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The Hartford Courant: 'X-Files' Spinoff Due On Fox In March

The Hartford Courant
‘X-Files’ Spinoff Due On Fox In March
James Endrst

LOS ANGELES — There are still some people in this world who, when they speak, are guaranteed an audience.

Fans of ”Star Trek” come to mind.

As do aficionados of Chris Carter and his Fox paranormal drama, ”The X-Files.”

So if you happen to be one of those people, listen up. With ”The X-Files” in its eighth season and a ninth year in doubt, and after a long, distracting legal tussle between Fox and star David Duchovny, Carter is not only in the midst of determining the future of his series, he’s also hard at work on a spinoff, ”The Lone Gunmen.” Due in March in ”The X-Files” Sunday night time slot at 9, the hourlong comedy/drama will give those computer-savvy conspiracy geeks Byers (Bruce Harwood), Frohike (Tom Braidwood) and Langly (Dean Haglund) – also known as the The Lone Gunmen – a Fox show of their own.

Carter, the creator/executive producer here again, says his latest series wasn’t part of some long, drawn-out plan.

It happened, really, by chance.

”We did episodes that were dedicated to the Lone Gunmen … really as a result of the unavailability of Gillian (Anderson) and David when we were making the movie (1998’s ‘The X-Files: Fight the Future’).”

The ”Gunmen” episodes, says Carter, were very successful. ”We thought the guys were very funny.”

Funny? Yes.

But cool? Never.

Described as a ”misguided ‘Mission: Impossible’ team” with ”stagnant” social skills, the trio will get some help from the distracting presence of Yves Adele Harlow, played by newcomer Zuleikha Robinson. ”She’s just stunningly beautiful,” says Carter. ”She’s very young and she’s very green, but she’s terrific.”

From his perspective, Robinson is cut from the ”Bond Girl” mold. But the British-born actress, who was raised in Thailand and Malaysia, is also a woman of the world – one with a British accent Carter will use in the series.

Look for a fourth gunmen, another unknown named Stephen Snedden, to join the show, as well.

Duchovny and Anderson were hardly household names when Carter cast them as Mulder and partner Dana Scully. Carter says he prefers casting no-names rather than big names. ”I think if you have faith in your taste, it’s the way to go,” he says. ”Because it creates a level of interest for a show, for the material, that might not be there otherwise. People have already made up their minds about certain actors.” Carter didn’t find the audition process too painful, either, speaking clearly of Robinson’s role.

”Mostly we cast bland everybodys and everymans. And every once in a while, we get a chance to actually see beautiful women.”

For the ”X-Files” faithful who simply must know, assuming they haven’t hacked into a Web site somewhere in search of an answer, ”The Lone Gunmen” won’t get too much of a boost from ”The X-Files” as far as setting up the series. The Gunmen will appear more frequently on ”X-Files.” But Mitch Pileggi, who plays assistant director Skinner, is the only star scheduled for a crossover appearance.

Don’t look for Duchovny, certainly.

Duchovny, who has been missing in action for a good part of this season, after being abducted by what appeared to be an alien space ship in the season-seven cliffhanger, has already been, essentially, replaced by Robert Patrick as Scully’s partner, agent John Doggett.

”This show certainly could come back,” Carter says. ”But I don’t have a contract, and (when) I came back this year, I said I would only do it if I could figure out a way to make it good. That’s the way I would come back next year. So I’m considering it. I’m not saying no, I’m not saying yes.”

The plan, he explains, is to turn the television series into a movie series.

”It’s still kind of in the talking stages,” Carter says of the movies to be. ”We really want to figure out how to wind the TV series down or reinvent it before we do that (next) movie specifically.” (Duchovny would, however, ideally be in whatever big-screen version came next, says the producer.)

Still, though Carter says he loves the job that Patrick (”Terminator 2: Judgment Day”) has done in a difficult situation, Duchovny’s public disappointment and protest over his share of ”The X-Files” dividends has taken its toll.

”This year’s been interesting,” Carter says, ”because there are so many people who are invested in Mulder and Scully. Then all of a sudden you change that. And you hear about it, believe me. There is a lot of mail and a lot of opinions. And, you know, not all of them are positive.”

In fact, he says of the particularly tuned in, known as “X-philes”: “They were ready to hate the show this year. They were going to punish us for changing what they had come to know and love. There’s still a group on the Internet who just will not tolerate what we’ve done — even though I think we’re doing it well.”

There’s simply ”a lot of hysteria right now,” says Carter.

That kind of palpable exasperation from the show’s creator may shed some light on why Carter says ”The Lone Gunmen” is a show (and it is a comedy as opposed to a drama), that stands on its own.

But rest assured, though there are many ”wonderfully lowbrow” moments, Carter says he has no intention of writing down to the audience and the program will operate in the same milieu as ”X-Files.” ”Right now, they’re not dealing with the paranormal,” he says of ”The Lone Gunmen,” which is at about the halfway point in preparation for debut.

Conspiracy theories like the Kennedy assassination will be part of the plot lines, without a doubt. In general, however, Carter says, ”They have more to do with what I’d call contemporary crime and injustice.” Such as?

”The kind of stuff where the government is lying to us,” says Carter. ”Also white-collar crime and we’ve got a story about the legendary water-powered car. We’ve got a story about a philandering senator. We’ve got a story about a possible Nazi war criminal, who is a woman living in America.”

The last one, for a reason he won’t explain, makes him laugh out loud. ”It’s just very funny.” Distributed by the Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service

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