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Universe 2000 Expo: Visioning the Future

The Astronomical Society of the Pacific: Universe 2000 Expo
“Visioning the Future” panel

Panel with Brannon Braga (Star Trek Voyager executive producer), Frank Spotnitz (X-Files executive producer), David Brin (physicist), Syd Mead (‘Blade Runner’ and ‘Star Trek: The Motion Picture’ designer)

[Transcribed by April]

Frank Spotnitz Speaks on a panel discussing “Visions of the Future” for The Astronomical Society of the Pacific’s Universe 2000 Expo

Transcript from the wonderful April-thanks for sharing with us. And thanks to Frank for being such an interesting person-this is a great read-IMHO.

The panel he spoke on ( David Brin couldn’t make it though) had 2 writers for Star Trek: Voyager, one writer of various movies like Blade Runner, and this professor dude who rocked and I shall speak more of later.

I brought along a tape recorder and recording almost everything he said except for his last answer to a question… and here you are, transcripts of.. stuff he said 🙂

Question: about if science has anything to do with science fiction writing and if it does what do you feel are your responsibilities in your role..

Frank Spotnitz: “Okay. Hi sorry to be late, accident on the one seven I swear that’s the truth… I guess the question of how well educated the public is about science and where the lines in science fiction and science fact is one of those half empty half full questions because I think you could argue that while a great number of people still have a confusion about what’s accepted good science and what’s not and probably have as well educated a population as we’ve ever had since the founding of the republic, and so while things could be better they’re probably as good as they’ve ever been. I think that my job on the X-Files or as a television writer or movie writer is to entertain, and I look at that first and foremost as my calling. And in the X-Files specifically, we use science as a tool to create a believable scenario. So I will use as much science as I can to try and make what is happening seem credible, with the idea being that if something seems possible or plausible it’s going to be scarier to you than if it seems ridiculous. Beyond that I don’t really see my purpose as a writer as being synonymous with that of an educator, although I do think that one of the most fortunate things about science fiction is it tends to spark interest in real science, and I know the original Star Trek series, for Andre and probably for Brannon, I don’t know but certainly for me sparked a lot of interest in science, science fiction and probably why I’m writing for television today. So hopefully the fictitious license we take will lead people to explore the real thing.”

[note: Right here was a cute story the professor guy told, his name Richard Berendzen. He was called up to have permission granted to use footage of him that was used in Gethsemane 🙂 and he was telling about the end when Mulder cries (at this point I held up my season four episode guide with a page with a photo of that happening and he was like “yeah right there” and Frank grinned at the book, so yeah score hehe, aaanyway) and said how because of Scully saying Mulder committed suicide Richard got these calls from students asking if he killed Mulder :)]

This next part started off with talk about the darkness of sci fi and led to atmosphere and well yeah let’s pick it up here you only miss Frank agreeing with the prev. speaker .

Frank Spotnitz: “…I was thinking about this the last couple of days, knowing that I was going to be coming here late, and talking about the future and you know it goes without saying that no one knows what the future’s going to be, so why is there so much interest in it? And the answers that I’ve come up with certainly in terms of the storytelling we do is because it deals with our fears of what we’ve become, which of course are based on the present, and so I think science fiction frequently, chiefly deals with fears of how tech may change human beings and the way we live in the future. And this is a way of dealing with those fears, telling stories about those fears, in the hope of ex them or changing the path of the future. Human beings certainly have changed. And if you read the Greeks or the Romans, their [something] with human behavior are identical to what it is you know all of us behave today, as far as I can tell. But technology has a way of presenting opportunities that we fear we cannot control, whether it’s you know industrial revolution or the atomic age or the Internet. And so I think storytelling provides a great surface in imagining where these technological paths may lead and how to prevent a fear from being realized.”

Question: [Paraphrased] Where does the writing come from?

Frank Spotnitz: “I’ve had the most frequently asked question. I think when you write television or movies and the hardest answer because it’s a very mysterious process I think for people who write where those ideas come from and I know I watch a lot of programming, news, biographies, documentaries, hoping something will spark, newspapers, magazines. When all else fails, when I’m trying to tell scary stories I think back about being a child and what scared me as a child and look for something there. It’s a hard question to answer. I will say before I lose this thought that occurred to me while Andre was talking about 2001, I don’t think, I hope none of us are actually going to be called upon later to show how accurate we were in predicting what was going to happen, you know that, I never think about that in terms of the X-Files and any predictions about the future. But I think what 2001 did presently and Blade Runner as well was predicted the rise of commerce and commercial influence on what at the time was ? governmental enterprise and the fact that there was Hilton and Howard Johnson and ?? was right on, and I think, you know I think one of the fears that um, I think is probably growing in our consciousness that you see in movies being made now is that government is actually less and less important and commerce is all important in the post-cold war environment and I think that’s gonna make for a lot more stories. [warning! confusing possibly mistranscripted sentence ahead!] You know X-Files has been bread and butter for 8 years now is government conspiracy but I think people have a sense now that you know dollars and eurodollars are where it’s at.” “Have you tried watching the old Jetsons episodes?”

Question: Favorite sci fi story you’ve done, fave episode etc. and why?

Frank Spotnitz: “That’s a really hard question to answer.. I think that the favorite episode that I was involved with was called Memento Mori and that was where Agent Scully found out she had contracted cancer as a result of her abduction. And it was a story we were afraid to do, honestly, because cancer is very much real and not something science fiction, and it touched on people’s lives, everybody knows others been touched by it. But it ended up being one of my favorites because it was so revealing of the characters, and when you do a TV series particularly you get so close to these characters you spend so many hours imagining their lives, their interior lives, that when you get a chance to do an episode that explores a part of them that you’ve never seen before it’s very exciting. So that was my favorite, it had heavy duty science fiction quotient in it, it had aliens and you know, green goo, and abductions, and memories, and things like that, but all of those things I think are just metaphors for fears we all have and I think that’s the appeal of UFO lore, whether you believe in it or not. It speaks to our fears, and interests and how or not you’ll understand these amenities beyond ourselves, and actually the episode that you referred to earlier, where Mulder commits suicide, is that that panel discussion was talking about how if he discovered aliens existed, if you had proof of extraterrestrial life, it would be greatest scientific discovery ever, there is no greater scientific discovery, because it would change our understanding of our own role in the universe. And in many ways, I think the search for extraterrestrial life is a lot like the search for God, truly trying to scientifically tackle the same question.”

Question: [from our fellow X-Phile Heather in the audience :)] what difficulties might you run into when writing a story, and how do you solve this problem?

Frank Spotnitz: “Very painfully. The interesting thing about storytelling is that you are trying to devise a plot at the same time you’re trying to understand your character. And the two things tug each other constantly. You’re constantly finding that if you make a wrong move with the plot, you get a wrong move with the character and vice versa. And so you’re trying to move both of them along in an interesting way and be true to those and that’s the challenge and [word missing] instance for telling stories on the X-Files, there’s always a science fiction or horror element that is woven into the particular human story. But it’s the human values that, you know, are the forefront that people care about that’s why you watch the story and the science fiction angle gives you something new and different and cool that you may not have seen before you hopefully haven’t seen before. But yeah I think, to touch on the question that was asked last you know about the human behavior, I don’t think human beings have changed and I think even Star Trek, you know, Gene Roddenberry’s vision for the future notwithstanding, you know you recognize those people, you know they’re supposed to be 3, 400 years in the future, you recognize [that they’re?] characters they could be people you meet today. There’s just a lot of social issues that we, especially in 1964. You know, there were people on the streets and there were violent protests, they had been resolved in a way that made people hopeful. So I think that’s what hopeful science fiction’s about, it’s not [that] human beings are going to become primarily different, it’s saying that certain struggles will be resolved in a positive way.”

Another comment here by Heather about how she thinks science changes not the people.

Frank Spotnitz: “I think that’s absolutely what it is, I mean (another you know? 🙂 conditions change radically.. healthcare, science, technology change the way we live and the way we interact with each other you know the world community, but who people are let’s face it their basic instincts are things that you know..” *trails off*

Question: If there’s art in the writers’ science fiction, which led to a comment that art or creativity is so internal, about actions instead

Frank Spotnitz: “We actually did one episode about art if you will, it was about a writer, and it’s exactly what you said I mean, science is about understanding the natural world the world around us and art is about. To generalize [about] understanding what makes us and what makes us human. And this writer wrote. Finally wrote something so good that it actually came to pass. But unfortunately he found out that what was inside of him was hate and destruction. And [the fear?] of art has no guarantee of happiness, because it shines a light of understanding, but what you see now [is beautiful and uncertain?]”

“Well I think it remains to be seen, was Freud a great scientist or a great artist? I think the big difference, cause I think you’re right, I think it made a lot of people thinking [it was] truly greater than science, if not more so than it is than the art, but science strives to have an empirical standard by which we judge its conclusions, which you know art. It’s time to get rid of that.”

Frank Spotnitz: “How did it get so ugly… oh the question was, do we have any thoughts about a uh, English scientist’s theory that UFOs are actually visitors from our own future, checking in on us today. I find that unlikely.. no I mean I.. as I touched on before, having thought about UFOs now for 7 years, and never having really thought about before I came on the X-Files, to me a lot of the interest in extraterrestrials is analogous to our interest in God, and wanting to understand our place in the universe, and whether we’re alone. A lot of the same questions come up when you consider religion and UFO phenomena. I can’t explain UFO phenomena, I have no idea why it is so widespread, you know it’s incredible if you read surveys of the American public, the number of people who believe in UFOs is astonishing, and the number of people who claim to have had first hand experience with UFOs is equally amazing, whereas I think when I began writing for the show 7 years ago I was a hundred percent Agent Scully, skeptic, and a disbeliever, I say I’m still of Dana Scully’s [mind] that I’m not equipped to explain the phenomenon.”

Question: How much of the writing is from a white male vision? How much diversity is on the writing staff?

Frank Spotnitz: “In the past, we’ve had a number of woman writers, minority writers, at the moment the X-Files staff is all male, but not all white. But, it’s like Brannon said, it just so happens the Writers’ Guild, who you have to draw on, is predominantly white male, so that’s an obstacle right there. And the first thing you are thinking about when you’re a producer desperate to make a good TV show is, get me good writers. Now, if I can have a racially diverse, and sexually diverse staff, well great, but first get me good writers. So..”

Question: Is it a white male perspective?

Frank Spotnitz: ‘It has been mixed on our show. There’ve been times when we’ve had all white male staff, there’ve been times we’ve had, you know, much more mixed. I hope not. I mean I really hope, I don’t know what a ‘white male vision’ means, exactly. I mean I’m a white male but I hope that my vision, my humble vision, is not in some way villainous or derogatory, I hope I’m open minded enough to try to encompass other visions too in my white male vision, you know what I’m saying? That’s what we’re constantly trying to *tape interference* reason for the question, it worries me, questions like that, because it suggests that somehow whether you are black or white influences the future, and we just hired for the Lone Gunmen, which is comedy series about you know Mission Impossible[-style?] capers features a black woman. And what she knows about you know three white computer nerds.. I don’t know it shouldn’t matter in a perfect world. In the world where Star Trek is headed it wouldn’t be questioned. ”

Question: about metaphysics

Frank Spotnitz: “…It’s not on a conscious level but I think the meaning of death–spirit, soul. That which exists beyond our own corporeum in existence. Those are things play into the X-Files.. you know again and again, but I don’t think I ever approach it, you know… you know “this week I’m doin’ the metaphysical”


My tape ran out during the next question, which was about an occult author with the first name Alistaire that a person asked about, who for the record Frank did not know of :).. and there was also one part where nanotechnology was brought up and Frank was asked by another panelist if the X-Files touched on that and Frank said “yeah we did” hehe

Afterwards, Vanessa and I hung around, I had two magazines one for me one for a friend I wanted to get signed and we both got them signed as well as pictures, nice nice guy 😀 I asked him when production starts, the 24th or 25th? It’s the 25th.. and Vanessa asked when the season premiere is (first week of November) and Heather asked if cancerman was really dead and he said he couldn’t say and laughed 🙂

University of California Santa Barbara: A Conversation with the Creator of the X-Files

University of California Santa Barbara: A Conversation with the Creator of the X-Files

[Unknown transcriber]

Last night I had the opportunity to attend Chris Carter’s lecture at UCSB. It was a great evening! He talked to us for a couple of minutes, then showed a clip reel from all 7 seasons of The X-Files. (Even a clip from David’s new episode, Hollywood AD) Then there was a discussion between he and some of the professors from the college. Afterwards the time was turned over to the audience for questions. I was about 4th or 5th in line and was able to speak to him. Let me just say that his answers are not much better than watching the show. He is cryptic and somehow managed to escape answering all questions that would give any sort of definitive answer. Very frustrating.

My question to Chris Carter was about Samantha. I had read that Chris had envisioned the outcome of her abduction somewhat differently than what actually happened on the show. His answer to me wasn’t really an answer. He told me that all the character’s evolve on the show. He doesn’t know exactly what will come of them and Samantha’s fate wasn’t too far off from what he had envisioned. I asked him what he had originally wanted to happen and somehow he got around having to answer it. Oh well, I was able to be one of the few to speak to him in front of an entire audience, it was a really awesome experience.

One of the people I was with got up and asked a question about “all things”. Okay, the question that was asked was concerning the events during the time between Scully falling asleep on the couch and getting dressed in the bathroom later that night (or early morning I should say).

Chris was hesitant to answer that question, but the crowd was anxiously awaiting an answer. Chris told us that the end of the episode might not make much sense now, but in future episodes the event will have much more meaning. We will understand what truly happened. In fact, he said that the scene will have great importance in the future. However, later on he commented about why he never let Mulder and Scully have a physical relationship. He said that people don’t really want it, and it was a sure way to ruin the show. People think they want it, but they really don’t. He also mentioned that when a relationship becomes physical, it ruins everything. I am sure that his wife, who was present in the audience, loved hearing that last comment.

After the lecture, Chris stayed to sign autographs. My friends and I split up into the two lines that were forming. I got into the wrong line along with my best friend. Luckily my other friends were in the correct line. We joined them and when it came time for us to speak with Chris we told him of the time we were on set. My friend told him that we knew someone who worked on set and he asked us who. He knew who we were talking about and it sounded as if they got along pretty well. He noticed David Duchovny’s and Dean Haglund’s signatures on our items we brought to have signed. He told my friend that it was good thing to hold onto. I finally got Chris to sign my movie script. I was very happy. Now all I have to do is get Gillian to sign it:) We took a picture with Chris and had to hurry because there was such a big line, but he was a very nice guy, and I had a wonderful time.

Humanitas Master Writers Workshop transcript

Humanitas Master Writers Workshop transcript
Carter and Spotnitz

Provided by “darknesslight”

I attended the Humanitas Master Writers Workshop in Los Angeles Tuesday night, at which Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz were the speakers. The Humanitas Workshops are presented monthly from September through May and feature noted television and film writers as speakers. The Workshops are open to Writers Guild members and other professional-level writers. (Humanitas is an organization founded by Father Ellwood “Bud” Kieser which recognizes the writers of television and film scripts that explore the nature of human values — they present the Humanitas Prize every year to those writers.)

Following are some random notes I took. I can’t promise that any of these are direct quotes, but rather my impressions/recollections of what was said. I tried to pay special attention to what they said about the internet and the Mulder/Scully relationship. NOTE: If you’re a regular viewer of the show, there are no spoilers here.

FS on writing – it’s only once you’re in the professional world that you can know if you’ve got it – even after you’ve been doing it awhile, writing is HARD.

FS on rejection – you can either get bitter or you can figure out why you’re being rejected.

CC on XF’s origin – inspired by Kolchak: The Night Stalker and the fact that there wasn’t anything scary on in prime time – that’s how he pitched the show – how about something scary?

FS – they’re reinventing the wheel every week with the different kinds of stories they tell – his first script was End Game, part 2 of a 2-parter.

FS on story problems – Simple is Good – Hard, But Good – when it’s simple, you’re telling the truth. [He was talking about trying to figure out how to get X to tell Scully where Mulder was in that ep with the submarine tower – CC’s solution: have Skinner beat it out of him – simple!]

CC on taking notes/advice/suggestions – there are lots of voices out there, particularly with the internet – everybody knows how to do your job better than you.

FS – unless there’s a reason for people to care, there’s no reason to tell the story.

CC and FS in response to the question, “how does Mulder get through the day with all he believes and all he’s seen?” – CC talked about Mulder’s quest and his role as a romantic hero – CC and FS both talked about the importance of Scully as his partner in the quest, that their shared passion fueled them both – FS mentioned Mulder’s sense of humor, and commented that some of Mulder’s funniest lines come during the scariest moments.

CC in response to a question about the mythology/conspiracy and did he have a “grand scheme” in mind to begin with – he nodded as the question was asked – said he had a big idea in the beginning but that it has played out “in ways I could never have imagined” – CC and FS said that the Season 5 opener was the real turning point for them as writers re: the mythology – this is where the choices they’d made earlier really took over and the story just started telling itself.

FS in response to a question about David Duchovny’s writing for the show – David’s notes on the scripts benefit the *story*, not just his character – CC added that both Duchovny and Anderson are very smart actors who put the story and the show ahead of their own characters [most actors don’t, really – LM].

What outside writers get wrong in XF spec scripts: CC – the entry into the story; they don’t get the Mulder/Scully relationship (they’re not combative, they’re both determined); FS – Scully’s voice, Scully’s character.

CC – the show’s about FAITH, but it’s built on a foundation of SCIENCE – Mulder wrestles with his faith in the unknown, Scully wrestles with her faith in both science and God.

CC – good ideas for TV series are few and far between – the success of XF is a little miracle in that it was a series idea with a great deal of story potential.

FS re stand-alone monster stories – they try to portray the monsters in a human light – if they behave arbitrarily, they won’t be believed.

FS – write your characters as smart as possible.

CC – character development comes through role reversal [i.e., Mulder’s journey in Season 5 to regain his belief in the unexplained].

CC re the internet – it “affects my happiness” – he reads a lot, takes some stuff to heart, dismisses a lot – has never taken an idea off the internet – several times, thoughtful criticism has led him to make changes in future stories.

FS re the movie – the Mulder/Scully relationship really blossomed in the movie – the scene before the near-kiss is the key scene, the relationship is the key to the movie – the relationship had to move slowly in the series because in series TV you have to go back to the status quo – it was Season 3 before Mulder and Scully could even be seen touching hands – after the movie came out, FS and CC drove around to different movie theaters in L.A. to listen to audience reaction to the hallway scene.

A woman to FS at an XF convention sometime after Season 3 – “You’ve been on three years, you must be running out of true stories.”

FS in response to a question about whether Darin Morgan would come back as a writer – Darin watches every episode and thinks about what he would’ve done – CC said that he won’t be back as a writer, he’s too meticulous, the pace of TV took a lot out of him.

FS – the mythology episodes are the ones that advance the Mulder/Scully relationship – in the stand-alones they’re too busy with the monster, and they both have so much invested in the outcome of the mythology.

Both CC and FS were extremely noncommittal on the subject of whether or not this is the show’s last season.

The Vicki Gabereau Show: Interview with Chris Carter

The Vicki Gabereau Show
Interview with Chris Carter

[Transcribed by gde1013]

VG: Chris Carter is with me as The X-Files launches its 7th season, November the 7th – that’s a bit late if you ask me. But, unfortunately the new series “Harsh Realm,” just got whacked after three episodes, and we can’t figure out just why that is – but I will say, Mr. Carter, sir, that you’re as big a star as the people that are on your show. Isn’t it weird how that happens?

CC: Ha – [laughs] hardly. Not today, at least.

VG: What happened, with Harsh Realm?

CC: It just didn’t get the ratings they had hoped, it didn’t get much of a launch to be honest — it premiered against baseball, which is always a tough competition, and they didn’t do a whole lot of promotion for it. I think they had some statistics and forecasts, and they thought it was going to get bigger ratings then it did, going in, and they thought they didn’t have to spend the money to get people to come see it, and to be aware of it. So, I think it suffered from a couple different things.

VG: Yeah, well how — hmm, I can’t think of another expression — pissed off are you?

CC: [laughing] You know, it came as a big shock, because I think we were doing good work, and the ratings tell the story I think, but you also have to give a show a chance to really sort of find its feet, and I think that didn’t happen. There are bigger troubles at FOX and, we were sort of part of that.

VG: When you say the ratings weren’t good – I mean, if you get 7 people in Canada it’s good – but we’re talking about the great thing down south, but I mean what do they need to carry on? What is required?

CC: They just need, well, you need to be winning your time slot.

VG: So you have to have a share, a big share.

CC: Right, right.

VG: And who wasn’t watching, do you think?

CC: Everyone [everybody laughing]. You know, we had hoped the X-Files audience would come, but they premiered it before The X-Files so it really didn’t use The X-Files as a launching pad. I think that’s pretty much the story, that it really got lost in the, sort of, all the things there are to watch on television these days, and no one really knew it was on.

VG: Yeah – Well, I would think that if the guys were watching baseball, the women might not have been watching. I’ve seen one episode, and one episode only, and of course the production values are first rate, and the writing was very good and everything, but, you know, I just didn’t want to see more guys in fatigues. I think it might have scared women away.

CC: You may be right, but if you stuck with it, you would see that it actually had a lot for everyone. Once you got past those guys in fatigues, there were good stories being told.

VG: Are you severely disappointed, or do you think it will live again?

CC: Harsh Realm?

VG: Yeah.

CC: I think we’re probably moving past Harsh Realm, we’re done with Harsh Realm — out of Harsh Realm, as it were. But, I think there are lessons learned, and we’ll move on. We have other good stories to tell.

VG: Now, why couldn’t you take it to another network?

CC: You probably could, it’s an expensive show to do — all my shows have been expensive to produce because I demand quality. So, it’s not something that someone wants to just pick up, with the low ratings. Because I think there are costs associated that would —

VG: Make somebody panic, and back up.

CC: I think so.

VG: Did you tell the crew, the cast?

CC: Yes, I told the cast and crew, and I’m up here now in Vancouver to say thank you to everyone, because there was a lot of really good work done by a lot of good people. I hope to come back to Vancouver.

VG: Because Millennium’s gone, too. You’ve got to bring those X-Files back here! It ain’t the same. Canadians, are we the only people who tell you that?

CC: No, I mean, it’s the same good show, it just lacks the atmosphere that Vancouver gave.

VG: Fog, rain, muck.

CC: It doesn’t rain in Vancouver, let me just get that straight. [laughs]

VG: You know, it hasn’t been raining, until yesterday. It’s been exquisite, clear, sunny — you haven’t been here.

CC: No, I haven’t. September was an amazing month, you know, Vancouver at its best. Every day you would relish it because it just might go away.

VG: Do you think we’re sick in the head – that we only talk about weather?

CC: No, I mean weather is a big part about living up here, but I love it. I own a place up here now, and I’ll come back even when I’m not working.

VG: Did you buy a place in town, or out in the sticks somewhere?

CC: No, in town.

VG: So, how often will you come back? What are you going to do now, do you have anything to do, do you have a job? [everyone laughing]

CC: Umm… Yeah, I’ve got this other show called The X-Files.

VG: But isn’t it like a train on the tracks, it just goes now.

CC: Hardly at all. It is such hard work, and double duty on both shows — it was probably too much work with the quality we tried to keep up. So, I’m looking forward to now focusing on The X-Files specifically.

VG: Hard to find writers?

CC: Very hard — it’s a Harsh Realm.

VG: [laughs] Quit that. But, your country has millions and millions of people. I can see how it might be hard to find maybe a dozen writers specifically here, but there? They must be hanging from the trees.

CC: If they are, I’ve been picking from the wrong trees. It’s very difficult to write the show. We’re always looking for talents, always looking for people who can execute good stories — and you know, screenwriting is hard. Everyone thinks they can do it because the format is so readily available and understandable.

VG: Because we’ve all seen a million movies.

CC: Yes, everyone’s writing a screen play, but to write well in the screen play format is very, very difficult.

VG: Well one of the things – I don’t know how many people have read screen plays, but you can read a screen play and you cannot know that it’s any good. So, how do you know if it’s any good?

CC: Obviously a lot of people don’t know that it’s no good, and bad things get made [everyone laughing]. But, I think when you read something that is very good, and if you sort of develop your tastes, you can start to know the difference.

VG: Right, but don’t you remember a few years ago when they submitted ‘Casablanca’ to a bunch of hot shots and they all said, “this stinks, put it away.” I mean, so there you are – you gotta lose some. So, will you stick around now for a minute? We’ve got to take a break.

CC: Oh, yeah.

VG: We’ll be right back with Chris Carter.

clip from “The Sixth Extinction”


Scully is sitting beside Mulder’s hospital bed. He is still in a coma, not responding, but she is leaning over, talking to him, and crying.

SCULLY: “If you can hear me, just give me some sign — I want you know where I’ve been, and what I’ve found. I think that if you know, that you could find a way to hold on —- I need you to hold on.”


VG: Oh dear – a scene from The X-Files’ new season. I’m talking with its creator and writer, often, Chris Carter. So that was melodramatic. He spends a lot… one or the other of them spends quite a bit of time in comas. [laughs]

CC: [laughing] Well, that’s not exactly true. But, it’s true at the end of last season, which was the sixth season. Seventh season, if I can plug, starts November the 7th…

VG: I think I said that – I did say that..

CC: and that’s the, pilot – or, not the pilot – I mean the premiere episode of the seventh season.

VG: What happens?

CC: Obviously nothing — Mulder doesn’t have to act because he’s in a coma. [everyone laughing]

VG: One time… That’s the kind of part I want. Just lie there – or knit, that I think would be good. One time a couple of – I don’t know – about a year ago, I saw you in a restaurant. We waved at each other, and you were with a person – and you said you’d like to introduce me – your niece. Then she said her name. Her first name I’ve forgotten.. Just tell me her first name.

CC: Tracy

VG: Tracy – and what’s her last name?

CC: [laughing] Mulder.

VG: How could you do that? I looked right at this kid – how old is she – 18, 20?

CC: Older than that – twenties.

VG: She looks young. So I said, “how many..” – of course she knew exactly what I was going to say, which was “how many times today?” And she said “Dozens..” Now why would you.. who.. or is that..

CC: That’s my mother’s maiden name.

VG: Ah ha.. So you’ve really, really done it to her, and that happens all the time.

CC: I have a lot of relatives that were very flattered in the beginning, who are now very annoyed. [laughing]

VG: But naming characters is a big deal.

CC: Yeah, it is. Name’s your destiny – particularly on television.

VG: So do you go through.. I mean – I’m not familiar with the Harsh Realm names, but even Millennium, do you go through great lists of names to see how they match? Let’s say Lance’s character.

CC: Well, Frank Black was the name of the lead singer of The Pixies, which I was a big fan of.

VG: That’s deep. [laughs]

CC: The truth is that my name should have been Black. There was some sort of family history that’s been buried deep, or swept under the carpet, and my name wouldn’t have been Carter, it would have been Black. So that’s why…

VG: Well, what is the history that’s been swept under the carpet? Do you know?

CC: I don’t know. I’m actually having my genealogy read right now.

VG: Is your father your father?

CC: Yes, I think. [laughs]

VG: Well, I guess the truth is in the files somewhere. Are you doing that through the Mormons, or how are you doing that?

CC: No, there’s actually many professional genealogists out there now, and you can sort of pick and choose people who have specific skills.

VG: Right, we’re obsessed with this – our generation. You know that – knowing who we are.

CC: We have a lot of money and now we want to know who we are. How we got it.

VG: Who do you think you are? [jokingly] Just who do you think you are!

CC: Who do I think I am? I don’t know – I think that there are rascals and criminals on my father’s side that were never spoken about, so I’m very curious to see from which I came.

VG: Yes, and from what country you came.

CC: Well, my mother’s side.. I’m half Dutch, my mother was all Dutch. My father was a quarter Italian and the rest, I’m sure is some sort of Mongrel – Heinz 57.

VG: They were the ones who were all in jail. What possessed you to try and find this out? I mean, how did you find out your name would have been Black?

CC: There’s is no clear family history on my father’s side. He never knew his father, I never knew my grandfather – my real grandfather. So, I’m just kind of curious what is was that was kept a big secret.

VG: Well, it will be interesting. It might be quite tame. Something that might have been deep and dark then.

CC: My grandmother always referred to herself as widowed, until I realized sometime in my teens that she was actually divorced. Which no one wanted to be known as then in that generation. It’s going to be curious to find out.

VG: Are you writing a book??

CC: Yes.

VG: What is it?

CC: You know, it’s a book.. a character I created, probably about 12 years ago, and it’s just been something that’s been sitting around. I always knew I wanted to do something with it. I thought, you know, why not do a TV Series or movie, but then I thought, it’s the perfect character for a series of books. So I’m currently at work on that.

VG: Is it a… What kind of a character is it? Not a cop or a detective?

CC: Nope. He’s kind of a rapscallion himself. He’s a guy who sits around..

VG: You’re doing your research, that’s why you’re doing your genealogy. [laughs]

CC: Yes, exactly. There are two characters – there’s a… Two characters who work together and it’s set post-World War II, and.. which is really fun to write in that era. It has kind of detective qualities, but it owes something to The X-Files, too.

VG: It must be hard to separate those stories. So, you have a story that you’re working on for the book — and, you might want to cheat and put it in The X-Files.

CC: Well, everybody asks, “how do you keep things straight?” Ultimately you do — you don’t write into the wrong characters, or wrong scripts.

VG: How much are you writing now?

[sirens blaring in the background]

CC: Vancouver is supposed to be such a safe city, and all I hear are sirens. [laughs]

VG: No, you see that’s an ambulance, those aren’t cops, honey. It’s coming to take some poor soul who’s tripped and hurt their ankle. [laughing] And we’re Johnny on the Spot, see, coming to fix them up — what was the question?

CC: [laughs] I don’t remember.

VG: Oh yeah – are you writing a lot of episodes?

CC: Yes, I write — I probably write more episodes than anyone, and we write more episodes than anyone, and I have since the beginning of the show. It’s just been the way it is.

VG: Right, but sometimes you don’t re-write them. They have to be perfect…

CC: No, there are some times.. There are some scripts that I don’t re-write and won’t re-write. But, I’d say about 2/3 of them have some of my involvement as far as going through my typewriter.

VG: Is that… Typewriter??

CC: [quickly] computer.

VG: Just checking. Just want to know if you’re a Luddite or not.

CC: Ha – no Luddite here.

VG: But when you re-write, is it because you just have to change it. Are you a control freak, sort of?

CC: No, I mean I wish every script came in perfect and I had to do nothing — it would make my life a lot easier. But there are some things — I have the voices in my head, and I have a sense of how the story should be told. And it’s… You know is has been difficult sometimes — some people get a little irritated when you mess with their work. But, you know we’re in our seventh year, so you know we’re doing something right.

VG: Do you ever take a Holiday?

CC: I’ve had one Christmas off in the last seven years, where I haven’t been writing or rewriting. So, it’s really about two weeks a year. But, I get to come to Vancouver now and again, so…

VG: Yeah, but you’re working when you’re here, and that’s kind of a heartbreaking one.

So, stay with me and I’ll talk to you a bit more. Chris Carter.


VG: I’m back with the writer, producer, surfer – Chris Carter. You still doing that?

CC: Yes, as much as possible. Yeah, not in Vancouver, of course.

VG: No, but if you ever go to Halifax — you ever been there?

CC: No, I haven’t.

VG: It’s a great place, and has great settings for your weirdo stories. [laughs] But you know, I have a friend there who’s a publisher, his name is Leslie Choice, and he surfs there, in of course, a wet suit. But he surfs all the time up there, on those big North Atlantic waves. Yipes.

CC: Cold, cold water.

VG: I know, but if you’ve got the wet suit on. You went all around the world, surfing.

CC: I used to work for Surfing magazine when I graduated from college, and I didn’t want to join the adult world. I took a job at surfing magazine and had an amazing time.

VG: Have you joined the adult world now, do you think?

CC: I still.. I’m not sure.

VG: Yeah, but when you’re involved, let’s say, in this particular situation — everything that’s gone on with the cancellation of this show, the one before, I mean, all of a sudden you’ve got the lawyers, you’ve got the lawsuits, you’ve got people freaking out over here. You have to be an adult, and your stomach must hurt all the time.

CC: You know, business is tough, and entertainment is a particularly tough business, and you become very high-profile as I have, kind of inadvertently, and you become somewhat of a target, and you have to be prepared in business to deal with these kinds of things.

VG: When Gene Roddenbury was still alive, did people stop him in the street? Were there 20 people waiting for him when he got off the plane to sign autographs?

CC: You know, I doubt it. It’s a different time, there’s more media, there’s more attention to these kinds of things. I think that people know who producers are nowadays unlike they ever did, for some reason. David E. Kelley is a very… perfect example of that. He’s a big popular guy. So, who knows why that is. But I think a show like The X-Files develops a kind of fan and fan base that tend to be a little obsessive about the show, thank God. Let me knock on wood here.

VG: There’s plywood under there somewhere. One of things among many, that you’ve done that I think is so impressive, when you shot 3 series up here, is that you use a lot of Canadian actors. And you didn’t put them in the background, you put them in the foreground. You used them the way any actor should be used.

CC: Well, I love coming up here because I think the quality of talent, of every technical acting pool, is tops, and I was determined to use the Canadian actors who I knew were very good, in the series, which is another reason I’m kind of sad to say good-bye.

VG: Well, you’ll come up with something else.

CC: Yeah.

VG: But, did you know that they were good, until they read for you?

CC: Well, I know almost all of the Canadian actors.

VG: I’ll bet you do.

CC: There are some that I don’t know still, and I’m still learning faces and names, but I know a lot of them. So, I was able to go back to some people I’ve used before successfully and then to some new people I’ve never used before. Rachel Hayward, would be one.

VG: Right.. What do you read, when you’re not writing?

CC: Not Science Fiction, believe it or not. It’s funny because when you’re working as hard as I am, as hard as we do, you scavenge. You pick up things, you pick up magazines in airports, you read bits of books… You’re always just reading parts of things. What you’re doing all the time is you’re trying to come up with material. Everything’s a resource.

VG: Which is kind of irritating, in a way because.. I mean, books that I read for this show – I mean, I’m practically reading a book a day – and you don’t read it the same way as when you’re sitting around at the old cabin, leisurely reading. You’re reading for – “there’s a thing I can ask..” Or there’s a thing you could develop, I guess. When do you figure, was the last time you read a book just because you were… What, 12 years old?

CC: I read a Graham Green novel last May, which I enjoyed the hell out of, so I have the chance to read every now and again. Something that I’ve either read before, or want to read new.

VG: I’ve saved a book for you. It’s called “Baltimore’s Mansion” by a guy named Wayne Johnson, from New Foundland. Then you can send me a note and tell me what you thought of it. Or now, send it to him. But that’s only if you thought it was good. [laughs] Chris Carter, thanks very much and good luck on the seventh season.

CC: Thank You.

Pasadena Press Conference: Harsh Realm

Pasadena Press Conference

DOUG HERZOG: Okay, we are back and ready to continue. We are enormously excited and thrilled at FOX to have a brand new series from the multi-award winning producer Chris Carter. And this time he’s going to take FOX viewers into the world of virtual reality. So let’s take a look at “Harsh Realm.”


HERZOG: All right, it is now — [applause] Thank you. It is now my pleasure to introduce executive producer and creator of “Harsh Realm,” Chris Carter, along with some of the cast members: Rachel Hayward, Samantha Mathis, Scott Bairstow, and D.B. Sweeney.

QUESTION: Chris, did you pretty much know or feel “Millennium” had its day by the time this was really ready to go before the cameras? Or did you think “Millennium” might indeed have another year left in it?

CHRIS CARTER: I wish it had gone another year. Can you hear me? Am I miked?


CARTER: I wish “Millennium” could have gone another year, although I think this would have been a tougher year to produce the show. I think the climate is a little bit different, so I wasn’t sad about that. But I would love to have, of course, seen the show go to the millennium. So that would have been a bonus.

QUESTION: Chris, when you’re saying it’s a tough year, I assume you’re talking just about the atmosphere in Congress and society. This seems to combine two of the elements that have been particularly vilified: violent video games and violent television. What are your feelings about that?

CARTER: Well, it’s not a video game. It’s a simulated war game created by the military, so it’s not a game per se. And when it says “it’s just a game” at the end of the opening credits, that’s ironic, because it has big consequences. I think that this — what I wanted to do was to do a TV show that had elements of some of my favorite movies: “Paths of Glory,” “Platoon,” “Blade Runner,” a lot of really good early war movies. And this was my way of doing that, using a contemporary element, which was the virtual reality element.

QUESTION: Chris, I noticed in the pilot that you had Lance and you also had a voice-over of Gillian Anderson. And Stephen King does that a lot when he has his shows, putting “Christine” and some of the references to his other movies.

CARTER: Right.

QUESTION: Is that going to be a recurring thing that you’ll be doing?

CARTER: Lance did the role as a favor to us. He was working and took a day off from “Millennium” to do it, and Gillian did it as a favor, too. I don’t know if Gillian’s voice is going to stay or not. I hope it does; it would be nice. There are a lot of actors I like working with now and I’ve met a lot of actors. It would be nice to be able to use some of the ensemble, as you will, on a regular basis, along with my regular cast.

QUESTION: Chris, can you talk a little bit about the situation here of, it’s basically a show where you could reach an end, but you can’t because the show’s got to keep going.

CARTER: Right.

QUESTION: How do you address that in the writing process and keeping the audience from really getting tired and waiting for that end that theoretically can’t come?

CARTER: That’s the trick to series television is to figure out how to take an idea and string it out through a hundred-plus episodes. It’s really hard and there are very few ideas that I think actually are worthy of spawning a hundred hours plus of television. So you take one like this that I think has a tremendous romantic story and has a great mythology potential as well. There’s a conspiracy at work here. There is another world, a parallel world that people can go back and forth between. I think it’s a great chance to tell allegorical stories, which is I think one of the ways — one of the storytelling conventions that I think provides the best of series television.

QUESTION: Can I follow really quickly? It’s a world where you’re creating the rules, because it’s a world you’re creating. But is there a limit? Do you have to set up some sort of finite world that you can’t go too far with the changing of the rules?

CARTER: You have to know what the rules are and then you can break those rules, but you must establish the rules very early on. But I think the thing that I look forward — most forward — to in this show is taking — using our imaginations to take the world and cut it loose from physical properties. To take a godless world where there is no morality, where there is no standard or code of behavior and see what the world would be like if it were like that. That’s what “Harsh Realm” is and it really — it gives us a chance, I think, to comment on society and certainly on a lot of contemporary issues. So I think that that’s what is going to make this a lot richer.

QUESTION: Chris, how much say do you have in how a show is promoted? And when you spend an hour really setting up what looks to be a gripping closing shot, how do you feel to suddenly see it showing up in promos months before your show gets on the air?

CARTER: Yeah, you always want to preserve that element of surprise. It’s really all you have, but it’s so hard these days to do because it’s so competitive, certainly in primetime. And so you have to sacrifice some things to get people to come to the show. So it’s disappointing to have to do that, but I think everyone can understand why you have to do it when it is such a rough and tumble, if you will, season — a fall season — everybody trying to grab their viewers.

QUESTION: Chris, there have been reports that the show might be toned down in the wake of the Columbine shootings. Can you talk about the process of when you conceived the show and the level of violence that might have been in it? And how that might have changed and what the discussions were about that?

CARTER: Right. Well, I’ll just speak to what my approach is to violence and it’s the approach I’ve taken on “The X-Files,” now going into the seventh year. It’s the approach I tried to take on “Millennium,” and I was on that show and off that show for a short while, so I think sometimes my approach was not taken. But I’ve always — I’m not interested in blood, guts, gore, and/or gratuitous gunfire. So I would like to treat this show the same way I’ve treated “The X-Files,” which we’ve actually been commended on for our treatment of violence. It’s to suggest a lot, to see the effects of violence, not the violence itself, to not see blood when you don’t have to see blood, to tell good human stories using war as a backdrop. And it’s not a glorification of war; it is the opposite. It is talking about the horror of war, and I think that we can all appreciate that certainly with what we read in the paper every day about Kosovo, et cetera.

QUESTION: Yeah, but I’m asking you specifically, could you tell us how this may have changed from before Columbine and after? Is this pilot that we’re seeing that same one that was originally shot?

CARTER: Right.

QUESTION: Could you address that?

CARTER: This pilot was shot before Columbine, but my approach is still the same. I’m going to treat every episode and every scene, every element, as I’ve always treated it, which is responsibly. I’ve always been sensitive. This is just a — I think it’s heightened the sensitivity to violence on television. But I think the issues are as they’ve always been.

QUESTION: Chris, could you maybe back up for a minute and just tell us how the idea first started? Was there any other source thing?


QUESTION: At one point, someone talked about a comic book or something. What was the source of it and what was it from there that made you think, “Yeah, this is what I want to do for my next project”?

CARTER: There was a comic book that was given to me by Dan Sackheim, who produced with me the original “X-Files” pilot who produced “The X-Files” movie, who’s directed some of the best episodes of “X-Files.” He came and brought this comic book. There were elements in it that I really liked a lot and I thought it was a great vehicle for telling a series of stories. No one had ever tackled virtual reality in a satisfactory way on network television. I think parallel worlds are great ways to tell stories. This is really what I was shooting for, was a way to tell stories about the human condition, using war as a backdrop. I was affected, as I’m sure a lot of people were, by “Saving Private Ryan,” and also “The Thin Red Line” recently. It was an opportunity to take some of the things I liked best about those movies — which I think have struck some kind of contemporary chord in everyone — and use some of the elements of virtual reality to create a really good science fiction show.

QUESTION: Chris, now that you’ve set up this rather harsh vision, is there any room in this show for humor?

CARTER: For humor? Oh, yeah, I think this show, of the three shows that I’ve done over the last seven years, I think this show may be the most varied in terms of the kind of stories you can tell. I can tell you, the first episode past the pilot has a lot of humor in it. It will be a show, I think, that hopefully once it gets going can parody itself much like “The X-Files” has done. I think that I’ve got terrific comedic actors. That’s a very important reason — or a necessity — for telling good comedic stories.

QUESTION: Will we see any of those episodes before we have to review?

CARTER: I hope so.

QUESTION: Any chance of seeing a second or third episode?

CARTER: Yeah, um-hmm. But this show is a dramatic show.

QUESTION: Chris, did you see “The Matrix”? And what did you think of the — do you think the response to that will — how do you think that will affect your show?

CARTER: I had not — I didn’t know about “The Matrix” until our show was shot, so — I saw it and there were elements that I think you’re going to find in any kind of parallel world idea. So I think there were some similarities. I was impressed by a lot of what they did in that movie. I was super impressed by the special effects in that movie. I think that “Harsh Realm,” even though it is a virtual reality idea, I think it is much different than “The Matrix.” And I think that what we’ve done, too, is we’ve set the stage for many episodes of this show, where a show like “The Matrix” I think might have to change its concept a little bit in order to do the same thing.

QUESTION: Also, Samantha’s character looked like she was — you know, disappeared.

CARTER: Yes. She’s right here.

QUESTION: [laughs] How is she going to — what’s the future hold for her? And also, are we going to visit — I mean the V.R. world obviously is the focus. Are we also going to see what’s going on in the coma world?

CARTER: Yes, you’ll see reality and virtual reality together. And juxtaposing those two things, Samantha’s character disappears in “Harsh Realm” when she is shot in that hallway and she can no longer occupy Harsh Realm, so Hobbes needs to get back to reality in order to get back to his beloved and that becomes a big part of the journey for both characters for Sophie and Tom Hobbes.

QUESTION: For D. B. and Scott. First, D. B., you’re playing the sarcastic, reluctant sidekick. Did you try out for the Lt. Hobbes role? Certainly the show would take a different flavor with you with role reversal.

D. B. SWEENEY: My agent said Chris Carter wanted to meet me so I jumped in my boxers and ran over there. I didn’t really care which part it was and I’m thrilled to be working with Scott. I think he’s really a fine actor and he’s a good guy. Maybe if it was just a regular TV show and it wasn’t from Chris, I would have been more particular about which part, but I was actually sort of disappointed I didn’t get to read for Samantha’s part. [laughter] I wanted to show my range.

QUESTION: And for Scott, and D. B., if you would answer it as well. Are you into virtual reality games? Have you played any? What do you think of them?

SCOTT BAIRSTOW: You know I haven’t really played any. Am I into them? Not so much, to answer honestly. It’s — I guess this show is probably my first, sort of, experience with them.

QUESTION: To put it a little more directly, D.B., would you enjoy rather taking a walk or seeing a movie rather than playing a virtual reality game?

SWEENEY: I don’t play any virtual reality games, I don’t have — I’m barely online, so I’m not very computer literate. I am concerned, like I watch my friends’ kids when they play Sega and stuff, and they get a little obsessed about that. And so, I mean maybe — I understand the whole debate that’s going on about — if that’s where you’re going, with the effect of these games on people, especially kids. And I think that’s an important thing to address, but I’ve noticed this whole sort of tidal wave of momentum sort of focusing on Hollywood’s responsibility in the after-math of Columbine and everything like that. And I think it’s important that the media not become inadvertently a stooge for the gun lobby, because we film in Canada and there’s never 25 people getting killed at a McDonald’s because they don’t allow automatic weapons. So, there’s only so many people you can kill by hitting them over the head with a video box. [laughter]

QUESTION: Chris, a question about the format of the show. You talked about how there was some room for flexibility in the concept. I’m wondering how much flexibility you’re talking about. Is the kind of the paramilitary “Road Warrior” sort of vibe that we see, is that going to be the dominant tone of the show? Or are we going to see very different worlds within this world that don’t have that vibe?

CARTER: Yes, you’ll see different worlds within the world but they will all be based around the world that you saw, which is a world where there is no government besides the government that Santiago is creating, and there is no morality or no God. These people don’t know of the real world. They may be hearing about it but they were created — they are concepts in this world who see themselves disappear. When someone dies, they evaporate, so there is no reverence for the dead, if you will.


QUESTION: For all the actors, besides Chris’s name being involved in the project, is there any other part after you read the first script that made you just say, “I’ve got to do this”?

SAMANTHA MATHIS: It’s the most exciting script that I had read. Certainly the possibility within the world of “Harsh Realm” and the directions, the many directions that it could go was very exciting. I was literally like, flipping through the pages so quickly. I think what was attractive for me at the center of the story was this love story, that’s quite passionate and heartfelt and full. And these two people who love each other so much and are at the beginning of the promise of their lives and are torn from each other, and how these two people will deal with that, that was certainly what attracted it to me was this beautiful love story and this man who clearly loves his wife so much.

QUESTION: Chris, one of the disconnects for me in the pilot was, I understood sort of the issues within the Harsh Realm game, but what’s the impact of the game on the real world? Why should we care —

CARTER: Right.

QUESTION: What impact does it have on the real world?

CARTER: That will be explained in the second and third episodes. We actually put it in the pilot but it was too much information. But you’ll understand what the consequences are to the real world and what Santiago has up his sleeve, which makes it, I think, a giant concept when you realize in fact how this virtual, imaginary world will affect reality if he’s successful.

QUESTION: Chris, in yesterday’s comments by Doug Herzog, he mentioned that he allocated more production budget for your pilot and I wanted to ask: how will that affect this series when obviously you will not have that large extra amount of money to do the pilot?

CARTER: Right. Well, you fight to the death for these budgets, whether you’re doing a pilot or the series. And with a pilot you’re establishing character and it takes a little bit longer to do, so you need a little bit more time. You’re setting the tone and look, you’re setting the model for the show, so you need that extra time and time equals money. In the series, you cut that back. You shoot it in eight days plus a few extra second unit days, it’s just the way you have to do it. So you’ve got to tailor your stories to those exigencies. So you wish you had more money, you don’t, you make do with what you have. I have to say I’m happy with — right now — with the budget we have to shoot the series and I think we can do a really great job.

QUESTION: So when you’re writing, you have to keep this in mind, that you’re not —

CARTER: Always.

QUESTION: — writing for the pilot, you’re writing for the 12th episode.

CARTER: And when you’re rewriting, too, you’ve got to learn to — I say write with your cash register, taking money out all the time.

QUESTION: And I had a follow-up for Samantha. Samantha, Chris was talking about how on “The X-Files” and “Millennium” he maintains a control over the violence, although it may sometimes be criticized. You’re starring in “American Psycho,” a novel that was heavily criticized. What was the feeling when your agent told you you’re going to be starring in “American Psycho” and what was your take on that novel and all of the flak it received?

MATHIS: Well, I was initially very excited to be a part of what I think is a very interesting cast. Mr. Bale and — Christian Bale and Reese Witherspoon and Chloe Sevigny and Jared Leto, Willem Dafoe — it was a very exciting group of people to be working with. I think, to me, what Mary Harron had to say in the meeting when I met her was what made me so interested in being a part of it. Although the central character in the story is a serial killer, it’s a device, it’s a creative device to show the madness of that period. Most specifically I think what she was interested in examining is the insanity of that time, the late 80s in New York, within that world of Wall Street and very privileged people who did disconnect from morals and values and themselves, and ultimately that’s what the central character does, is he loses all sense of himself. So, I think what she was interested in doing was doing a social satire. I you’ll find the movie to be much more darkly humorous than the book was. The book was clearly very disturbing, but I do think — that was at the heart of what Bret Easton Ellis was trying to do with it. So, I was very excited to be a part of the film and I’m very excited to see it, I haven’t seen it yet, but …

QUESTION: Scott, can you talk a little bit about the transition from playing one of primetime’s real legitimate bastards last year on “Party of Five” to playing a very heroic character in this show, and whether one is more fun or preferable to the other.

BAIRSTOW: Right, well, going onto a show that’s already created and has an audience was interesting for me because people are watching your work and it was a lot of fun to find the complexities of that character. I thought that people on “Party of Five” handled that issue very well, took time with it. In comparison to what I’m doing now, it’s kind of like a breath of fresh air for me as a person. Lt. Hobbes is the moral center of this piece and he’s got old-fashioned values and he’s a good guy. He fights for what’s right.

QUESTION: Chris can you talk — oh, I’m sorry.

QUESTION: [overlapping] Is playing a bad guy more fun or less fun than playing a good guy?

BAIRSTOW: You know, when it comes to creating a character, I enjoy everything I do. I couldn’t say that one’s more fun than the other, it’s just the chance to play act is enjoyable in itself.

QUESTION: Chris, can you talk about how this cast came together? Did you have some of these people in mind for the roles? Did you have to sit through a gazillion —


QUESTION: — cast sessions?

CARTER: I sat through a gazillion actors. The truth is I had no one sitting up here in mind when I wrote those characters, although I knew everyone here, including Rachel. She’s from Vancouver and she does speak, I know she doesn’t speak in the pilot, but you should ask her a question because — [laughter] she’s very lovely and well-spoken. So, with “Millennium” I had Lance Henriksen and luckily I was able to cast him. In this case, I’d worked with Scott, he did something for us in the first season of “X-Files,” a terrific job. We’d seen each other over the years, said we should work together. D.B. I knew from Vancouver. He was up doing a show. We had played some basketball together and we sort of like had hung out a little bit, so that was familiarity. Samantha I knew from her work, I did not know her. And she was just in a terrific play, I hope people saw it, who live in this area, a play at the Geffen Theater I saw her in. So she’s a terrific actress both before the camera and on stage, I can say. Rachel won the part. She came in and sort of bowled us over and she’s very, very funny and here she is playing a character who does not speak, for reasons you’ll learn in the series and I think that we’re going to probably hear from Rachel about that characterization before long.

QUESTION: Rachel, to follow up, can you talk about being kind of a kick-ass chick? Is that fun?

RACHEL HAYWARD: I really am proud to be playing a kick-ass chick. I like being on the good side. I’m also fighting for what’s right and I think it’s really great to have the point of view of a really strong, self-reliant woman who can do anything that men can do because, I think, it’s the new dispensation to have a woman be able to do whatever a man can do. I don’t think any men can make a pie like I do but I just really enjoy presenting this character as a very strong person and I like the way Chris writes for strong women characters. He writes good parts for them, as you’ve seen in the past, so I like it. I feel comfortable.

QUESTION: Chris, is there going to be some kind of Internet component to this show that goes beyond the typical promotional Web site where there’s some kind of interaction and ideas for the TV show?

CARTER: Yeah, I have ideas. It’s just about creating them and incorporating them which takes a lot of work and a lot of interaction between the producers of the TV show and the producers of online media. So, while I have big ideas, I can’t promise anything, but I think the show is a natural for that kind of cross-over.

QUESTION: Can you talk about what some of those ideas are or is it too preliminary?

CARTER: It’s a little early and I don’t want to give away too much, but I think that we were approached by a company that had, I think, terrific ideas about how to make this show interactive.

QUESTION: And when is the video game coming out?

CARTER: I’m telling you, I’m working so hard writing these scripts right now that the last thing I can think of is any kind of life beyond the TV show.

QUESTION: For Chris and Samantha, you talked earlier about the love story and how important that was to you, but it seems to me that if Samantha’s character in “Harsh Realm” gets killed off and the wife is back in the real world and Hobbes can’t get there, are they ever going to act together in scenes and how do you get around that?

MATHIS: Within this device, the possibilities are endless and that’s certainly a question I had for Chris, when we met, was how can I potentially rendezvous with Scott’s character in that world —

CARTER: [overlapping] Right.

MATHIS: — and we’ve begun to discuss that, but I will be back in the real world, fighting the real fight, to find out what’s happened to him.

CARTER: There are tricks and devices. One of the things that interests me is a kind of Greek approach to this storytelling that you’ve got the Gods above in the real world, if you will, manipulating the characters down below and so I think you can plant visions in Hobbes’ head through computer programming, phantoms. You could, perhaps, bring Sophie back to that world as a phantom. Flashbacks, dreams, all these things present opportunities and devices to tell stories with them together. But I think the distance is what creates part of the power of the series.

QUESTION: Chris, it says in your bio that a second “X-Files” movie is in the planning stages. Are you thinking this probably is the last season for “The X-Files” series. And also, you kind of, I guess, drew the short straw in the Emmy nominations to make room for “The Sopranos.” Were you anticipating that in the voting?

CARTER: Well, I said this the is the year for us to get knocked off, so I was disappointed, but I think David Chase deserves anything and everything he gets because I think that’s a terrific show and he’s really good at what he does, a terrific writer too. So, yes, I was disappointed. I always felt that we were sort of the novelty choice four years running for nominations. I thought that this would be the year where there wasn’t room for us and I was right. So, another “X-Files” movie will happen. We’ve spoken about it to FOX. It’s just a matter of when.

QUESTION: Chris, could we go back to Columbine?

QUESTION: Excuse me, how about the series, the life of the series of FOX? I think there was talk last summer you were thinking this might be the last year.

CARTER: Right.

QUESTION: Are you any farther along the road on that?

CARTER: My contract expires at the end of the year. I know David Duchovny’s does. Gillian’s, I think, goes to an eighth year. Right now, I’m preparing in every way for this to be the final season. I’ve heard second and third-hand that FOX might approach us about taking the show past the seventh season, so I don’t know. But, right now, as I’m plotting the series, I’m looking at these next 22 episodes as a wrap-up. And I’m very excited about the way that is shaping up, but I’m staying tuned.

QUESTION: You talked about your approach to violence in the wake of the Columbine tragedy. Others in the industry would have us believe it’s time for a re-evaluation. Can you talk about that a little? How disingenuous is it? How sincere is it?

CARTER: My feeling about television and storytellers, generally, is that what storytellers do importantly, if you’re doing it well, is you actually can shed really interesting light on the issues, through your storytelling. So, to write about war, to write about violence, it is an element of what you do and that’s what I’m dealing with here too: how much to show in order to get a point across, to learn something, to change something. And I think storytellers are vitally important to change. So, I think people are sensitive. Certainly the networks and the censors are sensitive to what’s going on TV right now, but I would hate to see it be a backlash that affects the really good, responsible storytellers in trying to write relevant, big, important stories.

QUESTION: Chris, you came from this paranormal and extraterrestrial activities through this “Digital Nightmare.” Do you think that is a sign of times, or a sign of millennium? How do you think about that?

CARTER: I think that the millennium — I read about the previous century, so the end of 100 years — the end of a century — is a time of great reflection and fear, and I think Y2K has really helped to drive that up. But I think that “The X-Files” was a show that was right for its time. I think, if just for cell phones alone, it was important. [laughter] I think that “Harsh Realm,” in the same way, can tell stories that are — may not have been interesting to people, you know, as five years ago. So, I think that “Harsh Realm” is a show that feels, like, of its time.

QUESTION: Chris, going back up to Vancouver, which is busy with filming, as you know. Did you have any problems in lining up a class crew for this project?

CARTER: Well, it’s a very busy place. I had left a winning team — five years of a — with a great crew on “X-Files.” I was sorry to leave that winning team, as anyone can — as you — I hope anyone can imagine. I was looking forward to putting as much of that crew back together. I’ve done that, to some extent. I think that people know that I want to do quality work, and they gravitate toward that. I’m very happy with the crew that I put together, and the crew that I put together on the pilot. So, I think that these people would — who have done a tremendous amount of work — would tell you that we had a really good group up there. It’s led by a group of really fine producers, I think. So, I think we’re prepared to do good work in that way.

QUESTION: Chris, how much writing are you personally going to do on the show, and is your juggling act going to change compared to, say, the last couple years of “Millennium” and “X-Files”?

CARTER: I’d say this is going to be one of the hardest years of my life. I’m prepared to do whatever I can to make this show work, and to make “X-Files” as good as it’s always been. I thought the last season of the show was one of the best seasons, which is why the Emmy nominations were kind of a disappointment today because I think we did terrific work last year. I’m going to work night and day, though, to make sure that I service these actors. I give them material that keeps them excited, which is all-important to making a good show, because if the actors aren’t excited, if the scripts aren’t good, the crews not excited, you must, sort of — you must feed that process with good material, and that’s really one of the simple facts about producing a good TV show, is getting — keeping everyone excited about the work that they do because it’s very hard.

QUESTION: So, will you be doing most of the writing, then?

CARTER: I’ll do a lion’s share of writing on both shows, I’d say.

QUESTION: Chris, in talking to people who’ve been doing some other science fiction-related shows earlier in the tour, they talk about balancing sort of the human side of the relationship between the characters with sort of the “gee whiz” aspect of science fiction and the fantasy that they’re exploring. Can you talk a little bit about how you’ll do that in “Harsh Realm.” Is that what’s necessary to sort of bring science fiction to TV in the 90s?

CARTER: I was not a science fiction fan as a kid — as a younger man. So, I didn’t really — I don’t like some of the elements of science fiction because they were not relevant, or I could not relate to them as a reader. So, I come to science fiction from, “How does it affect my life? How does it — how is it pertinent to my experience?” So, that’s really the way I always approach it. But the science fiction elements, of course, now, especially with special effects — these are the bonus to storytelling. But if you don’t tell that good, human story, the effects will never carry you through.

QUESTION: Chris, how come there haven’t been successful virtual reality concepts on television in the past? And has the audience needed to become more comfortable with computers to accept it?

CARTER: Maybe, but I think that, even though you don’t have virtual reality, you’ve had time travel shows. You’ve had shows that take place in parallel worlds, different dimensions, other universes. “Twilight Zone” — you know, as far back as “Twilight Zone,” you have these allegorical sort of shows. I think that there is an appetite for them, in that people can understand them if they’re told right. The idea of a digital universe — a digital world — is still a, I think a difficult concept to grasp, and that’s one of the tricks, I think, in making this show good and popular, is in making it understandable — how one world and another world co-exist.

QUESTION: Rachel, in your bio, it mentions many of your television credits are science fiction, like “Sliders” and “Stargate” and “Millennium” and “Highlander.” Is this something that you seek out, or is this more of an indication that what the Canadian and American television industry is, or do you ever just want to lighten up and guest star on “Spin City”?

HAYWARD: Well, I know you can’t tell, I’m a comedian.

QUESTION: So you would like to guest star on “Spin City”?

HAYWARD: I would like to just work. I like to do comedy, I like to do science fiction, I like to do — you know, I think I — first like to keep busy. I like to do fun stuff, and I don’t — I have to admit, I haven’t had an awfully big chance to do a lot of comedy up in Vancouver, but the jobs that I have been able to do up there have been fairly exciting. I think, like Chris says, I think that perhaps there’ll be some room for some comedy with “Harsh Realm,” and some laughs there. But I think I don’t know. I’m just — I think I’m just happy keeping busy in whatever it is that I’m doing.

QUESTION: Scott, Samantha, you already told us how excited you were in reading the pilot script, but your three co-stars have a lot more exposure in television than you do. Why, at this point, did you, even with a number of feature films, past and present, did you decide to go to the series route?

MATHIS: Am I on? Oh yes, I am. Excellent. Well, I think — it’s a very exciting time in television. I think, with the expanding of networks, and the variety of what’s out there, I think — all networks, and people within the television world are looking to strive to do something new. To mix it up. To find new ways to inspire audiences. So, I think there’s a lot of exciting work out there happening in television. And certainly Chris was at the forefront of doing something that was completely different within the television world.

QUESTION: Are you disillusioned with the state of the motion pictures that are offered you?

MATHIS: No. I mean, I’m generally not a disillusioned person, and I try to keep positive. I mean, I think — I mean, it’s a — certainly a strange time. I think there are less movies being made right now, and people are confused about what’s going to sell out there in that world. But I try to just stay focused on the work, and find things that are exciting to me, be it in theatre, films or television, it’s about the material. And so, when I looked at this material, I didn’t look at it as a TV show, I just looked at it as the material, and would it be challenging and inspiring for me, and that was the case, as I think Scott was probably going to — if you want to speak to that as well.

BAIRSTOW: Well, I just — when I read the pilot, having done a lot of television, and having read a lot of television, I looked at this pilot and I went, “You know what? This is a show I couldn’t direct,” and therefore, I wanted to be an actor on it. Simple as that.

QUESTION: Chris, I have a question about a detail of dialogue. Yours is one of two FOX pilots that has a variation on the line, “I get to eat your dog.” [laughter] I mean, I don’t know. I’m from Toronto, and nobody there is saying this, so it made me kind of curious how that happens. Is everybody in L.A. saying, “I’m going to eat your dog” this year?

CARTER: No. You know, there’s — there is some language in the show, generally, and I wanted to distinguish the Pinocchio and Hobbes characters from one another. I wanted Pinocchio to be a very, sort of, saucy character in terms of dialogue, and to make him — differentiate him from the Hobbes character, who I felt is an idealized hero who doesn’t want men speaking poorly to women, who would always be chivalrous and gentlemanly. So, you want Pinocchio to sound different, and to be a character of some dangerous consequence, and I think that’s why you have a place like Harsh Realm where things like animals are commodities, and might in fact be eaten if let off their leash.

QUESTION: Chris, this year, fantasy shows have been imposing celibacy on their lead characters. Both “Angel” and “GvsE” have said they have to be celibate. And you’ve at least made it damn difficult for him not to be celibate because his wife’s usually in another realm. Is there a reason for that? Is that good, interesting storytelling to do that?

CARTER: I think so. You know, it works on “The X-Files,” or it has for a long time. [laughter] You know, he’s not married. He is — in fact, he has not taken a vow, but he, I think, will live up to the unspoken vow that he has taken to be true to his wife-to-be, and I think that’s going to be an interesting thing to play for the character of Hobbes. Pinocchio, on the other hand, I think, has taken no vows, nor plans to. [laughter] And will, I think add another different kind of element to the show.

QUESTION: For D.B. and Scott, earlier you had mentioned that you’re really not into the virtual reality games, nor the Internet and that kind of thing. Was it difficult, then, to understand where the script was going? That the concept of the virtual reality — is there someone — or do you have little meetings with Chris and saying, “What the heck do you mean by this,” if you’re not into that type of virtual reality mindset?

BAIRSTOW: Well, I think I understand — I understood the concept, and with the show, it’s — as an actor, I’m playing human elements, human emotions, and so when it came to jumping into it, it was fairly easy.


SWEENEY: Well, I think it feels more complicated than it is, I think. I don’t know if you’ve — have you seen the whole show or just —


SWEENEY: Yeah, well I think — the first subsequent episodes are going to sort of reprise some of the ideas of how you get in and out of the world, who controls it, and how you, you know, can control those portals, or get access to them. But I think when you get right down to it, it’s pretty simple. You have these two worlds. You know, you have the worlds, you know. You have the world where you’re actual flesh and blood people, and then you have the world where you’re a digital representation of that person, or completely created, virtual character. So, those three different states are all you’re dealing with and then some people can go back into the real, and obviously the virtual characters can’t, or at this time, they can’t. I don’t know — whatever Chris is going to cook up. But I think part of the fun of a series is like, “All right, I think I understand about 87% of this, and I really want to find out the other 13%.” So, I think as much as the audience, hopefully, has that reaction, I think as an actor, you like to be intrigued like that. You don’t necessarily, you know, want to have — if it’s pat, if everything is answered for you, like the way it was in the “Dharma & Greg” pilot, I don’t know why you’d want to watch the show. [laughter]

QUESTION: Mr. Carter, if I could follow up on that. You said you were going to start giving people an understanding in the second and third episode of why all this matters in the real world. But it’s a very competitive TV world out there, these days. Do you have any fear that people are going to watch the first one and think, you know, “I don’t know why they’re playing this game. I don’t know why it matters and I don’t care”?

CARTER: Yeah. Well, you worry about that, but hopefully, you’ve made something compelling enough that people come back. But I’m not interested in, and I think that sort of shows with “X-Files” and “Millennium,” in doing sort of traditional franchise shows. So hopefully, the difference in this show, the unique quality will be enough to bring people back, and the good storytelling and the terrific acting.

CINDY RONZONI: All right, thank you very much.


X-Files Expo transcript

X-Files Expo transcript

Well, after sneaking in a recorder to the Expo at Tustin on Saturday… and then carefully playing it back and typing it up on the computer today, the final project is what is in this and the next 7 posts : a transcript of the Writers Forum. I spent 7 hours in front of my computer typing the following out for you, the good fans of the X-Files. I ask one thing from all that read this… please do not ask for an audio copy of the Expo. This transcript alone is illegal and I don’t want Fox on my butt more than I need them to be. Thanks and enjoy.

X-File Expo March 14th, 1998 Tustin Marine Corp. Base Transcript

FS – Frank Spotnitz JS – John Shiban VG – Vince Gilligan MC – The Emcee Q – Audience Question [] – audience reaction (unless mentioned otherwise)

All three walk out on stage. Frank at stage right, Vince on stage left and John in the middle. All are standing with cordless mics about 5 feet from each other. This transcript has been modified from its original form: the writers repeat the questions so that people who could not hear the soft voices of some of the audience members can understand the answer. I have cut out the repeat of the questions.

FS – Uhhh… can you hear me? We’re going to introduce ourselves first, one by one, and then open up the floor for questions. Are there microphones out there for questions? ok. Uh.. I’m Frank Spotnitz. I’m co-executive producer of the X-Files. [applause] I’ve been with the show four years now – since the beginning of the second season. I’ve written and co-written about 16 or 17 episodes and I’m working on the movie right now (the movie that will be coming out in June). So, umm, you can ask me about any of those things or any of the other episode and this is John Shiban.


JS – Hi. I am John Shiban, co-producer of the X-Files. I’ve been on the show since season three. Uhhh… wrote.. uhh, enough.. four solo episodes I believe? Four or five solo’s and writing with these guys for a couple of episodes. Don’t know what to talk about…. so I will turn it over to Vince Gilligan!


VG – Uhh… Hi, I’m Vince, supervising producer of the X-Files. I have been with the show since October of ’95 on staff. I did an episode about a year before that, uh, freelance. Done six or seven solos and a couple of episodes with these two guys. And uhh, I guess we should throw it open to questions?

FS – Yes, we could. These guys look normal but they are very disturbed and I can explain that to you if you wish. Over here?

Q #1 – Um, first of all, my name is Suzy. (FS – Hi) In one of the first seasons, I’m not sure which it was, there was an episode called “Calusari”? (FS – “Calusari”, right.) Ok, yeah… that was second season. Um, at the end of the episode, the elders are telling Mulder that he should be careful because the evil will recognize you and it might be back. (FS – yes). Are you guys going to do a second half of that episode anywhere along the lines?

FS – I don’t think we will do a sequel per se, although the idea that evil might recognize Mulder could come back in some other show but we don’t have any plans to do that right now.

Q #2 – Uh, My name’s Jenna. I just wanted to ask you guys: there’s been a lot of speculation this season that you guys are kind of writing in a kind of rift, or separation, in relationship between Mulder and Scully but there’s like, ever since the events of “Emily” and “Christmas Carol” there has been something between them – that there has been a distance between them. Are you specifically writing that in or are we just seeing that?

(FS looks at JS) JS – Hmmm… distance between them… Vince? (JS looks at FG) [laughing] VG – Uhh… That is not anything conscious on our part. I think Mulder and Scully’s relationship is probably, I would think, is stronger than ever. You know, sometimes, with the logistics of doing a tv show and also doing a movie just about simultaneously, sometimes its very hard for the show to get two stars, to schedule their time such that they can do the work in the week they need them to do. Sometimes, frankly, we have to endeavor to schedule one scene with just Mulder or just Scully. We do that as little as possible because, honestly, who wants to see Mulder and Scully together? Maybe that’s what you’re thinking of but no, that’s not a conscious thing on our part to show a rift between them.

FS – I think one of the interesting things between their relationship is how much is unsaid between the two of them. And you gotta watch and sort of look for subtle signs of communication where Mulder would take Scully’s hand or one of them would touch the other or there is a look between them that is meant to convey something that we don’t want to say. And it leaves a lot of room for interpretation. Sometimes we are surprised by the way these things get interpreted out there. One of the interesting things that has happened this year is the reversals of their roles: In the beginning of the season Mulder believing, because of his meeting with Kritschgau, that he may have been mislead that the entire alien / UFO phenomenon is a cover story to disguise what the government has actually been up to. And we see a real reversal of the roles that Mulder and Scully played ending this two-parter, that was just broadcasted, where we see them shift back… possibly… to the more familiar positions. So somewhere in there, I think, this impression may have been developed.

JS – Chris Carter has said that Mulder and Scully, in a way, are having a romance. Even though it’s not a sexual romance, this is a relationship and it is complicated. And sometimes they are at odds, sometimes they don’t agree, sometimes they are concerned for each other, they are worried that one is going to endanger themselves, etc. Sometimes those things aren’t resolved and we like to leave it lie(?) because it makes them more real to us and more interesting people if they have that kind of long-term up and down that you go through in a relationship like this.

FS – Don’t you think we should be performing somehow? [laugh] We’re just standing up here with microphones…

VG – We should do the human pyramid.

FS – We have a tumbling act we could do. [laugh] Go ahead…

Q #3 – Hi, my name is Deb. I just want to say that its really great to finally see the brains behind some of the great episodes on the X-Files. (FS – thank you) [applause] I just wanted to know, um, how far on the myth – arc are you guys planning ahead or are you just writing holes so you can fill them in later? How much of this has been planned ahead?

FS – Well the… climax…of all of the mythology, Chris Carter has had in his head from the beginning of the show. And he’s left the steps to get there vague on purpose so as we go through the life of the tv series we take things from the news and incorporate them into the mythology. So he hasn’t wanted to put a straight jacket around himself or the show. We had an interesting problem this year. We thought it was going to be an advantage because we knew what the movie was and we’ve known since Christmas of 96, which is when we came up with the story. So all of the mythology you have seen since then has been sort of knowing where we’re going in the Summer of ’98. But it actually proved to be more difficult because we started having a hard time figuring out what we can say and what can we not say. And this last two parter probably revealed more of the mythology and what’s happening then this show has since the second season. So it was a big, big couple of stories for us. But, beyond that, its pretty much, you know, we know what the movie is obviously, but beyond that its pretty much tentative… except the end… we know what that is.

JS- I thought it was all true, Frank.

FS – Yeah… except for the true parts

Q #4a – Hi, my name is Rachael. Um, I was wondering, this is going out to all of you, what are your favorite episodes?

FS – All of Vince’s episodes are my favorites. (JS – Yeah, I guess.) [applause]

JS – Anything where Mulder and Scully hold hands or nearly kiss. [big applause]

FS – That’s called sucking up to the audience.

Q #4b – …and is there any plans to bring back Darren Morgan? [applause]

FS – Darren, we see him every day, because he is writing for Millennium, which is just next door to us, and he’s absolutely miserable. Hates writing, hates his own shows. And we keep hoping he will come back but if we invite him, that will make it less likely that he will. But he has an idea, he claims, but he just hates the process so… who knows if he will feel like doing it again. My favorite episodes… I have many, many favorites but among them, I would have to say “Duane Barry”, “Clyde Bruckman” with Darren, [applause]…. those are two that come to mind off hand. Many of Vince’s, John’s, and some of the one’s we have done together I love or just had fun doing. Like “Leonard Betts” was fun show for us.

JS – yeah! “Leonard Betts”…

VG – “Leonard Betts” was a fun one.

JS – Great minds think alike.

FS – You guys want to answer that question? What are your favorite shows?

VG – As with Frank, I don’t really have a favorite but the one’s that frank mentioned and, uh, “Jose Chung”, “731 / Nisei”, “Colony / End Game”, “Elegy” was a great one, “The Walk”…. uh, I’m just kissin’ ass up here, I don’t know. [laugh] I love them all, except for a couple.

FS – John?

JS – Uh… same thing? Ditto on that. Actually, I really liked this last two parter… “Patient X” and “The Red and The Black” were wonderful episodes [applause]

Q #5 – Hi, my name is Holly and I was wondering as writers, is there any direction you would, if you could, take the show but will know will never happen because of the Mythology and the restrictions that Chris puts onto you? If you could write your dream story arch for the show, what would it be?

FS – Interesting question. Um, actually, I don’t think that there is anything that will never happen. I think that because of the life of the tv series and the possibility of a feature [film] series continuing after this. Eventually, pretty much anything we want these character to face, they will face and come to pass. But it is an interesting problem, how to sort of parse out the dramatic moments in the lives of these characters because we can’t have them facing death every week and you can’t involve their personal lives every week although those tend to be the people’s favorite episodes. So we are always judging how much we can do and still sustain the show week after week. That’s a tough balance to strike.

VG – I couldn’t, frankly, find an answer to your question off the top of my head because it occurred to me that I sort of feel like we do get to do are dream episodes. We basically do get to do what we want to do thanks to Chris.

JS – I still want Mulder and Scully to go back to the old west [laughing].

VG- Ancient Rome.

JS – Ancient Rome, Egypt, yes.

FS – The fun for us is doing episodes that are completely different. And we try every week to find situations and ideas that are unlike anything that we have ever done before. It like exploring without a map: we don’t quite know how we are going to work out the story and where they are going to go, but it keeps it fresh for us and the actors too.

Q #6 – Hi, my name is Fontaine. There’s been some speculation that in “Small Potatoes” the leaf blower was Mark Hamill. Is that really true?

VG – That’s a funny idea. It is not Mark Hamill but that would have been really neat. You know, the original plan was for the guy to be Glen Morgan, Darren Morgan’s brother, who if you have ever seen him in a magazine picture or whatnot, there’s a big family similarity. And I really wanted him to do that part and it would have been wonderful. But, you know, he’s a busy man and he was working on a pilot at the time and stuff like that. He originally said yes but then he had to cancel. So actually, honestly, the actual leaf blower guy, is just, I don’t even know his name. He is just a Vancouver extra. But Mark Hamill would have been a good choice.

Q #7a – Hi. I have a few questions. How important is feedback on the internet to the show? How does that influence what goes on in future episodes? How do you do research on those episodes that go deeply into a culture? And then finally, is there a book like that… I hear a rumor that Gene Roddenberry had a book for Star Trek writers where you can’t do this or you can’t do that. Does Chris Carter has some kind of book as a guideline that you guys abide by?

JS- uhh… last question first. Our show does not have a “bible”. Other shows do, they call it a “bible” and it lays out the characters and the history behind each character, etc., etc…. A lot of that is in Chris’s head, to be honest, and part of the experience of working on the show is we all sort of begin to learn what is acceptable and what is not. Although we are always pushing that envelope so… Nobody had anticipated Scully’s cancer, for example. And as the show grew and she was abducted and as these things happened to her, we were able to fit it into her character. But there are rules though. There are ways we try to scare people that Chris has, at least for me, has taught me how to do in a lot of ways and how to handle a scene and what we consider scary and what we don’t. For example, trying to scare people at home: trying to find something that is commonplace and then turning it into something scary. Instead of just a complete fantasy. Like a monster of something.. but it is not written down like it is in other shows.

Q #7b – JS – uhh… what was the second question?

VG- Internet. (looks at JS to answer)

JS – ahhh.. internet. (looks at FS to answer)

FS- Internet. I confess that I would never look into the fan-fic areas for fear of some plagiarism accusation and also, I don’t read X-rated material. [laughs] But I will look and see the fans reaction to the episodes, despite the fact that is it extremely aggravating for me. Because people write assuming that we are not reading any of these things. They are very blunt and brutal in many cases.

JS- We have feelings too, you know. [laughs]

FS – I also find that people tend to post because they got something… if you have something to say and it’s a complaint, it gives you credibility. It’s your ticket to a post. And, for me, the things that I find most interesting to the episodes rarely surface in e-mail traffic. So that part is a little frustrating. What is interesting to me though, especially after mythology shows have aired, is to log on and see what people think is happening, how they interpret what they have seen, and how it connects to the continuing story line. Sometimes it gives me ideas, not so much for what the future should be, but for things that need to be clearer or that people got the wrong impression of. We try to be so oblique with these mythology episodes because another one of Chris’s maxims is that it is as only as scary as it seems believable and in reality, things aren’t spelled out and things are very complex so there is a lot of room for interpretation and sometimes the internet helps us understand where we are going wrong.

JS – Oh, the other question was research, right? We do have a full time research staff.. don’t want to tell you their names, though… that is constantly doing research for us off and on the internet and we will hire experts in Vancouver when we shoot the show to make sure it is authentic. So we are very careful about that and, playing off the idea that if it is real, it would be scary.

FS – A funny thing about that is that we just did this episode that airs March 29th, John and I wrote this episode in which guest stars Darren McGavin, from the Night Stalker, [applause and laughter] and he plays an FBI agent who originally uncovered the X-Files before Mulder did in the 1950’s. He discovers all sorts of government conspiracies, double dealing, etc. We had an ex FBI agent read the script for accuracy and he had never seen the X-Files and admitted that he doesn’t like television as he prefaced his notes. He was appalled that we would suggest that there was a government conspiracy going on or that … [applause and laughter] … Mr. Hoover might have had anything to do with it. So, sometimes the research has uh…

VG – And he also said that if this script is any indication of the caliber of the show that it won’t last very long. [laughter]

FS – Yes. Oh… and there are no X-Files. So that was one thing we needed to correct.

Q #8 – Hi, my name is Peggy and I want to thank you, fist of all, ’cause you guys make the show every week – you’re great. (all of them – Thank you.) Vince, I was going to ask you something that’s been bothering me. In “Momento Mori”, when Mulder is about to take Scully into his arms, what does he say?

FS- “Come on back.” He say’s “Come on back.”

Q – Thank you, it’s been bugging me.

VG – I didn’t write that, I’m sorry. I forgot… that was these guys.

JS – But, Vince.. they HUGGED Vince! Isn’t that your part?? [laughing]

FS – This has been a running joke with Vince. The three of us, you know, are so sick of each other because we work together constantly but Vince has always got Mulder and Scully hugging, or winking at each other…[big applause and screaming] …so we just think he is shameless, you know, suck up to the audience.

VG – I used to work for Hallmark, so…. [laughter]

Q #9 – Hi, my name is Allison, and I have two questions. First one is, how much do you guys get paid? [laughter] And second one, I think it was “Bad Blood”, the vampire one that aired recently. Why was Scully wearing the sheriff’s big huge coat?

FS & JS – ahhaaaa! (while looking at VG)

VG – Um, I think I will answer the second part. In my mind, the sheriff did care for Scully, not in a necessarily romantic way or anything, but he felt really bad about having to drug her and he felt bad about leaving her on the side of the road because, basically, he and the other vampires had to, as Mulder said, “had to pull up stakes” and get out of there. So, you know, it was a chilly night, you could see he breath, and I think she just needed a coat. It is just chivalrous in my mind. [applause]

FS – See what I mean about being a suck up? [laughter] Um, we get paid…. well. Being on the show like The X-Files is kinda like being struck by lightning if you are an inspiring writer in Hollywood. It is a show people like and it is actually really hard to survive as a writer on this show. We have probably had the highest writer turnover of any tv show. If you guys follow the credits, you would see it’s like a revolving door. People just don’t last. It is very hard and very demanding work and we all work very long hours. I will tell you how much we get paid for one thing though which I just got the check yesterday. For all of the episodes that air on the FX Network, we get paid $200 dollars. [laughter] $200 dollars!

JS – Oooooooo! VG – Do we have any FX executives out there? [laughter] FS – So we are not getting rich off of that.

Q #10a – My name is Sarah, and I also have two questions. The first one is, where do you get a lot of the ideas that you come up with. I mean, do you like read the newspaper, or..?

JS – Uh, a lot of them do come from reading the newspaper, reading magazines, stumbling across something on tv that gives you an idea. An example, for the first episode I did, “The Walk” was actually the night I found out I got the job and I was flipping around on the tv and an old Marlin Brando movie called “The Men Came Up” and it just occurred to me that it would be an interesting character to base an episode on. Sometimes, as I have said, we have researchers and sometimes things will come to us that way. More often than not, its our everyday lives just suddenly spawn an idea.

FS – We will get abducted by aliens or we… [laughter] … attacked by monsters.

Q #10b – Ok, the second question I have is last week’s episode where Cancer Man writes a letter to Spender and he says basically that he’s Spender’s father. He had a Navaho story in there about two sons coming to their father to kill off all of the monsters in the world.

JS – yes?

Q – … are we going to see a team up between Spender and Mulder or are they going to be rivals or…?

FS – KEEP WATCHING. [applause]

Q – It’s not fair!!!

Q #11 – Hi, my name is Nicky, this question is for Vince. I was just wondering in the episode “Bad Blood” where did you get the theme from “Shaft”? Because that was so funny!

VG – I’m glad you liked that.. I was just, I had a couple of bourbons and I was working on it… [laughter] … It was over Christmas and I was really freaking out because I had to have it done by the time I needed to be back and it just popped into my head. I’m glad you liked that. [applause]

Q #12 – Hi, my name is Maliki, and I have two questions: There is a photograph, I believe, some of the elders, and there are two men missing from the photograph. Me and a friend of mine have been putting the pieces together. We have a couple of theories: One is that there is a plant within the Lone Gunmen and he is the person in the photograph and I just wanted to know if you could comment on (probably not) but, uh, if it was way off base… that sort of thing…

FS – You are referring to a photograph of The Elders?

Q – Well, its, uh, several men that have been identified and I believe The Well – Manicured man is in there and CSM I think?

FS – Is this the photograph in “Paper Clip” of all the men that are in The Project? I think there are more than two men in there that are unidentified. Memory may not serve me correctly.

Q- Yeah, um, well- my friend is much more well-versed on this than I am. Another interesting thin, I just wanted to know if you guys had any comments on… Yeah, I really enjoy the writing all of you guys have done. Especially Vince, you really kick out some very cool episodes. You and Darren Morgan the two people, I mean… I just watch those episodes in rapture. They are the best written stuff.

VG – Thank you very much, I appreciate it.

Q – Same thing with you, Frank. What you do with Chris…

FS- That’s all right. [laughter]

Q – You can be modest all you want but I know how hard it is. I’ve done writing myself… it’s a pain sometimes.

FS – Thank you, Thank you. Um.. the identities of the men in the photograph that you are referring to… There are other men involved in “The Project” who’s identities will be revealed in the future. One of them, in the next few months. Uh, so I can’t say now. That’s one of those things we love to pull through. If you have noticed, especially in the mythology shows, and Vince’s shows, we like to take things that were established early in the life of the series and continue them through and have that continuity. Like in “Unusual Suspects”, The Lone Gunmen episode at the beginning of the season, Vince had Mulder partnered with Reggie who we met in a first season episode flashback. The Identities of the men in “The Project” is another thing that we will carry through. And I think you will see what I am talking about in the next few months.

Q #13 – Hi. my name is Andy, I was wondering, of all of the things you very talented gentleman do with your time and creativity, is there anything that you would rather be doing?

FS – Is there anything we would rather be doing? (looking at JS)

JS – Vince? (looking at VG)

VG – Just rather have more time to do it but no, I mean I used to write movies and had a couple made and I hope to keep doing that someday but I would like to do it simultaneously, if I could. This work on tv is great. This is my only tv experience but I gotta say, it’s been great for me because when Chris Carter gives us work, he lets us take on as much responsibility in the day-to-day show making process as we can handle. He lets us cast our own shows, he obviously lets us write them and come up with them. He lets us audition actors, he lets us give notes to the directors, sit on the set, sit in on the music scoring, sit in on the dubbing… its like going back to film school but they are paying us to be there.

FS – John?

JS – What would I rather be doing? The three of us have always talked about starting a rap group. [laughter] This is a great job and I have to say, it is the hardest job I have ever had, but it is what I wanted to do although I originally didn’t intend on going into television. I agree with Vince, it’s been a dream come true. It will be nice to be able to do it not 7 days a week and 24 hours a day because it can become very taxing on our time. I really enjoy it. I really love it and I wouldn’t really like to be doing anything else until, you know, The X-Files gets canceled which will never happen.

FS – For all of us, thus is our first job in television so its new to all of us and I think what keeps it interesting to all of us is that we are all big fans of the show just like you are. We love working on it and we love seeing what we can do with the characters. The only thing worse than having to work this hard is the prospect on what we’ll do that we will enjoy as much after this is over.. whenever that that happens.

JS – Walker: Texas Ranger? (looks at VG)

VG – Walker: Texas Ranger!

FS – He’s not kidding. [laughs]

JS – If Chuck Norris starts holding hands and hugging, you’ll know, you’ll know… [laughs]

Q #14 – Hi, my mane is Gene and besides the one episode with CSM, is there any chance of exploiting the JFK assassination? Kind of go in deeper and explain the government conspiracy possibly behind it?

FS – I don’t know. To be honest with you, we’ve always been squeamish about taking real historical events like that and fictionalizing them. This episode with Darren McGavin takes the Black List era and shows a fictional interpretation of what that was all about. I wouldn’t rule it out. We haven’t planned to do it but I think we would be hesitant to do it simply because the gravity of the conspiracy is so great. The real life consequences of that type of fiction is so serious.

Q #15a – Hi, my name is Molly, and I was wondering is this the last season of the X-Files??

VG – I don’t think so.

JS – I hope not.

FS – I thought it was going to be. And when we did the story for the movie we kind of assumed this was going to be it. But now it looks all but certain it won’t be. I think we will be back for at least one more year, possibly two. [applause]

Q #15b – ..and also, are you guys moving to LA.?

FS – We don’t know yet. We will probably know in the next couple of weeks. I think all of us on the stage are hoping that we are not. We like Vancouver, we have a great crew up there and my wife thinks that if it ain’t broke… but uhh…Its been hard for the actors. They have been away from their homes for five years so we can sympathize with that. We’ll find out in the next couple of weeks.

Q #16 – Hi, my name is Deborah. Two of my favorite episodes from this season are “Christmas Carol” and “Emily” and I found myself in some heated discussions with other fans who felt Scully was turned into a mere victim, that the religious iconography was heavy handed, being beaten over the head with the Virgin Mary / Scully kind of thing. None of which I agree with. I wondered if you could talk a little about the religious iconography in those two episodes and how you work that kind of thing in and was it as self-conscious as everyone else thinks it is?

FS – This is a story in which John, Vince and I worked on the original conception of the story and it had nothing to do with Melissa Scully and we dumped the story and we were very short on time and we threw it out and began again with Melissa Scully as the cornerstone of the story. When we began again, we also took the Dickens story, A Christmas Carol, as our lead. So suddenly the story came together very fast and actually was one of the most satisfying to write for the three of us.

The use of the manger at the very beginning of “Christmas Carol” was deliberate. The idea of a “virgin birth” was conscious. I think the one image in that two parter that people really felt was heavy handed or was laying onto Scully as Virgin Mary idea was at the end of “Emily” there is a very slow dissolve to the stained glass and that was an image that the director chose to use because it was there on the set that day and all of us liked it. But I don’t think that we meant to suggest that she was anyway equivalent to the Virgin Mary and simply thought that, you know, it was a Christmas story and those parallels deepened the story we were telling.

Q #17 – Hi, I’m Sherry, and I was just wondering that, there is rampant speculation regarding Agent Spender taking over or replacing Agent Mulder (no way, by the way) [applause] … and also, part two, Now, is Agent Spender, who is the CSM’s son and CSM is also Samantha’s father, does that make Mulder and Spender related in some kind of weird way?

JS – He’s a busy guy! [laughter]

FS – You’re making assumptions here. I was very sorry to hear that that was a rumor, I think it was National Enquirer who said that Spender was going to take Mulder’s place. That was never our intention and that will never happen. But I am sorry to read that because that put an unfair cast on that actor. People started comparing him in a way that we never intended to be compared to Mulder and he was cast because he’s different from Mulder and he’ll play a very different role and which I think you will all see in the coming episodes. But, no, he will not be taking his place.

And the question regarding the paternity of CSM? Assume Nothing! [applause] Just because a man write some letters to a guy and calls him “son”, it doesn’t mean…so… you will have to wait and see.

Q #18a – Who are some of your writing mentors and also, you mentioned that The X-Files is your first television work. How do you think your work experience brought you to this particular show?

VG – I had a teacher when I went to the American Film Institute in the writing program, as did Frank, which is actually where I met Frank, and we had a writing teacher named Howard Dimsdale, whom we’ve both learned a lot from and inspired us in many ways. In fact, we named a character after him in this upcoming episode because he was “Black Listed” in the 50’s and it is an episode about Black Listing and it is kind of our tribute to him. For me, other than Howard, there are a number of writers I admire and a number of screen writers I admire… but right now, my mind is drawing a blank! But, how about you, Vince?

VG – Its a good question, I’m sorry I’m blanking too. I can think of the Coen Brothers who I love. I think they are wonderful writers and filmmakers. As far as a mentor in school which I had some wonderful teachers, I went to NY University Film School where I had wonderful film professors, that’s about all I have…

FS – All three of us our film and television junkies and I think we draw from all kinds of sources, high and low, indiscriminately and Howard certainly was a big influence on me. I’ve also gotta say Chris, who is a very rigorous storyteller and very, very precise about the way a scene should be built, the way information comes out, the way information pushes a story along. He is a very tough task master which has been a great learning experience for me.

Q #18b – Will any of you be at the Washington Expo, as in the writers?

FS – Uhh.. I don’t think any of us will be in Washington. Sorry.

Q #19 – My name is Nathan and I have two questions relating to other shows. First, is it coincidence that you have a lot of actors that were in Twin Peaks playing similar roles? And the second one is, what ever happened with, there was a show called Strange Luck that mentioned Mulder, and nothing ever happened. I was wondering if you guys knew anything about either one of those.

VG – I think the Twin Peaks thins is just… I’m assuming it was just a coincidence.

FS – I think it was just that we loved that show, or at least the first season. (VG – It was a good show.) And we liked a lot of the actors in that show but there wasn’t anything more than that.

VG – Strange.. Strange Luck… uh… I’m not… uh.. aware of..

FS – They shot on the same lot as the one we shot on in Vancouver and a lot of the people who worked on Strange Luck knew a lot of people who worked on The -Files. So it was kind of a friendly wink towards us but we never seriously planned on anything beyond that.

Q #20 – Hi, my name is Olga and I have two questions. There were talk that you hired a lot of new writers in the beginning of the year and we haven’t seen anything from them. What happened? And my second question: In “Patient X”, Mulder seemed to be like, at one point, he believed that everything was done by government. And at another point, he would not believe in anything. So I’m wondering…

FS- First question, that is a part of the infamous “revolving door” that I am sorry to say we have on our show. Out of the new writers that began with us last summer, only one of them is still on staff and is doing quite well and actually, has an episode coming up in April, I think is going to be one of the highlights of the season called “The Mind’s Eye”. His name is Tim Minear. Two of the other writers did have an episode that aired called “Schizogeny” which was about trees and allegations of abuse. And another one of the writing teams, one of their stories, is going to be filmed, we are going to start filming it Monday actually, so those are the fruits of their labors that you will see on the air. The question about Mulder and his beliefs. Mulder I think has believed for a long time that the government is complicit in the conspiracy surrounding the existence of extraterrestrial life. But we had this huge shift for his character in the beginning of the season where this guy laid out a story that made perfect sense and it was all a cover-up for what the government was really up to. And his faith was totally shaken, especially when CSM came forward with his sister, alive, not abducted by aliens. We sort of played him that way all year until this last two-part episode where Scully, of all people, had a recovered memory of seeing this incredibly explicit alien encounter and alien attack even. It was one of the most explicit dramatizations of alien life that we’ve done on the series in five years. And then Krycek, of all people, came to him and seemed to confirm the story and at the very end, if you recall, he is in the back of that giant truck and he sees an alien that matches the description in Scully’s recovered memory. And that’s where we left it. So I think that Mulder is very much in flux right now in his beliefs.

Q #21 – Hi, my name is Allegra and thanks for coming out today. I was wondering, one thing that is really interesting about the show is they aren’t very many female writers on staff? Why is that and if there were, what difference would there be in the show, if any?

FS – Female writers… (looks at JS) JS – Vince? (looks at VG) [laughs] VG – I can tell you, we are always on the lookout for just good writers, period and we never give any consideration at all to … whether they are male or female or, you know, any other aspect of their physiognomy, physiology… all we care about is to find some good writers and as Frank spoke of, we do sort of have something like a “revolving door” of the staff and we always have long before we were involved in the show. It’s never personal. It’s never about anything other than… we have had a lot of great writers who are no longer with us just went on to do better things but never really got the tone, the voice of the show. I know there are good women writers out there who could do our show just as there are good male writers. Also, I know we have been looking high and low for them but they have been hard to find so…

FS – We did have some wonderful female writers though. When I began the show, Sara Charno was there and she did two really great episodes that I thought. She’s went on to Chicago Hope and she is currently writing a pilot with Tom Fontana from Homicide so her career is doing just fine. But it is just hard to find good writers, period and it is an unfortunate fact of the business that women writers comprise a very small percentage of the work force, the writing work force that is out there. As with minority writers. So combine that with the fact on how difficult it is to find good writers with few female writers and minority writers there are in the first place, it is difficult. But I would much prefer to have greater diversity if it were available. I gotta say, I’m interested to see how a woman might affect the show but I expect it wouldn’t be a profound difference. I think Scully is written as a very intelligent, strong, independent woman to begin with. I think all of us try, just as a rule, to try to make all of our characters strong and individual. When Sarah was on the show, I didn’t notice particularly that her gender effected the way she approached the characters.

VG – Nor Kim Newton and the Mayhew sisters last season. FS – yeah, yeah. VG- But the funny thing to is that we have got a show that is very interesting and has often been described that Mulder has a lot of feminine aspects to his nature: intuition. And Scully is the logical one and that makes an interesting twist.

JS- Does that explain why Krycek kissed him last episode? [laughing]

FS- Want more of that Krycek / Mulder stuff? [loud applause]

Q #22 – I have a to part question. The first one is which is your least favorite episodes? And also, what do you plan for everybody’s favorite Ratboy?

FS- Least favorite episodes…. JS- That’s not nice! [laughs] long pause JS – That’s like a political question. FS – I have a number of episodes that I.. it’s painful for me. Like I will switch on FX and see one and I’m all “Oh god!” and I’ll turn the channel. There are a number of episodes that for reasons I am sure that the audience would never know. It means nothing to the audience it’s just that I hate them and I won’t watch them again [FS laughs]. But it’s sort of like, we have done 118 episodes by now? or something like that? And it’s just impossible at the pace that we are churning these out to like everyone and was not as successful as you wanted it to be. There are ones that you just knew could have been better and aren’t. I wouldn’t want to name them to be honest with you.

JS – And, uh, plans for Krycek? He’s a great character and we have a lot of fun with him and the great thing about him is that you never know where he is going to turn up next or who he is going to be working for. There are plans for him but we can’t tell you that! [laughs]

Q – Is he going to be in more episodes this season?

FS – Uhh… next season.

Q #23a – Hi, I have a couple of questions. First, regarding Scully’s cancer. Was that a story line that was originally thought of from the beginning or was that written in due to speculation about the longevity of the show or any rumors of the actors leaving? And are you going to explain any more about how Scully remission is due to the chip in the back of her neck?

VG – I think that was uh… Wasn’t that your idea for that or..(looking at FS) I think it was Frank who came up with the cancer aspect originally, wasn’t it Frank?

FS – Well, Scully’s cancer seemed like a total natural because, in that episode “Nisei” and “731” where we reveal all these other female abductees that have the chips in their necks, we also learn that they are all dying of cancer. And the question nagged me and I think it nagged some fans was “well, why isn’t Scully dying of cancer?” It seemed like something that we were all obligated to do. Putting the chip back in the neck seemed to us like a perfect writing solution. An elegant and just clean logic. And now, this idea that this chip maybe some kind of homing device. She can’t take it out because she will get cancer again, and if she leaves it in then there’s the potential that she will be abducted again. So she’s really between a rock and a hard place which is a great place for our characters to be in. I don’t think we are going to explain it any further. Hopefully, people understand the gravity of the situation.

Q #23b – Also, does the federal government ever get back to you about the conspiracy theories you talk about in the show?

FS – It struck me as funny that we were driving onto a military base. [laughs] I expect to be placed under house arrest by the end of the day.

VG – You better believe it.

FS – We have a lot of fans at the federal government and in the military. We get letters all the time.

VG – We got a wonderful public affairs liaison with the FBI and a guy named Kurt Crawford in which we named a character after him in “Memento Mori” and he’s a great guy. I’m originally from the East Coast and he gave myself and my girlfriend a tour of Quantico. A lot of FBI people actually like the show and watch it. They take it with a grain of salt as far as reality goes but they at least enjoy it as fiction.

Q #24 – Hi. I have a question regarding the topics you cover in the show. I was wondering if there was anything you guys wanted to write about but would be to controversial or taboo for television?

JS – Oh, yeah, there was an episode in season two called “Irresistible”. It was a story where Scully was abducted by this guy named Donny Pfaster. The original idea for the story and the original script Chris wrote was that he was a necrophiliac. The network had huge problems with that. I don’t know why? [laughs] In fact, we get Standards and Practices notes for every script and its somebody’s job to read it and say “no, no. You can’t say this word” or “no, don’t make this too violent. etc. That was the shortest Standards and Practices notes that we have ever seen which was basically one sentence: “this episode is unacceptable”. [laughs] So Chris went back and rewrote it and made him a fetishist so he was instead of romancing dead bodies, he was taking parts of their hair and their finger nails and stuff like that. The irony is… that’s how we shot it, it was a great episode. When TV Guide came out that week, the log line was “Mulder and Scully investigate a necrophiliac.” [laughs]

Q #25 – Hi. I was wondering if when you write, do you write for a specific actor? And if so, could you give examples?

VG – Yeah, that’s a good question. In “Bad Blood”, the vampire episode, I wrote for a brilliant actor who played the actor who’s name is Luke Wilson. Who I think did a really good job. I guess I will give a little plug to my movie… I wrote a book called “Home Fries” and he stars in it with Drew Barrymore. That’s how I knew him. I know you guys must have examples (looks at FS and JS).

FS – Actually, this episode that is coming up, the one with Darren McGavin, the monster, if you will, was an actor we had read for another part and we just thought he had the greatest face, so we specifically wrote for him in mind. By in large though, no. By in large, we just dream up the best characters that we can and find the actors and we seek unknowns. Just because it seems to preserve the reality of the show better than using name actors.

Q #26 – What is your favorite reoccurring character? and what was the episode you had the most fun writing?

JS – Actually the most fun writing I think was probably “Leonard Betts.” We, the three of us, basically hooked up a computer to a separate monitor, a laptop to monitor, and sat in a room together. Which is how we have been working since then but that was the first one that we did that on. It was fun to write because it was a fun story for one, and number two, we were all very excited so it was a great moment to be in. We enjoyed that very much.

VG – That would have to be my favorite one too. There was a lot of fun. We ate a lot of McDonald’s food and we worked over at Frank’s house on “Leonard Betts.” It was such a crazy story but it came out. It was one of my favorites and I really enjoyed it. Recurring characters? Uhhhh… is Skinner a reoccurring or a supporting? I love Skinner, I love Krycek, I think those are supporting.. I dunno.

FS – Who are the other actors who are here today? [laughs] JS – We miss “X”. VG – Yeah, we miss “X”, Mr. X. We miss him a lot. It was a lot of fun to be able to put him into “Unusual Suspects” since it was a flashback episode.

Q #27 – Um, hi. I am like this big joy bubble standing here. You are like the Beatles or something. [laughs] Um, I’m such a nerd. Anyways, I have so many questions I am going to just try one, to Frank. In “Patient X”, and how you are developing the Marita character and… there are so many little questions I have about this character that they would end up being big questions… and I know that’s on purpose but I am talking about the little expositions, I don’t know… The way, for example, Jerry Hardin or Steven Williams. You don’t know anything but you get an idea of where their history’s are. And I don’t really get that a lot from Marita Covarrubias and I know that is probably a little bit on purpose. Also, it’s frustrating to see her in a room with these GUYS, with these MALES… you’re like “What’s she doing there? How did she get there?” You have this FBI MALE networking with the Consortium with all of these old farts.. what the heck is she doing there? I was wondering if you were planning on developing that to some degree in the future so that we could be more pleased with her or something?

FS – I was surprised how I loved seeing her in that room with all of those old… farts.

Q – Me too, but I wanna know why, you know?

FS – You will find out eventually… you know one of the things that is fun about being on a show that has a life like this, that has a continuing story that last over years, is getting to watch things evolve and change. When I first came on in the beginning of season two, everybody was mourning the death of Deep Throat and “this new guy “X” sucks!” you know…”he’s not half the guy Deep Throat was”. There was like a challenge to make people like “X” and by the time he said good-bye, people missed him as much as they missed Deep Throat. And now it’s the same thing with Marita Covarrubias. I will go onto the internet and I’ll see “Oh, she sucks. She’s bland. Blah, blah, blah.” [cheer from some girls] … and this last two part episode was a chance to show people parts of her that they have never seen before. I think it set a lot of fires. The role she plays with the U.N, her background that she has with Krycek, who she’s really working for, because she’s calling Mulder with the kid, Those are three really critical clues for her character that you can expect to see fleshed out. Probably not this year, but sometime early next year.

Q – Thank you very much. We really love you guys. JS – Thank You. VG – Thanks

FS – Two more questions, sorry.

Q #28 – My name is Liz, and my question is, why did you kill Pendrell!? [crowd reacts]

FS – Ohhh… I know. [crowd still reacts] JS – I didn’t do it! FS – I felt really bad about that. Actually, that was a tough call. There were drafts of that script where he lived. Um… and I don’t know what to say except that: the story would work better if he died. That’s the other thing about doing a show like this: Chris started establishing it at the beginning by killing Deep Throat at the beginning of season one, is that no one is safe. I think it just creates a level of anxiety for the audience that you can’t count on (except for Mulder and Scully, who obviously have to live for the show to continue) you can’t count on anybody surviving and I felt bad too.

VG – Just be glad that we didn’t kill Frohike. The original draft of “Memoirs of a CSM” had him getting killed, so…

FS – Actually, Morgan / Wong wrote “Musings of a CSM”, which was originally called “Memoirs of a CSM”, and in the first draft, Frohike gets shot at the end! And the three of us read it and you can ask my girlfriend that I couldn’t sleep that night I was so upset! You can’t kill Frohike!! [crowd laughs] And we went into Chris’s office the next morning and said “This cannot happen! Don’t kill this poor guy!” and so he got a reprieve. [laughter] [pause] Last question.

Q #29 – Hi, I’m Sherry. My question is for Vince. I was wondering if you enjoy writing the more humorous episodes or the more serious ones?

VG – I am very lucky to do both, but honestly, probably the more funnier ones are funnier to write. Its sort of like eating hot fudge Sundays, where you don’t want to have one every meal. You want to spread it out some. You want to get some other serious ones in-between. Probably, as far as fun to write, the funny ones.

Q – I thought that “Bad Blood” was hilarious.

VG – Thank you [applause]

FS – Before we go, let me just suck up a little bit and tell you that all of us are always amazed at how smart our audience is and its a struggle for us to try and be smart enough to write these shows and its a pleasure to have an audience like you. We’re grateful you come out to these things, I hope it’s worth your $25 bucks. They worked very hard to make these better than the old conventions and if you went to any of those, I think you can see its quite a bit better. You make our jobs possible and we appreciate that.

VG – Thank you. JS – Thanks


MC – Gilligan, Spotnitz and Shiban… let’s give them another hand for the writers. Chris Carter’s main guys on the show. It’s a real treat to have them out here today and they are serious when they mean it. They are internet junkies as well so, if you’ve got fast fingers, you know where to find them.


well, that’s the fruit of my labor! All one hour of interviews with the greatest minds behind television today. I hope you appreciate the hours and hours it took me to write all of this down. Let alone, the anxiety I felt sneaking in my recorder to the Expo! 🙂