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Jane Espenson on Crazy Sexy Geeks Podcast

24 December 2011 Leave a comment

Jane Espenson chats about Husbands and Once Upon a Time with The Crazy Sexy Geeks. You can listen to the podcast here.

Jane Espenson: Is TV Writing The Best Job Ever? from the Huffington Post

16 December 2011 Leave a comment

Jane Espenson

Writer, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, Rge O.C., Gilmore Girls and more.

Is TV Writing the Best Job Ever?

Posted 12/14/11


Hello, Gentle Readers. Who’s up for a good blogging? I know I am!

I used to blog on my own site, expounding on the art and craft of television writing. But I stopped one day when I realized that I had expounded myself into the ground. There was nothing left for me to teach. That was a few years ago, though, and since then I’ve learned new things and refined my thinking on a lot of the old things. Right now, I’m writing for the network hit Once Upon a Time (ABC), and for my own web series Husbands, so I’m topped off to overflowing with knowledge.

When I get a chance, now and then, to contribute to these pages, I can explain how storytelling has to change as audiences get better at anticipating twists, and how to write compelling stage directions, and how to deal with the fact that you can’t goddamn swear on the TV, but right now I’d like to start out by addressing the fundamental question: IS TV WRITING THE BEST JOB EVER?

Well, it is stressful. Parts of it can be awful, just awful. You will make mistakes that will be broadcast to millions of people. You will be kept away from your bed by work, and kept awake in your bed by worry. You will almost certainly be made fun of by people with cruelly fast wits. You’ll be rewritten. You will have to say “thank you” when complimented for lines you didn’t write. You will have to bite your tongue when criticized for choices you didn’t make. You’ll be asked to make decisions about costumes and hairstyles. You will have to compromise your vision because an actor or set or special effect or executive isn’t cooperating. You will be punched in the self-esteem. You will cry.

The answer is YES.

It’s the best job ever, because as down as that downside is, the upside is so much upper. The up is so up even the down is up. You are handsomely paid to sit around with intelligent people, talking about a TV show. You laugh all day long. And if you’re writing for a comedy, you get to stay late and laugh all night, too. You quite probably drive through the big gates of a Hollywood studio on your way to work, just like Lassie did. And sometimes you get to put computer to paper and put words in the mouths of talented actors who then, get this, act out your story for you. That part is crazy. Even after 20 years, it still seems nuts to me that these gorgeous talented people breathe life into words I wrote. And if that weren’t enough, another talented person points a camera at it and shows it to everyone you went to high school with. It’s frakkin’ amazing.

It does suffer a bit from being hard to attain. People talk a lot about how hard it is to get into TV writing. And that’s true. But there are new TV writers every season. I see them showing up, shiny and scared, every year. Also, there is the new and amazing world of web series, which meets almost all of the goals except the part about the handsome pay. I recently entered that world withHusbands The Series, and found that not only did it provide most of the upside, it also avoided a lot of the downside. You get to hear the words you wrote all the more clearly when you’re listening just to satisfy yourself, not several layers of bosses.

TV writing (and web writing) is the best job ever. I feel lucky every day. I learn every day. And they pay for lunch every day. Score. Hang around and I’ll tell you what I know.

Original Post at The Huffington Post

Jane Espenson Talks Husbands with We Love Cult

6 December 2011 Leave a comment

Jane Espenson is a crown short of being named “The Queen of All Genre Television”, so when she teamed with Youtube sensation Brad “Cheeks” Bell, actor Sean Hemeon, Alessandra Torresani from Caprica, and sitcom director Jeff Greenstein, the geekosphere took note.

I interviewed Jane, Cheeks, and Sean about the now concluded first season of Husbands, concerns about typecasting, and if they care about offending people. Take a look at what #TeamHusbands had to say.

Sean, Brad, Jane, season 1 is through, you earned your success merit badge, is season 2 definitely happening and can we expect a Husbands DVD, Blu Ray, or Betamax in the future? Not VHS, VHS is gauche.

Brad “Cheeks” Bell: VHS is so not gauche. It’s totes got retro hipster appeal now. Cassette tapes too. Now, CDs? Those are gauche.

Jane Espenson: We don’t know yet about a season two, but we are exploring the idea of some kind of bonus content. We’ll see. And we’d like to make a DVD or iTunes version – this is all still up in the air.

Are you looking to aggressively sell Husbands as a TV show or are waiting for TV to come to you?

Brad “Cheeks” Bell: Ha! TV coming to us? Does that ever really happen? I don’t think anything can get done in Hollywood unless you’re shopping it in some capacity or another. Unless maybe you kill someone and they want an exclusive… say, there’s an idea. 

I’m open to many future avenues for Husbands. My main priority is the ability to produce the show we envision and to retain the incredible creative team and cast we have assembled. The platform is all a part of the details.

Jane Espenson: We’re not waiting. On the other hand, I wouldn’t say we have a “TV or nothing” attitude. We are talking to people with the means to help us continue the show, through whatever means.

The world that you have created for the show is, sadly, a fantasy world where full marriage equality exists, and where a baseball player can be out of the closet and in the spotlight. I’m curious, what made you choose to make Brady a baseball player?

Brad “Cheeks” Bell: I think I might have suggested athlete and Jane is the one who settled on baseball. I wanted someone who was opposite of Cheeks in every possible way and also high profile. Obviously there is still plenty of taboo about openly gay men in the sports world, so it just sort of made sense. 

Jane Espenson: We wanted Brady and Cheeks to both be public figures, to raise the stakes in maintaining the marriage, but we wanted them to have different relationships with their fans.  By making Brady an athlete, we gave him a much more conservative fan base, which gives him very different concerns than Cheeks.

If you will, talk about Jeff Greenstein’s involvement in the project and what that meant to you all. 

Sean Hemeon: I have been absolutely spoiled by having Jeff as a director! He’s the real deal – a genuine stand up guy. He’s the biggest little kid I know and really tries to keep a fun and drama free set. He has a graceful way of steering the ship. He makes it look effortless. And certainly has enough great stories to keep anyone entertained for days!

Jane Espenson: Oh, man, we couldn’t have done this without Jeff.  Jeff is a long-time writer and executive producer, and also an accomplished director.  We needed his keen eye and keen mind. More than anything, it was Jeff who made the show look like a show. 

Sean, Brad, is there a concern about typecasting? 

Brad “Cheeks” Bell: If my role as Cheeks provides so much media exposure that the public just can’t see me as anything else, I’d consider that a high end problem. I should be so lucky. I also think that much of that question is up to the actor and his abilities. Ultimately, I see it like this: I’ll keep doing what I’m doing and cross that bridge should I come to it.

Sean Hemeon: Not at all worried about it. Brady’s not a typical gay character – he’s just a guy who happens to be gay. You could see him in straight situations and gay.

Glee just had an episode where two gay characters lost their virginity. The sun still rose, the seas did not part, and kittens didn’t take to the streets with switch blades. Naturally though, some people were up in arms. You guys didn’t really seem to offend anyone with Husbands and I’m wondering if that was a surprise and if you would have cared about offending people?

Sean Hemeon: We, as gay men, offend people every day just by being out and open in our daily lives. If others want to be bothered by it, then its fine by me cause its their day they’re ruining, not mine. I’m happy in my gay world.

I don’t think, though, Husbands set out to offend people but rather to support people… we got a fan letter from a young boy in the middle of the midwest who saw Husbands and became hopeful that one day he could be out, married and HAPPY!

Brad “Cheeks” Bell: I would have cared about offending people if we’d done so for the sake of a joke, such as throwing a group of people under the bus to make a gag or punchline work. Other than that, for the people that are already morally opposed to what we’re creating, why should I care about offending them? They’re not our audience. They can watch Nancy Grace. They’ll be happier in doing so, as will Nancy Grace.

Jane Espenson: I was kind of looking forward to the kitten gangs because that sounds adorable. But yeah, the viewers are much more ready for content like Husbands than I think some people realize. As we’ve taken Husbands online, we’re finding that we don’t just have a lot people watching, but that there is a core of highly engaged superfans. What we have not found is the opposite – there’s been very little negative reaction and certainly no core of haters. The world has changed a lot in recent years and Glee is a show that’s reflecting that change. So is Husbands.

——————-

You can re-watch or discover Husbands for the first time by going to HusbandsTheSeries.com. 

Oh, and genre fans, here’s a bonus question for Jane Espenson…

Did Barnabas really die in Caprica?

Jane Espenson: I didn’t see a body.  If you don’t see a body, the writers are probably keeping it open for a reason.

Original Interview at We Love Cult

 

Web Content Corner: Jne Espenson Interview Part 1

8 October 2011 Leave a comment

WEB CONTENT CORNER: JANE ESPENSON INTERVIEW PART 1

Monday 26 September 2011

Written by Jenni Powell

Some of the earliest wins in web content came out of the 2007 – 2008 Writer’s Guild strike Most people, whether they are web series fans or not, are aware of the explosive success of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. Another high-profile win for the web space came out of a derivative series based on a little sci-fi show called…Battlestar Gallactica.

I watched the first series of Battlestar Gallactica webisodes religiously.They featured a lesser-known character played by an actor I have been a fan of for years and so I was thrilled he was getting more attention, while also getting to build out the intricate universe of the series. The webisodes also lead into the new season of the show, with the character featured in the new season, who they proceeded to kill in the premiere episode…but we don’t need to get into that. (I never quite forgave the show for that.)

What was so lovely about the Battlestar Gallactica web “experiment” is that they continued to support the medium even after the strike was over, doing several web series in between seasons of the show. For Battlestar Galactica: The Face of the Enemy, they brought in veteran TV writer and fan-favorite Jane Espenson to co-write and executive produce. Jane has written for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, The O.C., Gilmore Girls, Dollhouse, Battlestar Galactica, Caprica, Game of Thrones, and Torchwood: Miracle Day among other series. She also co-created Syfy’s Warehouse 13. She’s got street cred and the series went on to be nominated for an Emmy as well as winning a Streamy Award.

And now Jane has moved from a derivative web series to team up with actor and internet entrepreneur Brad Bell ( AKA Cheeks) in creating her first original, independent web series, a delightful and unique romantic comedy called Husbands. I had a chance to screen episodes of the series at Big Screen Little Screen LA and had the wonderful opportunity to interview her via e-mail to discuss her background as a writer, the unique opportunities that come with working on the web, and asked her to give tips to web series creators just starting out.

This is part 1 of a 2-part interview.

How long have you been writing and what inspired you to go into a writing career?

Jane Espenson: I’ve been writing professionally as a TV writer since 1992, but I always knew I wanted to write for TV. I grew up watching great shows like Mary Tyler Moore, The Odd Couple, Barney Miller, M*A*S*H, and I wanted to be a part of something like that. I feel really fortunate that shows like Buffy and Battlestar are on their way to having that same classic reputation – amazingly, I think I got my dream.  But you can tell from that list of titles that my first love was comedy, so Husbands is part of coming back to that original interest.

Cheeks (co-writer and star of Husbands) is such an engaging, free-spirited individual that truly lights up the screen. How did you meet him and begin working with him?

Espenson: I discovered his comedy on line.  He has a YouTube channel at GoCheeksGo, and I was impressed by his sense of humor. Once we started writing together I realized why – we have ridiculously similar joke-writing instincts. That made working on Husbands really easy and natural.  Sometimes he was writing to match my voice and vice versa. You really can’t tell who wrote which lines.

You are an absolute wiz at social media. How did you go about learning those skills and how have they influenced you in marketing for Husbands?

Espenson: Oh, I am so not a wiz at social media.  That’s Cheeks’s department.  I can tweet, but that’s about it.  He secured the web page where people can see the episodes (HusbandsTheSeries.com) and made a lot of the decisions about how to best make the material available to people. For example, he decided that the format would be to create a pilot-length story and then carve it into tiny 2-minute pieces for web consumption – a decision that’s really paid off.

Did you write Husbands with the express purpose of creating role-models for marriage equality or was it just an aspect of a story you wanted to tell?

Espenson: Actually not. We actually added that part of the story after we’d already started work on the script. But once we realized that we wanted to create a romantic comedy, it became obvious. And perfect. If we can help make a case for marriage equality by putting faces on this young fictional couple, then that’s amazing and very satisfying.

Anything coming up on the season of Husbands we should be especially looking forward to?  Are there plans for future seasons?

Espenson: Oh yes. As I’m writing this, episode five is prepping to go up. 5, 6 and 7 are very funny episodes with lots of Alessandra (played by Alessandra Torresani from Caprica) Eps 8-11 allow a little more heart to creep into the story. The investment the viewers are making in the couple that is Cheeks and Brady pays off as the episodes get deeper.  It’s still funny, but I think people will enjoy seeing things get more and more grounded.

To watch Husbands, please click here.

Be sure to check back with IAR soon for part 2 of our interview with Jane Espenson.

Original Interview at I Am Rogue

Nerdist Writers’ Panel #7 with Jane Espenson

19 September 2011 Leave a comment

Nerdist Writers Panel #7: Creators andCast of the Web-Series “Husbands”

by KATIE LEVINE on SEPTEMBER 15, 2011

Episode 7- Creators and cast of the web-series Husbands (HusbandsTheSeries.com): co-writer/executive producer Jane Espenson (Buffy; Caprica; Torchwood), director Jeff Greenstein (Will & Grace; Desperate Housewives), co-writer/actor Brad “Cheeks” Bell, actor Alessandra Torresani (Caprica), and actor Sean Hemeon. Recorded September 11, 2011.

Listen to the panel at Nerdist

Follow @BenBlacker on Twitter!

Jane Espenson and Cheeks Discuss Husbands with TOR

15 September 2011 Leave a comment

Jane Espenson and Cheeks Discss Witing Husbands

TERESA JUSINO

There’s something electrifying about a perfect collaboration. At first glance, Jane Espenson and Brad “Cheeks” Bell don’t seem to have anything in common. She is a writer/producer of myriad sci-fi/fantasy television faves including Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Battlestar Galactica, Torchwood: Miracle Day, and the upcoming Once Upon a Time. He is a performer whose made his home on the internet with music and comedy videos that seem to cater more to the Lady Gaga set than to the Ray Bradbury set. What we shouldn’t forget, however, is that Espenson got her start on sitcoms like Dinosaurs, Ellen, Jake In Progress, and Andy Barker P.I. And what we shouldn’t ignore is that under all the glitter and glitz, Cheeks is an incisive, intelligent talent who couches his social criticism in showbiz flair, because he knows what works. Together, they bring us Husbands, an 11-episode webseries that originated as a script that Cheeks wrote for himself and his good friend, and Caprica star, Alessandra Torresani.

They Call Me Cheeks, and That’s Totes For Reals.

You may already know Cheeks from his YouTube channel, his music on iTunes, or his very active Twitter account. Brad Bell knew that when he moved out to Hollywood from Texas that he wasn’t going to take the same route toward being a performer as everybody else. “I knew that I wasn’t going to drive around town with my headshot and be all ’I can play this role! I can do that! I’m this guy!’ Because I’m not every guy, you know? I’m a specific type. So when I got here, I wanted to figure out What am I gonna do differently? What’s a different way into this machine? And it took a couple of years to figure out. Especially then, because YouTube came out as a website that people knew about and were using I think, like, two years after I moved [to L.A.]. That’s when I was like, ’Okay, there are people putting themselves out there in front of thousands of people on their own platform. I can do that.’ And I still audition for stuff, but I didn’t feel the need, that that was my only way in.

“Cheeky was a nickname I had that evolved from my sense of humor and the way I am with people sometimes. And I thought there was something to the persona name thing. I thought, That’s gonna make a resurgence the way David Bowie was Ziggy Stardust. We’re gonna see artists with stage names like that. Then a year later Lady Gaga came out. [laughs] So, I was like ’Yeah, see? That’s what I was talking about right there!’ That’s why I’m Cheeks, y’all!”

Espenson came across one of Cheeks’ videos online and saw huge potential in him as a performer, thinking that he was someone for whom she’d like to write. She reached out to him, and they became fast friends. What she didn’t realize was that he could write, too.

From “So L.A.” To “Husbands”

Cheeks originally wrote a script for a webseries called So L.A., the story of a twenty-something gay man, his female best friend, and the twenty-something single life in Los Angeles. Espenson read it and “thought it was brilliant, and funny, and hilarious. I read that script and I knew ’This guy can write comedy. This reads like a professional sitcom writer wrote this.’”

But the concept wasn’t quite right. Then Espenson brought up the accidental marriage premise, and suddenly it became “Mad About You with guys.” After a dinner over which they fleshed out that concept, Cheeks went home, wrote through the night, and had a full, 22-page script broken up into 11 2-page episodes in Espenson’s email by 4am the next day. She was amazed that a script that he’d written in a couple of hours was “so close,” and to this day there are huge chunks of the webseries that remain unchanged from that original script.

“From the start, I was thinking about the length of each episode and how they needed to be short,” Cheeks says. “So I kept everything to two pages. And I remember that last hour I was sitting there going ’Nope, not funny! Nope. How can I say this shorter?’ And I think that’s why it plays like it does, so quickly and with such short language, because from the first draft, I was working with that time limit.”

Espenson cites his use of language and his rapid-fire sense of humor as the reasons why she agreed to work on this in the first place. “We showed the script to a really seasoned comedy writer, a 20 year veteran like me, who’s also a gay man who read it and said, ‘I need to go back to gay school, because the references of a 25-year-old are different.’“ Espenson continues, ”And there’s a real, genuine youth in the writing, and the references and type of joke and type of language that Cheeks uses that’s really energetic and tight, and short, and not a syllable wasted, that really appealed to me.”

Despite her extensive experience, Espenson insists that they had an equal partnership in the creation of this piece. “He wrote a thing, I rewrote a thing, then he’d rewrite it, then we’d both throw jokes at it, and it ended up being very much a 50-50 writing collaboration, which was really fun, because I don’t normally write with a writing partner. And it was really fun to be able to go ’I don’t have the joke for this part,’ and Cheeks would have the joke.”

Espenson continues, “One of the reasons I’ve had a 20 year career, is that generally you work on a show and part of your job is to be a chameleon. You want to write so that people can’t tell that it’s not Joss writing, or Ron Moore writing, or Russell T. Davies writing. So the fun thing for me was that Cheeks became my boss when it came to the writing. So, when I wrote the exchange that’s in the clip, that’s me writing as Cheeks. And I knew I had it when I wrote that, because that’s what Cheeks would’ve written!”

Cast of Characters

In addition to a heightened version of Cheeks (who is already a heightened version of Brad Bell), we also have a heightened version of Alessandra Torresani to look forward to in the character of Haley, Cheeks’ BFF, and about as un-Zoe Graystone as it is possible for her to get.

“Haley is heightened the way Cheeks is heightened,” Cheeks explains. “It was definitely something I knew [Alessandra] could do, because it is similar to her personality. She’s big, and not shy, and loves to have a good time, so I just took those elements and cranked them up.”

Espenson chimed in, “And [Alessandra’s] actually not a big drinker, but Haley is. She’s kind of like Karen Walker Jr. [from Will and Grace]”

“She’s kinda like a one-woman Karen and Jack,” Cheeks adds, laughing. “If they had a kid all those years ago in New York, and they told no one about it, and the kid moved to L.A…” However, Cheeks emphasizes that while Karen cares less about people, Haley is very supportive. “She’s a lush, and has bad ideas, and makes bad decisions,” Cheeks says. “But she really has a big heart.”

A stroke of luck led them to Sean Hemeon, who was the last piece of the puzzle they needed to find when casting the role of Brady, Cheeks’ pro ballplayer husband. They auditioned hundreds of actors, had one they thought they liked, but decided to hold out for one more day of auditions. Sean Hemeon, whom you may have noticed as a vampire lieutenant in an episode of True Blood, was the last person auditioned and ended up landing the part, because he could believeably play someone who had passed as straight for years and only recently come out of the closet. Espenson was also struck by the subtlety of Hemeon’s comedy. “We got so lucky,” she says. “He did a lot of really subtle stuff that I didn’t even notice until we were editing. People should look out for Sean Hemeon.”

It was important to Cheeks to include a character like Brady in a show like Husbands to ensure a sense of balance. “Brady has to be the antithesis of Cheeks, not just because it’s a funny dynamic, but because I know that that kind of man exists. The only thing that ‘makes you gay’ is if you’re exclusively having sex with members of the same sex. Everything else is up to you. But there is sort of a culture in the gay community built around ’You don’t look like me, or dress like me, you’re not the right kind of gay. You don’t fit in here!’ And that’s terrible! It’s terrible to discriminate against boys that aren’t doing the club thing and it’s also terrible to discriminate against boys who are. And I wanted to have that unity in the script, and I wanted to have both sides represented. There are gay guys like this, and there are gay guys like that, and it takes all kinds.”

 

The Freedom of The Web

Espenson and Cheeks have a unique advantage in that she is an experienced television veteran, while Cheeks is an experienced internet entertainer, creating a winning webseries combination. As Cheeks puts it, “We were able to take the rules of our worlds and figure them out in a new way.”

While the original intention behind creating Husbands for the web was to show a television network that there was actually an audience for programming like this, Espenson says that “We’ve had so much fun doing it our way with this group, that if it turned out that this continued to live on the web, but was in some way monetized, that would be good too. Because then we could keep our cast. That’s my huge fear is that it’ll go to TV, and they’ll want to recast it. My main priority, at the very least, is keeping Cheeks as co-creator/co-writer.”

Creative control over the material is something that was important to both creators. Cheeks also brings up the fact that going smaller can often inspire more creativity than having enormous resources. “The first [few] years I did anything on YouTube, I didn’t have any kind of budget. There was a time when $20 was my budget for the week. That forced me to be really creative, and I think those kind of constraints are great. Financial, and time, and all of that, really forces you to go OK what do I have?”

While she had a blast making Husbands, Espenson isn’t sure that she’d want to create any other web content on her own just yet. While she would happily partner with Cheeks again, or with The Guild’s Felicia Day, who advised Espenson on the web production aspects of Husbands, “I wouldn’t feel secure wandering out into the web by myself.”

 

Politics, Schmolitics.

Husbands is meant to be a mainstream romantic comedy. Period. Any political agenda is implicit in the fact that the show is about two men who are married. However, the creators insist that the show is more about making people laugh, and that giving them a couple whose trials and tribulations are easily accessible was the priority. “I actually think we did a pretty good job of being clear,” Espenson says. “Our agenda is a precondition for the story we’re telling. I don’t think you’d write this script if you weren’t pro-marriage equality, but that doesn’t mean the script is a political message.”

When I asked if they were concerned about a negative reaction from the gay community regarding the accidental nature of the marriage on the show (the guys wake up drunk in Vegas and realize they’d gotten married), Cheeks replied, “If anyone reacts that way, they’re missing the point.”

Ultimately, the focus in Husbands is less on politics, or snark, or cynicism and more on the genuine love the characters have for each other and genuine support they offer each other. Despite the muted animosity between Brady and Haley over Cheeks’ time and affection, they don’t take anything out on each other. Their animosity manifests itself in their holding on to Cheeks all the tighter. For Cheeks the writer, it was important that on this show, “No one [is] tearing each other down. It’s not that cutting sort of comedy.”

Husbands premieres tonight during a live-stream (along with a cast/crew Q&A) at Streamin’ Garage at 9:30PM ET/6:30PM PT, and can be found weekly at HusbandsTheSeries.com.

Original interview at TOR

The Mind of Jane Espenson from Very Aware

14 September 2011 Leave a comment

INTERVIEW: The Mind of Jane Espenson

JASON TABRYS  | SEPTEMBER 9, 2011

If you have watched a TV show in the last 15 years it’s likely that Jane Espenson has been related to it in some way–the Kevin Bacon of writers, connectable to most actors, writers directors, and shows by her extensive resume. Espenson is more than prolific though, standing as a trailblazer for female writers, and a beacon of quality in a TV world that consistently seems to devalue it.

Truly interactive at a time when that virtue can be easily faked, Espenson agreed to this extensive interview about TORCHWOOD, her new web-series HUSBANDS (premiering September 13th), the fairytale drama ONCE UPON A TIME (premiering October 23rd on ABC), and her extensive career.

In the interview we touch on issues ranging from televisions cowardice regarding same sex intimacy (my words), and the difference between fantastical and reality based story telling. We also address such burning questions as which Avenger Joss Whedon will kill, and who is the bigger bad-ass: Buffy, Starbuck, Echo, or Gwen Cooper?

As the season draws to a close, what has been the most satisfying part of working with Russell T. Davies and the rest of the TORCHWOOD crew?

JE: I think that question answers itself – working with Russell T. Davies has been the best part of working with Russell T. Davies. I already like that part of my job is helping someone else realize their vision. And Russell makes that task even better by being so effusive when one of us gets it right. It isn’t that he’s easily satisfied, exactly – he can be very exacting. It’s just that he notices the thing you did get right in a scene and praises it, even as he points out the thing that needs fixing. He’s this big tall guy shouting HOORAY at me and I can’t get enough of it! I adore him!

There is a scene in the TORCHWOOD episode “Immortal Sins” where Gwen and Jack make it known to each other how far they will go to protect what they value most–That scene can’t be written by someone who doesn’t fully understand the history of TORCHWOOD and specifically those two characters. How do you capture a previously established voice so well?

JE: Well, I watched all the previously existing TORCHWOOD episodes, and I rewrote that Gwen/Jack car material over and over at Russell’s direction. He didn’t tell me exactly what he thought they’d be feeling, but he just kept telling me to go deeper. It was a great note. And, interestingly, I think it might’ve helped me that I hadn’t been writing them from the start, because Jack’s mortality made him a bit of a different guy in these scenes – we’d never seen him fighting so hard for his own life before. To see him with a horse in the mortality horse race was something new and one of the things that changed from draft to draft was realizing that I had to make him fight harder. Which meant she had to come back harder. The first draft of that script was much more about sadness, and every draft got angrier and craftier, and then it kind of earns the sadness at the end because they’re so damn exhausted from all the anger. Russell let me take the time to find those scenes. I wrote them; but I couldn’t have written them without Russell.

Would you consider coming back to TORCHWOOD if the show is renewed for a 5th season? A follow-up: if the unthinkable happens and TORCHWOOD isn’t renewed, can you see it living on as a comic book like BUFFY?

JE: I would go anywhere with Russell. If he does more TORCHWOOD, I would do it in an instant. I would also go anywhere with Joss, obviously, and will be doing more BUFFY comic book work. And if TORCHWOOD lived on with a comic, I would do that, too. I think TORCHWOOD would lend itself very well to that, actually. Joss has been great at finding BUFFY stories that would’ve been impossible to film, and that took the series forward – I can see Russell doing the same with TORCHWOOD. I have no idea if he would want to, but I think it would be very do-able.

Any chance you’ll also write for the ANGEL AND FAITH comic?

JE: I don’t have any plans to write for Angel and Faith, but I wouldn’t rule it out.

How did HUSBANDS come to be and when did you decide, “I shall rule the interweb with this”?

JE: Ha! It came to be because of my co-writer Cheeks (Brad Bell). He’s a talented performer and I’d seen his videos on YouTube. I was interested in writing for him and that sort of turned into writing with him. We came up with the idea for HUSBANDS together – let’s do a newlywed comedy with two guys – oh, and let’s say they got married before they meant to. And then we just really wanted to make it happen. It didn’t seem like something we could take directly to television, and Cheeks had experience with making things for the web, so we just decided to go for it, to make it the way we saw it in our heads. We brought in Jeff Greenstein to direct it and help us produce it, and the three of us went forward as a team. If people like it online, perhaps it’ll make the jump to TV, or perhaps it will continue online, or not – who knows? For me, it’s very satisfying just to look at this thing we made and say, yes, that’s what I wanted.

There are other shows that get lauded for the fact that they prominently feature openly gay characters and yet we see them hide from actual same-sex intimacy. You’ve said that HUSBANDS is “ready for television, but television is not ready for it”. Is Husbands built to change that?

JE: Television may have changed since I said that. TV executives can be pretty good at reading the public and I’m seeing signs that they may be readier now. We certainly hoped that HUSBANDS would help bring about that change by demonstrating that there is an audience for this kind of story. But if that change is already happening, then that’s even better!

Do you think it’s a disservice to the story when the choice is made to avoid intimacy and a full portrayal of a same-sex relationship? I mean, going back to TORCHWOOD and “Immortal Sins“, if we hadn’t seen Jack fall so fully in love with Angelo wouldn’t that have limited our understanding of how deeply affected Jack was by his betrayal?

JE: Yes, certainly, it was always our intention that we had to make the audience sense the love between them, and that we wouldn’t skip over anything that you wouldn’t normally skip over in a love story. But I actually think the even more revolutionary thing happened in episode three, “Dead of Night,” in which we saw a male-male sex scene inter-cut with a male-female one. That’s an implicit statement of equality that’s pretty hard to miss.

Many know Alessandra Torresani as Zoe Greystone on CAPRICA. She’s just a teensy bit different in HUSBANDS. Is that how the character is written, or is there room for input and improvisation?

JE: Oh, Haley is written very differently than Zoe. Alessandra contributed a huge amount in terms of insight and physicality and commitment, but the lines mostly remained as Cheeks and I wrote them. Alessandra really is a madcap 1930s comedy blonde with no filter and a giant sense of humor, so this part is great for her. I hope people see what a comedy natural she is as a result of this part.

You’re involved with ONCE UPON A TIME on ABC. From what I’ve seen that’s a show that will look to tell a story with some rather big and fantastical elements whereas HUSBANDS is grounded in reality. Do you prefer one type of storytelling over the other?

JE: That’s a fascinating way to look at it. I think most people would characterize it the other way – ONCE is an hour with as many dark elements as it has light ones, while HUSBANDS is a half-hour comedy soufflé. But I think your point is valid, too. ONCE has scenes set in a literally fictional world, while HUSBANDS is set in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. I love writing all of it – one of the things I’ve been fortunate to be able to do in my career is to vary the genres I write for. I’ve written for comedies like ELLEN and DINOSAURS and ANDY BARKER PI, and for light dramas like THE O.C. and GILMORE GIRLS and for sci-fi and fantasy shows like BATTLESTAR GALACTICA and BUFFY and TORCHWOOD. HUSBANDS and ONCE both represent chances to try something new.

Tell us a little more about Once Upon a Time. How did you come to be involved with that, and what kind of stories do you want to tell in that world?

JE: I’m Consulting Producer now at Once Upon a Time and I’m loving it. The guys who created it and are running it — Eddy Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, come from Lost and they’re very smart guys. They happened to be Buffy fans and they brought me in to look at their pilot and meet.  I loved what I saw and was very happy to be involved. Technically, I’m part time, but I’ve found it hard to stay away. We’re writing really unusual and complex and funny and dark stories using iconic fairy tale characters. When do you really get to talk seriously about Snow White? I think it might be huge.

Do you prefer working on a show from the beginning or joining an established show midstream?

JE: They both have their upsides, but new shows are so often difficult because they take a while to find their feet. It’s exciting, but it can be stressful.

You’ve worked on some brilliant shows that never found the success they deserved; is there one you miss most as a fan?

JE: As a viewer I miss ANDY BARKER PI, the last Andy Richter half-hour. I loved that show. It was very funny and very smart and had the most amazingly high-powered writing room. I think it deserved more. And there was a lot more life left in two space-based shows I’ve written for: FIREFLY and BATTLESTAR. As a fan and as a writer I mourn those both.

Many of your contemporaries and former colleagues have explored film, most recently Marti Noxon with FRIGHT NIGHT; do you have a desire to tackle that medium as well?

JE: I think I would love doing punch-up on features. Just pitching jokes in the last phase before filming. And with the right project I might want to write a screenplay, but it’s not high on my list of things-I’m-burning-to-do. I like smaller scale things – in fact, the smaller it is, I might like it better. I really liked working on HUSBANDS because I could grok the whole thing and could help control it. On a feature the writer seldom has much control.

If you were Joss which Avenger would you kill?

JE: Oh boy, I’m not going to second-guess Joss.

Bigger badass: Buffy, Gwen Cooper, Starbuck, or Echo?

JE: That’s tough. Buffy’s got magic-strength which would kick the butts of the other three. But… hm…Gwen has righteous Welsh anger. Ultimately, though, I’m going to go with Starbuck. Buffy would beat her in a one-on-one fight, but Starbuck would never ever ever give up, even in the face of that certain knowledge, and I think that might make her a badder ass. But on any given day, the math may work out differently.

What’s your favorite question, “Will there be a sequel to SERENITY” or “What do you think of the Joss-less BUFFY reboot”?

JE: Ha – I actually don’t get asked the first one that much. I get the second one a lot. Right now, they’re both being beaten by “Will there be more TORCHWOOD?”

Original interview at Very Aware

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