so i keep being asked how this project is going, which is AWESOME and makes me grateful!
seriously, the friendship and support i have been receiving from the xenite community has been awesome… and i have even been pleasantly surprised that many for whom a reboot is not the dreamt-of and fought-for scenario have, if not embraced the news, at least shown a willingness to keep an open mind… i could not ask for more and truly appreciate it.
i mean it when i say this – i know you can’t please all the people all of the time, but my mission is to make believers out of all of the xenites, and to earn your fandom.
so, in order to make sure i am always giving you the best quality of information, here are some facts, some FAQs, and a timeline…
FACT: right now, this is a script order… that means we are not yet green-lit to film, but rather, i have to write a script
so we won’t be seeing this on the air tomorrow?
FACT: sadly, no - right now it’s all about producing a script that convinces NBC network to:
a. let us shoot a pilot to see if they want to make a series or…
b. give us a straight-to-series-order series.
FACT: this version of xena will not be a regular fall series, but more likely a limited “event” style series that will premiere outside of the fall season.
we will most likely have somewhere from eight to thirteen episodes and are planning to tell a serialized story.
FACT: because we are not yet in production, we do not have any of the following…
a. a casting director – or plans for casting until we are given an order for production.
b. jobs for writers, directors, assistants, or any staff on any level.
FACT: there are three entities involved in this thing in addition to myself right now… 1. rob tapert, sam raimi & company, 2. NBC international studios, and 3. NBC network.
we are all working together on the project, but the way the creative goes is that i work things out with tapert and co, then that all gets approved by NBC international studios, and then finally by the network.
FACT: the network is who makes the call as to whether or not we make the pilot or go to series.
FAQ: ARE YOU A FAN OF THE ORIGINAL?
i am! i watched the series in its initial first run in the 90s.
FAQ: WHY AREN’T LUCY LAWLESS AND RENEE O’CONNOR REPRISING THEIR ROLES AS XENA AND GABRIELLE?
OK - by the time i came into this project, it was clear to me that the PTB were looking for a reboot with a new cast, or as The Hollywood Reporter stated sometime last year - months before i was even considered for the job…
“Sources tell THR that the new, modern Xena would have to have the charisma and charm of Lawless and the smarts of The Hunger Games’ Katniss as producers are said to be looking for a sophisticated and smart superhero for a new generation. The potential series is being eyed for 2016.”
FAQ: SO YOU WANT XENA TO BE KATNISS EVERDEEN??!! WTF?
no, i want xena to be xena – but i would be delighted if the reboot makes people who love katniss and don’t know xena come to the table.
people in feature film and tv development use language like this all the time because it helps them narrow down their goals and provide easily-recognizeable signposts to writers like myself: what they are saying is “we want a show with a thoughtful, complicated female action hero that is as successful as the hunger games, not so much ‘let’s make xena into katniss’”.
FAQ: SO WAIT, YOU WENT AFTER THIS JOB KNOWING THAT ROC AND LL WEREN’T GOING TO BE INVOLVED?
i mean – look – if they wanted the original cast, i would have been interested in writing it, but, frankly, there are tons of writers out there who have already written that show far better than i (as in, the original staff of xena!).
what made this assignment attractive to me is that over the years i have created powerful female heroes like wendy watson of the middleman, and worked on shows like the 100, and feel a genuine desire to do whatever i can to increase representation of female characters in action/adventure/sci-fi. also, my baby daughter, indra, was born last year, and i want her to have role models.
FAQ: OH SURE - BUT DIDN’T ANYONE EVEN THINK TO ASK LL AND ROC IF THEY WANTED TO BE INVOLVED?
i have not met or spoken to either of them – like i said, that ship had sailed by the time i came in. as for whether anyone asked… well… my producer, rob tapert, who brought me in to do this job, and who co-created xena is married to lucy lawless. i won’t speak for either of them, but i have to assume it might have come up.
FAQ: DON’T YOU THINK IT’S AN INSULT TO THE LOYAL FANS WHO HAVE FOUGHT FOR TWENTY YEARS FOR A XENA REVIVAL TO WRITE A REBOOT?
i can’t control the things to which very passionate and motivated O.G. fans will take umbrage, but there’s two things i want to make clear…
1. when i say that we are not using the original actors, it is merely a statement of things as they are, not an intentional insult to anyone – as someone who spent his teenage years in the 1980s taking shit from people for holing up for entire weekends in the basements of used book stores looking for paperbacks of james blish star trek novelization books, the last thing i would want to do is ever insult anyone’s fandom.
2. since the decision was never mine to begin with, the question became this: do i have something positive to add to the xena universe by doing this? the answer for me is, yes - i feel that i do, and hopefully you will see that in the final product.
also, i want xena to be successful, and the question becomes, is that something that can only happen with the original cast? or can xena become a character like james bond, or diana prince, or supergirl, or the doctor, or james t. kirk?
here’s my definition of success in this project with the parameters i have been given - xena becomes so popular that in fifty years, people are asking “who was your xena” the way people now ask “who was your james bond?” or “who was your doctor?”
FAQ: ARE YOU’RE OPPOSED TO THE ORIGINAL CAST? ARE YOU ACTIVELY FIGHTING THE XENA REVIVAL FANS?
i’m not fighting anyone – i’m a bard, not a warrior.
AFAIC the world needs all the xena it can get… but i am not the guy in charge of making a xena movie. it’s just plain not the job i’ve been hired to do.
my hope for those fans who want the original cast and only the original cast is that we succeed to a degree where it becomes attractive to them to make all the xena they can, including a revival.
FAQ: SO WHY NOT JUST PUT ROC AND LL IN THE SHOW AND DO A “PASSING OF THE TORCH” IN THE FIRST EPISODE… OR HAVE THEM REPRISE THEIR ROLES AND HAVE THE NEW CHARACTERS BE A DIFFERENT WARRIOR PRINCESS?
there’s two reasons for that…
a. the mandate from the PTB is to reboot - i took that job and agreed that we need to establish a new look and feel for the series.
b. honestly, i think as well-intended as that could be, it would not please anyone. i had a strong negative reaction to the use of nimoy in the star trek reboot movies, for example – even though you won’t find a more enthusiastic nimoyan than myself – because it took me out of the narrative and gave me the feeling that what i was watching wasn’t “real,” that somehow, the new, recast characters were still subordinate to the old. it JUST didn’t work for me.
now, this is just my personal aesthetic, but to me that choice really undermined the new universe in a lot of subtle and not so subtle ways.
FAQ: SO YOU WOULD NEVER USE ROC OR LL IN YOUR SHOW?
no… just not immediately. if we find a way to bring them back that makes sense, that feels earned, and that truly creates stakes and drama, i am not opposed to it.
in fact, i can only assume that if the show takes off, either i or someone else will do it eventually either out of creative desire or corporate mandate (as anyone who has seen “the three doctors,” “the five doctors” or “the day of the doctor” will tell you!
FAQ: BUT DON’T YOU FEEL THAT IT’S AGEIST TO NOT USE LL AND ROC WHEN DUCHOVNY AND ANDERSON STILL GET TO BE MULDER AND SCULLY? WHY ARE YOU BEING SO AGEIST?
first of all, i openly challenge anyone to find a defense of ageism in anything i have said in my entire career.
as a social media addict, blogger, essayist, and frequent interview subject, my words are out there all over the place… if you think that i think that LL and ROC are not “young” or “hot” enough to reprise their roles, i dare you – i double dog dare you – to find anything i have said or done to support your claim.
at the end of the day, there are over a hundred hours of the original xena out there in the world – the classic show has its own look, tone, feel, style, and frankly, i think it’s perfect how it was… what we are trying to do here is to bring it back in a way that will bring in new fans, and please the OG fans, and i do feel that we need the space to create our own world in our own canvas first… i know that’s not the answer all of you want, but it’s the answer i have!
so let me say this once and for all: i adore LL and ROC, i embark on this project knowing that i stand on their shoulders, and do so with complete respect and admiration for what they accomplished.
FAQ: DON’T YOU FEEL YOU OWE THE FANS CLOSURE FOR THE ORIGINAL SERIES?
as i said before, that’s just not the job description… not to mention that i wasn’t the showrunner of xena when decisions were made as to why and how the original series needed to end.
FAQ: GREAT – WHATEVER, SO SHE’S KATNISS AND WHAT, IS IT GOING TO BE SET IN THE FUTURE? IN THE POST-APOCALYPSE? WHAT ELSE? NO CHAKRAM? NO QUARTER STAFF?
what am i, a monster? of course it’s set in ancient greece!
of course there’s a chakram and a quarter staff!
of course xena is a former warlord on the road to redemption!
of course gabrielle starts as a naive young woman with an iron-forged moral compass and a desire to become a bard!
look, i know jem and the holograms was a traumatic experience for all of us… as was X3: the last stand, but you gotta have some faith in humanity!
OK… so when do we get to see this alleged new xena?
1. i meet rob tapert and convince him that i am the guy to write/executive produce with him and company….ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED in september of 2015
2. we work together on a pitch to take to NBC international… ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED in october of 2015
3. NBC international hears our pitch, agrees that our pitch is righteous and correct – they give their feedback, we address feedback, finalize the pitch and take it to NBC network… ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED in november of 2015
4. NBC network hears our pitch, agrees that our pitch is righteous and correct and orders a script… ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED in december of 2015
5. i write a detailed story outline based on the pitch, and work with tapert & co. to make sure the outline is righteous and correct… ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED in january of 2016
6. NBC international agrees that the outline is righteous and correct and gives their feedback, i address their feedback… ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED february of 2016
7. we send the resulting outline to the network… ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED TODAY!
THE NEXT FEW LEVELS…
8. the network gives feedback, i address the feedback…
9. NBC network approves the outline and sends me to script…
10. i write the script!
11. tapert & co read the script, they give feedback, i address the feedback, they agree that the result is righteous and correct, and the script goes to NBC international studios…
12. studio gives feedback, i address the feedback, they agree that the script is righteous and correct, and approve it to go to network…
13. network gives feedback, i address their feedback with the input of tapert and co. and nbc international studios…
14. the network agrees that the script is righteous and correct and gives a pilot or straight-to-series order…
depending on that, our process becomes a garden of forking paths… so let’s stick with these fourteen steps for now, and as we level up, i’ll let you know!
battle on, xenites!