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Zap2it: 'X-Files' Cast and Crew Say Bittersweet Goodbye

‘X-Files’ Cast and Crew Say Bittersweet Goodbye
Rick Porter

LOS ANGELES (Zap2it.com) – Gillian Anderson says it won’t hit her for a couple of months.

She’ll take some time off after “The X-Files” ends its season, as she’s done for the past nine years. Then, as TV production starts up again toward the end of the summer, “my body will want to start seeing this other person again. It’s like an old friend.”

Only then, she says, will she likely realize in full that “The X-Files” isn’t coming back to FOX. The conspiracy-laden, extraterrestrials-among-us drama, which grew from cult hit to mainstream success without ever really — pardon the pun — alienating its loyalists, ends its run on Sunday (May 19) with a two-hour finale that promises to answer a lot of the questions it’s posed about aliens and coverups and just what the heck the government is hiding.

“It really is an example of a mixed blessing,” Anderson said as she walked down the alien-green (not red) carpet at the series wrap party a few weeks ago. “I’m really looking forward to the future, and I’m excited about getting out into the world again. On the other hand, I don’t think I really get for one second that it’s over.”

Still, Anderson, series creator Chris Carter and other cast and crew members agree that now is the right time to wrap up the series. Ratings have dipped since David Duchovny left the cast for good this season, and the show faced stiffer competition in NBC’s “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” and ABC’s “Alias.”

“It’s good to go out while we’re still smelling good,” says Kim Manners, a co-executive producer who also directed more than 50 of the show’s 200 episodes. “I’m very proud to have been a part of it.”

Few involved with the show had any idea of how big the show become when it premiered on a Friday night in September 1993. Executive producer Frank Spotnitz joined “The X-Files” in its second season, and he says at the time, few people he know had heard of the show.

“It was like a pleasant dream, where every year we got bigger and bigger,” Spotnitz says. “But we never expected the phenomenon it would become.”

Indeed, the show made a star out of the previously unknown Anderson (whose biggest previous role was a guest shot on FOX’s “Class of ’96” ) and cult figures out of recurring characters like the Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davis) and the Lone Gunmen (Tom Braidwood, Dean Haglund and Bruce Harwood).

“We didn’t know each other when we got asked to [play the characters],” says Braidwood, who played Gunman Melvin Frohike after starting out as an assistant director on the show. “So we met, and we did the scene. Then we got a call the next year and they said we’d like you to come back and do another gig — it was such a surprise.”

Cast and crew members had a tough time picking out favorite episodes, although more than one, including Mitch Pileggi (FBI Assistant Director Skinner), cited the controversial 1996 episode “Home.”

Pileggi also counts season 1’s “Ice” and season 3’s “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose,” for which guest star Peter Boyle won an Emmy. “I’m not in any of them,” Pileggi says, laughing. “I don’t know what that says.”

Sunday’s finale is titled “The Truth,” and it features the return of Duchovny’s Fox Mulder, who faces a murder charge at a military tribunal. Carter promises that much of the series’ complicated mythology will be wrapped up. But as the show has done throughout its existence, it will probably some things open to interpretation.

“There’s so much going on” in the episode, says Annabeth Gish, who plays Agent Monica Reyes. “A lot of people return. Things are answered and tied up, but always leaving more.”

Mothership.com: As X-Files enters its eighth season it now must contend with being partially Mulder-less and the introduction of a new partner (Robert Patrick) for Scully – yet the cast and crew affirm that it's still business as usual for Fox's popular sci-fi show

As X-Files enters its eighth season it now must contend with being partially Mulder-less and the introduction of a new partner (Robert Patrick) for Scully – yet the cast and crew affirm that it’s still business as usual for Fox’s popular sci-fi show
Anthony C. Ferrante

[typed by Alfornos]

As the end of Season 7 of X-FILES was drawing near, it looked like the doors were finally closing on FOX’s venerable series. David Duchovny was getting increasingly impatient with not being able to move forward in his movie career and the increasing reliance on humor on the show was taking some of the dark edges off its once truly creepy stories.

At the 11th hour, though – after the season finale was shot where it was revealed Scully is pregnant and Mulder abducted by aliens – Duchovny worked out an agreement with FOX. He would appear partially in a handful of episodes (around five or six) and full time in the last six of the season. Hence, the show was back from the dead, but the question was: how do you cope with a Mulder-less show for most of the season?

“David is still a regular,” admits the show’s creator Chris Carter. “Even when he’s there he’s going to be ‘not’ there – he’s going to be an absent presence and an absent center. And so, his involvement in the show, even though it’s in an abbreviated fashion, is going to be very important.”

Naturally, this meant bringing in a new character to fill the void in Mulder’s wake. With FBI agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), and now her and Mulder’s boss Skinner (Mitch Pileggi), being firm believers based on what they’ve seen, bringing in another skeptic was almost a requirement.

Enter John Doggett (Robert Patrick) – a former New York cop thrown into the mix who will be working alongside Scully during her investigations throughout the season.

“Doggett is an FBI agent and he was a cop and that’s actually not atypical for FBI agents,” says Carter. “He is not assigned to the X-Files to begin with. He is not Scully’s partner to begin with. There is a gradual, hopefully realistic integration of the character into the series.”

While at the premiere of the Season 8 two-parter in North Hollywood last weekend, the cast and crew of X-FILES were obviously relishing in these changes, and Patrick’s chumminess with Carter and others looked like he’s been welcomed into this sci-fi staple’s fold with open arms.

“It’s nice to have a really fine new actor to write for,” says Carter. “It’s interesting to be doing some of the shows without David. He’s always a big presence on the show, even when he’s not there, because this is the search for Mulder this year.”

Patrick, who is best known for playing the T-1000 in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (and more recently for a multi-episode arc on HBO’s The Sopranos) was thrilled to join the show calling it a “no brainer.”

“It’s a win-win situation,” says Patrick. “It’s a brand new character. They wanted to write a brand new character, and I think Chris is a great writer. I’m having a ball working with Gillian and I’m looking forward to working with David. It’s all about the work for me.”

For the new dynamic with Scully, Patrick confirms his character’s “skeptic” status.

“I don’t buy any of it and think it’s all bullshit,” says Patrick. “I just go for the facts and try to solve everything with facts only. He’s a very street-smart guy and that’s how he goes about it. He has a really strong work ethic and he tackles each case with those abilities and traits.”

Though one of the appeals of the show has always been Mulder’s dry sense of humor, Patrick says there isn’t a lot of levity with his character – as of yet — but he says there is definitely a chemistry all its own going on between his and Scully’s characters.

“My chemistry with Gillian is my chemistry and David’s chemistry with Gillian is David’s” says Patrick. “I think Doggett really enjoys Scully and admires her craft. He enjoys working with her and bringing his abilities to work in tandem with hers. It’s thrown his reality a bit for a loop – that these things are kind of otherworldly — but he’s keeping his feet on the ground.”

Coming back to a show without your familiar partner might be a bit jarring, but for Anderson she says the presence of David is felt in every episode they’ve done so far this season, despite him being holed up on the spaceship by his lonesome.

“Even though David wasn’t here, he was the focus of the episodes, so I feel like he’s there,” says Anderson. “We’re always talking about him. We’re looking for him. It’s not as if Mulder is completely gone. It doesn’t feel like he’s not there.”

The quality of the writing continues to remain high, Anderson also notes.

“It’s going really well,” she says. “I think they’ve written some amazing episodes. Everybody is really enthusiastic the way things are going. The new character of Doggett is interesting and Robert is great to work with. I think there won’t be as much lightness and back more to the old flavor of X-FILES. You’ll like them – they’re good.”

However, one thing that executive producer and writer Frank Spotnitz actually misses this year, so far, is the way Mulder’s character was able to explain even the strangest scenarios – which the writers haven’t been able to fall back on as readily.

“You realize how much having Mulder around helps tell these stories because he can come out with the big theory and take the big leap,” reveals Spotnitz. “There’s nobody to do that now so it has put us in more than one quandary on how to tell a story.”

While the mystery of Scully’s pregnancy will be an ongoing arc throughout the season, one of the show’s mainstay directors Kim Manners notes that a February sweeps episode will deal specifically with this new revelation.

“We just finished up that episode and it’s a bit of a new conspiracy,” teases Manners. “Her pregnancy is going to be a conspiracy.” Another character going through a major change during Season 8 is Assistant Director Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) who watched as Mulder was abducted during last year’s season finale. He will now finally get a chance to get up from behind his desk and actually be an active part in the rescuing of Mulder. “Skinner has changed enormously since the end of last season because he saw a spaceship so he’s no longer the man in the middle,” says Spotnitz. “He’s firmly in Mulder and Scully’s camp. That’s really changed the role he plays on the show. He plays a bigger role this year than he’s ever played. He’s out of the office and clearly an ally of Scully and Doggett – and one episode in particular we have Doggett and Skinner together in an investigation.” For Pileggi, this rethinking of his character has been a breath of fresh air, too, and he says whole-heartedly that this season he’s been able to do “the best work of my career.”

“The episodes I’m in I definitely have a lot more involvement,” says Pileggi. “He is now a firm believer and it has really impacted him and how he feels about what Scully and Mulder have been doing.”

The show will be getting more dramatic according to Pileggi but for Skinner at least his character’s awakening has definitely provided more shadings for him as an actor to work with.

“It’s not so negative,” he admits. “That skeptical aspect of Skinner is gone and he can be a little more active. It’s really a nice new avenue for this character to go down.”

While it may seem like Season 8 could very well be one very long mythology episode, Spotnitz notes there will be the regular mix of stand-alones and mythology episodes.

“It’s mostly broken down in the way it has been in the past,” says Spotnitz. “Most of the episodes are still stand-alone investigations, but it’s the relationship between Scully and Doggett in each of those stand-alones which makes it more serial than it used to be. There is the search for Mulder that keeps coming back and it, along with Scully’s pregnancy, those are the big mysteries that drive the season.”

Of the stand-alones, Spotnitz notes an episode about a man “who seems to kill like a bat” will be particularly startling as are a handful of others.

“One has Scully getting stranded in this community that’s nowhere on any map and the people are really creepy and have a very scary secret, so it’s up to Doggett to find her and rescue her from this small town,” says Spotnitz. “There’s another where a boy who has disappeared ten years ago returns and looks exactly the same – he hasn’t aged a day. That’s a very scary one, too.”

According to Carter, he confirms like others on the show that it’s going to be a good scary season like the first year and there will also be some high concept stories thrown into the mix as well.

“Joe Morton guest stars in the episode where time goes backwards and Joe finds himself convicted of a crime that he doesn’t know he committed,” says Carter. “Then he starts living his days in reverse.”

In the end though, the big questions are about where Mulder is and where he will be when the season comes to an end and Manners is excited to see what happens when the actor comes back to the show full time.

“It’s going to be exciting when David returns and does the last six episodes of the season because it will be an interesting challenge for the writers,” says Manners. “It will be interesting weaving new stories and how we’re going to create the whole dynamic when Fox Mulder comes back from space.”

The whole absence of Duchovny may seem like a big deal for a show like X-Files, but it’s not the only controversy the show has faced both behind the scenes and from fans. When Duchovny wanted to be closer to his wife Tea Leoni, the show moved from Vancouver to Los Angeles two seasons ago with many fans thinking it would lose its look and feel. However, that has become a non-issue now and Spotnitz feels the show being Duchovny-less will be a non-issue as this year progresses as well.

“Nothing went wrong once we came to L.A. though one of our editors said before we were ‘wet and dark’ and now we’re ‘dry and dark,'” says Spotnitz. “For us, the big change that came with L.A. is it costs more than it did in Vancouver so we have to be a lot more clever in how we tell our stories and have to manage to hide the fact we can’t do the things we did before. We used to have huge locations. One two-part episode had moving trains and train cars blowing up – stuff on bridges. It’s stuff like that which is huge to do on a TV schedule and budget and even though the budget of the show has increased quite a bit since we moved to L.A., it’s still not enough to allow us to do the same epic things we did in Vancouver frequently.”

Spotnitz also wants fans to know that the behind-the-scenes talent are still firmly entrenched in delivering a show that won’t disappoint in Duchovny’s absence.

“I think the fans should know we love the show as much as they do,” notes Spotnitz. “We love the character of Agent Mulder as much as they do. This wasn’t our choice to do the show this way. This is something between David and the studio. The only thing Ten Thirteen had to say about it is that ‘we will not go forward unless you make David Duchovny happen. Give him what he wants.’ Our audience hopefully understands we’re telling the best stories we know how and keeping the X-FILES as good as we know how. We’re on the same side as they are.”

While the whole season has been mapped out, whether the show will return for a ninth year is still up in the air and Carter reveals that it will likely stay that way until it comes time to renew contracts in the Spring.

“Last season was the first where it was up in the air and while I anticipate every season would be like that I don’t think it will be quite as 11th hour as last year was,” adds Carter.

One thing is for certain – Patrick’s contract extends beyond this year if the show continues.

“I’m committed for the full season this year and then some,” says Patrick. “I think I can say I’m contracted for another year.” And now that he’s tied up with a show, Patrick might also have problems scheduling in Terminator 3 if he were asked back but he says no one has approached him about it yet – “I’m not aware of it.”

Whether the creative team in place may still be around for another X-Files season is entirely a big question mark too, but Spotnitz thinks it may be time to move on.

“I suspect this will be the last year for us – for this creative team,” he admits. “I never say never. I never thought we would last this long. I don’t know what will happen beyond this year. We definitely have a plan of what will get us to end of this season and where the characters will be. It can certainly go beyond this year. Whether it will or not, I don’t know. ”

Some of the team’s energies might actually be funneled into The Lone Gunmen spin-off which is scheduled for mid-season with a 13-episode commitment.

“It will be much lighter than X-Files,” says Carter. “The characters actually get to develop in ways we’ve never seen them before on X-Files. They aren’t in service to Mulder and Scully. They’re working on their own beat.” As countless shows past and present continue to appear and disappear on FOX all hoping to fill in that void likely to be left once X-Files finally leaves the airwaves, Carter reflects on how lucky he’s been to keep the show on half as long as it has.

“With reality programming, there’s hardly room for anything on TV, so it’s a miracle that everything worked with X-Files,” says Carter. “There’s just a million ways to fail in television. And when you have something like this that hits, I know how lucky I am that I had the Gods in my favor. Everybody can be lined up, but you’d better make really good choices and hire really good people every step of the way or else there’s a good chance you’ll fail. A lot of people would like to be popular and successful – however it’s mostly hard work, but it’s a lot of luck too.”

Entertainment Weekly: Secrets and Lies

Entertainment Weekly
Secrets and Lies
Mary Kaye Schilling

[Original article here]

Will ”X-Files” answer viewers’ questions? — The Fox sci-fi drama promises to reveal some secrets in the season finale

X-Files‘ actors live in mortal fear of it: the big kiss-off from series creator Chris Carter. The bell doesn’t toll often for regular characters (among the unlucky few: Deep Throat, X, and Bill Mulder), but the possibility hovers, like an alien spaceship, over the cast. For one actor, the phone rang days before shooting began on a momentous two-parter, a sweeps event that Fox is trumpeting as ”The X-Files conspiracy…exposed!”

Divulging the identity of this doomed player would, of course, ruin the second episode’s penultimate shocker (there are two humdingers). Let us instead relive the actor’s bittersweet moment of (you know) truth: ”Just before I got the script I got a message to call Carter’s office. He was very calm. He said, ‘I’ve got something to tell you about the episode.’ And I said, ‘Are you going to fire me?’ And he said, `No, but I am going to shoot you.’ He said to trust him, it was going to be a very noble death. I said, ‘I do trust you, implicitly.”’

The victim pauses here for comic effect. Not only because the nature of a character’s death is the least concern of a soon-to-be-unemployed actor (one who relocated from Vancouver to L.A. when the show did the same last summer). But because of the inevitable punchline: ”And Carter said, ‘Trust no one.”’

Trust is to The X-Files what Nothing was to Seinfeld. For just as Jerry’s sitcom was a whole lot of something, Carter’s drama is very much about finding the people you can trust, the few who do speak the truth. In the case of FBI agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny), that person is his partner, Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson).

But in the case of X-Files fans, whom can they trust about this latest claim that the conspiracy — Carter’s ongoing plotline involving aliens, government deception, deadly black oil, and killer bees — will be explained? After all, similar promises went unfulfilled last summer with the release of the franchise’s first film, The X-Files — a visually stunning movie that nonetheless created more questions than it answered. ”I think people were frustrated because the studio’s ads [‘The Truth Is Revealed’] implied that everything was going to be tied up,” says Duchovny. ”And then it wasn’t.”

”I never claimed to be revealing more than I did,” insists Carter. And believes X-Files executive producer Frank Spotnitz, ”the truth meant something different to everyone who walked into the show.” Spotnitz, who developed the movie with Carter, is one of the few writers at Ten Thirteen (Carter’s production company) who can make heads or tails of the conspiracy, or what Carter calls the Mythology. And in his mind, ”the movie did reveal very explicitly a lot of things. But other people might have been expecting the truth to be about something else, like Samantha.”

For the uninitiated, Samantha is Mulder’s sister, abducted by aliens when she was 8 and he was 12. His search to find her has led to his and Scully’s series-long quest to learn the truth about extraterrestrial life on Earth. From that simple concept has developed the most brazenly complex arc ever attempted by a television drama. Indeed, it is a veritable Machiavellian maze, so tangled with intrigue and betrayal that even dedicated fans find themselves scratching their heads bloody. Duchovny acknowledges that this is ”hard on people who just tune in occasionally.” And it makes attracting new fans nearly impossible — a problem illuminated by the movie, which focused exclusively on the conspiracy rather than showcasing one of the series’ stand-alone stories featuring creepy genetic mutants and the like.

Though its very respectable $187 million worldwide take is a testament to the show’s powerful fan base (and virtually guarantees a sequel), Carter and Spotnitz admit that since the movie failed to lure X-Files virgins to the franchise, it was something of a disappointment. ”I hoped we would have reached more nonfans,” says Spotnitz, who found stringing two seasons together creatively confining. ”I’m looking forward to the next movie because I anticipate the show will be over, and we’ll be free to reinvent ourselves.” (Carter is contracted only through the show’s seventh season, ending in May 2000; an eighth is unlikely given his desire to concentrate on X movies.)

Perhaps more distressing was the show’s dip in ratings this season. Though still a major hit for Fox, The X-Files is down 16 percent in total viewers (now averaging 16.8 million versus 20 million last season). Carter blames the network’s schedule shuffling; Fox replaced X‘s old lead-in, King of the Hill, with the freshman sitcom That ’70s Show, causing the 8:30 slot to lose 34 percent in viewers. ”Our nice lineup has a hole in it,” says Carter. ”Not to take anything away from That ’70s Show — they’re trying their best — but it is struggling.” He also points to CBS’ Sunday movie, now drawing big audiences (it ranks ninth among viewers; X is 13th). ”It changes the quality of the pie,” he adds. ”The slices get smaller for everyone.”

But has the increasingly unwieldy conspiracy also alienated some original fans? Spotnitz doesn’t think so, though the upcoming doubleheader is a way to lighten the load: ”We didn’t know until shortly before [Chris and I wrote the two-parter] that we were going to do it. But after the movie, when we sat down to do the next Mythology show, it felt like the right time. We realized we had reached a critical mass, and that to complicate it further — to dangle another piece of the puzzle — was just too much. And so we got excited suddenly at the idea of everything coming to a head now. It didn’t seem expected to us.”

Carter insists the conspiracy is believable because of its complexity. Yet he’s also aware that the clock is ticking toward the series finale. ”I was thinking today, I have another 28 episodes left. We’ve got to prepare for a big unravel. We figured it would be better to explain the conspiracy now, and make that last arc more emotional and action driven, with less baggage to carry.”

In other words, Carter acknowledges the density of his creation. He will not, however, admit to what plagues many fans: profound confusion. The conspiracy, he maintains, ”is not as complicated as you think.”

Hanging out with the conspiracy’s supporting players is probably a mistake. They are relentlessly cheerful: The more dour they are on camera, the sunnier they are off; Mitch Pileggi (Assistant Director Skinner), William B. Davis (the cancerous Cigarette Smoking Man — or CSM), and Chris Owens (CSM’s son, Agent Spender) smile entirely too much. Way to kill a mood, guys.

But to a man — and this includes Dean Haglund, Bruce Harwood, and Tom Braidwood (Mulder and Scully’s geeky helpers, the Lone Gunmen), and Nicholas Lea (dastardly renegade Krycek) — they are baffled by Carter’s Mythology. Of the upcoming two-parter, Lea admits that after he read the scripts, ”they needed to be explained about four times. Other than that, it was really clever.” He laughs. ”But that’s kind of like the norm. You read a script, then call someone to explain it.” Harwood finds hardcore fans helpful. That they can explain it, he says, ”is scary in itself.”

Skinner is the character most in the dark (a visit to the set reveals even his desk calendar is out of it: The date reads August 1995). And it’s a state of mind Pileggi can relate to. ”I don’t feel either of us has a handle on” the conspiracy, he says. For the two-parter he stuck to his usual methods of preparation: ”I just read my parts and play it as if I don’t know what’s going on. It’s always a surprise when I watch the shows.”

”I am happy that Mitch sees that as a positive,” cracks Duchovny a few days later. ”You know, whatever works for you…. I can’t believe he’s telling people that.”

Duchovny is in his trailer (which, unlike Mulder’s apartment, features a big, tousled bed), waiting to be slimed with black goop for an episode involving a hurricane; given that the wait has just exceeded five hours, he’s remarkably chipper. It’s no secret that Duchovny is occasionally frustrated by the limitations of his character (Mulder, by necessity, is fairly static in his obsessive skepticism and paranoia). So it’s surprising to hear him speak eagerly about the inevitable movie franchise: ”Not that I want to play Mulder for the rest of my life, but my fantasy is to take him into different eras of his life.” Instead of going the James Bond route, he says, where you fire the actor when he gets too old, ”let’s see how funny it is when a guy like this is behaving the same way at 53.”

To keep himself interested in the meantime, Duchovny has written and, for the first time, will direct an X-Files episode (airing in April). ”It’s about the Negro leagues, and an alien who falls in love with baseball. I really love the script, I have to say,” he says, somewhat sheepish in his pride. ”I remember finishing it and going, I wish I had a better director, because I think it could be one of the best episodes we ever did.”

Darren McGavin will star, returning as former FBI agent Arthur Dales of last season’s ”Travelers” — a flashback episode that featured a pre-X-Files Fox Mulder sporting a yet-to-be-explained wedding band. ”That was just me, you know, fooling around,” admits Duchovny, who clearly enjoyed the resulting Internet frenzy. ”I had recently gotten married, and I wanted to wear it. The director was really nervous. ‘You have to call [Chris] to see if the wedding ring is okay.’ I didn’t, until [after the scene was shot]. When I did call, Chris goes, ‘What!?’ I said, ‘No, it’s good. It’s so Mulder to never have mentioned that he was married.’ And he says, ‘Well, that creates a problem. If we ever do a show that takes place seven years ago, you’ll have to be married.’ I said, ‘Do you really have a lot of shows in your head that are going to take place seven years ago?”’

Arthur Miller once wrote: ”He who understands everything about his subject cannot write it. I write as much to discover as to explain.” One could say the same of Carter. Though he’s always known where the conspiracy will end up, he’s been as startled as viewers by the twists and turns occurring along the way. ”The story starts to tell itself,” he says. ”And that’s been very exciting.” But surprises extend beyond his Mythology. For instance, though humor has long been an X-Files hallmark, this season the writers are giving Ally McBeal a run for its funny money (most notably in a hilarious two-parter featuring Michael McKean as an Area 51 official who assumes Mulder’s identity). ”It was something we noticed we were doing after the fact. I think it was a reaction to the bigness and importance of the movie,” says Spotnitz, who adds that the show’s move to L.A. may have subtly encouraged a general lightening of tone.

This drama, in fact, does humor better than most sitcoms, and at no expense to the credibility of its darker, scarier episodes. More remarkable, given X‘s potential for Twin Peaks overload, is the show’s elasticity; it continues to evolve even in its sixth season. ”I’m very impressed that we’re still growing,” says Duchovny. ”It’s funny the way the show organically takes on a form of its own. Nobody decided we were going to turn it into a comedy this year. And we did for a while.”(For those unamused, Spotnitz says the show will follow a straighter path for the rest of the season.)

Even more unexpected, say Carter and Spotnitz, is Mulder and Scully’s escalating affection — something that was strictly taboo during the show’s first couple of years. Coexecutive producer Vince Gilligan, who came on staff in season 3, remembers getting some flak over a mere hint of intimacy in his episode ”Pusher” (about a psychokinetic ninja): ”I scripted that Scully touches Mulder’s hand at the end. And Chris and Frank went, ‘Oh, this is too much, too soap opera-y. But the fans went nuts.”’ And they still do: It was Mulder and Scully’s near kiss in the movie that provoked the greatest whoops of audience pleasure.

Carter has no problem with the ripening sexual tension, but he wants the relationship to remain platonic. ”From an actor’s standpoint, it’s too bad,” says Duchovny. ”I would like to complicate the situation rather than maintain it in this limbo we’re told people like. We’ve been able to go places with the relationship over the years, but we don’t build on it. But that’s the nature of the show — there’s never any accumulation of experience.”

The characters may not accumulate experience, but the facts of the conspiracy have certainly piled up. And at this point in this story, you are probably wondering: When are they gonna reveal something, anything about the two-parter? (Hey, watching The X-Files for six seasons has at least taught us how to tease.) Without spoiling too much: The two episodes will, with breathtaking efficiency and comprehensiveness (the scripts reach as far back as the first season’s finale, ”Erlenmeyer Flask”), establish Cigarette Smoking Man not just as the enforcer of the Syndicate (the government splinter group in cahoots with aliens bent on colonizing the earth), but the conspiracy’s very heart (or lack of one). At long last, his true motives will be revealed — and without, thank God, justifying his cold-blooded methods.

”One of the things that’s always bothered me about TV shows is that as they get older, everybody starts to become a good guy,” says Spotnitz. ”All the conflict is gone because everybody has been rationalized [Revealing CSM’s reasons] is not a desire to make him good — just a way of understanding his character.” So, yes, ”he is still just the worst guy.”

Part 1 begins back in a familiar railway-car operating room, where doctors have finally achieved what the Syndicate and the aliens have been collaborating on since Roswell: a successful alien/human hybrid — none other than repeat abductee Cassandra Spender, former wife of Cigarette Smoking Man, mother of Agent Spender, and last seen being abducted again in season 5’s ”Patient X.” ”One of the first ideas for the two-parter was that Cassandra was going to be returned,” says Spotnitz. ”And the end of the conspiracy, as it’s being promoted, is in the explaining of her importance.”

Though Nazi references have peppered episodes since the first season (as in Purity Control, the name for the hybridization project), they proliferated in the movie, which established the Syndicate as a sort of Vichy government, collaborating with the aliens to save their own sorry hides. The two-parter will continue that story line, with the faceless aliens (the ones with a penchant for torching folk) fulfilling the role of the Resistance. A tidy metaphor, yet (one feels it’s necessary to point out) Nazis as definition of evil — well, hasn’t that been done before? ”Chris’s vision for the show — which all of us acknowledge — is, that, you know, what we’re dealing with is so ridiculous,” says Spotnitz. ”So you need to do everything to make it seem believable, like analogies to things we know to be true.”

Left unanswered: the burning question of Fox Mulder’s paternity. (Duchovny is going the Star Wars route, assuming CSM is Mulder’s Darth Vader of a father: ”It makes mythological sense.” Carter will only add, ”We haven’t said definitely not. What we have said is that he is definitely Samantha’s father.”) Nor will we learn the true significance of Gibson Praise, the psychic brainiac kid, who, according to this season’s premiere, was some kind of missing link. ”The kid — and most certainly the idea of the kid — will come back, [probably] next year,” says Spotnitz. ”He’s key in explaining the idea, argued in the movie, that aliens were here before, and that this kid has got alien DNA, and perhaps all civilians have it.”

In the meantime, we’ll have plenty of drama to entertain us — including a potential alien invasion. For though most of the players’ motivations will be explained, Mulder’s Holy Grail — Samantha — must still be found. This season’s remaining conspiracy episodes, says Carter, will deal with the ”men and women left standing. How are these people going to survive [an alien invasion] and to what lengths will they go to do that?”

”The analogy I make in my own mind,” says Spotnitz, ”is that these episodes are like the fall of the Soviet Union. Players and pieces are still there, but what happens will change the dynamics of everything.”

Carter and Spotnitz are tentatively planning a three-parter to end this season, something they’ve never done before. As for next year, any bets on who’ll be left standing in the series’ finale? ”Out of a cloud of dust, Krycek will walk,” predicts Dean Haglund of the show’s ultimate rogue, the one-armed Rat Boy. Harwood agrees: ”He might have only one leg left, but he’ll be the last one standing.”




Vancouver Sun: Fox network party

Vancouver Sun
Fox network party
Alex Strachan

HOLLYWOOD — For a moment, Gillian Anderson seems stunned.

She has had two hours’ sleep. She has walked into the Hollywood dance zoo known as The Derby, a glorified jungle pit tucked away off Los Feliz Boulevard, to say hi to her good friend and mentor Chris Carter.

Carter is sitting, Buddha-like, in a red armchair, patiently answering the questions of legions of reporters who have descended like flies at a barbeque.

Anderson slips through the crowd, for one oh-so-brief moment virtually unnoticed by the hundreds of sweaty, noisy, anxious TV critics, TV fans, TV actors, TV publicists, TV friends and assorted ringers, gate-crashers and non-descript hangers-on who have crammed themselves into a space no bigger than a peewee hockey rink.

The tiny space is completely immersed in giant, noxious clouds of smoke — cigarettes and dry ice: a lethal combination — while a very big, very bad rock band called Big Bad Voodoo Daddy hammers away in the background with a hideous wailing.

Anderson appears out of nowhere, like a sweet, ghostly apparition: tan, thin, startlingly attractive — more so than her on-screen persona — hair tied back behind her ears, wearing casual sandals, charm bracelets on her wrists, an ankle-length, white flower-print skirt that almost hides her ankle tattoo and a short, black cardigan.

She almost makes it to Carter’s chair when one of the paparazzi spots her.

The paparazzi are demanding — not asking, demanding — that she smile. She looks tired, bemused, turns dutifully to face the cameras and offers a sudden, tight-lipped, radiant beam, then sinks wearily beside Carter and whispers something in his ear. He laughs.

The X-Files movie has been immersed in night shooting all week; the production broke for the day at 5 a.m. that morning and shooting resumes immediately after the party.

The television writer for the Oakland Tribune, one of just a handful of reporters to get near enough to Anderson to ask her a personal question, garbles her query horribly.

“I’m sorry,” she says finally, “I really screwed up that question. I’ve been here for three weeks and I’m really tired.”

“I know exactly how you feel,” Anderson replies.

Vancouver is far from her mind on this night. “There are a couple of people there that I miss,” she tells me coolly, “but not Vancouver per se.”

Incredibly, the noise grows louder: Big Bad Voodoo Daddy’s band members, deciding that their music is not loud enough, are beginning to screech into their microphones, which some sound geek has thoughtfully decided to crank even louder.

The Fox network is using this party to celebrate its fall-season launch, which kicks off Sept. 8 with the return of that icon of rarified sophistication, Melrose Place.

Anderson is dead tired, but gamely hangs on. She seems to be drawing strength from Carter — “I got four hours’ sleep myself,” he says, and laughs cheerfully — as he patiently answers questions of throngs of reporters besieging him from all directions.

She will get just three days off after the X-Files movie has finished shooting, she says; after that, it’s back to Vancouver to work on the series.

Her other movie, The Mighty, featuring Gena Rowlands and Harry Dean Stanton — “I play a kind of an eccentric biker alcoholic.” she says — will open Dec. 12.

She is contractually tied down to The X-Files for three more years, including the upcoming season. No, she will not consider another TV series after that.

“I’m not interested,” she says. “I wasn’t interested in doing television to begin with. I appreciate it, but I’d like to get out of it as fast as possible.”

It’s not been that difficult dealing with X-Files fans, she insists.

“It’s been more difficult dealing with the paparazzi and the press. “There are a lot of fans out there, but then there are a lot of people in the world. Everybody I’ve dealt with has been very kind.”

Anderson’s manager, agent, chaperon and confidante, Connie Frieberg, hovers near her charge like a protective mother guarding her offspring.

Which begs the question: Since Anderson is coming off just two hours’ sleep in the last 24, why is she here?

Simple, Frieberg says: The Television Critics Association nominated 11 actors for its first-ever awards for individual achievement in acting. Of those 11 actors, Anderson was the only woman. Showing up at the Fox party, two hours sleep or not, is Anderson’s way of acknowledging that recognition.

Even so, she is beginning to fade.

When The X-Files finally fades into TV’s storied past, I ask her, what one enduring memory will she carry with her from her years on the show?

“I’m not quite sure how to answer that question,” she replies after a long pause. “I’m not quite sure what the question is.”

Later, after Anderson has gone — she slips away into the night, Carter, serene as always, stands up to leave.

He’s appeared so serene, I tell him, that he could be mistaken for being in a Buddhist trance.

“I am hardly in a Buddhist trance,” he replies.

In another corner of the smoke-choked lounge, The X-Files’ Cigarette-Smoking Man, Bill Davis, flown down from Vancouver with Lone Gun Dean Haglund and Tom Braidwood especially for the event, is trying to look as inconspicuous as possible.

“I hate smoke,” one young woman says to him, clearly not recognizing him. “I’m sorry,” Davis replies, deadpan, “you’re talking to the wrong man.”

Later in the evening, I catch X-Files FBI boss Mitch Pileggi alone at the bar, buying drinks for a cluster of friends and family who have been flown down from Vancouver by Fox for the event.

When The X-Files finally fades into TV’s storied past, I ask him, what one enduring memory will he carry with him from his years on the show?

“Oh, that’s easy,” Pileggi replies. “I met my wife on the set.”

Satellite Times: Two Types of Spy for the FBI

September 1996
Satellite Times
Two Types of Spy for the FBI
By Alex J. Geairns

Mitch Pileggi plays Assistant Director Skinner, Nicholas Lea is Agent Alex Krycek in the mysterious world of THE X-FILES. Alex J. Geairns tracked them down on a recent tour of the U.K.

X-FILES fans have a very specific idea of what Skinner, the long-term boss of FBI Agents Scully and Mulder, is like. Round-rimmed glasses, over-starched shirts, and a cold demeanour, and Nicholas Lea is the man they all love to hate — the weasel-like, shadowy character whose motives are almost always unclear. The transformation from well-to-do new partner for Mulder to a force for pure evil is gradual, and his is certainly one of the most well-drawn characters in the entire series.

With these visions of the pair of them in your head, it’s difficult to come to terms with them in real life. Both are easy going, dressed in jeans and causal shirts. If it wasn’t for their striking features, you’d probably pass them by on the street.

Landing the role of Skinner was a case of third time lucky for Mitch Pileggi. On two previous occasions, he had auditioned to play FBI agents on the series, but when the original Section Chief, Blevins (Charles Cioffi) was unavailable for the episode “Tooms,” Skinner was created. Skinner’s been helping keep The X Files active, despite many attempts to shut them down. Mitch came to fame in the Wes Craven movie SHOCKER, playing the murderous Horace Pinker. TV work has included roles in KNIGHT RIDER 2000, DALLAS, and CHINA BEACH. As for Nick Lea, he’s appeared in such series as HIGHLANDER and THE COMMISH in guest roles. He made his first appearance in THE X-FILES as a survivor of a nightclub attack by a sex-swapping entity in the episode “Gender Bender.” That was enough to get him noticed, and director Rob Bowman immediately thought of Nick to play the part of Agent Alex Krycek in the episode “Sleepless.” Since then, Krycek has turned from Good Two Shoes into a double-crossing double agent.

Since I last caught up with the guys last October, when the Cult TV Production Crew flew the pair of them over for CULT TV 1995, the Appreciation Weekend for all TV with a fan following, Nick Lea has been working on other projects, as well as making a couple of appearances in THE X-FILES.

“I filmed a new pilot, which is going to be picked up in the Fall (Autumn),” announces Nick. “It’s called ONCE A THIEF, and it’s Executive Produced and directed by John woo. It’s basically the story of three people who come from different backgrounds, my character being an ex-cop, the two others being ex-thieves, and w form an international crime-fighting group. It’s sort of THE MOD SQUAD for the 1990s!”

And Mitch? Has he had time for anything else other than playing Skinner?

“I have to keep myself available for the possibilities of Skinner being written into an upcoming show, and they’ve got me under contract now, so it’s hard for me to really go out and book something else. If they need me, they need me, and I’ve got to be there.”

This being their second appearance in the UK, they seem to have acquired the roles of Ambassadors for THE X-FILES. I wonder if it ever gets boring answering the same questions over and over, having to deal with the media’s obsession of asking what David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson are really like?

“At times you’re just tired of it,” comments Nick, “but when we’re not, you realise that different groups of people are going to be reading it, or seeing it, listening, viewing or whatever, and you want to make it interesting for them, too — there’s responsibility there to represent the show in a positive light. We both have a great loyalty to it, and I think that it’s important to give it our best shot.”

“Occasionally, when I get real tired, I just want to start making stuff up,” jokes Mitch. So what’s the best gag they’ve come up with?

“That David’s having a testicle reduction,” Nick announces, straight-faced, and the pair of them crack up with laughter.

Recently on Sky One, we’ve seen Skinner get show in an episode. Did Mitch think his number was up when he saw the “Piper Maru” script, where this takes place?

“No, not at all. Chris likes the character and he’s not going to kill him off…yet. I know that he realises the popularity of the role, and the writers like writing for Skinner, so I don’t think that they even consider it.”

Krycek, the last time we saw him, was imprisoned in a UFO silo, seemingly with no chance of escape. Is Nick hoping to come back next season?

“Yes, and you can be sure I will be! I’ve been told I’m now over the death hump, because were originally going to kill me — Chris Carter saw no other way that my character could go other than being erased, after having done so many awful things. I called Chris on the phone, a little irregular, I know, and pleaded for him not to kill Krycek, as I enjoy being on the show too much. Low and behold he didn’t. He said that I brought too much to the show to kill me off, which is something of a compliment. I didn’t cry, though, to influence him — I didn’t quite stoop that low.”

But what about the situation he’s in? It’s going to be a little bit difficult to get out of. “How Krycek is going to get out of that predicament is yet to be seen, but it will happen in the new season very early on.”

Some jolly japes reckon Krycek has a key in the heel of his shoe. “I heard a better one,” Nick remarks, “somebody suggested at one of the conventions we were at that there was a back door to the silo.”

The final episode of the latest season is again a cliff-hanger. Any major revelations that Mitch could tell us about?

“Skinner pops up briefly in the last couple of episodes, and isn’t an integral part to what is happening. What it’s going to translate into for the beginning of Season four, even we don’t know.”

What do they enjoy most about the UK, now that they’ve become regular visitors?

Nick is gushing in his praise. “I really enjoy the people. I find them to be better educated and wittier.”

“It’s really vibrant here,” notes Mitch. “We went to the theatre last night, and afterwards walked down the streets, and they were packed, the pubs full of people enjoying life.”

Nick has family connections which add another dimension to his trip. “My heritage is English, so I’m proud to be back here. We went to the British Museum, and I was looking up my family in the books — pages and pages on it. I really enjoy it here — at one point I was going to come over to live, maybe even try and get in at RADA — it’s probably a little too late for that now. Life seems less complicated here. Another thing I didn’t realise, when I went out for a run in Hyde Park, we come over to England thinking we’re so different, that life is different, as we live on the other side of the world, but you watch people doing exactly the same things you’re doing — Hyde Park looks so much like my home town. It makes you realise that people are the same wherever you go.”

Both of them are coming to terms with being recognised out on the streets. Mitch certainly has the presence not to be missed. Storyline wise, I note that some people reckon the series should stick to developing the conspiracy theory story, and not be distracted by other plotlines.

Mitch ponders for a moment. “I think it’s smart for them to continue having all these different avenues to take. You get the monster shows, you get the paranormal stuff, you’ve got the X-FILES mythology that revolves around the conspiracy. I think it’s refreshing to not stay on one track too long, as the audience might get bored of that quickly. Every once in a while, throw in something different — it’s very wise and astute to do so.”

Nick knows what he would like to see. “A few more mythology episodes would help, because that would mean I could be in it a little more! The mythology episodes are the backbone of the show. In STAR TREK, they’re normally revolving around the same theme, finding a new life form or intelligence, but in THE X-FILES we go all over the map, both in terms of people and format.”

A lot more people are discovering THE COMMISH on Sky One, in which Nick is a recurring character, the easy going cop Ricky Caruso.

“I did about two and a half years on that show. It was a great experience in terms of being in front of the camera and learning technique. It changed my life in a lot of ways — before I got that role I was just going from job to job, not really having enough money to be able to do what I wanted to do. You can be in an acting class all you want, but you don’t fully learn until you get off that stage and in front of a camera.”

I know that guest stars in THE X-FILES have always been unknowns, at least that has been the rule up until now. The reasoning being that such a celebrity appearance would detract too much from the storyline (not to mention the possible ramifications to the budget!). However, in the final episode of the third season, Roy Thinnes (who played architect David Vincent in the long-running 1960s series THE INVADERS — currently screening on The Sci-Fi Channel) is a guest star. Was this a conscious decision by series creator Chris Carter to pay homage to one of the inspirations of THE X-FILES?

Mitch hadn’t considered this before. “I honestly don’t know, but you have to admit, it was a piece of very smart casting.”

Nick adds, “I know they were trying to get Darrin McGavin, who played KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER, to have played Mulder’s father. That would have been a real homage to the show’s influences, but unfortunately he wasn’t able to do it. I think Chris knows the legacy that THE X-FILES is going to leave behind, the excitement that it produces, and want to acknowledge the shows that motivate him from what he’s watched in the past.”

Mitch liked sharing screen time with the one-time star of THE INVADERS. “Roy Thinnes is brilliant, just wonderful. It was so neat working with him.”

Some people have suggested that psychological horror that as more evident in the earlier episodes of the show has been replaced with more horror of a graphic nature. How does Nick see it?

“I think the show has become more violent. Why this is happening, I couldn’t even begin to tell you. I’ve noticed it, but I also think the quality of the show has stepped up at the same time. When you’re doing a series like this, you’re constantly looking for new ways to excite your audience. The programme’s evolving constantly, and it may well go back into more psychological horror — these things tend to go in cycles in long-running shows. They’re still keeping up the wonderfully inventive storylines, for instance when that movie SEVEN came out, it’s fairly graphic, but very good.”

Speaking of clever shows, SLIDERS has been renewed for another season. Does Nick feel any remorse in passing up the chance to be a regular in the series?

“There was certainly talk at one point about me joining the cast. Tracy Torme, the show’s creator, called me up a while ago and told me he was under pressure from the network to do particular things in the series, which unfortunately didn’t involve me. But he does want to have me back as a guest star sometime this season — whether I do so or not all depends on whether I have the time.”

And what next for Walter S Skinner? Can Mitch throw any light on the next season?

“They’re opening up the character. He now has an ex-wife who’s a succubus, had a relationship with a hooker, and he will continue to evolve. It opens up a whole bunch of possibilities. The episode where they spotlighted Skinner (‘Avatar’) was a real treat to do, and my favourite of last season.”

And what was Nick’s favourite from last season?

“It’s the one called ‘Wet-wired,’ all about manipulation by the media. It was written by our special effects supervisor Mat Beck. My other favourite is ‘D.P.O.’ about a kid who attracts lightning. I mean, that’s a story that doesn’t work on paper, but when you see it, the performance by the kid makes it. I’m much like everyone else now — I sit home and watch the show.”

Does Mitch ever put forward script ideas to the writers and producers?

“No, I’m just too lazy. I come up with typical X-FILES character names sometimes though — SAM CLUTCH, for instance. That’s a character from my childhood — he was the bogey man who would feature in scary stories my mother would tell me. Stuff that had been passed on down my mom’s family — maybe that might be the basis of a good episode.” Indeed in the world of THE X-FILES, the unexpected is never too far away.

San Francisco Chronicle: Chris Carter's X-File agenda

San Francisco Chronicle
Chris Carter’s X-File agenda
Laura Evenson

Hit Show’s Creator a Skeptic, Just Wants to Scare People

The man behind the “X”

A small boy reaches high for the microphone and asks “X-Files” creator Chris Carter how he came up with the idea for the television show about two FBI agents who work with cases that often involve eerie incidents of the paranormal.

“There was a show on when I was a kid called ‘The Night Stalker’ that I wanted to watch forever,” Carter tells the boy, one of 2,500 fans who’ve shown up to see him at an “X-Files” convention held at the Masonic auditorium in San Francisco [on Feb 11]. “Since there were only 18 episodes, I had to grow up to be a big kid and create a new show of my own.”

Carter is also executive producer of the show about Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), the “X-Files” agents who solve cases most G-men won’t touch. Aside from its interest in the paranormal, the show is rife with allusions to conspiracy theories and anti-government sentiments that dog the agents’ every move.

Backstage moments earlier, Carter, 39, explained that the Watergate scandal broke when he was 16 years old, shattering his moral universe. “I believe the government often is not working in our best interest, and I think that is quite a prevalent attitude in the U.S.,” he said. The current climate of economic instability has only added to people’s paranoia, he said, creating a “climate that is right for this sort of show.”

So successful has “X-Files” been that Carter, a former Surfing magazine writer and passionate surfer, now spends more time surfing the Internet to keep up with fans’ responses than he does hanging 10.

Carter is getting ready to produce a 20th Century Fox movie that will star Duchovny and Anderson. He said he expects to release the film in 1997 or 1998, but declined to provide details about its plot. “All I can tell you is that it’ll be an ‘X-File’ for the big screen,” he said.

The muscular Carter exudes the relaxed and confident air of a man content with the fact that his sleeper sci-fi series has gone from cult status to mainstream media hit. “It’s been a great three years, and I’m a blessed person, touch wood,” he said, noting that “X-Files” won a Golden Globe award last year. “The show will go five years total, and past that it’s gravy,” he added.

Carter isn’t resting on his laurels just yet. He’s also working on a second “very dark cop show that involves a man with a peculiar method of solving crimes.” He said the new show will hit the Fox network next fall.

Carter, who describes himself as a “person of very few wants in life,” clearly knows how to generate the most bang for his hard work. “X-Files” not only draws fans to conventions around the country, but it has spawned a merchandising empire that includes publicity fanzines, collectors’ cards, key chains and little faux alien embryos packed in what look like lab jars.

A stickler for details, Carter works hard, spending 16 to 18 hours a day overseeing the writing, editing and music cues for each show. He even recently visited an FBI field office in Seattle to learn how agents operate, and he partook of peyote on a Navajo reservation in Arizona to acquaint himself with peyote rituals portrayed in this year’s season opener.

But the demands of his work wear on his private life. “This is the first time Chris has seen me vertical in a few weeks,” said his wife, Dori, an elegant former screenwriter who flew up from Los Angeles to squeeze in a little private time with her husband.

Mitch Pileggi, who portrays FBI assistant director Walter Skinner on the series and also appeared at the convention, said Carter’s attention to detail is staggering. “But I won’t call Chris a control freak, because he hates that,” he said.

Carter admits that his attention to detail extends to scanning science journals and UFO magazines for ideas. He recently used a popular UFO theory that suggests that the military conspires with aliens. But he insists that he is a skeptic by nature and has little interest in making a statement about little green men or bigger G-men.

“All I want to do is take people on a roller-coaster ride each week and scare the pants off them.”