|DAVID KEMPER ON INTERSTELLAR TRANSMISSIONS PART ONE|
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2002
Part One of a Transcript of David Kemper's
second visit to Interstellar Radio’s Interstellar
Transmissions September 27, 2002
IT: I will say this. It is
in essence Farscape night. Last week we had David Kemper, the executive producer of Farscape, which
was cancelled by the SciFi channel. Hopefully the fans will do everything possible to bring it back.
We asked him at the end of the show if he could come back this week. He agreed. [There was a problem
with static on the phone lines here that was just letting up.] Right now we can actually speak. I am
trying to maintain a link and Henson’s trying to maintain a link as well. They’re very, very nice
to let us go ahead and secure the call on their dime, with a conference call to David who is still out
in Australia, where it’s about 9:06 am Saturday morning. Whoever said there’s no tomorrow has
never lived in Australia. [Here he spoke about non-Farscape stuff for a bit while they got the phone
straightened out.] Erich and I will take you back, back, back…
Erich: …way back
IT: To the week that was
with SciFi news. Erich, take it away!
Erich: As was reported last
week on Interstellar Transmissions by Joey, now more in depth. In its quest for more original science
fiction programming, the SciFi Channel has asked viewers to submit their dreams for possible analysis
on its upcoming original reality series, “The Dream Team with Annabel and Michael.” During the
show, expert Michael Lennox and co-host Annabel Gerwich of the TBS Superstation’s “Dinner and a
Movie” will dissect and explain the dreams of the audience members and call-in viewers. You may
submit your dreams by telephone or by email. The dreams must be recent ones so that the details are
fresh in memory. “The Dream Team” premiers January
IT: If it means much,
editor’s comment here: um…THIS is what SciFi is probably gonna replace Farscape with. (evil laugh)
In fact, I remember Erich taking a comment about this last week. What was it?
Erich: Yeah, I got a dream.
I wish you’d put Farscape back on.
IT: Indeed. Oh, by the
way, we want to thank Cinescape Online for taking some of their web space to mention our show tonight.
And the lines are burning up. We’ll be going to the lines for calls very shortly. It wasn’t the
only Farscape-related news, though. Cinescape Online reports that in an interview, or rather a
telephone conversation and in a follow-up email, ADV Films public relations manager Andrew Nelson
confirmed and elaborated on information contained in and ADV press release dated September 20th and
mentioned by David, by the way last week, [regarding] Farscape the animated series, with 26 half-hour
episodes under the heading of “Properties in Active Production.” Well, Nelson wrote in response to
that, “Animated Farscape should more accurately be described as “in development” at this point.
Again, pending a major release during NITCOM.” NITCOM, by the way is an international television
programming trade fair. Kind of like what it is to Europe as NEFE is to the United States, for those
of us who know. [They’ll be holding ] from October 7th to 11th so we probably
won’t hear any further word on a Farscape animated series until mid-October. But, hint, hint, ADV
Films have a website – http://www.advfilms.com/ And the reason why I say that is
because I’m sure you wouldn’t mind finding the website and possibly nudging them a little to
encourage them to get a little Farscape, at least in the animated version.
IT: David Kemper, live and
direct from Australia, where it is about 10 minutes past nine o’clock tomorrow morning in Oz. David
Kemper, executive producer of Farscape. Welcome back to Interstellar Transmissions.
DK: Hey! How are ya?
IT: We are doing well,
thanks, and I’ll tell you this. The moment we got word that we were a firm go for today, I got
about…after the broadcast, I got about 40 emails thanking us and I think I had about 100 emails in
response to the announcement that we got you back. So the phone lines are burning right now. So what
we’re gonna do is let Erich initiate the first question. I’m gonna take some calls and get things
racked up and let’s get on to it, shall we?
Erich: This one comes from
listeners who are all across the globe on this one today. We’re trying to get new fans hooked on
Farscape, given that the SciFi Channel isn’t airing reruns. Would you consider encouraging Henson to
release the DVDs to season one to three more quickly? I’d like to buy the full season box sets for
DK: I think that season
one and two are fully out, and I’m pretty sure that three is out in the UK and is due out soon in
the States. I’d have to check that, but I know one and two are out because I’ve seen them in the
DK: We can find that out
before…when I hang up, we’ve got Henson people with us and we can…my phone here is going
static…we’ve got people out from Henson who can tell us exactly when the stuff is released bit I
believe that what they need to do is check specialty stores and check magazines,
Erich: Okay, thank you sir.
Moving on to a question that has come to us from the internet, in Brazil. “I’m terribly upset
about the cancellation and I’m trying to introduce Farscape to all my friends. My question is: ‘If
another network picked up Farscape for a real two-year
contract, would you accept it. I mean, you told us the fifth season would be the last season. For me,
I don’t mind seeing more and more Farscape.’
DK: Well, all it
is…it’s a matter of funding. Somebody has to put up the money to allow us to do what we do. And if
Farscape were to pick up two more seasons, we would have done two more seasons. If Farscape would’ve
picked up four more seasons, we probably would’ve tried…four would’ve killed us, okay? I can
guarantee that Ben Browder would be dead if we were gonna do four more seasons. I would be dead. I can
pretty much guarantee that I wouldn’t make it. It’s just a matter of who is going to run the show.
And the problem is that the SciFi Channel has re-run rights to the first four years for a little bit
of time, so it doesn’t make it economical. If you are a network and you want to pick up Farscape,
and you said, ‘We’ll buy five, six, seven and eight from you but we need seasons one, two, three
and four so we can run them on our channel to promote five, six, seven and eight.” Well, the first
four years are on SciFi, so a new network wouldn’t have the first four years to re-run. It doesn’t
make it economical for them. It’s a decision that has nothing to do with us creatively.
Erich: Bob Parsons from the
UK had a similar question. If Farscape were to continue, how many more seasons worth of ideas does the
creative team have. One that I thought was interesting goes to another project that you’re working
on with Farscape, and that might be a movie version. And the question here says, ‘Would it be
possible to make it into an IMAX movie at this point?’
DK: I think there’s a
lot of wishful thinking in terms of what it could turn into. I mean, it could turn into anything,
but…um…a successful movie has to make, what? It has to make a hundred million dollars. What’s a
movie ticket today (I don’t go to the movies).
IT: Oh, seven dollars,
DK: Okay, seven-fifty. If
even a million people, to make $7m, so you need ten million people to make $70m and then you need 15
million people to make $100m. If we’re going to make a 60-70 million dollar movie, then you’re
going to spend $120m promoting it. So you’re at $200m. Okay, now we need 30 million people to go see
our movie. Now we’ve got about 1 ½ million, say we’ve got 3 million.
IT: Okay, people, you have
your marching orders. Go and see this movie when it comes out.
DK: And we have another
problem trying to figure out…when a show is on the air…it’s easier now…when a show is on the
air, where is the Farscape movie? If you’re doing a television show – X-Files had this problem –
do we make the Farscape movie set right now? Would it happen at the end of season four? Let’s say we
were going to season five. The movie might not get on the screen until we’d played season five. So,
do we make the Farscape movie something that took place during season two? Should we get rid of the
cast from now and go back to those people? Or do we…and the other part is who do we make the
Farscape movie for? If we make if for the Farscape fans, we’ll get all three million of them into
the theater, we’ll have $20m worth of revenue and the people who put up $120m to make it will commit
suicide. So maybe we have to make the movie for a more general audience. Which means…that’s what
they tried to do with the first Star Trek. They didn’t know that it would become so infused into the
popular culture that they could shorthand. Remember that long shot with the Enterprise in the first
Star Trek movie? I remember sitting in the theater just thinking, ‘Oh, my God, this is the slowest
shot in motion picture history. And they were trying to get the audience excited about the ship. And
it was for a new audience, it wasn’t for the old audience. Star Trek has been around long enough
that a lot of people have seen it. We haven’t been seen by that many people. We’re gonna have to
make a movie that might tick off regular Farscape fans who want to see it go go go and we’re gonna
have to explaining. You’re gonna have to explain John Crichton again, and how do they meet? Imagine
you meet 40 million people who had never seen a single Farscape. they don’t know who Moya or Rygel
are. And we’re gonna have to explain every one of these people and what their relationship is to
each other prior to the movie really getting going into its story. That, by the way, is what Rock
O’Bannon and I have been wrestling with for some time, along with Brian Henson. We’ve been working
on that for a number of months and we tried to crack the equation. So if you see what I’m saying,
you’ve got seven, eight, nine characters with huge interlocking situations that 97% of the
movie-going audience that we need in the theater have never seen a single bit of.
IT: They don’t need to.
I’m not blowing smoke at you, but you are a genius! For John Crichton and D'Argo…they’re the
best buddy team since Bing Crosby and Bob Hope in the “Road” movies. You don’t need more
explanation than that. There’s your whole movie, right there.
DK: We know how to get
into it. We think we’ve got a really…Rock and I have a really, really what we think is a clever
way, which sure-fire means it sucks. But we think it works right now on paper so we’re real happy
with it. Now, there is stuff going on I think, to go back to the original question, IMAX. It doesn’t
much matter what the format is, it matters if people have to put up a lot of money and they have to be secure that the money will get
returned. I’m not a business man at all, I’m a writer, but I understand from being 25 years in the
business what we need, and you have to think of it this way: Everybody who’s a Farscape fan, I say
to you, “I want you to give me everything you have in the bank.” It might be $10,000 it might be
$100,000. Some of our fans…our fans went to college. I want everything you have, and give it to me
and I’m gonna make a Farscape movie. All the talk goes away, and usually if you’re an accountant
we go. “Crap! NO!” I mean, what if it tanks? I lose every penny. Okay. I’ll give you my whole
life savings. When am I likely to get my money back? And I say to you, IF you get it back, you’ll
get it back in six or seven years. There’s a chance to make a lot, but for six or seven years
you’re not gonna get a penny back. And then, when you start to get it back, you know you may not get
it all back. You’re not going to give me your life savings. A movie studio exec is not going to
write a check for $60m until he’s pretty darn sure, with some kind of equation, that they’re gonna
get that money back. My gut feeling tells me that how Farscape does in syndication for a year or two
will dictate what kind of forward motion we do with Farscape.
IT: I wonder what would
happen though if Reese Witherspoon was in it. If the movie’s successful, will there be a television
series that’s based on it?
DK (Laughing) Well, I
think…what I’m saying is I really believe the honest answer for me (and I’m sitting in the
middle of the maelstrom) is if the syndication does well, if it gets out onto regular stations all
over the country and new people, new kids start finding it and new adults are finding it at 7
o’clock at night when it gets there, what’ll happen is we’ll be able to…I don’t think
Farscape is gonna be dead. I think there’s enough…if the clamor continues, if people find the
show, there’ll be something, you know? I hope it’s not…it won’t be a TV movie because the
people [I missed a word or two here] won’t do it. We have to do something…or we have to come back
and finish it off right. Because when they’re asking how many years of stories do we have, we could
have gone for six years and tentatively…I always had the dream, I was telling people it was a six
year show. And then the network was telling me it was a five year show. So I had come around to having
an ending at the end of five. But we all knew that as we were pushing toward the end of five, if we
went for a sixth year, we would simply open it up. Think of it this way…you’re on your way home,
you’re getting close to home, you’re driving home. You’re on your block and you see your house.
That was going to be the end of your. All right. If they’d said to me, “We’d really love for you
to go to year six, I was going to make a left turn into the alley before the house and you’d have
another year’s worth of adventure before you made it to your driveway. We could keep it going as long as necessary, but what could we
really have? We know the next year. We know the 22 eps in rough from. And if it went for the next
year, we know the basis and we know where the main characters would be at the end of year six. So you
could say we’ve got one year pretty fully known to the core group of people here, and then we have a
second year that we all have kind of an understanding of what we were gonna do should we get it.
IT: Dave Kemper is our
guest tonight on a broadcast of Interstellar Transmissions. He is the executive producer of Farscape
which we’ll have the balance of it’s fourth season continuing in January. For most of you who
don’t know, on September 6th, Dave had the unfortunate duty of announcing at a SciFi
website chat that the series had been cancelled. And here we all are right now. In fact, David,
we’ve got a lot of calls to take care of as well. So before we take calls, Erich did have a question
Erich: Yes, on October 5th,
there are going to be many rallies across America. I’d just like to remind our listeners in Florida
that the venue for Orlando on October 5th is going to be at the Science Fiction Hobby
Superstore in Orlando. For more information, you can go ahead to the Savefarscapecentral.com for info on the October 5th
Let’s get to our
callers. Our first caller on Interstellar Transmissions today is Mark from Judd City, MO. Mark,
what’s your question on the broadcast of Interstellar
Transmissions tonight for David Kemper?
Mark: Well, it wasn’t a
question so much, just as a…uh…kind of a notion that Farscape has been a real inspiration for me.
I was literally born and raised on Star Trek. I’m a dyed-in-the-wool
Star Trek, live long and prosper and making the
Vulcan peace sign and everything like that, and I’d always wanted to be a writer. Okay? But nothing
ever inspired me or gave me ideas and to be perfectly honest, I never really thought I had any talent
for writing. Then lo and behold! About a year ago I suddenly discovered Farscape. And Farscape
completely overwhelmed me. And as a result, I’ve started trying to develop a skill for writing and I
think it’s actually taken off! I’ve written some incredible stuff, I think. It just goes to show
what Farscape can do when it’s given the opportunity.
IT: Exactly. And Mark, we
want to thank you for your call. There’s a lot of people involved who grew up watching Doctor Who in Great Britain, David, and obviously not that they’re grown up to adults, they’re running
their own production companies. It goes to show how a simple television show that runs 48 minutes can
cause someone to go out and do great things.
DK: I’ll just say that I
know that Star Trek was the thing that got me into science fiction. I had read all the books, all the
classics before Star Trek, but it made me go, “Oh, wow! I can see the pictures of it!” And I know
that for Rock, it was a variety of shows, but notably The Twilight Zone. He worked on the revival in
1985 at CBS – that’s where we met. And Star Trek. When Rock and I finally met each other on the
Twilight Zone, we commented on the same television shows
and the same books.
IT: Let’s continue
further now. Springfield MO. I think that’s where the Simpsons hang out. We have Dennis on the line.
Dennis, you’re on Interstellar Transmissions tonight with Dave Kemper.
Dennis: Yeah, I don’t
know if he’s a genius but he puts on a pretty good show. I will say this…mom once told me that
where there’s a will there’s a way and if there’s no way, then make one. And Kemper seems to me
like a business guy. And it all comes down to money. And the reality is that sometimes you have to
think outside the paradigm to make things succeed. We’ve already gotten a lot of news coverage
through CNN and other news agencies because of the internet situation. Why not make this…if you guys
start a corporation yourselves, and people could deposit the money. For instance, you got 1.2 to 1.5
million households in America. If you take only 500,000 of them – and that’s not counting the
overseas audience if 500,000 of them put $25.00 in a year for instance, that’d cut half your
DK: I missed…
Dennis: SciFi would say,
well we could put a new show on there, a nice show that even gets the $1.2m that Farscape’s getting,
we’d be cutting production costs by half if we did that. And if you did that. If you started the
corporation, people would more likely send the money to your company than to a person on a website.
And the reality of the situation is if SciFi put on ahead of the time say some reruns, or promoted
that on the internet prior to January. Not the internet, I’m sorry, on television, you may start
picking up this money and we’d get a lot more news coverage which would help SciFi who would say
this is a hybrid way of pay TV.
IT: Dennis, thank you for
your call. By the way, that was Dennis from Springfield MO.
DK: Dennis, if you’re
listening, I was trying to tell you you’re a savant. In a good way. Here’s what I mean: I
actually, when this was going on, I called Brian Henson. I’m a writer who’s writing a TV show and
I said, “What if we had one million fans who wanted 22 shows. And we said to them, ‘Look, if each
one of you sent in $22.00, that’s $1.00 per ep. And if a million of you sent in $22.00, well, I
don’t know if you could write it off on your taxes.’ Or if you take the cost of a movie with your
date or your wife,’ we could make Farscape!” And Brian laughed at me. He said, “There’s a law
IT: Yeah, it’s like
[Soupy Sales?] said to take all the little green pieces of paper from mommy’s purse…