Archive for January, 2001

TV Guide: Will Gunmen Shoot and Score?

Jan-31-2001
TV Guide
Will Gunmen Shoot and Score?
Sheryl Rothmuller

As one-third of the scene-stealing Lone Gunmen trio on The X-Files, Tom Braidwood has spent eight seasons lurking in the background. But that’s all about to change now that the actor and his fellow super-sleuths, Dean Haglund and Bruce Harwood, have been spun-off into their own Fox series – aptly titled The Lone Gunmen.

“It’s really interesting to have to focus on it day in and day out,” Braidwood tells TV Guide Online of going from a bit player to a full- fledged series regular. But the actor – who originally joined The X-Files as an assistant director – admits he’s prepared if his career as a thesp doesn’t blast off with Gunmen. “If they run the series and it doesn’t get picked up, I’m quite certain I’ll simply go back to focusing on directing and producing,” he says. “But I would probably also make an effort to do auditions.”

Premiering March 4 in The X-Files’s Sunday at 9 pm/ET timeslot (where it will air for three weeks before being relocated to another night), The Lone Gunmen finds the three leads playing like a misguided Mission: Impossible team. And although the central characters were first introduced to viewers on The X-Files, Braidwood doesn’t view Gunmen as a spin-off.

“The way the comedy has been happening and the direction the show has taken, it’s really not a spin-off,” he admits, referring to the show’s differing tones. “It’s sort of like what we do in our life when we’re not helping out Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson)… And this is what we do, this is our life, which is very different than The X-Files life.”

Well, one thing both shows have in common is that they both have very attractive leads – although it didn’t start out that way. To beef up the babe quotient, Gunmen producers tapped comely newcomers Zuleikha Robinson and Stephen Snedden to round out the ensemble.

Braidwood, however, isn’t offended by the notion that the core threesome weren’t attractive enough to carry the show. Jokes the actor: “Us three are really ugly.”

Long Island Newsday: Glued to the tube ‘X-Files’: It’s Still Out There But its creator eyes Fox’s backing of ‘Lone Gunmen’

Jan-17-2001
Long Island Newsday
Glued to the tube
‘X-Files’: It’s Still Out There But its creator eyes Fox’s backing of ‘Lone Gunmen’
Diane Werts

HOLLYWOOD – IT WAS 1930s Hollywood mogul Harry Cohn who said, “If you want to send a message, call Western Union.” Today, the showbiz heavy hitters just call the TV critics.

Actually, they don’t have to call. We’re already here, twice a year, at the two-week press tours in which the country’s tube writers meet with network executives, producers and stars to preview their fall or midseason offerings.

Mostly they come to our convention hotel in a parade of ballroom news conferences. But sometimes we head to their home studios to chat on-set, where they feel more comfortable.

And so they get personal. “The X- Files” creator Chris Carter did his press duty on a 20th Century Fox soundstage below a hanging alien ship contraption that looked like some “Star Trek” Borg assimilation of an arena scoreboard.

Carter clarified that David Duchovny’s MIA Mulder character “will come back into play in Episode 14 this year [the Feb. 25 cliffhanger before a five-week hiatus] and be very important to the rest of the season.” Simultaneously, the show will explore Robert Patrick’s new Doggett character. “We’ll realize why he is the way he is and how he may have changed, in Episode 14.” Annabeth Gish is joining the cast to avoid a Mulder-Scully-Doggett triangle, and Scully’s pregnancy will be “played out by the end of the season,” Carter says, choosing his words carefully.

He gets less circumspect regarding negotiations for another season of his eighth-year show, revealing much in one-on-one conversation about his relationship with the Fox network, which debuts his spinoff series, “The Lone Gunmen,” March 4 to keep the “X-Files” Sunday slot hot.

“I’m open to it,” he says of more “Files,” but “I really am interested in seeing their promotion and support for ‘Lone Gunmen.’ I want to make sure that they are supporting us completely and not just partially, that it’s not just for the perpetuation of ‘X-Files,’ that they’re going to support it as the good show it is.” His recent series “Harsh Realm” got “no promotion,” he states, and “it was a shock to me.” Got the message, Fox? “I hope that the talks can be done a lot sooner than they were last year, which was like right down to the wire,” Carter says, “and that we would know [early] so I could have more time to spend with the [season’s] final episode.” Carter partner Frank Spotnitz says May’s last outing, in any event, “will be the finale for eight seasons of “The X-Files,” as Duchovny’s part-time contract runs out. Nevertheless, the show’s fate remains uncertain.

Virginian-Pilot: It’s torture being Mulder this season

Jan-15-2001
Virginian-Pilot
It’s torture being Mulder this season
Larry Bonko

LOS ANGELES — What do you see when you peek inside cavernous soundstage No. 6 at 20th Century Fox Studios here? You see the laboratory/operating room where poor Agent Mulder of “The X-Files” has been poked, probed and tortured by the aliens who abducted him.

They put hooks in his face and stretched his skin out to h-e-r-e. Yipes!

As filming took place, David Duchovny lay there “buck naked,” said “The X-Files” creator Chris Carter.

There’s bad news for Duchovny. Carter’s scripts call for Duchovny as Mulder to undergo more “horrible torture” on that set before we learn during the May sweeps exactly why the aliens snatched him in a blaze of blue light last May.

The operating room set which awaits another visit from Duchovny is painted silver and hangs above the floor of the soundstage like a flying saucer. It appears to have been made of odds and ends from a handyman’s shed including garden hoses.

Yeah, the set looks cheesy when you’re visiting. But when you see it on TV, it’s as spooky as Frankenstein’s castle.

Hollywood magic.

While showing TV writers where he films “The X-Files” on a studio lot not far from Beverly Hills — the show was originally shot in Vancouver — Carter talks about what could the series’ last season.

I said could be.

First off, “X-Filers” will be pleased to learn that Duchovny returns for episode No. 14 on Feb. 25. He’ll be back again on April 8 and be seen in every episode on Fox until the two-hour season finale.

“We’re looking forward to his return,” said Carter.

It’s not likely you’ll see Duchovny in season No. 9 if there is a season No. 9. “He’s got no contract,” said Carter.

As for the future of “The X-Files,” “If we can find a reason, creatively speaking, to keep doing the show, we’ll keep doing the show. Can we continue to tell interesting stories? That’s the question. The show has gone well since we added Robert Patrick,” said Carter. Next month, he adds another agent to the cast — Agent Reyes played by Annabeth Gish. “The X-Files” airs Sundays at 9 p.m.

Gillian Anderson (Agent Scully) is under contract for a ninth season. She’s on the verge of becoming a movie star after her performance in “The House of Mirth.”

Sony Pictures is pushing her for an Oscar nomination. A Rolling Stone critic said she was “delicate dynamite” in the film, and that not since Bette Davis “has an actress used a cigarette as erotic punctuation.”

Being compared to Bette Davis? Practice your Oscar speech, Gillian.

Spend a few moments with this actress with a face nearly as radiant as Garbo’s and you get the impression that she wouldn’t mind if it’s sayonara for “The X-Files” after this season.

“The schedule is so grueling,” she said.

Patrick came aboard in September to play Agent Doggett who joins Scully in the search for Mulder, last seen in a desert setting in the September 2000 season premiere. Patrick said he’d be happy to continue in “The X-Files” even with its long hours.

Last week, the “The X-Files” cast began filming a script on Monday that had been written over the weekend. Weekly TV is produced on an assembly line.

“It’s a little upsetting not to be able to rehearse. I love to rehearse. I love knowing my lines backwards, sideways and forwards,” said Patrick. “At first, it’s unsettling to work in a weekly series.” (He was last seen in three episodes of “The Sopranos.”)

On Patrick’s first day at work, Anderson as Scully tossed a glass of water in his face. Welcome to “The X-Files,” Robert.

Carter promised to sort out Scully’s pregnancy thing as this season concludes. The world is dying to know who impregnated her. Carter has yet to tell Anderson who’s the father.

Anderson said in filming “The House of Mirth” she tried “to do a character that wasn’t even remotely like Scully.”

It’s time to begin drifting away from the character that made her rich and famous, she said. “It’s time to do some different stuff.”

Anderson also said she knows less about “The X-Files” than its devotees who devour sci-fi magazines, browse the Internet and attend conventions.

“I’m the wrong person to ask about what happened on the show, three, four or five years ago. Once I shoot an episode, it’s gone from my brain.”

Anderson, who has a degree from DePaul University in Chicago, was hired by Carter early in 1993 almost the minute she walked into his office. “With Gillian’s looks, carriage and bearing, we instantly knew we had Scully,” said Carter.

And Duchovny?

Lightning did not strike as quickly. He scarcely spoke during the audition. Carter, waiting for the perfect Mulder to walk through the door, wondered … does this man have the smarts to play an FBI agent saving the world from aliens invading our body’s gene pool or wherever?

Then he glanced at Duchovny’s resume. Duchovny earned an undergraduate degree at Princeton, a master’s at Yale. He was plenty smart enough to play Mulder.

In going over the next few months of “The X-Files,” Carter also announced that a spinoff from the series, “The Lone Gunmen,” is in production. It will run on Fox for three episodes starting March 4 in “The X-Files” time slot.

Said Carter, “When we needed to give David and Gillian some time off, we gave much of an episode of “The X-Files’ to “The Lone Gunmen.’ It worked so well, and was so much fun to do, that we decided to spin the characters off into another series.” “The Lone Gunmen” in a nutshell: Conspiracy geeks, computer hackers and underground newspaper publishers (played by Bruce Harwood, Tom Braidwood and Dean Haglund) take on terrorists and other shadowy figures.

Fox adds sex appeal to “The Lone Gunmen” in Zuleikha Robinson and hunk appeal in Stephen Snedden. Robinson is part Emma Peel, part Lara Croft, say the show’s producers.

Only sleeker.

While it’s unlikely you’ll see Duchovny again playing Mulder on TV after 2001, he will be in the next movie based on the series. If there is a season No. 9 for “The X-Files,” the motion picture will be delayed at least 18 months, said Carter.

Learn to take your Duchovny in little doses.

Fandom.com: X-Files Music: Composer Mark Snow: The Ambience Is Out There

Jan-06-2001
Fandom.com
X-Files Music: Composer Mark Snow
The Ambience Is Out There
Randall D. Larson

For the last eight years, The X-Files has been mesmerizing its television audiences with its mysterious entities, government conspiracies, alien abductions, malevolent mutants, and whimsical creatures, all wrapped up in a detective-show type format. Among the various elements that bred its dark, pensive ambience has been the musical contributions of Mark Snow, the only composer the series has utilized thus far. Snow’s ominous musical atmospheres have intensified the show’s sense of apprehension and otherworldliness, while also supporting its eclectic storylines and rampant creativity.

Although X-Files, has given Snow his greatest claim to fame, the composer actually has been scoring television since 1976. He studied oboe at New York’s Julliard Academy of Music, where he became friends with Michael Kamen, another music student who would end up working in film. The two of them formed a band they called The New York Rock and Roll Ensemble in the late 1960s. It was an encounter with “Planet Of The Apes”, including Jerry Goldsmith’s modernistic 12-tone music, that caught Snow’s attention and directed his path towards a career in movies.

Aided by his wife (sister of actors Tyne Daly and Tim Daly; daughter of James Daly), Snow gained introductions in Hollywood and started working as a composer for Aaron Spelling on the TV series, “The Rookies”. Other assignments followed, including “Starsky & Hutch”, and before long Snow found a comfortable niche scoring for television. He got involved with The X-Files at its inception, and his music has gone on to become another character in the series, as prevalent and as important as Skinner, the Cigarette-Smoking Man, or the Lone Gunmen.

Snow’s main theme is a rhythmic amalgamation of synclavier and an electronically reprocessed melody whistled by his wife, which was sampled and doubled with a music software program called Proteus2. That simple 5-note motif musically symbolizes all that the X-Files is about, with its furtive, spooky ambience and a rhythmic cadence of adventure and investigation.

During the show’s first season, Snow emphasized a brooding, ambient soundscape, but as the series progressed, he found more opportunities for musical development. “From day one, with the pilot, everyone involved from Chris Carter on down wanted a lot of music,” says Snow. “At first he was talking about ambient, atmospheric, basic synth-pad material, and that’s what I did at the beginning. It got boring and too ordinary, so I opened it up. Chris didn’t mind, and after the first year he just let me go off on my own. As the years went on, it became more musical and less sound design-oriented. Now it’s a pretty good mix of the two.”

Snow likes to maintain an open palette of sounds for his X-Files scores and relishes the freedom he’s given to compose a variety of musical styles while maintaining an overall atmosphere of ominous danger. “It seems that people respond to my suspenseful music as if it’s this really new approach, but it’s really just the style of music I’ve come to love over the years, since I was a student,” says Snow. “Music by Varese, John Cage, all the real atonal material that perhaps I like more than some other composers. I think some of those sounds and techniques work great in suspense. On The X-Files, I mix that with a more traditional scoring approach.”

“Musically, the show has evolved from being more ambient, sound-design kind of material into some melodic music, in a dark, Mahleresque style,” said Snow, who has received several Emmy nominations for his X-Files music. “What is great about it is that I can go back and forth. There’s always a combination of the two styles. I’ve done flashbacks and dream sequences that are all very aleatoric and tonal, avant-garde sound design, with wonderfully weird combinations of sound and music, and then it goes back into the style of Mahler or Bruckner or late Beethoven!”

The variety of the series, which contrasts the ongoing mythology stories with a number of stand-alone, monster-of-the-week episodes, gives Snow plenty of opportunities for musical diversity. “When we have these stand-alone-or what I call ’boutique’-episodes, some of which verge on black comedy, there’s a lot of cute things I can do,” says Snow. “The big mythological/conspiracy/cover-up shows are fairly drab, and there’s not much room for anything but the real dark approach.”

In Season 4’s tongue-in-cheek episode “Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space,'” Snow arranged a cheesy muzak-version of the show’s main theme, which plays during the alien autopsy sequence-the only time he’s used the show’s title theme in the body of an episode score. His music for “The Post-Modern Prometheus” in Season 5 paid homage to John Morris’s score for “The Elephant Man”, a film whose storyline and visual style shared a lot with this episode. The 6th Season episode, “Triangle,” gave Snow the opportunity to compose Swing music for sequences occurring on a 1940s cruise ship. More recently, in Season 8’s “Via Negativa,” Snow crafted a powerful and frightening amalgamation of electronic and acoustic patterns and sounds that leant a potent, nightmarish mood of apprehension in the dream sequences. In an earlier 8th season episode, “Invocation,” Snow adapted the children’s folk song, “All the Little Horses,” into a variety of arrangements for piccolos and voices that become a haunting musical description of the kidnapped boy whose sudden reappearance, 10-years later, opens up a ghostly tale that could have come out of “The Others”.

Snow has anywhere from three to five days to write up to half an hour of music for each weekly episode. “The hardest part is the beginning,” he says. “Figuring out the palette of sounds and instruments, and doing that first cue. After that’s done, it starts falling into place.”

When X-Files creator Chris Carter created Millennium, about a former FBI agent with a psychic affinity for profiling the murderously depraved, Mark Snow came along to supply the music. While both shows dwell on dark subjects, Snow provided a somewhat lighter tone by contrasting the darker music with an element of quasi-Celtic folk material. “When they first came to me, they said they wanted the music to depict good and bad, heaven and hell, hope and horror,” says Snow. “I asked them, ‘Which is it more? Is it more dark or more light? Is it more horror than hope, or what?’ And they said ‘Yeah.’ So I came up with this single voice, which turned out to be a solo violin, with this dark percussion accompaniment. I had these folky, Celtic violin solos with the sleek, dark synthesizer rumbling. I’d gotten into more specific dark music with this Celtic contrast, whether it’s solo violin or solo harp or solo woodwind. That seems to have worked well.” The expressive violin tends to speak for the heart of Frank Blake, the show’s reluctant hero, while the synthesizer patterns represent the darker world in which he works, confronting the various faces of evil.

Snow got his biggest feature assignment to date from The X-Files movie in 1998. With the canvas of a widescreen theatrical feature, Snow had the opportunity to expand the scope of his television music and orchestrate it much more broadly. Most pleasing was the chance to redevelop themes, motifs, and stylisms he’d composed for the show’s 30-odd musicians into a full orchestra of 85 players. “Ninety percent of the score is big orchestra combined with electronics,” Snow said at the time of the film’s release. “I think the best thing, thematically, that’s come out of the feature is the X-Files Theme itself, which was harmonized and orchestrated in different settings that have never appeared on the TV show. The TV version is sort of a one-note pad with simple accompaniment. With the feature, I’ve put different kinds of harmonization to it. It doesn’t happen every place, but it happens enough that anyone who knows the theme would recognize it.” The orchestration was fairly standard but the inclusion of extra basses and five percussionists gave the music a deep dynamic and a wider scope.

Snow created a few new themes for the movie. “There is a veiled theme for the Cigarette-Smoking Man,” said Snow. “It’s not as much melodic as it is harmonic. It’s a bunch of minor chords going from one to another. There’s a theme for the Elders, the Well-Manicured Man, and the older conspiracy figures.” Some of these themes were carried into the 1998 TV season finale, which acted as a sort of prelude to the movie, which was released later that summer.

Far from the TV series’ five days, Snow had a lavish five months to compose 75 minutes of music for the X-Files feature. Snow said that a major concern on the feature was to carry through the honesty of the music from the series into the size and scope of widescreen cinema. “My biggest challenge was in understanding how to make that jump without it seeming like a score by Jerry Goldsmith or James Horner or another big name movie composer.”

Snow went from the X-Files feature into another feature film thriller called “Disturbing Behavior” before returning to Ten Thirteen productions for the new season of The X-Files. Snow still finds time to score about five or six feature or TV films a year, including such TV thrillers as Dean Koontz’s “Sole Survivor,” “Stranger In My House”, and Dean Koontz’s “Mr. Murder”. Quite unlike his X-Files music, his scores for made-for-TV movies-dramas, murder mysteries, Westerns-have been quite romantic and melodic. He provided a lavish and harmonious score for ABC’s Jules Verne fantasy, “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea”. He also composed the theme for the TV incarnation of “Le Femme Nikita”, and provided music for some manic episodes of “Pee Wee’s Playhouse”. In 2000, he wrote a score for an action video game called “Giants”.

But The X-Files remains inescapable for the composer, whose career continues to be defined, if not restricted by, his musical efforts for Mulder and Scully and company. “If there’s any sense of style that I have now, it was really The X-Files that put me over the hump and got me up into another level,” Snow said. “It made me experiment with a lot of different approaches, and it made me comfortable with that.” In fact, with the 2001 debut of a spin-off series, “The Lone Gunmen”, Snow will continue to lay down the fundamental ambient atmosphere that intensifies the X-Files world. The series, set to debut in March, should give Snow some new opportunities as he musically characterizes the personalities of the conspiracy-busting trio. “The main theme starts out with the Star Spangled Banner, ala Jimi Hendrix guitar solo,” said Snow. “Then it goes into a rhythm pattern, and then into the main tune from guitar. It sounds a little like a hipper version of “Mission: Impossible”. It has that spy vibe to it.”

Snow also scored Chris Carter’s short-lived 1999 series, Harsh Realm, laying down an X-Files-ian atmosphere but deriving his approach more from the duality of the series’ setting, half in the real world and half in the virtual reality of Harsh Realm. “In the most simplistic way, I’ve used conventional, traditional instruments like pianos and strings for the real world, and more of the sound design in the Harsh Realm world,” said Snow. There was a blurring of the edges on occasion; for example, when Snow needed to accentuate an emotional moment in the virtual world, he’d bring in the strings, creating an emotional crosslink with the real world that also enhanced the symbiotic relationship between the two as emphasized within the series.

With The X-Files entering its eighth season this year, Snow introduced a new tonality in the form of a lilting melody for solo female voice associated with Scully, which will be heard throughout the season. “Since this whole season is going to be so Scully-intensive, Chris Carter thought there should be a theme for her during the contemplative moments of the mythology episodes-something that spoke for her emotions.” The vocalist for the theme is Nicci Sill, who previously sang Snow’s theme for “Le Femme Nikita”. The vocal was initially intended to be wordless, but as she vocalized the part Sill began repeating in barely discernable voice the phrase “We are near,” which Snow felt was more than appropriate considering the fact that the aliens have kidnapped Mulder and are closer to the cast than ever before. “With the first episode of the season, the aliens have Mulder, and Scully is close but never quite there. But when she was singing it, it sounded like some ethnic incantation of some sort.”

The lack of a real soundtrack CD from The X-Files has been a source of frustration for many. A CD that came out in 1976, called “Music in the Key of X”, was nothing more than a collection of rock tunes inspired by the show, plus a version of Snow’s theme music. A very odd creation was also released that same year, “The Truth and the Light: Music of the X-Files”, merging seemingly random bits and pieces of music from the show with random bits of dialog and sound effects, creating a bizarre sound collage that pleased few people. “That mistake will never be made again!” grins Snow. “Somewhere, Chris Carter heard this voice-over thing and thought ‘That was great, we gotta do it!’ Actually, I thought it was pretty cool up to a point, but it got a little out of hand. And it was incredibly problematic-all the actors wanted a royalties, and so forth.”

To date the best representation of the show’s music appeared on a compilation CD entitled “The Snow Files”, released by Silva Screen in 1999. In addition to an impressive variety of excellent music for films and television, a very faithful arrangement of Snow’s X-Files music was performed by composer and synthesist John Beal, under Snow’s direction. (The actual music tracks were not available for licensing on the disc; but Beal’s arrangements are very fine and true.) Still, there is ongoing talk in the hallways of 20th Century Fox about the possibility of an actual soundtrack release, and hopefully one will be forthcoming in the future.

While more opportunities to score feature films would please Snow, he is finding plenty of satisfaction scoring quality television such as The X-Files. “I’ve been very lucky, because the quality of X-Files and Millennium is so good, in general, that it is like doing a mini-feature every week,” says Snow. “I’d like to graduate some day to where I’m not doing episodic TV, and I’m doing three, four, or five movies a year, where I really could expand my career from film to film. But the graph of my career is still amazing to me. I haven’t gotten into the negative yet. There’s so many guys who have come and gone, who have been so blisteringly hot and then fell off, so I really can’t complain when I look at it from the perspective of the business.”

Conan O’Brien Show: Interview with Chris Carter

Jan-03-2001
Conan O’Brien Show
Interview with Chris Carter

(Prior to Chris’ appearance Heidi Klum had done a re-comb on Conan — using about a half a can of hairspray — which looked something like a Lyle Lovett…)

Conan: Nice to have you with us.

Chris: Thank you for having me.

Conan: Yeah, no problem. It’s a nice night to be here. Lovely ladies. My hair is looking crazy. It’s my tribute to Eraserhead tonight. I hope you enjoy it.

Chris: I appreciate that.

Conan: Let’s start off by saying — let’s talk about “X-Files” for just a second, because it’s such a landmark show, such a different show than, I think, any other show that had come before it and I would imagine that whenever you bring something new to a network they try and — well, especially Standards, they get scared. They’re afraid.

Chris: Right.

Conan: They have probably tried to stop you at certain times from putting certain things on the air. Do you have problems like that because you’re Chris Carter now? Can you win those battles?

Chris: There’s lots of nervousness about blood and gore and stuff, but Stephen King wrote an episode called Ching* and the Standards people were really upset about the title. They said, “That’s a bad word in Spanish, a bad slang word.” We argued and we argued and finally they wouldn’t let us use the word Ching*, they wouldn’t let us use the name Ching*, so, uh —

Conan: Stop saying that word. Our Standards lawyer is Spanish right now.

Chris: So we called the episode Bunghoney instead. [That’s how he pronounced it, folks!]

Conan: Seriously?

Chris: That means nothing in Spanish.

Conan: And that got through?!

Chris: That’s what the episode is called now.

Conan: That’s great, ’cause that’s very true. I don’t know if people know that, but the Standards lawyers often will object to one thing, you’ll put in something much worse and they’ll go, “Well, that’s better.” I don’t know why. You have a new show now, “The Lone Gunmen.” It’s a comedy. Tell us about it.

Chris: It’s a spinoff of “The X-Files.” It stars the three computer geeks that you may all know if you’re “X-Files” fans. It’s on Sundays at 9:00. It’s going to take “The X-Files’ ” timeslot for three weeks and then it’s going to go to Fridays at 9, which is the old “X-Files” timeslot. Anyway, it’s kind of “The X-Files” turned on its head. It’s a comedy with some drama in it. So don’t be afraid to laugh.

Conan: (gesturing to audience) Please, I’m telling them that all the time. “Please don’t be afraid to laugh” is how I start my monologue, often. Who do you identify with comedically or who influenced you comedically? Was there a TV show, a comedy, that spoke to you as a kid?

Chris: So many things as a kid. “Rocky and Bullwinkle.” I have to say “Gilligan’s Island” was my big–my big influence.

Conan: Seriously? I think you should leave now. No, it’s funny, because “Gilligan’s Island” was hated at the time by TV critics but it’s the show that everyone in my generation grew up with. We all thought it was great.

Chris: I loved the show.

Conan: Who did you like the most on “Gilligan’s Island”? Who did you think was the coolest guy?

Chris: Well, not the Skipper, he wrecked the boat. And not Gilligan ’cause he was the Skipper’s “Little Buddy.”

Conan: Right. Which had creepy overtones.

Chris: Exactly.

Conan: Which Standards just let right through.

Chris: Homoerotica. Bunghoney.

Conan: (embarrassed) Yeah, okay. Why, Chris, why?

Chris: I’d have to say the Professor.

Conan: You liked the Professor? Why?

Chris: Because–

(A few whoops from the audience)

Conan: Well, two people just agreed with you out of a random 210 sampling. Why the Professor?

Chris: Smart is sexy and I think the Professor was actually getting it much more than anybody else on the island.

Conan: Well let me — I would agree with you except he shares that island with a multimillionaire. I think he would probably do a little better than anybody else on the island. That’s just sad but true. What about — you said that this show that you’re doing now combines drama and comedy, you have another show that’s a very successful drama. Have you ever thought — There’s this reality craze now. Everyone’s saying what’s the new reality show? Have you ever thought, “I’m gonna invent a reality show. I’m gonna do one of those and try and ride this wave”?

Chris: Yeah, I actually came up with one where — a family would go to the producers and ask that someone in the family be kidnapped and then you get a million dollars and you can decide whether or not you actually want that person back.

Conan: No one would ever ask for that person back. They would just keep the million dollars.

Chris: Exactly.

Conan: That’s the meanest show I’ve ever heard of. I’ll do it with you if I can share in the profits. And keep this hair. There’s a paranoia that emanates from “The X-Files” and it has made me think that maybe you are a paranoid person yourself. Do you think you are?

Chris: Basically.

Conan: Really. You tend to believe that there are forces out there trying to destroy you.

Chris: I know that there are forces out there–

Conan: It’s called the network. Yeah, yeah. They don’t really count. They’re not as bright as the aliens. The aliens can actually travel through time and space. These people can’t put their suits on. (Audience laughs) None of this will air. I’ll be replaced by a robot tomorrow. “Buy NBC goods! General Electric good!” Do you have any idea where that sense of paranoia would come from? Was there anything in your childhood? Do you think you had any experiences as a kid that would make you be paranoid?

Chris: I’ve told this story before and no one really believes it. When I was growing up I came home to dinner late one night and my dad actually made me sit in the street and eat my dinner on a manhole cover.

Conan: [forces a laugh] That’s a hard thing to laugh at! First of all, was this a pretty quiet street or were you on a highway? It’s pretty hard to eat your pudding when Mack trucks are passing you on either side.

Chris: You develop certain senses or sensibilities when you —

Conan: You really ate your dinner off a manhole cover?

Chris: It was in a cul-de-sac, so it wasn’t so dangerous.

Conan: Right.

Chris: But going for seconds was always a little risky.

Conan: Dodging traffic the whole way.

Chris: I was scrawny.

Conan: Well, then, you’re excused for creating “The X-Files” and having that paranoid vision, I would think. “The Lone Gunmen,” this new show, premieres this Sunday night at 9:00 on Fox, and it was really great having you on the show.

Chris: Thank you very much. I appreciate it. Thank you.

Conan: Yeah, thanks for making time for us.

Hollywood Reporter: The truth is out: Gish taking on role in ‘X-Files’

Jan-03-2001
Hollywood Reporter
The truth is out: Gish taking on role in ‘X-Files’
Nellie Andreeva

LOS ANGELES (The Hollywood Reporter) — A new FBI agent is joining the alien hunt in Fox’s “The X-Files.” Annabeth Gish will join the drama produced by creator/executive producer Chris Carter’s Ten Thirteen Prods. in association with 20th Century Fox Television in a three-episode arc this season with an option to return in the fall as a regular on the show.

Gish’s yet-to-be-named character will be brought to the team by agent John Doggett (Robert Patrick) from the New Orleans office, where she has been working a ritualistic crime detail dealing with reports of satanic cults.

“She is quite unlike any of the other agents,” Carter said. “She has been neither a firm believer nor a major skeptic, either.”

To spice things up, Gish’s character has a personal history with Doggett, who brings her in to help on a case involving agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny). Gish’s first episode, which will air Feb. 25, also will mark Duchovny’s return to the series this season.

Carter got the idea about the new character from an FBI agent investigating satanic ritual abuse whom he saw on “Larry King Live” years ago, before he started working on “X-Files.” In fact, that interview was one of things that inspired Carter to create the series, he said.

If the show returns for a ninth season, Gish will become a regular, but she will not replace anybody, Carter emphasized. “It seems to me that we have benefited from the addition of Robert Patrick to the cast, and we’re hoping that we can expand the cast even further and as successfully with Annabeth,” he said.

Patrick and co-star Gillian Anderson are contracted for the ninth season of the show (HR 7/27). Carter is in preliminary talks about coming back next season, while Duchovny’s “X-Files” future is not clear.

Prospects for the series’ coming back for a ninth season look good as the introduction of Patrick has delivered an average of 13.9 million viewers for the season to date, up 7% from last year, and a 7.6 rating/16 share among adults 18-49, up 9%.

Gish, who came into the spotlight with the features “Desert Bloom” and “Mystic Pizza,” followed up with roles in “The Last Supper,” “Wyatt Earp,” “Nixon” and “Double Jeopardy.”

On the TV side, Gish starred in the short-lived CBS drama series “Courthouse” and in a slew of TV movies, most recently “Sealed With a Kiss” opposite John Stamos. Last year, she starred in “L.A. Sheriff’s Homicide,” a drama pilot for NBC.

She is repped by ICM and manager Joan Hyler.

Written By: A Viral Inspector: The science advisor to Chris Carter’s The X-Files takes no credit

Jan-??-2001
Written By
A Viral Inspector: The science advisor to Chris Carter’s The X-Files takes no credit
Richard Stayton

By Anne Simon, Ph.D. (as told to Richard Stayton)

This is Chris’ show. He writes it. He’s the creative force behind it. All I do is help with the science. I’ve occasionally gotten some of my original ideas on the show, but the most is a line, and it’s up to him to use it or not. He’ll call me and say, “How can I tag someone with their small pox vaccine?” I didn’t come up with tagging someone with small pox vaccine. He did. I just gave him some science.

I always say, “Oh, just e-mail it to me. Let me look at it first, and I’ll make sure that the science is correct.” But it’s his storyline. His story. His idea. He writes the scripts. All I do is help a friend.

It’s because of my dad [writer Mayo Simon]. I’m very sensitive to how little control that you have in Hollywood and how upset my dad got when people were taking credit for things that he had written. And in science we really don’t like it when people take credit for our ideas, and we’re very careful to attribute things in science. We’re careful about what we’ve done and what we have not done. I understand the pain that writers go through.

When people take credit for your writing, it’s terrible. You’ll have this wonderful movie, and who gets the credit? It’s the director who did it, and it’s the actors who did it, and who mentions the writers? And it’s ridiculous. It’s the writer who did it. The director is just going from the script, and the actors are just doing what the director says that’s in the script. I grew up with that.

During my book tour, I’d make reporters swear that they would not say that I wrote for the show. “I’m a science advisor,” I’d tell them, “I help with the science.” They end up writing, “She writes for The X-Files.” And I think, My God! I know what my dad would think. So I began the interviews by saying, “You’re a writer. You know what it would be like if somebody took credit for your writing. Well, think about how I feel when people write that I am doing the writing and providing the creative ideas behind what somebody else is doing.”

Contacts and Connections

When I was much younger and living with my parents in Pacific Palisades, Chris’ wife was a friend of my dad’s. So Chris was over at Thanksgiving, Passover, the usual affairs. I got to know him as a really cute surfer, which was what I thought of him. He was gorgeous: blond and always tan. I didn’t think about him as a writer at all. His wife was the writer.

Then when I got my assistant professorship at the University of Massachusetts, I didn’t really think about Chris until five years later. I was going through the TV Guide, seeing if there was anything on, and I read this description for this show on Fox: two FBI agents investigating cases of the paranormal. I like science fiction, and I thought this could be a really interesting show, especially because it describes the woman as a medical doctor and scientist. I was watching the show every week, and about halfway through the first season I get this call from my mother and she says, “Do you know that Chris has a new show called The X-Files?”

Chris is a real fan of science. In another life he would be a scientist.

Once I had corrected a script. But I said, “Do you realize this term is incorrect? Do you want to have it wrong in the script?” He said, “Yeah, it’s more conversational.”

Chris and I discussed whether or not you could have virus in pollen. I said, “Sure, I could do it. It would have been tricky. But you can do pretty much anything.” So he sends me this film script. And I’m number 10 to see it because the scripts were all numbered. Our names stamped on every page. Mine was spelled incorrectly. I got to look at my incorrect name on every single page.

I’m reading the script, and Chris starts talking about how the virus gets into a person and turns into this horrible alien organism. Chris’ idea was that the virus was the original inhabitant of the planet. But when I’m reading it, it’s like the virus turns into this horrible creature. And he’s describing the big black eyes of the virus. And I’m going, “Oh my god!” I work on viruses. Viruses can’t turn into anything. If a virus turns into something, it’s not a virus. I was really horrified. So I read the rest of the script, and I came up with a different science that would only change a few conversations, but it would change the idea of what the virus was. And I had my fingers crossed that he’d go for it. If Chris wanted that virus to turn into something, he would’ve done it whether I wanted it to or not. But he loved the new idea: The virus integrates itself into the DNA of the person. That’s what a lot of viruses do, activate a resonant program in the cell. There’s a program in all our cells, in our DNA that starts with that single egg and turns us into a person. And that’s encoded in our genes, in our genetic makeup.

The problem is that there’s a huge amount of DNA we don’t have a clue about. There’s a whole lot of DNA that we call junk DNA. We don’t have a clue what this junk DNA is doing. My idea was the virus activates a resonant program in the junk DNA, and that the junk DNA is actually there to turn a cell into the horrible creature, which means that we are the aliens.

Once Scully was so upset when she had this horribly deformed baby that she accidentally misspoke and called the illness an autozomal dominant disease when it’s really an autozomal recessive disease. There’s a huge difference because if it’s dominant, the parent had to be dead at birth. And that can’t happen if you’re talking about the baby, so obviously you can’t get around that. But there are some people who nitpick and say, “The writer obviously made this bad mistake here.” But I say, “So what? Writers aren’t scientists. I see plenty of mistakes in grant proposals from professional scientists.” It’s not my job to sit here and go through the problems. These are not scientists. They do a terrific job of making the science look real, and occasionally there’s a little problem. So what.

Anne Simon, Ph.D., is Professor and Associate Head of the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology department at the University of Massachusetts and author of The Real Science Behind The X-Files: Microbes, Meteorites, and Mutants.

Horroronline: Frank Spotnitz Interview

Jan-??-2001
Horroronline
Frank Spotnitz Interview
Melissa Perenson

So far, we’ve seen gore, gotten chills, and been downright scared. The X-Files has returned to providing regular frights on Sunday nights–but it’s not the same series that first hooked audiences some eight years ago. Missing from the scenario is Fox Mulder, whose alter ego David Duchovny negotiated a long break from the show after a highly visible and complicated contract negotiation last year.

This year, The X-Files returns to its roots, though, with darker stories, and fresh characters through which the writers get to explore themes from years past anew.

“It’s really what we said our intention was from the beginning, which was to get back to the heart of what made the show successful in the first place,” explains executive producer Frank Spotnitz, who himself wrote this season’s spooky Via Negativa, and is penning an upcoming episode as well. “It just didn’t feel appropriate given the new character or the absence of Mulder to do anything but these scary, dark stories. We also felt we had something interesting to play with these scary, dark stories again, because we had a new character. We’d done it so many times with Mulder and Scully that it didn’t feel interesting to us. But it felt interesting again with Doggett, because it was a new set of eyes on these things, and he had something different to say than any character we’d had on the X-Files before.”

Choosing Robert Patrick for the role of Doggett, he continues, “We saw many fine people for this part–several of whom made us wonder whether we should change what we’d imagined this character to be, altering it somewhat to fit the specific actor who’d come in and impressed us with his ability and his presence.” Ultimately, though, Patrick-and the producer’s original conception of the character-won out. Doggett is the skeptic now to Scully’s reluctant believer, and it’s a switch that works. “It’s interesting, because the paradigm–which was so clear cut in this series and was so well conceived by Chris [Carter] from the beginning, of believer and skeptic–is much more cloudy and nuanced,” Spotnitz observes. “And honestly, it changes from episode to episode. You really see a change in Scully and Doggett, and the way they respond to these things from case to case over the first half of the season.”

In the second half of the season, yet another new character looms on the horizon, and she’s expected to shake things up some more-especially with respect to addressing Doggett’s backstory. “You’ll see more unfold about his character–who he is and where he came from. We sort of hinted at that in one episode that we saw, when he took out a picture of a little boy, and we didn’t know what that meant to him,” says Spotnitz. “But now we’re going to find more about him and people he knows. And we’re going to meet this new agent, named Monica Reyes and played by Annabeth Gish, in episode 14, who has some history with Doggett. For us it’s exciting, because it’s new things to play, and it changes the dynamic of the show.”

Aside from changing the balance on the show, the addition of Gish brings yet another viewpoint to the series. “She, like Doggett, is completely unlike anybody we’ve seen on The X-Files before. We’d never had somebody like Doggett, a kind of a working-class cop, before. And Annabeth is also a completely different element on the show. Reyes smiles, laughs, and is a little off-center; there’s a slightly neurotic quality to her. She’s an FBI agent from the New Orleans field office, I’d say she’s more a believer than a skeptic. So when you have Mulder, Scully, Doggett and Reyes, you’ve got two and two, if you will-if you still count Scully as a skeptic. While Scully believes in a lot of things, I still think she approaches things from that side of the world, as a scientist.”

But don’t fear: The upcoming episodes don’t revolve around the new-kids-on-the-block. “We’re getting into a run of episodes now that we’re very excited about, which are really the episodes that lead up to Mulder’s return, and the episodes subsequent to his return,” promises Spotnitz. “Starting with this Sunday, and certainly all throughout February and when we return in April, there are a lot of very, very strong stories. I’m really excited about what’s coming.”

Meanwhile, even though X-Files spinoff The Lone Gunmen is premiering in March, Spotnitz and Carter also have a feature project brewing in their spare time. Last spring, Carter’s 1013 Productions optioned the rights to Dr. Jule Eisenbud’s book, “The World of Ted Serios: Thoughtographic Studies of an Extraor.” Carter and Spotnitz are slated to co-write the screenplay for Miramax’s Dimension Films, and Carter will likely direct the film as well. “They’re really waiting for us, very patiently, because we’re late, to write the script,” laughs Spotnitz, noting that when the deal was struck, no one knew X-Files or Gunmen would be airing this season. “What we’ve been doing in our spare time is amass research, because this, unlike anything we’ve done before, is based on a true story, and we want to be respectful of the real people and the real historical events. Very much a part of the story is the fact that it did take place in the 1960s, and the backdrop of the 1960s is important as well.”

Carter’s agent brought the book to his attention, and, recalls Spotnitz, “we read the book and we were immediately drawn to it-despite the fact that it has a lot to do with The X-Files. Honestly,” he chuckles, “we were weren’t looking to do something that close to The X-Files as a movie. But what really intrigued us about it was that one, it was a real-life X-File, and it raises the question of was he or wasn’t he proof of the paranormal, or of extrasensory perception, or whatever it was that gave him the ability to throw his mind’s eye images onto a film negative. But more than that is the human story, the personal story, about this therapist, Dr. Eisenbud, who really put everything on the line because of his belief in this man, Ted Serios. And he paid a great price for it, personally and professionally. He never really did get vindication. Even now, it’s highly disputed whether there was anything to Ted Serios.”

Ironically, Serios’ ability was alluded to by Mulder in the fourth season X-Files episode Unruhe, written by Vince Gilligan. Serios was a Chicago bellhop (among other odd jobs) who had an unexplained, and long disputed, ability to concentrate with a Polaroid unexposed film negative, a Polaroid camera, and a gizmo in hand, and produce an image on the film negative. “Sometimes they would just be white flashes or blotches. But other times they would actually be images of buildings and cars. Very remarkable things would appear, and it’s unexplained how he could do this,” explains Spotnitz. “Now, if you accept that he really was able to do it, it changes everything. I mean, it says that our minds have the power to travel places out of space and time, and to physically manifest thoughts on film negative. It’s an incredible scientific discovery.”

The timing of the Serios project will likely hinge, in part, on the fate of X-Files. As for the future of the series, Spotnitz says, “Anything is possible. You might see four, three, who knows how many agents will be around if the show continues next year. Whatever happens-whether Mulder appears next season or not-something is coming to an end at the end of this season. There’s the Mulder abduction storyline, which gets resolved, and there’s also the Scully pregnancy story line that gets resolved. And I think a big chapter is going to close in those final two episodes. And the series will be different, whoever comes back for it-if there is another year. We’re still working out what that final story is, but there are a couple of elements that we know are going to be in there. And those two elements close the chapter.”

The X-Files Magazine: Risky Business

??-??-2001
The X-Files Magazine [US]
Risky Business
Chandra Palermo

[typed by Donna]

Nestled conveniently out of the way of bustling crew members, a small machine noiselessly churns thin streams of smoke through a confined police station set’s cramped hallways. The severe light emanating from the set’s interrogation room cuts through the diaphanous haze, giving the busy corner of Stage Eight on the Twentieth Century Fox lot a spooky, surreal air that smacks of The X-Files. In fact, the hustle can indeed be attributed to production on the 14th episode of The X-Files’ eighth season, “This Is Not Happening.”

Suddenly, the hustle comes to a stop and the typical behind-the-scenes din fades to silence, as Kim Manners strolls into the interrogation room, his face tense with deep concentration. Taking a seat at the tiny room’s table, the director watches Gillian Anderson rehearse the upcoming scene. Anderson runs through her lines several times, stopping now and then to discuss her character’s demeanor through the weighty sequence. An easy dialogue springs up between the actress and the veteran helmer–who have worked together countless times throughout the past several years–concerning Scully’s fragile state of mind as she questions a man who may know Mulder’s whereabouts.

“This Is Not Happening” opens with the reappearance of abductee Theresa Hoese, who was taken around the same time as Mulder in the Season Seven finale “Requiem.” Other abductees have been turning up, many barely alive like Hoese, but many others dead. The man being interrogated, Absalom, has been seen at the sites of these discoveries but claims he’s only concerned with helping Jeremiah Smith [the shapeshifting alien healer from Season Three’s “Talitha Cumi” and Season Four’s “Herrenvolk”] nurse the abductees back to health. “And whereas Scully’s approaching it as there may be something to it, Doggett is approaching it strictly as a cop and wants to know why [Absalom] tortured Theresa Hoese,” Manners explains. “It’s kind of an interesting scene to see the different dynamic between Scully and Doggett.”

Yet the cause for concern over perfecting Scully’s every nuance lies not in her developing relationship with Doggett, but rather in her vulnerability as she prepares for a possible resolution to her search for Mulder. The cameras won’t roll until Manners and Anderson devise what seems most apt for the character.

“It’s an emotional story for Scully,” Manners says. “I mean, we’ve been looking for Mulder and we now have hope, seeing as Therea Hoese’s been returned, that we may indeed find Mulder. It’s an emotional roller coaster for Scully’s character, so I have to concentrate on what we’re doing with Gillian and her side of the story. [Plus], Doggett is a non-believer, but he doesn’t want to see Scully hurt, so I have to concentrate on what Robert’s doing. And Skinner’s got an investment in this, as well. At the same time, we’re also introducing a new character. So, I have my work cut out for me here, a lot of bases to cover. It’s tricky.”

The new character Manners mentions is Monica Reyes, an FBI special agent from the New Orleans field office who specializes in ritualistic crimes. Doggett, who worked with Reyes on a prior case, calls upon her expertise to help explain the source of the returned abductees’ horrific wounds. Scully resists Reyes’ help at first but soon begins to appreciate her open-mindedness. Partly created to, according to executive producer Frank Spotnitz, balance the believer/skeptic dynamic and prevent Doggett from becoming a third wheel once Mulder returns, Reyes is very much unlike the show’s other characters.

“I think she’s going to bring a lightheartedness [to the show],” Manners says. “Whereas Scully and Mulder have always been so guarded in their true feelings, this is a woman who wears her heart on her sleeve. She speaks the truth maybe sometimes too freely, too easily. She’s a free spirit. She’s not flaky, but she’s kind of by the cuff. She works spur of the moment. Maybe she and Doggett can find something interesting together.” Thrilled to sink her teeth into such a meaty, important role, the actress chosen to portray Reyes, Annabeth Gish (Buying the Cow, Beautiful Girls, Mystic Pizza), is counting on this enthusiasm to help her adjust to the series’ notoriously long days and nights of shooting. “My first night of shooting was on location in Simi Valley, sort of out in the middle of no man’s land,” Gish says. “And as I was driving up, I saw that little gathering of generators and the big crane that’s the false moonlight, and [I felt] all of the energy on the set. It kind of reminds you of why you’re an actor on movies or television. There’s such an energy to it that, no matter how many hours you’re working, there’s still that magical little excitement that we’re telling a story and we’re pretending. It’s really cool, and it’s kind of eerie and surreal.” Although Gish has so far signed on for only a three-episode arc, there is a good chance Reyes may become a recurring character. With this in mind, Manners has been paying close attention to how he handles her introductory scenes.

“I’m taking it slow and, with each performance, weighing every line,” he explains. “When I yell ‘action’ I literally try to concentrate on every line of dialogue and every expression and make sure that it’s right for the character–after talking to Chris [Carter] and Frank and Annabeth about who the character is. And we’re just trying to discover it together You can’t rush it.” Manners is not the only one to struggle with the episode’s many competing interests. Spotnitz, who co-wrote the episode with Carter, describes s number of concerns they wrestled with in crafting the compelling tale.

“We knew that everybody knew Mulder was coming back, so we didn’t want his return to be what you’d expect,” Spotnitz explains. “How do you make that unpredictable, despite the fact that everybody knows it’s happening? And aside from the desire to make it as suspenseful and surprising as we could, there’s the fact that we were cognizant we were reopening the mythology of the show and creating a new chapter with what the aliens are up to, and so we had a lot of long term thinking to do about that. It was a very complicated puzzle.”

Several tall lamps with large, circular heads shine brightly behind an immense backdrop, illuminating its Giegeresque design and bringing to life the alien spacecraft where we last saw Mulder-strapped to a demonic-looking chair and subjected to a host of tragic tortures. David Duchovny’s stunt double, Mike Smith, removes his robe and slippers and settles into the imposing chair, as Manners and stunt coordinator Danny Weselis discuss the camera movement for the next shot. Luckily for the X-Files’ crew members, Mulder’s story picks up right where it left off, so the so-called “limbo” set they toiled on for the season’s opening two-parter, “Within”/”Without,” gets to see at least one more episode of action before being indefinitely packed away in storage.

“[The limbo set] was a huge undertaking.” general foreman Billy Spires says. “It’s an intricate set that really involved everybody–special effects, company grips, construction, a lot of different crafts. That was probably our most intricate set so far this season.” Even though “This Is Not Happening” ranks as one of the toughest episodes this season from a writing/directing standpoint, it’s a relatively laid back one for the rest of the show’s team. Despite the enormity of the storyline, the series’ department heads insist it’s a fairly light, straightforward episode from their individual standpoints.

“Its not light in reference to the amount of work that needs to be done, it’s that there’s nothing outlandish,” property master Tom Day explains. “I’m not trying to figure out how to get 500 rats to all go from one jail cell to an other one on cue. That type of challenge isn’t there. But to be perfectly honest with you, after some of the stuff we’ve done on stand-alones, we don’t mind a little bit of a break on this stuff. We’ve had some bizarre things.” Of course, as with any episode, there’s still the occasional bump or two in the road. For instance, stage space has become an endangered species this year, and the only place to create the dilapidated cabin where Absalom gathers and cares for the unfortunate abductees is inside an already existing set originally created to house the nuclear reactor structure featured in Season Seven’s opening two-parter “The Sixth Extinction”/”The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati.”

“It’s been 30 to 40 sets since then, but we’ve always left it standing,” Spires says. “It’s our only huge, permanent set that we always turn into something else, whether it’s a basement laundry room, the hull of a ship or a Plexiglass prison cell. But this time we’re filling the entire set with an other set.”

“This compound is a really tricky thing,” set decorator Tim Stepeck adds. “We’ve got to put 60 people inside that one little space and try to make it look bigger than it really is, so we’re doing a lot of trick stuff with the set and hanging plastic and giving it depth.” Also tricky was staging the episode’s teaser, which features a high-speed chase between a beat-up old car and a UFO. Weselis worked with an aerial coordinator to make a helicopter and its bright “night sun” light double for the saucer–until it can be added later via CGI by the show’s visual effects wizards. “We had the helicopter pilot shining the night sun back and a stunt double for [UFO-obsessed character] Ritchie chasing it,” Weselis explains. “He was going about 70 to 80 mph down this dirt road chasing a helicopter that’s probably six feet above the ground. And we did close run-bys at high speed and numerous shots coming over rises.” Ambitious stunt sequences and set construction aside, what crew members really want to talk about–what they’re most excited about–is the return of Mulder and the show’s continuing storyline. After a string of stand-alones, everyone seems to relish the chance to create another installment of the X-Files’ mythology. And this episode’s shocking revelations and jaw-dropping cliffhanger had most of them feeling like X-Philes glued to the edges of their seats on a Sunday night. The consensus is clear: “This Is Not Happening” is an instant crew favorite.

“It is, in my humble opinion, a great episode,” Day says. “And that character Jeremiah Smith-cool character. As a matter of fact, one of the coolest things about episode 14 for me is that, when we do an episode like this, I need to research characters like that. So, I’ll get a hold of the tape from the office from the first time we saw this Jeremiah Smith character, and I’ll take it home and watch it in case there’s any personal props or any little insight I can gather. It’s a great episode, and my wife and I were watching it and got hooked 100 percent. But it gets to the end and says, ‘to be continued.’ And I don’t have part two! So every night when I get home from work now, my wife says, ‘Honey did you happen to get the tape of part two?'” Outside the protective confines of Stage Eight, a torrential downpour rages as the temperature steadily drops. Constant requests for umbrellas and parkas dominate CB discourse, but a drastic shortage of the desired items plagues hair, makeup and wardrobe technicians. Now adorned in soaking wet attire, the crew expresses shock and dismay over the nasty weather change.

When the show was filmed in Vancouver, cold rainy conditions were the norm. Certainly, there would have been no lack of umbrellas back then. But The X-Files has now been in Los Angeles for almost three seasons and, pampered by the land of sun and fun, cast and crew were caught unawares. The series has traveled a long and winding road since that move took place. Many of its successful conventions remain intact, but a great deal has changed–mostly during Season Eight alone. And “This Is Not Happening” marks a definite turning point in this transformation. Although the return of Jeremiah Smith links the episode to previous events in The X-Files’ mythology, its story takes the arc to the next level, opening new horizons to be explored. Obviously the addition of the Reyes character speaks volumes to the writers’ willingness to experiment with the show’s successful formula. Of course, it did help that the introduction of Doggett had already proven the fans to be open to new cast members.

“I thought that our fanbase would take a little while to warm up to Robert, but they didn’t,” Manners says. “I guess I shouldn’t be [surprised by that] because Robert really brings a lot to the character of Doggett. He’s a very likable character, he’s a hell of an actor, and I think he brings a really refreshing dynamic to the series. I know that he’s inspired myself and Gillian and all of us to reinvigorate our work, and it’s been exciting. I look forward to the same kind of thing with Annabeth.”

But the changes don’t solely involve new characters. As they did in Season Eight’s opening two-parter, Scully and Skinner again demonstrate a conversion, cementing the fact that they now, like Mulder, accept alien abduction as a possibility – automatically assuming this to be the cause of the episode’s strange events.

“It’s kind of a relief because for so many years we had to work so hard to maintain Scully’s skepticism,” Spotnitz says. “Once we let Doggett into the show, it gave us the latitude to relax that. And for Skinner, I think it’s just absolutely liberating for the character because he had been in the middle for seven years and finally gets to be on one side. And I think for Mitch [Pileggi] it’s been very gratifying to be able to play that.

“But I think Scully’s a believer in her own way still,” he continues. “We’re cognizant all the time as we’re writing these scenes of how she would say it. If you notice, when she talks about aliens like Jeremiah Smith, there’s still some qualification there. She believes, but she doesn’t but it wholesale. She doesn’t leap into things like Mulder does. So, it still feels like her character, even though she’s come a long way.” And of course, the manner in which Mulder is reintroduced will have a significant ramifications for the show. But that secret may not yet be revealed and so surely won’t be spoiled here. Suffice to say, it should defy any expectations.

“I think it’s a big surprise,” Spotnitz says. “There’s twists and turns about how he’s returned and what happens when he gets back. The show will not be the same old show once he gets back. I think it’ll be more interesting than it’s been in a long time because everything is up for grabs.”

The X-Files Magazine: Agent in Training

??-??-2001
The X-Files Magazine [US]
Agent in Training

[typed by Donna]

It’s a cold, rainy day in supposedly sunny L.A., but the weather can’t dampen Annabeth Gish’s spirits. While the precipitation grows steadily more tumultuous, the Iowa native calmly prepares to be transformed by The X-Files’ hair and makeup technicians into Special Agent Monica Reyes. A noticeable glint flashes in Gish’s eyes as she sits comfortably inside her trailer parked outside of Stage Five on the Twentieth Century Fox lot describing her new role on the series. Although it’s only her second day of shooting on the show, she’s already more than familiar with many aspects of the character.

“When I was reading the script [for ‘This Is Not Happening’], I thought, ‘Who’s been watching me in my life?’ because it seems really fitting for my personality,” explains Gish, who is perhaps best known for her roles in Double Jeopardy, Beautiful Girls, Shag and Mystic Pizza, and who can be seen this year in the PBS adaptation of A Death in the Family and the feature films, Race to Space, Pursuit of Happiness and Buying the Cow. “She’s open and spiritual, and she’s not a skeptic or a believer. She’s riding that line.

It’s something that appealed to me personally because [if you] go and look at all the books on my bookshelves and next to my bed, it’s such an eclectic display of spiritual searching and physics and science and all of that. There’s a real spiritual aspect to this character, and to tie my acting skills to something that I also am personally intrigued by is exciting. That’s the most exciting thing to me-knowing that I’m going to go on a journey as much as my character is.”

An FBI agent from the New Orleans field office with a master’s degree in religious studies and a specialization in ritualistic crime, Reyes is introduced in “This Is Not Happening” when Special Agent John Doggett, who has a past with her that will be explored more fully in future episodes, requests her help with a strange case. Although Reyes’ spiritual openness is in direct contrast to Doggett’s knee-jerk skepticism, the character was created mainly as a complement to Doggett. Executive producer Frank Spotnitz says he feared Doggett may become the odd man out when Mulder returned to the show.

“We were looking at a series with three leads-Mulder, Doggett and Scully-and thought it would be awkward,” Spotnitz explains. “It felt like the believer/skeptic weights were off balance, and we needed somebody else in the believer column.”

Needing to find an actress to portray Reyes in a hurry but not wanting to rush the character’s development, Spotnitz and Chris Carter decided to kill two birds with one stone and let the casting of Reyes influence the evolution of the role.

“We had [casting director] Rick Millikan bring in all the actresses in town who would be interested in doing something like this, but we didn’t have the character yet, so we couldn’t tell them anything about the character,” Spotnitz says. “They didn’t have lines to read. They just came in and we talked to them. We looked for somebody who had an interesting personality to set alongside David [Duchovny] and Gillian [Anderson] and Robert [Patrick]. And Annabeth Gish was the clear choice. We met a lot of wonderful actresses, but she was the one who had this kind of spark to her that just seemed like it would be really interesting. And it’s gonna change the show again, which I think is a good thing for the series. She’s the type of character we’ve never seen on The X-Files before. She’s kind of looser, funny, more of a free thinker, and it gives the show a different feel.”

Rather than be intimidated by the expectations set upon her character, Gish is thrilled by the challenge. “Robert’s addition has infused some new energy into the show this year, and it’s exciting to think that I can try to do that, too,” she says. “Not that there’s any lack of anything already, but [it’s great] just to throw another piece of paint on the canvas.”