X-Files mythology, TenThirteen Interviews Database, and more

The X-Files Official Site: Chat with Frank Spotnitz, Vince Gilligan and John Shiban

The X-Files Official Site
Chat with Frank Spotnitz, Vince Gilligan and John Shiban

Frank Spotnitz, Vince Gilligan and John Shiban all serve as executive producers on The X-Files, as well as on The Lone Gunmen.

Mutato1121: Is writing and planning the story lines for The Lone Gunmen any different than from when you do The X-Files scripts?

Vince: It’s different in that it’s a comedy. But we find the plotting to be just as intricate as when we do an episode of The X-Files.

John: In some ways it’s more difficult than The X-Files because you not only have to have a great story but it has to be funny too.

Frank: Let me put it this way, most weeks when we turn in the scripts the crew in Vancouver wants to know what we were smoking. So I’d say in many ways the scripts are even more out there than The X-Files.

JNewton: I loved the episodes “Unusual Suspects” and “Three of a Kind” on The X-Files. Is that basically what LG episodes are going to be like?

Frank: Absolutely! If you like those shows, you’ll love these.

Vince: Plus, with the new shows, we have two great new characters…Yves Adele Harlow, who is a wonderful femme fatale, and Jimmy Bond, who in some ways will become the fourth Lone Gunman.

SamanthaJ3: Will TLG be strictly comedy? Or will it have drama, too?

John: You’ll laugh and you’ll cry! We consider this show Mission Impossible with geeks…so you’ll have adventure, thrills, but also some pretty wild humor because our three leads, the Lone Gunmen, their world is upside down from The X-Files.

Frank: Hopefully you’ll know when to laugh and when to cry.

Vince: It’s definitely a comedy but we have a couple episodes coming up that have some nice emotion to them. Actually they all have a certain amount of emotion to them…and we feel it balances nicely with the comedy.

Oliver: Isn’t it ironic to launch a spin-off comedy during this gloomy season of TXF where desperation, adversity, boredom, and ultimately (so far) tragedy prevail?

Frank: Good point. Uh-oh!

John: You mean to say alien babies aren’t funny?

XPhreak: Alright, spill it: WHO’S THE FATHER OF SCULLY’S BABY?

Frank: We’ll learn in The Lone Gunmen that Frohike is the father of Scully’s baby. Stay tuned!

jaybfox: Do you have a particular character you like to write more than another? For instance, do you have a preference amongst the Lone Gunmen?

Frank: We love them all!

Vince: The more we like them, the more we realize how unique each of their voices is. Byers is the voice of reason, the moral center of the show. Frohike is a curmudgeonly man of action. Langly is kind of a smart aleck. And Jimmy is a big goofy guy with a lot of heart. Yves, on the other hand, is a bit of a mystery at first. But we learn that underneath her hard shell there’s something else going on.

Frank: John relates best to Frohike. Because he knows what it’s like to be a sex symbol against your will.

John: Yay!

Sarah: What about Harlow, then? What voice is she?

Vince: Yves has many layers. She comes across as tough and sarcastic and because of that she’s fun to write. Sarcasm is always fun to write. As the series progresses, we’ll see whole new sides to her, which I don’t want to elaborate on too much here. It would spoil the fun.

Frank: It involves dancing.

LauraCap: Byers got a crack at Suzanne Modeski. Will Langly and Frohike ever get lucky in love?

Jewlz: Will there be any love interests for the gunmen?

John: Langly has a very interesting moment early in the season with a cow.

Vince: Actually a bull.

Frank: That story is autobiographical.

Vince: But it didn’t go on my permanent record. I was under 18 at the time.

xfmegan: Are there any plans to correlate the X-Files mythology into the Lone Gunmen?

Frank: The brain surgery required boggles the mind. However, there will be crossovers in terms of characters and some storylines that involved the Lone Gunmen when they were on The X-Files. So you’ll see some comic characters from The X-Files crossing over, as well as some serious ones getting a chance to show how funny they can be.

jaybfox: Can you tell us anything about the LGM episode that Skinner appears in?

Vince: Case in point. Mitch Pileggi, our own favorite assistant director of the FBI, Walter Skinner. He’ll be joining The Lone Gunmen in an upcoming case.

Frank: It’s top secret. But you get to see Skinner like you’ve never seen him before.

Vince: That’s for sure!

jaybfox: Are we going to get to find out more about the backgrounds of each Lone Gunmen? Like…is Langly’s name Richard and Ringo’s a nickname and why…that kind of thing?

John: We get glimpses of their past. Early on you get to see them as children.

Frank: You also see their characters fleshed out in greater detail than ever before.

John: You’ll even get to see where they sleep at night.

Vince: By the way, Langly’s first name, Ringo, doesn’t come from Ringo of the Beatles.

Frank: What??!

Vince: In my mind, he’s named after the John Wayne character in Stagecoach whose first name of course was Ringo.

John: Naturally, when you see Langly, you think John Wayne.

Vince: Either John Wayne or Fabio.

Erynn: So do they sleep in the same room?

Frank: You’ll have to watch to see. Picture the three little bears.

Vince: We promise a scene in which at least two of the characters spoon. Ratings will immediately drop afterward.

albinopigeon: Do we get to see frohike in his jammies??

Vince: We definitely get to see him in his Hugh Hefner bathrobe.

John: You get to see him in Leiderhosen.

Frank: You actually get to see him in the pink, taking a bath. With a woman scrubbing his back. If that doesn’t draw viewers…

Vince: Survivor, look out!

lizascorner: What are TLGM’s cases gonna be like? Will they be x-files weird or something more everyday-like?

Frank: They are definitely not “every day.”

John: But they are not quite the cases Mulder investigates.

Vince: So far they are not paranormal. Instead they are real-world cases involving big business and foreign espionage and evil scientists….

Frank: And midget wrestlers and tango dancers and super-intelligent chimpanzees.

Vince: Like I said, “real world.”

maddict: Where do they get the money to pay for all the techo gear? Do they have other jobs?

Frank: They trade for sexual favors.

Vince: Just kidding.

moonpunkie: What type of gadgets will the LGM be playing with?

Vince: In one episode, they’ve built themselves a pretty nifty MRI machine out of spare TV parts.

Frank: Just about every week they’ve got cutting-edge technology that’s either where the real world is right now or where we will be soon.

Vince: And Yves has some gadgets that make the Lone Gunmen pretty jealous. She’s got a few tricks up her sleeve that they don’t have.

Mutato1121: Now that we have seen Chris Carter and Mark Snow in front of the camera, are any of you guys planning on taking a little role in The Lone Gunmen?

Frank: We are waiting for the right moment to spring ourselves on the American public.

Courtney_fanofVinceG: Hey Vince, are you going to direct any episodes of TLG? I love “Je Souhaite” and it would be a shame for your talent to go to waste.

Vince: Thank you very much! I would love to. I think the three of us in the future will all be directing Lone Gunmen episodes. At least I hope so, but right now we are all busy with just the writing of the show and the post-production, etc. But hopefully next season. Provided there is a next season.

Tshe: Will all the LGM be stand-alone episodes? Or will you have a continuing storyline?

Frank: Eventually we will have continuing storylines and mythology separate to The Lone Gunmen. But having said that, I think there’s a great deal of continuity in The Lone Gunmen series, and you get to see how the relationships, particularly with the new characters, develop over time.

amyh: Is the plan for the Lone Gunmen series to be an alternate universe type situation from TXF, where nothing from either show dovetails, or are there some crossovers? If so, where should we be looking?

Vince: I wouldn’t call it an “alternate universe” — these are the same 3 guys who help Mulder and Scully. But in this show we see what they do the other 99% of the time.

John: We like to think of The Lone Gunmen series as their day jobs — what they do when they are not helping Mulder, Scully or Doggett.

Vince: As you will see, they get by pretty well on their own, which is why you won’t see a lot of Mulder and Scully, because the Lone Gunmen are heroes in their own right and they solve their own problems themselves.

Frank: Plus, we can’t afford Mulder and Scully.

Vince: That’s the real reason!

sdana: Will we see John Gilnitz or will we hear about him…? We’d love to put a face to the name!!

Frank: Oh, yes! He’s an (expletive deleted)!

eire_scully: How much input (if any) has Chris Carter had?

Frank: Chris Carter loves the show and has been as involved as he can be while doing two TV series at once. He wrote the fourth episode, “Three Men and a Smoking Diaper,” which should go a long way toward destroying his reputation for quality television.

Charybdis: Hi guys. I’m really looking forward to the show, but I worry about TXF losing 3 of its best writers! Will you all still write eps for TXF if it continues?

Frank: We don’t know about next year, if there is a next year. But this past year we’ve all been killing ourselves trying to make both shows as good as possible.

Vince: All three of us love both shows. But it’s been awful hard to do both simultaneously. But we really want this new series to get a shot on the air. It’s very close to our hearts.

ChiA_PeT_20o1: Wow, this is the coolest! When did the idea first hit you to do a show on the TLG?

John: After the two X-Files episodes “Unusual Suspects” and “Three of a Kind” that starred the LG, we all immediately saw — especially after “Three,” which is a model for the series. When we saw how the characters carried the show, all three of us thought they could be stars and that this show would work.

mully23: Will there be an “antagonist” like the Cigarette-Smoking Man on LGM?

Frank: You’ll have to wait and see. As we said before, the mythology of this series rolls out slowly.

bliss2001: Will the LGM travel around the US? (like Mulder and Scully)

Vince: Yes, they will travel, but only as far as their 1972 VW Microbus allows them.

John: Gone are the days of Mulder and Scully’s expense accounts.

Vince: These guys have it tougher because they don’t have guns. They don’t have power of arrest, and they run out of gas occasionally.

Frank: But they do have sex appeal to spare!

Vince: At least Frohike does.

Delmo456: Looking at the titles of the Lone Gunmen episodes, it seems like you guys are doing parodies of a lot of movies (which will be great). Is that a correct assumption?

Vince: Sometimes yes, sometimes no. One funny title we have, which is “Like Water for Octane,” is an episode about a water-powered car. One of our staff writers came up with the name and we loved it when we heard it, although it has nothing to do with the Mexican magic realism or the plot of the movie Like Water for Chocolate.

Frank: Do expect to see a parody of a very popular one-hour drama on the FOX network.

albinopigeon: Are you going to parody the x files?

Frank: Refer to the previous answer!

Dilby: Speaking of the 1972 VW microbus, just how many…enhancements…are in that thing?

Vince: Well, I’ve been lobbying for nitrous oxide, a tank that would boost its maximum speed to 160 mph, but so far Frank and John won’t let me put that in.

John: Let’s just say their van is their home away from home. Imagine the Lone Gunmen office on wheels.

Vince: So far, one thing we know about it is that it’s got a pretty cool periscope camera in the roof.

KATEDVM: A mattress in the back maybe? LOL

Frank: Ha ha ha. Season 2!

deedee77: Will there be time-stamps, and will time play an important role, as it does in The X-Files?

Frank: Yes. We at Ten Thirteen don’t know how to tell stories without them.

Vince: We call them “legends.”

Frank: In our own minds! Chiller: How are the boys adjusting to having their own series?

Vince: There’s an awful lot of squabbling over who has the biggest trailer. Just kidding!

Frank: Actually, we’ve beaten up the most on Frohike, who is not surprisingly called upon to do the most stunts. But I think they are all having a good time and it’s quickly become an ensemble of five actors who enjoy working together.

Vince: All five are a pleasure to write for and to work with.

ak47deadly: Are they going to get to the bottom of the Florida election crisis?

florence: Will the LG ever go back in time and try to uncover the killer of JFK?

Frank: Very dead-on questions.

Vince: We do have a character named Chad. Does that count?

Jewlz: How many episodes will be in the seasons?

Frank: Only 13.

Vince: Lucky 13, we hope.

JTR555: Could we possibly see Frank Black appear? THAT interaction would be a riot!!!

Vince: That would be great because, of course, Frank Black is a hilarious character. Actually he would be a pretty good straight man, come to think of it.

KATEDVM: When will you know if you get picked up for next season?

Frank: Probably not until May, officially. Although, if the show is a massive hit, that’s a foregone conclusion.

Mutato1121: Would you guys like to spill any juicy tid bits about The X-Files to us Philes while we wait a month?

Frank: To all those online people who are furious at Ten Thirteen for killing Mulder, please remember that David Duchovny is contracted to appear in the rest of the episodes this season.

Vince: It’s going to be a lot like Weekend at Bernie’s. Mulder will be dragged from investigation to investigation. Occasionally, Scully will tie him to the roof of her van.

Frank: I’ve been touched by the love and support of those fans who complained about us killing Mulder.

Madison: Is the X-File finale written yet?

Frank: We are in the process of writing them now.

John: We already told you that Frohike is the father.

mully23: Do you guys put personal notes into the story lines like Chris Carter does with 11:21?

Frank: We often put the names of friends and loved ones into our scripts.

Vince: I try to put some reference to my girlfriend Holly into every episode I write. I do this because it makes everyone say “Awww!” when they hear it. And also because it helps me get chicks. Just kidding, Holly!

Jewlz: Like in XF, with episodes “Post-Modern Prometheus” and “X-Cops,” these were shown in a unique camera-style etc. Will there be any in the LG show?

Frank: No. This show is pretty much hack work. Just kidding…we have a superior DP (director of photography) and crew, almost all of whom we have worked with before, on either X-Files, Millennium or Harsh Realm. As with each of those shows, we are always trying to do the best work possible and I think, visually, we are extremely ambitious for what is primarily a comedy series.

Sarah: Any chance that Braidwood will get a chance to direct?

Frank: Did Braidwood ask that question?

John: Is that Tom Braidwood logging in?

Frank: We would love for him to direct one. We just don’t know when we can afford to lose him as an actor to make that happen.

KATEDVM: Does that mean that the Gunmen won’t be in an X files movie if there is one?

Frank: No way! We would love to have the Gunmen in the next X-Files movie and they will continue to be in The X-Files TV series.

Oliver: Frank – you said in an interview that The X-Files’ mythology will be wrapped up by the end of the season. Can you confirm that? Where does that leave you creatively – and us as fans – in the event of a Season 9?

Frank: What was I thinking? Whatever I said, what I mean to say is that 8 years of the series will come to a close this May, regardless of whether there is an X-Files next season. I actually believe most of the important questions about the mythology have already been answered, believe it or not, and you will see some new ones asked in upcoming shows.

StarlightM42: Can you talk about the scene where Doggett first meets the LGM? It was a classic!

Frank: I wrote that scene and it was very long and I felt sure that we’d end up having to cut it, but Doggett proved a great straight man to the Gunmen. We ended up using almost every line.

Vince: Doggett would be a fun guy to get on The Lone Gunmen show. Hopefully that will happen at some point.

Mutato1121: Are any of you working on anything other than The X-Files or Lone Gunmen series?

albinopigeon: How many hours do you work a week??

John: How many hours are there?

Frank: I figure each of us works at least 70-80 hours a week, which leaves very little time for doing anything else.

Max42: Will we be getting any closure for Byers and Susanne Modeski in the new series?

XPhreak: Will Susanne Modeski make an appearance?

Vince: I’d like to see Susanne Modeski come back at some point. She’s a fun character and Byers’ unrequited love for her would be interesting to address. Look for it in an upcoming episode. Provided we go past this first season.

Adamrs: Will Morris Fletcher be on “The Lone Gunmen”?

Frank: I wouldn’t be surprised!

Vince: I wouldn’t be surprised either too!

John: I wouldn’t be surprised either too!

Erynn: What’s the most evil thing you’ve done to the gunmen so far?

Frank: There are so many….

Vince: But it’s done with love.

John: Each week we try to top ourselves.

Vince: But not to give anyone the wrong idea. We don’t want to torture them. It’s just that we find ourselves putting them into increasingly bizarre situations in the hopes of it being funny.

Frank: One thing you will realize about the Lone Gunmen in their own series is that as smart as they may be behind a computer, they are extremely inept at many other things in life.

Vince: Just like the three of us are.

John: Speak for yourself!

Vince: This is the first real power any of us have had in our lives, and we’re using it, baby!

Erynn: What has been your favorite episode so far to write?

Frank: I have truly loved every episode we’ve done. They’ve all been funny and sweet and exciting. I particularly like two we did recently, one involving death row and the other involving the tango.

Vince: I have to agree. Every episode that we’ve worked on becomes more and more fun. One thing I should say, too, is that this show is really sweet at its core, meaning that we love and respect the characters even though we get them into some odd situations. But in our minds, at least, it’s never mean-spirited.

John: Each episode is different in so many ways that it’s impossible for me to pick a favorite. They are all great for different reasons.

Scully7: How long does it take you guys to come up with a kick ass script?

CRSJ: Does it take the same number of days to create a LGM episode as an XFiles episode? I heard you work very long hours to make an XFiles episode.

John: In TV production, you write as long as you can before shooting, so as the season goes on, you have less time to make as good a script. It’s not how long it takes, it’s how long we have.

Vince: That’s why as the season progresses, the episodes get crappier.

John: Vince is very tired. It’s time for his medication.

florence: Did you ever write something that the actor refused to do?

Frank: No, but I’m still trying.

florence: How did you come up with each Lone Gunmen’s name?

Vince: Glen Morgan and Jim Wong initially created the characters and gave them the last names Frohike, Byers and Langly. For “Unusual Suspects,” we gave them first names. John Fitzgerald Byers is named for JFK, of course. That was part of the plot for that episode. He was born the day after JFK was assassinated, hence the name. And the names Ringo and Melvin we just kind of pulled out of a hat.

Courtney_fanofVinceG: I skipped my calculus homework just to spend the evening with you three. What do you think of how devoted we x-philes are?

Vince: God bless you! Now, DO your homework… No, seriously, we love all the fans because we wouldn’t be sitting here doing this chat without them. We wouldn’t be employed! I’d be spraying Windex on the sneeze-plate at the salad bar at Wendy’s. Frank would be selling shotguns at Walmart, and John….

John: I’d go back to male modeling.

Vince: Yes, the underwear section of the Sears catalog. Your work is quite good.

Max42: How’d you guys come up with the idea to make the show so “interactive,” with the e-com-con site and what not?

Frank: We have a brilliant Internet producer named Robin Benty. She comes up with all these great ideas and then we pretend like they are ours.

Chiller: Do you ever have trouble keeping all the pieces of the conspiracy together in your heads (and scripts)?

John: It’s easy because it’s all true!

Frank: Yes, are you kidding? Who doesn’t? I am amazed and confounded that people have been willing to follow The X-Files conspiracy for 8 years now, not only willing, but still very interested. I can’t believe such a large audience is interested in such a complicated, even convoluted, storyline. It’s been so rewarding.

FOXcom_Host: Thanks to Vince, John and Frank! Say goodbye to them!

John: Tune in Sunday night!

Vince: Watch our show! We don’t want it to die a horrible death like Harsh Realm did.

Frank: It’s been wonderful chatting with you. We love this show and we hope you do, too!

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3 Responses to “The X-Files Official Site: Chat with Frank Spotnitz, Vince Gilligan and John Shiban”

  1. […] than Unusual Suspects, at least according to John Shiban – who described Three of a Kind as “a model for the series.” As such, while there is a clear line between Unusual Suspects and The Lone Gunmen, it is also a […]

  2. […] According to John Shiban, Three of a Kind was considered more of a template for The Lone Gunmen than Unusual Suspects: […]

  3. […] of The A-Team and Mission: Impossible. Producer John Shiban effectively summarised the show as “Mission: Impossible with geeks”, a comparison that The Pilot embraces by having Frohike re-enact the most iconic sequence of Brian […]