Interview with Kevin Kelly Brown Part 1
Thank YOU SO MUCH to MyrnaLynne for transcribing this!!
[end of part 1 of 2]
Interview with Kevin Kelly Brown: Comedy World Radio, July 31, 2000, The Beth Lapides Experience radio show – Part 1
transcribed by MyrnaLynne
Beth Lapides (BL): “Hi…let us go higher in every single way… we are going to a new place, a better place.. This is the Beth Lapides Experience here on Comedy World, I am the eponymious Beth Lapides. I’m here with my co-host and friend, Blaine Kapatch [?], and we are being joined by Kevin Brown, the Executive Producer of the Warner Brothers’ hit series, “Roswell.”
Kevin Kelly Brown (KKB): Thank you.
BL: Welcome to the show!
KKB: My pleasure, thank you.
BL: Thanks so much for coming in. Now, um, I am so intrigued by “Roswell.” It is such an enormous thrill, in some ways, to see this level of teenage angst so… It’s so the existential level of teenage angst-they’re actual aliens!
KKB: Actual aliens.
BL: Alienation taken to its extreme!
KKB: As far it could probably go.
BL: It’s so brilliant, when you had that… when you realized that this was the TV show.. did you just have a huge light bulb?
KKB: Yes. As you know, it is based on a book.
BL: I do know that, just from talking to you or reading about… But I did not know that it was a big hit, the book.
KKB: Yeh, the books are called “Roswell High” and the… I’m.. I think it’s safe to say, when everybody got the book, that they realized it was a TV series.
BL: Huge light bulb.
KKB: Yeh. Huge light bulb.
BL: Huge. The books are very very popular? Or…
KKB: The books are very popular. There are 10 of them. But we only used the first one. We used Book 1, which I think was called “The Outsider,” and that was the pilot…
BL: Mmm… MMM! “The Outsider”! What… Anything called “The Outsider” is so good! [laughter]
Blaine Kapatch [BK]: Was there a huge bidding war going on?
KKB: Oh, my God, yeh! Huge bidding war.
BL: And your company… your partnered with… you are in A Band Apart, is that right?
KKB: No, no, no. This preceded my joining A Band Apart. Or actually, Lawrence Bender Productions. Um.. I just… I was actually out on my own. I was bidding against three or four studios and several production companies.
BL: How did you get it?
KKB: It’s a really long story, but…
BL: And it ends up where? [laughter]
KKB: It ends up where I got the rights to the book – myself and my partner Jonathan Frakes, whom I had brought in for a little sci-fi credibility there.
BL: He’s a big sci-fi guy?
BK: He’s a… he’s a.. He plays Number One on “Star Trek: The Next Generation”
BL: Oh really?
KKB: And he also directs the Star Trek movies…
KKB: So he’s got credibility on both sides.
BL: So you partnered with him just for this project?
KKB: I partnered with him just for this project, and he was a big help in getting it. But we still ended up outbidding, I guess you would say, several studios and production companies.
BL: Did you have to go in with your ‘take’ on the show or, when you were bidding, was it a money amount that you were going at, or…?
KKB: Yeh. Oh yeh.
BL: Or was it simply a money amount?
KKB: Simply money.
BL: “Simply money.”
KKB: Lots of money.
KKB: So I was using my own money.
BL: Can you say how much…. Really? Your own money! Oh, I love you! Kevin Brown, a man who put his own money on the table to do a project that he wanted to do.
KKB: Well more than I had, actually.
KKB: I didn’t expect it to go that far.
BL: “Well more than you had.”
BL: So, were you in contact with your banker as the bidding was going on?
KKB: I was in contact with my mother as the bidding was going on…[laughter]
BK: Same thing… Mother/banker… Banker/mother…
BL: That’s like the guys from Dub-Lab who are doing it off their parents’ money.
BK: My Mom, the Bank.
KKB: Mom, credit cards…
BL: Your family.. well your mom is a dancer, right?
KKB: Ex-dancer, yes. My whole family.
BL: That is so fascinating! You were surrounded by dancers while you were growing up?
KKB: All ballet dancers, except me. I’m the ‘black sheep’ in my family.
BK: You were mostly tap? [laughter]
KKB: I was like mostly uncoordinated, actually.
BL: And did they know from the minute you were born: don’t put him in a dance studio?
KKB: No, no, I studied. I studied… We had a ballet school. So I took ballet for three years. And I was very good. But those were the teen years, you know, when you have no control over your body. Once I got control over my body, I could no longer dance. I don’t know what happened.
BL: Really? Once your mind set up.. So before the mind stepped in, fine. Once the mind came into play….?
KKB: No rhythm whatsoever.
BL: That’s fascinating.
BK: Don’t think about dancing, just dance.
BL: Don’t… you know thinking in itself is very complex. I reading the whole issue of the new Zen magazine “Ascent,” and it’s all about mind, it’s an issue about mind and how to clear… Do you practice any…
KKB: No, no, I don’t. But my sister, Leslie Brown, who – they made a movie about my family…
BL: “The Turning Point”
KKB: That was in the bio, right.
BL: Yes, “The Turning Point.”
KKB: Leslie… I don’t know how she does it. She is just… They just go into some kind of zone when they are out there.
BL: But do you have any Zen or spiritual or Buddhist or yogic or sports or tennis…
BL: …or you do nothing to clear your mind.
KKB: No, my mind is pretty clear for the most part, yeh.
BL: You’re just lucky that way.
KKB: I guess so.[laughter]
BL: Well, that’s so… Good for you! Uh, my mind needs to be cleared every day, like a computer, where you have to like work on clearing the cache – that’s what I have to do.
BK: I have a guy named Lupe that just comes in with a leafblower and BLOWS MY MIND! And my neighbors hate him.
BL: We’re here at Comedy World, where we collect your thoughts for you. I’m talking to Kevin Brown, who is the Executive Producer of “Roswell” and he put his own money up to do this things. Well, so it’s a good thing that it’s popular.
KKB: Yes, that helped.
BL: That had to be nerve-wracking!
KKB: Well, it… yeh, I mean, obviously there a chance that nobody would want it and I’d end up deep, deep, deep in a financial hole. But… I felt that it was… If you were going to bet on anything, it would be this.
BL: But that’s a big moment, where you’re like, okay… You’d had already done a lot production…
KKB: I had done movies for television, actually, I’d never done a series.
BL: Right. And you wanted to get into series, and you saw this as a big open door?
KKB: Well, I think anybody in the business wants to get into series – it’s quite lucrative, so…
BL: How about sitcoms, though, that’s where the real money is.
KKB: Sitcoms where the real money is – haven’t done that yet.
BL: Do you want to?
BL: You’re interested in money, aren’t you?
KKB: No, no, no. No, just… It’s a good business to be in. If you can… I’m not gonna do “Victoria’s Closet,” I mean… you know, I would hope that…
BL: Thank you, because they already did that. That would be crazy!
KKB: I would hope that by example, that anything I did in the half-hour would be at least as imaginative as “Roswell” is.
BL: Well, see, now you say an interesting word, which is ‘imaginative.’ Which is not necessarily something that everybody in the entertainment… leave alone the arts… and just focus on entertainments… I don’t even think everyone’s interested in imagination in entertainment.
KKB: I think that it’s so hard to get something made, whether it’s a movie or a movie for television or a series… It is so difficult that, everybody is willing to make the compromises to get something on the air, and if… A lot of times, you don’t have the choice. I had a choice. So I didn’t have to do that. And in our case, we were able to entice a very very successful writer named Jason Katims, who certainly had his own ideas and certainly didn’t need our little show… But he agreed to do it, and that is why it went from what was a very good young-adult book to what is a series that appeals way beyond the typical WB audience.
BL: Right. And had… were you very involved in the scriptwriting process with him?
KKB: No, no, no, God no. You give it to him, and just hope for the best.
BL: What is he like… I don’t know his name.
KKB: Jason was primary writer on “My So-Called Life.”
BL: Oh, my God!
KKB: Yes, exactly…
BL: But then what else did he do?
KKB: He created a series called “Relativity” a few years ago.
BL: Oh, yeh.
KKB: But he’s.. this is definitely was something that played to his strength, and thank God for us, he agreed.
BL: That’s great. And is he still working, very involved on the show?
KKB: Oh yeh. He’s what’s called our ‘show runner.’
BL: Right. So you’re the Executive Producer, but not the show runner.
KKB: No, he’s the show runner.
BL: Okay, ’cause that’s not always the… Many times, the Executive Producer is the show runner.
KKB: Almost always.
BL: Even in hour dramas?
KKB: Yes. It’s very rare for…. they call me a ‘non-writing, non-directing, Executive Producer.’ So I’m kind of like a leper…
BL: But you’re a producing Producer.
KKB: Oh, yeh.
BL: But that is unusual that the Producer is a producer and not a writer, in television. That’s more filmic, in a way.. it’s more of the film model.
KKB: Yeh. Which is where I come from.
BL: Right. That’s funny, because I come from a place… [laughter] We’re talking today… Because also we have the guys on who are organizing the Twin Peaks 10th anniversary festival…
KKB: Oh, okay…
BL: So we’re talking about the idea of ‘place’ and how important place can be, and the idea that Roswell is a place and the place itself has so much impact on the story.
BL: Can you talk about, like, why and how and…
KKB: I think Roswell has just achieved this mythological place in our culture and in our history, too. So… when you think about Roswell, you think about aliens, and that’s why the books… the title alone “Roswell High” was so evocative. And, by the way, we dropped the “High” only because it made it feel too young. We felt we had a show that would appeal to adults, so.. you know. It goes back to “Beverly Hills 90210.” The original title of the show was “Beverly Hills High.” And then they dropped the “High” at the last minute. And we did the same thing.
BL: 90210 is such a great idea.
KKB: Yes it is.
BL: It’s the idea of a zip… and again, a place. It’s again a place and how big the place can be. I’m working now on a show called “Earth.”
BL: “Earth High.” And, I’m thinking about dropping the “High” though.. might be too limiting.. and I’m just thinking “Why not ALL of earth?” And you know that I’m thinking, why even Earth…
KKB: They did that show actually.
BL: They did.. Earth.
KKB: Earth 2, yeh.
BL: [laughs] Earth 2 already – they skipped Earth and went immediately to Earth…
BK: Earth again.
KKB: Earth again, yeh.
BL: Um.. and.. how are the people of Roswell? Have you gotten a lot of support from the town?
KKB: We’ve gotten a lot of support. They are, of course, upset that we don’t shoot the show there, which we don’t.
BL: Ohhh… Why not?
KKB: Well, it’s just… It’s a little out of the way to base a TV series, you know.
BL: Actors don’t want to schlep over to Roswell.
KKB: Listen, it’s bad enough on “Dawson’s Creek” getting them to live in Wilmington, North Carolina, for 9 months out of the year, so you can imagine Roswell would be a little difficult.
KKB: So, yeh, they… A couple of our actors…
BL: They should be thankful to be living in North Carolina, those kids! They should be thanking the producers every day of their lives that they are on that show.
BK: I imagine.
KKB: I will mention that to Mr. Van der Beek next time I see him.
BL: Please do. You get him on this show and I’m going to give him some tough love. He doesn’t even… He’s a whiny little nothing, and I’ll squash him…
KKB: No, no, no… Let’s not get carried away.
BL: No I like them.
BL: It’s a lovely show. But I just think, you know, the whining has to stop.
KKB: The whining should stop.
BL: And I don’t want to whine about the whiners.
BL: ‘Cause I’m Beth Lapides, and I don’t believe in whining. We’re here with…
BK: You are such a whiner sometimes… I was about to say, have you ever seen a flying saucer?
BK: Ever had a paranormal experience? Supernatural experience? Ghost?
KKB: Other than the usual.. thinking about a radio song and having it come on or, you know, one of those kind of deals.
BL: Ever worn boxer underwear?
KKB: Yes, at home.
BL: I just had to hear him say yes about something. I didn’t want to dwell in the negative.
BL: Do a lot of people want to come up to tell you, though, like the way Blaine asked you… Do people ask you that a lot, and do you… people telling you their experiences?
KKB: People come up and tell us their experiences and want to know if we can use it in the show.
KKB: But, since our show is not about abductees, which is 99% of their stories…
BL: Yes. Do you make that point to them?
KKB: No, I just very politely say, “I’ll think about it, and tell Jason.”
BK: And then the secretary comes in and says, “You will have to leave now, sir.”
BL: Here’s your shot.
BK: Here’s the muscle…
BL: And do you find, when you meet these people who say they were abductees, that you get a sense of the fact that they understand that….. the music is coming on.. and there’s going to be more conversation later… Let it be all right. I’m Beth Lapides, we’re here on Comedy World.