|DAVID KEMPER ON INTERSTELLAR TRANSMISSIONS PART THREE|
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2002
DK Yeah, it’s on FOX. A
great show. A big shout out to Joel and Robert, especially Joel who’s an old buddy of mine. The
business isn’t allowing that kind of creative force. And to be honest with you, we have talked
internally. One of the things that screwed Farscape was, I, Ben and I and Andrew Prowse talked about
this and Rockne. We screwed Farscape. We are responsible ultimately for its being canceled, in a
wonderful way. We didn’t want to make it boring and bland, so we went and we kicked down some doors
and we shot some battles early to get the right. And Brian Henson is the [?], no, not the [?], that’s
the wrong word. The [?] was the big bird flying over us that kept us going, but I didn’t want to use
the big bird analogy because of Gene.
What happened is, we wanted
to make something different, and we made it different and it became a niche show. The other part that
screwed us was our home. The SciFi Channel was the only place that allowed this show to flourish. This
is the love/hate relationship that everyone should have. The SciFi Channel was the only network that was
gonna allow these creative nuts to make a niche show. And it wouldn’t have been on on FOX with small
numbers. It might have found bigger numbers, but the SciFi Channel took that risk. And in the beginning,
the SciFi Channel was run by people who were making scifi. And then regimes changed, several times.
But now, we have a show that
attracted a core of really, really loyal followers, but it wasn’t bland enough, and you had to think
to watch Farscape. You’re gonna have to think to watch the last 11 eps. We demand that the audience
pay attention. And Rock O’Bannon set it up in the beginning. He said to me when I was penning the
stories for him and he was planning the over-arcing series, and he said, “It’s too slow. Make it
move. I want more to happen in that hour than other TV shows get in three.” That was the beginning of
Farscape. There was the audience that stayed with us. We have a smart audience. I’d love for a
sociological study be done on our viewers I’m sure that they’re higher-educated, I’m sure
they’ve got good jobs. We’re not just a Joe-six-pack show. We’re not a show you come home and you
go, “Fine, I think I’m gonna watch this and fall asleep.” I don’t think that people fall asleep
DK: And that is our greatest
strength, and anything that’s your greatest strength is ultimately, your greatest weakness.
IT: David Kemper, executive
producer of Farscape is joining us on Interstellar Transmissions. David, it’s about 9:46 your time
Saturday morning. Could we take a couple of more calls and then just wrap it up?
DK: Yeah, let’s take two
more and then we’ll go.
IT: No problem. I’m sure
you’re familiar with a place called Hell in Michigan, am I correct, sir?
DK: I have driven through
Hell, Michigan. I go up north so Hell Michigan is a place I’ve been in and eaten lunch in probably
about 10 times in my life.
IT: Suffice it to say we
have a female oddly enough. So the first female call we’ve had so far…we just like to let everybody
know that females do watch Farscape. And also, calling in from Hell Michigan and…uh…Kate, you’re
on a broadcast of Interstellar Transmissions tonight with David Kemper. What’s your question?
Kate: Well, I want to say
hello, David, from a lot of us female viewers. We have a lot of lists going around and believe me you
have a lot of 40 and 50 and older women that love Farscape. But the question that I have for you: last
week you said you didn’t think you’d make it to the Burbank convention because of Thanksgiving. I
know this is my first chance to get from the Detroit area out to Burbank, and a lot of us online wanted
to know what would it take to get you there? I for one have a couple of trophies I want to give you. I
don’t know if you’ve heard of the Roswells. I know we presented a couple to people there and I have
a couple to personally give you and we’d like to see you in Burbank. So, what would it take?
DK: Well, first of all,
hello to Hell. And I would encourage all the listeners, if you get to Michigan, to go to Hell.
IT: Is it true that Hell
DK: It’s great!
Michigan’s a wonderful place. Um…what would it take? Well, anything you want to give to me, you can
give to Ricky Manning or whoever’s there. Y’know, anybody. I don’t know. I’ve got some family
obligations. I’ve spent so much time in Australia so I don’t know. I may end up there, it’s still
open. And it won’t be anything that you guys do, it will be what I do about my family. I have a niece
and a nephew that graduated high school this year, and when I moved to Australia, they were in junior
Kate: um hum
DK: And I missed everything
in high school. I missed their graduation, I missed their plays, I missed five years of my family’s
events, and the family are trying to pull together a big Thanksgiving which would mean that I would be
with the family rather than with the Farscape family for the first time in five years and it may be hard
for me to not be there. If I can work out the travel schedule, I will be at the convention. If it
doesn’t work out, then I’m sure everyone will understand it will be the first time in five years
that I get to cut a turkey with my family.
IT: And see the Detroit
DK: [Talks about the Lions
but it was a bit garbled] They gotta win! God! I still love the Lions and I check the internet from
Australia and I see that they lost again and I get ticked off. Thank God for the Redwings!
IT: Kate, thank you so much
for your call. We’re running a bit out of time. In fact, this will be the last caller. To all the
other ones, I do apologize, but it’s been a fast hour and we do have to take care of some things and
obviously we have to let David go on thorough his day as it’s almost 10 o’clock over there. So,
right, it’s our last call so let’s go Gail in Brainfield, New Jersey. Hello, you’re on a broadcast
of Interstellar Transmissions with David Kemper. What’s your question tonight?
Gail: Yes, hi David. I
understand that it takes about 1½ million to make an
episode of which SciFi covers about 700,000. I see through the internet that France is getting season
one for the first time. I was just wondering if there were possibilities of showing Farscape in Latin
America, or Japan, or the rest of Europe where maybe SciFi’s cost would come down if other people pick
DK: I missed the very last
part…and SciFi in Latin America and Japan with SciFi and then I missed the last couple of words.
Gail: If Farscape can be
shown in other countries, would that cut the cost for SciFi? Would that reduce the share of what they
need to pay in order to make Farscape?
DK: Okay, your question is
very interesting. I’ll make it a quick answer. See how smart our fans are? Our fans are not asking
what Anthony looks like without his makeup, they’re asking business questions.
DK: Our fans are so frelling
IT: There’s the old saying
that everybody knows the show but only a few know the business and those that know the business are
probably Farscape fans.
DK: Exactly. That was a very
smart question. You’ve got SciFi Channel, The Jim Henson Company, Hallmark. Hallmark is based in New
York, Jim Henson is now owned by EM which is a German company. SciFi is owned by Vivendi, which is a
French company. You’re talking about the foreign rights. The money that comes in when the show is
aired in Japan or Latin America does not go to the SciFi Channel, it goes to the people – EM, Henson,
Hallmark and other investors who have already put in hundreds of millions of dollars they need to
recoup. They’re in the hole. If you saw the balance sheet of the business of Farscape, there’s red
ink in large numbers that are inconceivable to any of us who don’t own Dell Computer or y’know,
something like that. It’s enormous amounts of loss at the moment. If this shows in Latin America, that
money will go directly to the people who need to recoup millions and millions of dollars that they have
already expended. So it doesn’t change the equation. The money that you’re talking about to make new
episodes or a movie is what you call new money. New money needs to be minted. Any money made from the
first 88 eps goes to pay for the first 88 eps, which are still not paid for. People have put up money
and received on $.06 on the dollar so far. They need to make another $.94, plus they need to make
profit. That’s why they loaned us the money in the first place. So we need new money to make the show,
which is why the equation is difficult.
We are also the victim. I
believe we have the economy. I just woke up right before you guys called and I heard the stock market
had plunged again to 7700, a new low. There’s a world-wide depression which is crippling the TV
incentives[?]. It always does. There’s not enough money to make what everyone wants to make. If it was
go, go, go like the end of the ‘90’s, I believe – not 100% - the paradigm would have been
different at SciFi. Absolutely, they would have not wanted this firestorm of negative publicity and they
would have kept Farscape for many years, even if the ratings slightly depressed. The economy and
everything else makes it doubly difficult to drum up another x number of million dollars to make
Farscape, which is why we’re having the problem.
IT: David Kemper, we’re
running out of time. What is the one thing you should tell Farscape fans to do for the next hundred-odd
days in advance of the broadcast first run of the last episodes of Farscape on SciFi?
DK: Oh, essentially. I mean,
this is going to sound a little bizarre. My point is, don’t pin your whole life to it. It’ll happen
if it’ll happen. Be smart about the use of the time that you’re gonna put into something because it
may not work. And don’t put 100% of your time into something that you can’t have a reasonable
expectation of success. Make sure that you’re hedging your bet with other activities that would be
successful. So if this one is successful, we’ll all take great pride in the team effort. And if it
isn’t, you’ve still got 88 eps of Farscape. The creative people who make Farscape haven’t burned
their notes. We’ve saved the costumes, we’ve saved the prosthetics, we’ve saved all the props.
Only the sets are gone. The module’s been saved, the prowler’s been saved. All that stuff exists.
Farscape isn’t necessarily dead. It’s just taking a vacation.
IT: I know that there’ll
be other great work coming from our guest tonight on Interstellar Transmissions, David Kemper. David
Kemper, executive producer and head writer of Farscape. Whether or not it continues, you can’t take
away the past four years and on behalf of all of us, of all the fans of Farscape, thank you so much for
speaking with us tonight. And also for giving us a look into Business 101, Show Business 101. David,
Farscape, thank you sir for being on our broadcast of Interstellar Transmissions tonight.