September 28, 2008

Frank Spotnitz's Exclusive Interview About "Millennium"

Exclusive Interview With Millennium Co-Executive Producer Frank Spotnitz

On October the 4th cult television series Millenniun comes to Zone Horror. This terrifying drama series horror in its purest form with a leading man that really knows how to make the skin on your neck crawl, Lance Henriksen. Here we speak exclusively to Executive Producer Frank Spotnitz about his involvement with a series that changed TV drama forever.

Zone Horror: Is it true you began your working life as a journalist?

Frank Spotnitz: Yes. I was editor of my college paper at UCLA, then went to work for United Press International, first in Indiana, then in New York City. I later wrote for the Associated Press in Paris and freelanced for a number of magazines, including Entertainment Weekly and Rolling Stone.

ZH: How did you get into television work?

FS: I decided I didn’t want to be a journalist anymore! I moved back to Los Angeles from Paris so I could study screenwriting at the American Film Institute. The X-Files was my first job in Hollywood.

ZH: When did you first meet Chris Carter?

FS: By chance. I met Chris in a book group shortly after I moved back to L.A. This was years before he created The X-Files.

ZH: How did you become involved with Millennium and can your recall your reaction when you first heard the basic outline for the series?

FS: I was very flattered that Chris asked me to work on Millennium as well as The X-Files – flattered and, in short order, exhausted! It was very tough doing double duty on the first season of Millennium and the fourth season of The X-Files. I remember that I only vaguely understood what Millennium was going to be about before Chris let me read the pilot script. I read it on the laptop computer in his office right after he finished it. I was, quite simply, blown away. I still think that pilot is among the very best things he’s ever written.

ZH: Is it true Lance was the first choice for Frank Black? If not who else was considered? (Personally I can’t think of anyone else who could bring his quiet intensity to the role)

FS: Yes, Lance was Chris’ first choice. There were other actors considered for the role, but I don’t want to risk making them uncomfortable by giving their names.

ZH: What was it like to work with Lance Henriksen and Megan Gallagher, two very different actors?

FS: It was great, although I have to say I didn’t really work “with” them very much. On Millennium, nearly all of my work was done in Los Angeles — breaking stories, writing scripts, editing episodes and so on. Occasionally, I’d fly up to Vancouver to help prep an episode, but usually I’d only see Lance and Megan when they were in Los Angeles (or during crew parties!).

ZH: The two leads brought so much depth to their respected roles, which other actors that appeared on the show stand out for you?

FS: Terry O’Quinn was, of course, amazing, just as he now is on Lost. I also thought Birttany Tiplady was an astonishing little actress, Sarah-Jane Redmond was fantastic, as always, and Klea Scott is one of my all-time favourite actors, period. There were too many wonderful guest stars for me to mention.

ZH: As Millennium was based totally in the real world how did you approach writing your episodes, as they were far different to what you were creating for The X-Files?

FS: It was very easy for me to get in touch with my fears on Millennium, because the things that scare me most are things that can happen in the real world. The challenge for me was finding interesting ways to involve Frank’s family in the stories. And I was also always looking for ways to find hope amid all the darkness. The things I would say The X-Files and Millennium had in common were our focus on tight plotting, and wanting to find interesting reasons for why the bad guys were doing what they were doing.

ZH: Why do you think the series has continued to generate interest and debate with the viewing public?

FS: I think it’s because it was very intense and uncompromising. That turned off some viewers, but the people who liked the show, really liked it. I remember the earliest meetings with the network concerned how dark the show was. They kept asking us to lighten up, to find more humour. But Chris had a vision for the series, and it was pretty intense. I also think the show touched on something fundamental about life – the split between the darkness of Frank’s work, and the lightness of his family and home life. Frank struggled to protect his family from the darkness – of the killers he hunted, and inside himself. That’s a very powerful idea to me, and I think it resonates with a lot of other people, too.

ZH: I know some critics disliked the show for its violent content but do you agree it needed to show the horrors of real life in such a graphic manner?

FS: I think there’s an even greater danger when you sanitize violence, or make it less disturbing in some way. I think the most responsible way to depict violence is to make it horrific, because that’s what it is in real life.

ZH: Do you have a favourite episode of Millennium?

FS: The Pilot episode and Lamentation. Among the ones I wrote, Sacrament.

ZH: There’s a legion of fans waiting the return of Frank Black, is there any chance?

FS: I’d say a small chance, getting smaller every year. We’d still love to revisit the character, but at this point I think someone would have to light a pretty big fire under the Fox executives to make it happen.

ZH: Congratulations on The X-Files – I Want To Believe, an intelligent and refreshing break from predictable CGI drenched blockbusters. Can we expect more?

FS: It’s too soon to say.

ZH: What other projects are you working on at the moment?

FS: I have a couple things in the works I’m very excited about, but the deals aren’t done, so I can’t announce them yet. Soon, hopefully!

ZH: Frank Spotnitz, thank you very much.


September 23, 2008

Vince Gilligan's Breaking Bad Wins 2 Emmys Including Best Actor for Bryan Cranston

Vince Gilligan's show Breaking Bad won a second Emmy and it was a major one at that. Bryan Cranston walked away with the statuette for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series beating out James Spader (Boston Legal), Michael C. Hall (Dexter), Hugh Laurie (House), Gabriel Byrne (In Treatment) and Jon Hamm (Mad Men).

Said Bryan Cranston upon picking up his equally bald statuette, "I guess the restraining order has been lifted," in reference to his first Emmy win after two past nominations.

At last weekend's Creative Arts Emmys Breaking Bad took home its first Emmy when Lynne Willingham won for Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series.

Congrats to Vince, Bryan and Lynne!

Breaking Bad Creator Vince Gilligan Discusses the Emmys and Season 2

Creator Vince Gilligan talks about his Emmy nomination and the process of creating storylines for Season 2.

Q: Congratulations on your Emmy nomination. Were you surprised to get nominated for directing as opposed to writing?

A: Well, I was just surprised to get one at all, and very honored to get one in the directing category. But I'm much newer at directing than I am at writing. I'm very proud of our show -- it's a very different television series, but on the other hand, it's relatively new and we only have the seven episodes for people to see. A show like ours is a dangerous show to do, and there are a hundred ways it could fail.

Q: Now that the fear of failure has passed, have you been able to think about the bigger story for upcoming episodes?

A: I try to be a big picture thinker and think ahead, but I find it harder and harder to do that. We're halfway through Season 2, deep in the forest without a compass or a road map, and I can't see anything but the trees. So we just take it one day at a time. In the beginning my writers and I spent the first three weeks just sitting around and talking about the big picture. We came up with some very interesting ideas that we are incorporating into the season, but for now we really are just lost in that forest and striving in a purposeful direction.

Q: How did a foreshortened Season 1 affect your plan for Season 2?

A: That worked out in our favor; it's nice to be able to see the silver lining on that gray cloud. Last season we shot all of our episodes before we ever went on the air, and when that happens you're working in a vacuum in terms of viewer feedback. I wanted to make sure the show was interesting, though, so I was trying to err on the side of having too much plot. If we had gotten to do our last two episodes, we would have had to commit to some very major plot twists that we can now put off until the end of the second season...The strike was a terrible thing for many obvious reasons, but in this one case it kept us from going too far too soon.

Q: Will you be directing more episodes this season?

A: I'd sure like to. I love being on the set because our crew is a wonderful bunch of people, and it's just fun joking around and hanging out -- and we have great craft service. The craft service person is always coming around with really wonderful smoothies. You're just sitting in your chair and someone comes up and hands you a delicious smoothie. It's very pleasant and exciting, and hands down it beats sitting in a room beating your head against a desk trying to figure out what to write next. I'm hoping very much that I'll get to direct the last episode of the season.


Breaking Bad: Q&A with Lynne Willingham (X-Files and Breaking Bad editor)

Editor Lynne Willingham talks with about her Emmy nomination for Breaking Bad's first episode and the brutal beating that just had to be the finale.

Q: How did you get involved with Breaking Bad?

A: Vince Gilligan and I had worked together on The X-Files for five years, and I was lucky enough to do a couple of things he had directed. We just had a really nice working relationship -- if you're lucky to have a relationship with a director when you're an editor you have a shorthand and it makes things all that much quicker. You're not learning each other, you can get into their head with them, and take it one step further and create a project together. Vince is so good that if you're lucky enough to get a call from him, you make it work.

Q: What in your mind makes the Breaking Bad pilot unique?

A: It's got so many different elements, the first of which is a beautiful story of a man whose world is falling apart. But also in the story you've got drama, you've got comedy, you've got pain, you've got happiness, you've got action. There are a lot of television shows where you can go, oh that's an action-drama or that's a sitcom, but with a show like Breaking Bad it's just covering so much area of emotion and experience you can't pigeon-hole it. And I think when you've got so much going on, then as an editor you're able to show a lot of different things. It's one of those golden moments that clicks, and you're just lucky to be there for it.

Q: Was there any aspect to the show that you found particularly challenging?

A: The X-Files was a great training ground for being able to get a lot of experience across the board. And Breaking Bad was such a labor of love that I didn't find any of it overwhelming. It just was fun. I'm sure much of it was challenging, but it's like when you give birth to a child and you know went through something that was pretty painful, but you never remember it because the outcome was so beautiful. All of it was just a joy.

Q: What's your favorite moment in the first episode?

A: I love the opening. I love the teaser. I think it just rocks. I love how it was written, I love that the pants fly into the scene and we're off. It's like, what the heck is going on here? I think that teaser's my favorite scene of the whole show. I also love Jesse falling off the roof.

Q: The last episode of the first season was not meant to be a finale. Is there anything you had to do with your editing to make it feel more final?

A: To be honest, it had very little to do with editing. They figured it out before they started shooting that we would be two episodes short. That said, I think the emotional impact of the beating became an editing thing. Vince knew what he wanted, he knew he needed it to be violent, and to put Walt and Jesse into a place where they felt totally out of their element. So in editing we asked, how do we make that beating so horrific that we realize these guys have stepped into hell? That helped build us up to a cliffhanger.

Q: This is your second Emmy nomination. Your first was for an episode of The X-Files called "The Post-Modern Prometheus." How do the two compare?

A: I just think they were unique, well-written, and well-acted. When you're lucky enough to have a show that's recognized, the show has to be outstanding on a lot of levels. Film is very rhythmic, the way people talk is rhythmic, so the editing has a lot to do with pacing: Do I cut to this person or stay on another? What does an audience want to see? The overall effect is the editing should disappear, and you should be happy to be in the story. And in both of those episodes I think that happened, and that's what made them noteworthy. The editing didn't get in the way.


September 16, 2008

IWTB Blu-ray and DVD News

X-Files Marks Fox's First BD Live Title

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment will become the latest studio to harness BD Live technology on its Blu-ray Disc releases with The X-Files: I Want to Believe, coming Dec. 2.

Viewers who slip the disc into a next-generation Blu-ray Disc player connected to the Internet will be able to enjoy several interactive, Web-enabled features.

Their point of entry is “The X-Files Dossier.” There, BD Live-connected viewers can create their own special-agent avatar who can browse through Agent Dakota Whitney’s case files on clairvoyance and post his own notes and theories about her files online.

Fans also can help Agent Drummy solve several forensic challenges, with new cases posted weekly to the studio’s BD Live Web portal for the first several weeks of release.

“Releasing The X-Files: I Want To Believe as our first BD Live release was a natural,” said Mary Daily, EVP of North American marketing for 20th Century Fox. “One of the most compelling elements of the ‘X-Files’ franchise is how the mythology inspires fans to create and share their own theories about the characters and storylines. The extras on this release take full advantage of the BD Live technology and bring that interactive experience to a level never before possible.”

Other exclusive extras on the Blu-ray Disc edition of The X-Files: I Want to Believe include an interactive timeline featuring more than 80 video clip segments from the franchise’s archives, and a picture-in-picture commentary with director Chris Carter and cowriter Frank Spotnitz.

In addition to the Blu-ray Disc, Fox is releasing the film — which generated $20.8 million in U.S. theaters — as a single-disc DVD and a three-disc special-edition DVD. All versions come with a digital copy of the film, playable on iPods and other portable movie-viewing devices.


X-Files Comic Book News

Wildstorm to publish The X-Files #2

Mulder and Scully race to uncover the truth about the apparent suicide of a government scientist. All evidence points to it being nothing more than a case of one man choosing to end his own life, but Mulder is convinced the evidence isn’t revealing everything. For Agent Fox Mulder, uncovering the truth is literally a case of life or death.

From show writer Frank Spotnitz, art by Brian Denham, cover by Tony Shasteen. 32pg. - Color - $3.50 US - On Sale December 17, 2008

See cover on the left.


September 06, 2008

The date is set

According to, "The X-Files: I Want to Believe" DVD will be released on December 2, 2008. You can pre-order it now at Amazon.

September 05, 2008

Chris Carter Talks Santa Barbara, Surfing, and Fencewalker

From The Santa Barbara Independent:

X-Files Creator Not Spooky

Chris Carter Talks Santa Barbara, Surfing, and the Future

Thursday, September 4, 2008
By Drew Mackie

For those who followed The X-Files close enough to think that the people working behind the scenes were as heroic as the show’s mystery-solving, ghost-chasing, alien-spotting protagonists, the notion that series creator Chris Carter is actually a seemingly normal and not especially creepy guy is not news. Countless interviews mention this fact, as if the show’s dark tone must necessarily mean that Carter himself should be brooding and sinister. (It’s an odd association, when you think about it. Should the creators of Murder, She Wrote have been especially homicidal? Should the creators of Dallas have been especially oily?)

What X-Files fans who have occasion to read The Independent may not know, however, is that Carter happens to be a rather nice, remarkably un-spooky man who has resided in Santa Barbara for more than 20 years. That, even to this X-Files buff, seemed surprising. Sure, quite a few Hollywood notables call the Santa Barbara area home. But to hear that Carter had lived here part-time for so long struck me as odd if only because the sunny afternoons and blue waves so often associated with Santa Barbara never appeared on The X-Files.

“My wife and I came here over 20 years ago, and we’re here for all the obvious reasons: That it’s a beautiful place and that it’s away from the business that either of us trafficked in,” he explained before adding, “And, certainly, surfing was a big draw.”

That’s another part of Carter’s life that never cropped up in The X-Files. Carter—a native of Bellflower, California, who finished his journalism major at Cal State Long Beach 1979 and began writing for Surfing magazine—is an avid surfer. Though some Mulder-as-Big Kahuna episode would surely have sent X-Files fans into spitting rages, it seems curious that surfing would have never figured into his work, especially considering how extensively the sport bleeds into the lives of some lifelong wave-riders.

“I’ve been asked to do surfing movies over the years and offered several opportunities,” Carter explained. “I just felt that if I were to do one, I’d have to do the perfect surfing movie. And I don’t know if that exists because surfing is such a personal thing. [Some surf movies] get wrapped up in contests or drama that is often beside the point.” He admitted, however, that he enjoyed John Milius’s Big Wednesday (which, incidentally, screens for free outside of the County Courthouse on September 17) as well as Jack Johnson and Chris Malloy’s Thicker Than Water.

“I think the good ones are the ones that sort of capture what I’d call the spirit of surfing,” Carter said. When asked if this sublime aspect could have edged into his work Carter seemed to nod toward the philosophically minded scripts he’s written for his various series, saying simply, “Maybe an appreciation for the more sublime aspects of surfing.”

As to whether he’ll ever incorporate his experience in Santa Barbara into his work—to his knowledge, he hasn’t yet—he offers only this: “It remains to be seen.” However, his current project is Fencewalker, a film reportedly shot around Los Angeles that marks a departure from his best-known work by virtue of its lack of any supernatural elements. Though some online sources claim that Fencewalker was filmed in part in Bellflower, Carter denies that the film will be autobiographical. “It’s a very personal project … We’re still working on it. But because I financed it myself, I have the ability to refine it,” he said.

Because Fencewalker’s future is uncertain, Carter was reluctant to discuss it at length. “I don’t know if it will ever see light of day, to be honest,” he said at one point. It reportedly will star rapper Xzibit, who played an FBI agent in this summer’s X-Files theatrical feature, I Want to Believe. Carter did, however, give some hint as to the film’s content. “It represents for me the reflection of the difficulty for a person … ” he said before trailing into a superficially unrelated thought that nonetheless probably has some bearing on the film. “I’m a big fan of Barack Obama. I think he carries a heavier burden and is held to a greater and higher standard than other candidates … I think there’s a large, large portion of this country that feels disenfranchised and marginalized by the political process.”

Carter also spoke frankly about I Want to Believe and its reception at the box office. As of the printing of this article, the film has grossed just over $60 million. Relative to this summer’s blockbusters, it didn’t exactly clean up, but Carter posited that such comparisons weren’t necessarily the most accurate. “We came out against The Dark Knight, which was made for $180 million, and [I Want to Believe] was made for about $30 million,” he said, noting that his film has already surpassed its costs. In Carter’s view, he intended for the film to have few special effects and instead keep in line with the heart of The X-Files: a well-written scary story that aims to be meaningful to both the characters and the audience.

Asked whether Mulder and Scully would once again live on-screen, chasing down all manner of monsters in the shadows, Carter said he hoped they would, depending on how the box office gods shine upon him. He also mentioned an after-the-credits scene in I Want to Believe that features a rowboat-paddling Mulder and a swimsuit-clad Scully, waving to any audience members who lingered in the theater. “We made the movie knowing full well this might be the last time,” he said, explaining that if this was the case, the last sight of the characters would be them waving goodbye.

Of course, no interview with Chris Carter should avoid the subject of general weirdness, normal-seeming though the man may be. When asked to name the strangest thing about Santa Barbara, Carter paused for a moment and then delivered a thoughtful answer befitting the man who created one of the most influential TV series ever: “Last summer, the Zaca Fire had been burning for six weeks or so and was right behind Montecito Peak. I looked at that as a huge threat but people seemed to be walking around like there wasn’t a fire back there. There seemed to be—and I say this in a fond way—a happiness here in Santa Barbara that exists in spite of the real threats of things like fire and off-shore drilling in this place I would call a paradise found.”

Whatever the future holds for Chris Carter, his fans can hope that he’ll continue to revel in all things odd—at least on screen. And those fans who live in Santa Barbara can be glad in knowing that he shares their affection for this city.

Will Carter ever turn his lens onto Santa Barbara? Would that be too weird? Maybe. And maybe that’s exactly what we want.

"Lost" Recruits Zuleikha Robinson

Zuleikha Robinson (Yves Adele Harlow in "The Lone Gunmen") has been tapped to play the pivotal role in the 5th Season of "Lost."

Robinson's deal calls for her to start off as a recurring player with an option to become a series regular in season 6 (a.k.a. the farewell season).

Robinson's character is called Ilana. Ilana is described as a European female who possesses great intelligence but who's also dangerous as all get out. She's alluring and apparently used to getting her own way.


September 04, 2008

Director Chris Carter Rewards Staffer's First Novel with Film Cameo

From Erin Fox's Blog:

Say your boss, director Chris Carter decides to give your first novel, your baby, a cameo inThe X-Files: I Want to Believe. What happens then? Tears? Gratitude? A slight bladder control issue? Nah! For Gabe Rotter, he felt nothing but thrilled and honored that his first novel, Duck Duck Wally, was given a moment to shine on the silver screen.

Jump the Shark wanted to meet the guy who had time to work 18-hour days and write a novel at the same time. Gabe was kind enough not only to discuss Duck Duck Wally – which is about a dorky Jewish guy who happens to get in a lot of trouble after becoming a ghostwriter for the biggest rap star in the world – but also to chat about working as Director of Development for Chris Carter’s 1013 Productions, his respect for avid X-Files fans, and what's next for this up-and-coming star.

Jump the Shark: How long have you worked for Chris Carter?
Gabe Rotter: I've worked for Chris for eight years. I went to work for him right out of college. I was a production assistant on The X-Files... I came on at the very end of Season 7 in the summer before Season 8.

Jump the Shark: How was it being a p.a. on that show?
Rotter: It was great – it was a great first experience. I was lucky, Chris is a great guy to work for – Chris and Frank (Spotnitz) really value hard work and I worked my ass off. I did everything as quickly and efficiently as possible and tried to show them that I wanted to be there... and it paid off. Then I became the writers' assistant on Season 9 of the show—

Jump the Shark: Was working with Frank Spotnitz in the writers' room awesome?
Rotter: He's an effin' genius... he's a remarkable person and to know him is to love him. And, for someone who hasn't been around him in a work capacity, they probably wouldn't realize how absolutely brilliant the man is.... And, he's the nicest guy in the world to boot.

Jump the Shark: What are your aspirations at 1013? Producing? Directing?
Rotter: I want to produce, and eventually I want to have my own show... create my own show.

Jump the Shark: Let's talk about the book that you wrote: Duck Duck Wally. Where did the inspiration for Wally Moscowitz (the protagonist) come from?
Rotter: It's embarrassing to say but the idea for a rap ghostwriter came from a lyric from a Diddy song (laughs) – you know, I like the hardcore gangster sh*t. He had a line in one of his songs a few years ago that said, "Don't worry, if I write rhymes, I write checks." And it got me thinking, "OK, who's writing these guys' rhymes, and wouldn't it be funny if it was, like, me? And, Wally Moscowitz came from that idea.

Jump the Shark: How did you publicize the book (before its cameo)?
Rotter: We had to get creative... we planted a rumor that the book was true, that I was a ghostwriter for rap and Gawker picked that up, and came to the book release party. We put fake missing dog posters all around L.A. with a million-dollar reward. It said, "My name is Wally Moscowitz and I've lost my dog, Dr. Schwartzman, and if you find him, please call me at..." and it was a Simon & Schuster number. You could leave a message if you wanted to win a copy of the book – which was really cool, because we got a lot of messages.

Jump the Shark: Duck Duck Wally: had a little cameo in The X-Files: I Want to Believe. It was featured on a table at Mulder and Scully's house and there was huge buzz about it on the fan sites. Did that help you sell a lot of books?
Rotter: I think so, but it's hard to track that. But I have also gotten a lot of Facebook and MySpace friend requests from X-Files fans.

Jump the Shark: What did you think about the new X-Files movie?
Rotter: I think it's a really smart, deep movie. It's different than anything that's being made right now.

Jump the Shark: Did you give the book to Chris to read? What did he think? Rotter: Yeah, I gave it to Chris and told him to read it at his leisure. He said he liked it.

Jump the Shark: Were you honored to have the book in The X-Files?:
Rotter: Yes! I was so excited about that; I couldn’t even believe it for a while.

Jump the Shark: Tell me about being a credited producer on Chris' new hush-hush movie, Fencewalker. How involved were you in the entire process?
Rotter: I was involved in the process from day one, and on the set everyday. Basically, myself and another producer prepped the movie while Chris was up shooting X-Files. And [Carter] kinda jumped into this right when he got back. I can't talk about it more than that (laughs).

Jump the Shark: Is there anything you're working on at 1013 that you can tell me about?
Rotter: We're working on developing several interesting projects right now... [and no] I can't talk about any of them.

Jump the Shark: [Curse you and your g-man-like secrecy!] Thank you so much for chatting with us today.
Rotter: Thank you!

For info on Duck Duck Wally, visit

Frank Spotnitz's new huge interview

Frank Spotnitz talks about "The X-Files: I Want to Believe" and new XF comic book series in his latest interview for Comic Book Resources. Read it here.

Chris Carter hospitalized for exhaustion

Chris Carter was hospitalized on Tuesday due to "physical exhaustion and an acute sleeping disorder," a source close to Carter tells The source says the hospitalization stems from Carter "working on multiple films back to back over a two year period" -- the recently released X-Files sequel and Fencewalker, a covert project he is rumored to have begun shooting earlier this year. He is expected to recover quickly.


Chris, get well soon! :)