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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 (Zap2it.com) – “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.”