully up. DOWNSIDE We might not care if Mulder ever came back.

NICHOLAS LEA UPSIDE The man behind Krycek- Cancer Man`s former henchman – is a fan favorite to replace Duchovny. DOWNSIDE He`s *much* more fun as a villain.

RALPH FIENNES UPSIDE Britain`s smoldering Shakespearean is certainly a “very very good actor.” DOWNSIDE Probably doesn`t need the work.

KYLE MACLACHLAN UPSIDE Carter says he`s actually talked to the Twin Peaks G-man over the years and would “like to find a way to work him in.” DOWNSIDE Remember Showgirls?

GARRY SHANDLING UPSIDE He already played Mulder in a Duchovny-penned episode. DOWNSIDE Teamwork isn`t his thing (see Hank Kingsley from The Larry Sanders Show).

CARTMAN UPSIDE The foul-mouthed South Park tot has experience with alien anal probes. DOWNSIDE Way too animated for The X-Files.

Space.com: The X-Files and the Mythos of Space

May-25-2000
Space.com
The X-Files and the Mythos of Space
Paul F. McDonald

Original source

Humans are creatures of paradox: we walk in one world, longing for others made inaccessible by the vast distances of space. With the awareness that we are confined to earth comes the consciousness that the sky is out of reach.

Some scholars call “above” and “below” the most important and universal of all duality symbols. Renowned symbolist Hans Biedermann calls them “vertical paradoxes.”

Above is usually seen as the realm of the spirit, whereas below is associated with the material world. As the source of light, including the sun, moon and stars, the heavens are easily identified with the “higher powers” that fill our myths and religions.

It’s a classic setup, and The X-Files are the most recent myth to make use of it. Fox Mulder looks to the stars for answers, while Dana Scully has her feet planted firmly on the ground.

The contradiction that human beings have long felt is made manifest in the two special agents. They could stand in for Aristotle and Plato in Raphael’s painting “School of Athens”, one pointing at the earth while the other points skyward.

Searching for higher powers

An archetypal image of The X-Files is Agent Mulder standing atop a hill, staring at the infinity of space, longing for a sign of life.

As religion has taken a backseat to science in the modern world, the search for “higher powers” in the universe now comes in the form of space probes and extraterrestrials. Nebulas and supernovas have displaced warring deities and angelic forces, but mankind’s longings are still juxtaposed against the backdrop of the heavens.

Contemporary pilgrims such as Mulder and Scully do not seek out celestial gods who manipulate the mortal landscape. Instead, they look for UFOs, alien abductions, and the occasional government/galactic conspiracy.

Mulder is a haunted prophet, whose destiny and purpose is irrevocably linked with the vast expanses of space. Scully is the doubting Thomas, perpetually looking at earthly matters through a microscope. The images have changed, but the source remains the same.

Elusive realities

The X-Files mantra is of course “The Truth is Out There.” This declaration and promise form the central core of Mulder’s beliefs.

The truth must be “out there” in his universe, for it isn’t to be found anywhere on his earth.

Though his efforts often appear futile, Mulder passionately makes his way toward the elusive realities of the paranormal and the extraterrestrial. Perched somewhere between deception and half-truths, he walks in a world where trust is the rarest commodity and families exist only in betrayal.

Wrapped in black overcoats, he and his partner brandish flashlights as beacons of light in a dark and hostile universe. The need for illumination drives both of them one week after another.

Mulder projects all his most intense fears and desires onto the rest of the cosmos. In one episode’s opening monologue, he notes how we all “turn our eyes skyward, ready to accept the truly incredible.” That so many have responded to the show suggests that desperation in his voice echoes their own.

Symbols of order in an ambiguous universe

The X-Files universe is defined by polarities ranging from the individual to the systematic, from Mulder’s wide-eyed wonder to Scully’s refined skepticism. But it is also about reconciling such things.

This is never easy – it’s frequently paradoxical, like the disembodied intimacy of Mulder and Scully’s constant cell phone conversations. Yet it is the driving force of the show.

Mulder is as obsessed with repairing his broken family as he is with bringing together the cosmic disparity of earth and sky. Sometimes the two quests mirror one another – his search for his abducted sister finally ended with a vision of her spirit and other dead children living in a mystical dimension called StarLight.

It doesn’t dissuade Mulder that the forces “out there” aren’t always benign.

Their presence assures him that we aren’t alone, and that seems to be enough.

“I suppose just looking up into the night sky at all those millions of stars up there, you wonder if it’s possible,” X-Files creator Chris Carter once mused during an interview. “Encountering a UFO would be like witnessing a miracle.”

Even in an age of science, the miracles still come from above. Watch the skies.

Associated Press: Duchovny Signs ‘X-Files’ Deal

May-17-2000
Associated Press
Duchovny Signs ‘X-Files’ Deal
Lynn Elber

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Fox Mulder will continue his quest for the truth and alien invaders next season on “The X-Files.”

David Duchovny, who was wrangling over his contract and a lawsuit he filed in connection with the show, has agreed to return for an eighth year.

“I am pleased we were able to come to an agreement that enables me to remain part of “The X-Files,’ ” Duchovny said in a statement Wednesday. “Now that all the business issues have been settled, I’m looking forward to going back to work.”

Gillian Anderson, his co-star in the Fox series about FBI agents on the trail of supernatural forces and space aliens, already was under contract. Chris Carter, the series’ creator and executive producer, struck a deal for another year earlier this week.

The deal will bring Duchovny more than $20 million, which includes a lawsuit settlement and $350,000 to $400,000 per episode, according to sources cited by Daily Variety.

The actor’s decision, which came the day before Fox Broadcasting Co. was to announce its fall schedule in New York, was greeted with enthusiasm by Carter. He had said previously he could produce the show without Duchovny but preferred not to.

“I’m very pleased and I think with the season finale cliffhanger it creates great possibilities to take the show in new directions,” Carter said Wednesday.

The show wraps up this season on Sunday.

Duchovny, who had been seeking a less grueling work schedule as well as more money, will not be in every episode for the 2000-01 season, Carter said.

He said it would be “jumping the gun” to speculate whether the show, a mainstay of Fox’s schedule, will be back for a ninth year.

The negotiations with Duchovny had been complicated by his lawsuit against 20th Century Fox Film Corp. The suit claimed Fox gave its own stations sweetheart deals on “The X-Files” reruns when the program should have been sold to the highest bidder.

The result, the suit alleged, was that Duchovny was underpaid on the series’ profits. The actor had said he wouldn’t return to the show unless the suit was settled.

A spokesman for the actor said he could not expand on Duchovny’s statement.

Carter said he expected the legal dispute to be a non-issue when filming resumes.

“I work with real professionals and the work has always come before any personal feelings,” he said.

The conspiracy-minded series, which made stars and magazine cover favorites out of Duchovny and Anderson, opens with the insistence that “The truth is out there.” The show was the basis of a successful “X-Files” movie that Fox and Carter expect to be part of a continuing franchise.

Variety: Fox Sets ‘X-Files’ for 8th Season

May-17-2000
Variety
Fox Sets ‘X-Files’ for 8th Season
Josef Adalian

NEW YORK (Variety) – “The X-Files” will be back for an eighth season on Fox next fall — but whether star David Duchovny will return as well remains a mystery.

Fox Broadcasting Co. and series creator/exec producer Chris Carter have inked a deal to bring the 20th Century Fox TV show back to the Fox network for at least one more year, with future seasons a possibility. Gillian Anderson has signed on to reprise her role as FBI agent Dana Scully, but negotiations for Duchovny to return as FBI agent Fox Mulder were still ongoing late Tuesday.

Industry insiders said there’s a no better than a 50/50 chance that Duchovny would agree to come back to the Sunday night success. His return hinges on the settlement of his lawsuit against Fox’s syndication arm alleging the company short-changed him on his backend profit.

Carter has prepared an “X-Files” season finale in which Duchovny’s agent Mulder is abducted by aliens. Should Duchovny ink a new deal, his character can easily be returned to Earth; if not, Mulder will probably remain lost in space.

Despite speculation “X” will move production back to Vancouver from Los Angeles, insiders said it’s more likely the show will stay in California.

Carter is already under contract to Fox through an overall deal, but the producer was given substantial monetary enticements to remain with the show next fall. His “X” spinoff “The Lone Gunmen” has also been picked up as a midseason replacement in the 2000-01 season.

While Fox only has “X” for one more year, next season’s story arcs may open the door to additional years of the series, according to Fox Television Entertainment Group chairman Sandy Grushow.

“The intent of this (upcoming) season is to add some new characters and elements so this show could go to a ninth year and beyond,” he said.

“Everyone at Fox couldn’t be more excited and enthusiastic about ‘The X-Files’ remaining a key component of our Sunday nights,” added Grushow. Carter issued a brief statement saying he’s “pleased that the show will be returning next season.

“There are still so many stories to tell,” he added.

While Duchovny has been a key component of the success of “The X-Files,” Fox execs ultimately decided the show can survive without him. Indeed, ratings for the series have been slipping over the past two seasons, and some industry insiders think the addition of a new cast member could actually provide a creative jolt.

Hollywood Reporter

May-16-2000
Hollywood Reporter

“X-Files” creator Chris Carter closed a deal late Monday with 20th Century Fox TV to return as executive producer of the Fox mainstay drama for one more season. “My preference is to shoot the show in Los Angeles, and I am currently working with the studio on that arrangement,” said Carter. With Carter now on board for an eighth season, contract renewal and lawsuit settlement negotiations with star David Duchovny are expected to go down to the wire, prior to Fox’s Thursday fall schedule unveiling in New York. In addition to settling his profit participation lawsuit against the studio, sources said Duchovny is negotiating for a big-bucks deal that would allow him to appear in six to nine episodes over the season. Co-star Gillian Anderson will return for a full season.

Cinescape: Vince Directs!

May-??-2000
Cinescape
Vince Directs!
Melissa Perenson

X-Files co-executive producer Vince Gilligan has written some of the best episodes of series including this year’s “X-COPS”, but he recently did something with one coming this week that he’d never done before… he directed it. Gilligan took some time from his schedule to chat with Cinescape Online contributor Melissa Perenson about the challenges of helming “Je Souhaite,” which takes a contemporary twist on the old story of a genie in a lamp.

Over the years, Gilligan has worked with a number of skilled directors, including Kim Manners and Rob Bowman. When asked if their influence or his work as a producer prepared him in any way for directing, Gilligan revealed, “Time spent in the editing room was very helpful. We’re on such tight schedules, and there are so many different shots to get. And if you know exactly what it is you want and exactly what it is you need from an editors’ point of view, then as a director who know what shots you’ll actually need. And which shots you can live without. [The crew] was very helpful and supportive, and that made it a lot easier for me.”

Gilligan doesn’t want to mislead you when it comes to his first time directing gig. There were unexpected problems, which Gilligan explains, saying, “On one of our last days on the stage, there’s this pigeon family up in the rafters [of the soundstage], and they’re messing up all of the dialogue that David [Duchovny] and Gillian [Anderson]. Meanwhile Kim Manners was directing the final episode of the season, and they needed to take over the soundstage from us and get working on their show. So I had a hundred people, including Kim Manners, standing behind me as I’m trying to finish off this last shot of the scene.”

More specifically, regarding this week’s episode, what prompted Gilligan’s idea to explore genie lore? Gilligan answers, “I had an image of someone cutting the lock off of a very old self-storage unit and finding something very weird and X-Files inside a dusty, dark, and cold storage unit. I can’t really say how it came about, but it was the idea of someone finding a genie, finally, inside a storage locker, that appealed to me. And I figured at that point, if we’re doing a story about a genie, it’s real hard to make it very serious, really scary or dark. It seems like it’s inherently sort of goofy, the idea of finding a genie, period. The episode just sort of took a life of it… scary or serious.”

As one might expect, an X-Files take on genies has it shares of unique twists. .. except what Vince says regarding that may be a spoiler. So, if you’d rather not know until Sunday night, move along to another story by using one of the links at the right.

Still there?

You have been warned.

When asked if there were any interesting twists to be found in the episode, Gilligan revealed, “One of the brothers wishes to be turned invisible at will. And his new-found life of invisibility lasts all of about five minutes before he gets killed, and then the fun twist that either John [Shiban] or Frank [Spotnitz] came up with was that even after he was dead, his body is still invisible, so then Scully has to autopsy an invisible body.”

Fangoria: His Darkest X Files

May-??-2000
Fangoria
His Darkest X Files
Sarah Kendzior

Transcribed by pam. All [] are mine; the original article’s brackets are denoted by {}.

X-FILES veteran Kim Manners has directed some of the series’ spookiest — and funniest — entries

[still of Roberts & the well-meaning shrink. Caption]: This year may prove to be X-Files’ last, but director Kim Manners hopes he left viewers “Hungry” for more

[photo of Scully standing in a morgue by a burnt body. Caption]: There were plenty of horrible sights in “Leonard Betts,” but a record number of viewers tuned in to see them.

[behind-the-scenes photo of KM pointing off-camera, with DD looking in the same direction. Caption]: Manners (directing Duchovny in “Theef”) brought two decades of experience with him when he joined the X-Files team.

[photo of Chickenwire!Mulder. Caption]: Best known for his stand-alone episodes, Manners has also guided mythology stories like “Tunguska”

[photo of child holding doll. Caption]: Stephen King’s original “Chinga” script needed some toying with, according to Manners.

[photo of gasping Goopy!Mulder. Caption]: When he went on a “Field Trip,” Manners delivered the sixth season’s best episode. [Keep in mind, this is FANGORIA. ;-]

[photo of writhing-on-the-floor Snake-covered!Mulder. Caption]: “Signs & Wonders” literally had Mulder’s skin crawling.

[body of article]:

His work was the first to receive a parental advisory warning in the history of The X-Files. Opening with a hideously malformed newborn found buried in a shallow grave and featuring the decapitation of a police officer by a clan of murderous inbreeds, the episode, cannily titled “Home,” was also the first to be banned. Following complaints about the episode’s incestuous themes and graphic violence, Fox vowed in 1997 never to replay the program (it was finally repeated for the first time this past season).

“Home” quickly became one of the most controversial and popular entries in the series’ history, and was voted the greatest episode of all time in an FX poll a mere two months after being stripped from network airwaves. For veteran director Kim Manners, who counts “Home” as one of over 30 X-Files credits, the passionate response was hardly surprising.

“When I read the script, I knew that we had a Very Special Episode of The X-Files on our hands,” Manners recalls. “It was the first X-Files script that I thought was truly in the classic horror vein, and I tried to direct it with that in mind. I thought back to the Vincent Price movie The House On Haunted Hill and some of the images in that, and just tried to deliver as much of a horror classic as I could. However, I didn’t have any idea that it would probably prove to be one of the fans’ favorite episodes of all time, and I certainly had no idea that it would see the controversial welcome that it did when it originally aired. I didn’t think I’d offended so many people,” he adds with a laugh. “But there is something to be said in that. At least we got people’s attention, and I’m proud of the episode. I think today it’s one of my best efforts.”

Manners has long grown accustomed to attracting attention. A list of his credits reads like a scorecard of The X-Files’ most memorable and controversial moments: its initial foray into comedy (“Humbug”), its highest-rated episode ever (“Leonard Betts”), its sole Stephen King contribution (“Chinga”). His sharp, visceral style has left its mark on standalones (“Hungry,” “War of the Coprophages”) and sections of the mythology (“Redux II,” “Closure”), and while the director claims his assignments are “strictly luck of the draw,” he does admit his work shares one recurring theme.

“The fans have got me pegged as the king of gore and the king of scary,” the director says. “I like to do scary. I cut my teeth as a kid on horror movies. I loved the Frankenstein series, I loved the Wolf Man series — Lon Chaney Jr. was my hero growing up. I just thought the Wolf Man was the greatest character. And I believe I have a lot of strength in delivering something that’s very scary and riveting on the screen. I don’t know, maybe I have a dark side that I wasn’t aware of.”

Manner’s history with The X-Files began in 1994, when he was first brought to the attention of series creator Chris Carter by seminal X-Files scribes Glen Morgan and James Wong. “I tried very hard to get on The X-Files during the first season, and for a lot of reasons I found it impossible to crack,” he recalls. “And in the second season, {producer} Bob Goodwin and Chris Carter agreed to look at a piece of film I directed that Jim and Glen wrote for 21 Jump Street called ‘2245,’ which was about the execution of a youthful offender on Death Row.”

Manners was soon hired to helm the Morgan and Wong-penned classic “Die Hand Die Verletzt.” “About two weeks after I finished directing it,” he says, “I was in Los Angeles and the phone rang and they made me a producer. I’ve been here ever since.”

The director sees himself as the final component integral to building the original creative team behind the series. “At the time I joined the show, it was just becoming a bona fide hit, and there wasn’t any proprietorship,” he notes. “It wasn’t like a family unit where outsiders weren’t welcome. The series was still in its growing stages. David Nutter was their producer/director in the first season, and then he moved on, and Robbie Bowman did two or three shows. I was the final guy they brought in, and they had their little team. We did a guest director here and a guest director there, but we had our core group of people, and I was the last guy to join that. And from there, the series kind of snowballed because we all felt so comfortable together.”

Less comfortable for Manners was the second-season episode “Humbug,” a tale of circus freaks whose darkly comedic tone was a bold departure for the heretofore stolid series. “As a new member of the producerial staff, I was very, very nervous to be handed the first comedy ever,” he says. “We were all swimming in uncharted waters. It was my second episode ever, and it was Darin Morgan’s first {scripting} effort.”

On the plus side, “Humbug” was also the first Files to prominently feature a body-mutilating contortionist who hammers nails through his nose and his tattoo-covered, insect-swallowing companion. “I had a lot of fun working with Jim Rose,” says Manners, referring to the legendary circus showman who appears in the episode as Dr. Blockhead. “Jimmy was terrific; he and the Enigma were just fabulous. That was a totally crazy set. Jimmy, on several different occasions and without too much prompting, was very readily there to show you his organ origami. It was really quite something.”

The successful “Humbug was not only a turning point for Manners, but for the series itself. “When I saw how well that show was received, I knew that we were suddenly given the license to go anywhere we wanted,” he says. “This is a really exciting series for the fans, because we can do so many different things and go in so many different directions that it’s really boundless. We can get dark, but we also have a tendency to make fun of ourselves — we’ve certainly poked fun at Mulder. But dark humor is like terror or horror itself; there’s something exciting and edgy about it. And that edge is really what is keeping the show on the air.”

By 1996, The X-Files had transformed from mild cult favorite to a full-fledged hit, and Manners, by then an established set presence, found himself the target of the show’s penchant for self-mockery. “Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space,'” a third-season episode penned by Darin Morgan and directed by Bowman, featured a profanity-spewing character named Detective Manners, a tribute to the director’s distinctive pattern of speech. “Yes, I do have a foul mouth,” Manners laughs. “I try to keep it clean when I’m talking to people I don’t know. But you wouldn’t want to be around me when I’m on the set and things aren’t going well!

“I was actually supposed to play Detective Manners,” he reveals. “I used to be an actor, but I quit when I was 19 years old. I told Robbie I’d do it, but it was toward the end of the season and I was dog-tired. I felt if I got on the set, forgot my lines and buried Rob Bowman in terms of his schedule, I’d feel real bad. So I didn’t play the part. After I saw ‘Jose Chung’ come together, I kicked myself right in the ass because I thought, ‘Man, I could have done such a better job than that guy.’

“I liked the show very much,” Manners hastens to explain. “But even though the actor had to say, ‘Sure enough is a blankety-blank dead alien if I ever seen one,’ he didn’t do it with any attitude. When a man is cussing or swearing, he does it with attitude. I don’t cuss or swear because I’m a mean man or because I’m angry, I cuss or swear because I’ve been on sets since I was 3 years old, and I’ve been raised by grips and electricians, and all they do is cuss and swear.”

The director is the son of Sam Manners, a television producer whose credits include Rin Tin Tin, Wild Wild West and Naked City. His father’s choice of profession resulted in a somewhat unusual upbringing. “I grew up literally on the set,” he recalls. “I started acting when I was 3. In the early ’60s, I traveled with my mom and dad and several other families and their children on a television series called Route 66, and we had a tutor. We had school for three hours, and then we would go to the set and hang out with the crew for the whole day. I was kind of a set rugrat.”

Manners finds it difficult to imagine life outside the industry. “I was born and raised in it. It’s all I know,” confides the director, who has worked on 23 series, including Charlie’s Angels, Simon And Simon and 21 Jump Street. “I’ve been directing a little over 20 years, so I’ve probably done about 260 hours of television. I’ve had a very, very fruitful career, knock wood. But if I wasn’t a successful director, I’d be holding a sign on the corner going ‘Will Work For Food.’ This business is all I know.”

Despite his numerous television credits, Manners remains the only regular X-Files director never to have helmed a motion picture, a fact which confounds many of his avid fans. “I would love to do a feature film,” he explains. “I’ve been reading scripts for the last three years, and I haven’t read a good one yet. There’s a lot of very poor, poor material out there. As I’ve told my agent, ‘If you can bring me a script that’s better than an X-Files script, I’ll consider leaving.’ But until that time, I’m just going to stay here and do good work every week.”

Manners dismisses the idea of attempting to write his own screenplay, claiming, “I can’t write a check, let alone a script! My energy is way beyond the boundaries of being a writer.

I need to be on the set, I need to be up and running.” Although an admitted horror fan, his choice in material extends well beyond the genre. “I’ve always been keen to do a Western,” he says enthusiastically. “Or just a good human interest story. I’d have cut my arm off to be able to direct The Green Mile.

Did you see that movie? Truly amazing. And American Beauty. I would have loved to have done that. Simple stories — those human interest pieces really appeal to me. That’s why I enjoyed doing ‘Milagro,’ because ‘Milagro’ was a character study.”

A sixth-season entry written by Carter, “Milagro” is one of many that Manners cites as his favorite experiences directing the series. “There’s that, and there’s ‘Home,’ certainly,” he says. “We also had a lot of fun doing ‘The Rain King.’ That was a ball. It was such a different episode of The X-Files, strictly a fantasy. I felt like we were telling a fairy tale. I loved ‘Monday,’ I thought ‘Monday’ was just great. On a recent one I did, ‘Signs & Wonders,’ which is about the Church of the Holy Ghost, we had a great actor named Michael Childress who did a fabulous job. If he doesn’t get an Emmy nomination, I’ll be shocked. I also loved ‘Kaddish.’ Gosh, what else did I really love working on … I loved working on them all.”

Well, almost all. “The worst one I ever did was a little thing called ‘Teso dos Bichos,'” he admits. “Best three acts of television I ever directed, and act four came along and everything went to hell in a handbasket. ‘Sanguinarium’ was kind of on the bubble for me, because it was sort of a gratuitous thing. But I’ve been pretty damn happy with my product, by and large. I’ve been very lucky;

I’ve gotten one good script after another.”

One teleplay that proved particularly memorable was “Chinga,” initially written by King but later reworked by Carter. “We read Stephen King’s script, which was terrific, but probably unproduceable for an hour of network television,” Manners recalls. “Chris rewrote it. It was fun to do, and I think it translated well. People either really liked ‘Chinga’ or really hated it. That was another episode where it got a strong response, either positive or negative, but no one walked away and said, ‘Oh, just another episode.'”

Manners views the notoriously vocal X-Files viewership with a mixture of frustration and awe. “Here is a fan base that has an absolute, total and personal investment in a TV series,” he notes. “I used to get on the Internet and look in the chat rooms, but then I got upset, because they think it’s their TV show. And we can’t make everybody happy. But I do think that one day, 10 or 15 years from now, people are going to look back on The X-Files as they would look back on I Love Lucy or The Twilight Zone, as one of the more important series that has ever been on TV.”

Essential to the show’s success are stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, with whom Manners has recently been linked in unexpected ways. As the series nears the end of its seventh, and likely final, season, Anderson and Duchovny have become active behind the scenes, each writing and directing an installment to air this spring. It is a situation over which Manners initially expressed concern: “Years ago, I used to feel that if an actor wanted to direct, he should go out and compete with other directors, and not just direct on his own TV series because it does take food out of another director’s mouth.

“But now that I’ve been involved in this series as long as I have, I see what David’s and Gillian’s investment is in this series — their human investment,” he continues. “They have given so much of their own personal lives toward the success of this show that they’ve earned the right to direct. They’ve done Mulder and Scully so long that they’re growing, and part of that growth is wanting to do other things. Since their lives center around this series, the only thing fresh for them to do is direct, so it makes sense.”

While relations with the series’ stars have not always run smooth (“David and I butted heads in the beginning”), Manners expresses nothing but affection for the two actors, and confidence in their ability to work behind the camera. “I was very proud of David,” he says. “He did a bang-up job on his ‘Unnatural,’ and I’m quite certain that Gillian is going to do a great job on her episode. These are both very intelligent people. They pay attention. I have worked on a lot of TV series over the years and I have never, especially in the seventh year of a series, worked with two nicer or sweeter people. They get a little moody now and then, but all and all they’re probably the best star cast members I’ve ever worked with.”

With his sixth year on The X-Files coming to a close, Manners has no plans to depart from its parent company, Ten Thirteen Productions. “Chris is doing a new pilot,” he reveals. “If it sells and gets off the ground, I’ll stay with Chris and do that series. If X-Files goes on, I’ll stay with X-Files. If Chris doesn’t do anything, I’ll be moving on. But I’d bet on Chris Carter any day.” Manners expresses no regret over his time spent with the series, and reserves a special fondness for episodes such as “Home,” whose unconventional approach has ensured The X-Files’ legacy.

“I don’t really look for controversy, but part of The X-Files’ success is that we have done some episodes that have shaken a few trees,” he says. “Not that I’m knocking ER, but when you sit down to watch that, it’s pretty much what you expect to see every week — somebody gets an appendectomy or someone almost dies of cancer. On The X-Files, we have an opportunity every episode to do something totally different than we’ve ever done before, and totally different from what the audience has seen.

“That’s one of the reasons I’m still here, because creatively it’s like a day at Disneyland for me, as a director,” he concludes. “I’ve done 35 episodes now and had 35 different opportunities to do something where the audience turns off the show and says, ‘Wow, that was great.’ For whatever reason. There was a moment or two moments or four moments in that episode the audience will never forget. And that, to me, is special.”