Archive for the ‘Interviews: Online’ Category

Los Angeles Times Hero Complex: ‘The X-Files’ at 20: Chris Carter still wants to believe

May-13-2013
‘The X-Files’ at 20: Chris Carter still wants to believe
Los Angeles Times Hero Complex
Blake Hennon

[Original article here]

It’s been 20 years since “The X-Files” opened to viewers’ wanting-to-believe eyes, and the hit paranormal investigation drama’s creator, Chris Carter, doesn’t quite know what to make of that phenomenon.

“It’s surreal,” he told a sold-out crowd Sunday at the Hero Complex Film Festival shortly after entering to a standing ovation. “It’s like an X-File…. Twenty years’ missing time.”

Asked what he might do differently if he made the show now, he said, “It was of its time…. You probably could make the show today, but, I don’t know why, it just feels like it was made exactly when it should have been made.”

The festival’s closing night was devoted to the acclaimed Fox series, and included screenings of three fan-picked episodes – the pilot, which he wrote, “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space” and “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose.”

Carter said the pilot scene in which FBI special agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), a skeptical scientist, first meets her new partner, Fox Mulder (David Duchovny), a crusading believer in aliens and conspiracy, wasn’t just their introduction as a duo to the audience, but to him as well: “That’s the first time they really acted together. They didn’t audition together for the parts. We really cast them separately, so we didn’t know there’d be that chemistry. What you were watching was really a kind of test, and it ended up working.”

“Working” might be an understatement: Scully and Mulder’s chemistry quickly became a pop cultural fixation, with rampant will-they-won’t-they speculation.

During the series’ 1993-2002 run, Carter thought they wouldn’t, though he and the writing staff had some fun with fans’ expectations.

“We actually snuck in a lot of kisses, like secretly, like sneaky dream sequences and stuff where they get together. I knew they should never be together. It was wrong.”

His thinking changed, however, when it was time to make the second feature film spun off from the series, 2008’s “The X-Files: I Want to Believe.” In it, viewers saw that Mulder and Scully had finally become a couple. So why bring them together after all those years?

“You couldn’t keep it up any longer,” he explained. “It was ridiculous.”

Carter had a surprise for the fans, bringing out two of the show’s most popular writers, brothers Glen and Darin Morgan, the latter of whom wrote “Jose Chung” and “Clyde Bruckman.”

Glen Morgan, who noted it was his brother’s birthday, recalled being sent the script for “Clyde Bruckman” and, reading the lines for guest star Peter Boyle’s psychic-vision-haunted titular character, realizing, “Oh my God, this is our dad.” Then, clarifying to audience laughter, “He couldn’t predict when people die or anything …”

That episode, for which Boyle and Darin Morgan won Emmys, and “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space” – which Carter called “still such an improbable episode for any TV show” – broadened the series’ stylistic scope by mixing in more humor with the series’ usual science-fiction and horror elements.

“That was the amazing thing to me,” Carter said. “That it could be so many different things.”

Darin Morgan said he appreciated now more than he did then the risks Carter was willing to take on unusual material.

“I’ve had so many situations since ‘The X-Files’ where producers said, ‘I don’t get this,’” the writer said. “People are so unwilling to take a chance on another person. That was so rare. Thanks, Chris.”

There was, of course, one question on every audience member’s mind: Will there be another movie?

“That’s a good question,” Carter said.

Gently prodded to answer, he replied, “The truth is out there.”

The fourth annual Hero Complex Film Festival was hosted by Hero Complex editor Gina McIntyre at the Chinese 6 Theatres in Hollywood. It began Friday with a John Carpenter double feature and feisty Q&A. Saturday afternoon brought a screening of “The Mist” and a discussion  of that film’s shocking ending with writer-director Frank Darabont and surprise guest Thomas Jane. Saturday night belonged to Guillermo del Toro, who shared an exclusive preview of his upcoming “Pacific Rim” and gave lively responses to questions between showings of “The Devil’s Backbone” and “Pan’s Labyrinth.” On Sunday afternoon, Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin discussed “Independence Day” sequel possibilities after a screening of that film, and were joined by surprise guest Jeff Goldblum.

Check back in the coming days for videos of discussions with the festival’s special guests.

Vulture: In Conversation: Vince Gilligan on the End of Breaking Bad

May-12-2013
In Conversation: Vince Gilligan on the End of Breaking Bad
Vulture
Jennifer Vineyard

[Original here]

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Knee-deep in edits for the final season of Breaking Bad, which premieres in August, the creator of television’s darkest drama talks with Lane Brown about violence as entertainment, the incredible pressure of bringing a beloved serial to an end, and what it feels like to have Dzhokar Tsarnaev as a fan.

How close to the finish line are you?
We’re very close—the shooting was finished April 3, and yesterday we finished editing our second episode of the final eight.

Are you happy?
I feel very happy. There was a great passage of time in the writers’ room where we were a little nervous about the outcome. Well, I shouldn’t speak for them: I was nervous.

In interviews last summer you still weren’t sure how Breaking Bad was going to end. Was this just a matter of specifics? Or had you still not decided whether Walt was going to live, die, or go to prison?
It was everything. We knew very little as of last summer. We knew we had an M60 machine gun in Walt’s trunk that we needed to pay off, and that was about it. We kept asking ourselves, “What would satisfy us? A happy ending? A sad ending? Or somewhere in between?”

You also seemed worried about ending the show badly. If you did end it badly, how would you know?
There are two ways of knowing if something ends badly: If you’re honest with yourself, you just kind of know it. And then there’s other people’s reaction to it. Right now, I am very proud of the final eight episodes. But we could put them on the air in a few months and people could say, “Oh my God. That was the worst ending of a TV series ever.” So then you’re left with that horrible incongruity for the rest of your life. You either think everyone was right, or you start to think, “I’m like the Omega Man. I’m the only one who sees it the correct way and everybody else missed the point.”

Is there too much pressure on a series finale now? Since TV dramas became more serialized and less episodic, and especially since Lost and The Sopranos disappointed everybody, the last few minutes of a show can completely change the way we think about the 60 hours that came first. By contrast, I loved The X-Files, the last big show you wrote for, but I can barely remember how it ended.
There was certainly a lot of self-applied pressure. I second-guessed myself. I was much more neurotic than I usually am, and that’s saying a lot. And there is a different pressure on ending a serialized show versus a non-serialized show. The X-Files is a good example in that it was mostly comprised of stand-alone episodes. But when a show feels like more of a character study, there’s more of an expectation that it will end in a correct and satisfying manner.

And viewers are more sophisticated than ever about storytelling now. TV recappers have made a sport of poking holes in plot work—you have to lay the groundwork for every twist or they’ll hang you. If you were ending Breaking Bad fifteen years ago, you probably could have gotten away with telling us that Walt and Hank had been the same person all along.
Oh, no. At this point, you can parenthetically insert “Gilligan goes pale.”

It helps that I’m not reading what folks are saying online. If I did, there’d be a lot of stuff I’d roll my eyes at, and stuff where I’d say, “Oh shit, we should’ve thought of that.” But the best thing to do, as a showrunner, is to please yourself. It could mean coming up with something that no one will guess. It could mean coming up with the obvious yet satisfying moment. I’m not saying what you’re going to get, but it’s probably going to be a mix of the two. There are things in these last eight episodes that are going to surprise people. There are also things where people will say, “I kind of saw that coming.” But maybe the obvious choice is the right one sometimes.

With shows about difficult-to-like anti-heroes like Walter White, Tony Soprano, or Don Draper, the ending feels extra-­important. The finale is when you, the showrunner, render a final verdict on the character and tell us whether your show is in a moral universe where bad people get punished. So, how vengeful a god are you?
I hope that if I were a god, I wouldn’t be a particularly vengeful one. I’ve realized that judging the character is not a particularly fruitful endeavor on my part, and yet I have done that. I’ve lost sympathy for Walter White, personally. Not thinking, I’ve said to Bryan Cranston things like “Walt is such a bastard. He’s such a shit.” Then I realized this might color his perception of the man he’s playing, so I found myself biting my tongue the last six months or so. And my perceptions of Walt have changed in these final eight ­episodes—I didn’t think that was going to happen.

But this is not a show about evil for evil’s sake. Walt has behaved at times in what could be regarded as an evil fashion, but I don’t think he’s an evil man. He is an extremely self-deluded man. We always say in the writers’ room, if Walter White has a true superpower, it’s not his knowledge of chemistry or his intellect, it’s his ability to lie to himself. He is the world’s greatest liar. He could lie to the pope. He could lie to Mother Teresa. He certainly could lie to his family, and he can lie to himself, and he can make these lies stick. He can make himself believe, in the face of all contrary evidence, that he is still a good man. It really does feel to us like a natural progression down this road to hell, which was originally paved with good intentions.

Why do you think audiences are so enamored of bad guys right now? It’s not just on TV—superheroes are being rewritten as dark, flawed characters.
Our viewing tastes are cyclical. Five years from now, a person like yourself might be asking, “You remember when everybody used to like antiheroes? Now they like the guy in the white hat again. How did that happen? What’s changed in America?” People want what they want, for as long as they want it, then tastes change and something else works. For many decades—and this was reinforced by the broadcast networks’ standards-and-practices department—bad guys on TV had to get their comeuppance, and good guys had to be brave and true and unconflicted. Those were the laws of the business. But people’s tastes are fickle, and now that producers of TV shows can be more nuanced than that, audiences are along for the ride.

Are there any honest-to-God nice characters on TV that you still find interesting?
SpongeBob SquarePants
is a great show, and it centers on a character that is courageously nice. Why is SpongeBob interesting? It’s because he has passion. He has a passion for chasing jellyfish. I’m very glad people love Breaking Bad, but the harder character to write is the good character that’s as interesting and as engaging as the bad guy. My hat is off to the SpongeBob showrunners. It’s like how Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, except backward and in high heels. That’s kind of the struggle you face when you’re writing the good guy now instead of a bad guy.

Bryan Cranston and Gilligan on set in 2011.

Your original pitch for Breaking Bad was that you were going to turn Mr. Chips into Scarface over five seasons. Have you ever felt trapped by that promise?
No. It’s one of the most inadvertently smart things I’ve ever done. I’m not typically that forward-thinking. But the thing that intrigued me about Breaking Bad from day one was the idea of taking a character and transforming him. TV is designed to keep characters in place for years on end. The best example is M*A*S*H: You have a three-year police action in Korea, and they stretched that out to eleven seasons. It was a great show, but when you think about it, a weird unreality overtakes a television series. You see the actors age, and yet the characters don’t. I thought, Wouldn’t it be interesting to do a show in which the character became a slightly different character? We’ve abided by that for five seasons, and I’ve never felt the slightest bit hemmed in. I think that viewers knowing in advance that they were going to get a free-form character that was always in the process of metamorphosis allowed them to be free-form in their expectations.

In this post-Lost world, it seems like the worst sin a TV showrunner can commit is not knowing where his or her show is headed. Telling us there was a basic blueprint probably made it possible for you to say that you didn’t know exactly how the show would end and not get pilloried for it on the Internet. It’s a little like how Game of Thrones can kill its main character in the first season and not make fans think the show’s gone off the rails, because there’s the road map of the book series.  
The Walking Dead
is another good example—there’s source material for it. The question arises every week: Are they going to stick with what I know, or are they going take another path? So there are those dueling pleasures of “I can’t wait to see something I’ve already read visualized” and “It’s going in a different direction.”

Based on what you know about AMC, do you think it would ever let Rick Grimes lose his hands on The Walking Dead, like he does in the comics?
Does that happen? I’m not up to speed. You ruined it for me!

Sorry.
There are certain realities to making a TV show, and there are the actor’s feelings to consider. If I were the star of a TV show and they came to me and said, “Hey, the comic-book version of this is that you lose your hands,” I’d be like, “Screw that. I need them to act, man. What am I going to do, wear green gloves and you’re going to erase them for the rest of the time I’m on this thing?” It sounds like a big pain in the ass.

You’re in a small club: creators of serialized TV dramas who have elevated the form to art and sustained themselves for five or six seasons—Matthew Weiner, David Chase, David Simon. What do you have in common with those guys?
I know Matt Weiner a fair bit, but I’ve never met David Chase. I guess the short answer is that we all know what we want and we strive hard to get it. I’ve always had a fairly clear picture of who Walter White was, and I’ve got to imagine Matt Weiner knows Don Draper inside and out, as if he’s looking through Don’s eyes.

The other guys all have reputations for being grouchy and difficult. You seem like a nice guy.
I’m putting it on for this interview. I’m pretty dark, as you can guess from watching Breaking Bad. I’ve had my moments where I’ve blown up, but I always feel foolish afterward, like I’ve failed somehow—which doesn’t mean I won’t turn around and do it again next week. But this job is so hard. To work this hard and not be actively endeavoring to cure cancer feels like, What the hell’s the point? Most days, it’s just easier to be nice to people, and it bears more fruit, even if I’m not feeling like it.

Why do you think TV’s been so good over the past decade and a half?
The difference now is that writers are allowed to get away with more. We’re allowed to go darker. Thank God we don’t have what they had in the fifties, which was a sponsor reading all the scripts and saying, “I don’t think this character should be black.” But we could very easily have that situation again, because TV commercials get skipped over on TiVo. Ad agencies could once again take over sponsorship of individual series, and suddenly writers will be answering to them all over again.

But the best thing about cable TV is not the ability to say the F-word or show boobs or extreme violence. It’s the idea that a series lasts for thirteen episodes a season rather than 24. It’s amazing the quality of good work that happened in the fifties when a series would have to turn out 30-some episodes a season—it’s amazing that I Love Lucy was as good as it was! Or The Honeymooners. On Breaking Bad, I get to sit and spend three or four weeks an episode, breaking an episode and taking it apart, before a single word is written. That preproduction time is everything, and cable TV allows for that in a way that network TV can’t.

You seem enormously grateful to AMC and Sony for their support. Have you ever fallen out over anything?
We fight over money—or rather, I apologize for the overages that I incur and they yell at me. But I can point to a good standoff that I lost. We had an executive at AMC, a woman named Christina Wayne, who said I used too much music in my first cut of the pilot episode—I had just brought my iPod into the editing room. This executive said, “Don’t you trust your material? Do you think you need music to sell it?” I got so bent out of shape that I wrote an e-mail to her boss, which I really regret, trying to get her in trouble with him. But in hindsight, she was in the right, and if you watch Breaking Bad now, there’s more silence than music. Show writers can be wrong just as often as anybody else, and if enough people tell you that you’re drunk—or if one really, really smart person tells you you’re drunk—you need to sit down.

One of the criticisms of Breaking Bad that keeps coming up is over the female characters. Skyler White is seen by some as this henpecking woman who stands in the way of all of Walt’s fun.
Man, I don’t see it that way at all. We’ve been at events and had all our actors up onstage, and people ask Anna Gunn, “Why is your character such a bitch?” And with the risk of painting with too broad a brush, I think the people who have these issues with the wives being too bitchy on Breaking Bad are misogynists, plain and simple. I like Skyler a little less now that she’s succumbed to Walt’s machinations, but in the early days she was the voice of morality on the show. She was the one telling him, “You can’t cook crystal meth.” She’s got a tough job being married to this asshole. And this, by the way, is why I should avoid the Internet at all costs. People are griping about Skyler White being too much of a killjoy to her meth-cooking, murdering husband? She’s telling him not to be a murderer and a guy who cooks drugs for kids. How could you have a problem with that?

We’re talking now just a few days after the Boston Marathon bombings, and I’m sure you’ve been watching the news. Did you see that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had tweeted that he was a Breaking Bad fan?
No. Jesus.

He also tweeted, “Breaking Bad taught me how to dispose of a corpse.”
Oh, for fuck’s sake. Oh, Jesus Christ. No, I did not know that.

Yours is a dark show on which fictional people do terrible things—how much do you worry about inspiring real-life lunatics?
Maybe I don’t worry as much as I should. Jesus. I co-wrote the pilot episode of The Lone Gunmen, which was a spinoff of The X-Files; in it, there was a plot to fly 767s into the World Trade Center. That was about six months before 9/11. I remember when that day came, watching CNN just like everyone else in America, just absolutely horrified, stunned into disbelief. I turned on the TV, and I’m looking at the smoke, and I’m like, Wait a minute. We wrote this. I have no evidence that any of those assholes that did that on 9/11 had ever seen the show. Not that many people had actually seen the show. But you have those moments. Hopefully, it doesn’t need to be said that you don’t want to inspire evil and madness and hatred in any way, shape, or form. It’s not going to stop me from writing. It’s not going to paralyze me. But those moments give you pause.

Have you ever worried that one of Breaking Bad’s violent moments might have gone too far?
The scene I had trouble watching in the editing room—I would actually avert my own eyes—was when Victor gets his throat slit with a box cutter. I found that agonizing to watch. Again, hopefully it goes without saying that moments like that are meant to do the opposite of make violence look attractive or sexy. They are meant to unsettle and upset. People could argue, and I would not argue back, that Breaking Bad is oftentimes too violent. But the only thing that would really trouble me is if anyone said Breaking Bad sells violence in an attractive fashion, like something for young men to strive for. That would hurt, but I don’t think we do that.

Do you think there’s ever a moral imperative to pull back on the violence?
I don’t think there should be any kind of edict or mandate imposed by anyone else. However, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect a writer in my position to know where to draw the line him- or
herself. It’s up to the writer to know the difference between a dark story that is basically instructive and a cautionary tale.

Breaking Bad does seems to be responsible, or at least realistic, in the way it uses guns. On the show, guns are jamming all the time, and characters get killed by their own weapons. When Walt buys a gun, the dealer lectures him on how ineffective it’ll be in a high-pressure situation.
I’m a gun owner, and I grew up in the South. Guns are ingenious mechanisms, the product of many thousands of hours of brilliant engineering. You can ascribe to them evil or good. I’ve never hunted, but I find target shooting very relaxing. But it goes without saying guns shouldn’t be used to murder innocent schoolkids. I’m not anti-gun. I’m not anti–claw hammer either. But I am against having them in the hands of lunatics.

Children are always under threat on Breaking Bad, which makes me wonder: Did you rethink anything that happens in these final episodes after the Newtown school shooting?
No. But Newtown was so fucking horrible. It’s been such a bad few months. You’re watching the news, and you see the Kardashians, and you’re like, Is this the best news people can give us? And then you have a week like this one [with the Boston Marathon bombings and the subsequent manhunt], and you’re like, Bring back the Kardashians!

How do you identify yourself politically?
I’m not real comfortable talking about politics. I’m probably more conservative than most folks in the business. But the best way I can put it to you is, here at age 46, I am less interested in politics than I’ve ever been in my life. Politics don’t serve a lot of good. I’m not talking about government—government serves a lot of good. But politics don’t seem to be reaping a lot of positive benefits these days.

What do you think of the drug laws in the U.S.?
I understand why a drug like meth would be illegal, but I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about our laws. Our country is run by good people, more or less, who want the best for their own families, but as with most things that pass through the filter of politics, things get messed up. The idea of keeping illegal drugs out of the hands of little kids is a sound idea. But I don’t pretend to have any answers about how things could suddenly, instantly, magically be better overnight.

How did you settle on meth as the central drug in the show? It’s obviously not the sexiest drug.
I was on a phone call in 2004 with Tom Schnauz, who was a writer with me on The X-Files. We’ve known each other since NYU back in the eighties. He had read a New York Times article about a meth lab somewhere that was getting a bunch of neighborhood kids sick. We were trying to figure out what we were going to do next, because The X-Files had just ended and writing jobs were few and far between. “Should we be greeters at Walmart? Should we put a meth lab in the back of an RV?” It was in the midst of joking around that this idea struck home: What would an otherwise law-abiding person be doing in a meth lab in the back of an RV? That was the eureka moment for me.

And meth makes perfect sense, story-wise, for Breaking Bad. Unlike marijuana or cocaine, it’s a completely synthesized drug that needs a chemist and not a farmer to make. I liked the idea of Walt being good at chemistry and having a unique set of skills that would allow him to cook the best meth available. And it’s also just a nasty, terrible drug that destroys people and whole communities.

How did you choose Albuquerque as the setting? The Southwest is the fastest-growing part of the U.S., but it’s not often portrayed in entertainment.
It was a wonderful happenstance, but it was borne strictly of economics. Albuquerque and the State of New Mexico have been very welcoming in a way that California has not. In the first script, Breaking Bad was set in Southern California, in Riverside. During preproduction, Sony said, “What do you think about shooting in Albuquerque, New Mexico? We’ll get a 25 percent rebate on monies spent within the state.” I thought, You know what? More money on the screen. How can you turn that down? They said, “It’ll be great. All you’ll do is replace the license plates and call it California.” I said, “No, then we’d be shooting in a town where we can never look east.” We’d always have to be avoiding the Sandia Mountains! So we changed the setting to New Mexico.

Is there any product placement on Breaking Bad?
Chrysler has been great to us. Walt bought Junior a Dodge Challenger. Walt does doughnuts and then he lights the thing on fire and he blows it up. I was amazed they let us do that. Talk about product misuse.

But some of the moments that seem like overt product placement were not. We gave free ad time to Funyuns. We used Denny’s a couple of times, and Denny’s never paid us a dime. I think we had to pay for the privilege. I just love the idea of Denny’s as a place Walt and Jesse would go after having watched a guy get his throat slit. They put him in a barrel and dissolve him with acid, then they say, “Hey, let’s go to Denny’s. We’ll get a Grand Slam.” Chili’s and the Olive Garden turned us down, by the way.

What’s your obsession with fast food? There’s Gus’s chicken restaurant on Breaking Bad, and there’s Home Fries, the 1998 Drew Barrymore–Luke Wilson movie that you wrote, which was set in a burger place.
I spent a lot of time in fast-food restaurants as a kid. God, I remember the first McDonald’s in the little town where I grew up, Farmville, Virginia. When I was about 10 years old, the first McDonald’s went up, and that was like the biggest treat in the world. So I don’t know, maybe it hearkens back to that. I’m not as enamored of it now. I’ve been able to eat at the French Laundry since then, so McDonald’s has kind of paled.

In this issue, our TV critic Matt Zoller Seitz argues that TV has become a director’s medium.
I disagree. There’s a perfectly good medium for directors, and it’s called film. TV is a writer’s medium. I am chauvinistic toward writing because that’s where I came from. And when executives get excited about getting a superstar movie director to direct the pilot of a new TV show, I think to myself, That’s all well and good, but what happens after that? That superstar director goes away, and you’ve still got 100 hours to fill. Who’s the first person on the ground making those 100 hours happen? It’s invariably the writer.

Have shows like yours changed the mission of movies, do you think? A two-hour movie can’t explore a character’s psychology nearly as well as a six-hour TV series. With movies like Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty, you’re seeing more procedurals that dispense with backstory altogether, presumably because they can’t do the job as well.
I love movies, and I love TV. In TV, you have the time to get deeper into a character, but movies are a two-hour block of time in which we get transported to another place. We’ll always have Paris, and we’ll always have movies. But we’re going through a time, unfortunately, when the big movie studios are run by folks that are more obsessed than ever with the bottom line and who probably love movies less than any studio hierarchy that’s ever existed in my life. Back in the day, when the Irving Thalbergs and Louis B. Mayers ran the business, those guys could bite your head off. Those guys were tough sons of bitches, but they loved movies. They weren’t obsessed with counting beans. The problem with the movie business now is that it’s marketing-driven—driven by demographics, by spreadsheets and flowcharts and all this shit that has nothing to do with storytelling. But the movie itself, the structure of the movie, will always be with us. And occasionally a really great movie for grown-ups does sneak through.

It seems like it’s harder to get a green light for a smart movie than to actually make one.
I learned a great lesson from Michael Mann years ago. I was working on a script for him that became Hancock. It was a rewrite I was doing of someone else’s script, and I said to Michael in one of the first meetings, “What is this about? What’s the theme of it? What do we want to impart to the audience on a subconscious level?” He just looked at me kind of blankly and said, “Vince, come up with a good character, tell the story, and keep the audience engaged. Themes are for professors with patches on their elbows.” I learned not to get hung up on the subtext. Just pay attention to what’s going on under your nose, and the rest will take care of itself.

Which other TV shows do you watch?
I watch more TV than I should when I get home, because I need it to decompress. I invariably wind up watching non-scripted stuff. I don’t mean reality TV—I’m not a big fan of that, because honestly it’s as scripted as Breaking Bad is. I love documentaries. But put me in front of a TV that’s playing Modern Marvels, I’ll watch that for ten hours straight. Like the history of carbon and all its many uses, or tungsten, or how do they strip-mine a mountain, or how they make explosives. How It’s Made is a fun show. I love the Food Network. I love Good Eats. I don’t want politics. I don’t want characters. I want to learn how something is made, how it was created, who came up with it.

There’s also a channel, ME TV, that I watch endlessly—old episodes of Columbo and Perry Mason, which I didn’t know that well. I’ll watch Twilight Zone anytime it’s on the air even though I’ve seen it a hundred times. I’ll watch Lost in Space or Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. They’ve got all these fun old fifties and sixties shows that are very well written, and yet because they’re so far in the past, they allow me to just turn my brain off and vegetate, which is something I need when I get home.

I was in a pitch meeting with the head of a network, and I started to pitch Breaking Bad, and he says, “It sounds a little like Weeds.” I said, “What is Weeds?” I’m pretty sure it hadn’t gone on Showtime yet, and regardless I didn’t have Showtime. If I’d known about Weeds, I would have never pitched Breaking Bad.

With Breaking Bad nearly over, what will you do next? How serious is the talk about a Saul Goodman spinoff series?
We’re in early discussions for a spinoff. In my dream version of it, I would help create the pilot and arc out the first season and then basically transition away and let Peter Gould, who created the character, run it.

What would the tone be?
We’re still trying to figure out whether it’s a half-hour or an hour. It’s lighter than Breaking Bad, but it’s not a sitcom. I have a hard time with most modern sitcoms because the structure is so self-limiting. You have to have a laugh every eleven seconds, which is so artificial. It’s like Kabuki theater. It’s so unrealistic to me. Not to cast aspersions toward an entire art form, I just have a hard time relating to sitcoms, except for older ones like All in the Family, which were leavened with plenty of drama.

I rewatched all 54 hours of Breaking Bad last week to prepare for this interview, and I found myself enjoying it more than I did when I was watching week to week. How do you think binge-watching changes the experience of your show?
I don’t know, because I’ve never binge-watched anything. My butt starts hurting too much. But I’ll tell you, I am grateful as hell for binge-watching. I am grateful that AMC and Sony took a gamble on us in the first place to put us on the air. But I’m just as grateful for an entirely different company that I have no stake in whatsoever: Netflix. I don’t think you’d be sitting here interviewing me if it weren’t for Netflix. In its third season, Breaking Bad got this amazing nitrous-oxide boost of energy and general public awareness because of Netflix. Before binge-watching, someone who identified him- or herself as a fan of a show probably only saw 25 percent of the episodes. X-Files fans would say to me, “I love that show. I’m a big fan.” I’d say, “Well, did you see this episode?” “No. I didn’t see that one. Which ones did you write?” And every episode they’d mention would be one I didn’t write. But it’s a different world now.

Having binge-watched, I have to ask: What can you tell me about the ending of Breaking Bad?
In my mind, the ending is a victory for Walt. You might see the episode and say, “What the fuck was he talking about?” But it’s a somewhat happy ending, in my estimation.

*This article originally appeared in the May 20, 2013 issue of New York Magazine.

Vulture: Lily Tomlin on Admission, Tina Fey, and Girls

Mar-19-2013
Lily Tomlin on Admission, Tina Fey, and Girls
Vulture
Jennifer Vineyard

[Original here]

[Extract]

You used to go to showrunners and ask to guest-star on their programs: The X Files, The West Wing, Damages. Is there anything you’d like to be on today?
A lot of jobs I got like that. I got on Damages because I was mad for it, and The West Wing because I was bereft that I wasn’t on it. I went up to Chris Carter and I said, “I want to be on it!” when The X Files first came on. “Anything?” I’m sorry to say I like all the crime shows, but I have a heavy reaction if there’s too many dead females in the plot. I’ve turned down some decent roles, because you have to jump from twenty stories and go through the roof of a bus, and you’re all mangled. So I always hate those. And I don’t want to hold up people who have no virtue whatsoever as role models, because we fall in love with those people! It’s like Tony Soprano, he’s a real brute. Throws some girl over the desk and fucks her from behind, and then he’d go to the psychiatrist and we empathize with him. For adults, we should be able to absorb that and come out the other side in a wholesome way, but it’s hard. Tell me some shows you like, and I’ll tell you if I want to be on them.

Daily Illini: X-Files creator speaks at University’s Fear Film Festival

Feb-25-2013
X-Files creator speaks at University’s Fear Film Festival
Daily Illini
Austin Keating

[Original article here]

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Foellinger Auditorium was packed with insect enthusiasts to celebrate the 30th annual Insect Fear Film Festival, sponsored by the entomology department.

The event was called “The Ins-X Files,” and Chris Carter, creator of the science fiction series “The X-Files,” spoke at the event and answered audience questions after screenings of his productions.

“I always try to accept all the invitations I get to stuff that honors ‘The X-Files’ because it was something I worked very hard on,” Carter said. “If people are willing to throw something in our honor, I’m more than happy to honor them by showing up.”

Other event attractions included a cockroach petting zoo, an art competition with local K-12 students and face painting.

May Berenbaum, event organizer and head of the department of entomology, said she felt a special connection to one of the screened productions, an “X-Files” episode called “War of Coprophages.”

“I was just ecstatic when I asked Chris Carter to pick from the nine or so episodes that feature insects, and he picked ‘War of the Coprophages,’” she said. “The screenwriter had used some of the books I had written as background, and when it came time to name the entomologist in that episode, he thought ‘Berenbaum’ was a good name, so he used it.”

Berenbaum said the goal of the event was to dispel the fear of insects generated by media.

“Always our goal is for people to gain a deeper appreciation of insects as they really are, which, as entomologists, we know is almost stranger than fiction,” Berenbaum said.


Hundreds of insect enthusiasts filled Foellinger Auditorium on Saturday night to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the entomology department’s Insect Fear Film Festival.

The event was called “The Ins-X Files,” and Chris Carter, the creator of “The X-Files” spoke at the event. The Daily Illini sat down with Carter to discuss the festival.

 Daily Illini: Why did you choose to show “War of Coprophages” out of all the episodes about insects in “The X-Files”?

Chris Carter: Because of May Berenbaum (festival creator), it was the obvious episode to show, and because it’s one of the best episodes of the show.

DI: What efforts did you take to make the show more realistic?

CC: We were really rigorous in our science research because, for me, the story’s only as scary as it is believable, so it’s got to start with real science, and then the science fiction is built in on that.

DI: “The X-Files” was really the first science fiction horror show of its kind. Was it difficult getting that past studio executives in the mid-’90s?

CC: It’s hard to get … anything past the studio executives. They’re always braced for failure. … I always say they dare you to succeed because most things fail, and they’re certain that when you’re making something in the beginning that you are tempting fate and failure by making whatever choice you make, so it’s a very nervous process.

DI: What was your major inspiration behind “The X-Files”?

CC: There were many inspirations. One of the big ones was a show that was on when I was a kid. It was called “Kolchak: The Night Stalker.” It really wasn’t all that much like “The X-Files,” but it was scary and I wanted to do something as scary as “Night Stalker.”

DI: There are people from across the United States who came here to see you speak. When you first started “The X-Files,” did you feel like it would become as big as it is now?

CC: No. It’s still amazing and surprising to me. It’s really one of the reasons we come to these things. Because when we were working on this show so hard for all those years, you really kept your head down. You worked really hard, and this is for me the wonderful result, a product of all that hard work. It’s a really nice thing.

DI: Not many people know that Vince Gilligan, creator of “Breaking Bad,” was a writer for your show. What do you make of his recent success?

CC: I couldn’t be a bigger fan. He’s created a masterpiece, and it’s not surprising to me because he’s one of the most original and bright minds in our business.

DI: What shows are you watching now?

CC: I’ve been watching “Breaking Bad.” I just watched the 13 episodes of “House of Cards,” which just came on Netflix. I went back and watched five years of “The Wire” recently, which was great. I just watched the pilot to “The Americans,” which I thought was good. I tend to go with something I like that’s been on before and watch it all, it’s just how I do it.

DI: What projects do you have going? What are your plans for the future?

CC: I have something with Showtime that might go this year. I’m talking to AMC about a possible television series.

DI: So what do you do with your free time?

CC: Well, I work really hard. When you’re in production on a TV show or two, you couldn’t be any busier. There’s not a moment in the day where you can goof off. So now I have moments in the day where I can kind of goof off right now, which is a luxury in my business, and I’m enjoying all those moments before I go into production again.

Austin can be reached at akkeati2@dailyillini.com.

National Geographic Magazine: Insect Fear Film Festival

Feb-22-2013
Insect Fear Film Festival: Just Like Cannes, Only With Spiders and Scorpions Instead of Jennifer Lawrence and Brad Pitt
National Geographic Magazine, Pop Omnivore
Cathy Newman

[Original article here]

When it comes to generating buzz, it’s hard to beat the Insect Fear Film Festival, which celebrates its 30th anniversary on Saturday, February 23.  The lights will dim in the Foellinger Auditorium at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The screen will light up. Skin will crawl— as will a cinematic parade of members of the phylum Arthropoda, which includes spiders, scorpions and insects. One of the featured films will be War of the Coprophages” from season 3 of The X-Files, which features killer cockroaches.

The bug film fest was the idea of Professor May Berenbaum, head of the university’s Department of Entomology. “It’s about education,” she says, and righting the wrongs done to “the most misunderstood taxon on the planet.”  National Geographic Editor at Large Cathy Newman caught her between classes to talk about the event.

Let’s talk about how the idea of the Insect Fear Film Festival was…pardon my saying so…hatched.

I was a graduate student in entomology at Cornell University, walking across campus when I saw a sign advertising a showing of Godzilla, sponsored by the Asian Student Association.  ‘If they can have fun, so can we,” I thought. When I pitched the idea of an insect fear festival, my department head said it was undignified.

Many years later, when I was on the faculty here at the University of Illinois and established in the field, I tried again. My department head loved it.  We held the first festival in 1984.

How does it compare with Cannes?

Well, it’s not so much about film as insects. And we don’t have premieres.  The goal is education through entertainment. For our purposes a film doesn’t have to be excellent.

I imagine most insect films meet the criteria of non-excellence. Is there anything above a grade B film in the genre?

The granddaddy of them all is Them! A 1954 film about an encounter with a race of giant ants.  It was nominated for an Oscar and was Warner Brothers’ biggest grossing film that year.  Angels and Insects (1995) won an Academy Award for costumes. Many big actors got their start in bug films. Clint Eastwood appeared as the jet pilot in Tarantula (1955). Leonard Nimoy appears in Braineaters (1958).

Are there trends in insect films?

In the 1950s big bug films were popular—oversized insects made so by radiation. What causes the mutation differs with the era.  Genetically engineered big bugs came in the 1990s. In the 1970s, swarms were popular.

Is the film festival an attempt to proselytize the public and convert them to the cult of entomology?

It’s a plea for tolerance. Yes, there are bad actors in the insect world. Insects that have caused pain and suffering. Insects are vectors of disease. They consume 30 percent of the world’s crops. But there are far more good guys than bad guys. They recycle and can tackle materials not otherwise broken down. They pollinate. Without insects the world would be bleak and inhospitable.

How did you get interested in insects?

I used to be afraid of them. I would go out of my way not to cross the path of a caterpillar. But I always wanted to be a biologist and at Yale, when I placed out of introductory biology, a course on terrestrial arthropods was the only one available. I confronted my fears and here I am today.

Do you have a favorite insect? And a favorite insect film?

I’m asked about my favorite insect all the time. Do you ask an English major their favorite author?  Each has its own appeal. As far as film, it would be Beginning of the End, a 1957 film in which giant irradiated grasshoppers attack central Illinois, end up in Chicago, and drown in Lake Michigan. One reason I like it is because it starts out here in central Illinois, but it is clearly not filmed here because you can see mountains in the background.

If you have a fly or cockroach in your house do you catch and release it outside?

It depends on the fly. I know which ones pose a risk and which don’t. I have a low tolerance for mosquitoes because they carry disease. Of course there are mosquitoes that pollinate orchids. No one species is totally irredeemable.  As far as insects in the house, I’m perfectly happy to escort the harmless ones outside.

Moviehole: Exclusive : What are the chances of an X-Files 3?

Jan-20-2013
Exclusive : What are the chances of an X-Files 3?
Moviehole
Sandi Hicks

[Original here]

For as long as I can remember, I have had one passion. It involves two FBI agents, and their tireless search for ‘the truth’. For years we watched them investigate hundreds of bizarre cases – from liver eating mutants through to alien abductions and super soldiers.

For those familiar with ”The X-Files” mythology – Series creator Chris Carter’s finale ‘The Truth’ provided a pathway and a date for the final alien invasion that would come with the end of the series movie, which would ultimately finalize the franchise. At a charity event that was held in Los Angeles in July 2011, series creator Mr. Carter expressed his eagerness to complete the project and have it premiere on December 22nd 2012.

This date has since come and gone.

Thousands of fans write to Executive Producer Frank Spotnitz, via his website biglight.com asking him about when ”X-Files 3” is happening. The resounding message that ultimately comes from Mr. Spotnitz contain three words – “Don’t Give Up” (quite often shortened to D.G.U.) which was the recurring mantra of the second feature film ”The X-Files: I Want To Believe” (2008). Speaking with Moviehole, Mr. Spotnitz had the following to say about a third movie, “It took six years after the end of the TV series to get the last X-Files movie made. I hope it won’t be another six years before the next one gets released, but I’ll wait however long it takes.”

The second feature film was thought to be shunned by audiences due to its ‘summer blockbuster’ release alongside ”The Dark Knight”, and also largely because the story didn’t follow the mythology of the series. People were expecting an “end of the world, alien movie” and instead they got a stand alone feature film, which was basically a love letter to the ”X-Files” Fandom.

Largely misunderstood by so many, the film still went on to earn over $64 Million dollars worldwide, which was well over double the cost to produce.

“The last thing I heard from Chris (Carter) was that he was in the process of writing the script.” says Gillian Anderson, speaking exclusively to Moviehole. “As exciting as that sounds, and it is exciting, the script is the first of 10 million steps. And also, script writing in itself is a dubious process. I, for one, have been working on one for a decade. But Chris is not me and he is used to turning them out and, fingers crossed, he will turn one out that (20th Century) Fox wants to throw millions of dollars into making.”

Furthermore to the question that would the franchises principal actors return for the final installment, Ms. Anderson had a comical response, poking fun at the ‘tabloid rumours’ that circulated around the internet in 2012, “The answer to the next inevitable question is yes, should the latter happen, David (Duchovny) and I (I can answer for him because we live together) would be on board to do it. Given that we haven’t split up by then which would just be plain awkward.”

During promotion of the previous film ”The X-Files: I Want To Believe”, Ms. Anderson told fans to go out and see the last movie at least 10 times via her own website, GillianAnderson.ws – and most fans did just that!

Moreover, don’t discount the various worldwide fandom campaigns that have been conducted by XFilesNews.com, the only fandom website that is officially affiliated with 20th Century Fox. The dedicated fans that run this website have made the studio very aware of the audience presence that is still out there, awaiting closure.

So what is the hold up? The writers, producers, and actors are all on board.

Given an amazing script, the return of the award winning cast, and a superb score via the musical genius Mark Snow, who is responsible for all previous soundtrack work for the show and feature films, I believe that audiences would flock to see how the franchise is wrapped up.

So, what is the likelihood of ”X-Files 3” happening in 2013?
It all comes down to 20th Century Fox.
Don’t give up! We want to believe.

BlogCritics: Interview: Catching Up with The X-Files’ Dean Haglund – Part One

Nov-24-2012
Interview: Catching Up with The X-Files’ Dean Haglund – Part One
BlogCritics
Barbara Barnett

[Original here]

Actor-comedian Dean Haglund is probably best known for his role as Richard “Ringo” Langley, a Lone Gunman member on the iconic Fox series The X-Files. The Lone Gunmen were so popular, they were given their own show, and although that only lasted 13 episodes, it had positive reviews when it aired in 2001. In the aftermath of 9-11, some of the parallels between the series and the real-life horror of the tragedy were incredibly eerie.

I caught up with Dean last week to hear about his post-XF projects, which include his long-running podcast Chillpak Hollywood Hour, his new graphic novel, the very cool-sounding documentary The Truth is Out There, and a forthcoming graphic novel. We also talked about comedy, our mutual admiration of beautiful British Columbia, and of course, The X-Files. Because of the length of our conversation, I’ve split the interview in half. Part One is largely about The X-Files; Part Two is largely not.

I was really delighted that I made the connection through Denise Dorman of WriteBrain Media. When I mentioned, among other things, that I had done a lot of writing about The X-Files, she thought it would be a nice opportunity for the two of us to talk.
Aw, that’s awesome. So you’ve written extensively in terms of critical reviews of The X-Files, is that it?

haglund-2

It was probably how I ended up writing TV criticism at all—doing X-Files reviews on the old X-Files listserves back in the day.
Oh my gosh, that’s going back, isn’t it?

It is. And it led me to eventually write critical analyses of other TV shows, and the rest is history. Anyway, when I tweeted out this morning that I was going to be talking with you, I got all these tweets back asking me information on the alleged X-Files 3 movie.
There was a big push for getting that out before 2012 ended, but they would’ve had to already been shooting by now to get that out by 2012.

Hold that thought for a minute, because I want to get back to the movie. But I want to  talk about The X-Files series first. The Lone Gunmen were introduced how early in the first season?
We were just supposed to be day players back in an episode called “E.B.E.” which stood for Extraterrestrial Biological Entity. And I think it was a way to get Mulder inside a top-secret facility. They needed some guise. And at the time [episode writers] James Wong and Glenn Morgan said they saw these three guys in an airport handing out UFO pamphlets, and they were all very diverse, and they thought that was hilarious. So they created these characters, and it was just going to be a one-off thing. But I think because suddenly realized that the Lone Gunmen were the representation of the online, the early, early online fan gatherings that were happening back then. And they were happening in newsgroups. There was a newsgroup called alt.tv.xfiles.

Aha!
Do you remember that?

I not only remember it, that’s where I wrote my reviews back in the day.
That was the thing; everybody assumed that [creators] Chris Carter and Frank [Spotnitz] and [writer] Vince [Gilligan] were all lurking on the site. And in fact, they were, because they were so excited that this was the first time writers got a chance to get direct feedback anonymously. Like, you could see the feedback honestly. Because if you go, “I’m Frank, I write the show.”  Then everybody goes, “oh, I love the show,” and it’s hard to get honest feedback of what they [really] think of the show. But if you’re just lurking in the newsgroup, you can see how everybody is complaining about this, or you know, some of the ideas that the fans had back then were very, very passionate and very cogent. So Chris Carter really appreciated that, and [after] putting in the Lone Gunmen, the newsgroup went wild, going, oh, well, this proves it. And for seasons two and three, we would say lines that actually appeared on the newsgroup. So we would take an actual sentence from the newsgroup and give it to the Lone Gunmen to say.

Oh, that’s wild.
So we had this great symbiotic relationship with the fans early on, and I don’t think the Lone Gunmen would have been as popular were it not for the Internet and the newsgroups at the time.

At the time, the Internet was really sort of new. I mean, there had been newsgroups before, for a long time before, but I think that because being on the Internet had become all of a sudden fairly cost-effective, especially with AOL, suddenly everybody was online. You didn’t need like some crazy, $95-an-hour subscription anymore to hang out. There was some very serious discussion on alt.tv.x-files and alt.tv.x-files.analysis. Maybe for the first time about a TV show.
Yeah, and it actually sparked, like whole communities of debate, which I always found fascinating. But, you know, scientists would gravitate, and talk about the science aspects of the TV show, and then the [Mulder-Scully] “shippers” and the “no-romos” had their own newsgroups, and I really thought that was a great fragmentation of how you could find your own collective group and hang out with them.

And, for the most part, the discussion was very intelligent. I remember a lot of the participants were writers themselves, especially fanfiction writers, including me, and it was really cool. There was tons of X-Files fanfiction: some fairly brilliant novels, scripts, short stories…
I tended not to read a lot of that. Sometimes it delved into that slash universe that I wasn’t into, so I stayed away from it. And early on one of the executives said, “You know, if you read anything online, any fanfiction, and then that shows up in the series, and there is a lawsuit, you’re left out, hung out to dry. We’re not going to support you on that. So be careful what you read, because if it mirrors on the TV show, the lawsuit lands on your shoulders, not the Fox Network.”

Back then, writing fanfiction was a real risk, and frowned upon by the networks. And now, it seems it’s really encouraged. Over the last couple years I’ve talked to a ton of TV writers, people who write amazing scripts for major shows. These days, the writers I ask about it really appreciate it as a compliment to their characters and their own work.
Absolutely, and that was a huge learning curve too for the executives, because I remember even when you could show video for the first time, when the bandwidth increased and you could show video on your website, all the fans used to put The X-Files up there, and they would get a note from Fox saying that’s licensed stuff; take it down. And then I would get e-mails saying, hey we’re fans of the show, we’re promoting the show, we want this on our website, why can’t we do it?  And I had to then get up on the legalities of copyright law, and be in the position of defending Fox.

And that too has changed, because now they have, you know, embeds, so the studio will release something and you can just embed it and everyone’s happy.
Yes, I think that was the thing. Before embedding, they felt like it was just being released in the wild. Now with embeds and all the tracking stuff, you can still get all the metrics back so that you know exactly how it’s being used and where, and still use that to sell advertising, I think was the biggest issue.

So I have to confess, I think I stopped watching The X-Files after season seven.
Right, when Mulder left.

When Mulder left, yeah. The show changed when it came to L.A., a little bit.
It sure did.

And it wasn’t just the move to L.A., I think the whole show just sort of changed, and I’m not sure if I could put my finger on why, but it just…
I know Chris Carter originally, said “we’ve got a five-year plan for this series, and then at the end of five years, we can go and do movies”—that kind of thing. And of course when you sell your show to a network, the network tells you when it’s over, so…  That’s sort of changed now too. I mean, there’s a way of ending series properly, but back then, because it was so successful, the network demanded more seasons than perhaps the writers wanted it to continue.

Right, right. And I think the fans kind of picked up on that.
Yeah. At that point everybody kind of burnt out. We were doing sixteen-hour days, every day.  Nobody saw a Saturday towards the end of the show because you were shooting all day and Friday night, and just slept all day Saturday. Sunday you did some chores and then Monday you’re back at work. And so it burnt out a lot of people for sure.

And after awhile the conspiracy got kind of crazy after a while as well, don’t you think?
Yeah, it became more and more—It got larger and larger, and it was a large—any time you brought it up there was a lot of strings that you had to keep—a lot of plates you had to keep spinning on the poles, as it were.

Right. Was there ever even a Bible for the show?
Not originally. In fact, it was just going to be sort of an anthology of monsters of the week—

I remember.
Absolutely. And then Gillian Anderson got pregnant and had to sort of be written out for a couple episodes, so they just wrote in an abduction story that arced over three episodes, and then from that became, well why was she abducted? Now the conspiracy, now the alien-hybrid thing, all of that started because she was pregnant, so—

Wow.
Yeah, I know, right?  If that didn’t happen, the series would have just continued on as a crime-of-the-week kind of thing.

The conspiracy arc was actually pretty compelling, until it got really convoluted…
We kept adding different layers; the layering of the onion, sort of was working in two directions. So I think, yeah, around season three, they sort of arced out a Bible, but definitely in the beginning there wasn’t one.

Unfair question time: Do you have a particular favorite season or a particular favorite episode or episodes?
Wow, so, yeah, difficult. I guess my favorite season is… Well, no, there’s no favorite season because some of the shows stood out so great without a season, that you couldn’t really connect them. The truth of my favorite episode, I still think is [Darin Morgan’s] “Humbug” with the Jim Rose Freak Circus—

What a fabulous episode that was: pathos and comedy rolled into one.
I saw them live in a bar when I was in college, and I thought the show was hilarious, Enigma and all of them in the show, acting and doing what they do as well. And I thought that was so cool.

So they were a real act, then?
Yeah. Oh, yeah, there was a live stage act. It was almost like an old throwback to a big circus that you would see on the road in the south or something like that, and each person would come up and they would do something horrific or bizarre. And there was one guy who wasn’t in the show, and I don’t know what happened to this guy, because it was the most amazing act I’ve ever seen, but he would step off the stage to the pool table that was in the bar, and he’d put in some coins and release the balls. And then he’d take all the solid colored balls, you know, one through eight, and he would swallow them. And then he would say, call up any number, and people would shout out ‘five’, and then he’d sit there and wriggle his stomach, and he’d bring up, out of his mouth, the five ball.

That is very strange and bizarre.
I know. How do you keep track? How do you do that?  How do you train for that?  How do you not throw up everything you ate all day?  I mean, like, there were so many questions. And then everybody—It was so stunning that the applause was just a smattering, because you couldn’t believe what you were seeing. And I never saw that act again. I don’t know what happened to that guy. I don’t know, but it was the most amazing bar show I’ve ever seen, so, So Humbug is my favorite.

I can imagine. Darin Morgan wrote some really great episodes in addition to that one.
Oh, yeah. He was so good. I loved Clyde Bruckman’s Return. He’s a brilliant writer.

And he didn’t start out as an X-Files writer, as I recall.
Well, no, he came because of his brother, Glen, and acted in one episode. (He played the iconic Flukeman in the early season two episode “The Host.”) He’s the guy with the tail [in the fourth season episode “Small Potatoes].

And then, of course there were the various “shipper” camps. I have to confess, I wasn’t really a Mulder-Scully shipper, I was more of a Mulder-Scully USTer.
I was a Noromo myself, frankly. I appreciated a relationship that was based on respect and intellect, even though they didn’t agree on their points of view, and that they could be working together and not have to make it all kissey-gooey, so I was disappointed when it became kissey-gooey, as… Yeah, and it’s not just the tension, but it takes out the idea that you could work with somebody on a professional basis and still call that a relationship, you know? And have it as satisfying, and not be boyfriend-girlfriend or whatever, cohabitation thing. So when the second X-Files movie came out and you know, they’re just in a cabin together…  Just wrote me out of the movie.

Oh, yeah, well, in the first movie, there was that infamous “almost-kiss.”
Yeah, well, you know, there were a lot of executives involved in how that movie needed to play. So, yes, you had to answer everything from season four, and it had to be a lead-in to season five, and it had to be a stand-alone so that, for people who had never seen the TV series, they could watch the movie and still get it. And so, because of all of these demands put on that movie, I was surprised it was as good as it was.

What did you think of the second movie?
See, now here was the harder issue. I mean, already you had the romance thing. They’re already cohabitating in a cabin. And then, aside from the [2007-2008 Writer’s Guild] strike, they had a lot of restrictions. The writers’ strike was coming; they couldn’t do re-writes, so they basically had the script that they had. And I didn’t realize this, but they had written another script, and they had it in story notes, and Frank moved production offices and that shoebox went missing. So they basically had six months to write that script, and then had no opportunity for re-writes because of the—

Strike.
The writers’ strike, right. So that was a really tough position to be in. And then, for my taste, you know, a lot of the conspiracy of the government stuff [in the second movie]… I mean, here you are at the height of the Bush administration with, you know, Karl Rove and all these guys, and then you write about Russian head transplants. It just seems like you missed a real opportunity to explore conspiracy in the government.

I mean, when we had our own real-life insanity going on, real time, how do you not…?
Exactly, I know. You had this opportunity to do—Even if you couched it in some other thing, you know, different names and stuff like that, you could’ve still explored all of these ideas, and instead chose two-headed dogs, you know?

Yeah, yeah. That was a missed opportunity.
I agree.

So do you think there is going to be a third movie?  You think they’ll get a redux, or a do-over?
A do-over?  Well, you know I talked to Frank that—He moved to London, and he said he’s into it. It’s just once Chris comes up with something that his heart’s really into, then there will be a third movie. But right now it’s all resting on Chris Carter’s shoulders and his impetus to come up with a really great story.

Stay tuned for Part Two.

Den Of Geek: Frank Spotnitz interview: Hunted, the BBC cancellation, The X-Files, and more…

Nov-21-2012
Frank Spotnitz interview: Hunted, the BBC cancellation, The X-Files, and more…
Den Of Geek
Louiza Mellor

[Original article here]

On the eve of Hunted’s final episode airing on the BBC, we chatted to its creator about the HBO spin-off, The X-Files, and more…

Frank Spotnitz’s eight-part spy drama Hunted, starring Melissa George as Sam Hunter, a female spy in the Jason Bourne mould, comes to an end on the BBC tomorrow evening.

Originally a co-production between the Beeb and HBO, it was announced last week that the BBC would not be renewing Hunted due to it not reaching the desired viewer figures, but that HBO was to develop a spin-off based around Sam Hunter. In the divorce settlement, so to speak, Spotnitz and HBO were given custody of Sam’s character, but the new show will have to be just that, a different incarnation of Spotnitz’s stylish, slightly bonkers vision of the life of a private-sector spook.

We chatted to Spotnitz about the process of moving from Hollywood to the UK to make Hunted, the public response, the BBC cancellation, and his plans for the Sam Hunter spin-off. Being Den of Geek, obviously we couldn’t not also check in on the status of The X-Files‘ third film, and the possibility of a small-screen return for Mulder and Scully…

You followed some of the audience reaction to the first episode of Hunted on Twitter didn’t you?

Yes absolutely.

That’s a brave move…

[Laughs] I can take it, I’m strong.

There’s always that one snarky comment or offhand remark that needles though isn’t there? Was there any specific criticism that got to you?

Well it’s funny. No, I can’t think that there were any specific remarks that have stuck in my memory thank goodness, but you can read a thousand nice things and then there’s the one or two nasty ones that really hurt and the nice ones just go right past. You know, I think I’ve learned that’s just the nature of discourse and not to be too bothered by it.

Moving from Hollywood to the UK, you’ll have noticed the sizeable difference in TV budgets. Were there things you wanted to do with Hunted but couldn’t because of money constraints?

Well, in the beginning I was looking at a pretty major rewrite of the script because we just didn’t have the resources. Actually when HBO came on, it doubled our budget so we were actually able to do pretty much everything I wanted to do. Not that I wasn’t pushing against the budget every week, I was, and in truth we probably went a little over, but I’d say it was one of the best financed British productions ever, outside of a costume drama. We had a pretty healthy budget.

It shows, especially in the first episode with those fantastic locations…

That was really exciting for me. To be able to go to Morocco, and write those scenes for Scotland and then actually go there and take it outside of London. I think you can tell the difference, the audience can tell the difference, so that was really exciting to do.

There’s been some talk, whether it has any basis in truth, of the UK/US collaboration having been “creatively stifling”. Was that your experience or is that just hot air?

No, I mean I know where that perception is coming from, but that wasn’t the case at all. I had a fantastic relationship with both broadcasters both with the BBC and HBO and honestly, they saw eye-to-eye on their notes throughout the series.

I think what’s being talked about there is that Hunted is going to go on in another form after this year without the BBC, and when you make the decision to go forward just with HBO, it means you can go full-throttle for that audience, and you don’t need to be concerned with serving the general audience. So I think it’s a liberating move but it’s not an indication of frustration in any way with the BBC, who were great.

Tell us more about the new Hunted we’re going to see from HBO then, are you keeping the name, the same settings, the cast?

Well, I know it’s going to have Sam Hunter in it! [laughs] Actually, I have a pretty good idea where we’re going and what we’re going to do but I’m not free to say just yet. I’ll be saying something in the near future on that.

Respecting that, am I right that you won’t have acces to some elements of Hunted because of the departure from the BBC?

Yeah, it’ll be a different series. It has to be a different series. That’s where the risks of co-productions come back and change your plans unexpectedly sometimes. Because of losing the BBC as a partner, we had to do a different show, we couldn’t do the same show we did this year.

So will you be taking more advantage of HBO’s reputation for nudity and violence now?

I don’t think so, no. I think that the storytelling we did this year was one long serialised arc and I don’t think we have to follow that form now, so that’s the kind of difference in format I’m interested in.

When did you first hear the BBC announcement that they wouldn’t be continuing with the show?

Well, it’s been weeks, but it was a discussion. We were trying to see if there were terms we could reach where we could still continue with the co-production, but it just didn’t work out.

I’ve just watched episode eight and with all its revelations and things coming full circle from episode one, it made for very rewarding viewing by the end.

Thank you very much, I’m delighted to hear that.

So we’re chuffed that HBO will be taking it on.

Thank you, me too. I’m very, very happy about it.

You said in a previous interview, “Americans will watch British people, if they’re spies” presumably thinking about John Le Carré and Bond etc. How far were you making Hunted for a US audience?

Well, first I should say I said that with a smile in my voice, you know.

Americans are famous for not watching other people’s television, and pretty much just watching American television, which puts the rest of the world at a huge disadvantage economically, because the rest of the world buys American television, but Americans, until recently, wouldn’t buy television from anybody else. I was very interested in breaking through that wall and finding a way to get more European television in America, and not just in a niche, not just on PBS – which is great by the way, I love PBS and fully support it – but I wanted to reach a wider audience with European talent and storytelling and I thought the spy genre is something where Americans are used to seeing spies with British accents, you know, John Le Carré and James Bond, take your pick, The Saint, there are many excellent adventures so that was very much in my mind.

Having said that, I was also fully aware that you can’t do a show in Britain, and certainly for the BBC, and have it not be a British show. It has to have that integrity, it has to be designed for this audience first and if it isn’t then this audience is going to smell it and nobody likes that. Nobody wants something that’s been jury-rigged for commercial purposes, it has to have artistic and creative integrity and I wanted to please the British audience first.

Would you call Sam Hunter’s emotional unavailability a kind of British character trait then? A version of the stiff upper lip cliché?

I didn’t really look at it as being particularly British to be honest. I mean, my starting point with the series was, you know, ‘If Jason Bourne was a real person, what would he be like and how would he have got that way?’, and I just thought probably, that if you’re someone who lies and kills for a living, then you’re pretty damaged.

It becomes – as you’ll know, having seen all eight episodes – the things that happened to Sam as a child that are now catching up to her are really the centre of the series. She’s going to have to go back and face these traumatic events if she wants to stay alive. I thought, that’s so ironic, because for a character like Sam it’s easier for her to kill people than to go back and look at her childhood traumas, so that was in my mind more than any cultural stereotypes.

Do you think if Sam was less of a snow maiden, viewers would have found her easier to make an emotional connection with, and you may have kept a wider UK audience?

I don’t know. I think the audience the show found really connected with it, and I’m really pleased with the reception the show’s got. I think the ratings were good but not great, and it was just one of those calls, we just didn’t have a commanding argument in our favour to make the case for renewal. But I don’t know, I think that was sort of the character she needed to be and it wouldn’t have been truthful to soften her up just to win a larger audience.

SPOILER WARNING

I have to ask this. I read that you deliberately didn’t use certain real-life spy gadgets in Hunted so that it didn’t become, in your words, “silly”. How then do you explain the six foot rabbit in episode six?

The rabbit? I thought that was very funny. To me, that was very funny. The darkness of that, having that poor man dressed in a rabbit suit, yeah there were many times in the writers’ room – I developed these episodes with three fabulous British writers for six months – and we were crying with laughter at some things in that series. [Laughing] To us, they were very, very funny.

There is a dark sense of humour running through the show isn’t there? I loved the Communist being beaten to death with a statue of Karl Marx…

Yes! The Karl Marx thing, and then you know, when Fowkes retrieves the shoe…

Hassan’s boot, which he then keeps on his desk!

Yes, from the place where they’re incinerating the body. We thought we were very funny at least.

Do you think some people just didn’t get the jokes?

You did at least.

Something that struck me about Hunted, which may explain why some viewers found it hard to follow, was how even very late on, even in the final two episodes, a number of new characters were being introduced in each episode. Even in episodes seven and eight, we were still meeting people for the first time. Were you laying the ground for future series by doing that?

Absolutely, and I think that will be one of the things in the changed format, the spin-off, is that I’ll be eager to reward those who’ve seen this series and give them the answers that those last two episodes demand.

Just between you and me, that woman on the bridge in episode eight… is Sam’s mother really dead?

Oh, I can’t say. [Laughing] “Just between you and me”, you’re funny. Oh, you’ll have to watch, you’ll have to watch.

Okay, we will.

SPOILER WARNING ENDS

You mentioned being pleased with the audience the show found. The BBC non-renewal statement said that Hunted “…hasn’t found the mainstream audience it was hoped”. How important was reaching a mainstream audience to you?

You know, it’s one of those things that you don’t really get to decide. I always want to reach as many people as I possibly can, and I think I was spoiled by the experience of The X-Files because we got to tell exactly the stories we wanted to tell and we reached huge audiences all around the world but that’s not something anybody can predict. You just make the show you love and put everything you have into it and you just hope for the best, and a lot of it is luck too, a lot of it is stuff you just can’t possibly anticipate.

Going back to the online response, did you find the comparisons to shows like Spooks or Homeland fair or frustrating?

I understand totally why people make those comparisons, though I don’t think they’re particularly valid comparisons. I mean, I don’t think Hunted is anything like either one of those shows, nor was it ever intended to be. When we started out, Spooks was still on the air and nobody had any idea that it was going off, it was 2009 that I first started writing Hunted. And with Homeland, we’d already shot and edited the first two episodes of Hunted before I even saw Homeland, so the audience’s perception of these things is not in sync with how long it actually takes to develop a TV series.

If you wouldn’t compare Hunted to those two shows then, is there another touchstone you would compare it to?

Well I really tried to make it unlike anything that I had seen because I do love the genre so much – and by the way, I love Spooks and Homeland too. I tried really hard to honour some of the shows I loved, like Mission: Impossible or I Spy or James Bond or the Bourne movies, but not to ape them. I think there are deliberate nods and winks to those franchises in the show, but I tried very much to make it feel like its own unique self.

What kind of nods are you talking about? Were there specific shots or scenes in which you’ve paid homage to those earlier shows?

I think that the opening of episode one feels very Mission: Impossible. It’s similar because it’s twist after twist after twist in the very beginning in Tangier, and the idea of going to Tangier at all was sort of Jason Bourne. I Spy was this phenomenal series in the sixties where they amazingly travelled all over the world on locations, and then, James Bond for me is the greatest cinematic spy and just casts a shadow that no one will ever completely escape, and happily so.

All of those characters and movies and TV series were in the back of my mind, but I was always trying to find a way to do it differently or reflect the character of Sam. I think that the perfect story has the character and plot intertwined, you know? That story can only be happening to that character, and there were many things I think about this first series that I hadn’t seen before. I hadn’t seen a character quite like her before, and I hadn’t seen a world that was quite the same world as the one in which she operated, so it just created a whole bunch of interesting dramatic questions for us to answer.

Are more exotic locations in the pipeline for the HBO Hunted spin-off then?

Yes. Yes. I mean, none of that’s been decided as I speak to you today, but that’s definitely my ambition.

Hunted’s cynicism was a really defining feature with this first series wasn’t it? Its suspicion of corporations and capitalism and the moral murkiness of it all. There’s no sense that anybody’s doing anything good, ever.

Yeah, yeah. Well, I hate to say it, but I think that’s pretty much the way I feel [laughing].

You’re jaded.

To me, it makes goodness all the more moving, when you set it against an assessment that honest and that bleak of the way that most of the world operates. Because I do believe that there are good people in the world who want to do good things, and I’m enormously moved by those people, so I think it just sort of heightens the heroism of somebody like Sam, to see her do good knowing that there’s no reward for it, knowing that in fact you pay a cost for doing the right thing.

Can I just move on to The X-Files briefly, just as we’re running out of time. We’re as keen as you are for The X-Files film trilogy to finally be completed. Do you have a script for the third film in place?

No. No I don’t. I mean I’ve known for many years what I would like the movie to be and I’ve been talking to Chris Carter about it for many years, but there is no script.

Is it still the big alien invasion movie you want to do?

Yes, it’s the climax of the alien colonisation story that began the series.

Do you foresee The X-Files ever pulling a Star Trek and returning to the small screen in a different incarnation?

I wouldn’t be surprised at all. I mean, I don’t think I would have anything to do with it but you know, for better or for worse, these things are titles of big corporations , like Star Trek belongs to Paramount and The X-Files belongs to Twentieth Century Fox and it’s a huge asset in their libraries so I can’t imagine they would let it sit languishing forever.

Mulder and Scully: The College Years?

Anything could happen. I just hope that if they do it, they do it well, that’s my only request.

Returning to Hunted, what do you think you learnt making it that you’ll take into future work?

Oh well, this was my first production in Europe and the way television is made here is completely different from the way it’s made in Hollywood. The whole thing was a huge learning experience and I got to work with so many amazing people. The actors I think are second to none in this country, the crew is incredibly dedicated and talented and the directors I had, starting with SJ Clarkson, who did the first two and ending with Dan Percival, who did the last two. You learn something by working with great people, so it was a great experience.

We haven’t scared you off then, you’re going to stick around in the UK?

I’m not going anywhere, not yet anyway!

Frank Spotnitz, thank you very much!

Hunted’s series one finale airs on BBC One this Thursday at 9pm and the series one DVD and Blu Ray is being released by Entertainment One on Monday the 26th of November.

Den Of Geek: Exclusive: Frank Spotnitz on The X-Files’ potential return to TV

Nov-20-2012
Exclusive: Frank Spotnitz on The X-Files’ potential return to TV
Den Of Geek
Louisa Mellor

[Original article here]

Former executive producer of The X-Files “wouldn’t be surprised at all” if the show returned to the small screen…

With the BBC broadcast of Hunted finishing this Thursday, we chatted to series creator Frank Spotnitz about the BBC’s decision not to renew the spy drama, the show’s public reception, and his plans for the forthcoming HBO/Cinemax Hunted spin-off. That interview will be available to read in full tomorrow, but in the meantime, we thought you might be interested in this little snippet of The X-Files-related chat.

As a former executive producer of The X-Files, we first asked Spotnitz what the status was on the franchise’s planned third and final film (Spotnitz recently told Collider that he, Chris Carter and the cast want to press ahead, but the studio is dragging its feet based on the second movie’s performance):

We’re as keen as you are for The X-Files film trilogy to finally be completed. Do you have a script for the third film in place?

No. No I don’t. I mean I’ve known for many years what I would like the movie to be and I’ve been talking to Chris Carter about it for many years, but there is no script.

Is it still the big alien invasion movie you want to do?

Yes, it’s the climax of the alien colonisation story that began the series.

Do you foresee The X-Files ever pulling a Star Trek and returning to the small screen in a different incarnation?

I wouldn’t be surprised at all. I mean, I don’t think I would have anything to do with it, but you know, for better or for worse, these things are titles of big corporations, like Star Trek belongs to Paramount and The X-Files belongs to Twentieth Century Fox and it’s a huge asset in their libraries so I can’t imagine they would let it sit languishing forever.

Mulder and Scully: The College Years?

Anything could happen. I just hope that if they do it, they do it well, that’s my only request.

We’ll second that request. Straw poll though, over a decade since Millenium and The Lone Gunmen ended, who welcomes the idea of a new X-Files TV prequel/sequel/spin-off?

 

CraveOnline: Frank Spotnitz on ‘Hunted’ Season 1

Nov-17-2012
Frank Spotnitz on ‘Hunted’ Season 1
CraveOnline
Fred Topel

[Original article here]

The creator of Cinmax’s original spy series teases us about tonight’s “a-ha” episode and drops more hints about a third X-Files movie.

Cinemax’s latest original series, “Hunted” stars Melissa George” as Sam Hunter, an agent for the private intelligence firm Byzantium. Her current mission has Sam going undercover as a family’s nanny, and so far every situation has her fighting with or shooting at bad guys.

We got to chat with creator Frank Spotnitz by phone, while he is still in London where “Hunted” is based. We know Spotnitz from his years of work on “The X-Files” and “Millennium,” so we had to ask for an update on the third X-Files movie too.

CraveOnline: What feedback have you gotten so far as the first few episodes have aired in the states?

Frank Spotnitz: Pretty good. I’m pretty happy with the reviews. I’m one of those foolish people who goes online and looks at what people are saying on Twitter. It’s been pretty gratifying I have to say.

CraveOnline: We’ve seen two episodes so far. Where are things going to go from here?

Frank Spotnitz: Well, as you know, it’s very plot heavy, very dense and there’s lots and lots of twists and turns coming up. I’d say episode 5 is really the turning point in the whole show. I mean, everything changes in episode 5 but that’s not to say a lot doesn’t happen between episode 2 and episode 5. It does. More than I could summarize is going to happen in the next couple episodes.

CraveOnline: Even in episode 5, is that pretty soon to have a game changer in a first season?

Frank Spotnitz: It’s still the same story and everything like that, but there’s like a huge ah-ha moments where you understand how everything fits together in a way you may not see coming.

CraveOnline: How long does Sam’s undercover assignment as the nanny continue?

Frank Spotnitz: That story continues and it ends pretty definitively in the final episode. So in season two, knock wood, it’ll be a completely different assignment.

CraveOnline: How much fun do you have coming up with different encounters for Sam to fight and have action?

Frank Spotnitz: [Laughs] Well, I’m of a mixed mind I’ve got to say. I find those really hard to come up with, action sequences, because it is mechanical and you’re always trying to find the thing that sets it apart from any other action sequence you’ve seen before. You’re doing a TV timeframe and budget and yet you want to be as compelling as you can, so it’s a real challenge coming up with those things but they are fun. I mean, they’re really fun to put together and to see, so I’m not complaining.

CraveOnline: Did you get to direct any of those yourself?

Frank Spotnitz: I didn’t. I didn’t get to direct at all until the end. I directed just a few days towards the end because we were running out of time so I got to do some second unit at the end, but it was pretty much just acting scenes, no action.

CraveOnline: When you were casting actresses for Sam, were you looking for people who had experience with action, like she was on “Alias?”

Frank Spotnitz: Yes and no. Obviously she had to be somebody who looked a certain way because she’s supposed to seduce men in the show, so she’s got to be believable as a siren for men. Then she had to have that physicality which Melissa certainly does.

She’s incredibly fit. But the thing I was really looking for was, Sam is cold and invulnerable in her personal interactions, but if that’s all she is the show doesn’t really work. Most of the actresses I saw, they were good at playing the toughness and the coldness, but there was nothing underneath it. What I think Melissa brings to the role, I’m always aware there’s something going on underneath.

There’s this duality with her all the time, both when she’s Sam and you see there’s something underneath that surface that she doesn’t want you to see, and then when she’s undercover as Alex Kent, I can see the Sam poking through and that’s really hard to do. It’s easy to miss how difficult that is and that’s why the part was really hard to cast, just finding somebody who had that emotional depth.

CraveOnline:
You’ve worked in FBI and government genres before. What’s different about the spy world of “Hunted?”

Frank Spotnitz: The thing that struck me is that if you’re working for the FBI or even the CIA, you assume you’re the good guy, and you are. You’re trying to do the right thing for the American people. But when you go to work for a private security firm, you can’t make that assumption because you’re working for a private interest who has an objective and in many of these firms, as in the firm in my show, if you’re an operative, you’re not told who the client is.

So I thought that was really interesting for a spy show, not quite like anything I’d seen before, especially if you’re trying to create paranoia which this show is. To not know who you’re working for and whether you really should succeed or not I thought was really an interesting dilemma.

CraveOnline: Also do these agents get into a lot more fistfights and gunfights than Scully and Mulder did?

Frank Spotnitz: Yes, for sure. It’s a different genre. It’s really an action show and that was one of our tasks every week was to find really exciting action and stunts to put the characters in.

CraveOnline: Because Cinemax is primarily a movie channel, did they have any means or facility to accommodate that?

Frank Spotnitz: Well, they knew it was what they wanted for their audience, but they really left it up to me and my partners at Kudos here in London to figure out how to get it done. It was challenging at times because, for instance, the opening of episode 1 we shot at Morocco and that’s quite a big action sequence there.

You’ve got the action outside the theater where Sam seems to get assassinated, then her being chased through the Kasbah and then that whole thing at the café where she fights off those three men, sets one of them on fire, it was a giant undertaking to do that in Morocco, but we managed to pull it off.

CraveOnline: Is it an advantage that you’re allowed to be a little more explicit on Cinemax?

Frank Spotnitz: Yeah, it’s nice. I think this is a really great time to be working in television. I guess that’s not a surprise to anybody but the creative freedom that all this original programming that cable channels are offering is unparalleled. It’s unimaginable, 15 years ago when I was doing “The X-Files,” that you’d be able to write things like this and have the kinds of situations and dialogue that you can do now.

Having said that though, I’m not eager to push things just for the sake of pushing things. There’s a number of fight sequences for instance that I pulled back. What was shot was far more explicit, but I decided you don’t really need to see that. It doesn’t help you tell the story in any way. So there’s a line. I think it’s a line that you approach it and it’s great and then you can go past it, and I try not to go past it.

 


CraveOnline: How do you get that blue tint that the show has?

Frank Spotnitz: Well, the blue really was noticeable especially episode 1 because the director, S.J. Clarkson wanted to make Tangier have this kind of golden hue to it and then Scotland this kind of green and then London this cool blue. That we did in the color correction sessions, but as the show goes on, we stay in London so the palette of that blue fades. It loses its purpose if you keep doing it so if you’re paying really close attention, it becomes more and more subtle as the series goes on and it’s very subtle by the time you get to episode 8.

CraveOnline:
Is there something about the spy genre that lends itself to blue tinted cinematography like the Bourne movies?

Frank Spotnitz: She thought it was helping to tell the story because in Tangier, Sam was at her best. This was leading up to her being shot, she was at the top of her game. Then she goes to Scotland which is sort of safety, a refuge. And then coming back to London, it was sort of the cold, hard world of Byzantium and that’s why blue seemed appropriate. So it was more an attempt to key in on her emotional state.

CraveOnline: How many of the scripts for season 1 did you write?

Frank Spotnitz: I wrote five of the episodes and then I collaborated in our writer’s room, which is really unusual in this country, with three British writers, each of whom wrote one episode.

CraveOnline: How does this kind of writer’s room compare to what you had on “The X-Files?”

Frank Spotnitz: Well, it’s smaller because in “The X-Files” we were doing 24 episodes a year and here we’re only doing eight. They are eight full hours though. They’re 58 minutes long whereas “X-Files” tended to be more like 45 minutes long because it was on a broadcast network with commercial breaks.

CraveOnline: But “The X-Files” worked in those massive arcing story elements.

Frank Spotnitz: Yes, yes. It’s interesting because those story arcs were really only in six to eight episodes a year out of the 24. Now when I do shows with mythology, people expect them to be in every single episode and they miss it if it’s not there. That’s not the way “The X-Files” did it and I think that was one of the secrets to “The X–Files”’ longevity was that it didn’t move the mythology along that quickly.

CraveOnline: Have you gotten a second season order from Cinemax yet?

Frank Spotnitz: I am waiting with baited breath and feeling optimistic so I should know soon hopefully.

CraveOnline: When would you gear up to produce that?

Frank Spotnitz: That’s a good question. I assume we’d start shooting early in 2013.

CraveOnline: I know you’ve been busy with “Hunted” but has there been any talk or movement in the X-Files movie world?

Frank Spotnitz: Well, yeah. Honestly, it comes down to the studio saying yes, but I continue to talk to Chris Carter who wants to do it, as do David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. I have no news to announce sadly, but I am not giving up hope. I hope that there will be a third and final movie that brings “The X-Files” alien colonization story to a climax.

CraveOnline: So the next one would have to be the last?

Frank Spotnitz: Never say never, but my hope would be to give it the really satisfying, powerful ending that it deserves. I would be very content, speaking for myself now, I can’t speak for David or Chris or Gillian, but for myself I’d be just really happy to give it a great ending.

CraveOnline: Is that ending made up of material you’ve been sitting on since the finale of the series?

Frank Spotnitz:
Well, yes. In truth, it’s changed because it took so long to get the second movie made and then we were hoping that this third movie would happen before 2012 which was a significant date in the “X-Files” mythology and obviously it hasn’t happened.

But there’s a core group of story ideas that Chris and I have been discussing for I guess about a decade now, hard to believe. Yes, we have a lot of ideas about what should happen in that movie.

CraveOnline: You mentioned David and Gillian, but would Agent Doggett have any role in it?

Frank Spotnitz:
I can’t say. That’s sort of like a spoiler to say whether he’d be in it or not. All I can say is that I love that character and I love Robert Patrick, so it wouldn’t make me unhappy if he was in it.

CraveOnline: You also got to work with Vince Gilligan for many years. What have you thought of his success with “Breaking Bad?”

Frank Spotnitz: Ah, Vince is one of the nicest, most talented people I’ve ever met and a good friend. I think “Breaking Bad” is not just a great show, it’s one of the all time great shows. I love that show to death. I tune in every week like a fan and am just in awe of it. I’m just so proud of him and happy for him. It’s so well deserved because he’s worked for that success. It’s really remarkable I think.

CraveOnline: “Hunted” is really only the second original series on Cinemax. Do you feel like you’re on the ground floor of a new network?

Frank Spotnitz: I pinch myself because it was by accident. I came here to do “Hunted” and as soon as I got here there was a delay. So I found myself sitting around in London, like what am I going to do with myself, and so I said we’ll see if I can get a job writing something, which I’d never really done in my career, just looking for a job as a writer for hire.

Sure enough this show “Strike Back” needed somebody to help figure out how to make it a coproduction with the U.S. I ended up writing the first four episodes of that which became the first original show that Cinemax put on, and they were so happy with what I did that they said, “What else do you have?” And I go, “Oh, this show ‘Hunted’ that I’m going to be doing with the BBC.”

That’s how it happened. It was a complete accident. The people at Cinemax are the people at HBO. They’re terrific, really smart, really supportive. They do their jobs very, very well so I’m just really, really fortunate.