The Greg Berlanti Interview
Shortly after the Everwood finale recap went up, Greg "Damn You" Berlanti emailed me to a) say thanks for the recap (which made me squeal like a fangirl), and b) grant my request for an interview. So a couple of weeks ago, I called him at home, and he was nice enough to talk to me for a while -- for nearly two hours, actually, despite the fact that I now realize that talking to me is like talking to Britney Spears with a cold. I'm not going to transcribe the entire thing, simply because doing so would take so many pages we'd run out of internet, but here is...well, most of it:
Greg Berlanti: So how are you doing?
AB Chao: I'm good, how are you?
Very good. Do I detect a bit of a southern accent?
Uh...a little bit. Yew knoooow, th' lawnger Ah lee-uv in Lerooseeaaana, the waaaarse it gee-uts.
Whoa, now I really detect it.
The sad thing is, I'm trying to be good. This is actually much better than usual.
So funny. This is great -- I was so looking forward to this all day!
Me too! This is awesome. Okay, so you're on speakerphone, and let me just tell you that my husband has me set up with three microphones, a minidisc recorder, and ProTools.
If you miss anything, you could just call me back.
He's out of control. Dude, we are not missing a thing.
Where are the margaritas? Do you have any space on the table for them?
No, but I do have space for a beer, and Vince is going to get me some wine right now.
[laughs] You're not supposed to mix those two, I don't think.
Well, I'm sorry. This is an informal interview, and I'm nervous.
Well, first of all, I should start by saying thank you. For being such a fan of the show, and so cool in both your adoration of it, but also your criticisms of it, which we always took to heart. You know, our favorite kinds of responses about the show were people who got it at its core, but didn't mind sort of picking on it simultaneously. I think that's how we all felt about it, and that was mirrored in your recaps. A big part of our first season was reading your recaps, to kind of re-process the show back to us. It was a lot of fun, and something we all really looked forward to. It was a big highlight of our experience.
Oh my God. Thank you so much.
That arc that you had with it was, I think, the relationship that a lot of critics had with the show, like initially they wanted to put it in a box with other family television, and our goal was always to do what those shows did well, but also...you know, kind of have our cake and eat it too, and not be afraid to take on some larger issues and make things more real. And, I think, thanks to the very talented writers and cast and production crew, we were able to achieve that, and still win over some very traditional, kind of cynical people who didn't always have an emotional response to television, and...that was epitomized by a lot of your writing, and other critics, and the boards too.
Well, this is just a big love-fest.
Yeah! We got the love; that's good.
Yeah, we got the love out of the way, let's get to the hate. No, I'm gonna start you off easy.
So, Greg. What is your favorite color?
Blue. I like blue. You know why? Because it looks good on me. Green and red don't look good on me, so they don't rank as high. Khaki? Looks good on me. But I love blue.
Khaki is a non-color, I hate to tell you.
Well, it's a non-color that goes with my Italian skin tone.
All right, next question. What is your favorite hair product?
My favorite hair product is Fiber by Crew. 'Cause, you know, I keep it short all the time, and I kind of make it spiky with the Crew.
Aw. Okay, what's your favorite cocktail?
My favorite cocktail...well, this may be temporary, but I'm trying to do my thirties a little bit more, uh, coherent than my twenties were, so I kind of gave up the alcohol, but my favorite cocktail is definitely the margarita. It's basic, and we have a little bit of the Mexican influence here in Los Angeles, and they really know how to make a kick-ass margarita.
They certainly do.
Lately, the big thing is pomegranate juice, you know, with the antioxidants. Very good for you.
Yeah, I bet you could make a delicious healthy drink with pomegranate juice, vodka, and Red Bull.
Okay, and lastly, who is your favorite New Kid on the Block?
Ohhhhh, gosh. I wasn't really a fan.
You have to name one.
That'll do. Hee, Joey McIntyre. I can't wait to write this.
He was the one with the light eyes...the blue eyes and blond hair, right?
Yes, he was "not really a fan." So what do you like to do besides be a super-awesome TV executive?
Like, interests? I don't have a ton of them. I'm not very good at a lot of things. I like to read quite a bit, and I've gotten into yoga in the last two or three years. I know I sound very Los Angeles when I say that, but when you're working on television, it's so stressful 24/7, and you have to find ways to sort of de-stress. Probably my favorite thing at the end of the day is just dinner with friends. I also watch a lot of TiVo, a lot of television. Days go by quick when you work however many hours.
So tell me about your favorite shows, and what shows have influenced you.
We'll do the ones that influenced me first, and then I'll tell you what I like now, and there will be no rhyme or reason. It's the weirdest list. The shows that influenced me: I really, really loved Northern Exposure, I loved L.A. Law when I was a kid, I loved Murphy Brown when I was a kid, I loved all the Norman Lear stuff -- All In the Family, Maude, and all that stuff. I liked Family Ties, I watched Dallas with my parents, and Dynasty...I grew up on all of that stuff.
Well, we're the same age, pretty much, so we grew up with all the same shows.
Yeah, I think we were like the first generation to be raised by television. So you felt like those characters were part of your family. When I got into college, it was Picket Fences, and then I moved out here and it was Ally McBeal, and The Practice, so those were kind of my shows of choice.
And then, definitely lately...it's all over the map. I'll watch everything from all the Sunday morning Meet the Press and George Stephanopoulos, and Charlie Rose all week, and I also love, like, Laguna Beach. Battlestar Galactica I think is the best-written show on television right now -- they do more in an hour on that show than most shows that get more acclaim do in three or four episodes. They'll just jam-pack the story, and it's intelligent, it's entertaining, it's not afraid to be religious. I think a lot of shows right now are afraid to be spiritual or religious, so I've really kind of fallen in love with that. But I love Deadwood, too, and like everybody else, I dig The Sopranos. Let's see, what else? I do watch some reality, like I mentioned, Laguna Beach, and I just started watching The Hills -- those shows crack me up.
I love Grey's. I think Grey's does really well what we were trying to do on Everwood, you know, not be afraid to sort of try and be emotional and intelligent at the same time. I feel that show fills a void in terms of being emotional television, and it's got a great cast. Oh, also, the last year of The West Wing, which...it's hard to find a new way to make a show when the creator has left, but they did a great job.
[I tell Greg about Aaron Sorkin's infamous TWoP postings, and more recently, the Rescue Me hoo-ha.] So I wanted to ask you what you thought about that, about trying to respond to the decisions that you've made about your story.
Here's what's interesting. Just in terms of the conversation that happens between TV shows and the internet, it's really fascinating to me. I'll give you a for-instance, and for the purposes of the interview, I'll put it in terms of Everwood. So, there was a character on Everwood...known as Madison. Now, she was not very well-liked by a lot of fans on Television Without Pity. And ALSO, if you remember, Amy. Where that can be troublesome is there are a lot of dumb people that run networks, and they read those things because young people that work for them put them in front of them. And they think when they go in a studio or executive meeting that that's what everyone is saying in the world. And that may be a fair example of what people are saying in the world, but there's also a sort of group-think that happens on webpages, and there's a kind of insider quality to it.
So the difficult thing is, in the face of those things, if you're trying to do a show like we were with Everwood, which is real, one of the cool things about it is...characters make mistakes, and you like them in spite of it. So while the character is in the process of making that mistake, which might take eight or nine episodes -- I mean, it takes us a while to arc out those things. And it can be somewhat disruptive sometimes. We work in such a bubble, and part of you wants to make everyone happy all the time. But you're not doing good TV if you're doing that, you're just not. So I would say to anybody out there that's inclined to write back...you know what, you have to have the courage of your convictions. If you're telling a story, and you're really putting the right kind of time into coming up with it with the writers, then [the writers] should be the people that you lean on if you have doubts about something. That being said, we definitely cull a lot of response from a lot of different people, and you don't want to be cut off from that. And if a certain group of people decide that they don't like a character, it's okay for them not to like everybody.
Well, you're not supposed to.
Exactly! Well, at least the kind of shows I like, and the kind of shows I hope to keep creating -- you gotta really rub a piece of coal to make a diamond. It's about people bumping into each other like that, and it's about everybody not liking everybody all the time, and it's about conflict, and that kind of stuff -- those kinds of conversations that happen, and that kind of drama -- that's what I watch television for. When I see those kinds of connections between characters, that's when it feels the most real to me, and that's also when I feel like I learned the most from it too, about my own life. Anyway, that's just my own little soapbox. Brought to you by pomegranates.
Good, I love soapboxes. So let's move on to some questions about the actual show. I know everybody asks you what inspired you to create Everwood. Do you think that I should ask you that question?
You can if you want. I can tell you that it was, in part, commerce...that I had a deal, but the short answer is that I felt in relationship dramas, male characters had been given the short shrift. And I had personally never really seen on a drama, like, my relationship with my father, which was combative, but slowly got better as we became more and more sort of best friends. And I'd never seen something like that rendered on TV. The other half was that I wanted an opportunity to talk about social issues, and it seems like that wasn't present on network dramas. Now, cable dramas can do that, but if you have network shows neutered, then everybody just goes to cable, and the networks lose.
How did you even get them to let you do that?
I had a really close relationship with the network from my days at Dawson's, and the executives there were really encouraging to just say what was personal to me, and figure out a way to say it. That was when the WB was great, because the executives that were running it at the time said, "Look, we know we can't make shows for as much as bigger networks, but we can give Joss Whedon or Kevin Williamson or Amy Sherman-Palladino or J.J. Abrams a chance to say what they want to say." And so you got shows with a real personal perspective, and that's what made the network great. And when the network stopped doing that, it fell apart.
And we all know what happened then.
Let's talk about the show in terms of the actual cancellation. How much of the storyline did you change when you found out that it was going to be gone?
The last two years, there was a lot more combativeness than there was initially about the show, so we learned to not trust what was being said. The cliffhangers that we ultimately didn't use were more setups for next year than they were payoffs for this year. We really constructed an end that we wouldn't have to change, and that was mostly because I drew the line in the sand -- we weren't going to go out with a cliffhanger, and then the show gets cancelled, and the fans, who have been the only thing keeping this show going all these years, get screwed the most. So I was sort of the wall, if you will, but Rina was really the inspiration for the whole finale. And I think she did a masterful job, with the writers, of making sure to hit as many of the beats as possible.
So you were happy with everybody's story?
I was. I really was. And you know, you always think, there's more to tell...and we definitely had some fun stuff planned for next year.
Well, tell me about it!
[laughs] Okay. Nina was going to be pregnant with Jake's baby.
OH MY GOD.
Yeah, that was going to be the big, explosive, kind of "Oh, TYPICAL Everwood" thing. And we were flirting with the idea of trying to bring Ephram and Hannah closer together, to see if we could play with that a little bit.
Aw, Hannah and Ephram always did have some good chemistry. Oh, here's something that the kids on the forums are dying to know: were there any shout-outs to them?
Oh, yeah, there were a couple of times that you said things that stuck -- like, I would almost call characters Patch, or Dimples or whatever -- or the posters said things, like in-jokes that we would do back. Bright would use a lot of the board lingo, like "asshat" and stuff like that, that was definitely off the boards, so there were definitely shout-outs to people on the boards.
That's awesome, and that's one of the things that fans of the show love, because we just want a little credit every now and then, you know?
Well, let me explain this to you: writers are just like anybody that's writing on the forums, and they exist on their computers, and are always looking for something else to do besides write. So 99.9% of them are obsessed with you guys. As obsessed as you are with them and the shows? They're equally obsessed with you. And as much as I revere you guys for all the right reasons, a lot of times I have to remind them, "Don't read those things!" And then of course I'd go in my office and read them.
All right, my husband has just passed me a note, and he would like to know if there were actual shout-outs to AB Chao.
Yeah, I think it was Rina that used your name as one of the doctors' characters. It's official -- your husband's name was used, and it was a shout-out to you.
He is very excited.
And it won't be the last time, I'm sure.
I love how he passed you a note as if we were in a Congressional hearing or something.
He's very formal. He's also the best husband in the world; he just walked in and Congressionally poured me a glass of wine. Okay! So tell me which character you identify with the most.
There were aspects of each of them from the beginning, definitely, but Ephram was so similar to my high school experience, feeling like I was the only kid in the world feeling that stuff, which is not uncommon for any kid. Andy Brown: it was that feeling of being good at something doesn't mean you have to be alone, and I think he always kind of struggled with greatness vs. love, and learning that they're not mutually exclusive. And definitely Dr. Abbott was the part of me, in this business out here, where other people do so well and you're thinking, "Well, why not ME? I'm a good guy! I work hard!" Bright was the kind of cad in me -- he had that element of charm, the guy who can talk his way out of anything. And then the other characters, there are elements of me in them too, but what happens is that those identities quickly get assumed by the other writers on staff, and the proud thing is that they oftentimes end up writing those characters better than you do, because they have a real point of view about them.
What was nice in the end, though, was that I got to come back and write on some of the episodes, and that was a different kind of experience for me, and really sweet. And it was really rewarding to see that you've created something that so many people outside you identify with, from the writers to the actors to, ultimately, the fans. Whether they're funny, or sad, or heartfelt, you realize that the stuff you're coming up with at four o'clock in the morning, or on the treadmill, you realize that this storyline, this thing you want to say, you're not alone in it. And a lot of times the show was a lot about loneliness. It was a lot about tragedy, and I think, how it makes us real, and how horrible things can happen to us, but also be the best thing in the world for us. It was a lot about human connection and loneliness. And that's what I think people identified with, and you know, made them cry when they watched it. It's...we kind of are all in this world together, but we're also alone, and there's a real duality to that that's both sad and uplifting, and that's the line we tried to walk on the show.
Well, you did a great job. And we were all so glad that you were coming back -- is that true, the rumor that you were coming back for next season?
I would have run it, yeah. I would have run it next year.
AIGH. That breaks my heart.
That's all right. Hopefully I'll get to run some other things.
I have no doubt. Okay, let's move on to episodes. Do you have a favorite, or a favorite story arc?
Honestly, maybe more talk about it in terms of...there was a run of episodes early on where the show kind of took off. I'll never forget it, because there was always sort of the show in my head, then there was a time where the show was better than I could have even possibly imagined, and I remember the first time it started to happen. And we were watching these things, thinking, "I hope people think this is as cool as we do, that this blend of humor and pathos that we've got works." So it started with "The Kissing Bridge" and went into "Deer God," and then right into "The Doctor Is In" and "We Hold These Truths," and then Episode 7...the hope one, where Andy makes the hope speech or whatever.
Yes, I remember all of them.
Right, exactly. [laughs] It was just the moments where I was sort of blown away, though, and it mirrored our journey. We were the show trying to do something so different, and we weren't always beloved by critics in the beginning, we weren't Smallville, the network didn't always know what to do with us, but in the face of all that we were like, "No, we know what we're doing, we love what we're doing, and we're gonna keep doing it." And we stuck by it, and it kind of all clicked. And it was the most rewarding moment in my life, artistically, because before maybe I had buckled, and on this, I stuck to my guns and everybody supported me, and like Andy...we were writing this guy mourning the death of his wife, and we were all mourning, or at a low point, and then it turned, and we were all kind of lifted up. It clicked, and people really started to get the show, and critics started to reverse their opinions about it. And you guys were right there and so supportive, and if you remember the holiday episode that year that we did, "A Thanksgiving Tale," I think it was our first A from you. So we felt like, we know what we're doing now...and the fans actually get it. In television, once you're directly communicating with the fans, then the network doesn't have as much control. But until that point, you're just praying that you hit that sweet spot.
I remember that, too, because I started recapping just before that started happening, and I went in thinking how much the show was going to suck, and then...it didn't. So I was right there with you. On the other hand, were there any episodes or storylines you were disappointed in?
Oh my God, there was that one. We tried to do that mystery episode? It's sort of a joke now, and there was a moment in the first viewing of that where we knew we had missed every boat. But if you remember, "The Unveiling" came the episode before it, and that's probably the episode I'm the most proud of. Actually, I would say the episode I'm the most proud of was the finale of the first year, because we were trying to do so much with it -- we knew it would be Colin's last episode, and what we were setting up for the following year...
But there were always episodes that didn't work, and particularly in the first two years we'd modify stuff if things weren't working out. Beginnings of seasons were always tough for some reason. But I definitely differ with some of the people on the boards in that I thought Madison was a critical character for Ephram.
Well, I can see where she was necessary, but that doesn't mean I had to like her.
Exactly. I was surprised, though, that people didn't like her right from the start.
And I don't know if it had to do with the actor or the way she was written or whatever, because I think people disagree on that, too.
Yeah. There was sort of a lull, I would say, in the latter half of the first two seasons -- I can speak more toward them than to the second two seasons, which Rina was more responsible for -- where we were like, "Ah, we're missing it, we're missing the basket," because we were maybe so focused on the season finales, and it would start during the winter...
You all had Seasonal Affective Disorder, obviously.
Exactly. But I think overall we had a pretty high batting average, so we're so proud of that stuff.
Well, you did pretty well, if you consider that there were entire seasons of other shows that people hated -- Season 6 of Buffy, for example.
And for example, I didn't think people would hate the Anne Heche character as much as they did. That's probably the best example, that they would hate Andy as much as they did -- and not just the fans on the boards, we got a lot of letters about it, Treat was asked about it in interviews... So that was a moment that was off for us, and also, I wanted the Tommy character to be more, like, I wanted him into crystal meth and stuff. And that was never gonna happen. So there were things that I didn't get to execute in quite the way I wanted to.
Eyebrows! That stuck, too. All your stuff stuck.
I actually feel kind of bad about some of the things I said about those characters. Poor Sarah Lancaster, I mean, I called her "Bucky" for two years.
Well, I was with you on some of it. I definitely preferred Gregory's Season 2 hair, that's no secret. Man, in all of my years. And I was the strongest advocate, you know, against it, but I'm not gonna tie someone up in a chair and cut their hair.
Could you not have just been like, "Greg. Just a trim."
We tried. He just didn't like it that way, and you've definitely got to negotiate with the actors. And he's not me; he's not playing me. Plus he did such an excellent job for four years for us. I don't have kids, but I can imagine it would be a lot like having one -- if they're a good kid, and they're bringing home great grades, at some point, you've gotta let them...
...have hideous hair. I think hair was kind of a theme in the show, and certainly in my recaps.
If we could reflect for a moment on cute hair, Season 2 hair was awesome.
I agree, but Most Improved Hair award for the entire show goes to Nina Feeny.
YES! That was always a behind-the-scenes conversation. I'm not gifted with "look"? And I hear you want the Brooklyn jacket...I don't know what happened to it, but if I can find mine, I'll send it off to you. But yeah, Nina had very poofed hair.
And we can't not mention Amy's Bangs of Sadness, obviously.
And she was doing such a great job with the part, and that helped her really get into that character...you know, you hoped that people understood, if you had a sixteen-, seventeen-year-old girl who was going through that, she'd probably look different.
Okay, so tell me a funny story about something that happened on the set, or give me some kind of juicy behind-the-scenes gossip that we don't know about.
What you should know about me and the set -- and this isn't gossip yet -- is that I was notorious for being on the set for ten minutes and leaving, because I don't like to be where I'm not useful, and I was the least useful person on the set. So anything that happened on the set, I would find out from other writers who found out stuff through the hair people. That's how everybody finds out stuff is through makeup and hair, because that's where actors will tell you stuff. We were a pretty gossip-free show, and anything that's gossipy really would be hearsay. I'm the wrong person to ask, because I'm kind of Reagan-esque in that I don't always know what's going on, and I'm the last one to find out, and they keep stuff from me a lot of times, because they'd be afraid, oh, what if I found out these two actors who played brother and sister were really dating in real life.
That's not a good answer.
I just gave you a hint at one!
I knew that one!
Well, they're very happy, and they do deserve each other, because they're two of the nicest people ever.
I would like to know this, too, for my own personal use: is Emily VanCamp as devastating in person as she is on the show?
You mean in terms of beauty? Absolutely. She's elegant, she's her own person, she's got her own opinions and beliefs, and she's everything you imagine. I will tell you, in terms of gossip, that I could tell the flirtation was already happening between the two of them in the pilot, and she was quite young then and Chris was...not. So there's your gossip. As far as I was concerned, there were sparks flying then, and for fear that anyone would get arrested I was praying that wouldn't happen until everyone was legal.
Was Gregory aware of my love for him?
[laughs] You were not alone in your jailbait affections.
You know, I'm as old as you are, almost, and that was kind of a gross feeling that I had to have.
Well, first of all...we create this character who basically just actualizes all the feelings that everyone out there has, and she's the one everybody hates the most!
We were just all jealous.
I'm glad you're finally admitting that.
Don't tell anyone I just said that.
Gregory just fits that role, the kind of guy all women want to sleep with and take care of at the same time.
So we're done with Everwood questions, unless you want to talk about the guest stars? James Earl Jones, Marcia Cross...
Betty White! What do you do with Betty White?
You don't do anything with Betty White. I mean, with all of those people, you just sit back and let them be. All our guest stars were just amazing. Mike Erwin as Colin; Nancy Everhard, who is Tom Amandes's wife in real life...those kind of roles made those characters so real.
Let's talk about the fans. Was it surprising to you that the fan reaction was so huge?
You mean at the end, or throughout?
Well, throughout, but I guess specifically at the end, because a lot of them did come out of the woodwork after the show got cancelled.
It was intense. What I compare it to is the line on Star Wars, where Obi-Wan says to Darth Vader, "If you strike me down now, Lord Vader, I will become stronger than you can possibly imagine."
The cancellation, and the fans' affection for the show, and certain critics' affection for the show that sort of rose to the surface really are just adding a halo effect and a great legacy to the show, which, again...we kind of deserve. Everyone kind of killed themselves to do a TV show for four years that was so different than a lot of what else was on TV, knowing the whole time that it wouldn't ever get us the kind of ratings that would have made all of our lives easier, but we did it because...once we figured out what the best version of Everwood was, we just wanted to figure out as many ways to do that every week that we could. And we didn't get the covers of magazines, and we didn't get the ratings, but in the end, we were ultimately okay with just doing it for the fans. They stuck by the show, so it doesn't necessarily surprise me, because I know the kind of TV it is, and it's hard for me to find that kind of TV almost anywhere else. To have that kind of response -- it wasn't just great to have it, it was also kind of our only reward.
So you've seen the online response, with the saving and the fundraisers and the Ferris wheel and all that.
Of course, I've seen all the different things they're doing, and I love all of that. I wish they would focus it on getting the DVDs out, because I really think part of our legacy is to have people out there passing around those DVDs, so that people can experience the show more than on just ABC Family in the fall, you know?
What do we have to do to make that happen?
Warner Home Video. People have to call and write letters to them, and that's where they have to focus their attention. Because...they can focus it on the CW or whatever, but those people didn't really have anything to do with it. You could make the argument that they cancelled the show, but they didn't -- they just didn't choose it to be a part of their new network. It's a very different group of people, and it's not the same as the people who were supposed to be there protecting us through the years.
So you are not angry at Dawn Ostroff?
I am not. I had lunch with Dawn, we had a great lunch, and I'm a fan of hers. I think she's tried to put on good TV, and she's not the only one making the decision to bring Everwood back or not.
So she's just the name that people use for blaming?
I guess, and that's fine that they're picking [on] her -- I kind of wish they wouldn't do that, but what I do love about the response is that it's sustained, and it's helped put the show onto the cult shelf, which is a great place for a show to be. But it's done. So to sit around and be upset with people about why it's done or how it's done is not as much fun as reminiscing about what was great about it.
Right. You've moved on. But I know you were mad at first.
I was much more upset by the way that Everwood was handled in the last year. When Everwood was moved to Thursday nights and then it was moved back to Monday...if people want to be mad, be mad at the executives that made those decisions, which I think were just asinine. They want to be upset and make t-shirts -- find those executives and put them on the shirts.
Okay, one more question about Everwood. Why'd you get rid of the narration [by Irv]?
Rina hated it! But she wasn't alone -- the network executives asked her to, and she asked me if she could, and I was okay with that. It wasn't our most accessible device on the show, we didn't always do it great...we did it better than a lot of other shows, but initially the show was more sort of about the town, and so it worked to centralize the show, and it was supposed to feel like each episode was a chapter ripped out of a book.
Did you think about doing one last narration?
We did, particularly in the episode where Irv died and there was so much emotion, but in the end...you'd have to ask Rina about that. Again, though, there were certain critics that came around to the show when we lost the narration, so...I kind of go back and forth about it. There were a lot of great episodes we did where we wouldn't use it, where we would think the narration was sort of gilding the lily, and then there were moments in other episodes that only worked because of it. See, you're seeing my process now.
Do you want to talk about that a little bit, your process and how you get ideas and get things done?
Sure. I read a lot, and...steal...all the time. [laughs] No. If you ever talk to anybody I know, I'm a different person in the morning than I am in the afternoon. In the morning, I wake up really early and write usually between the hours of, like, six and ten. That's when I do most of my creative stuff. By twelve o'clock, you'd think I was the village idiot. Literally, some part of my brain shifts over and I became more of a manager and editor. So that was when I would go in and help people with scripts, or do casting, meetings with networks, that kind of stuff. And then by about three o'clock I was usually so tired I'd say I was "reading a script" or "doing notes." And that meant I was taking a nap. I'd have my little Oprah naps every day that happened to fall around the same time Oprah was on, and I'd watch Oprah and/or nap. Then I'd go work out and to dinner or something, and write at night again. My creative times are when the world is quiet, you know? I definitely had my little rituals -- I'd listen to the same CD over and over again, drink a ton of coffee, clean my whole house, get everything done that I could possibly get done...and finally come back to the page and work on it.
Aw. Are you a procrastinator?
I think every writer is a...I really...uh, YES. Absolutely.
I feel you, as does Sars, who receives every recap about one minute before deadline each week.
Exactly! And you always say, that one day when I have the time to reaaaally do it right, it's gonna be so good!
And then you still don't do it.
My trick with the writers is, I would always tell them they had to hand in a script a few days earlier than I knew they'd have to, then on that day I'd say, "Oh, take another day or two," knowing they'd killed themselves and hadn't slept the night before. I probably shouldn't be revealing this.
Then you look like the nice boss.
So what's next for you?
Well, my deal is at Touchstone now, and I'm doing two things this year as well as overseeing a lot of people writing scripts, helping writers with ideas and stuff. The first thing I'm doing is a very kind of character law show that I've been calling "Field of Dreams at a law firm." So if you like Field of Dreams and that kind of magical quality, it's like that, but it happens at a law firm. I'm co-writing it with a guy who was a writer on Jack & Bobby who is also an actual lawyer, and he loves law shows like I love character shows. It's the thing I'm most emotionally close to since Everwood, and I feel like I personally identify with all the characters and with what we're trying to say. It has a lot of the Everwoodian qualities of not being afraid to be heartfelt and very funny at the same time. I also wrote a half-hour show -- I had written a movie a couple of years ago called The Broken Hearts Club, which was about a whole group of gay guys in West Hollywood, and I wanted to remind myself that I could write something that was just funny...or at least funny in my eyes. It's kind of a family, Wonder Years-y, Malcolm kind of thing. So we'll see.
I can't wait. I hope they both happen for you.
You never know!
Well, I think that's it for the questions I have, so if you don't mind, I have some questions from the forums.
Go for it.
Okay. Tell us your real feelings about 7th Heaven.
Well, first of all, everybody I've ever met who's worked on the show is darling. And it helped build the network that built my career, so I really can't begrudge a show that helped launch a network that launched me. The other thing is that TV is about all shapes and sizes, and I'm a fan of any show that parents and kids can watch together -- you know, people get so isolated in their homes, and anything that's gonna get them to sit in front of a screen together is good. I think they tried to take on, in their own way, some daring topics, so...I'm a supporter of the show across the board.
Uh huh. Good answer. All right: Death match. Patch vs. Treat.
Why are you doing this to me? I don't think I can answer that question!
You have to answer.
Okay. One of the writers used to say that he always fought dirty as a kid because he knew he wouldn't last long, and I think Patch would probably fit into that mold as someone who would fight dirty and fast, so I think he would probably win. Like the dorky kid you get into a fight with in high school who's not afraid to stab you with a pen, because he knows he's not going to be able to take you out in other ways? He's like that.
All right. Death match: Amy vs. Bright.
Amy. Without a doubt. That's an easy one.
Okay. Ruthie from 7th Heaven vs. Delia.
Please! Vivien Cardone? She's from New York. Didn't you see Delia take on Magilla?
I did. Last one. Death match: AB Chao vs. Greg Berlanti.
Oh, AB. By far. I'm a big pussy.
I'm five feet tall!
[laughs] It doesn't matter! ...That's from my high school experience. Inside a locker.
Now that's where Everwood came from.
Well, I think I'm done here.
I actually have to race off to a dinner. This was awesome. Thank you so much for what you meant to the show, and to everybody involved. This was a perfect send-off.
Are you kidding? Thank you.
Take care, kiddo. Bye.