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LEVERAGE ends its 2nd season tonight with the second half of a two part finale, directed by Dean Devlin.  I had the chance to be involved in a conference call with him last week, and he had some great info about what might happen in the episodes to come!

So I wanted to ask you, the [last] “Three Strikes Job” episode…it had a lot of twists and turns on its own and almost would have been a pretty satisfying ending on its own but then I see the preview for the second part and it looks like things get even more intense within the group.  So what can you tell me about what the team is going to face during the season finale?
Well you know the theme of the whole second season was really about identity, in other words you know before the season – before season 1 began, these were all loners who all worked by themselves, who didn’t really have a sense of family.  In season 1, they had come together but the question was could they hold themselves together?

And in season 2 really the question became well, if they’re not who they used to be before they got together, who are they now?  And so the real exploration in this next episode is the culmination of these stories and a discovery really of who they are in relationship to each other, in who they’re going to be going forward.

You know in this season Sophie had to leave the team to find out who she was.  Nate is trying to redefine himself and he’s – obviously he’s had struggles as he’s fallen off the wagon and trying to understand who he is.  So this will all culminate in next week’s episode.

I was wondering if you could talk about the decision to have Sophie as such an active participant in the back half of the season.  A lot of shows that I know would just kind of say oh, this character has gone off somewhere and never refer to them again, but you know she keeps coming up and she has these really pivotal plot moments with Nate.  So can you talk about you know how you approached her absence and how you decided to work it that way?
Well you know this was the necessity being the mother of invention, so as Gina’s pregnancy came out, we didn’t want to just move her off the show.  We really wanted to try to keep her there as much as possible.  But we had made the decision that it wasn’t good for the character for her to have a child, so we needed to work around her pregnancy.

But she’s such an important part of the show that we didn’t want to have her leave the show entirely so we tried to find ways to keep her involved in a meaningful way and yet still try to work around the pregnancy. (more…)

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If you’ve been watching this season of PRIVATE PRACTICE, you’ve seen Addison and Sam fall into a relationship that they weren’t anticipating [mild spoiler alert] and the tension of staying apart drives Addison to turn to an old familiar face – no, not Sloan this time – her good friend Pete, played by the fantastic Tim Daly. Earlier this week, I had the great opportunity to speak with him about his show, what’s coming up for Pete, the age old question of whether Pete will ever be happy, and how Pete’s changed over the years.

Jumping right in, I read an interview you did before this season started, and you said that you hoped that this season was nothing but trouble for Pete?
Oh yeah, he’s had a lot of problems [laughs].  This is the kind of show that’s driven on people getting into emotional difficulties.  Certainly, Pete’s had his share.  The whole thing with Violet, finally realizing he was able to have a relationship and want to be in love, I mean, Oh my God!  It’s great.

What’s coming up for Pete?  Is the idea of any reconnection with Violet done for right now?  Or do you think that’s something we’ll see in the future?
I cannot speak for the writers, but I personally feel that that story is unresolved.  For Violet not to come to terms on some level with her relationship with Pete and her relationship with her child would sort of gip the audience.  On some level, I think that will re-enter the picture a little bit. (more…)

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Tonight on FOX, after an all new episode of AMERICAN IDOL, check out the special premiere episode of PAST LIFE before it moves to its Thursdays at 9 timeslot behind BONES.  In celebration of the premiere, I had the chance to take part in a conference call with series star Kelli Giddish and the creator and executive producer David Hudgins.  Check out what they have to say and be sure to tune in tonight!

Hi, Kelli.  Hi, David.  Thanks for taking the time to speak with us today.
Kelli:
Sure.

David: Good morning.

My first question actually is for Kelli.  I wanted to find out if Kelli maybe could tell us a little bit about how you first became involved in the series, and maybe about some of the acting challenges you found stepping into the Dr. McGinn role.
Kelli:
Well, there is a pilot season every year and this is actually one of the first projects I went out on probably about a year ago — last January.  I really, really loved the character and went right in for it.  Actually David and Deran Sarafian, the director of the pilot, and Lou Pitt, were all down in Baltimore and I was living in New York at the time.  I went in and tested and it went from there.  They had found Nick Bishop and so it kind of just rolled into a project from there.

When I first got the script looking at Dr. McGinn it was just someone that I immediately connected to, in terms of just a through-line for me.  It was immediately a character I felt like I didn’t have to take a lot away from myself to play her; I just got to add on layers, one being that she believes in a system of reincarnation and past lives and that’s her way to help people.

A challenge which I think is really nice to see her overcome as a character and one for me as an actor is to really get people on your side and to get the patients on your side.  I think she really acts as an emotional conduit to people that are having trouble or experiencing trauma, from what she assumes and is from their past lives.

Cool.
Kelli:
Yes.

Then if I could just follow up that question for David.  I wonder, David, if maybe you could tell us first where your inspiration for this series came from, and then for you maybe some of the challenges creative-wise, production-wise getting the show off the ground.
David:
Sure.  First let me add on to what Kelli was just saying.  The way we cast Kelli Giddish in this role was very unique.  Here’s what happened.  I got her audition on tape, which is actually an e-mail they send.  I was sitting at my computer and I queued it up and I watched it and I was absolutely blown away.  In the moment I said to myself that is Kate.  That is exactly who I had in mind so we flew Kelli down to Baltimore and we screen tested her for this pilot which is not that common anymore these days.

As soon as we screen tested her and showed it to the studio and the network everybody agreed that she was perfect for the role.  I just think that’s – there was good karma from the beginning –

Kelli: Yes, right?

David: — with Kelli.  In terms of my inspiration the series is inspired by a book called The Reincarnationist written by M. J. Rose.  I had a pilot deal with Warner Brothers.  They sent me the book and asked me to read it and I did.  Frankly, I didn’t really have any expectations when I picked up the book but as soon as I finished it I was immediately engaged.  I said this is an incredibly cool world.  It was a world that I was not that familiar with so I immediately started doing research, started talking to people.  I happened to see a three-part special on Oprah that she was doing with a guy named Dr. Brian Weiss about past lives an regression.  I just got hooked immediately and thought this is just such an interesting, different, unique world.

From a storytelling point of view what I love about it is it is so wide open.  There are so many different stories you can tell based on this world.  I came up with this franchise of The Past Life detective team and building around that just sort of went forward with the series, and created the characters.  The inspiration really for the project was this book, The Reincarnationist by M. J. Rose.

As far as – let’s see you asked about some challenges for production.  One of the great things about the show and frankly, something that we were pretty surprised with when the pilot and the first episode started coming in is there are these regression episodes within the shows where the patients are having – they’re basically flashbacks.  They’re going back and they’re experiencing their past lives and we really wanted to have these sequences – we really wanted these sequences to have a unique look.

Deran Sarafian, who directed the pilot, did an amazing job with that and he came in and he created this visual style that’s very filmic.  It’s very cinematic, it’s scary, it’s fast, it’s ….  What we ended up with were these really interesting sort of mini thrillers that play throughout each episode which were a challenge to shoot because there is a lot of different coverage and a lot of different pieces that you have to get.

Kelli: It was kind of great to see the tools you guys employed to get those – everything from iPhones to —

David: Yes, the tools are basically – at some points Deran running through the forest with the camera in his hands.  I mean it was that much fun and that sort of outlaw style of shooting.  It really worked.  It really cut together well.  We developed a whole system for shooting those regressions with a second unit.  It required a lot of cutting and a lot more visual effects than we originally anticipated.

We actually hired a special editor to do the visual effects and to edit those sequences.  That was a challenge to do the regression episodes.  The rest of it was really just a dream.  It’s just an amazing case and we had a really great crew in Atlanta and it was a great time.

Kelli, so you’re from Georgia.
Kelli:
I am.

Well, I was wondering how did – is there any relation between you and your character that you could – are there any similarities?
Kelli:
Well, yes, I think so.  In the script Kate McGinn is a girl from Texas.  She drives a big old pickup truck, which I drove a pickup truck for a long time, a stick shift with a camper top.  On an emotional level I think, yes, she tries to calmly try and guide people, not by beating them over the head with her agenda or with her beliefs but in the way that she gets people on her side and allows her to heal them I think is a very – as a Southern woman you can kind of get in people’s heads in a way that maybe other people can’t.

Like I said with this character there was just a lot of stuff that I didn’t feel like I had to take away from myself to play her.  It was just kind adding layers on.

Thank you, and David, putting the show together, what have you learned from the experience and from the past lives research?
David:
The past lives research, well, number one is to be open-minded.  One of the things about the show that I think is really interesting and that people are responding to is this question of what if?  We’re not out here preaching to the world about reincarnation.  We’re not saying it’s this way or that way.  What we’re basically saying is let’s go on a ride here.  Let’s ask the question what if this were real.  Think about all the possibilities that that opens up and all the stories we could tell.

I have learned to be incredibly open-minded about it.  I’ve learned that there is an entire world of people out there who are fascinated by this stuff.  Obviously not only in the United States, but all over the world.  Really there is just this fascination with past lives that I really feel like it’s something that we’re tapping into.  It’s wish fulfillment in a way; it’s a fantasy show in a way, there is definitely a sci-fi and a paranormal element to the show, all of which comes together with these great characters and Kelli.

You know, you asked – it’s funny you asked about the similarities between Kelli and her character, let me say this, Dr. McGinn is a very empathetic character.  That’s one of the great things about her, she has this ability to connect with people and to read them and to understand them.  She’s a healer, and that’s Kelli.  She’s also a woman who doesn’t take any shit and I promise you that’s Kelli as well.

That’s a Southern lady for you.
Kelli:
There you go.

I was wondering if you’d tell anything about the relationship between your character, Kelli, and Richard Schiff’s character?
Kelli:
Well, he’s her mentor.  I think as the series goes along we’re going to find out more about what exactly they mean to each other in terms of personally, but professionally they think very similarly.  They respect and are highly educated within the field in which they work.

I think it’s also a very special relationship because we don’t know – in terms of father figure, in terms of he kind of thinks around things in a way that maybe Kate hasn’t gotten to quite yet.  Sometimes he can simplify things in a great, creative way that maybe she misses.  It’s kind of great to see his character and his perspective inform the work that she’s doing.

All right.  I was wondering – this sort of leads to that.  I was a great fan of yours on All My Children, you did a great job.
Kelli:
Oh, great.

Let me take that and run with it to David.  I was wondering if Kelli’s character will have any romance on the show?
David:
Oh, yes, she will.  I mean, you can’t look at that character and not wonder is there a romantic interest in her life.  It’s interesting, any time you have a show with a male and a female lead there is always the question of romantic relationship between the two of them.  What’s great about Kelli and Nick Bishop is there is obviously chemistry.  We saw that in the screen test.  We saw that the first time we got together and we put them on film and it really translates onto the show.  We all know that it’s there but as a storyteller and sort of the creator of the show, I just think that’s something you have to be careful with.

Right.
David:
You know, hooking your two leads up, I guess would be the phrase.  For now I think the relationship is strictly professional.  They’ve got a lot of issues to work out in their personal lives and professionally right now they’re just friends.  But, yes, there is definitely chemistry between the two of them, and as to whether that goes anywhere hopefully people will tune in to find out.  Dr. McGinn is single and she lives at home right now with her dog and her mother, who is very interested in her getting out there and meeting people.

She is so wrapped up in her work at the moment that she’s trying to make time for her personal life but I don’t think you can watch that character on screen and not say to yourself she’s going to end up with somebody at some point, she’s too great, and too bubbly and attractive, right Kelli?

Kelli: Right, right.  That’s what I’m thinking.  Make him cute, David.

A question for Kelli, David told his take on this but has the material, the ideas, any research that you might have done, or people that you met, has it challenged or changed your belief system in any way?
Kelli:
Well, you know as David was saying, it’s kind of been interesting to see how much of an interest there is in all this stuff and belief in reincarnation and past lives.  I actually went and did my own regression, mainly to check out the woman that was giving them.  That kind of thing.  It’s like – I went to go see if she was a kook, you know, and see to see what kind of character she was that’s in her personal life doing past life regressions as a job.  She wasn’t – she wasn’t a kook.   She actually has blonde hair, she’s like 32, from Texas, it was like Kate McGinn in real life.  I did that regression and what was interesting about that, it was on the Upper West side in New York and she pulled me back out of the hypnosis and she said, “How long do you think you were under?”  I was like, half an hour, it was great though, thanks.  She said, “An hour and forty-five minutes.”  I said, “No kidding, wow!”  I have an hour unaccounted for there that I was off being an Alaskan boy and a fruit picker in the 1930s.  Whether or not I really believe I was an Alaskan Native-American, I’m not sure but I came out of her office really feeling light on my feet and looking around at things with a little gleam in my eye.  It’s nice.  We play the what-if game with ourselves all the time and this is certainly a wide open world in which to play that.

That sounds like an interesting day to have.
Kelli:
Yes, it was.  It was.

I know last time I talked to you, you were really excited about being here in Atlanta filming.  You still happy about that situation or are you still in the area or have you moved on since?
Kelli:
No, I’m out in LA now, I’m being a snowbird and dodging any kind of East Coast weather that you guys are experiencing.  It’s 65 degrees out right now outside.

That sounds nice.
Kelli:
Yes.

It’s chilly here.
David:
That’s right, she had to come do press, so fortunately the weather was nice for it.

Exactly, exactly.  Hey, do you have any special message for those guys here in your home town who might be checking out the show, Kelli?
Kelli:
Well, it was such a great experience to be able to come home and know that there’s biscuits and gravy just around the corner, that there’s chicken and dumplings being – the teamsters fixed chicken and dumplings out in the parking lot during one day of filming.  There was sweet tea always on the tables at lunch so that was certainly nice to come back home. And really explore the city, you know I left when I was 18 so you can’t really go down and listen to music and have a drink when you’re 18 in the big old city so it was kind of great.  It was like being introduced to a new city.  Atlanta has changed so much in the last decade it was –

David: Atlanta was fantastic.  That was my favorite part about the whole experience was being able to shoot there.  The crews were incredible.  We got so many looks out of Atlanta.  It was just an absolute pleasure to be there.  By the way, we can’t wait to come back.  Our sets and our wardrobes and our props are all sitting on our stage behind a locked door.  We’re ready to come back.

Kelli: Exactly.

Kelli, what has been your most memorable moment so far from filming Past Life?
Kelli:
Oh, lordy.

David: I want to hear this.

Kelli: I know, right.  Gee, you know you go in for 10 to 15 hours a day and you’re just – I was on set all the time and it was such a joy.  It all kind of runs together.  No, but my most memorable things that happen on set were with the guest stars that came down, being surprised by their ability and their talent to go into all these regressions that we had them go into and seeing each person do it in a completely different way.

I have to say my favorite, I think, was Juliette, the girl that played Sarah.  She was like 12, I just remember being on set with her and she knew more words to Beatles’ songs than I did.  I was just so impressed.  I was so impressed.  I was like youth is not lost.  They are not lost, they’re okay.

David: What about the improv dance at three in the morning?

Kelli: Yes, that was amazing.  We were on set, it was, David it was the last scene, right, of the day?

David: It was the last scene, it was three in the morning.

Kelli: We had Dean White there who is our directing producer, producing director, however it goes, and so he had been with us the entire time in Atlanta and he was directing that episode and David was down in Atlanta.  It was three in the morning, and we’re shooting the last scene of the day, and of that episode I think and it was the last scene and he just – he put on, what song was it David?

David: It was Ooh-la-la by Rod Stewart.

Kelli: Yes.  It was Ooh-la-la, and we just started dancing, me and Nick Bishop in the middle of Talmadge Center and it got captured.  It was such an organic, beautiful thing that moved out of this really great conversation that had been written.  We just started improv’ing with each other and all of a sudden I’m begging him to dance and we’re laughing our heads off.  It was great.

David, why don’t you tell us why exactly people want to tune in to watch Past Life?
David:
Well, first of all I think they’re going to be immensely entertained.  It’s a mystery show, we’re solving a mystery each week, but we’re doing it in a way that is different because of the past life angle to the show.  It’s a very satisfying viewing experience because you’re seeing a mystery be solved from start to finish in a very different and unique way.  We’re also doing it with characters that are arguing about it as they go along, that are agreeing on certain things, that are taking different approaches, and that are – the conflict part of it, I think, is very entertaining and informative, but it’s also fun.

At the end of the day the episodes are really about hope because patients are, in 90% of the cases, being healed.  They’re not always going to be healed but most cases they are.  It’s just a very satisfying experience and very emotional, I have to say.  It’s sort of a roller coaster ride in each episode.  There are great comedy moments in the show, there are also very scary moments in the show with these regression episodes, but you know, each week in doing all the cuts, what’s consistent each time are the performances of Kelli and Nick and all the actors.  It’s really great just to go on the ride with them each week and see them do their thing.

David, I wanted to know, how do you think the way a person acts is connected in some ways to the energy of a past life?  Like current karma and someone’s destiny?
David:
What interested me as much as anything in this whole project was this idea of consciousness and I don’t want to get too technical and pretend like I’m a super expert but, putting the idea of reincarnation aside, I got into this whole idea that I think started with Carl Jung about consciousness. Basically, all people are connected and the idea is that some people are able to sort of access this level of consciousness and others aren’t.

Where it really popped for me was, for example, the idea of déjà vu, which I think everybody has experienced.  Even something like – the show touches on all sorts of things related to it such as, I mean people are always coming up to me and telling me a ghost story or telling me about somebody that they met and say, “I swear that was my mom in a past life.”  The more I researched and the more I got into it I realized that the world is really out of body experiences, it’s near-death experiences, it’s this whole idea of the science of the soul, which I think is tied up in consciousness.

There is a line that Kelli has, that Kelli’s character has in one of the episodes where somebody says to her, “You know you only go around once.”  And she says, “Actually, not really.”  That was kind of my takeaway.  One of the other characters in another episode has a line, “Live like you’re going to live again.”  I guess for me, again, not getting into technical definitions of karma, for me it’s kind of like, this is going to sound corny, but kind of like the Golden Rule.  It’s like just do right, live like you’re going to live again and you don’t really have anything to worry about.

Kelli: It certainly doesn’t hurt to look at it that way, does it?

David: Right, exactly.

Now, for both of you, why do you think viewers are open to a show like Past Life? Like 10 or 15 years ago I think they’d still be fearful.
Kelli:
Hmm –

David: Do you want to go Kelli, or do you want me to go?

Kelli: Yes, go for it.

David: Well, I think –

Kelli:I don’t think about the viewers, huh?

David: Yes, I mean, you know, I certainly don’t want to ever underestimate the American public and the American viewing audience.  I think people are a lot smarter and a lot more open-minded —

Kelli: Exactly.

David: — than we generally give them credit for.  Look, this is an entertaining television show.  As I mentioned before, we’re not preaching anything to anybody, we’re saying just come along with us on this ride.  There was a line in the book that really landed with me when I read it, which was one of the characters, I think it was Dr. – it was Malachi, it was Richard Schiff’s character, said, “For me the question isn’t why should I believe in this, it’s why not?”  And that’s sort of the attitude that I tried to infuse in that character and in everybody who works at Talmadge.  It’s this idea of what if?  Come along for the ride and I think people will do that.  People get on board and they see these exciting teasers and they figure out what the case of the week is going to be.  Then it’s about solving the mystery, and then it’s about the twists and turns that happen because of the regressions with Kate and Nick and everybody sort of taking us along for the ride.

Kelli: I think David’s attitude and outlook on this whole topic, this whole genre, that it’s not even a genre yet, but I think it really comes through the characters such as mine.  She’s not trying to beat anybody over the head with it.  I think we all come to work and it’s a playground.  It’s just let’s see, I really think the question of what if is really fun to play around with.  Why not put that question in the hands of ten writers and –

David: Right.  That’s actually – that’s a great point, Kelli.  After we did the pilot and I hired my writing staff and we got together in the room I was absolutely amazed by the stories.  We spent an entire week of people just pitching stories and experiences related to this world and I was really blown away by that, by how many people seem to have been touched by stories that exist in this world.  Again, I just think it’s a really exciting place to be able to tell stories.

My listener’s have been waiting for this show since it was announced.  Congratulations.  It’s finally going to be on the air.  How do you feel that it’s almost here, a week away?
Kelli:
I’m so excited.

I bet.
Kelli:
I’m so excited.  I’ve been watching Fox and all of a sudden you see a teaser and you’re like, Wow!  That looks great, you know?  We’ve finished filming a couple of months ago so it’s kind of great to finally see it coming on.  It just looks great.  Feeling confident in the job that I did, and that my fellow cast mates did, and that the directors did, and the writers did.  It feels great to know that you’ve got a great product and a great story coming out.  A lot of people are going to get to see it after American Idol.

David: Yes, again, I’m thrilled to death too.  When we heard that we were going to get our preview launched after American Idol on Tuesday night, of course we were ecstatic.  The network and the studio are behind the show and they believe in it and we’re going to get our shot.  I really think and hope that there is going to be an audience for the show because it’s a lot of fun to watch.

Also, maybe you can tell us a little bit about the team.  I know, Kelli, your character Kate who’s got a partner named Price Whatley, is that right?  Did I get the name right?
Kelli:
Yes.

He’s a cynic, so how important for the show, maybe both of you can comment, to have a cynic on the show to challenge Kate and the other team members around her, their thoughts and their hypotheses?
Kelli:
Well, I think it’s a pretty important character for the audience.  If I were watching it I’d want to see the other side and I think that he does that very well and a lot of humor comes out of it.  I think he’s a very – his character plays a very important role.  He does it with much aplomb.

David: He does.  I think that’s right.  You know, look the skeptic and the believer, it’s sort of a classic twosome, but what Kelli and Nick did is they brought a lot of nuance to it.  Price Whatley, who is played by Nick Bishop, he’s not completely one note.  He’s not just sitting there saying, “I don’t believe,” every episode.  He goes on a journey and Kate takes him on that journey and that’s what I think is interesting to me.  Price is sort of voicing the other side of the coin in a lot of the episodes, but he’s also going on a journey because of his back story with his wife, who died accidentally.

Kelli: He’s coming to this with a very personal question in something that he doesn’t know about, which is his wife is dead.  Is she going to come back?  I don’t know, he’s just been through some trauma himself.  I think that represents a lot of what David and I and the writers have found talking about this subject to people, that everybody – he’s kind of like I did want to think that, that she was my grandma, you know?  It’s like this little personal question that maybe, it’s not out in the open but it’s underneath everything that – all of his actions.

Also, maybe both of you can tell us about – a little about the rest of the team.  We heard about Richard Schiff’s character, but there are a few other characters, maybe you can shed some light on them?
David:
Yes, maybe I can give you a little shorthand.  There are four people working at the Talmadge Center on this team.  I look at them as a family, both personally and professionally.  On a professional level, Richard Schiff’s character, Malachi Talmadge, is the boss.  He’s the namesake of the center.  He’s the one who sort of all cases, questions, and decisions go through.  He puts the team through their paces each week; it’s sort of like the Socratic Method.  They bounce ideas off of him and he sends them off on their certain journeys and tasks.

Of course, you’ve got Kelli’s character, Dr. McGinn.  She was actually one of Malachi’s graduate students, is her back story.  She is a psychologist.  Then Nick is a former NYPD detective, his job is to essentially take the clues that Dr. McGinn gets out of the regressions and use his detective chops to solve what happened in the past life.  Ravi Patel plays Dr. Rishi Karna who is a great character.  Dr. Karna is the medical doctor of the team.  His specialty is cognitive research and brain science.  He’s like this really smart, quirky, funny student of the human brain.  He is involved with the patients medically each week, sort of looking at all the possible physical causes for the symptoms.  He’s also the rookie of the group.  He’s sort of like the young brother to Kelli’s older sister.  Nick is kind of like the new fiancé and Richard is kind of like the Dad.  How about that?

Kelli: Mm-hm.

Listen, Kelli, Suzanne mentioned All My Children earlier and I as well was a huge fan of your work on that show.
Kelli:
Oh, great.

We always hear of actors calling soaps a great training ground for future work in prime time and film and having now landed this huge prime time vehicle.  I’m wondering if you feel that way and what lessons you did learn on All My Children that you’re carrying with you on this experience.
Kelli:
Yes.   You know, you think on your feet.  When you’re on a soap you get one page, you better damn well know your character.

You bet ya.
Kelli:
You better know what she would do in every situation because it’s a very, very fast paced business.  You do 90 pages a day in a soap.  The most we ever did was like 6 3/8, you know.  It’s insane.  It’s such a small world, the soaps.  It’s all contained in this little studio.  It’s so nice.  One thing that’s so different, you get to explode and you get to see the director’s vision of a particular scene and what he’s trying to do with it with the camera work.  In the soap it’s a proscenium so it was so nice to move out of that small box of a studio and actually get to incorporate everybody’s ideas and really collaborate on what’s happening in the scene between the cameramen, even the focus puller.  It’s a whole other machine.

David, I have kind of the same question for you.  I am a huge fan of a show that you helped produce and write called Friday Night Lights. My understanding is that that show is filmed and put together in a way that is radically different from almost any other television series.  I’m wondering what lessons you learned working on that show that you’re carrying with you on Past Life now?
David:
Let’s see.  You’re correct.  Friday Night Lights is shot very differently from a lot of traditional network television shows.  I learned a lot from that experience.  Number one is trust your actors and your directors.  Surround yourself with good people and just sort of have faith in the process.  We were able to do that here with Dean White who is our producing director and Deran Sarafian, he directed the pilot and sort of set up this great template for us.  What we ended up with is in the body of the show the past life episodes, it’s traditional camera set ups and lighting for the most part.  Then these regressions are much more similar to Friday Night Lights; they were very run and gun, often unrehearsed, often a lot of improv and we found a lot of those scenes in the cutting room.  What I love about the way Friday Night Lights works and is shot, is it’s a very organic set.  That sounds like a nerdy technical term.  Basically what that means is you get there on the day to shoot the scene and you sort of find it with the actors.  You don’t sit there and say this has to be recited word for word as it is in the script.  You let everybody find the scene, you collaborate, you take suggestions.  You just go for it.  I found that a lot of times you get great stuff.  They’re smart people.  People have good ideas, especially people who know the characters.  That was my takeaway from Friday Night Lights and I try to apply that because I really think it works.

Fantastic.  Well, David, you said that Fox seems very solidly behind you guys and they have a verifiable history of taking concepts like this that are kind of out there and making them huge hits, The X-Files and Fringe and even 24 and House were revolutionary in their own way, do you feel lucky that this is the network that you’ve landed on?
David:
I do.  I do.  I felt that way when we originally sold the pitch.  There were other networks interested, it just felt like a good fit at Fox, and they’ve been behind us the whole way.  We’re excited and I think the fact that we’re getting this preview after Idol next week speaks volumes.

I watched both of the episodes and one question that came to my mind that both of them deal with sisters.  Do you realize that?
David:
Yes.

The pilot and the Dead Man Walking.
David:
Correct.

Because of that it touched me more than anything else because I have one sister that I adore and we’re like – I think she’s my soul mate.  Do you have any concept of soul mate in this series?
David:
Absolutely.  We do an entire episode about that.  It’s the episode called Soul Music.  I believe it’s the third episode to air, so it will air a week from next Thursday.  It’s an episode about that exact concept, about a girl and a guy who are soul mates and who keep finding each other in lifetime after lifetime.  I can tell you when we got in the room, Meg, with the writers, that was one of the first ideas that came up and it came up over and over again.  This idea of do we have a soul mate out there and if so, how do we know who it is and can you find each other across lifetimes?  That was something I responded to personally.  It’s funny now that you mention that I didn’t really – it hadn’t dawned on me that both of those episodes involve sisters.  I have three sisters, I’m the only boy.  Maybe that’s where that came from, I don’t know.  It just so happens that those two episodes are about sisters, they’re not all about sisters.

Kelli: One of them happens in the past life and one of them is the present.

Right.
David:
That’s true.

Right, right.  One more question for both of you, I totally – I’m a total believer in this so you don’t have to convince me of anything.  You just gave us such hope and I was so taken by this series.  I was wondering if you ever thought about – I know each life has some lesson you’re supposed to learn and I know what mine is but have you ever thought about in this life, current life?
Kelli:
Well, you know what, as an actor, it’s almost an exact parallel, really.  I mean every project you’re involved in and that any character that you’re invested in – you learn a message from that experience.  I know that sounds a little cheesy, but it’s true.  It’s kind of funny the parallel that I drew from that.  You kind of learn something and you get to apply it to the next thing.

David: You know it’s funny, Meg, I obviously have been talking to a lot of people the last couple of weeks getting ready for the show doing press and publicity and several people have asked me similar questions or asked about if there is a spiritual aspect to the show.  I used to be a lawyer and I quit the practice of law to start writing and one of the reasons that I did that was I had an older sister who was too sick, who had breast cancer and it just got me to this moment of really looking at my life and saying what do I really want to do?  What is really going to make me happy?

Do I want to be 65 years old looking back and regretting not ever having taken the chance or the risk?  I think that informed the writing of this pilot for sure, and probably the series.  I can’t say exactly how, but there is just this feeling I have of life is short and when you see somebody you love get sick and die it really hammers that point home.  I wanted it to be about hope, I wanted it to be about there is good out there so I know that’s not a very articulate response.

Kelli: Any question that comes from the heart, I think deserves careful consideration.

Well said.
Kelli:
Yes, but I think we all know that to be true.

I was wondering, you mentioned going back to filming and I was wondering how many episodes do you have filmed and how long, if you have any idea, how many episodes will happen and what Fox is looking for in terms of whether they give you the green light to make more?
David:
Sure.  We filmed a pilot, plus six, so we have seven episodes in the can that will be broadcast starting Tuesday night.  Again, I think Tuesday night is the launch and the regular time period is Thursdays after that.

Obviously, you know, once the episodes go on the air Fox and the studio and us, will all look at the ratings and hopefully there is an audience.  If there is an audience for the show Fox has said that we will get a second season order and we’re ready to go.

Kelli: And go back to our studio down in Atlanta.  I’m all ready for it.

David: We’re ready to get right back to work.

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I had the chance to sit in on a conference call with the always charming and hilarious Sarah Silverman in support of the season 3 premiere of THE SARAH SILVERMAN PROGRAM on Comedy Central, tonight at 10:30.  It’s a long read, but it’s totally worth it.  She gives some great responses and handles some awkward questions really well!

Sarah:  Wait, I can’t even like hear laughs or anything?  Oh. It’s lonely, but it’s oddly not, but then it is.

I was wondering what kind of subjects are you going to be touching on this season.  Like, what kind of taboo and controversial subjects?  You tend to do that a lot in your show.
We do, although I don’t think we ever really go, “What can we tackle this season?”  I think that would kind of be a slutty way to go about it.  We just continue to still try to just write stuff that makes us laugh, and when a bunch of comics are in a room, it takes more to make us laugh; or less.  I mean, aggressively stupid goes a long way in the room and on the show.

Let’s see, I find out I was born with both looks and personality?  No, it’s weird to not have anything coming back.  I’m imagining you all laughing on mute.  What else?  My imaginary friend from childhood comes back as an adult and we have a lesby affair.  Steve and Brian have a great … this season; their love as well as Jay and Laura; there’s some wedding action, and it’s very funny; there’s a new mayor in town who makes gay sex and brunch illegal. I should just look through the—let’s see, I go on “Real Time with Bill Maher.”

Let’s see, Andy Samberg plays my imaginary friend this year.  Ed Asner is in an episode as a Nazi war criminal.  It was really, really—let me tell you something about older actors.  Ed Asner is about 80, and Murray, who is on our show, Gershams, is 87, and they’re such pros that when they’re not shooting, they are in their chair sleeping.  Just like containing their energy.  And we have some really great pictures of elderly Nazi war criminals in set chairs sound asleep.

Billy Crudup plays himself on the show in an episode.  I know you didn’t ask who guest stars were.  Let me think.  There’s some heavy psychedelic drug-taking in an episode.  There’s a lot of drugs this season, actually.

Let me think; let me think a … second.  I’m just reacting to nobody.  Let me think—oh God, I need to drink this coffee that’s in front of me.  C’mon Sarah, you’re embarrassing yourself.

I try to fight the taboo of child molesters and vans.  Oh, my God, my brain, my brain.  This is going to look so cool on a transcript; lots of dot, dot, dots, and little breakdowns. (more…)

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Last week, I had the great pleasure of speaking with THE DEEP END stars Billy Zane and Tina Majorino.  We discussed last week’s episode about medicinal marijuana and what’s to come for their characters going forward!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

I love this cast, so I’m going to continue watching. What about you guys?

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I had the great chance to spend some time chatting with BEING ERICA star Erin Karpluk yesterday – with the (fantastic) season premiere airing tonight on SoapNet, we talked a bit about why she loves the show, why people should tune in, and how Erica Strange has changed since last season (we also talked about her character in LIFE UNEXPECTED)! You really need to tune into SoapNet tonight for the second season premiere “Being Dr Tom” – following the events of the Season 1 finale, Erica decides that without Tom, she’s not doing therapy, and in the meantime, she is sent back to her COYOTE UGLY type dive bar to keep a falling-apart Tom from doing something he’ll regret.  And the cliffhanger ending is something great – it opens so many doors to new storylines, and it’s really well done!

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David Cook - Photo Credit http://www.davidcookofficial.com

Of all the AMERICAN IDOLs over the  years, I think I’m most partial to the Season 7 champ, David Cook, the down to earth rocker with the growl we know and love.  When I was given the chance to chat with him for a bit about his part in this weekend’s new episode of EXTREME MAKOVER: HOME EDITION, I jumped at the opportunity.  Sunday’s episode features the EM:HO team helping the Cowan-Brown family, a group of people that David holds close to his heart.  Read on to learn a little bit more about David as we chat about how he got involved, what surprised him about being a part of the show, what his second album has in store for us, and what he’s been doing at his hotel in Vancouver!

How are you?
I’m fantastic!

Very excited to talk to you –
Oh, well likewise!

So we’re here to talk about EXTREME MAKEOVER: HOME EDITION.  Tell me a little bit about how you got involved in this particular episode.
I was fortunate enough to get to meet the Cowan-Brown family before all of this.  I have family in a town very close to Bunker Hill, and they had brought the family to one of my shows, I got a chance to see them, and Kori kind of gave me the meat and potatoes version of her story, and I was really moved by it.  We tried to work something out to get involved.  Lo and behold, EXTREME MAKEOVER comes into play, and they reached out to us.  They somehow found out about the connection and asked if I wanted to be involved.  I really jumped at the chance.  I think it’s great what they do, for families who need it. (more…)

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