VISITORSITE.NET - V INTERVIEWS
Posted JULY 29, 2009
VisitorSite.net Special Feature: Interview With V Executive Producers Scott Peters and Jace Hall
By Craig Byrne - VisitorSite.net Webmaster
Please simply link to this interview rather than reposting it on other websites and forums. Thanks!
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. Today we share our interview with executive producers Scott Peters and Jace Hall from the new series, which premieres in November on ABC.
Questions are bold; answers are not. "SP" below is Scott Peters; "JH" is Jace Hall. And here's the interview!
How do you adapt elements such as politics and religion into this series?
SP: To me, the main theme that runs through all of the storylines is about blind devotion. Whether it's blind devotion to your religion, or to your partner in life, or to your work, or to anything, really. And so, the idea that Father Jack's big question at the beginning is "How can I reconcile the reality of spaceships outside my window with what I know of the Bible," so his faith is shaken a little bit. He's in the business of asking people to devote themselves to their religion. This is a guy who used to step outside, look up at the sky, and where in his mind God would be, now there's a spaceship. So, it's those sorts of themes that are brought across the board.
Can you talk about the controlling of the media by the Visitors?
SP: We try to bring new elements to the show that will certainly play for an audience in 2009-2010. You heard "universal healthcare" get a laugh [in the pilot] because it's so topical and in the news right now. It's been in the news for a long time, but it's particularly topical right now. Obviously, there's the TMZs of the world - there's such hugely driven celebrity that goes on in our society, and I love that Anna tries to basically "rig the election before anything could happen," and Chad is stuck. He's a guy who's plucked out of obscurity. She didn't pick Tom Brokaw to do it; she picked a guy who wouldn't get up and leave. So, she's pretty good at manipulating folks.
JH: All great science fiction, at least in my view, has a real opportunity to take a look at the human condition in various ways, and taking the media as an angle is a really good way to look at our obsessions, and what we are willing to do. We're living in a Facebook-Myspace age. So you're getting characters that Scott and the team are writing that are exploring some of those things.
Was it intentional to get so many actors that had large genre followings cast onto the show, and on that note, will be seeing more of Laura Vandervoort on this series?
SP: Honestly, the first thing that we look for is the right actor for the right role. Father Jack, for instance, was originally written as much younger, and as we started to go through the casting process, we started to realize that Elizabeth Mitchell was going to be involved, and we decided that maybe we need to go a little bit more of a man's man, and what's bizarre is that literally, when we came back from ABC and we had had that discussion, Joel Gretsch called me, and just said "Hey? What's happening? What are you doing right now?" Just out of the blue. And I'm like, "It's funny you should call. What are you doing right now?" So, there was no particular design to go out and look for genre actors. It just so happened that A - folks were available, B - they were perfect for the roles, and C - they happened to be in genre shows in the past, and I think it's wonderful for us. We get 4400 fans, and Firefly fans, and LOST fans, and we're hoping to get all of those fan bases and put it into one ginormous, take-control-of-the-world fan base.
You will absolutely be seeing Laura Vandervoort. She was wonderful. She's joined the cast as a series regular, and you can expect to see a lot more with Tyler and Lisa as things move forward. She has a couple of very interesting things up her sleeve as well.
What's the status of Alan Tudyk's involvement in the series?
SP: We love Alan. Clearly the audience loves Alan, and it would be awesome to find ways to maybe see him again somehow.
What specific themes involving race relations did you set out to cover in your script, and were these themes different from the original incarnation of V?
SP: The idea is that, yes, certainly in the beginning, the Visitors are seen as these terrific people who come from another planet, and they're bringing all kinds of gifts and everyone's on board very quickly, and as we all know, the Visitors have a very different agenda about what it is they need to do, and that does not bode well for us. You've seen in the pilot that there are protests. Not everybody's down for it. There are protests of people thinking "Wait a minute. Everything's happened a little too fast." And we'll see that grow throughout the beginning of the series. We'll see more and more people dissatisfied, and they'll have to try to find a way to quell all of that. You could look at the Visitors as a "new minority" that has shown up. So you can sort of play to some of those themes in that they want to try to do something that we know not to let them do that, they can sort of say "Well. We're bringing gifts. We're bringing you all of these wonderful things. Then why wouldn't you?" So this plays back and forth between the people who are protesting and the people who are not protesting. In terms of race, I don't know if the guy who asked a question about race [in the Comic-Con panel] realized that Morris Chestnut [Ryan], when he reveals himself as a Visitor, is a hero in our eyes, because he's a traitor to the Visitors who are bad people and are trying to come take over humanity.
JH: I wouldn't say that we're scared of their reaction. I think, at least from my perspective, we want to engage them, and tell a story that has similar themes, but it's just a very different show. As Scott said on the panel, we're not trying to retread what already was done for a specific timeframe that played well during that time. We're in a different period now. Our audience has different expectations, so you want to build a show that touches on concepts that were in the original. The aliens are here. But, move it past in a different direction, to tell new stories to engage not only the original V audience, but also the new audience, and try to widen it out as much as we can.
SP: I think the audience that does remember the show, to me, if I had nothing to do with this, I would come just out of curiosity to see what's the new version of this. You can't please everybody all of the time. We can't force anybody to watch the show, and if they feel like this is not doing the old one honor, they're not going to watch the show. The good news is for them is that there's still the box set of the old V DVD's, and they can watch the original as often as they want. We hope before making that decision, they would at least give our show a chance, and come and look at it to see what it's all about; give it a few episodes, and if you really hate it, you're going to turn it off. And if you don't, then you'll watch it and it will become a huge thing.
Can you talk about the plan you have as far as story arcs go?
SP: There's a pretty in-depth plan involved in terms of whether we're doing 13 episodes or 22 episodes a season, that we want to call them sort of like "chapters." They have a beginning, middle, and end. We're looking to put game-changers throughout so that when we come back for another season, it changes things up dramatically. I think that in terms of the mini-series versus series aspect, because we know right away we're going for the long term, in success, that what we're not going to do is go down the road the old series made in becoming sort of like a war picture where there were battles every week. I think we're doing things a little bit differently, that you get the idea that if you stick your neck out, you get it cut off, because they're so good at blending in, and so good at spotting folks that don't blend in. In the next episode, Erica and Jack and everybody have to find a way to lead their lives and not join some resistance somewhere, because that's how you identify yourself and get eliminated very quickly.
There is a fight scene in the pilot, so how often will be seeing things like that?
SP: We're not going to shy away from an action element by any means. It's just not going to be the driving force of the show.
JH: Plausability has played a pretty big role in the development of this, and you want people to act plausibly in situations. When you get into the "battle of the week," how plausible is that to sustain for the audience?
SP: It kind of becomes a little less interesting to us. To us, the characters are driving the show. Yes, it's setting in this huge science fiction backdrop. I can watch spaceships for a couple of minutes, and be "that's cool, and now what have we got?" And I can watch an action sequence for a couple of minutes, and go "that's great. Now what have you got?" To me, the characters have to be the thing that drive the show to really invest in, and then when you do have the action sequence and you do come to the new technology, it's the icing on the cake, and it's just super cool.
Are we going to be seeing more of the characters of the Resistance, such as Georgie?
SP: Yes. The Resistance will take a little time to grow. Georgie will certainly be back, and we'll certainly be introducing new folks along the way. But, yes. Elizabeth and Joel are not going to be the only ones fighting the war.
Have there been any overtures made to getting anyone from the original cast on the series?
SP: I personally love the idea. I think that there's probably a world where that will occur at some point. we still need to figure out in what capacity. There are a lot of decisions that need to be made that are also predicated on factors above our creative needs. There are studios and networks and so forth involved. But I think personally it's an awesome idea, and I would love to try and cycle in some folks as a tip of the hat to the old audience.
V premieres in November on ABC. Stay tuned for more interviews.
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