Authors & DirectorsJonathan FrakesRoswell

Jonathan Frakes’ Take on Roswell

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Article from Soap Opera Digest:

Jonathan Frakes’ take on Roswell
By Marc Wilkofsky

UPN’s sci-fi soap Roswell hopes to engage brand-new viewers by boldly incorporating the network’s new Star Trek series, Enterprise, into its October 30 episode.

Roswell Executive Producer and Star Trek Veteran Jonathan Frakes’ directing — and appearing in — this special installment is his latest contribution to the series; however, contrary to popular belief, his wife Genie Francis’ (Laura, General Hospital) ethereal appearance as the alien teens’ mom in the first season wasn’t his idea.

“Thania St. John, one of the executive producers in the first season, is a huge fan of hers, and she asked me if I thought Genie would do it,” Frakes explains of how the key cameo was conceived. “Genie enjoyed it immensely; it’s always nice to do something different.” Aside from hoping she’ll return to his show, he says, “We’re always looking for stuff to do together; we’d like to do a project where I would direct her.” Having met on the set of the ’80s soap Bare Essence and married in 1988, they shared the screen again in an 1995 episode of Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, about which he says, “It’s a blast; it’s a real gift. It’s nice to go to work in one car.” For now he has a regular role in her soap life: “I break the [GH] scripts down every night before she goes to work.”

The former Star Trek: The Next Generation actor (ex-Will Riker) has been connected to Roswell since its inception — “The project was brought to me, as a series of teen novels called Roswell High, since I am the official spokesperson for all things paranormal” — and is very pleased with the Enterprise episode, which he arranged. “I’m obviously in the Star Trek family, so I asked Rick Berman, who’s the arbiter of all things Star Trek, if we could do it, and he said, ‘Sure.’ And the availability allowed us to use [Enterprise’s] Dr. Phlox, John Billingsley.”

The way Enterprise is involved is far from forced: “Max is on a quest to find his son; the clues lead him to California. He needs to get some information out of some film vaults, which are on a film lot in Paramount, where they’re shooting Enterprise. So he gets himself an audition.” Playing himself as the Enterprise director, Frakes tells Max he doesn’t make for a believable alien. Joe Pantoliano (Ralph, The Sopranos) guest stars in the episode as an alien shapeshifter named Kal Langley; look for him to have an important role in Max’s life in the weeks to come.

Frakes had his own take on the Enterprise installment: “Roswell is a show in which you can do anything you want stylistically, and I tried to shoot the L.A. version of the episode with a little more pace and quick cutting than the Roswell side of it — part of the story takes place in Roswell, part takes place in L.A. — so I tried to make the two different towns feel different stylistically.”

The multi-talented actor has nothing but praise for his series, and commented on the reasons for its popularity: “As with most successful shows, certainly the stories are well-told, and that comes from Jason [Katims, co-creator and executive producer] and Ron [Moore, writer/producer], and then we have an attractive and talented cast — that helps. And I think people are really intrigued by the possibility that there are aliens.

“Ron is fabulous; he is very gifted,” Frakes adds of Moore, who scribed several episodes of Star Trek: TNG, where the two met. “He wrote a wonderful memo in light of the [terrorist-attack] tragedy that he distributed to all of us on Roswell. It was really encouraging and uplifting; he’s one of the genuinely good ones.”

Roswell airs on Tuesdays, at 9 p.m. EST.