Sunday Page Two

The Writers Room: Carlton Eastlake, David Kemper, Richard Manning & Andrew Prowse (joined by Ben Browder)

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Writers002M.jpg (31207 bytes)David Kemper introduced Ricky Manning (lots of applause) and Carlton Eastlake (more applause). David asked Carlton to tell us a bit about other TV series he had written for and we found out that he¡¯s worked on a huge number of shows including ¡°V¡±, ¡°Airwolf¡±, ¡°SeaQuest¡±, ¡°Earth: Final Conflict¡± and ¡°Outer Limits¡± third season.  DK then surprised us with a non-scheduled guest, Andrew Prowse, who joined the panel because he has so much input while the writers are breaking a story.  

The first question from one of the fans was about things being taken out of their scripts during the writers¡¯ meetings that the writers wished hadn¡¯t been removed. Ricky joked about it being most of his dialog! Actually, everyone was in agreement that the things that are removed are gone for a reason ¨C something better replaced it and that was a good thing. They like the input of the directors, the actors and the other writers because it makes their scripts stronger. 

Another question was about fans pitching stories for the show. Right now they aren¡¯t taking anything from anyone for several reasons. First, they¡¯re so far ahead of anything we¡¯ve seen that a script submitted by a fan would be obsolete. Second, they told us that some shows are much easier to break into than others. For Farscape, they don¡¯t look at individual scripts from a writer who¡¯s not already associated with the show. The writer¡¯s agent would have to submit several scripts that have already been filmed and if the style fits, if they need another writer, perhaps he or she would be asked to join the staff. 

Writers001M.jpg (40106 bytes)Someone wanted to know how the writers spell ¡°Winonah¡±.  They all spell it differently. Ricky said that consistancy is the hobgoblin of little minds! DK said that nobody has actually ever written Winona, that it¡¯s Browder putting it in, they don¡¯t write it, they don¡¯t like it. (But we know how it¡¯s spelled! Check out Pulse Gun 101) At that point,  Ben Browder came from back stage to join the panel. DK: ¡°Writers are Superior!¡± 

The next fan wanted to know  what works inspire their writing and what authors they read. Someone (DK I think) said that Andrew Prowse reads more than the rest of them put together. Andrew claimed that he reads comic books. Carleton Eastlake reads a lot of science fiction (Heinlein, Jerry Pournelle, Haldeman, mostly military and social science fiction) and the classics (The Iliad and The Oddyssey). Ricky hasn¡¯t read a book since 1973.  Seriously, he reads Asimov, the classics, a lot of science fiction. Ben reads a lot of Kemper, Eastlake¡­Right now he¡¯s reading Iain Banks. David¡¯s reading of choice consists of books with things that pop up and jiggle. He never wanted to be a novelist, he wanted to be a TV scriptwriter. He was inspired by watching good drama. They all read scripts, lots and lots of scripts, some that have been filmed and some that haven¡¯t. It gives them insight into what¡¯s happening in the science fiction world. 

Do you see Aeryn having a child? David Kemper said, ¡°Have you seen the way Stark looks at her? And have you ever seen her give him that look back?¡± You have to think about what will enhance the series and what would make you not want to watch the series. ¡°I think our show might have Stark get pregnant!¡± Froon said they like children. When prepared right!  

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On Farscape, what¡¯s the difference between a writer, a producer and a director? There seems to be a lot of crossover. Andrew Prowse answered that the director¡¯s job is to translate the script from the page onto the screen. The director is in charge of the set. The writer¡¯s job is to translate the story from the brain to the page. Producers are responsible for making sure everything is in place so everyone else can do their jobs. They make sure everything works, see things that don¡¯t work and correct them. There¡¯s a lot of crossover among the three jobs, too. For example, if Ben is down talking to the costumers suggesting modifications to a costume because he has to run in the sand, he¡¯s a producer. 

Was Jack Crichton a Marine? David Kemper answered this one: He was a cop. On Adam 12. His son was a test monkey. He said that he really didn¡¯t know if he was a marine, he thinks he was probably a navy flyer.  

Writers013M.jpg (23350 bytes)Is Stark coming back? Or is he going to be searching for Zhaan forever? Andrew Prowse said, ¡°Spoilers!¡±, but DK told us, ¡°Yes, he¡¯s coming back!¡± Ben said, ¡°No, he¡¯s not! We don¡¯t even know if we¡¯re coming back!¡± Actually, Paul Goddard is doing a play at the Sydney Opera House that he was already contracted for before Farscape started filming this year, so they shuffled him off to look for Zhaan. DK said, ¡°Don¡¯t worry about it. He¡¯ll be back and he¡¯ll be pregnant when he comes back!¡± 

Is Jothee going to come down sick from being barfed on by that Interion? DK answered, ¡°Jothee could be deathly sick, we don¡¯t know because he¡¯s left!¡± Andrew Prowse piped up, ¡°He¡¯s with Stark.¡± 

Ben was asked why he hasn¡¯t been ad-libbing Crichtonisms much in the last few episodes. Ben joked that if the scripts work, he doesn¡¯t change them. A lot of the adlibs are already set up within the script. He also said that he doesn¡¯t do all the Crichtonisms himself. For example, the ¡°Federation Starship SS Buttcrack¡± was not written by him! DK told us that some scripts just don¡¯t call for it. The last couple of episodes were basically serious and it just wouldn¡¯t have fit in. Crichton¡¯s had other things to deal with. He also said that the fans think all the good lines are adlibbed by Ben! 

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How different was the final script for Green Eyed Monster from Ben¡¯s original concept? Ben said that the process of writing on Farscape is war. You come in with an idea and five people beat you up over it for about three days. You go away and work on it some more and then you come back, have a conference call with people in the States and everybody tells you how bad it is. You do this three or four times, then they send you away to write it. You come back and hand them the script and they say, ¡°Ok, this sucks. Go rewrite it.¡± It¡¯s a collaborative process done with all the writers. Sometimes parts of it are given to a staff writer or to several staff writers to rework. And the writing process doesn¡¯t end with a finished script, either. When it goes down to the floor, the process continues. 

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Ben also said that he had two really difficult tasks in writing Green Eyed Monster. One, he had a character who was critical to the episode who doesn¡¯t speak, who has no face. He had to bring Talyn to life. The other problem was Aeryn. She¡¯d been ¡°on the fence¡± as far as the relationship between her and Crichton goes. They¡¯d thrown up roadblock after roadblock to their relationship. With so much resistance built up, it was hard to write an episode where all the resistance disappeared to the point where they would kiss and hug and slap each other on the ass. 

How do you decide to do certain things like Aeryn¡¯s death, Zhaan¡¯s death, Crichton¡¯¡¯ s death? Andrew Prowse: ¡°Petty jealousy.¡±  DK joked that with Aeryn, they knew she wasn¡¯t going to really die. With Crichton, they wanted to keep him alive, but Carl (Eastlake) came along and said let¡¯s kill him. That way they could cut Ben¡¯s salary in half and have more money for effects. Kemper also emphasized again that the two Crichtons were identical. 

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What procedure do you go through to create a new regular character? What happens is you can¡¯t keep everybody on the show forever or we¡¯d have 7 million people on the ship. They decide to bring someone in who¡¯s different, not like Zhaan, not like this other person, but someone different. Then they watch the actor or actress and write to their strengths. For example, until Throne for a Loss, they¡¯d always had Zhaan as the serene priest. When Froon had Zhaan push the Tavlek kid against the wall, she did such a great job they decided that Zhaan has a little bit of a temper. So a lot of character traits come from the writers, but a lot of them come from the actors and the directors, too.  

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