Roswell Press Tour – Transcript Part 1

A big thanks to Mandy for typing this up, and submitting it!

Roswell Press Tour
July 1999

Brad Turell: Now it’s my pleasure to introduce our first program. “Roswell” is a show that-I don’t know, sometimes you’re good and sometimes you’re lucky-this is a show that we did not develop. This is a show that another network developed and it did not fit their schedule for some reason. But when we saw it in our screening rooms, we knew immediately that this show fits on our schedule and that we all had a huge reaction to this show and said, “This is a WB show.”

Perhaps that other network thought the same. You’ll get into more detail, I’m sure, of that with Jamie (Kellner, Chief Executive Officer, The WB) and Suzanne (Daniels, President, Entertainment, The WB), but we certainly gave it a plum spot behind “Dawson’s Creek” We ordered a full season of it. It’s a show-we believe, with show runners like Jason Katims, John Frakes-we have the auspices there, we have the stories, we have something that’s just right for The WB.

So right now, I’d like to roll the tape of “Roswell”

[CLIP SHOWN: “ROSWELL”] [applause]

TURELL: And now, here’s the cast and executive producers of “Roswell”. I failed to mention David Nutter, obviously, of “X-Files” fame-also a very important member of the creative team. Jason Behr you remember from “Dawson’s Creek.” William Sadler is at the far end. Majandra Delfino, David Nutter. Coming back this way, Jason Behr in the middle, Shiri Appleby, who’s going to have a big season with us. Jason Katims, And Katherine Heigl and Brendan Fehr.

Ladies and Gentleman, “Roswell”

QUESTION: I have a question for Jason. Jason, since this was developed-

JASON KATIMS: Which Jason? Which one?

QUESTION: I’m sorry. Jason Katims.

KATIMS: Yeah, yeah.

QUESTION: Since this was developed for another network, is what we see here basically what was developed for The WB or did you rework it to make it more, if you will, “WB-ish”?

KATIMS: No, we actually, I think, are one of the few shows that we’re not changing anything in the pilot. I mean, it’s exactly the show that we made is the show that we’re going to air.

QUESTION: Is there anything you can share about what the other network had reservations about that obviously sold The WB, conversely?

KATIMS: You know, I’m not really sure. I think that when you develop a show, it’s kind of like you know that a lot of other shows are being developed, too, and you hope that it fits in with the schedule. In this case, it didn’t for FOX, where it didn’t fit in as well as it did for WB. I’m not sure exactly why that was.

QUESTION: I guess a question for the producers, although any of the young stars could answer it. WB has got a reputation for pretty heavy marketing. Shows-people become magazine covers before their shows have aired or the minute that their shows have aired. Have any of you done an extraordinary amount of publicity already? Are we going to be seeing any of you on magazine covers in the next copule of months?

JASON BEHR: We’ve done a little bit of stuff here and there. [panel laughs] The WB has been incredibly supportive and encouraging with the show and with us as actors. And I think that they’ve been very helpful with getting “Roswell” out there.

KATHERINE HEIGL: And really behind it.

QUESTION: But can you give an example?

HEIGL: Well, I don’t know when the YM-we just did-

BRENDAN FEHR: November, I think.

HEIGL: We just did something for YM and I know Shiri and Jason are doing TV Guide and that kind of thing.

FEHR: I think most of it will be after the show airs in September, a lot of covers and articles that will be in September, October issues, I think. So our faces will be on the screen as well as on the pages of the magazines, which will be good so that people will actually know us.

TURELL: This show has gotten the same reactions from magazines as some of our previous shows-“Dawson’s Creek”, “Felcity” et cetera-as far as magazines are concerned. YM covers, Seventeen, et cetera. They’re interested in the leads Shiri and Jason at this point. It always broadens out from there. The whole cast did shoot a YM cover. But yes, we’re getting a really good feedback for national covers.

QUESTION: Mr. Katims, how on hands is Jonathon Frakes going to be?

KATIMS: Jonathon is going to come in and direct an episode, which we’re all thrilled about. I believe it’s the seventh episode. And so, you know, he’s going to be very much involved.

QUESTION: Will he make any other appearances like in the pilot?

KATIMS: You know, we can only hope. It’s up to him.

QUESTION: Chris Carter has always said that he had a mythology already mapped out for “The X-Files” He knew exactly where it was going and the conspiracy would be revealed. Do you have such a thing, or are you winging it? [laughter]

KATIMS: Totally winging it. I have no idea. It’s day by day, you know.

QUESTION: How far into the future are your storylines?

KATIMS: We’ve plotted out the first season of the show. We have ideas of where it’s going, of where it’s going beyond that. So we have thought a lot about the mythology, the backstory and all that stuff.

To me, one of the exciting things about the premise of the show is that three alien characters in the show don’t know about their history, which makes-from a writing point of view-it’s exciting because as they discover their backstory, the audience is discovering it.

So we have a way of doing it in a way that can be personal and hopefully very emotional and not just about the facts about what’s happened. So it’s something that we’re going to discover with them and it will be a long ride and hopefully a really fulfilling journey.

QUESTION: And for the actors, who up there are fans of “The X-Files” And do you see a comparison of this being a teenage “X-Files”?

BEHR: I’m a big “X-Files” fan. [panel laughs]

FEHR: Yeah, I would say so.

HEIGL: I would have to agree.

FEHR: As to comparisons with “The X-Files”. I mean, obviously there’s certainly comparison, dealing with the alien issues and all the rest of it, but that was-I mean, yeah there is. David Duchovny-in that Fox Mulder was searching in a sense for the truth in concerns with aliens and his sister and all the rest of it.

And you got me, Katherine and Max on a search of our own, but it’s in a sense it’s a little bit more personal. It’s not our sisters, but it’s us. In fact. So in that sense, there’s a comparison. But when you take in the age and all the rest of it-high school-it’s got a little different twist on it. But there’s certainly comparisons there.

QUESTION: For the younger cast members, could you talk about-this is a great time for young actors in television. There’s so many shows. Could you talk about the process? Did you find that it was a lot more shows to go audition on? Did it seem like the same? Have things changed in the way they seem to have?

HEIGL: The teenage market is certainly a big thing right now, so there was definitely a lot-I felt this pilot season a lot more focused on that, on the teenage aspect.

QUESTION: The show is set in New Mexico, which is a culturally diverse state with a large population of Latinos and Native Americans. I was just wondering if later on, you’re going to reflect the population of Native Americans in your casting or in your plot lines?

KATIMS: Yeah, that’s definitely something that’s really important to us, is to have the show branch out and reflect a sense of place and such a rich sense of place that you find in the Southwest. I think that there are plans, both from the point of view of just casting-as we’re casting additional roles-to try and sort of branch out and make sure that the cast represents the place.

And also in terms of story. You know, one of the things we’re really fascinated with is the connection between the Native American community and Roswell, and New Mexico and that place. And just we’re interested in building that into part of the mythology-part of our mythology, which is what does the native community have to do with, or what knowledge do they have about the history of alien landings and all that. So that’s something that we want to sort of continue to build and branch out as we go on with the show.

FEHR: And in terms of the diversity, I think it’s a little misleading, because the three aliens are not from Roswell, New Mexico-[laughter]-so in that sense, they do not have to be, you know, Native American. And then we have Majandra, who is a Latino. We have Michael Horse- [to DELFINO] are you a Latino? Is that correct?


FEHR: I was hoping I wasn’t getting that wrong. We have Michael Horse, who is also in the movie, who has, I think, some Native American background. And Nick Wechsler, who’s not here, who plays Sheriff Valenti’s son. He is actually from New Mexico. So it looks a little misleading, but I think we’ve done a fine job so far in that sense.

QUESTION: But Jason, if that diversity is really that important, why wouldn’t you start from the start? I mean, why is it something to be aspired to in, you know, future episodes? Why wouldn’t you start with that in the pilot?

KATIMS: Well, in the sense of starting with the-I’m not sure.

QUESTION: More diversity in the front-line cast.

DELFINO: Well, there’s me [laughter]

KATIMS: Thank you!

FEHR: Majandra’s enough for us all. [laughter]

KATIMS: I think that there was-first of all, sort of in the casting of the pilot, there was an effort made to find Latinos actors and actresses for the cast. And the reason why we want to start with it in terms of the Native Americans, I mean, we do have Michael Horse, who plays the deputy, who is, you know-

HEIGL: Native American.

KATIMS: Who’s Native American. But the idea, I think, is that as the story takes us into the Native American community, that will be a way to help to diversify it. I mean, we didn’t start in the Native American community, because that’s not where the story started.

DAVID NUTTER: Also, what you mentioned concerning the amount of teenage shows that are out there, and the amount of people that were auditioning and so forth, and the amount of people that wanted good actors, it made it very difficult in many respects to hopefully get the best actors. And our challenge, we feel, is to help build the diversity of the show now.

Now that we have a platform and we’re on The WB with a full season pick-up, we have a real, I think, responsibility and a challenge to really examine that and really branch out as much as we can, because I think it can be a very exciting show, as far as that’s concerned.

Because it’s a kind of show about-when you mention aliens, you know, I used to say teenagers were the aliens among us. And I think all teenagers kind of feel that way in many respects sometimes, and I think that a lot of people feel that way, and I think that’s our challenge to kind of embrace that and get the very best people in the best parts and have a lot of fun with it.

QUESTION: Mr. Sadler, I’ve got a question with the way the Sheriff’s depicted in this show.


QUESTION: Clearly, this mean knows something’s up and he doesn’t take it real well when he’s upstaged by the teenagers and the little ploy they use at the end of the first episode. You often play these men who are very determined, they’re very single-minded, to do or prove whatever they want. How do you see this unfolding from week to week wit the sheriff? Is he going to get so upstaged each week, or do you see him gradually being able to prove to other authorities that he does what he knows is indeed justified?

SADLER: I think that the Sheriff is going to find himself awakening more and more to the reality-this new reality. I mean, the place that he’s coming from, his entire belief system is going to be, I think, turned on its head slowly as he collects the pieces of the puzzle. My guess is that finally-I think we’ll see some sort of sea changes in his attitude.

He’s very single-minded, and determined to get to the bottom of this mystery at the beginning, because of his father being chastised for believing in aliens and so on. And all of a sudden, it’s happening to him. And maybe he was wrong about his dad all along. So he’s got a very personal stake in finding out whether this is true or not. But I think he’s going to figure-loom large in the legend.

QUESTION: Do you see him as ever becoming fully an ally to these aliens? Or do you think there will always be that tension?

SADLER: There’s always the possibility. I mean-

NUTTER: Extreme possibilities.

SADLER: Extreme possibility. [panel laughs] I like to think of myself as sort of the alpha male of the cast [laughter]

NUTTER: Our goal is not to make William Sadler the “black hat” Our goal-

SADLER: Right.

NUTTER: Our goal is to give him another dimension and a sense of purpose and a sense that he needs to find the truth as well as these kids need to find the truth about their paths. And I think that journey can be an exciting one and I think a compelling, fulfilling one for him as well.

QUESTION: For Jason, after “My So-Called Life” and “Relativity” did not experience a full season, I would think it would be a relief for you to know that you have a guarantee of 22. How did you and Twentieth arrange a 22 full season for a freshman show, as opposed to the more traditional 13?

KATIMS: How did we arrange the 22? They just loved the show that much, they just said let’s do as many-how about 44? How about 100? We said, let’s start with 22. [laughter] You know, I imagine how the 22 is arranged was somewhere in the shifting from the FOX network to The WB. I really honestly don’t have that much to do with it. I mean, where we’re all at is we made the show and we just want the show to get on the air. And in terns of how it shifted from FOX to The WB and what the order was and the timeslot was all stuff that we really had very little to do with.

So in response to the first part of the thing, you know, versus “My So-Called Life” and “Relativity” not having full season and this having it-the thin that’s really wonderful about that is from a writing perspective is that it’s much easier to plan. It’s like you know what you’re going to do.

With “My So-Called Life” we started with eight, and then we got six and then I believe we got four. So we started with an eight episode thing, and then we had six more, but we didn’t know if we were going to get more after that. So we were always trying to figure out how to adjust our storylines, not knowing how long the show was going to be going. And similar with “Relativity”

With this thing, we know how many episodes we’re going to be doing in this first season, which is actually really, really helpful considering the subject matter being so complex and so story-driven of this particular show and so that is the thing that’s so wonderful about having that order. It’s much easier to make a plan and know what we’re going to do.


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