|Posted by carpechakram on February 8, 2012 at 2:20 PM||comments (3)|
The following is my breakdown of most liberal to least liberal justices on theSupreme Court.
Ginsberg: very liberal, consistently votes against the conservatives,participates in Xena Marathons, considers FIN a tresvesty, has L Word boxed set, attends Xena Conventions…dressed as Minya -has a Chakram as paper weight – uses scrolls for note taking.
Sotomayor: consistently votes with the progressive bloc, has all Xenaboxed sets, considers Fin a travesty, attends Xena Conventions – dressed as MissAntiphys – “liked” the Xena Movie Page on FB – reads FF instead of legal briefs– wears leathers under her robe.
Kagan: has consistently voted with the liberal bloc since joining thebench, but still fairly unproven , has Xena and Hercules boxed sets (covers allbases), and thinks Salmoneus is a the epitome of a western capitalist.
Breyer: usually votes with the liberal bloc, but has proven centrist inthe past , has Xena, Hercules, and Buffy boxed sets, likes the “three in a bed” from Old Ares Had A Farm (playing it safe)…attendsXena Cons in a dreamscape.
Kennedy: the swing vote; considered a conservative; sometimes votes withthe liberal faction, a real “fence sitter”, edited out all of the “subtext”onhis DVD set at home BUT watches the uncut version in his chambers…does notattend Xena Conventions…but has a summer home in New Zealand…Joxer is his hero.
Alito: consistently conservative – has pictures of Borias and Marcus onhis chamber wall …would like Perdicus asa senate page (hmmm) – considers Gabrielle an “irritating blond) – goes to “TheWaltons” conventions.
Roberts: consistently conservative – was a Boy Scout (‘nuff said) – has picturesof Borias, Marcus, and Ares on his chamber walls – FIN is his favorite episode –voted to cut off trading with Amphipolis and Poteidia. – Herodatus is his hero.
Scalia: extremely conservative – has life sized stand-ups of Borias,Marcus, and Ares in his chambers – is convinced that Lao Ma was really North Korean,circles the “Ides of March” on his calendar – had a part in writing FIN –Remember Nothing is his favorite episode
Thomas: extremely conservative - “XenaWho ?”…Have I ever seen her on Fox News ?”
|Posted by carpechakram on May 5, 2011 at 9:57 PM||comments (1)|
|Posted by carpechakram on December 6, 2010 at 7:57 PM||comments (0)|
86. I do hope you are well and happy? my question is are you planning to use any of the guest stars from xena warrior princess & hercules the legendary journeys in any of your up coming projects for example: Hudson Leick, Alexandra Tydings, Robert Trebor, Paris Jefferson etc.
Probably NOT. Not for any reason that I dont like or respect their work but, currently, most of what I do is youth driven. I cant even find a way to work with Lucy and Renee in a way that is satisfactory to their talents. If there is a role for any of these people, I would jump at the chance to work with them again.
87. In one of the behind the scenes interviews on the DVD for s5, you said that you were disappointed in how s5 turned out. What was it specifically that disappointed you and how would you have changed season 5 in terms of stories, shots, etc.?
I have answered this in part elsewhere. I also answered it in a Bret Rudnick interview at WHOOSH.. see below
 You know what? Nobody was thinking. Nobody loved the show. And it takes everybody loving the show to make it happen, every single aspect. I lost an entire crew to Lord Of The Rings (Peter Jackson, 2001). My wife was totally distraught, in that people that she thought were her friends were leaving her in the middle of all this. That had a big impact. Steve [Sears] left and R.J. [Stewart] went over to Cleo [Cleopatra 2525 (TV, 2000-2001)].
 When people leave, their heart isn't in those last couple of scripts and I got some awful scripts. I'm not afraid to say this because Steve took his name off THEM BONES THEM BONES (95/505). Alex [Kurtzman] and Bob [Orci] gave it a little heart in the third and fourth act but it still didn't make much sense.
 The two China episodes [PURITY (96/506) and BACK IN THE BOTTLE (97/507)] were an absolute disaster. I kept on that chalkboard behind you, until I recently erased it, the whole reason for Xena's conflict in China. That was about how, as a pregnant mother, could she take 100,000 lives in order to save the lives of a few, but that whole concept got dropped out of the show. Alex and Bob added in Ming T'ien to give it some semblance of order but scriptwise, those were disasters because nobody was running the show. I had Cleo, Jack [Jack Of All Trades (TV, 2000), and a baby at the time.
 Alex and Bob watched all of Season Four and said we had shortchanged Xena in Season Four. Season Four was all about Gabrielle and her quest. We wanted to take the show back to Xena and her dramatic thing. They didn't realize that you can only go so far with an actress who's only able to be on set for seven or eight hours a day, and that's without makeup and transport to and from, so that's an eleven hour day as it is. The big dramatic things for Xena got pared back a little bit. It was hard on everybody.
 I still think some of SEEDS OF FAITH (99/509) is a great episode. It had one of the strongest scenes we've ever had with side characters, between Eli and Callisto. I liked that a lot. I liked GOD FEARING CHILD (102/512) and I liked AMPHIPOLIS UNDER SIEGE (104/514). I really shot myself in the foot with those two Amazon episodes, KINDRED SPIRITS (107/517) and LIFEBLOOD (106/516).
This is only some of the season 5 issues. We also tried new things -- a new musical and an Esther Williams swim episode. It was hard.
88.. According to FIN2, Xena is dead and Gabrielle is the warrior with the chakram. If you had a chance to do a movie/miniseries/TV show, would Xena stay dead and Gabrielle still travel the world fighting for the greater good or would you lead Gabrielle in a whole new direction?
Ok, this is a BIG IF and NOTHING is in the works. O
f course, Xena would need to be in whatever happened. You couldnt do a Xena show without Lucy. Thus, the real question is, how do you deal with Xena being Dead? Gabrielle gets her brought back to life? The show takes place 100 years in their future (180 AD/CE). The show takes place at an earlier time prior to Eve being born.
Then you would want to make it so that there are complications. Gabrielle can bring Xena back to life but only if she gives up her own life or Xena comes back but is not a warrior or evil but as a farm wife. (also see other comments on this same question)
89. In an interview, Lucy said that at the beginning of the series, ou asked the studio about making Xena gay and the studio said no. IS that true? Is that the reason subtext came about?
No, we never asked for them to be gay. The studio was very concerned at the start that the women be perceived as gay. They reshuffled the opening title sequence so that the images did not play like Gabrielle and Xena were lovers. Truthfully, at that time, the staff had no idea about subtext. Nor had we any thought of making the characters lovers or soulmates. We had assumed that both the women were straight. Xena had male lovers and Gabrielle left a man to go on the road.
It was really only in ALTARED STATES that we visually pushed the boundaries and planted the seed that Gabrielle was hot for Xena. We also added, for those who might read something into it, the opening fishing sequence. Liz Friedman could not believe that we would have these erotic insinuations in the teaser. I also pushed Chris to write a very specific opening with fishing and innuendo.
The odd thing is if we had a Bible that was followed religiously, the subtext would never have evolved. The characters would have been fixed in a time and place that left little room for growth.
90. There are many arguments that still divide the fandom. No I'm not talking subtexter/maintexter vs shipper vs who cares.
I'm talking about Hope. Specifically, some fans feel that Xena wanted to kill Hope as a baby (in front of Gabrielle), yet when her daughter murdered hundreds, if not thousands (including Joxer), she did not bring her to justice, nor could she kill Eve/Livia.
Do you see that being hypocritical? Why or why not? When the story was written, did TPTB discuss the parallels between Hope and Eve/Livia and how the fandom might react? Did TPTB even realize that fans were making parallels between the two characters?
No, No and No.
The problem with Eve was she had to live and go on. Xena lost Solan and we did not want to kill both her kids. That simply was a no no in the writing staff. We committed to Eve living.
When we were dealing with Hope, there was no thought that Xena would ever have a kid on the show. Who would have thought that the producer would knock up the star? Thus Hope was the spawn of Dahak and Evil to the core. Only Gabrielle could not see that. Xena could or certainly deduced It . . . as a hero she had to act.
We once had an internal discussion about Hope and decided that most bad guys made the choice to go bad.
91. How exactly did Xena get the dark chakram from Ares?
You got me there. How??? That was one of the few episodes that we had to reshoot parts of and fix after we had wrapped principal on it. In fact, I think that there were only three episodes in total that we went back while in editing to do a day or two of reshooting. I cant remember.
92. Why was the fact that Eve is an amazon princess never brought up?
You might make me break out an episode to doublecheck that. It may have been mentioned in Path of Vengeance. I am not sure though. I love the fight and the goodbye to Eve at the end of that episode. I love the Xena moment saying a final goodbye to her daughter. I do not know why we never mentioned that. You would have thought we would have used the Amazon Princess connection in GURKHAN. I seem to faintly rememeber that we did discuss it and may have shot it but lots of things are left on the editing room floor. We routinely had to cut ten minutes of shot and edited material to fit into the time slot.
93. What's your favorite season and episode of Xena? What about least favorite?
Favorite Season 6 . . . it had the least bombs. We set out to make a season that had limited serialization. The stories stood alone and yet were connected. I never had a problem with the overtly sexual Xena. It was a card we didnt play for a long, long time and then we did play it.
I also really like season 3. Thought that it had some excellent episodes and I liked the growth in the series storytelling. I know that many think that the series went off the tracks then or even earlier with Destiny, but we had to evolve the series or it would have died from staleness.
As for favorite eps -- I go through phases. Overall episodes, one of the musicals, WARRIOR PRINCESS,TRAMP or some of the comedies like Old Ares Had a Farm. For awhile, I really liked Anthony and Cleo, The Quest and The Way. I went through a period where all of TJ Scotts episodes and then all of Michael Hursts episodes seemed golden to me.
There are also parts of episodes that I really love. I loved parts of the Sin Trades, When Fates Collide and IDES. I love the ending of Many Happy Returns. It makes me teary-eyed every time. I love the end of Tale of Two Muses.
As far as my least favorite. It falls into two categories. Those that were major failures when the expectations were really high and those that were stillborn in the script phase. PURITY and BACK IN THE BOTTLE were huge disappointments. I had high expectations. Episodes like THE PLAYS THE THING and VANISHING ACT were turds from the word go. The clock ran out of time and we had to shoot before we ever got close to what the episodes needed to be. Somewhere else in this I mention those episodes that I didnt like and would want back. But, alas, life goes on.
94. Are you proud of AFIN?
YES! It was hard work. It brings a tear to my eye every time Xena and Gabrielle talk at the end about her need to die. There are many cool moments.
Equally, I hide my head at some of the bad choices I and others made in the episodes realization. The early fight to get Akime and all the stuff on the boat was perfunctory and heartless
95. Are you looking for any writers for any upcoming film projects you may have in mind?
Always, but there is a strike and feature writing is a chumps game like tv directing.
96. Im a huge fan of the late Kevin Smith, what was he like to work with and do you think ares and xena should of got together, I think they should of lol. Take care Rob
Denise, I was and am a huge Kevin Smith fan. He was such a treat to work with. Such a pro. And always on no matter what his schedule. He would often come to work with three or four hours sleep, but that was never an issue. He would pump sand bags to build his biceps and joke endlessly. Any visiting cast member will confirm how easy and approachable he was.
Should they have gotten together? Well, he did meaner and more awful things to her than she ever did to Gabrielle, so I would say that it wouldnt have been a relationship that encouraged growth and love.
And, ultimately, if Xena had chosen Ares where would the series be????
97. Lucy, Renee and Ted made such of great comedy trio, what would your thoughts be about teaming them up again in some kind of sitcom?
In a sit com it would be impossible. No network would see them as a reason to make a sit com and we would never be able to hold them in place as the cast. In fact, I could never get a sit com made. I am a horror monger and the maker of some crappy syndicated shows that were a blip on the Hollywood radar. As John Schulian recently said to me, HERCULES killed his career. Doing syndicated TV is looked at as the porno of tv. Real writers/network executives dont take it seriously at all. Thus we are some bastard show.
But they are great comic talents. That is a little secret only we know.
I had a real problem with Renee not being the comic lead in her movie. She is so funny, but never was given the lead and a chance to shine.
Thanks so much for your willingness to share some insight with your fans!
98. There have been a thousand rumors over the years which you can put to rest right now if you choose. Writers, directors and actors come and go on episodic tv, and it seems like you had very good fortune to keep many of the same ones for a fairly long time. Were there ever any staffers (or cast members) that left because of any conflict or difference of opinion on thematic content of the show, and/or because of audience perceptions of their work?
Lucy didnt get along with one director but he didnt come back because he went on to other things.
What were the rumors?
99. You and others have said that the Are they or arent they question was not what the show was about, and that you wanted to keep it ambiguous and open to anyones imagination. Yet there remain lingering rumors that behind closed doors, it was decided at some point that yes X and G were lovers, but that this should not be openly portrayed because of issues with the studio execs, advertisers, segments of the audience, etc. Was it a dont ask, dont tell decision, or do you still feel that the question was never answered, and still open to individual interpretation?
For the writers and for Lucy and Renee, it was not important to us to sexually define the characters. I understand for fans why this is important. Thus we tried to give everyone enough of what they wanted or needed to help the characters bring empowerment into their own life.
100. Question: How hard was it to choose which actors/actresses filled each of the different characters? IE: Alexandra Tydings as Aphrodite, Paris Jefferson as Athena, Ted Rami as Joxer, Kevin Smith as Ares, etc.
Very, very easy. Each of these people were that character immediately upon entering the room. When Hudson entered the room and forced us all to shake hands against our desire we nknew we found the right person. We wanted to stop then but had to look at all the actresses who showed up that day. All and all we pretty much knew when we got the right person in the role. Equally, we also knew when we settled for someone who just filled the shoes and not the role.
102. Many fans feel strongly that the show was enriched by the ladies storylines with male characters.
Lucy and Renees scenes with actors such as Kevin Smith, Marton Csokas, Ted Raimi, Scott Garrison, Bruce Campbell, Karl Urban, Tim Thomerson, Tim Omundson (and so on!)
were such an integral part of what made XWP so endlessly fascinating, genuinely humorous, genuinely erotic, and genuinely touching.
Convention Q&As and interviews have, to date, leaned heavily on the actresses dynamic with each other and use of subtext, so much so that there seems to be no tread left - while a relatively untapped avenue of great interest has yet to be discussed in detail. Therefore wed like to encourage guests to focus in future talks on developing those worthwhile, fond storylines and working with those fine actors. Celebrate the fellas! May we ask you to pass that along?
We wrote guys, hunks and alike into the XENA world because they brought just what you pointed out. I do take some pride in discovering so many NZ guys, and, correctly, finding the right LA mix.
Kevin Smith was so hot and such a star!!! It is a shame, but also a reminder that life is fragile and precious.
103 Was Gabrielle's Blood Innocence theme in part a conscious metaphor for sexual innocence?
No, it was blood innocence. We assumed that Gabrielle lost her virginity to Perdicus or some village fella long ago. People tend to forget this, but she did have a wedding night.
104. Was the Soulmate theme in part a device consciously used to create and/or explain the level of devotion, commitment and unique intimacy we otherwise associate with Lovers?
Yes, devotion and commitment, and I dont know about intimacy. If you watch recent day male comedies (like Wedding Crashers), guys seem to be soulmates even though they are not gay. The lovers is but a part of that. One can be soulmates without being lovers. But, as I point out elsewhere, Xena was comfortable rubbing/washing Gabrielles feet. That implies more than just devotion..
105. If you had to pick one, would you say FIN was a Happy or Tragic ending for the character Xena? Why? Same question for Gabrielle.
The definitions are too narrow, but I guess Gabrielle and Xena would have been said to have a tragic ending at the end of FIN. Our culture portrays the end of life as tragic by its very nature. But King Lear was true tragedy and Xena ended more hopeful than Lear. Gabrielles end to that chapter was more tragic as Xena got the redemption she sought. As Marie Osmond said, Tragedy + Time = Comedy. Thus, what came next for Gabrielle was so glorious only Xena could have known that her exit would open the door for Gabrielles ascendancy.
As this was fiction, Gabrielle can do anything that could be conceived of. The Universe was her oyster. What the staff and I loved about XENA was that we could do anything as long as we honored the format. We took a simple little premise of two women on the road in Ancient Times and ran historical encounters, mythological encounters, religious encounters, theological paradigms and debates. We investigated reincarnation, the Tarot, Chakra points, Shamanism, quantum forces. We went to Heaven and Hell, seduced Lucifer into taking his mantle in Hell, and still left room for comedy. The soul of the show was a heroic journey with heart, humility and humor. As part of the Xenaverse, whatever Gabrielle encountered after FINS had all these qualities mixed with kickass action.
Thus in a long-winded way, the end of FINS was but another door opening to all these possibilities. There was no King Lear ending to this story. But one can take away what they want.
106. Answering as a Story Teller/Creative Artist - In an 'ideal world' with no outside influences or constraints, would you have liked to have made the Xena/Gabrielle romantic relationship completely 'out' by the end? I'm getting at what was the truth of the characters to you by the end, rather than any of the other stuff.
No, we wouldnt have. I might have, but not out of any reason than to please the vocal fans. RJ would have battled me on that issue and prevailed. To his great credit, he did not want to alienate those people who were Ares/Xena fans or his grandkids who NEVER saw the subtext.
No one should be alone in the world and everyone should have someone like a Xena or Gabrielle as their friend/lover/wife/husband/partner/companion -- whether that person is of the same sex or not is unimportant. I would say that they were lovers, but after FIN, Gabrielle could have fallen for a guy or another woman. Or she could have remained celibate.
They had not isolated themselves from the other sex. They had, in fact, found that they preferred each others company more than any one elses. Thus, this was not an exclusionary relationship because they did not like the opposite sex. Xena and Gabrielle both had known men and neither ever said that they didnt enjoy male companionship. They found that they were as a unit a whole.
107. A major theme of the show was Redemption - no-one is beyond redemption no matter who they are or what they did in their past. Do you think you missed an opportunity to explore that more with the character of Hope? And how does she fit in with that ethos?
Hopes sole function was to create a
wedge between Xena and Gabrielle. She was one note. That was perhaps a shortcoming by the writers, but her arc was to attack Gabrielles heart and then trap her into doing something that would hurt Xena. We could have used Hope to explore redemption and forgiveness in greater detail, but we didnt. Really Callisto filled the no one is beyond redemption role much better than Hope. Hope was inhuman. The really bad part of half god.
108. Do you think Gabrielle would have become a Warrior if she had never met Xena?
No, Gabrielle would have died trying to stand up against some warlord or speaking the truth at some inappropriate moment. There was a tragic story a few years ago of a young American woman who was killed in Palestine by Israeli bulldozers razing a Palestinian home. She was protesting and staked her ground. When I heard that on the news I thought of Gabrielle.
A Land In Turmoil cried out for . . . Gabrielle would have fought the turmoil. She just didnt have the skills.
109. How do you see Gabrielle's future after FIN?
I believe that she went back to the Amazons. She took the Amazon mantle that she had dodged for so long -- running them. She built a strong tribe and stopped the stupid petty stuff that plagued the Amazons like bad dancing and howling at the moon. She never took another lover. That she got better with a chakram than Xena ever was. With her weapons proficiency, she eliminated the enemies of the Amazons and later in life became a dedicated public servant and did good in the way that she now could as a powerful, intelligent, experienced woman.
I think that she grew from the death of Xena and the birth of Gabrielle the Warrior Princess in ways that justified the death and thus separation from Xena. She never would have truly been able to shine as brightly while standing in Xenas shadow.
Or she went to the British Isles to seek druid help and discovered a land of faeries and little people. There, seated on her throne like a Titania figure as the leader of the faerie realm, was a character that looked every bit like Xena. Yes, right down to the scar on her breast. Gabrielle now was faced with the conflicted position of does she find a way to make this person big and fit the role of Xena (for certainly the Druids needed a hero to help some issue of the moment) or does she make herself into a faerie and become Xenas #1 friend and live in this benign paradise or ????
Once again the adventure continues.
110. What's the difference between a Redeemed Xena who's finished atoning and found peace, and any other War Criminal who has served their sentence?
NONE!!! That is the beauty of XENA. She would have been found guilty at Nuremburg and hung. However, we got to show that the death penalty is not always the answer.
Truly, RJ, Steve and I laughed about this all the time. She was a war criminal!! She did horrible things and yet people rooted for her. We spun her back story more devious as time went on so that we could have her life time arc greater. And we liked that crazy Evil Xena. Or at least I did. We also loved that people fell in love with this person who from scene one in the pilot had a bad past.
111. It seems like XWP didn't really attempt to construct a consistent, linear narrative for the Xena/Gabrielle romance, more that it evolved organically. And you were happy to portray them as lovers in one episode, and 'just friends' in the next, as suited the particular story you were telling at the time. In effect, having two parallel versions of their relationship running along side by side. Is this correct? And if so, did that change by the end, as Season 6 seems much more weighted towards the Lovers version?
You are right . . . the story dictated how the relationship unfolded in that episode. To his credit, RJ never pandered to what the people in chat rooms wrote, wanted, or thought. I was not as strong. However, I think that story took precedence in the process. What worked for the story. In fact, story (and the story within the commercial breaks) at times took precedence over character.
By season 6 . . . well only the true fans were left and Xena and Gab had traveled for 6 years together. They eventually got naked when they went to bed. When I saw Xena washing Gabrielles foot in LEGACY (it was not scripted), I thought Lucy and Renee had outed themselves to some degree. It suggested that they were having sex or maybe that is just me. I know PULP FICTION debated what a foot rub meant. I guess I sided with throwing the guy out the window.
I want to thank Lucy, Renee, Kevin, Michael, and all of the cast for bringing to life the stories that often didnt quite hang together. There is also a person that is never given proper due, Eric Gruendemann. Eric supervised the series on the ground in NZ. He was responsible not just for production and budget but for fixing stories that arrived on his desk broken. He worked through the details of how, where, and why with every director. He worked with them on answering questions and fixing motivations and building action set pieces where the script said a fight. He was at every read-through with the cast working until late at night fixing scenes that directors and actors (Lucy and Renee included) didnt understand or worse really hated. He set the friendly tone that visiting actors, directors and executives never experienced on any other production. Lastly, amongst his many unsung talents, was costuming and production design. He, in many ways, established the look of the series. Although he is seldom mentioned, his presence is felt in really every frame. His initials were the sign off on every set and costume choice on all the shows shot in NZ by Renaissance Pictures. Truly someone who helped make Hercules and Xena (also Cleo and Jack) a success.
Then there is my dear friend Chloe but that is a story for another chapter of my life.
Lastly but certainly not leastly, I want to thank fandom for keeping this silly fantasy action show alive in pop culture and for recognizing that sometimes there were dramatic and comic moments that transcended simple battle cries and fights. Yes, we could have done it without you, but ultimately we did it for you.
|Posted by carpechakram on December 6, 2010 at 12:42 AM||comments (2)|
Dear Fans of the show, what fun it is to have these questions asked and have people still care. To see all of the old handlesbrings back fond memories. This period of my life from 1994 to 2001 was thus far the most creatively satisfying time anyone could hope to experience. I knew atthe time that what was happening was special. I enjoyed it as much as I could and knew that it would one day end. Thus I enjoy looking back upon Xena. I knowthat there is no going back but, like Star Trek, there is still something left in the franchise and the characters that merits at least continued support andhope that somehow something will arise from the ashes I left behind.
1. Lucy spoke about a project after Battlestar Galactica with you. Is it going to be the musical she talked about, some time ago or is it something else?
I sure would still like to do a musical with Lucy. It has lost some momentum as of late. Lucy doesnt love the script and that is a problem. My Buddy, Mark Beesley, who wrote it, loves the script. He is thinking about the rewrite to try to address Lucys problems. Then there is the financial issue.
I had this tv project at Oxygen that was called Escape from Graphic City but through the development process became JUMP. An entirely different project. Oxygen has just been sold (just as I turned in the draft) and in a couple of months I will know if they are interested in that.
Also the original Graphic City didnt work as a series. It was a movie idea. It is still a CRAZY idea and I recently got a piece of inspiration that might let me fix it.
2. Q.: Is any of the next Ghost House projects going to have you as the director?
No, I doubt it. At least for the time being. I like directing and if I did produce something with Lucy and Renee I would want to direct that!
3. Q.: In most TV shows / series I've seen, none of the characters are so well developed as Gabrielle was in X:WP. Do you think it's the public who doesn't want changes or it's just the producers not taking risks?
You (like many who have written ) must be a Gab Fan!!! Certainly there have been other characters on tv who have changed and grown. It is harder for the lead like a Xena to change as the audience wants that consistency.
Producers do want to take risks. They want to please the audience, break new ground, and get ratings. As long as they do not alienate the audience, the studio lets them take some risks. Later I touch on this in detail.
As far as Gabrielles growth, we are glad that she grew. Now, with hindsight, maybe the series was about her growth. Thanks Renee for bringing this character to life!
4. Q. From Xena to 30 Days of Night: how different is it now to film in New Zealand? Has it become easier, or more expensive, for instance?
NZ has become more expensive and better trained. There are more crews. The people that started on Herc in the early days are now 15 years older. The next time I work in NZ I am going to try using people that I have not worked with before. Give the new younger folks a try.
5. Question: Do you plan to be at the helm of a new tv show? If yes, what type would it be (horror? action? fantasy?...) ?
I am desperate to do a Fantasy TV show. This darn writers strike put a crimp in my plans. I have a script that Lucy and I love that we wanted to do at Oxygen. It got stalled with the sale of Oxygen to NBC and now with the strike. It is a what if modern-day show about jumping to all the lives you could have led if you had made different decisions in your life. In the coming months I will have news in this arena.
I have also been working with Sam on bringing a new fantasy show to Tribune. That will be either a go or a no in the coming days.
6. Any regrets about how Xena ended? And how long do you feel as a fan/director/producer of a series (any series) is the optimum number of seasons, assuming the studio agrees? Thanks!
The optimum number of seasons is one of the how long is a piece of string? questions. The usual speech about going out on top etc., is a bunch of hooey.
As far as how things ended. Well, I failed as producer (on Hercules and on Xena) in that things ended and I didnt want them to end. I thought the end of the series was the lead into something new with Xena. Elsewhere I talk about the possible TV movies. What I should have done at the end of XENA was over any objections by Lucy, Renee and anyone else, secured some sort of tv commitment for a mini series or something when it was on the table. Then if the actresses didnt want to do it, I could have pulled out. Unfortunately, based on Lucys and Renees sentiment at the time, I called and said NO to the tv movie offer when I should have said Yes. Unfortunately, I was drinking my own Kool Aid at that time. I failed Producing 101---- Never EVER turn a Green light into a Red Light.
I have NO regrets with killing Xena at the end of FIN. I do have other issues with those episodes. I should have reigned in some of the performances and fixed some of the lame script moments. It would have been nice to see what Gabrielle warrior princess was capable of going forward. Like having an episode after FINs which shows the ongoing dynamics. Kind of like Dj Vu was at the end of season IV after IDES. I actually do not think people would have had a problem if Gabrielle died with Xena at the end of FIN or knew that Gabrielle was not traumatized. It is the reality of Gabrielle having to go on alone that people found objectionable.
For those who really cared about Gabrielles journey and growth they know that Xenas death was not a tragedy but a step in life. For those who only cared about them as lovers, Xenas death was the ultimate tragedy.
7. What was your best memory of making Evil Dead with Sam Raimi?
Poking Bruce Campbell with sharp sticks in his sprained ankle; eating the cooks, David Goodmans, famous chili and waking up on the floor 10 hours later; drinking mountain Dew; smoking Marlboro lights and eating Moon Pies as a lifestyle.
It was actually a learning process. In the year of post in NYC we hung around with Joel and Ethan Coen and Barry Sonnenfeld. Ate Friday nights at the Oyster Bar in Grand Central, and generally gained a bunch of good memories. Bruce Campbells book IF CHINS COULD KILL really covers this era and its high and low points.
8. Question: Do you have any plans or foresee any future plans to bring the unique chemistry of Lucy & Rene together again on the big or small screen in a non-Xena project?
NOTHING WOULD MAKE ME HAPPIER!!!!!!!!!!!! I am but one person
9. Question(s): At the NJ Xena con in June, you said that Universal had offered a small budget for a Xena movie which was not enough to produce the film you'd like to do. Are there any other sources of financing that could be explored to supplement Universal's offered budget so a Xena movie could be produced for TV, theaters or direct to DVD? Are there any ways that fans could help with financing such as how we helped Rene with Diamonds & Guns?
Ultimately the home video/dvd people say that the franchise is worthless to them or not worth the effort and the promotional cost. The reason they say this is a long boring story but Panzer Davis Corp who licensed the video and dvds from Universal/Studios USA during the turmoil of the sale of the tv division in the late 90s are on the surface crooks. They owe Lucy, Renee, and I money for our commentaries and are years in arrears. They have not reported sales to us for 2006. They have done a bad job marketing the dvds and, as such, the units sold are lower than Universal Home Entertainment is willing to bother with. Panzer Davis says or reports that only 225,000 sets were sold (although) I think this is rubbish. I believe that more sets were sold but, equally, I do not see it for sale in any chain stores. The problem is that they are not a distributor but a merchandising company.
As far as fans helping to finance something, that is a bad idea. I would never take their money if I wouldnt use my own first. There really isnt a deal to be done. The rights are a mishmash and complicated. The real cost to do something is a lot. If an episode was 1.25M 10 years ago when the kiwi dollar was at $.55 ( it is now at $.78), a two-hour movie would easily be 3.5M at a minimum. Something like THE DEBTS, SIN TRADES OR FIN would easily be 6M or more.
Something tells me that a Renee and Lucy movie that hinted of XENA would work for the 200,000 people who bought the season box sets. By studio calculations (200,000 x $9.00 per dvd ) that would justify a budget of around 1.8M with tv as the potential profit center. That isnt much money.
10. Question: What are your thoughts about the Xena comics? Are the comics true to how you see the characters?
Do you as the original creator of the characters and TV series get any say or input on how the comics develop or portray the characters from the TV series?
I hate the comics and dont even glance at them. The people who publish them have done the series a disservice. They also have the Army of Darkness comics and Sam, Bruce and I feel that they have overstepped the boundaries with that franchise. We have nothing to do with the publishers or the content. You would think they might have called and asked about doing business together. But they just license the properties from Universal and then do as they please.
11. Question: I recently saw a story about Hollywood's latest successful trend to bring comic books and graphic novels to the big screen like Sam's Spiderman. Do you think this trend would pique Universal's interest in bringing Xena to the big or small screen as a property that went from a TV series to a comic book to a movie? Would you want a Xena movie to happen that way or is the comic book version too different from your vision of Xena and Gabrielle?
If the comic people could help get a movie made great, but they cant.
12. Question: Considering the rapidly changing technology and the current trends in the entertainment industry, do you feel that the future of films is more in home entertainment like direct to DVD than the commercial movie theaters?
Great question. There will always be a BIG movie that creates a group experience. You want to see SUPERBAD or 300 with a big group of people. Equally there are more and more niche movies that do not deserve or command the 25M plus needed to launch a movie to the general audience. Thus it seems like home entertainment is a growth industry. I believe that traditional TV is a dinosaur. Kids play games or watch Youtube. The dvd market is shrinking. Too much crap out there. Thus something is changing. My fear is that the movie business will become like the music business and will be file sharing and really then a business of contraction.
This all says that I dont know anything about what is happening!!
13. Question: At the NJ Xena convention in June, you said that Universal made a mistake in how they marketed Xena the series. What do you think they should have done differently?
If I said that, I misspoke or was misunderstood. Universal as a corporate entity was in turmoil in the mid to late 90s. Edgar Bronfman of/and Seagrams bought the company and mismanaged the assets. They starred Kevin Sorbo as KULL. Well, the tv division was spending huge money promoting Sorbo as HERCULES and the feature people were creating confusion by marketing him as KULL. They were confusing their own brands.
Then Barry Diller bought the TV division of Universal. However, he didnt want to grow the business. He fought with Universal and licensed (or allowed) the home video/dvd on Herc and Xena to be licensed to Panzer Davis. There was no Sid Sheinberg (one time head of Universal) who looked after the asset for the corporation. It was just divisions looking out for themselves. This problem continues today. Even though Diller sold the entity back to Universal and made a Billion dollars for adding no value, there is no one in the NBC/GE Corp who looks at the franchise from a big picture overview.
A movie or miniseries or a dvd series would freshen up the library on the 134 episodes they have that continue to play around the world. There just isnt a division that sees a huge profit center from doing a one off. However, from a corporate overall strategy, freshening up the series with new material would increase the value of the assets they already have.
14. What did you originally plan to do with a degree in economics?
I have no idea. I took a hard economics class in college that had 1100 students in it and was taught on tv. I got the second highest grade in that class and the teacher told me to go into economics so I did. I was studying Natural Resource Economics when I left school -- which was the study of how to manage the states resources to maximize the public good.
15. You once said in an interview that you respected Sam in college because he was a "wise ass", as are youhow so?
I dont remember saying this. I was always impressed with Sams creativity and he was an impish wise ass in some peoples eyes but I was never a wise ass. I was somber.
16. Your first film with Sam and Ivan was "The Happy Valley Kid" do you still have a copy of it?
I have a -inch tape and a vhs copy in NZ. The only print was destroyed (all the sprocket holes shredded in the projector) in April of 1979 when we were showing the movie to our friend, John Cameron, at NYU. That was the night that the US helicopters crashed while trying to go into Iran and get the hostages.
Sam still has the film in a bag and says that he is going to restore it one day. Peter Jackson has a special machine in NZ that will transfer super eight with bad sprockets to digital. It is the only machine like this in the world. I need to convince Sam to preserve the Happy Valley Kid.
17. Sam had sort of lost his nerve/drive after the failure of your second movie "Its Murder", but you wouldnt let it diewhy?
Not so. Sam made ITS MURDER and I helped do the post production sound. I also helped market and exhibit it (I was the ticket seller and taker). It bombed in college and was a good lesson, but it really spurred us on to making a feature after that. We thought we understood why it bombed and could use that knowledge. I have never seen Sam lose his nerve.
18. Renaissance was created/started with a loan from Sams father, approximately how much was that? Could someone do what the three of you did with the same amount to money today?
Not so. Renaissance Pictures LTD was started as a limited partnership to raise money for Evil Dead aka Book of the Dead. Sams parents never invested. The first in kind investment was the lawyer who did all the legal work for a percent of the returns. He has done very well and was really our savior and, ultimately, our biggest investor.
19. Where did Evil Dead first play?
I believe the first screening was at the Redford Theater in Redford, Michigan at the premiere on Oct 15 (?) 1981. Ethan Coen flew from NYC to Detroit with the last reel just prior to the screening. As I recall, he just made it. We had Michigans largest pipe organ (which rose from the basement) play Toccata and Fugue in D Minor prior to the movie starting. Thought it was the coolest thing I had ever seen.
21. How did it come to the attention of Stephen King?
Our overseas sales agent, Irvin Shapiro, (who changed the title from Book of the Dead to Evil Dead) was, at that time, the grandfather of the Cannes festival. He was representing Creepshow which Romero directed and Stephen King wrote. King saw Evil Dead in Cannes in 1982. Sam had gone with Irvin Shapiro and the movie in 1982.
I went in 1983 to try to raise money for Crimewave (originally called RELENTLESS.) It was crazy and fun. There were topless girls and fancy wines. Paul Bartel (Eating Raoul) took us to some fancy dinner somewhere that only had five tables and people brought their dogs into the restaurant and they made them dinner also. I read a book, Azteca, while there and Loved it.
22. Have you worked with De Laurentiis since Evil Dead 2?
We worked together (or for him) on Army of Darkness. He got into a fight with Universal, who distributed it domestically, over the Hannibal Lecter character from Manhunter. It delayed the movie being released and finished for 2 years. (However, this is a long story about being a pawn in a battle between two bigwigs.)
23. What is the fascination with TelevisionDo you still have it or has the industry changed so much it lost some of its appeal?
I still like the character study that TV provides. I love that there is a black hole each week that needs to be plugged.
24. Do you miss first run syndication?
Absolutely. Tribune making bad shows ultimately killed that market. They now know it, but that cant change what happened. They have a new owner and may find a way back into the barter first-run action hour business . . . or they may not. However, all the pretenders and copycat shows also diluted the market place.
25. Do you think genres cable channels give the same outlets that syndication use to?
There is NO fantasy action channel. Sci Fi is all about sci fi and not fantasy.
26. The creation of the CW has left many stations in the US with a lot of open time to fill. Could this help a possible rebirth of syndicated programming?
Stations now called My Network tried those lame soap operas and failed. They have no money for programming. We have tried to talk to them about fantasy programming but they do not have the budgets. (They are also locked into a bad deal with the local station groups on the ad barter split but that is another story.)
27. You seem like a research guyHow much research do you do on the subject matter before taking on a projectTelevision or Film ?
Less now, but when we entered the movie business, I did a lot of research on movies and pushed Sam and Bruce to do a horror movie first.
I looked at the research we got on Hercules and Xena and tried to apply it meaningfully, but it is hard and it is hindsight. I would never have done a two-parter or even a three-parter if I had the advance knowledge of research. Then again, we would all have missed out on some great episodes.
However, there is a hindsight story I have that is relevant now. When we first were shown 30 Days Of Night as a comic, I said that my research of Herc and Xena ratings showed that people who watched syndicated tv did not like episodes set in the cold as they repeat poorly. I said tropical locations are sexier and more user friendly. I believe that 30 Days of Night was harmed by peoples aversion to the cold.
I think that the audience for Horror and syndication is similar. They see the cold as a painful experience.
28. How do you go about picking talentActors, Directors, Writers, etc?
Each field is picked differently. Ideally, actors read the material/audition. However, sometimes there is a type in mind. Then you may ask the person to come in. Tawny Kitaen came in to read for the part Renee OConnor played in DARKMAN 3. However, upon seeing her, I said she is Hercules wife and asked her if she would go to NZ.
We read writers material and meet to discuss their views.
Directors you watch their reels. Then you meet to discuss the material.
29. Do you think film schools truly prepare kids for the industry?
It gives people a peer group that they go into the industry with as buds or associates. Then these people disperse into the various fields. Their paths then cross as they move up or through the industry. Thus there is a group that have connections. But, beyond that, film school is not the panacea to being director or writer.
The technical information can be learned on line or from books. Watching movies is informative.
The really hard part of the tv film business is the writing and directing which involves storytelling. I believe that a degree in liberal arts or its modern-day equivalent is a great way to understand humans, history, storytelling and how to make an audience feel something. This is experience and a gift. This, combined with a study of cinema history, will certainly provide the understanding of the art form.
30. Do they teach the business side that young artist will need to know to be successful in an age of so much production done outside of the US?
NO, but this is not really that important to the project. Crews are the same the world over.
31. What is the ratio expectationbudget vs. box office to make a film successful to a studio spread sheet?
This is a tough question to answer simply. There are too many variables. In fact, this is so complicated that studios have departments that just analyze this question. With a studio movie that goes out wide (2000 prints or more) there is 25M to 40M in prints and advertising (called P&A) just for the domestic market. The P&A costs have a different impact on recoupment on a movie with a 10M budget and a 100M budget. Here is a rough breakdown domestically and internationally of what happens.
BUDGET 50 M
Ad expenditure world wide 70M
Total sunk cost into project 120M
BO domestically 60M
Theaters take 50% (30)
Return to distributor domestically 30M
International BO 60M
Theater take 60% (36M)
Return to distributor is 24M
Thus after the theatrical run the distributor is (120 less 54M) or 66M in the hole. The movie has taken in 120M in Box office receipts.
Then there is dvd, pay per view, pay tv and free tv.
DVD would roughly be 7 to 9M units @ approx 8 dollars profit per = 64M
Pay per view approx 10% of Box office = 12M
Pay TV approx 15 to 20% of Box Office = 20M
Free TV approx 10 to 15 % of Box Office = 16M
Total is 112M. There is still a 66M deficit thus the profit is 46M over many years.
However, because the ad commitment is so huge to open a movie and all the ancillaries are based on Box office performance, if the movie opens poorly, it is easy to lose 46M. Run this formula at 40M domestic and 40M for 80M in total BO. And only 6 to 7M units on dvd and it works out as a wash or close to it. This is without the cost of money, the internal charges within the studio for distribution fees, or personal cost or gross players, deferred cost,etc.
THIS IS JUST A ROUGH ROUGH EXAMPLE AND NOT AN ACTUAL STUDIO MODEL!!!!
32. Do you find that with success comes the urge to take the safe route to remain successful? If so, how do you try and over come that?
No, with success comes the feeling that you cant fail . . . then comes the fall. Really, I cant think of many people in the business who took it safe after success. Was FIREFLY safe? Was MILLENNIUM safe? Was HEROES safe? Yes, another Law and Order or CSI is safe, but the creative driving people I follow or consider cutting edge never seem to play it safe.
33. Most of the press concerning Ghost House Pictures says "Ghost House is a production label able to self-finance, develop, package, and produce broad appeal theatrical films", why is this so important?
We own the negatives. Usually the studios own the negatives and you hope for a fair accounting for your split of profits. We are building our own library or catalogue for the future. Like the Hammer Horror Library. This will then be our retirement fund or annuity.
34. Do you want your kids to go into the business? Daisy has already moved in that directionwhat advice have you given her?
This is a hard business and if the sirens call is all you hear it is a curse you must follow. Lacking that sirens call I would not recommend going into the film or tv business.
35. Ghost House Televisionwhat is in its future?
I do not know as of this juncture. There is a strike on. But there might be tv in the next two years. Too early to say. There might be a tv show with Sam and Josh Donen based on a series of fantasy novels, but that is a long shot.
36. What can you tell us about Graphic City Limits?
I can only say that it was changed into something totally different. If I go back to what it was, it would change again. Mark Beesley calls it my rebellion against the Hero. The character makes no decisions for 2/3 and is a total victim and then realizes that she is not making a single decision.
I am a long way from having something that has any value. What I originally wrote was a purge of XENA.
37. Your projects, sets, offices, and productions in general, are not considered the Hollywood norm in a positive way. Why do you think that is?
Hmmm? I dont know.
38. Did you ever think that you would be sitting here today with two pop culture icons to your credit, a movie and a television show that people still talk about, write mentions into other projects, have festivals and conventions around.?
NEVER. I read the EXORCIST as a teen and thought that it would be so cool to make that into a movie. I did not have the foggiest idea how one would even do that. But the Universe has a need and I help fill that need with XENA. Funny how things work out.
39. Why was Xena special?
We stumbled upon a great character. That was primary. Put her in a situation as a kick butt female that had not existed on TV before. Then got lucky in casting Lucy and Renee. Surrounded myself with the right people and we jointly had enough creativity to do some cool things that help offset the lame things. Truly lightning in a bottle on all fronts. It really is just that.
40. The creative team behind Xena seems to have had a magic about ithave you ever thought of working on another project with them? RJ, Steve, Liz, etc
Liz turned me down to do an American adaptation of HEX. Turns out we couldnt get the rights, but Liz was out before then. RJ has retired. Steve and I would need someone else as we would not balance each others natural proclivities. The show would need a third leg to balance it.
41. Hercules was stared because Universal needed to create a "wheel", can you explain what that was or is?
I believe that this term, wheel, comes from the mystery wheel Universal TV did back in the 70s with McCloud, McMillan and Wife, Kojack (?), Columbo, and others. However it may pre-date that.
Universal TV sold to the syndicated station groups, of which Tribune was the largest, 24 action movies from top directors. These 24 movies would be called a wheel. There would be 6 spokes on the wheel which where the underlying franchises. HERCULES, TEK WARS, VANISHING SON, MIDNIGHT RUN, SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT, AND ????? Each spoke or franchise was to have 4 movies and was to be overseen by some big director type. Universal then had the right to take two of the spokes to series. Hercules and Vanishing Son were the two franchises (spokes) that went to series. However, Hercules did better in the ratings and very quickly it was decided that Xena would be a better companion piece. Thus, they killed Vanishing Sun and ordered Xena.
42. Why was New Zealand picked to film Hercules and Xena
NZ was picked for Hercules because we needed a pastoral world in what was the Northern Hemispheres winter and the exchange rate was beneficial. XENA rode on Hercules production coattails.
43. Do you ever worry that if you did get backing for a Xena movie the fans might not like what you put together? Will a movie be enough or will they just keep wanting more?
Human nature will always want more. Josh Becker, who I dearly love, says that only a funny comedy would satisfy everyone. He believes that Lucy, Renee, Bruce and Ted are all best as comedians. He is probably right.
44. What have the Evil Dead fans meant to you?
I am always retro cool to some group of teen boys.
45. What have the Xena fans meant to you?
That I am always a target for someones anger and someones love. What they have really meant is that I was involved in something that brought people together in a way that I never intended or could have forseen. It thrust me into a world that I didnt know existed.
46. Is there anything you havent done that you would like topersonally or professionally?
Make a musical with Lucy. Make a XENA or XENAesque project with Lucy and Renee. After seeing Lucys BURN NOTICE, I really think she should do more with guns.
Personally, I want to go to CARNIVAL in Rio!!! I would like to catch a 300 lb yellowfin tuna! I would love to move back to NZ to live with my wife and family.
47. It didn't cross your mind to study film in college at first, but you were drawn into studying it with Sam Raimi's influence.
No, this is not exactly right. Prior to Sam coming to MSU, I took film appreciation classes. We watched a movie every Wed and would do reports and dissect it. This is where I learned about Bergman, Fellini, Rossellini, and all the other European art film makers.
When Sam came to MSU, he brought a camera and the movies he had made and the idea that we could make a movie.
48. What exactly was "it" though, about filmmaking that attracted you to it? What was the primary element that sealed it for you?
The idea that sealed it for me was making the audience feel something.
49. Were there season 7 scripts for XWP on standby in case circumstances changed and you had proceeded with another season instead of a series finale?
No, there were not. I tried at the last minute to get Renee and Lucy to do 4 tv movies. Lucy was kind of game, but, at the time, Renee was pregnant (when I asked her to do the movies she told me she was pregnant). She had no interest in doing any more Gabrielle at that time. As it was, at the end of 6 solid years, Lucy and Renee wanted to hang up their outfits.
Having been in show biz longer, I knew to try to milk something to the very last moment. I just didnt follow through back then.
50. If yes, what were some of the topics involved?
Never got that far, but FINS would have been remembered differently!!!!!
51. What would you have liked to do on Xena that you didn't, or what would you take back and change if you could?
First of all, there were episodes that simply were bad. I look in each season at the train wrecks (Key to the Kingdom, King Con, Back in the Bottle, Purity, King of Assassins, Punch Lines, Takes One to know One, Life Blood, Vanishing Act, Ulysses) and I would love to go back and tell different stories or recraft those to fix what went wrong. Season 1 had a lot of lame stuff in it, but the show was finding its feet. I see those and think of it as amateurish at times. Thus, it would have been great to have found the show earlier. But, that aside, the ones listed above failed as entertainment.
I know that some people hate Married with and Lyre Lyre, but I love those episodes for all the reasons that XENA as a show was great in glimpses. They tried something wild and out there and worked at some level for me. Lyre Lyre is one of my favorite episodes in terms of watchability. About two months ago I showed Lyre Lyre and Bitter Suite to my gay male friends to show them my musical TV long before this current resurgence had taken place. We watched Lyre Lyre first and then BS. They were blown away. Those were the most recent episodes I have viewed.
But I digress. In hindsight, one of the things that proved hard was writing to the end of the season, i.e., knowing where exactly you wanted to end. Either the season becomes totally serialized or some episodes do not serve the seasons purpose. A few years ago, but long after the end of Xena, Tim Kring (look him up) said to me that if you know where the show is going to end, you can really only write toward that goal. If an episode isnt serving the purpose of moving toward that goal, it can never be great or even memorable. Or, as in the case of LOST, they do not know where they are going, thus they keep presenting ideas and clues but refuse to lock down a specific idea that they want to play toward. Those words resonated in me. When we knew the season ender and the dramatic arc, then individual stand alone drama episodes always seemed unsatisfactory. Thus, we resorted to comedy. They were outside the overall arc and seemed satisfactory on their own grounds as entertainment.
There were stories that I wished we had told. They were one-lined or roughly beat out in my notebooks, but never made it to the screen. We did pull aspects of a story that I always wanted to tell into MANY HAPPY RETURNS. However, it was the comic approach. There is a story of Jeztapha (or close) from the bible about a girl who was promised to god by her dad if he won a key battle. He won and she was to be sacrificed. This is were Xena and Gab showed up. Liz took that kernel of an idea and changed it for comedy.
52. Do you have any idea how good a show XWP was? That it's the best thing that's ever been on the TV?
I know that the love we all shared on the staff reflected on screen and when the staff got blind to the series, for whatever reason, it was reflected on screen (witness the middle of season 5).
53. Why do you think your wife isn't starring or co-starring in any major movies?
I have NO Idea. She is a fantastic under utilized actress. This is something that causes me more pain than her. I sure would like to get a project that she could star in, but it will have to be cheap because NO ONE will commit 30M in Prints and Ads on her delivering an audience.
I am actually more surprised with Renee. She is not tainted as an icon in peoples eyes. She is a brilliant actress and a beautiful woman. She should be on a series.
54. What do you think the very heart of XWP was and who do you think truly understands that the best?
Lucy and Renee were the heart and they understand it best. RJ, Steve, and Chris were the voices and combined with Liz, and I were scenarists who created the situations for them to have heart.
55. When, if ever, did you start taking XWP seriously as an epic love story between the two main characters?
We never really said it was an epic love story. Or maybe at the end of Season 6, but Love was a motive.
In hindsight, WFC may be an epic love story, but its genesis was that in No life could Xena escape being crucified. Kind of my Christian upbringing seeping in. Katherine helped make it that love story.
If there was a key moment in my eye for them as lovers or people in love, it was the end of BITTERSUITE. Only through love could all their problems be left behind. The end image was a poor version of the lovers.
Then again the scenes in Callisto or Greater Good may have cemented the love story.
Or maybe in SINS Of The PAST the seed were sown for the love to blossom. Gabrielle had the courage to put herself in harms ways to protect Xena and vice versa. Did they nurture each others growth in that episode? If so maybe that is where the epic love story started.
Hope this helped!!
56. At the end of the episode You Are There, the dialogue went like this..
N: "Gabrielle-- Xena-- are you two-- lovers?"
X: "It's like this-- technically-- "
Any guesses as to what Xena was going to say just before the scene faded away?
If we bring each other to orgasm, then I guess we are lovers. Happy? Actually, I have no idea what they were going to say as we never scripted it. We just wrote it to torment people for ages to come . . . thus you can fill in the blank as nicely or nastily as you want. Personally, I think that Xena was going to pull the Bill Clinton thing . . . oral sex doesnt count.
57. What was it like working with Rene O'Connor on Xena?
She was a bitch. It was hard to get her to put down her crack pipe. Then again, I would have needed a crack pipe if I was asked to walk barefoot through the mud for the winter or to eat squid or any of the crap we pulled on her.
I love Renee. I think that she is kind, loving, talented, beautiful and so easy to work with that I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Like with Lucy, it hurts my heart that Hollywood is not lining up to work with her
58. What is the secret behind Sam's obsession with his 'classic' 1973 Oldsmobile Delta Royal? (Other than it has a better movie resume than most Hollywood actors!) I mean what makes that particular car so special for Sam?
Good question. So I went to the source! I asked Sam the other day. He said that he named it the classic just to torment Bruce and I. He knew that Bruce and I knew that rusting heap was no classic. Sam also knew as we did that no one can call their own car a classic. That honor must be bestowed by others after many many years of this privledged title being earned.
But Sam has always called it classic. He has now made it that in everyone eyes.
59. Also Non Xena related my question would be what are his next projects & will they be more movies or a TV series?
Movie wise, we have the following titles trying to get made: MONKEYS PAW, DIBBICK BOX, BURST, DRAG ME TO HELL, and a bunch of direct to dvd sequels.
60. Taking the show's credits as my source, it seems that you were not significantly involved (in a story idea or teleplay way) with particular stories/episodes between Sins of the Past and Destiny, nor between the latter and The Debt. As The Debt episodes represent a major element of The Rift arc, and as the format that presented the respective characters of Xena and Gabrielle and of their relationship appears to have been altered dramatically after the commencement of The Rift through the remainder of the series, do you feel that some of the writers of the first two seasons took those characters and their relationship in directions that you felt were inconsistent with your own vision of them, and that a certain degree of correction was therefore necessary?
I recently came across all my old notebooks on Xena. Story ideas, themes, cool action scenes, and hastily written beat sheets that I was going to outline in the writers conference room to the staff so that there was clarity as to what we hoped to achieve. I was reminded what I loved about working on the show.
To simply answer your question, I was involved in season 1 to 6 pretty much equally except I was missing in action during 5 for a bit. Certainly during seasons 1 and 2, I was there for every single step of every single script. My management style reflected sharing and being inclusive as much as possible. I was well paid and thus I never wanted to take money from the writers by taking a credit (and thus their money) or diminishing someones credit.
Our working style was unique to this show. We all sat in a room and jointly beat out on a chalk board or a white board each and every episode. We worked out the teaser beats, the act breaks and then the 6 to 10 beats (locations or scene shifts) per act. This was all done jointly with the assigned writer logging all this. The writer then took this and expanded it into a story. The assignment of credit did not reflect solely who worked on the episode but more who physically wrote it and cashed a check. Not exactly like a sit com, but not like most other dramas. I do not want to diminish the writing of any episodes, but, equally, I do not want take credit from Liz Friedman or myself or any of the other staff people who crafted the story through many beat sheets and drafts but did not take money for story credit. For example, RJ and/or Steve rewrote pretty much every episode to some degree. Some freelance scripts were totally rewritten from word one, but the original writer got the credit and they got the check. No one on our staff ever asked to have WGA arbitration on a script to determine who should, in the guilds estimation, get the credit and thus the payment. Bless all those guys and gal for being team players, but I think that I also set that tone.
Although my name as a writer is nowhere on Bitter Suite, I crafted that from the way to heal the RIFT through music. I guided it to story, to song, to production design to editing. Steve and Chris certainly sat at their computers all alone banging away. However, I guided this undertaking as an invisible hand.
This has been mentioned elsewhere, so I am not talking out of school, but one day I pitched RJ an idea -- a Day in the Life of Xena and Gabrielle between the fights and plot. Waiting for the bad guy to show, cooking, blah blah blah. We laughed ourselves silly and RJ took that idea and ran with it. I could have insisted on co-writing the story and splitting $5,000 (or whatever it was) with RJ, but, ultimately, my time was better spent on something else to make XENA and HERCULES better and RJ did not need to have his hand held to realize that idea. There were times when I had to physically do the outline, type it up, get notes and really do all the work of the writer in order to be understood. The DEBTS and SIN TRADES needed my document as a jumping off point. I got the other staff members notes and incorporated them.
On a more macro scale, here is what would happen. We would typically, at the start of a season, all bring ideas to the room. We ( RJ, Steve, Chris, myself and Liz) would write down 50 or 60 ideas that we liked. Some would be marked as B stories, i.e., smaller stories within an episode with a bigger idea. We would hatch these ideas and place bigger event ideas on key air dates like Halloween, sweeps episodes, the season ender and so on. A writing and shooting schedule would slowly emerge but we never locked anything in stone as we needed room to creatively change should we be going down a dead end. (We tried unsuccessfully many times to have Xena and Socrates meet and her influence him. When this didnt work, we needed to jump to another fresh episode idea.)
In this process, everyone would be free to express their ideas. Then when various drafts of beat sheets and scripts came in, we would all meet and give notes. Some episodes went through 5 to 8 beat sheets before they went off to script. Then we always did at least 3 and usually 5 drafts of each script. The process was grueling, but we tried to get everyones best ideas.
The RIFT this also is old news, but while laying out season 3, RJ and I thought about what was the Halloween episode. Against the backdrop of man giggles our Rosemarys Baby, Gabrielles Hope, was hatched and from that came the precursor of THE DELIVER. Once we committed to these two episodes, the RIFT seemed somewhat inevitable.
On the relationship after the RIFT. It changed because Gabrielle grew up and got her own voice. Fans may have preferred the old Gabrielle but she matured. Equally, we had run out of stories that we wanted to tell with that nave character. If she didnt change, then Xena couldnt have stayed with her for all those years. They affected each other.
One of the things that the audience forgets is that, as writers and creators, our job is to bring the audience back after the commercial break or, more specifically, hold them for the commercials. Or, if it is a two-parter, bring them back from the cliffhanger of the first night so they will watch more commercials. Thus, Gabrielle selling Xena out at the end of the DEBT I was the ultimate cliffhanger. Was it totally in character? My answer is yes, we revealed a side of Gabrielle and a complexity that the old nave Gabrielle never showed with the same aplomb . . . rightousness. Would others disagree? Certainly. Did it let us get to a great scene in the prison with Gabrielle apologizing? Yes. Thus was character at times a secondary thought to the story, act break, the evening break, or the greater good of the overall episode? Probably. Certainly we would do the exact same thing again . . . but more elegantly.
61. What was the chief moral principle that guided Xena's actions as she saw it? If Xena believed in a struggle to support "the greater good", how did she define that term?
Hmmm? I cannot answer this on a general overall point. This is a question about specifics in the moment. I guess the fate of 40,000 souls joining some better version of an afterlife was in Xenas mind a Greater Good than anything that she might do from the end of FIN until some other end of her biological life. She was willing to give up her mortal happiness and part with Gabrielle for some greater good. She also thought she needed to do time in LOCKED UP AND TIED DOWN. But it wasnt often that Xena didnt think the scales weighed in her favor.
62. Much controversy has arisen over your words in the January 2001 "Whoosh!" interview, when you said that you did not know how you would end the series but that you weren't "going to kill them again" (I assume referring to the Ides of March narrative conclusion to season 4). After A Friend in Need was broadcast, RJ Stewart stated that the story idea for the series finale was broached at a point in time which would have been subsequent to your interview. Was any consideration given or discussion had in the story process relating to that implied promise when it became obvious that it would be contradicted by Xena's demise?
There is an old Hollywood joke How do you know when a producer is lying? His lips are moving. But I think that I meant that I wouldnt kill them both again. Also, we vacillated on whether to really kill her or not. Missy, who read the finale before it shot, weighed in heavily that it was a bad idea but being pig-headed at times . . . Perhaps I lied, maybe I changed my mind, or maybe I was misunderstood. None would be a first.
63. How would you describe Gabrielle's main functions or contributions to the series as a whole, and do you think that what was shown on the screen fairly matched your expectations?
Gabrielle was originally conceived of as the sidekick. The person who could do the talking when XENA couldnt or wouldnt. She was Irv the Explainer as I call that role. Look to Iolaus on Herc for the template for Gabrielle. She was also the weekly damsel in distress but that grew tiresome quickly. The series was never conceived as a duel role series. However, over time, that evolved. Season three was a balance of each character and how they interacted. There are those who would argue that all of Season 4 was about Gabrielles journey and that Xena supported her as the muscle. Even when Gabrielle wasnt physically there, the actions were precipitated by her as a character.
Early on in the series of XENA, there were discussions about adding another woman character so that they would be a trio. Ephiny in Hooves and Harlots was to be the new addition. However, by the time that episode aired, we all had so fallen for Renees portrayal of Gabrielle that we didnt want to diminish her or, heaven forbid, put her in a position to kill her off.
Although not a conscious thought, what happened is we evolved Gabrielle to fill the role that Ephiny would have played.
64. Do you feel in hindsight that a system of closer cooperation between the show's writers or a story bible would have served to reduce script inconsistencies?
This is covered elsewhere, but to simply answer your question NO. The writers on this show were as close physically and socially as on any show in Hollywood. As for a show Bible -- it is just a set of rules to be broken.
What people do not understand is that TV is a machine that needs to be fed scripts. There isnt time to be creative and create a Bible that really considers everything and leaves room to deliver/create/what is wanted but unexpected. To have a Bible that covers 6 years would have been impossible. Our Bible had the character Pan. He was to be a third wheel, like a Joxer, but once he was cut from the first pilot script he never found a home.
As much as the script machine pumps and grinds out material, the production machine faces the same challenges. No single individual can cover all basis (and Hercules!). Thus directors, art coordinators, prop people, wardrobe and make-up personal come and go. They make a huge amount of decisions in the moment. (Rick Jacobson made a decision on Motherhood that made me NUTS! But that is another story.) The mass exodus of our crew to LOTRs made it necessary to train up a whole new group of people that most likely had only seen one or two episodes. Is production going to wait three hours while someone goes and gets the right Chakram? No. But huge pieces of knowledge and continuity were lost whenever there were massive personnel changes.
Lastly, there was Renee and Lucy. They made changes and adjustments on the day with the writing and intent of the script. They did not care about history, they cared about what worked for them as performers in that moment. They were great at boiling down the written word to what was impactful in the moment. Often what was lost was modifiers or Irv the Explainer moments. That Xena once taught Gabrielle to take the pinch off but not put it on was/is meaningless in a drama of another sequence 10 episodes later.
Although there were some script inconsistencies, I never found them a hindrance to the forward character movement.
65. Lucy and Renee have a great chemistry on screen when working together on the show and since, at the conventions and Lucys concerts, when casting Renee as Gabrielle did you have an idea that this would be the case.
I loved Renee from HERCULES AND THE LOST KINGDOM. That character had spunk. The chemistry they developed was just luck of the draw. Really during casting you would never think of the chemistry between the characters but who can play the role best.
66. I have read various reports that you always wanted Renee for the part and that it was written with her in mind and also that she just audition along with others. Did you have to push to get Renee or was it a foregone conclusion ? Lucy and Renee made the show for me.
I had to very much push and lay down for Renee. One unnamed studio executive thought that the more classically hot babe would work better. That other woman was also a real gifted actress but Gabrielle was based on Renees performance in HERCULES and the Lost Kingdom.
67. I hope this isn't too personal but I have always loved these two moments in your life. The comment you made after your wedding that you had 'waited 43 years for this woman' - just a gorgeous sentiment - and how Lucy wanted to be married before she was 30 so you chose the day before her 30th birthday - such a wicked sense of humour. So I guess I'm asking if yours and Lucy's keen sense of humour played a part in attracting you to each other.
Contrary to what you hear . . . likes actually attract. We all search for Unity and not for separateness or dis-unity. Thus, in a partner, we want to find ourselves that isnt us but mirrors what we like about ourselves. Does that make sense?
On a less esoteric level I think the common parish/parochial upbringing we both had made us suited. And yes we had similar senses of humor although I would still say Lucys humor is crasser than mine.
68. What do you like THE LEAST about being a producer?
Not being the director. That said, we called the director the Chump du juor. I love being the producer.
Thank you for your time Rob. I'm going to ask this question for my brother-in-law who turned me onto your Evil Dead movies long before Xena.
69. Where did you get the idea for those Evil Dead movies?
The Book of the Dead or Necronomicon plays a prominent role in the adventures of Ash so will we ever see a sequel..a part 4. I thought Army of Darkness was brilliantly done.
Bruce and I have been led to believe by Sam that there will be an Evil Dead 4. Neither of us are holding are breaths, but Sam is a man of his word. I hope I am alive to see the movie.
Personally, I liked Evil Dead best. It was the real deal at the time.
70. Many of your movies are in the horror genre..such as Grudge 1 & Grudge 2 & the newest 30 Days of Night. Why do you think audiences, and I am one of them, enjoy being scared to the extent that we close our eyes, jump out of our seats & gasp at certain scenes? And come back for more.
Why are there Roller Coasters? To get rushes of adrenalin but know that we are safe. Horror is just another ride.
71. Hi Rob .. in a dvd commentary you said that Lucy was more Xena than Renee was Gabrielle. What exactly did you mean by that? Does Lucy say "take the village" or "kill 'em all' or "I have many skills" often at home?
I have to stop Lucy from killing the kids every evening. Kill them all rings through the kitchen. Renee is not that fast talking character that began on Xena. She is probably more like the character that Gabrielle became. I also suspect that Renee is wilder than Gabrielle but that is just speculation.
72. Did the philosophies of Joseph Campbell, especially works like "Hero With A Thousand Faces," have any influence on the structure of Xena?
I read the book about every 5 years. Its the definitive work on western heroes. I more consciously used Campbell as the template for Hercules, but I am sure it spilled over into Xena.
73. Since we all know how difficult everything goes concerning a Xena movie, have you ever considered the idea of making a new longer season in which you start with Xena and Gab as the main characters, but by the time the season has ended new younger persons have risen? So Xena and Gab could close a nice chapter and the new fresh and younger approach could open doors for a fresh-start-movie?
Great idea. Yes, I thought about that as a version of the movie. That whole idea of how can we get them into younger actresses bodies. When Universal was 30% serious, this was discussed. Now they dont want a movie at all.
74. Is there a type of movie you have always dreamt of making, but never have?
A Musical. I wished that I had made 300. I would have liked to make a funny comedy like SUPERBAD. But all and all, I am happy with the hopes I have to make things in the future.
75. Your genre on the whole is verrrry scary movies. What made you jump to doing Xena. Which by the way, you did a great job and I for one am forever thankful.
I always wanted to do a woman superhero. As a kid I loved HONEY WEST, but didnt love Police Woman because she always had to be rescued.
76. What do i need to do, to get to that profession ?
Your name spells out the road you are embarking upon -- suffering.
This is my stock but simple answer -- writers write, directors direct, and producers produce. It is just that simple or hard. Get your friends together and make a movie. Or take your favorite scene from a movie and reshoot it with your friends as the actors. If you can actually finish the project then you are well on your way to being a producer. Initially, your job is to make sure that the project is started and completed and that all the guns are pointed in the right direction. Metaphorically speaking -- No friendly fire. If you can make something that the everyday man or woman on the d street finds entertaining then you are in Show Biz.
It has never been easier to make a movie on dvd. There is nothing holding you back from doing it. Get a camera, a computer that can edit, and a script. There are millions of movies on YOU TUBE. Any one can do it.
77. What did you do to become a success?
I redefined success.
I only became a success when I realized that I would never reach success. Once I enjoyed the process, then everything was a success. I know that sounds like Hollywood gibberish, but I once thought if I could make 3 movies then I would be a success and everything would be easy and women would run to me and banks would give me money. I am way past three movies and that still hasnt happened. Success is a truth or standard that you hold yourself to separate from your profession.
78. Question: What movies inspired you when you were growing up? Were you fond of all movie genres or did you prefer scary/horror movies?
I loved Peter Pan, Sound of Music, and all the movies kids loved in the early 60s. But, equally, I enjoyed the Saturday Matinee movies ROBINSON CRUSOE ON MARS, ESCAPE FROM THE GREEN PLANET, and scary sci fi stuff. As I grew into my teens, I loved PATTON, BUTCH CASSIDY, LITTLE BIG MAN, PAPILLON, GODFATHERS.
I am still not a real fan of art movies, but I am a sucker for good chick flicks I loved SAY ANYTHING, NOTTING HILL, BRIDGET JONES DIARY. They make me feel.
79. Question: If you were to create another television series would you focus on creating another action series or would you move in a different direction?
I recently went through the process of creating a pilot. It went from all action to 85% drama, but I clung to that last 15% of action. Ultimately, I am an action guy. What I do best is place characters in a situation that requires some action.
80. Question: Would you ever consider doing a comedic movie or a comedic short film with both Lucy and Renee?
Yes, just need a great script and money . . .
81. Question: Would you ever consider doing a movie based on an action hero? What action heros inspired you as a kid?
I loved Jason and the Argonauts. I loved a recording of the 12 Labors of Hercules that played on the record player with one of those little image carousels that spun around. I was a huge fan of Man from Uncle, James Bond and all of the usual things.
There was also a book of adventure short stories that I read over and over that had elements of heroes in them. The Interloper, Lenigen vs. the Ants, The Bamboo Trap, To Build a fire were but a few of the stories that I loved.
82. What do you think of Chris Carter (X-Files) and would you do a project with him?
Mr. Carter is an enormous talent. I respect his work and what he has accomplished. I do not see a circumstance where we would be brought together on a project. No one would want to match our quotes!! But, more importantly, we are both used to running our own show.
83 Do you believe in the paranormal?
Yes and No. I believe that the body has a spirit and consciousness separate from our physical body. That said, I do not think a ghost can hurt us.
84. With the writers ready to strike within 24hrs, how will that affect the movie industry?
Many people will lose their homes or have hardships. Lots of mediocre movies will get made from scripts that werent quite ready and long term traditional TV will lose even a larger part of the audience.
85. What is up with "Welcome to the pleasure Dome" ? are you still going to do that movie? Thanks
What is up with that is right. I hope to be able to say in January. END OF PART 1
|Posted by carpechakram on November 30, 2010 at 11:26 AM||comments (0)|
By JOE NAZZARO
Blade in hand, Lucy Lawless reveals lessons from the Xena scrolls.
She's a woman with a devil on her shoulder, or that's how I first imagined her," explains Lucy Lawless, describing her character Xena, the warrior princess, in the popular syndicated fantasy/action-adventure series. "I try to keep a lid on the character so that the audience doesn't know too much about her and she maintains a mystique. She's the dark, mean chick."
The New Zealand actress is now well into her second season starring in Xena: Warrior Princess as the titular mythic heroine with a dark past. The character was introduced in a three-episode arc of Hercules The Legendary Journeys, as the leader of a conquering army who sets out to kill Hercules. When a last-minute act of compassion causes Xena to re-examine her life, she becomes Hercules' unlikely ally, before setting off on a journey of redemption. Now accompanied by a brash young storyteller named Gabrielle (Renee O'Connor), she travels the countryside fighting for good, but still battling the demons of her past.
While Lawless admits she has invested part of her own personality into Xena, the character is most definitely not her. "It's parts of me taken to an extreme, and she never pops out unintentionally, but she is there. In order to play a character who moves people, it must be grounded in your own history, and then you flesh it out with your own experience. So, she's definitely part of me. You don't invent a character based on what other people have experienced."
With more than three dozen episodes Xena now under her belt, Lawless (previously profiled in STARLOG #222) has learned a great deal, not only about her character, but also about dealing with the rigors of a weekly TV series. "I've learned a bit of balance, to tell the truth. When I started, I was working a 14-hour day and then running off to the gym five times a week, but I had to stop that. My back gave out, and I realized the way I was living was not supporting the work. I've now learned how to pace myself, and since I stopped running off to the gymI just exercise at home nowI'm so much happier, and a much more relaxed human being."
Unless you see her face, Lawless emphasizes, it's a stunt double actually doing that bit of Xena action.
Another tough lesson for the actress been coping with the idea of being a model for young people around the world- one of the consequences of Xena's international success. "I have to say I've really shunned it up until now. I've gotten in trouble in magazines, just for the whole notion and all the pressure being a role model. Now I'm realizing that's just another factor I have to deal with.
"The reason I've always been resistant to it is because Xena is a composite character of many people's work. It's a little bit of a problem, except I guess the separation [between Lawless and Xena] does take place, because I don't really look like Xena when you meet me. People aren't disappointed when they meet me in the flesh'Oh God. you are just flesh and blood, I can touch you; you're only slightly taller than I am!'so they do manage to make that separation. but it's kind of uncomfortable for me, because I feel they're disappointed in me. I've never had any negative first-hand experiences with fans, so that's great."
"She's the dark,
Needless to say, the notion of fame changed somewhat when the series began airing on Lawless' own back doorstep. "When it came to New Zealand, that was different," she concedes, remembering her first surprising exposure to Xena. "I was driving along, and I saw the very unflattering posters they chose, and that did make my jaw drop. At least in your home town, particularly in New Zealand and Australia, you have to keep a low profile as far as your own sense of self-importance. Now I am stared at, mostly in a discreet manner. People are generally very nice; they're positive about the show and I don't get hassled much."
Almost everything Lawless has ever learned in life has beed used in playing Xena: Warrior Princess.
One of the occupational hazards of playing the eponymous heroine in a fast-moving action-adventure is keeping up with the physical demands of the work. Although _ Xena employs several stunt doubles to stand: in for Lawless during the more hazardous moments. the actress still has to shoulder her share of the action. "I do absolutely everything where you see my face, and the rule of thumb is if you don't see my face,
it's not me. There simply isn't enough time, particularly in episodic television, and it's dangerous."
As for getting injured, "It's par for the course," insists the actress who was hurt not while she was doing the series, but promoting it (breaking her hip while rehearsing for a Tonight Show appearance). "It's the same for the other actors or
anybody who does stunt fighting: you get whiplash, black eyes or loose teeth. I'm constantly bruised!"
No more Ms. nice girl? Pushing for a grittier edge, Lawless hopes to make her character darker.
Because of Xena's demanding schedule, Lawless has found herself with little free time while the series is in production. That means losing touch from time to time with what's happening in the "real world." "The best thing I can do to maintain energy and enthusiasm is to try and have a life outside. I used to over-train tremendously to try to make up for a lack of athletic prowess, and it just about killed me. Now, I try to snatch at least an hour a week of something unpredictable.
"It's very easy in my positionwhere you're always at work with the same big family of peopleto get lost in it. I'm in the curious position of finding myself a slight misfit on the outside'What, feed myself? Are you out of your mind?' When you literally have people to tie your shoes for you, if you're not careful, you can forget your place in the world as a human being."
Lawless first developed her interest in acting while being educated in convent schools around Auckland, where she began appearing in numerous musicals and plays. She attended Auckland University for a short time before her passion for adventure took to Europe, and eventually to Australia, where she worked for a gold mining company. "I know some people have a romantic image of carrying a canary in a gold mine, but it's simply not true. They detonate miles of Outback. and we used to run through the Outback, marking it and taking samples. These days, they assay gold in parts per billion, so you could take four kilos of dirt and they would find some molecule of gold and say, 'Yeah, that's worth open cast mining.' I was living in the Outback with a cat called kangaroos and emus. I wouldn't see at a time."
"I really don't look like Xena when you meet me," say Lucy Lawless.
And how did Lawless get into the gold mining business in the first place? "It was a blinding piece of logic!" she laughs. "I decided I was going to go picking grapes on the Rhine, so after languishing through a year at university studying languages, I took off with the proceeds of a TV commercial and went to Europe, my boy friend following me. After running out of money, we decided, 'I know, we can make a lot of money if we go to Australia, and then we can carry on our travels in Europe!' So, we went off to Australia and did earn quite a lot of money for two people with no talent and no degrees. Just as we were about to plan our trip to Russia, I got pregnant, so we returned to New Zealand and had the child. We're no longer together. but we live very close to each other, so it's a good working arrangement."
With a renewed determination to pursue an acting career, Lawless began doing TV commercials which led eventually to co-hosting Air New Zealand Holiday, a travel magazine show. She was cast in the Hercules and the Amazon Women TV movie and later played another character in a Hercules episode. When the actress originally intended to play Xena was ill and unavailable, Lawless stepped in for that pivotal Hercules guest shot at the instigation of executive producers Rob Tapert and Sam Raimi. "Happily, the producers managed to find me. I was on an incommunicado camping trip around New Zealand, and a casting agent managed to track down my then-in-laws, who knew to try my cousin. Two days later, I was on a plane, dyeing my hair and in part, and that spun off into the series."
"I'm a very lucky woman to have this role," Lawless confides.
While the basic elements of Xena established in the Hercules trilogy, the character continued to evolve in her own series. "The original idea for Xena was that she was going to be blonde and buxom and so on, but since my hair is naturally a golden-mousy reddish-brown, I said, 'Why don't we go this way? Let's make her kind of an Argentinean princess, and bronze her up?' I didn't want my hair to fall out after the first series.
"That was my one contribution to physical aspects, and the rest is the brilliance of our designers and makeup artists, but the character must be rooted in the actor, otherwise it's just a two-dimensional cardboard cutout that doesn't make an audience feel anything in return. Our aim is to move the audience. Just about everything I ever learned has come to this role; the horse riding, the singing lessons, survival skills in a large Irish-Catholic rough-and-tumble existence; everything has come in handy for Xena."
Looking back at some of the episodes of Xena to date. Lawless points to a few personal highlights, including the controversial "Is There a Doctor in the House?" which nearly didn't make it to the small screen. "It was too bloody and intense for some sponsor who said, 'I don't know, we're a bit worried about this one!' So we had to cut things where you could see some of the operations happening. It was really thrilling, even though we had to cut a lot of it, but fortunately, Joe LoDuca, the composer, being the damn genius he is, managed to glue everything together with music.
"Actually, Rob and I would have paid out of our own money to make the episode the way we wanted it, but it didn't turn out too bad, and believe me. a large part of that credit goes to Joe. I saw the rough cuts, and I was so worried about how it would come out with all the things excised, but then I saw the final edition with the music. which brought it all together. I'm so aggrieved about that because I was really proud I had given everything that I had. Even if it was going to be buried, we gave it a bloody good shot. That's what I got into this business for, to make people feel.
"That one is a real classic, and the other one is 'Warrior...Princess...Tramp' [in which Lawless plays three versions of the same character]. That was the very first episode in this block of filming in the second season. That's the one in which I had the most to do, because I like to be really busy all the time. The more pressure, the happier I am, and that's when I do my best work."
Being part of a successful action-adventure series may have its advantages, but it also carries a price, usually to one's personal life. "I do more interviews as a result of it being a success, but in the past year, my life style has changed an awful lot. I've had to pare down my social life to nothing to see my family. These are my priorities in my spare time: it goes daughter, mother, and after that, there's hardly time for anybody else."
With the popularity of Xena: Warrior Princess, it would be easy for Lawless to cash in on her reputation as an action heroine and star in a big-budget feature, but again, that would come with a price. "I could have done a Xena movie last summer." she reveals. "I don't think they could pay me enough at the moment to work through my hiatus. To tell you the truth, I would be depressed. If I worked 18 months' solid at the rate we work, a million dollars just isn't enough to pay for my sanity, and my enjoyment of life. At this point, to star in something is madness for me, and I have a kid too. Kevin [Sorbo, who plays Hercules, and shot Kull the Conqueror during his hiatus] is in a whole different situationhe plays golf; that's his baby."
After initially over-training for the part, Lawless has settled into a more comfortable routine. "I just exercise at home now."
Looking ahead, Lawless is reluctant to give too much away, except to hint that there will be a major rift between Xena and Gabrielle, as both characters try to come to terms with difficult emotional issues. "Apart from the fact that we've all improved technically, the characters and shows keep evolving, and as new things come into the writers' lives and into my life, we bring fresh blood into the characters. Just when the audience thinks they're comfortable and know where we're at, we want to give them what they did not know they wanted, just by twisting the characters slightly.
"The absolute truth isand I have not talked to anybody about this, not even Robis it occurs to me that I would like to see Xena go a bit darker. We have to maintain a humility and a humanity in her, but I don't think people will be turned off if we want to push the edge a bit, if only for the reason that it's boring for me to play a non-evolving character.
"As an actor, I want to be bad. I want to give things a little more of a spin, but you've got to be careful, because it's a hero show, and the one thing with Xena is that she cannot be thick, she can't be stupid. She can be wrong, which is unusual for her, and I like to I play that; it's very uncomfortable because you feel like you're losing your grip on the whole hero thing, because the audience may not like that, and then you're dead. But in this series, we're dead if we pander to our audience."
Whatever changes may be in store for Xena: Warrior Princess, Lucy Lawless is looking forward to discovering them in the months to come. "I'm a very lucky woman to have this role,' she enthuses, "because it's so challenging. I do absolute farce, very intense drama, action; I'm in a very enviable position. There are few women in America who do action, and I'm also stretched in every other direction as an actress."
|Posted by carpechakram on November 3, 2010 at 1:04 AM||comments (0)|
Xena And Her Women
I've been wanting to write a comprehensive blog post about Xena for a long time now. Probably since I finished watching the show in late June. But there's so much to say about it and I'm way too lazy to go back and write an episode by episode review. I could handle the 72 or so episodes of BSG but Xena was six full seasons of at least 22 episodes. Yikes!
But the show continues to fascinate me. For real, I watch it all the time (partly because it's all available on Netflix's Instant Watch). Earlier today I watched Who's Gurkhan? and I'm currently watching To Helicon And Back*. What can I say? I love the sixth season.
But my favorite part about Xena is the interesting and pretty much unprecedented way women interact with each other. I mean, sure, it's the gayest show of all time. No, really, it's super gay. In Who's Gurkhan? Xena talks to a woman who imagines her fiance whenever she needs to hold on to her sanity. Later, after Xena's been nearly beaten to death, she imagines a scantily clad Gabrielle dancing sensually in front of her. I mean, hello?! I seriously can't believe there are fans who don't see the subtext. Hell, the maintext.
But apart from that, there are a whole lot of incredibly strong female characters. Aside from Xena and Gabrielle, there's Callisto, Alti, Cyane, Lao Ma, M'Lila, Boudicea, Livia/Eve, Grinhilda, Brunhilda, Varia, Cyrene, Aphrodite, Athena, Akemi, Ephiny, Amarice . . . I could go on and on. And on top of all the strong women, what interests me the most is how they all kind of feed into each other. Good or evil, I think one of the main messages of Xena is the strength women gain from sharing their power and knowledge with each other. And nowhere is this more evident than when looking at Xena herself.
So that's what I'm going to do.
I think my favorite character on Xena is Evil!Xena. She's so awesome in the strangest way. She's just so . . . over the top? Completely evil? Incredibly foolish? I don't think it was an intentional acting choice from Lucy Lawless or anyone else, but when you see Evil!Xena for the first time and get to know her more throughout the life of the series and you see how uninhibited she is and exactly how psychotic, you get to think that maybe Xena's incredibly even keel, especially of the first two seasons, is Xena using most of her energy to control her will. Like, if she didn't monitor herself all the time she'd simply explode with this charged evil energy. It's kind of cool
But what's even cooler is charting, over time, how Young!Xena evolves and eventually becomes Evil!Xena and, over lots of time, becomes regular Xena and then becomes Gabrielle's Xena.
1) Cyrene- I think most people would say that Xena's life is forever altered after her village is attacked by the world Cortese, a man, and her younger and beloved brother Lyceus is killed after she and him vow to defend the village. While this is obviously true, I beg to differ about Cortese being the literal catalyst. I think the real shift for Xena came after the battle was over, as she stood in her house, her dead brother on the table, being scorned by her mourning mother. In the episode The Haunting of Amphipolis, we get to see a young Xena, all knobby-kneed and wearing leathers that are a touch too big (I think it's amazing that Lucy Lawless, in the sixth season, plays Xena at such a young age so well and think it's complete and total credit to body language) and when her mother tells her that she's a disgrace and dishonor to the family and that she needs to get out, that's the moment that starts it all.
The woman who gave her life is now the woman turning her away. It's the very first betrayal that sends her on her long road.
2) M'Lila- The next major betrayal comes from epic douche bag Julius Caesar and indeed, he turns her from a semi-ambitious pirate off the coasts of Greece to a homicidal maniac who wants to conquer the whole world, but M'Lila plays a large part here, too.
We don't know too much about their relationship, but M'Lila stows away on Xena's ship only to be discovered and captured, but not before doing some serious damage to Xena's crew and putting the pinch on Xena, preventing her from walking. Xena's fascinated and eventually gets M'Lila to teach her this pinch, her signature move. But something happens between them in the meantime, though it's very unclear what, because after Xena captures Caesar, falls in love with him, tries to align herself with him, and is eventually crucified by him, it is M'Lila who comes to take her from the cross and it is M'Lila who takes her to be healed. But when Caesar's men track them down and M'Lila takes an arrow meant for Xena, that's the moment where Xena vows to live a life dedicated to death. Whatever her relationship with M'Lila, her death triggers Xena and this is where she turns evil.
Before M'Lila? Xena was kind of naive and play acting, in a way. She was pretty good at being a pirate but there wasn't too much substance behind it. M'Lila gave her new skills in the pinch but she also gave Xena someone to care about, which may have aided in her eventual relationship with Caesar. Because she had someone to love and that person was taken from her, she was motivated to, you know, go evil. (Like any sensible person.)
3) Lao Ma- After M'Lila's death and Caesar's betrayal, Xena moved east, met up with her baby daddy Borias and the two of them and an army make their way to Chin, where they eventually meet Lao Ma, wife to Lao Tzu, leader of the Kingdom of Lao.
Dealing with her crippled legs after Caesar had them broken while she was on the cross, Xena's got a giant chip on her shoulder. She's way wilder than the woman he betrayed. So when Lao Ma shows up and goes after Xena's man-meat (thought Lao Ma is a vegetarian and obviously doesn't care for the man meat), Xena goes off and tries to kill her. And fails spectacularly.
She's wild and unfocused and Lao Ma has her cool qi powers. Xena gets beat up, Lao Ma leaves, Borias kicks her out of camp for ruining a perfectly good alliance, Xena steals this guy's kid, ransoms him, gets betrayed by Borias, taken by that dude, and ends up hunted by his dogs in the woods before, in a wonderful twist of fate, Lao Ma shows up and rescues her. She takes Xena under her wing and tries to get Xena to control her will.
It doesn't go too well. Xena's all about power and kicking ass and taking names and Lao Ma only wants her to control her feelings so she isn't so damn wild. Eventually, Xena gets to the point where she just wants to please Lao Ma, comes to appreciate the things Lao Ma has done for her. She's tamed . . . for a time.
Lao Ma teaches her valuable skills. And they're skills that she doesn't really put to use for another ten or so years (everything in Xena's past happened ten years ago), but even though she doesn't come away from her experience with Lao Ma as a truly changed person (and, indeed, probably ends up more wild and deadly than ever), Lao Ma gave her the tools she needed to take control of her will and her life and made her a better warrior and, eventually, a better person because of it.
Also? That scene where the two of them are in kimonos and are floating in the sky wrapped around each other? So gay. Honestly, how do people watch this show and not see that incredibly blatant subtext?
4) Alti- Out of all of Xena's major foes, Alti is probably my least favorite because she's the least textured. She's no Callisto, you know? She's no Caesar. But there's no denying her influence in Xena's life.
So after Xena left Qin, reunited with hottie Translyvanian Borias (no, really, that accent is straight out of Dracula), she heads west to the steppes. My guess is that she ends up in Turkey because I think Anatolia is later referenced about some people in this episode. While there, right after she and Borias copulate in their tent, she meets the former Amazon Alti and Alti's . . . I don't know what she is. Some kind of girl toy? A shamaness apprentice? (Shaman apprenticeship is like Sith apprenticeship. They only come in twos.)
Alti demonstrates her power by telling Xena and Borias about the upcoming birth of their child and Xena's impressed because she hadn't told anybody. And they become inseparable lady friends (no, not in a sexual way. Xena got busy with a lot of ladies but Alti was not one of them). Alti showed Xena how to get to the land of the dead, showed her little tricks of the shamaness, explained how you can use the spirit world to magnify your power. And she corrupted Xena to the point where she did possibly her worst deed. Which brings us to . .
5) Cyane- Cyane only appeared in two episodes and her role in both was kind of limited. But she leaves a potent mark on the women Xena would become in the distance future. Cyane was an Amazon Queen. As far as I can tell, she was quite legendary. She's referenced in an episode that takes place, if I'm remembering correctly, 30 some years after. She recognizes something familiar within Xena after their first meeting (where Xena spies on a naked Cyane going through an Amazon purification ritual and ends up crashing accidentally through the roof and getting stripped and schooled) and starts training Xena in the ways of the Amazon. We don't see it happening, and indeed I'm not even sure how long Xena stayed in the village, but she learns enough so that when her moment of decision comes (leave Borias and Alti and become an Amazon or go along with Alit's devious plan), she actually kills the high ranking members of the Northern Tribe just as an Amazon would. She doesn't learn everything from Cyane (remember that Cyane was able to beat Alti in a spiritual duel and Xena was only capable of that much later), but what she did learn stayed with her. It made her a more able and disciplined warrior and when she eventually turned good some six-ish years later, enabled her to make peace not only with the Amazons but to initiate peace between the Amazons and their traditional enemies, the Centaurs.
6) Callisto- I know that Callisto is introduced to Xena after Gabrielle is but I wanted to touch on her before touching on Gabrielle, because what Xena did to Callisto happened many years before her meeting with Gabrielle, so it's a huge example of past actions coming back in the present (and future) and biting you in the ass. Callisto was a fucking awesome villain. As far as I'm concerned, she's not only the best villain Xena ever had, but she's one of the top TV villains of all time. She's very nearly on par with the cylons. And my loyalist readers should know how much I love Caprica and D'Anna.
So what's the story with Callisto? Well, back in Xena's warlord days her army went and wreaked some havoc in Callisto's home village. Callisto herself was just a young girl but was left alone after her parents and sister were killed in a fire set by someone in Xena's army. According to the episode Callisto in the first season, Xena had a policy of not killing women on children, but that she wasn't sure if the fire had started accidentally or if one of her men and gone against her orders. As far gone as she had been back then, being evil and all, it's obvious that the fire still haunts her. Callisto, an orphan, decides she wants to kick some ass and take some names. She spends years training to be a warrior while also going totally out of her mind. She's both completely in love with Xena and completely in hate.
So Xena and Callisto have this awesome back and forth that lasts several seasons. Xena beats Callisto back in Callisto and sends her to prison but in Return of Callisto in the second season, Callisto breaks out, kills Gabrielle's husband (blech) and is eventually killed by Xena when Xena lets Callisto drown in a sand pit. Callisto comes back, of course, because she becomes immortal (I think that must happen in an episode of Hercules), gets the powers of a god, gets encased in lava . . . I don't even know. It's a long story. But by the end of the fourth season, in an awesome episode called The Ides of March, Callisto joins forces with what I believe is Mephistopheles and tries to prevent Xena from killing Caesar.
Callisto succeeds and, indeed, we get the second crucifixion on the show (but certainly not the last), but Callisto's role in the show is much greater than that. What's interesting about the episode is that Callisto tries to appeal to Xena's guilt at what Xena had done to Callisto's family and village. Xena's guilt is a common issue on the show. She's constantly running into problems from her past. She's constantly trying to right the wrongs she herself had wrought. She knows her mission is doomed, that there's no real hope for Elysian Fields in her future, but she does it because the guilt is too much to bear and she kind of has to to feel some kind of measure of sanity and hope. Callisto represents all the bad shit she did when she was evil. Looting of villages, murdering of innocents, the warping of psyches. Callisto is crazy because of Xena. Callisto murdered because of Xena. But we find out in Ides of March that Xena's pretty much done feeling guilty.
The truth is, Xena was product of someone else, too. Would she have been evil had it not been for some combination of Cortese, Cyrene, and Caesar (the Three Big Cs)? No, actually. And I'll talk about that in a minute. Under different circumstances, she wouldn't have been evil so she can blame those people for what she became (and she certainly does blame Caesar more than anything), but ultimately Xena is complicit in what she became. She didn't have to turn to pirating after her mother rejected her and she didn't have to turn into a murdering warlord after Caesar's betrayal and first crucifixion of her. And while I don't think she ever comes to any kind of rational thought process as it relates to her own situation, I think she eventually realizes, through Callisto's complete and total insanity, that she shouldn't have to keep feeling guilty for what she did. Callisto's circumstances were tragic, but she didn't make Callisto a murderer. She gave her the tools, yes, but Callisto took the initiative.
So Callisto basically gives Xena the permission she needs to let go of her guilt.
7) Gabrielle- Where do you even start with Gabrielle? Seriously, you guys. I'm not even sure I have too much to say about her impact on Xena because it is so obviously epic. It's pretty much the point of the entire series. What is it Xena says at the end of A Friend In Need II (the series finale)? "If there is a reason for our travels together, it's because I had to learn from you, enough to know the final, the good, the right thing to do."
So what is their story? Well, in the series premiere, Sins of the Past, Xena is ready to let herself be killed because she can't live with the person she used to be, so she's off burying her weapons and armor when she stumbles on some slavers who are trying to, well, enslave a village's worth of women. She saves them and they take her back to the village and one of the girls who was in trouble, Gabrielle, basically begs Xena to take Gabrielle with her on her travels. She wants Xena to teach her everything she knows. Xena refuses, Gabrielle persists and follows her, and actually saves Xena's life . . . twice. And a partnership is born.
Basically, Gabrielle is the last piece of the puzzle that makes Xena the person she becomes. Cyrene started her on her path, M'Lila taught her the pinch and was the final straw in creating Evil!Xena, Lao Ma gave Xena the tools for peace of mind, Alti gave Xena the spiritual tools, Cyane gave Xena the inventiveness of a good warrior, Callisto gave Xena the ability to divorce herself from her guilt. Gabrielle gave Xena love.
Hokey, I know. But so true! Because, I mean, compare Sins of the Past!Xena to I A Friend In Need!Xena. I know everyone hates the finale and I'm one of those people who is like, "Dude, that doesn't even make sense", but Xena's sacrifice? Not possible if she hadn't meant Gabrielle. Gabrielle tells someone that she learned the power of non-selfish love from Xena, and it's definitely reciprocated. The two basically feed off of each other, giving and taking and co-existing to the point where they're almost the same person.
Gabrielle ends up taking on the traits of a warrior. She's hard and disciplined, a bit world weary and cautious to trust. Xena ends up taking on the traits of her own personal bard. She starts opening up, develops a bit of a sense of humor, learns how to solve problems with words and quick thinking instead of violence. She becomes the woman she was meant to be because Gabrielle gave her that unselfish love and, just as importantly, allowed Xena to gift Gabrielle with it, too.
I honestly don't understand how anyone can watch Xena:Warrior Princess and not see the sexual chemistry between Xena and Gabrielle. Seriously, it blows my mind. It was obvious to me in the first season. It was so clear that Xena was in love with Gabrielle. It was never a question.
Still, though I might think you're crazy or blind if you don't agree, I think that all fans can agree that the two shared a completely unique relationship in television. The "look" of their love may be debatable, but the importance of their love in the lives of the other should never be in doubt.
So those are the ladies of Xena's life.
You know, I was watching When Fates Collide the other night, and I got to thinking since I was writing this blog post. That episode takes place in a universe where Caesar never crucifies Xena at all, so she's never betrayed and M'Lila never dies. She's still ostracized from her village by her mother and her brother is still killed by Cortese's men. But she never becomes evil. I looked at the episode from a new perspective. It's an awesome episode, and not just because Gabrielle and Xena's relationship is at its most sexually overt. But . . . it's so interesting to see Xena without the influence of Lao Ma, Cyane, Gabrielle, Callisto, and, at least in the same sense, Alti. She's a good warrior still, but she's not as good. Regular Universe!Xena would have been able to take on those Roman soldiers at the end, for example. And she's still incredibly smart, but WFC!Xena is actually a touch naive. I mean, she trusts Caesar to keep his end of the bargain when she figures out he messed with the Fates and their loom. She doesn't kill Alti when she has the chance. She's Xena but . . . she's not fully formed. She's only a fraction of what she could have been.
And isn't that interesting? To reach her ultimate destiny, Xena needed all those influences. She needed to be evil, she needed to be out of control, if only to find her way back to sanity so she could become the hero she was meant to be. She needed those women and, in a way, those women needed her, if only so she could take their gifts and mold them together to create something completely unique.
So that's one reason I find Xena:Warrior Princess so fascinating, despite myself. What other show on television (or movie, for that matter) has so many strong women? How often do women get together and share their power? I mean, sure, some of it was coerced by Xena or another character, and some of it was given unintentionally, but I think the biggest lesson learned by this show, aside from the fact that "it's all about love" and Gabrielle and Xena are super hot, is that women become impactful when they come together and share their power.
* I wrote that about two to three weeks ago. It's taken me a really long time to write this post. It's been sitting open on my browser for weeks. I can only blame my job as a teacher and my role as a grad student from preventing me from finishing sooner. Stupid responsibilities getting in the way of Xena.
|Posted by carpechakram on November 1, 2010 at 11:07 PM||comments (2)|
They Most Certainly Did…..
Yes, we definitely came out of the closet, in that last episode of the 6th season. But all along we were pushing the envelope as much as possible and we were really dancing between the main text and the subtext, trying to satisfy everybody. It was very clear that we were traveling together and were lovers and friends; the friendship was so deep that it went beyond everything. It was such a universal truth.
"Jesus F****** Christ! Of course they were!" - Claire Stansfield
"Now it wasn't just that Xena was bisexual and kinda liked her gal pal and they kind of fooled around sometimes, it was, 'Nope, they're married, man'." -Lucy Lawless
Yes, we definitely came out of the closet, in that last episode of the 6th season. But all along we were pushing the envelope as much as possible and we were really dancing between the main text and the subtext, trying to satisfy everybody. It was very clear that we were traveling together and were lovers and friends; the friendship was so deep that it went beyond everything. It was such a universal truth.
T.J. Scott (Director) - "Oh, my favorite scene in Doctor in the House is inventing CPR and Xena waking up Gabrielle and saving her. Having that moment that you realize that this rag-tag little girl that Xena had picked up along the way, who was a bard, who was a bit of an annoyance, she was falling in love with. And the tears of, "I’m about to lose someone that I love."
Also Steven Sears said in an article about the last convention on the examiner.com site:
"Why not hit the nail on the head? Xena and Gabrielle were a same sex couple. They lived together, fought together, and fought for each other".
"Looking back i can watch these episodes and i just see the love in a whole new profound way that they have for each other. It's undoubtably obvious, you know, to me, that these two are absolutly together, and will be together forever. In any realm, in any reincarnation." - Renee O'Connor
"You know i'd have to say that i think Gabrielle is probably searching for her soul mate and that she found it in Xena. Actually, having been through the entire series, shes probably been searching for the love of her life - which is Xena" - Renee O'Connor
"When i was writing the characters, Xena was in love with Gabrielle." - Steven Sears
"Ares loves Xena but Xena loves Gabrielle" - Kevin Smith
"Soulmates in love, thats how he (Robert Tapert) wanted to portray it" Katherine Fugate
"No worries, theres only one person for Xena and its not Ares" - Kevin Smith
Friedman-They're such a perfect little butch-femme couple, what they do between episodes, I don't know.
"All I can say about that [subtext]," says Rob Tapert, "is that Gabrielle satisfies her every whim."
"Xena and Gabrielle were a couple...in the end, it was if not explicitly said, it was implicit that...yeah, they totally were." ~Lucy Lawless (Sirius radio interview 2010)
MARY - It's kind of like a great female Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
LIZ - Yeah. They're just a terrific pairing. My take on it is what Xena and Gabrielle do in between episodes, I don't actually know.
MARY - Hey, don't ask, don't tell. Right?
LIZ - (laughing) Yes.
And some excerpts from the interview that Tapert gave to the TX board:
Was the Soulmate theme in part a device consciously used to create and/or explain the level of devotion, commitment and unique intimacy we otherwise associate with Lovers?
Yes, devotion and commitment, and I dont know about intimacy. If you watch recent day male comedies (like Wedding Crashers), guys seem to be soulmates even though they are not gay. The lovers is but a part of that. One can be soulmates without being lovers. But, as I point out elsewhere, Xena was comfortable rubbing/washing Gabrielles feet. That implies more than just devotion...
It seems like XWP didn't really attempt to construct a consistent, linear narrative for the Xena/Gabrielle romance, more that it evolved organically. And you were happy to portray them as lovers in one episode, and 'just friends' in the next, as suited the particular story you were telling at the time. In effect, having two parallel versions of their relationship running along side by side. Is this correct? And if so, did that change by the end, as Season 6 seems much more weighted towards the Lovers version?
You are right . . . the story dictated how the relationship unfolded in that episode. To his credit, RJ never pandered to what the people in chat rooms wrote, wanted, or thought. I was not as strong. However, I think that story took precedence in the process. What worked for the story. In fact, story (and the story within the commercial breaks) at times took precedence over character.
By season 6 . . . well only the true fans were left and Xena and Gab had traveled for 6 years together. They eventually got naked when they went to bed. When I saw Xena washing Gabrielles foot in LEGACY (it was not scripted), I thought Lucy and Renee had outed themselves to some degree. It suggested that they were having sex or maybe that is just me. I know PULP FICTION debated what a foot rub meant. I guess I sided with throwing the guy out the window.
"[...] Yes, I was explicitly told by the
executive producers, the writing staff and the two
lead actors that the characters of Xena and Gabrielle
evolved from friends to a lover relationship over
the course of the series."
- Katherine Fugate
Hudson: Listen to your wife, Xena.
God, I love that woman. Hudson Leik
"I think the gay thing is there," Tapert says. "Certainly
there is a belief that Xena and Gabrielle are having sexual
Q: Have you ever been guilty of pushing the subtext for the
sake of the audience?
Sears: Yes. Aside from the fact that *I* like it, I think that
it adds to the characters. And, also, it doesn't diverge
from my interpretations of who Xena and Gabrielle are or what
their relationship is.
Lucy- "We talk about it on set. We're all aware of how different
sectors of our audience perceive the show. If you're talking
about the lesbian element, we are aware and we're not
afraid of it. This is a love story between two people. What
they do in their own time is none of our business."
|Posted by carpechakram on October 24, 2010 at 10:04 PM||comments (0)|
#1 Volume 1 Nov. 2010
Have ya ever wondered about ownership?..I just looked up the definition and found all
kinds of ownerships...cars, corporations, houses, pets (of course they really own us);).Most
of the examples were in the legal sense, but then I wondered about another kind of ownership...not
on paper, and not legal..."ownership of the heart".
All of us have experienced this....why else would we be members of this site?.
WE ALL OWN XENA !!!!!!! Not legally binding, mind you....but no courts could protect our
ownership as fiercely as we do....she's ours, baby...in the heart...in the soul...ours....all ours...
I ran across an article written in 1997 which I think sums this all up.....
Who Owns Xena ?
On the Web, fans of the Warrior Princess have taken her places she could never go on TV. And so far, the heroine's corporate owners have let a thousand Xena story lines bloom online
BY ANDREW LEONARD
call it the kiss that shook cyberspace -- a revelatory moment in the second season of the TV show "Xena: Warrior Princess." Xena, an action hero who makes Wonder Woman look like a simpering debutante, bent her head down and smooched her sidekick, Gabrielle, a blonde quarterstaff-wielding bard, smack on the lips. In the silence that followed, sharp-eared fans could almost hear the screen-captures being digitized and uploaded to the Web. Proof, proof at last, that Xena and Gabrielle are more than just friends.
And proof, too, that the Xenaverse (as it's affectionately known) encompasses more than a just a wacky fictional world where myth and history are so jumbled that one is as likely to bump into Julius Caesar as a tribe of Amazons, or bounce from a tussle with Ares to a showdown between David and Goliath. The Xenaverse knows no limits. It extends even into the Internet, where Xenites are hard at work evangelizing the legend of the Warrior Princess in every direction possible, from the familiar old pleasures of chat rooms, mailing lists and countless Web sites to the outer boundaries of faux-scholarly Xena criticism and erotic lesbian fan fiction.
Xena's online following offers a fresh example of how the Internet is altering the way fans and creators influence each other. In the absence of any clear sign, so far, of disapproval from Xena's rights-holders, Universal Studios and Renaissance Pictures, Xenites have freely created a festival of Xena glory online -- a world chock-full of unauthorized screen captures, video clips, sound files, screen savers, computer games, detailed episode summaries and ream after ream of fan fiction. On the Net, fans are hardly helpless consumers of pop cultural commodities. They have been given the power to redraw the lines that separate them from the objects of their devotion.
There is an intimate connection, in every sense of the word, between the Net and the Xenaverse.
"The producers are very aware of the Internet and the Internet fan's reaction," says Kym Taborn, editor of WHOOSH, a tongue-in-cheek Web zine that serves as the journal for the "International Association of Xena Studies" and focuses on such issues as the hair color myths surrounding Lucy Lawless (the actress who plays Xena) or Xena as Byronic hero. "I have a whole boatload of honorary members of the International Association of Xena Studies who are production people or actors on the show," says Taborn.
"The Renaissance folks are very much aware of the large online community, the numerous Web sites and the fact that these Web sites have screen captures and use images from the MCA/Universal Xena/Herc Web sites," says Michael Martinez, maintainer of the comprehensive Xena Online Resources Web site.
Representatives of Renaissance Pictures proved impossible to reach for this story -- most of the show's principals are in New Zealand, where Xena is taped, and the Renaissance publicist referred all questions to Universal Studios. But the online footprints of Renaissance are everywhere. Writers, editors and producers of the show subscribe to mailing lists and participate in chat room-based interview sessions -- not all of which are smooth sailing. Lawless found herself kicked out of an IRC chat room devoted to Xena when she made fun of her own character while chatting under the nickname "Hercules." The chat room regulars were outraged. Nobody messes with Xena.
Unless, that is, one is an author of Xena-related fan fiction, in which case anything goes. Not only does Xena get beat up and battered in some fan-written chronicles, but she and Gabrielle have been transmogrified into 1990s bikers in the American Southwest and have been known to pop up in regions as far afield as Ireland and Japan. And then there's the sex. One measly televised kiss doesn't even begin to capture the weight of passion expressed online in lesbian Xena/Gabrielle erotica. Xena is truly a feminist hero for the '90s, an ass-kicking sex object accessible to men and women alike.
Which is not to say that in the annals of pop cultural fan obsessiveness, the outpouring of Xena/Gabrielle erotica is by any means unique. So-called slash fiction dates back at least 15 years, to the days when the first band of boldly-going "Star Trek" fans began to publish stories that posited a graphic homosexual relationship between Captain Kirk and Lieutenant Spock. But back then, slash implied underground, and had an audience composed mostly of the slash writers themselves and sharp-eyed lit-crit academics.
In the Internet era, there is no more underground, and every obsessive subcultural faction is easily accessible. Xena/Gabrielle slash may not be unique, but it is vigorous, public and, to a certain extent, even officially condoned. Gene Roddenberry probably never intended Kirk and Spock to be seen as gay lovers, but there is no denying the explicit lesbian subtext in "Xena," the television show. As one of the Subtext FAQs notes, the show's producers have admitted as much. Televised incidents such as the Xena/Gabrielle kiss, or the even more notorious "disco lesbian vampire" episode "Girls Just Want to Have Fun," provide, at the very least, evidence of a tacit consent to a lesbian reading of the Xena-Gabrielle relationship.
Contemporary pop culture may be far more accepting of overt lesbianism than gay male sexuality, but the lesbian Xena scene flourishing online still presses some taboo buttons.
"I would say that in a climate of homophobia, any story which takes lesbian sexuality and relationships seriously and deals with them sympathetically has a transgressive element to it," says Henry Jenkins, author of "Star Trek Rerun, Reread, Rewritten: Fan Writing as Textual Poaching." "If Xena seems to allow a lesbian reading, it doesn't insist on it. The producers want to have things both ways, while the fan stories make the lesbian subtext explicit."
"Most slash stories are a form of cultural criticism," says Jenkins, "often an attempt to explore more fully the characters and their motivations, and thus fall under the legal notion of parody. On the other hand, if you are a schoolteacher in the Midwest posting slash stories on the net, and Viacom comes crashing down upon you armed with a whole tribe of lawyers, you stand to lose far too much to go to court ... They will crush you and all you can do is roll over and play dead, whether they are legally in the right or not." But the legal implications of fan fiction aren't as simple as cut-and-dried trademark infringement. For instance, producers and writers for "Xena" are careful to note that they do not read fan fiction for fear of being accused of stealing ideas. In other words, they're afraid of being sued for stealing from their own fans, who are blithely adapting already trademarked characters. Confusing? So be it. Nobody ever claimed that the Xenaverse makes sense.
Right now, apparent trademark violation and copyright infringement are rampant in the Xenaverse, but so far, Universal isn't cracking down on anyone. The Universal approach is in sharp contrast to that taken by its media-titan brethren, Fox Television and Viacom, both of whom have stirred up considerable Net ire with harsh cease-and-desist stances against unauthorized Web site creations by fans of such shows as "The X-Files," "Millennium" and "Star Trek."
But what is Universal's policy? It's not easy to find out. In response to repeated inquiries, a spokesperson for Universal (who insisted that she be referred to only by that label) finally issued the following statement:
"We do monitor Internet sites for many of our characters and properties and sometimes certain Web sites are also called to our attention, and in such cases we will analyze on a case-to-case basis when it might be appropriate to take action. But we recognize that most of these unauthorized sites are created by fans, and we find that flattering and supportive of our shows and properties."
The spokesperson noted that Universal reserves the right to take action against sites that cross the line into "bad taste," but at the same time admitted that the notion of bad taste is "very subjective."
There is no shortage of bad taste on the Net, to be sure. When Lawless accidentally exposed her left breast while singing the National Anthem at an NHL playoff game, pictures of the incident immediately popped up on the Web. Lia Crandall, a publicist for Renaissance Pictures, recalled being sent a photograph of Lawless in which the actress' head had been digitally superimposed on a naked body. The Xenaverse can be a rough place.
But still, most Xena Webmasters say that Universal has taken no action against fans.
"The official policy of MCA/Universal seems to be a don't-ask-don't-tell one," said Tom Simpson, a Web producer who works for CitySearch. "Obviously people haven't been asking permission to create the Web sites, but MCA/Universal hasn't asked anyone to shut down their site. If they did, I would be one of the first asked. I have over 400 megabytes of Xena images, sounds and QuickTime videos, and around 3,000 visitors daily."
And, intriguingly, the most potentially controversial aspect of Xena on the Net -- the lesbian erotica fan fiction -- is also probably the best protected from any potential corporate-sponsored censorship. Despite using trademarked characters, fan fiction is protected, says lawyer (and devoted "Star Trek" fan) Judith Gran, by several Supreme Court precedents ruling that "transformative" works are not necessarily infringements on copyright.
Furthermore, for a corporation to win a cease-and-desist order against an author of fan fiction, says Gran, it would have to prove that it was suffering financial damage -- when the truth could be exactly the opposite.
As fans see it, their online creativity has helped propel "Xena's" huge popularity to its spot today as the No. 1 syndicated action-adventure television show in the world.
"It appears that MCA/Universal has realized the value of a few dedicated Webmasters who spend ungodly hours creating monstrous Web pages that only serve to help advertise their product more," says Simpson.
"The Xena fans are for the most part extremely thoughtful, courteous, law-abiding citizens," says Kym Taborn, the WHOOSH editor. "All they want to do is enjoy the Xenaverse. There are many who take great delight in writing their own Xena adventures and even more who take delight in reading them. Who is this harming? If it is doing anything, it is adding value to the property of Xena. The Web activity enhances the product."
Still, statements like Universal's appear to be designed to allow for a future change of direction. The current peace could easily be just the calm before the crackdown. But the Xenites, like their hero, don't intend to go quietly. Should the media colossus ever decide to move, they intend to be ready. Taborn and Martinez, of Xena Online Resources, recently began organizing a Xena Webmaster's Association that will act as an intermediary between the Net and Universal. If Universal suddenly decides that certain activities are unacceptable, the XWA will work to get the information out as quickly as possible. As Xena would be the first to observe, forewarned is forearmed.
July 3, 1997
|Posted by carpechakram on October 4, 2009 at 12:21 PM||comments (0)|
VERY IMPORTANT THOUGHTS ABOUT XENA
by Fannie, Fannie's Room, 02 Oct 2009
So, sometimes on Fridays, I like to keep my blog light. I mean, who wants to read Super Serious (Or Not Very Important, depending on who you talk to) Feminist Stuff every single day, right?
That being said, I'm going to be self-indulgent for a moment and express my adoration for the show that was Xena: Warrior Princess. Like, I own all of the DVDs from each and every season and still sometimes watch them. And, in all honesty, I wouldn't be opposed to owning trading cards, figurines, or a Xena costume complete with a replica chakram. I don't own any of that, I'm just sayin' I wouldn't be opposed to it.
Now, I fully realize that this confession, when combined with my profile statement, completes my transformation from nuanced human being to Lesbian Caricature, but I'm okay with that. Being cool is over-rated.
Even though the series ended in 2001, XWP, as it is known in the fandom, is one of the few past or current television shows that passes the Bechdel Test. That is, it has two women in it, who talk to each other, about something other than a man. And, given how few women are in the world compared to men, that test is REALLY hard for most television shows and movies to pass!
Perhaps drawing inspiration from Wonder Woman, XWP, in turn, has influenced cult-hits Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Alias, and and and... say, where are all of the movies and shows about female heroes these days, anyway? What's that, another dood comic book hero movie just came out? Yawn.
In addition to being a show about ladies who get to be important characters like how men are important characters, XWP has achieved cult status among the lesbian community for its (a) portrayal of strong (and attractive doesn't hurt, either) female characters and (b) winking portrayal of the relationship between Xena and her companion, Gabrielle. Yet, back when XWP was airing, there were pretty intense debates among fans who insisted that Xena and Gabrielle were "just friends" versus those of us who knew that they were clearly more than friends (hello, several episodes were devoted to demonstrating that they were "soul mates." It doesn't really get more lesbionic than that, folks). Furthermore, among lesbians of a certain generation, some identified romantic partners by asking if one would rather date, or be, Xena. It was sorta like the 1990s version of figuring out if one was butch or femme. Although personally, I could never decide the answer to that. Xena and Gabby were both appealing in their own unique, delicious ways and, really, can't a girl have both? (And by "both," I obviously mean butch and femme qualities, not Xena and Gabby. Get your minds out of the gutter you dirty birds!)
Moving along then, the actors who played Xena and Gabrielle, Lucy Lawless and Renee O'Connor, respectively, played Gay for Pay while being, and remaining, allies to progressive causes, including LGBT equality. From her blog at the Lucy Lawless Fan Club site. (Yes, I do read it from time to time, Don't Judge!), Lawless writes:
Someone asked me today if I knew that Sarah Palin's supporters are calling her 'Xena.' I had to ask, 'Oh, is Sarah Palin a lesbian too?!' I don't see it on her bio anywhere . . . nope, not there. Curiously, in her earlier life, Xena traded motherhood for a career as an evil warlord. Hmmmm . . ."
Hot, talented, and funny. Leftist Gender Warrior says, "there are so few of us."
|Posted by carpechakram on September 11, 2009 at 11:52 PM||comments (0)|
Never wear a backward baseball cap to an interview unless applying for the job of umpire"
A crown of about fifty people showed up at the Conlonial Headquarters the next day. People of
all ages, races, shapes, and sizes milled around in front of the the main tent, most looking for
employment, others just to catch a quick glimse on their new leader.
D'Anna and Gabrielle peeked through the tent flap at the crowd.
"Well, I guess it's show time, huh.", Gabrielle said. "Ready to make your entrance?."
"As ready as I'll ever be, Gabrielle." Let's rock". These Earth terms are just splendid.
The crowd quieted down as the tent, flap opened, and the Mistress and her Liason walked out.
To say that D'Anna presented a formidible site was a huge underexageration. She was
dressed in her black Consortium uniform, fitted black long sleeved blouse (with medals), tight (think spray paint))
black pants, and high black lace up leather boots. In this outfit she looked far taller than her
six foot height, and the dark emsemble brought out the light cerulean (gotta use that
word at least once in any Uber story) blue of her eyes. Panther ran through more that one of
the minds of the crowd.
"All right people, We've got a job to do here. Look at the signs behind those two tables over
there. Figure out which job you'd like to interview for, and line up. Any questions?"
Not one person in the crowd moved. In fact some looked like they wanted to run.
Whoa? She's really not good at people skills, Gabrielle thought. How can we get out of this
one? Placing a gentle hand on D'Anna's sleeve, she whispered, "May I say a few words,
Mistress?" The tall woman nodded.
"Hi folks, My name is Gabrielle DeBard, and I'm the Corsortium Liason, assigned to this colony.
As you probably know, we don't have much time before this colony, will be independent of
the rest of 21st century Earth, and we'll be on our own. Most of you have been here a lot
longer than either of us have, and we need your help. A lot of you have gotten the jump on the
skills we need to survive, and we'd like to hire some of you to teach them to us. At first most
of you will be able to go back to your homes each night, but as we build up the site, we'll have
places for you all to stay permanently. All pay will be based on a barter system, since we have
no coinage as of yet. Well, that about does it. Thank you all for coming. Are there any
questions? Remember to get your ticket for the doorprize.
There was a veritable stampede to get in line.
Let the games begin...
"All cooks to the front my line. Only those who want to be cooks.", Gabrielle yelled. Three
people came to the front of the line." The first two interviewees said they liked to cook, and
had always cooked for themselves, but did not have much experiences cooking for large
groups of people. Gabrielle wanted someone who could do banquets, and large celebrations,
since this would eventually be the hub for all the social activities of the colony. The last
person to interview was a tall, stocky, middle aged woman.
"And you would be?", politely asked Gabrielle.
"My name is Cyrene, and if you want it, I can cook it. Meat, fish, fowl, soups, stews, pastries..my specialty is nutbread...
and even some homemade wine, whiskey, and beer. I'm your woman."
Impressed by this woman's confidence, Gabrielle asked, "And what are your qualifications?"
"My mum died when I was nine summers old. I cooked for my father, and seven brothers,
until the old man died, and my brothers left home. I can cook plain or fancy, hot or cold,
nibbles or feasts...don't matter. I work hard, don't carry tales, and never get sick, Mam."
Gabrielle walked over to the first two people who had interviewed, thanked them
for coming, and reminded them that they could get into another line to interview for another
job if they wished.
"Can you start tomorrow, Cyrene? For the next week I just want you to get a feel for the job.
We're still eating the food the Consortium sent us, but if you can give me a list of things you need, I'll
see if we can round them up for you, and if I can't get them you just take the list and get them locally
yourself. Whatever you get, get enough for the Mistress , me, and yourself.
That should work, don't ya think?"
"That should work out just fine Mam. I've got pots, pans, and kettles I'll bring from home.
Would it be alright if I ate all my meals here in the kitchen, and then went home at night. I'd
be here bright and early for breakfast."
"Sounds like a plan to me Cyrene. See ya in the morning, and thanks again."
"Oh no, Mam, the pleasure's all mine."
One down, and the Gods only know how many more to go, Gabrielle thought.
"Ok now, anyone want to be interviewed for the job of housekeeper? Line up here in front of
me." She waited, and waited, and waited, and still no one showed up. This is not good, she
thought. If D'Anna cleans house like she cooks...this is not good at all.
Panic was starting to set in when a gentle hand came to rest on her shoulder. She turned and once again
found a smiling Cyrene.
"Mam, I don't cook well when I have too much time on my hands so I could probably tidy up a bit,
as well as cook. If I could just have a place to stay when everything is built, I could just stay
here all the time. I don't need a house anymore seeing as it's just me.
" Oh, Cyrene, the Gods must have sent you to us. That's a marvelous idea. You could have
your evenings off, and if you told us soon enough, you could have any day off you need too."
"Shall we shake on it Mam? Don't need no written agreement."
"You've got a double deal, Cyrene. Once again, see you tomorrow. This is just super."
Cyrene left wondering if the small woman always got this excited. I bet she can pack it in,
D'Anna's first interview of the day was for the position of secretary and bookkeeper. There
was only one woman in line for the job.
"Well then, I assume you're here for the position of bookkeeper, and secretary. What are
your qualifications?...Ms, Miss (no way, she thought..this car been around the block more
than once), Mrs?"
" Minya. Just Minya. I'm ready do anything you need. I'm strong as a bull, and I can read
Earth English, and Greek, plus I can add, subtract, multiply, and divide. That's a pretty rare
combination in these parts."
"What did you do before you came to the colony, Minya ?"
"I taught high school physical education for 40 years..That'll prepare you for anything. I used
to sell, and inventory the gym suits?never lost a cent. "Minya's Her Name..Bookkeeping's Her
Game", they used to say at school.
"You would only have to work here days, Minya. You could go home each night, as long as
you were back here each morning. Would that be acceptable?"
There's only me and my pardner, Paulina, Mistress. As long as I'm home to help her fix
supper, that will work out nicely.
"All right, Minya, you are now my official bookkeeper, and secretary, and by the way, you
can eat your lunch here..that is, if we find a cook. Come back in two days, and we'll go
over your duties. Does Paulina by any chance know anything about?D'Anna reached into
a folder, and brought out a sheet of paper?about... horses, cows, pigs, sheep, goats, rabbits,
chickens, ducks, geese, or carrier pigeons?"
"Ain't it a small colony, Mistress. Paulina takes care of all the animals in our village, and she's
even got a real good boy who helps her. The boy could do the job himself now. Paulina
trained him up real good."
"Do you think Paulina would want the be my Livestock Manager? When we get everything
built up, you two could live here?but only if you wanted to. You could each have your own house."
Minya, turned around and motioned for a tall, dark woman to come over.
"Did ya hear that honey? What do ya think?
"But, one house would work too", replied D'anna quickly. Almost blew that one, she thought.
"Works for me "my sweet"." When can we start?"
"I'll see you both back here in two days. We have a deal then?"
Both Minya and Paulina extended their hands to the Mistress. She looked down at the hand
by her side, and slowly extended it to the couple, sealing the deal.
Gabrielle was now busy trying to find someone who knew about the local plants. She
suspected that a lot of the wild plants could be "tamed" and then eaten. So far no one had
applied for the job, and she knew her newly hired cook/housekeeper would not have the
time to look for edible plants, keep house, and cook at the same time. As she was about to
give up hope, a small, frail, and quite ancient man appeared in front of her. His skin
was wrinkled, looking like apiece of parchment, but his large brown eyes were bright, and twinkling.
"Good day young mistresss, I believe I may be of some help. My name is Niklio, and I am
a healer, and herbist.I have traveled far, coming from the land where Apollo begins his
journey, but my soul has told me to stop and rest here. As an old man, I have learned to
listen to my soul. My grandaughter, M'lila has accompanied me. May we have the pleasure
of working for you?'
"I had a few questions to ask you Niklio... but I honestly can't remember a one of them. I'm starting to get a bit of a headache. We
need a healer, and someone who knows the local plants, and I think you fill the bill. I would be
most honored to have you and your grandaughter work for us."
"It is my honor, young mistress, the healer replied. M'lilia and I will make our home on the
outskirts of your camp. You will find us there if you need us." With that he bowed, giving
the young girl who had come up next to him a gentle nudge, at which time she bowed also. They then shook Gabrielles' hand,
turned, and walked away.
Now who just hired who?, Gabrielle thought. Hummm...My headache's gone? Weird. And why is the term "little grasshopper"
bouncing around in my head?
Taking a short break, Gabrielle walked over to see how D'Anna was doing. She saw the tall
woman staring off into space, as she played with a lock of her hair. She seemed in deep
Looks like someone needs a break, Gabrielle thought.
"How's it going Mistress? Can I interest you in a Dr. Pepper? "
D'Anna nearly jumped out of her seat, not having heard Gabrielle come over.
"Sounds like a good idea, Ms DeBard. She nodded to the line of applicants in front of her. "We'll be back in a few minutes
folks. Ms DeBard need a little break."
How does she do that?, Gabrielle mused. Always has to look like the strongest one.
Once they were in the tall woman's tent, Gabrielle couldn't get her words out fast enough.
"How'd ya do? How'd ya do?"
"Quite well, if I don't say for myself. I got us a secretary/accountant named Minya, and her
girlfriend, Paulina thrown in as someone to work with all the animals." When did I start
saying "us", she wondered. "How did you do?"
"Well, I got us a cook named Cyrene,who can cook everything, plus knows how to make
wine, whiskey, and beer, and an older gentleman, named Niklio, and his grand daughter
M'lilia. He's a healer, and herbalist, and I guess his grand daughter helps him. Not bad..eh?
When did I start saying us, she thought?.Did she say girlfriend?
To be Continued....