Archive for January, 2002

Zap2it: Duchovny Likely to Return for ‘X-Files’ Finale

Duchovny Likely to Return for ‘X-Files’ Finale
Kate O’Hare

LOS ANGELES ( – “I don’t really think we’ll be sad until it’s the last day,” says “X-Files” executive producer Frank Spotnitz, “and we realize that we’re not going to see these people we’ve seen for so long. That doesn’t happen often in television, where you work with the same group of people for so many years.”

“But, it’s scary, slash, exciting, disappointing and the right thing to do all at the same time.”

In a two-part episode, set to shoot in early April and air on May 12 and 19 on FOX, “The X-Files” bows out after nine seasons. Some may argue that it was one season too long, but Spotnitz isn’t sure what caused the decline. He is sure, though, that it wasn’t competition from ABC’s “Alias,” starring Jennifer Garner as a secret agent, in the Sunday, 9 p.m. ET time slot. “That’s silly,” says Spotnitz. “I’ve heard many, many theories about the show this year, but I don’t think there’s anything to that. If you look at the numbers for ‘The X-Files’ this year, in the very first episode, there was a significant portion of our audience that just didn’t come. They just weren’t there.”

“I could give you six different theories, and I don’t know which one it is. Is it because we started in November, and these other shows had weeks on the air to build an audience? Is it because we were up against ‘Saving Private Ryan’? Is it because Sept. 11 changed the zeitgeist of the country? Is it because people didn’t know we were on because there was so little promotion? Is it because David Duchovny left?”

“At the end of the day, from where we’re sitting, we just don’t know the answer.”

Spotnitz also doesn’t see a connection between FOX’s pickup of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” creator Joss Whedon’s science-fiction series “Firefly,” and “X” creator Chris Carter’s subsequent announcement that his show was over. “No, it’s just a coincidence, because the decision really was Chris’, and the timing of it was Chris’. He came to them. He had thought about it over the Christmas vacation. We delivered two really strong episodes at the beginning of January, and the audience wasn’t any bigger. He said, ‘Let’s get out while we’re ahead. We don’t want to limp out.'”

“I’m sure they have high hopes for ‘Firefly.’ Joss Whedon’s very talented, and I’m sure their hopes are high, as they should be. But ‘X-Files’ has been such a strong performer for so long, it’s got to be a little scary for them too, even with our ratings this year being lower than before.”

As for the rest of the season, Spotnitz promises a resolution to the cliffhanger finale of the short-lived “X” spin-off “The Lone Gunmen.” “We are going to clean up their finale, have Michael McKean in a great episode. Burt Reynolds is going to be in an episode written and directed by Chris. That’s episode 14, airing in April.”

And as for Duchovny returning to play Mulder in the finale, Spotnitz says, “I think it’s pretty likely. The irony is, he was going to come back to write and direct an episode before the season got announced.” Asked if questions will be answered, Spotnitz says, “I just want to say right away, we’re not going to answer all the questions. Anybody thinking we’re going to … you couldn’t possibly answer all the questions, you just couldn’t. We’ll do as much as we can.”

Of course, there is still the question of the second “X-Files” feature film, to which Spotnitz says, “Whatever the movie is, it’ll be a new beginning. What we’re most concerned about is finishing the series properly. We’re not really worried about whether there’s something left over for the movie. In all likelihood, the movie’s going to be a stand alone Mulder and Scully investigation anyway.”

Asked what’s next for him, Spotnitz laughs. “Frank doesn’t know. I know I’m going to do the next movie with Chris, but I don’t know if I’m going to go onto another show, create my own show, write another movie. It’s a very exciting, scary, weird time.”

Chicago Tribune: Closing the file on ‘X’; Ratings tell the tale: Nine years is enough

Chicago Tribune
Closing the file on ‘X’; Ratings tell the tale: Nine years is enough
Allan Johnson

When is it time for a television show to go away? In the case of Fox’s “The X-Files,” after about nine seasons. And as industry observers note, the time frame may vary, but the signs of impending doom often remain the same.

Chris Carter, executive producer of the Fox paranormal series, still insists “we can tell stories now for a long time.” But Mediaweek magazine television analyst Marc Berman responds: “It should have ended last year.” “The X-Files” (8 p.m. Sundays, WFLD-Ch. 32), which follows two government agents in their quest to uncover cases of the paranormal and supernatural, has been a key component for Fox thanks to its appeal among the coveted 18-to-49-year-old demographic.

However, it has taken several hits this season, which makes Carter’s announcement that the show would end its nine-year run in May almost anticlimatic:

– Ratings have taken a huge dip — last season it averaged about 13 million to 14 million viewers; this season that average has fallen to 8.7 million.

– It is facing stiff competition on Sundays from ABC’s “Alias” and NBC’s “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.”

“Part of our audience went somewhere else and they didn’t show up and they weren’t coming back,” says Carter, 45.

– It has relegated star Gillian Anderson to co-starring status to work in new actors Robert Patrick and Annabeth Gish.

Carter says the plan was to bring Gish and Patrick along slowly as new agents Monica Reyes and John Doggett (Patrick started at the beginning of last season; Gish came along near its conclusion) so as not to force-feed them to fans.

– It lost one of its key co-stars this season in David Duchovny, who has played passionate, wisecracking FBI agent Fox Mulder since the show’s premiere in 1993.

“When a show ages, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to keep the quality up,” Berman says. “It’s difficult for the writers to come up with new story lines and new twists.”

Carter notes that possible fan resistance to Patrick and Gish was a risk when you’re dealing with “the life of a TV show that is nine years old — what people expect from it, and will they reinvest in brand new characters and in a relationship the same way they would for a new show.”

Barbara Corday, professor and chair of film and television production at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinema- Television, thinks a series has a “natural life span” that dictates its time on the air.

“It starts slowly, it peters on the brink of being canceled, suddenly maybe it gets a couple of awards or people start writing about it, or for some reason or other it begins building an audience,” Corday says.

“It has usually two, three, four years of real high visibility, and it’s very successful. And then it begins to peter out as those fans either get older or move on, or their tastes change or new shows have come along or whatever.”

Another tried-and-true practice that sometimes delays the demise of a series is a network keeping the show around to wring every possible ratings point.

Berman argues networks sometimes like to “milk” an aging show “to the very last second” to get maximum ratings exposure, rather than invest in a new series.

“They can do better with a seventh or eighth season of a failing program than they can with the first season of something that’s going to flop after 10 episodes anyway,” adds Lawrence Lichty, a Northwestern University professor of radio, television and film.

Carter says the series will conclude with a two-parter in May that could include Duchovny — and may or may not answer many of the lingering questions of alien invasion and government coverups. Rather than continue producing a show that had lost some of its audience, he said, he will spend time gearing up for a logical conclusion.

“My feeling was we were doing great work and it was less appreciated than it might be,” Carter says. “I wanted to refocus the energy, and show people what great work we’re doing by wrapping it up this season.”

Carter “had been thinking provisionally about ending the show for a couple of years” because of several “business” reasons, including uchovny’s desire to leave, and Carter’s own contract expiring (he signed a new one for this season).

“This is actually a creative choice,” he adds. “I think it’s really he best one for the fans, as well as the people I work with.”

“The X-Files” isn’t totally dead: Plans are in the works for a second “X-Files” film to star Duchovny and Anderson.

Cinescape: Shiban talks final X-FILES stretch

Shiban talks final X-FILES stretch
Christopher Allan Smith

In an exclusive interview with CINESCAPE Editor in Chief Anthony C. Ferrante, X-FILES co-executive producer and scribe John Shiban discussed the recent announcement that creator Chris Carter had decided to make this season the show’s last.

“Ultimately, it was Chris [Carter’s] decision,” Shiban said. “I think all the producers were feeling we wanted to go out in the right way and in a classy way. We wanted to give the series its due, to know the end is coming and plan for it. We also wanted to tie up the story lines we want to tie up and leave the storylines we wanted left open for the movies. We were all bittersweet it is to end. I think we all agreed this was the right thing to do and glad it happened this way, rather than waiting until the end of the season [to make that decision].”

Shiban also confirmed that discussions regarding the end of the show had been going on for quite some time.

“In each year at the beginning of the last few years, it’s been the question on everyone’s mind. ‘Is this going to be the last year?’ The timing of it, was all Chris.”

Shiban also said that despite Carter’s announced plan to use the time remaining to tie up loose ends, many of the episodes left will not deal with the elaborate mythology that originally made FILES famous. The crew is currently working on episode 14 of this season’s 20.

“Fourteen is going to be a standalone,” he said. “So will 15 and 16. We haven’t really changed our plan. We have episode 15, which features the Lone Gunmen. Although it’s an X-file, it’s a cool one. It features them prominently and its our way of tying up some of the loose ends from THE LONE GUNMEN series. Sixteen will also be a standalone – 17 and 18 are going to be standalones. [Episodes] 19 and 20 are a two-parter we planned for the end of the season which is a mythology show.

“To be honest, as we’re breaking each show, in the back of our minds [we’re thinking] this is the end. There’s more to do with the show than to tie up loose ends. We want the movies to go on and for the franchise to go on. There are emotional endings to be had that are not just plot endings. Even in the stand alones, I think there will be moments where we’re all aware this will be the last time we will be visiting some of these characters. That’s a nice thing. As far as changing our plans for the rest of the season, we’re still going to be doing the same number of mythology episodes.”

The Hollywood Reporter: ‘X-Files’ creator ends Fox series

Tim Goodman
‘X-Files’ creator ends Fox series
Tim Goodman

[Original article here]

If the truth is indeed out there, fans of “The X-Files” could finally get nine years of nagging questions answered by the end of May. That will be the 201st — and last — episode of the popular Fox series.

Chris Carter abruptly pulled the plug late Wednesday night, saying he didn’t want to issue a goodbye in the summer (when the decision might have been out of his hands — Fox execs haven’t stepped up with a vote of confidence) and will instead try to wrap up countless loose strings from one of television’s finest weekly mysteries.

Not many shows get to appease fans in the fickle world of television, where network presidents kill shows willy-nilly all the time. But Carter, who helped shape the success of the Fox network when his dark, conspiracy-laden sci-fi thriller went from cult to hit series, still has quite a bit of pull, not to mention another year on his contract.

So Fox will get back as many as 5 million stray fans who jumped ship the past two seasons, right in time for a grand May sweeps goodbye, and Carter will have the chance to develop another series (several previous attempts have ultimately failed).

“I saw this as an opportunity to go out with all my people in place,” Carter said yesterday in a phone interview from his office in Los Angeles. Although the series has flagged in the past couple of years, as the “mythology” — as fans called the continuing conspiracies — failed to be revealed and star David Duchovny left the show, “The X-Files” will now become a kind of must-see property for the rest of this season.

Carter said he will solve things “as best I can” despite a relatively short timetable. He’s currently writing episode 14 — there will be only 20 this season — and plans on writing at least four of the last seven.

“I hope everybody comes back to see what we do,” he said.

The culmination of “The X-Files” isn’t a complete surprise. Ratings have dipped, and this season even Gillian Anderson’s role was reduced as the focus shifted toward two lesser characters (if that had worked, the show might have continued forever, like “Law & Order”).

“It’s been a very strange season,” Carter said. “We lost our audience on the first episode. It’s like the audience had gone away, and I didn’t know how to find them. I didn’t want to work to get them back because I believed what we are doing deserved to have them back.”

“The X-Files,” which spawned one feature film (there may be others, Carter said), has had times in the past when the end looked near. “I had ideas (on how to end), but because the show remained strong and popular — we never got to them.”

But this time it’s for real, so look for the truth to finally be revealed.

“I’ve got plenty of ideas,” Carter said. “In this business, you’ve got to swing for the fences. I’ve been doing that for nine years.”

“The X-Files” will be remembered as a show that helped spawn a genre of dark, interior, don’t-trust-the-government suspense shows, but none of them could equal the eerie nature of the original. Despite sometimes veering off into comedy or going well over the bounds of believability, Carter’s taut storytelling always kept the series intriguing. But the past two seasons simply saw the audience tire of the game (along with Duchovny), and this ending was almost inevitable.

Carter says he never got creatively bored with the show and will miss it. “The one thing that depresses me about this decision is that I’m not going to each week be able to tell a new ‘X-Files’ story.”

New York Daily News: Closing The Book On ‘Files’

New York Daily News
Closing The Book On ‘Files’
Richard Huff

[Original article here]

The truth about Fox’s “The X-Files” is finally out there: Come May, the series will end, after nine seasons.

Executive producer Chris Carter told Fox programmers on Wednesday that he wants to end the show this season.

The pending departure of original star Gillian Anderson – David Duchovny left after last season – and a decline in audience this season nudged Carter toward the decision.

“All of the things that I come to work for every day are in place, minus David Duchovny,” Carter said. “And those things might not be here next year. So I decided to take these people to wrap this up in style. … It’s better to go out strong.”

The future of “X-Files” has been a topic around Fox for much of the last few seasons, as both Duchovny and Anderson expressed a desire to move on. Duchovny worked half of the episodes last season. And Anderson, who wanted to leave earlier in the show’s run, was contractually forced to work this year.

Like Anderson, viewers may already have had enough. After six episodes this season, the show has averaged 8.6 million viewers. By comparison, the show averaged 13.2 million viewers last season.

Fox executives had been having informal discussions about the show’s future, but Carter pulled the trigger, according to Sandy Grushow, chairman of the Fox TV Entertainment Group.

“Each one of these shows has a life span,” Grushow said. “It was pretty obvious to anyone paying attention that this one was coming to an end.”

Grushow said the network will heavily promote the remaining episodes and the series finale, which will air on May 19.

“It’s meant a great deal,” Grushow said. “Anytime you have a cultural phenomenon on the air, it serves to form your identity. This was the first real quality drama to break out on Fox back in the early ’90s.”

People Magazine: The Truth Is Out: ‘X-Files’ to End

People Magazine
The Truth Is Out: ‘X-Files’ to End
Stephen M. Silverman

[Original article here]

After nine seasons and 201 episodes, the Emmy-winning “The X-Files” is retiring its agents come this May. “I look at it as the ninth-inning situation,” series creator Chris Carter, 44, told The Hollywood Reporter late Wednesday. “I’d rather go out now and celebrate rather than have to make an announcement in the summer.” Part of the reason for the demise of the FOX show about investigations into the paranormal, according to industry observers, is the departure of original star David Duchovny, as well as stiffer Sunday competition on other networks. With the show’s Nielsen ratings slide and its production costs approaching $4 million per episode, it was anticipated that the series would end its run this year. Carter told Variety that, although he had yet to broach the subject with the actor, he hoped Duchovny, 41, would return as special agent Fox Mulder for the two-part series finale opposite agent Dana Scully, played by Gillian Anderson, 33. (Duchovny, whose movie career has yet to catch fire, left the series last year after filing a lawsuit against the studio over his share of profit participation.) Once Duchovny departed, the show added new characters, played by Robert Patrick and Annabeth Gish. Both Duchovny and Anderson, whose mutual off-screen antipathy was widely reported, are on board for a sequel to the 1998 “X-Files” feature, Carter told The Hollywood Reporter. “I want to be able to wrap things up for the fans who have been there from the beginning and throughout,” the producer said. “My determination was to go out with a series of very, very strong episodes that are going to pull a lot of threads together from the last nine years.”

GAWS: 30 of Gillian’s Most Memorable X-Files Moments

30 of Gillian’s Most Memorable X-Files Moments

[Original article here]

Originally posted to the Gillian Anderson Web Site (GAWS) in 2002.

Question: Now that the X-files are ending, Can you tell us what are some of your favorite memories of working on the show?

Answer: Some of my favorite memories of working on the show (and not necessarily in order of importance or weight or much of anything but the order in which I remembered them.)

1. Directing “All Things.”

2. Singing Jeremiah Was A Bullfrog to Mulder in Detour.

3. Shooting “Triangle.”

4. Shooting “Cops.”

5. Shooting the kiss/bee scene in the movie.

6. Shooting the scene where Mulder shows Scully how to hit a baseball in
“The Unnatural.”

7. Shooting “Bad Blood” but especially the autopsy scene.

8. Doing the elephant autopsy in “Fearful Symmetry.”

9. In the first season the crew used to crowd around a t.v. screen on Friday nights and watch the show over lunch. That was fun and exciting for us.

10. I remember when the casting director told me I had the job after the final network audition and I had to drive a fellow auditioning actress that I knew back to her hotel knowing that I had the job and not letting on or being able to talk about it.

11. Shooting the graveside scene in the pilot in forced freezing rain at some ungodly hour in the morning and trying to remember my name let alone whole paragraphs of dialogue.

12. Shooting scenes in the snow in Vancouver wearing a skirt and high heals and trying not to slide down hill.. .or having to use an umbrella so that my hair did not have to be blown out before every take.

13. Telling David in his trailer that I was pregnant and him telling me that he felt his knees buckle. Blue, as a puppy was lying sick on his bed behind him having just been spayed.

14. Watching Jim Rose do his famous genital tricks in his trailer during the shooting of Humbug.

15. In one of the very first episodes, Mulder and Scully are to look at red lights in the sky that may be UFOs and follow their flying path. David and I were standing on a windy hilltop looking out onto the pitch black heavens with the cameras on our faces and being directed where to look in EXACTLY the same place at the same time (up down left right).. .but with NOTHING TO LOOK AT AS A GUIDE! It was absurd.

16. Shooting Scully and Mulder’s final kiss scene at the end of “Existence.”

17. Shooting the dance sequence at the end of “The Post-Modern Prometheus.”

18. I remember sitting at a wooden table with David on the set when Pendrell was shot and David telling me about this date he had with a woman whose name he would not tell me but it was kind of like the tea that you drink.

19. Sitting in a luncheon booth on the North Vancouver lot with David Nutter and for the very first time going over a script with a director beat by beat and how exhilarating that was to be creative that way and have someone care what my feedback and impressions and instincts were. The script was “Beyond The Sea.”

20. Shooting the scene where Scully’s stomach is pumped with air in an abduction sequence and trying not to reveal that it was actually a pregnant belly being shot. I’ll have to show that scene to Piper one of these years.

21. Lying in a hospital bed on set ten days after giving birth to Piper. Hooked up to tubes and wires and drifting in and out of sleep while they shot around me and being wheeled to and from the bed in a wheelchair. Surreal. I’d just been there!

22. Shooting a scene in a rowboat in the middle of a lake all by myself for hours and my lactating breasts getting so swollen that I thought I might explode.

23. Shooting a scene in an episode about cats where Scully has to be attacked in the face by a cat but I am allergic so they built a cat on a stick covered in bunny für whose arms could be operated by some poor special effects guy. So here I am “struggling” with this fake bunny/cat in my face pretending to get scratched and be terrified when the fake fur keeps sticking to my lipstick and going up my nose and Kim Manners and I cannot stop cracking up at the ludicrousness of it all.

24. Lying on the floor eight months pregnant and being pushed by someone across the floor to simulate me “crawling” because I was so big and my belly was in the way and 1 could not do it myself. I think it was “Duane Barry.”

25. Sitting in the back of a jeep on one of the stages pretending to be attacked by imaginary (CGI) green bugs who are going to cocoon us and suck our life out of us… flailing away at them with all my might and then whenever we cut, turning to a big garbage can to my left and throwing up because I had horrible morning sickness.

26. When Chris Carter walked into my hospital room a day or two after Piper was born and was stopped in his tracks by the sight of this living being propped up beside me. We sat in silence for a long time.

27. Talking to Chris on some payphone outside some restaurant a couple nights before I was to go back to Network for the final audition and him giving me notes on how to dress more ‘streamlined’ for the Network Execs… I borrowed a suit.

28. Talking to David for the very first time outside the audition as he chatted up the girls and commenting on the fact that I was from N.Y. and not really meaning FROM FROM but the disappointment which flashed across his face when I qualified that I had only actually lived there a couple years. He moved on to someone else.

29. Experiencing Rob Bowman directing for the first time, setting up elaborate shots and the crew standing around thinking what is this new guy doing spending all this time with these fancy angles.. .cut to.. .the established norm. And thank God.

30. The last day of shooting in Vancouver when the make-up artist had to redo my make-up three and four times before every take cause I was crying so much. I imagine the same will be said in a little over a month. We won’t get anything shot.

The End The “X-Files” (John Shiban)

The “X-Files” (John Shiban)
Maelee McBee

“The single hardest thing for us to do after all these years is to find great writers who understand Star Trek. It’s always been a problem.” “Enterprise” Executive producer Rick Berman on the hiring of John Shiban.

The X-Files Co-Executive Producer John Shiban was working as a computer programmer to pay the bills when he landed his writing gig on The X-Files in season three. “I went to film school at AFI. There I met Frank Spotnitz, we became friends and after school I continued writing features. I had no thought of writing for television at the time. I was still writing features and taking meetings and not having much success. Frank got the job on The X-Files and I was going to go pitch to him. He said ‘listen, why don’t you send a feature over. I know Chris is interested in hiring somebody with no TV experience.’ So I showed them one of my specs and I waited and waited. I got a call the last day before they went on hiatus to come down and meet Chris. I met him, we had a great meeting and the next day they hired me on staff. Overnight. Well, it felt like overnight even though it had been years of trying. It was beautiful.”

Shiban went on to give us such memorable episodes as Pine Bluff Variant, SR819,Underneath, which he also directed, and Dreamland I and II, Monday, and Field Trip, which he co-wrote with Vince Gilligan and Frank Spotnitz. One of the episodes he is most proud of is Underneath. The episode was Shiban’s directing debut, and proved to be “one of the hardest things I had to do on The X-Files. The first day of directing was hard but once I got through that, I had a blast. It’s like a giant toy store. You do all kinds of amazing things and you have a talented crew who follow your every whim. It’s a ball.”

Something that wasn’t a ball for Shiban was his last day as Executive Producer on The X-Files. “We had a little get together yesterday at Mark Snow’s house to listen to the music for the finale. We all got a little misty eyed. It’s not just seven years of great TV, it’s seven years of great people. It becomes a family. You can’t help that. They are great people that I worked with. Vince was there, Chris and Frank, David Amann, and Paul Rabwin and others. The way we had done it for years was that we’d all go to Mark’s house for music play back, and that was always the most pleasurable part of my job, because Mark Snow is so great at what he does. It was a nice thing for Mark to suggest we all get together for this one. We had a group hug kind of thing.”

Shiban gives away very little about the finale but does answer some questions about baby William, who we last saw being given up for adoption in the episode William. “We all discussed it and knew we wanted to bring some closure to that story as we were trying to do with everything on the series. There was some debate about what to do and what the best thing to do was. That idea (giving William up for adoption) was from Chris and Frank. It’s a safe place for the baby. I don’t think anybody wanted to continue playing jeopardy for the baby any longer. It started to become for all of us painful. The great thing about this solution is that it was a way to cure the baby in a very satisfying manner because it was a part of this revenge plot of Spender’s. It leaves Mulder and Scully with a huge emotional burden. You see in the finale that they do carry that with them. It’s not just ignored by any means. This is a family issue that must be dealt with. It’s a very, very emotional scene, a touching scene. I think you’ll be happy with the result.” Let’s hope so.

Looking back at the life of the series, Shiban says his two favorite episodes are Leonard Betts, which he co-wrote with Vince Gilligan and Frank Spotnitz, and Existence. “The teaser for Leonard Betts was so outlandish that even the director and writers said ‘how the hell are we going to get out of this? You can’t just cut a man’s head off in the teaser and let him live throughout the episode.’ It was so much fun for me and I think we worked it out pretty well. The science almost made sense. It was really exciting and it made me feel like we had a cool franchise here that Chris has created that can push the envelope like this and yet still be grounded in reality. That’s always stuck in my mind that hey, we can do anything on this show.”

Shiban’s other favorite, Existence, is purely personal. “That was my son’s acting debut. He was Scully’s first baby. So that will always stick in my mind as a high point.”

Shiban has moved on to Enterprise, the next installment in the “Star Trek” franchise. He will serve as Co-Executive Producer on the series, and hopes to eventually do some directing in addition to his writing duties. When asked if he was a Trekkie growing up, Shiban says he was a “fan of the original series, and I’ve seen my share of “Next Generation” and some of the “Voyager”. I haven’t seen much of “Deep Space Nine”, but I’m trying to catch up. I’m doing my homework.” That includes knowing the lingo of the Trek universe. “I’m a fan but I don’t know if I’m a Trekker or Trekkie. I know there’s a difference. I’m learning.”

In case he ever starts to feel homesick for The X-Files, he need only look to the cast of Enterprise. John Billingsley who plays Doctor Phlox, was in an “X-Files” episode Shiban co-wrote with Vince Gilligan titled “Three of a Kind.” By the time Shiban arrived at Enterprise, the cast had already gone on hiatus, but he is “looking forward to working with him.”

Shiban feels that just like The X-Files, the “Star Trek” franchise has been so successful because “the basic paradigm is so brilliant, that you can keep telling stories for years. It’s an honor to be a part of something like this.”

“There was no significance to the white buffalo on the flag or the mobile. It was to set the stage and tell us where we were. People should not read anything symbolic into that. To give credit where credit is due, as I understand it, that was a creative choice by David Duchovny who felt ‘I don’t want to do a legend here. Let’s do something a little more interesting’.” John Shiban to fans on the relevance of the white buffalo in the episode William.

Entertainment Weekly: ‘Files’ Duty (Writing Intern)

Entertainment Weekly
‘Files’ Duty (Writing Intern)

An intern will guest on ”The X-Files.” After beating out 30 other actors the 22-year assistant got the job by Dan Snierson

Let us review the typical duties of a trainee: faxing, photocopying, fetching. But Jared Poe — a 22-year-old UCLA grad paying his dues in the writers’ offices of ”The X-Files” — added one other task to his list: kickin’ it on screen with Scully (Gillian Anderson) and Doggett (Robert Patrick). Owning no professional acting credits, Poe boldly asked ”Files” exec producer Frank Spotnitz if he could audition for a meaty guest spot in the May 5 episode as a mysteriously brilliant FBI cadet with unusual insight into the unsolved murder of Doggett’s son. ”I honestly didn’t expect for a second that Jared was going to get the part,” says Spotnitz, ”because it’s a huge part and I’d never even seen him act.” Lo and behold, Poe went through the casting process and beat out about 30 others. ”He was the best,” adds Spotnitz. ”He won it fair and square. I mean, he was as surprised as we were that he got the part.” While he’s grateful for this big break, Poe says he’s also focusing on becoming a writer-director. ”Hopefully something will open up,” he notes. ”And if not, I could always just go back to filing.”

Kodak InCamera Web Exclusives: David Nutter: A Director’s Perspective

Kodak InCamera Web Exclusives: David Nutter: A Director’s Perspective

[Original article here]


Director David Nutter and script supervisor Kathleen Mulligan go over script with Eric Close (center) who stars in “Without a Trace.” (Photo by Gale Adler/CBS © 2002 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

David Nutter: A Director’s Perspective

David Nutter is a director and producer of compelling television programming who specializes in pilots. He has directed 15 pilots for television series, and all 15 have been picked up for production as series – an unparalleled record of success. Nutter attended high school in Dunedin, Florida, and studied at the University of Miami, where he realized that his dream of being the next Billy Joel might not pan out. He took a film-related class, loved the process, and decided to pursue a career in motion pictures. His first directorial effort, Cease Fire, met with critical acclaim and led to a shot at directing episodic television. Since then he has earned three Emmy® nominations as a director, and shared an Emmy for Best Direction for his chapter of the Band of Brothers miniseries. His credits include episodes of Entourage, The X-Files, The West Wing, ER, Nip/Tuck, The Mentalist, Without a Trace, Millennium and The Sopranos. He also directed the feature film Disturbing Behavior.

Question: How did you become interested in a career in filmmaking?
Nutter: I loved music, and I always wanted to touch the audience’s emotions. I love drawing that out of people, and found that I could do it with my directing style and the way stories and images work together. Music and storytelling with images both require rhythm. In 1981, I was making decisions about what I wanted to do with my life and I saw a movie called Reds, directed by Warren Beatty and photographed by Vittorio Storaro (ASC, AIC). It was such a powerful experience for me, not just because of the story it told, but how the images and the visual style of the storytelling went hand in hand. It was so wonderfully dramatic, powerful and emotional, and the images felt so delicate. I find that when film comes across as a delicate thing, that makes it precious. I am always trying to find the precious part of the story, and trying to expose that as much as possible, because it is what people will want to see.

Question: How did you break in?
Nutter: When I moved to Los Angeles, I couldn’t get arrested directing traffic. I was out here for a year. One day, I played golf with a few friends and a guy happened to join us. His name was Patrick Hasburgh. He had just created a show called 21 Jump Street. I had directed a low budget movie that had received some critical acclaim, but not much else. We played 18 holes, and afterward he called his producer and told him to hire me to direct an episode. I really owe so much – everything – to him, and all because of a golf game. Those are the steps that you make in your life; you go with your gut. I almost didn’t go golfing that day, and it’s taken me to this part of my life. You never know what it’s going to be or when it’s going to happen, but you always have to be prepared to grab onto that ring.

Question: What do you look for in a cinematographer?
Nutter: I look for someone who really understands the story and what is necessary to tell it. It’s all about telling a story where there is no curtain; where we as filmmakers are invisible. I believe the camera should be invisible. The tone should be fitting for the story. The attitude of the camera, and the feeling we’re trying to put across to make that emotional connection with the audience has to be seamless. It’s not always about this or that particular shot. It’s about a series of shots, like a series of notes that builds to the final crescendo. I also need someone who understands that there is so much material one needs to get in a limited amount of time. With the crazy schedules we work under, I need someone who is responsible and pragmatic as well.

Question: How did you connect with cinematographer Bill Roe (ASC)?
Nutter: I met Bill when I was preparing to direct Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. It was the biggest pilot at Warner Bros. at that time, and it was my second project with Jim Cameron’s fingerprints on it. I had previously done Dark Angel. It was very important to work with someone who got it, who was fast, and who understood the scope and integrity of the material. Bill and I had crossed paths many times, but never had a chance to work with each other. He was one of the guys who had survived The X Files for many years in Los Angeles, and had made it so perfect and made it look so wonderful.

Question: Describe your collaboration with Bill.
Nutter: For me, the performance is most important. But I am also a big believer in blocking the actors. I have ideas and suggestions relating to every piece of the puzzle that I need to sell a particular sequence or story. When you’re working with someone fantastic like Bill Roe, you create a shorthand with each other. When we began working on Sarah Connor Chronicles, we watched a lot of different films and talked about still frames from different movies. We talked about every situation, including densities and exposures, layers of the images, everything. Then, we just jumped in and did it. I had seen so much of Bill’s work and respected him so much that I knew he had the ability to make it fantastic. Now, it’s surprising how little we speak. We bring our ideas and collaborate on putting the pieces together.

Question: You’ve done 15 pilots, and every one has been picked up. Also, every one has been originated on film. Why is shooting on film important to you?
Nutter: In the case of Eastwick, Bill and I felt it was important because that story needed to be lush. We were telling a story of beauty with these women, who were going to be right out there for the audience. We wanted to give it a sense of majesty and a mystical feeling. I thought that the best way possible to do that, of course, was film. Warner Bros. recognized the necessity of giving this pilot the pop that it needed. I just don’t feel that video is at that level, where it can be matched one on one with film. Maybe it will happen eventually, but I haven’t experienced it yet. I think with respect to portability, and depth and richness, film might be matched someday, but never improved upon. Today, you can do so much with the latitude and the sense of light you get with film. You have so much flexibility in color correction to make things seamless. It all goes back to evoking that emotional response.

Question: Take us through the post process, and how you extend your storytelling using those tools.
Nutter: I’m there every day for the editing and sound mixing process. Editing and sound, as well shooting, are things that I take very seriously and personally. When it comes to color correction, Bill has used Tony Smith at Riot in Santa Monica going back to The X Files. We talk to Tony about the style and tone of the images. We gave Eastwick, for instance, a real burst of color. Bill comes in and spends time with Tony, and then I come in and we’ll all watch together. There is a tremendous amount of work that gets done in editing. There are so many opinions about the best way of doing something, especially when you are trying to sell a pilot. I’m often fighting to keep it as close as possible to how I originally envisioned it. You are also dealing with the clock – not so much how much time you have to do it, but the amount of time you have to tell the story.

Question: What is your advice to aspiring filmmakers who are just starting out?
Nutter: The world today is so very different with respect to making films. It’s not for just the privileged or the people who have the money to go to film school. You can grab a camera and just shoot stuff and put it on YouTube. So again, I think it’s about content and finding something that is interesting. With respect to technical things and also many creative things, there will always be someone who is better at what they do than you are. But what they don’t have is you. I always tell people to find themselves, and find out what they are most capable of doing – what they like to do the most – and try to tackle that. All the young students want to be directors but they are not all going to become directors. The key is honing in on the specifics of what really turns them on and really attacking that.