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HOW JASON KATIMS, JONATHAN FRAKES, A CAST OF WB FRIENDLY TEENS PLAN TO REWORK AMERICA’S ROSWELL MYTHOLOGY
By CHRISTOPHER ALLAN SMITH
Photos By PHOTO COURTESY WB
September 17, 1999
Jason Katims is probably thanking his lucky stars for Joss Whedon right now.
The creator of WB�s much anticipated teen alien drama ROSWELL would probably have had a much harder road to hoe with his new creation if it weren�t for Whedon�s BUFFY miracle, i.e. making the innately silly (a vampire fighting teenager named, well, you know) seem at once believable, moving, and cool.
After all, consider Katims� task: to take a series of, granted, much loved books about the offspring of Roswell aliens going to high school and leech it of all its seemingly indivisible camp factor, and then form it into a version that can snag the attention of increasingly sophisticated teenage TV audience. Pile on the fact the Roswell incident is the threadbare Rosette Stone of 1990s science fiction (no less than INDEPENDENCE DAY, THE X-FILES, SEVEN DAYS, STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE and STARGATE SG-1 have used it for plotting fodder) and Katims had more than an uphill battle to get the project from page to screen.
It was a battle he, along with executive producers David Nutter and STAR TREK�s own Jonathan Frakes, first fought at Fox. They lost.
“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,� Katims says of his work at Fox, where ROSWELL was originally developed. �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.�
When asked why ROSWELL didn�t fit in with the X-FILES friendly network, Katims, who came from movie production and writing to this, his first TV project, answers like an old television pro.
�I don’t know if �edgy� is the right word,� for why Fox didn�t pick up ROSWELL, he says. �I think there might have been concern from Fox that they felt the show skewed young for their audience. Again, it’s not that. It�s not that Fox said, ‘No, we don’t want the show� and WB said �yes we do.� Fox had never turned the show down. It was just them trying to find a fit for their fall lineup. And that seemed to be the most difficult thing for them.�