VISITORSITE.NET - V INTERVIEWS
Posted AUGUST 2, 2009
VisitorSite.net Special Feature: Interview With V Executive Producer Jeffrey Bell
By Craig Byrne - VisitorSite.net Webmaster
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Following the successful V panel at the Comic-Con International in San Diego, several media outlets including VisitorSite.net were able to interview members of the V cast and crew. You can find the Morena Baccarin (Anna) and Scott Peters/Jace Hall interviews elsewhere on this site. Today we share our interview with newly-installed executive producer Jeffrey Bell from the new series, which premieres in November on ABC.
Bell's name may be familiar to fans of good television from his work on Angel, Alias, and Harper's Island.
Questions are bold; answers are not.
At what point did you become involved with V?
I was brought in the day the pilot was picked up. I had been meeting with Scott, and Steve, who is the non-writing executive producer. I was doing a series called Harper's Island, and as that was ending, I was asked if I was interested in V and I was like "yes."
Is there anything you can tease for us about episodes after the pilot?
One of the stories that we're doing right now is an international story. We've got ships over 29 cities, so we're not always going to be in New York. It's a way to take different characters to different cities, and we're excited by that. We're talking about Hong Kong. We're talking about London right now. Another thing that we're going to do is that we're going to go behind the scenes with the Visitors, and get their perspective. You're going to see Anna in cabinet meetings with her people, and you're going to see some of the V agenda; how they want to move forward, as well as the human side.
Are there any particular characters you found yourself gravitating towards when writing the series?
I think Scott and the guys came up with a really great, diverse group of people, and I love characters with secret agendas. So, Ryan has a secret past; I love that. If he was a Visitor, or if he is a Visitor and he's now a traitor, why? What went wrong? What happened that caused that? I love that kind of stuff. All of our characters are in a sense developing secret lives. There's a FBI agent by day or priest by day, V hunter by night. I love those kinds of stories, where you're one thing here, and one thing there, and how do you reconcile that? We're trying to do that will all of [the characters], and they're all so pretty. Holy cow. What an attractive cast!
Are we going to be seeing any more of Valerie Stevens?
Yes you are. Lourdes Benedicto is going to be in almost all of the episodes.
Will more recurring characters be introduced after the pilot?
Yes. That's all I'll say. Yes.
Can you talk about lessons learned from recent successes and failures of TV show revivals?
I would say you don't need to be too slavish to the original. I think that Bionic Woman was challenged on a number of levels, and it's really no one person's fault. If the studio and the network and the people who are making it don't see the same show, you get something less than a whole show. Battlestar Galactica is a great success, and you go "Ah! Let's just be geniuses and do that." Knight Rider was cheesy when it first came out, and people loved it because it was cheesy. There was no trying to not make it cheesy. But that's an example of where I had fond memories of the original Knight Rider, but I don't know if as an adult, that there's a cool adult version of it that would get me excited. It's a show built for 12 year old boys, to a large extent.
What draws you to writing for genre television?
It's visual. I love visual storytelling. It allows you to tell stories that you couldn't tell on a regular TV show. You could deal with taboos. Blade Runner, I keep finding, is maybe my favorite movie ever. I think the reason is that at the center of it is, everybody asks the question of "who am I and why am I here?" It's just profound. And what I love is the Replicants want the same thing that the humans want, and whether Harrison Ford was a Replicant or not, he still felt the same pain. [Genre] allows you to tell those kinds of stories. Are we alone? What's an alien? Is an alien someone from a different country? Is it someone who has a different skin color? Someone who believes differently? A lot of it's innocence. E.T. was a lot about innocence; Starman was a lot about innocence, and that was their metaphor. This is different. This is not your romantic Visitor. We want to explain why they are here. I loved Tim Burton's Mars Attacks. I loved those aliens. They were my favorite aliens ever. They were crazy! That's not our show. We have a different metaphor. And for us, the aliens are really about us.
Going into V, do you have a planned 13-episode arc leading to a season or series finale?
We know tentpoles going up to episode 12, and then even if ABC wants [extra episodes], we have a plan for that. And next season is the same.
How would you describe V to new viewers?
I'd say it's on ABC. Honestly. The people who have seen the show, when they were asked "Where do you see this show? Syfy or [elsewhere]?" ABC was the place that they saw. If only the fans of the original V show up, we are dead. Scott has a quote where he says, if you put a spaceship in a show, you've got a million people showing up just because of the spaceship. It doesn't have to be a good spaceship, but you'll get a million people. We will not succeed with that. We need to build a wide audience, and so we have really good actors, and we think we're putting them in really relatable, compelling situations, and there just happen to be giant spaceships hanging over them. [The show] is not set in space, and we're not spending a lot of time with the Visitors in a big lizard ball, doing the lizard agenda, eating lizard things; we have Morena as a beautiful alien queen!
Does that mean you can promise us we'll never get a Star-Child or a lizard baby?
I can't promise you anything, but I will do my best to promise that whatever we give you, it won't be lame.
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