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Archive for March, 2001

YahooChat: "The Lone Gunmen" creator Chris Carter

“The Lone Gunmen” creator Chris Carter

Nothing mysterious about it. Chris Carter hits Yahoo! Chat on Friday, March 3 at 5pET/2pPT to talk about his newest creation — FOX’s The Lone Gunmen. Taking you where no X-File has gone before, The Lone Gunmen spotlights some other adventures of Byers, Langly and Frohike. So, gather your questions, log on from your heavy-security underground sanctuary and find out what you can expect from Mulder’s boys and their new series when you step up and quiz CC. Don’t miss it.

y_chat_diva: Welcome to Yahoo!Chat. Chris Carter will be here, talking about The Lone Gunmen, Carter’s new series on FOX. The Lone Gunmen premieres on Sunday in the X-Files time slot .. 9pm. Starring the trio — Langly, Byers and Frohike

y_chat_diva: Please welcome To yahoo!Chat – Chris Carter

adamrs15 asks: What has been the extent of your involvement in the show so far? I know you wrote an episode…

Chris Carter: I’ve been working as producer and now a tireless promoter.

chris_carters_latino_lover asks: Does Frohike *finally* get himself a woman or does he remain single forever?

Chris Carter: He’s a virgin. Though not a committed one.

AlanHurs asks: Which of the LGM is going to be the real babe magnet.

Chris Carter: Frohike, without a doubt.

carterfile asks: “Mission Impossible,” “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” “Risky Business” … do all the eps have a movie homage? Is this a running theme?

Chris Carter: I would say it is a leit-motif. And will be a staple. But first we have to get those Nielsen ratings.

gillybean_x asks: Will TLG have a similar format to TXF with stand-alone eps and monster of the week eps?

Chris Carter: I think that it will have a mythology, but it won’t be as important to the show as on the X-Files.

thesearch_for_mulder11_05 asks: Do you like working on two different shows at one time. Like I saw that you did Millennium, Harsh Realm, While The X-Files was still going?

Chris Carter: I don’t LIKE that it doesn’t give me a life, but I like the opportunities to do something new.

adamrs15 asks: Will we see any prequel episodes in “The Lone Gunmen” as with “The X-Files”?

Chris Carter: Probably.

cokie4us asks: Chris, is has always been strongly implied that the Gunmen actually live in that little bat cave of theirs. Will any of them actually have a personal life or, are they totally work obsessed as is the case with their XF counterparts?

Chris Carter: They are completely consumed by their work.

lauracapo2000 asks: What kind of music will we hear on The Lone Gunmen?

Chris Carter: One of the things that is really fun about this show is the use of music, of songs, old and contemporary.

weinwalk asks: I’m really looking forward to TLG, I love those guys! How is writing for them different, besides the humor?

Chris Carter: It’s different because they are constantly at each other’s throats. Like 3 frat boys, but they all want the same thing.

weinwalk asks: Incorporating a literary sort of questing hero element into a tv series must be a real challenge, and I congratulate you for managing the balancing act so well. Will there be any sort of understory in TLG like that?

Chris Carter: Yes. Episode #12 past the pilot will create what is essentially a lone gunman mythology. Right now, it’s not affecting it at all.

ephesian_x asks: In what ways is the possibility of industry-wide strikes affecting your production plans for both TLG and TX-F?

Chris Carter: Right now, it’s not affecting it at all. But we are mindful of the effects it could have and are not looking forward to a strike.

michael_david_1999 asks: Earlier today X-Files was criticized on NPR by scientist speaking on the existence of life on other planets. They stated that shows like Lone Gunmen will create a false hysteria regarding the existence of life on another planet. These shows will give people a false perception of what life may really be like and perpetuate ignorance towards governments and entities like NASA. I am a great fan of your work!! I was wondering your comments

Chris Carter: I didn’t hear it so it’s hard for me to comment on something I didn’t hear. But, as always, the X-Files is very true to science fact, and anything past that is where the science fiction begins.

klfnb asks: Is Frank Black going to be making any appearances in future episodes of The X-Files or The Lone Gunmen?

Chris Carter: No immediate plans, but I wouldn’t rule it out.

shipper_radikal asks: If LGM is successful… Will there be a ninth season for The X Files?

Chris Carter: One thing doesn’t depend on the other.

lauracapo2000 asks: Will The Lone Gunmen spoof The X-Files?

cokie4us asks: Chris, I loved the Gunmen’s interaction with the Esther Nairn character in Kill Switch. Will you have a similar character in this series?

Chris Carter: Hadn’t thought of it, but could be.

methos_lover asks: What kind of story lines will be in lone gunmen?

Chris Carter: It is a comedy and the storylines should be comedic by nature.

chris_carters_latino_lover asks: Can we plan on Suzanne Modeski making any appearances on the show?

Chris Carter: You’re not the first person to have asked that and the answer is ……. ……… maybe.

adamrs15 asks: Have you heard anything about a possible Kolchak movie remake? Or perhaps a tv reunion of some sort. A producer of the original series has been interested in those projects and even suggested Bruce Willis as Carl Kolchak. What do you think of this and his casting choice?

Chris Carter: I think that it would be interesting to see a remake of Kolchak, given X-Files saturation of the genre.

frohike51 asks: Any chance we’ll get to see Alex Krycek make an appearance on The Lone Gunmen? God knows we haven’t gotten enough of him on The X-Files. *g*

Chris Carter: No plans as of yet.

xphile_rebecca_oz_1013_1121 asks: Hey, Any plans for The Lone Gunmen to be aired in Australia?

Chris Carter: They’re my plans. I don’t know if they’re anyone else’s plans.

radnrc1 asks: Will there be any nudity?

Chris Carter: I’m not allowed to.

xavier1013x asks: What’s your favorite Gunmen?

lauracapo2000 asks: With which Lone Gunman do you most identify and why?

Chris Carter: I identify with them as a group. Because life’s tough when you have to deal with such a number of ignoramuses.

bobafettseviltwin asks: If a show like ER is presented in widescreen why not the X Files

Chris Carter: I’m saving the wide screen for the movies. Yes.

coolestnick15 asks: What is next Sunday’s episode going to be about?

Chris Carter: It’s about Byers’ father and his involvement in a terrorist act

spookysmistress asks: CC, I hear rumors that Mitch Pileggi will appear on TLG. I hear even more rumors that he will be . . .less than dressed. Can you confirm this so that I can start programming the VCR right now?

Chris Carter: Whatever makes you tune in.

scully_gov asks: Is TLG show going to have any serious episodes or just comedy, or both?

Chris Carter: Both.

kimonthejourney asks: Is Mark Snow doing the music for TLG?

Chris Carter: Yes.

bobafettseviltwin asks: Will the Lone Gunman come out on DVD like the other show

Chris Carter: Let’s not jump the gun. 🙂

mdelgado_98 asks: I know that one of the Lone Gunmen has a crush on Scully. Will there be any guest appearances by Scully on the Lone Gunmen?

Chris Carter: Nothing planned yet.

dulcekay asks: Hi Chris, I am from Seal Beach and would like to know what beach you learned to surf at?

Chris Carter: Bolsa Chica.

chris_carters_latino_lover asks: Do we get to see any funky X-Files aliens on the LGM series?

Chris Carter: Stay tuned.

Earth2Kim asks: Hi, I realize you can’t tell us anything about what’s going to happen on XF, but do you think its something the long time fans will be happy with? -Kim from NorCA

Chris Carter: It’s hard to tell this year. So many long-time fans have been critical of Mulder’s absence, even though we had him for as many episodes as we could. This could be his last year on the show, and that might upset them, in spite of the fact there would be no other choice.

scully_gov asks: Are you using the same XF crew in vancouver for TLG series?

Chris Carter: A lot of people we’ve worked with before on X-Files or Millennium or Harsh Realm.

janmg2001 asks: Are Morgan & Wong going to write an episode?

Chris Carter: No plans.

the_gentleman_uk2001 asks: Chris: What’s the most memorable part of ‘The Lone Gunmen’?

Chris Carter: I think the passenger jet nearly hitting the World Trade Center.

Mrs_SPOOKY_1013 asks: How it’s like to write comedy?

Chris Carter: I came from comedy, so it’s just a return to what I used to do.

francine1029 asks: Chris you said the LGM are consumed by their work and live in their little room…who in the world funds them? They have to eat, somehow.

Chris Carter: Watch the show and it will all be explained.

jj3citco asks: The critic at USAToday butchered the show. How do you continue to talk to these guys that rip your shows?

Chris Carter: That critic has never had one good word to say about the X-Files, in spite of the fact that it is a winner of 53 Emmy nominations and continues to have excellent ratings into its 8th season. The audience obviously knows something that he doesn’t.

Mrs_SPOOKY_1013 asks: Yesterday was a Vince Gilligan Frank Spotnitz & John Shiban chat. Are they the only writers for TLG (except for you of course!)

Chris Carter: No. There are others.

lilybart1013 asks: Will Byers and Langly kiss for sweeps?

Chris Carter: Anything for ratings.

sif4dd4evah asks: Chris, how is FOX treating “The Lone Gunmen” promotion, so far?

Chris Carter: We’re pleased.

mulderpause asks: Hi Chris! Spinoffs have at times changed the nature of the characters they’ve spun off. Will we see any changes in The Lone Gunmen?

Chris Carter: You’ll see them developed in ways that they weren’t on the X-Files.

kimonthejourney asks: Will Skinner appear on TLG? More than once? That would be fantastic. More Skinner, please, Chris!

Chris Carter: That would be nice.

xedout1 asks: Are you going to go back to “Maitreya” in FPS?

Chris Carter: Can’t wait!

weinwalk asks: Tell us about the two new characters.

Chris Carter: One is a mysterious Bond-like girl. The other is a hopeless idealist who’s got more heart than sense.

adamrs15 asks: So will Terry O’ Quinn or other of your frequently used actors be popping up on “The Lone Gunmen”?

Chris Carter: That would be nice.

adamrs15 asks: Will Harlow and Jimmy be in all the episodes?

Chris Carter: That’s the plan.

blueyz_915 asks: Chris, you are so good looking, why haven’t you ever made a guest appearance on one of your shows?

Chris Carter: I have. And I was so good-looking, you missed me.

thesearch_for_mulder11_05 asks: Where did you get the idea for Annabeth Gish, and will she be a important piece to the puzzle of Mulder and his Death

Chris Carter: Yes. She will be important to the resolution of this season. And if there is a beyond.

Earth2Kim asks: Will The Lone Gunmen have some noteworthy “bad guys” as TXF has had?

Chris Carter: Yes, I think that we’re looking forward to some very devious villains.

ephesian_x asks: Chris, how many TLG episodes will you be writing and directing this season? How will this impact your input to the final eps of season 8 TX-F?

Chris Carter: My first responsibility this season is to the X-Files. And, luckily, the schedules are staggered.

procyin asks: Which do you consider yourself better at writing? Comedic stories, or more serious storylines?

Chris Carter: I would say more serious, only because the X-Files has proved so popular.

BugSplatt5 asks: I’ve heard many times that you’ve always had an idea of the last episode of the X-Files. Has that vision changed with the absence of Mulder and the addition of Scully’s pregnancy, or is it mostly the same?

Chris Carter: Mostly the same.

radnrc1 asks: Will there be a spoof episode involving Howard Stern?

Chris Carter: We’re game. 🙂

y_chat_diva: Thanks so much for chatting with us today Chris

Chris Carter: Thank you very much.

y_chat_diva: Good luck with the show

Chris Carter: Thanks. Good-bye.

y_chat_diva: Thanks everyone

y_chat_diva: for all your questions

Seattle Times: Enter the Gunmen: 'X' marks the spot

Seattle Times
Enter the Gunmen: ‘X’ marks the spot
Allan Johnson

Writer/producer Chris Carter says he won’t hold a gun to Fox’s head if the network wants another season of “The X-Files,” even if it mistreats his new series, “The Lone Gunmen.”

But with visions of “Harsh Realm,” his previous series for Fox, still dancing in his head, Carter does want a little respect.

“The Lone Gunmen,” the promising action-comedy spinoff of Carter’s “The X-Files,” is about the three nerdy conspiracy theorists/computer hackers who provide the paranormal-investigating FBI agents with research and information from time to time. It settles in the 9 p.m. Sunday “X-Files” slot beginning this weekend (on KCPQ-TV) before moving to its 9 p.m. Friday slot on March 16.

Recent interviews with Carter have painted a dark picture for fans of “The X-Files.” He has indicated one of the determining factors for producing a ninth season would be how well Fox protects “Gunmen.”

That’s because Carter thinks Fox didn’t do enough for “Harsh Realm,” a virtual reality-themed 1999 action drama that only lasted three episodes before it was canceled.

“X” is on a high

“The X-Files” is doing well, both creatively, with the invigorating addition of Robert Patrick as the new partner of FBI agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), and in the ratings, hitting its highest viewership in more than a year last Sunday. Both elements bode well for a ninth season.

Carter, who doesn’t have a contract to remain with “X-Files” after this season, chooses his words carefully when talking about whether or not his return hinges on Fox’s treatment of “Gunmen.”

“I’m not holding that out there as a negotiation tactic per se,” Carter says. “It’s simply that as we speak right now, we’ve got the most popular show on Fox. We’re working our (tails) off, not just to keep that show good and fresh, but to do this new show. We just want to be given the chance and respect it deserves.

“And as with the case of “Harsh Realm,’ ” Carter adds, “it never had that opportunity. So we want to make sure that our hard work is respected and rewarded. And that’s really what that’s about, because there’s no sense in being involved in a partnership that doesn’t work two ways.”

Carter is heartened by Fox’s actions thus far. The network has constantly promoted “Gunmen’s” debut. Fox is allowing “X-Files” to take a break to allow “Gunmen” a chance for a decent sampling on the next three Sundays. Also, the series will air twice in one weekend, on March 16 in its Friday spot and on March 18, its last Sunday appearance.

” “Harsh Realm’ is now looking like it was the anomaly,” says Carter, 44. “They are getting in there and they are supporting “The Lone Gunmen.’ It’s just that continued support is what you need, because a TV series is a series; it’s not a movie. There’s many episodes, and you have to hang in there with something that you know is coming from people who can produce quality programming.”

A quirky comedy

While not in the same league as the moodier “X-Files,” “Gunmen,” a comic “Mission: Impossible” with the guys going to great lengths to investigate conspiracies, still has elements that could make it a quirky little winner.

Fans of “The X-Files” know the computer-hacking trio of straight-laced, dedicated John Byers (Bruce Harwood), cynical, pugnacious Melvin Frohike (Tom Braidwood) and long-haired techno whiz Richard “Ringo” Langly (Dean Haglund). The three publish a newspaper that exposes perceived government and corporate shenanigans.

They were always more for comic effect on “X-Files.” In their own series, they get to strut their amusing mix of sarcastic one-liners and bumbling ineptitude in an effort to, as Byers says in the premiere, “expose those that will destroy that (American) dream” and “write the stories that they don’t want you to read. …

“That’s why I teamed up with you guys. You’re true believers.”

Cracks Frohike: “I thought it was for the chick throw-off.”

“They’re obviously throwbacks to the ’60s, certainly Frohike,” Carter says. “They are sort of cynical idealists who believe in sort of mom and apple pie and truth, justice and the American way. So they really are kind of geek patriots who believe in a better America.”

“If you pimply pencil-necks are the only hope for the American people, God help us all,” says Yves Adele Harlow (Zuleikha Robinson), a rival who spars with the Gunmen.

Harlow and goofy Jimmy Bond (Stephen Snedden), who becomes the deep pockets for the Lone Gunmen newspaper, seem to be nods to viewers who are used to seeing beautiful people on TV – which the Gunmen are not.

While the mysterious Harlow makes a fine foil for the trio, Bond, with his annoying gee-whiz enthusiasm, is an intrusion. The boys can stand on their own. The series, with episode openings that spoof “The Matrix” and “Mission: Impossible,” has the same sophisticated sheen as “The X-Files.” It even has the same cloudy and gray look of that series in its early years, due to its shooting in Vancouver, B.C., where “Gunmen” is filmed and where “X-Files” filmed before moving to California a few years ago.

While played for laughs with broad physical humor (Frohike is the prime target of the pratfalls), it will be interesting to see just how many conspiracy-laced plots Carter can come up with, and whether Fox will be patient with “Gunmen” when it finally lands on Friday nights.

Kevin and Bean: Interview with Chris Carter

“The Kevin and Bean Show” KROQ radio
Interview with Chris Carter

[Transcribed by CarterPhile]

(Chris called in from NYC for the interview. Also, I’m not 100% sure on the deejay’s IDs, but I tried to be consistent, anyway — I figure at worst it’s a 50-50 shot as to whether I’m consistently right or consistently wrong! *g*)

Kevin: There is good news and there is bad news. The bad news is: no new “X-Files” for the next four weeks, folks. We were left — we were left hanging with Mulder out in the middle of a field looking dead, is what we were left hanging with last Sunday night. But the good news is: in its place a spin-off show from our friend Chris Carter called “The Lone Gunmen.” Chris, good morning, how are you?

Chris: Good morning. I’m great.

Bean: Chris is the one that left us hanging, by the way, just so you know.

Kevin: You bastard!

Bean: Tell us about “The Lone Gunmen,” Chris.

Chris: It’s the three computer geeks from “The X-Files.” If you’ve been an “X-Files” fan, you know them as the three guys that Mulder and Scully go to when they can’t even get the answers.

Bean: Right.

Kevin: Sure.

Bean: How did you come up with them originally? Because that’s a pretty funny idea, to have computer geeks that somehow have answers that even the FBI can’t get.

Chris: They were not my original idea. They were actually the creation of Glen Morgan and James Wong, who worked on “The X-Files” for the first year and a half or so and then came back for a little while. They were three guys that were even more paranoid than Mulder, and they were really comic relief for about the first five years. All of a sudden we needed an episode without Mulder and Scully in it ’cause we were doing the movie, and then we did an episode about the Lone Gunmen — it was good, funny — and we did a second one that was even better and funnier, and all of a sudden we realized these guys could maybe star in their own TV show.

Kevin: Yeah, you know — I was a little worried, to tell you the truth, when I started thinking about this because they are comic relief and a lot of times what makes them so effective is they are two or three funny minutes in the middle of a show, and they do break the tension a little bit, and I was worried that maybe it wouldn’t be possible to spin it off. But like you said, you’ve already done that where you’ve spun them off for an hour, and they were able to carry it, so they got a lot more depth maybe than just what you had time to use them for over the years on “The X-Files.”

Chris: Exactly. Now we’ve surrounded them with some other people, so now all of a sudden, like Mulder and Scully, they’ve got other people to bounce off of.

Bean: And how — uh, how do we start off Sunday night? What’s the episode? Does it tell us how they came about?

Chris: A little bit. You learn a little bit more about their background, particularly one of the characters — Byers — about his father, and, uh — His name is John Fitzgerald Byers, so you learn a little bit about that.

Kevin: Interesting.

Chris: Yeah. It’s a caper about people who are trying to actually fly a jet into the World Trade Center, so it has great special effects. It’s really a funny story. It’s got tight plotting. It’s all those things you’d expect from “The X-Files” but with three new guys.

Bean: Do you write it?

Chris: Yes. I actually — I am writing “X-Files” and not as much on “Lone Gunmen” this year because I’ve got three guys who I call my Lone Gunmen who are the co-creators on this show and that’s their gig this year.

Kevin: It’s their baby. Now, what do we know about these guys, what kind of personal information? I sense that none of them have ever had a date, and it seems like they live in that laboratory down there.

Chris: Yeah, they are all 30-and-over virgins.

Kevin: It seems like that. Is there any vaguely homoerotic content between the three of them, Chris?

Chris: That’s in season two.

Bean: Are the storylines gonna cross any with “The X-Files”?

Chris: Yeah, there are some crossovers, and hope to make good use — you know, “X-Files” as a source of storytelling device.

Kevin: Let me ask you this: I know you’re not quite as involved in this show as you are “The X-Files,” but is this paranoia that we sense in all of these shows — including “Millennium,” including “Harsh Realm” — is this paranoia real in you? Do you sometimes sit around and think, “Wow, I wonder what the government’s really, really up to,” or is it all fantasy for you?

Chris: I think paranoia is a healthy thing to have, and I think that you pick up the paper every day and there’s something: they let radiation out on you, they’re conducting some secret study, there’s all kinds of stuff being done. And I grew up in the era of Watergate, so I’m suspicious —

Kevin: Skeptical by nature.

Chris: Yes.

Bean: That giant distrust of the government.

Chris: And I work in Hollywood, too, so …

Kevin: No kidding! So, “Lone Gunmen” for four Sundays and then what, you’re going to go to the Chris Carter Fox timeslot: Friday nights at 9, right?

Chris: Fridays at 9.

Bean: Very cool. We’re excited about it. We just wanted to touch base with you and find out what to expect. And I guess it’s gonna be on this Sunday night, so we’re looking forward to it.

Chris: Please do.

Bean: Thanks, Chris. We’ll talk to you later.

Kevin: Have a fantastic weekend.

Chris Carter: Thank you.

Fox & Friends: Interview with Chris Carter

Fox & Friends
Interview with Chris Carter

(Interviewed by Steve Doocy and E.D. Donahey about The Lone Gunmen)

ED.: We each got a copy of the first two episodes of the show to take home with us and we both watched it with our kids and it was just great. It’s funny and campy and you get that X-Files feel in there. What made you branch out and decide to do The Lone Gunmen?

CC: They had been on the show as comic relief for 8 years. All of a sudden we did 2 episodes that revolved around them and they worked great . So this became, sort of, our next order of business. We started doing kind of X-Files-like episodes with some drama and some conspiracy and then all of a sudden we realized how funny they were and it just kept pushing further into comedy.

SD: The Lone Gunmen, as is the case with The X-Files, you always get the feeling that you really think there is some huge government conspiracy, some back room government operation. Where does that come from, Mr. Cynical?

CC: There is, you know, probably coming from my growing up during Watergate, the distrust of authority. You pick up the newspaper every day and there’s somebody trying to put something over on us. You know, it’s in that tradition.

SD: Well, you should know. You used to be a reporter, right?

CC: (chokes back a laugh) Yes.

SD: For that hard-hitting investigative report known as…?

CC: Surfing magazine.

SD: Surfing magazine…you’ve got the look.

ED: You also tap into a culture now, the computer hacker culture, without taking it so far into the techie angle that people lose interest. Those of us who can barely turn on our computer and log into AOL can still go, ‘that’s cool technology stuff,’ without you losing us.

CC: That’s the trick. Most people can’t program their VCRs. How do you keep it viewer friendly and still make it cutting edge? It’s a trick.

SD: The X-Files has been humongously, and that’s the technical term, successful. A lot of people are wondering if this is going to be the last season. C’mon, you’re the boss.

CC: I’m wondering myself, to be honest. We really want to go a ninth season. Right now, it’s being negotiated. It looks good. If it doesn’t go a ninth season, I think that it will go right into the movies.

SD: Well, if you want to do it and presumably, the cast wants to do it, what’s holding it up?

CC: You know, just business.

SD: Okay, it’s a money thing.

CC: It’s less a money thing than just making sure all of the pieces are there to do a ninth season.

SD: What about David Duchovny? Every time I turn on FOX, I see a promo and he’s like this (Steve assumes the alien torture chair Mulder position) and he’s naked. He’s not on for very long. Are we going to see more of him? And *NOT* the naked part?

CC: You will see more of him literally and figuratively. He’s back for the rest of the episodes and even though everyone, who is a fan, who watched the show last week, knows he came back dead, he does appear in the rest of the episodes and I’ll leave that to everyone’s imaginations.

SD: Okay. Just like Star Trek there are so many people who are cult followers of this. Are you surprised this show had this reaction?

CC: Every day. It’s like a dream. I still don’t believe it. You know, you can’t predict this kind of popularity, this kind of success.

SD: Because you’re always dealing with unusual phenomena, anyone ever come up to you on the street and say, ‘You know, you’re not going to believe it but I was abducted by space aliens.’?

CC: I’ve had that plenty of times.

ED: So Steve, you’re not going to surprise him later on.

SD: People come up to you and say, ‘I was on another planet.’?

CC: Oh sure.

SD: Good. You’ll get along with our crew.

ED: Well, I love The Lone Gunmen. I really look forward to seeing it.

SD: Premieres Sunday, at 9, on FOX.

ED: You’ll definitely want to watch that with your kids.

CC: Thank you.

TV Guide (Canada): We Geeks

TV Guide (Canada)
We Geeks
Brian Hartigan

[typed by Megan]

An X-Files spinoff gets the spotlight. Tell everyone

After eight seasons of guest spots on The X-Files, those computer-loving conspiracy buffs known as The Lone Gunmen are now on their own, championing the rights of Americans everywhere.

Pretty funny, considering all three are red-blooded Canadians.

“There’s a line in the pilot,” says Bruce Harwood (aka John Byers), “where Tom [Braidwood, aka Melvin Frohike] comments about fighting for ‘Truth, justice and the American way.’ After he read the line, he turned to me and said, ‘Can you believe we’re two Canadians saying this stuff?!'”

The irony of that line is nothing compared to the unlikely circumstances surrounding the creation of The Lone Gunmen series itself. In fact, all three stars are still in disbelief that they have a show of their own. “It’s astonishing, to tell you the truth,” admits Dean Haglund (aka Ringo Langly, the blond one).

“If you created a plot line that went: ‘Three actors do one-day stint on a series that ranked 66th, and eight years later get their own show,’ your editor would fire you.”

Harwood is also quick to admit that he was skeptical that the three could hold their own in an hour-long format, but realizes now “that we won’t have to explain a lot of background regarding our characters.” And what characters they are! In each of Byers, Frohike and Langly, you’ll find enough deep-seated paranoia to keep a good psychiatrist in caviar for life.

First, there’s the bearded Byers (Vancouver’s Harwood), a snappy dresser with serious father issues. “Byers must be pretty paranoid or else he wouldn’t walk around dressed like that,” he says.

Then there’s the shorter Frohike (Braidwood, also from Vancouver), an unkept grump who takes the brunt of the jokes and pratfalls. “I’m probably the most paranoid because I’m the oldest and most cynical,” he says of Frohike.

Finally, there’s Langly (Manitoba’s Haglund), a cross between Garth from Wayne’s World and your average high-school AV tech. “I’m paranoid because I’m outraged against the establishment,” he explains. Despite their obvious foibles and eccentricities – or maybe because of them – the fact is , if you’re fan of The X-Files, you’re undoubtedly a fan of The Lone Gunmen.

Since their first appearances in 1994, during the show’s first season, the sneaks have become fan favourites by adding a dollop of fun to The X-Files’ mounting sense of doom.

Their popularity isn’t lost on co-creator Chris Carter, who says the tone of this series will be different than its originator. He and his co-hosts (X-vets Frank Spotnitz and Vince Gilligan among them) hope that the premise will appeal to fans of early X-Files who enjoyed the occasional light-hearted episode. “We’re playing to the same audience,” says Carter. “But we’re doing outrageous comedy.”

Gunmen will also be filmed in and around Vancouver, the city that The X-Files called home until series star David Duchovny (aka Fox Mulder) criticized its weather and said he wanted to move the show to Los Angeles.

At the time, many people in Vancouver felt insulted and slammed the actor for being unappreciative, though Harwood thinks Duchovny may have gotten a bit of a bad rap. “Poor David,” he says. “After those remarks, there was a sense that everyone in Vancouver just turned on him for slagging a town that helped produce a successful show. I don’t think the move made people angry but I will tell you this: Nearly everyone I know [there] stopped watching after it left.”

Braidwood agrees somewhat, pointing out that many cities tend to claim hit series as their town. “In a really broad sense, the city sees it as theirs,” he explains. “And then all of sudden it leaves and they’re asking, ‘How could you do that?'”

For his part, Carter explains that moving The X-Files to L.A. gave the show a much-needed shot in the creative arm, but aside from the obvious financial benefits (Gunmen is produced for roughly half of what The X-Files costs), he’s happy to be back in Vancouver. “I like the people a lot,” he tells TV Guide. “It’s an easy trip back and forth and I’ve worked with the crew.”

That quick, coastal flight will also afford that opportunity for continued crossovers back into The X-Files while allowing actors like Mitch Pileggi (who plays assistant director Walter Skinner) to pop up on Gunmen from time to time.

Still, make no mistake, this isn’t The X-Files redux or, according to Harwood, any other show for that matter. When the spinoff was announced last year, it was touted as something akin to Mission: Impossible with geeks, a comparison Harwood finds unfair. “Gene Roddenberry had to first describe Star Wars as Wagon Train to the stars,” he says. “Now, I ask you, was it anything like that? No really. So take the Mission: Impossible comparison with a grain of salt.”

In other words: trust no one.

If Magazine: X-Files scribe and producer Frank Spotnitz discusses bringing X-spin-off The Lone Gunmen into the light while also talking about the future of Mulder and Scully

If Magazine
X-Files scribe and producer Frank Spotnitz discusses bringing X-spin-off The Lone Gunmen into the light while also talking about the future of Mulder and Scully
Anthony C. Ferrante

Spinning-off characters from a popular show is never an easy task and TV has been littered with miserable failures for decades (After MASH anyone). For X-Files producer/writer Frank Spotnitz, just the idea of coming up with a proper X-character to spin-off was a Herculean task when the network was thinking in that direction after the show became a cultural phenomenon during its third season.

“There weren’t many characters you could even start to discuss a spin-off with,” says Spotnitz. “As great an actor as Mitch Pileggi, [Assistant Director] Skinner is always the man in the middle and you would have a very hard time making his character the lead of his own series. Beyond that most of the other recurring characters in X-Files have been antagonists.”

That is until Season 6 when recurring characters The Lone Gunmen — who have aided Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) when appropriate since Season 1 — were given their own stand-alone episode “3 of the Kind” which found them in a comedic caper through Las Vegas. It was then Spotnitz and fellow writer-producers John Shiban and Vince Gilligan realized that the notion of turning the characters into their own series was quite viable.

“People had talked about doing a spin-off show of the X-Files before but we always said ‘why, and how,’ but to do it with these three guys was an interesting idea,” says Spotnitz. “Mulder and Scully are the right characters for the X-Files and to drive those type of stories. ‘3 of a Kind’ was a caper and they didn’t just do computer stuff, they did Mission: Impossible type stuff. It was funny charming and sweet.”

When Harsh Realm (the other show developed by X-Files creator Chris Carter’s Ten Thirteen Productions) didn’t last long on FOX, The Lone Gunmen idea once again resurfaced.

“When we thought we would be doing Harsh Realm, we thought we wouldn’t have the opportunity to do The Lone Gunmen spin-off but when Harsh Realm had an early death we immediately went back to discussing Lone Gunmen,” says Spotnitz.

For the uninitiated, The Lone Gunmen are a trio of conspiracy-minded misfits who have come together to publish an underground newspaper (called “The Lone Gunmen”) that uncovers the injustices and cover-ups behind the government and the media. The trio consists of suit-wearing Byers (Bruce Harwood), clumsy Frohike (Tom Braidwood) and computer guru Langly (Dean Haglund). Once the notion of avoiding any of the supernatural elements that make up X-Files were laid to rest, Spotnitz ended up co-creating The Lone Gunmen TV show (with Chris Carter, John Shiban and Vince Gillian) to be a sort of Mission: Impossible show engineered in part by a bumbling, but well-meaning, group of outcasts.

With the show on the fast track, FOX initially wanted them to make it a fall show, but it was decided it would be better to make it a Midseason Replacement series so the order would be smaller and the risk of getting lost amongst all the new fall shows much less.

“We also said ‘it would kill us’ since it’s the same guys doing both this show and The X-Files,” says Spotnitz. FOX relented and now the series is getting a prime, prime-time launch in the coveted X-Files 9:00pm time slot for three weeks until it lands in the old X-slot Fridays at 9:00pm.

“We like being on Fridays because you don’t have to have as big an audience to be considered a hit on Fridays,” says Spotnitz. “There’s a smaller viewership pool and it’s going to come down to how big are the numbers. This is really the same question they must have asked themselves when they were looking at renewing Millennium – ‘do we think we can do better if we put something else that space?'”

While X-Files fans have come to love that series’ dark outlook, Spotnitz thinks that The Lone Gunmen have found their own niche – and it’s the comedy that will be coming out more in subsequent episodes of the series.

“It was definitely an exploration of trying to find it,” says Spotnitz who thinks “Eine Kleine Frohike” is one of the season’s highlights where Frohike goes undercover by pretending to be the son of a notorious Nazi Germany female assassin. “I don’t think we fully committed to The Lone Gunmen in the pilot because it had a lot of darkness and many more straight scenes than the series now has. And some weeks, we veered too wacky and goofy but the best episodes we’ve done have a lot of comedy, heart and emotion and they have a great idea behind them.”

One of those great ideas (actually more funny than anything) was the notion of a blind football team in the second episode “Bond, Jimmy Bond” that introduces another new character, the bumbling Jimmy Bond (Stephen Snedden) who ends up being the Gunmen’s sugar daddy that funds their struggling underground paper. Rounding out the full-time cast is the show’s lovely antagonist Yves Adele Harlow (Zuleikha Robinson) who aids the Gunmen when necessary but whose motives are far more cloaked (her name incidentally is an anagram for Lee Harvey Oswell). For Spotnitz, this character is where the show’s main mythology will slowly come into play. Unlike the X-Files though which is now firmly steeped in its UFO mythology (particularly this season with the abduction and search for Mulder), Spotnitz and his team have decided to develop Lone Gunmen’s characters and tone before they start to complicate matters with any significant story mythology.

“The seeds of a mythology have been laid in from the first episode but you won’t see it full bore until the final episode of the season,” says Spotnitz. “It will center around Eve – who she really is, why is she living anonymously, what is her agenda and is she a good or bad guy. When you start to answer those questions, you start to answer and explore the larger mythology which will be completely separate from the X-Files mythology. It’s a real ‘world’ idea that speaks to the way the world operates now. Our thinking was let people get to know these characters and care about them first and then ask them to come along with you as you start to create a larger, fictional world for them. X-Files didn’t get into the mythology until the end of the first season in earnest.”

One aspect of the Lone Gunmen that is apparent from the outset is that the show’s three lead actors – Harwood, Braidwood and Haglund are not the pretty faces you usually see populating big prime-time series, but Spotnitz says that’s also part of the show’s charm. The actors are also more willing to make fools of themselves as was evidenced by Braidwood’s hilarious fall in the mud during the show’s pilot episode.

“Tom was totally committed to that fall in a big way and he did it very well,” laughs Spotnitz. “I think that we’re so used to doing dramatic television that you’re always conscious of making your heroes look heroic but here we can relax and yes, he can fall down or stick his hand up a cow’s butt. We don’t worry about it but he will still be a hero doing these things. That was our greatest obstacle though, wrapping our minds around it and then having actors who have been game for anything. These three guys to me have risen to the challenge and more than carry the show. Plus you think about how many actors out there and character actors in particular that no one would think of as leads for television who if the popular mindset were different could be doing great work.”

In fact Spotnitz notes that although The Lone Gunmen did get many favorable reviews on the outset in major markets, he found that some reporters didn’t like the show by having “a knee jerk reaction and confirming the worst thing about television.”

“We read things where they said ‘oh, they’re not good looking enough or they shouldn’t be TV stars’ and we were thinking ‘is that what you want people to be – that people have to buy into one type of person looking a certain way?'” questions Spotnitz. “I don’t think it is but I don’t think it’s giving people enough credit. There’s all kinds of great actors to connect with and they don’t have to be all good looking people.”

While The Lone Gunmen series has its fill of recurring characters with the addition of both Jimmy Bond and Eve, Spotnitz reveals that a few X-Files characters will be popping up on to the Gunmen show including Mitch Pileggi as Skinner and Michael McKean reprising his role as Area 51 head Morris Fletcher from the popular X-Files two-parter “Dreamland.”

And don’t get too worried about the Lone Gunmen disappearing from the X-landscape anytime soon either.

“They will still pop up on X-Files,” affirms Spotnitz. “It makes it all a lot harder to do because we have to somehow get them out of their day job in Vancouver and get them down here. We managed to do it this season and I think we can continue to do it. They serve a very good function on X-Files.”

It also works out well since the goopier, other-worldly nature of the X-Files won’t be dealt with on the Gunmen’s show as much for obvious reasons.

“There’s a limited potential of doing any of that on the Gunmen show,” says Spotnitz. “You see a little of it in the season finale, but in my mind there’s no point in doing TV series about it. X-Files has done it exhaustibly for eight years, and now we’ve got this whole new canvas to explore with Gunmen and there’s no reason to go back to X-Files territory.”

Speaking of The X-Files, as the show winds down its eighth season, Spotnitz is finally stepping into the director’s chair for the currently untitled Episode 19 which will serve as Mulder and Scully’s last stand alone investigation story.

“It’s not a mythology show – it’s a monster show,” hints Spotnitz. “Agent Scully goes on maternity leave and Agent Doggett is paired with a new partner. When they go out on an X-File that becomes life-threatening, Mulder and Scully are pressed into service even though it’s not their assignment anymore.”

Though Spotnitz says there’s a lot of dread about directing, he’s looking forward to the opportunity.

“The truth is my day job as writer-producer is 70 to 80 hours a week and I didn’t know if I could step out of that to direct,” says Spotnitz. “The only reason I could consider it is that it was the end of the year and I might be able to get away from it. It’s proven very difficult to escape my other obligations though. I’ve never directed before – not a thing, so it’s been very surprising and little frightening. I’ve spent a lot of time in the editing room and have a good understanding of how film cuts together. It’s not the same thing as going in and executing it, so we’ll see if I know what I’m doing.”

With the major “search for Mulder” plotline being resolved in the coming months, Spotnitz also reveals that the best is yet to come.

“Wait until you see those episodes,” says Spotnitz. “It’s interesting, TV viewership drops off until February sweeps until the end of the season but I think our best episodes starting April 1 until the end of the season are the best part of this year. Robert Patrick [who plays new agent Doggett who has aided in the search for Mulder] has had great chemistry with Gillian and now Robert has great chemistry with David as well. The show for us has been as interesting as it ever has been.”

For fans though who have lamented the show’s insistence on teasing about Mulder’s reappearance all season in small doses, Spotnitz sees this frustration from fans as a complement.

“Some times I go on to some of the websites and listen to chats and it’s become a sport to complain,” says Spotnitz. “My question is why are you spending all your time watching the show if you mean what you say?”

The show definitely had a lot going against it at the beginning of the season with Duchovny’s contract having him only appearing in half of the season’s episodes this year, yet Spotnitz feels they’ve lucked out with the presence of Patrick who has stepped into the show quite well. In fact, it’s given FOX a renewed hope that the series could continue Mulder-less now if they continue with it for a ninth season.

“Gillian has another year on her contract and I believe they have a hold on Robert Patrick’s services as well,” says Spotnitz. “I don’t think they have Chris Carter or David Duchovny under contract – that’s the tricky part.”

Of course there’s a lot of waiting at this point notes Spotnitz.

“We’re waiting to see how it all works out, seeing who comes back and who the players will be,” says Spotnitz. “I think this is a show whose idea is practically inexhaustible. It’s a great idea for a television series and the fact we’ve maintained it and improved in our ratings since last year despite the loss of David Duchovny for half the episodes is a testament to that. It really is about what resources do we have to tell stories and who is coming back to tell them.” And would the show continue without Duchovny?

“I think that would most likely be the case,” says Spotnitz. “All of us hope he would come back or come back in a limited way because we love the character of Mulder and like working with him. The show is always better with Mulder in it, but I think it can work without him too.”

In fact, Spotnitz reveals the season finale will actually come to a more concrete resolution than they were able to facilitate last year when the question of The X-Files future was awaiting a final decision on Duchovny’s return up until days before the season finale aired.

“Plotting the ending this year was much less difficult than it was last year, because no matter what happens, whether this is the end of the series or whether the series goes on with some character and not others or there’s a movie franchise after this – this will be the end of eight years of the TV show and we’re writing it as such,” explains Spotnitz. “Something is definitely coming to an end. We have a clear idea what to do. Last year, writing it not knowing whether we were coming back or going to movies was a difficult thing and we had to write and shoot that episode still not knowing the answers to any of those questions.”

There’s also the sticky situations that if X-Files and Lone Gunmen get renewed that the Ten Thirteen team will have more work cut out for them – something that proved to be exhausting but it’s nothing new to the team.

“It’s very hard for us to do two shows at the same time – maybe we need to find some other people who tell stories in the same way we do,” muses Spotnitz. “I just think these are relatively ambitious as far as TV shows go. They’re not one storyline with A-B-C plots. There’s a lot of action and visual effects. I know it’s probably bad to worry about such a thing in fact it’s a high class problem to deal with two full orders of a TV show.”