CVS & SLM Interview
From Vania, of the Pretender Refuge
I am a member of the pretender fan page on Facebook. They did an interview with Craig and Steven last night and they talk about the future of the pretender! Although I am skeptical I still have hope. If you haven’t seen it yet, here it is below!!!
Tonight our guests of honour are no other than the creators of the Pretender. Yes, that’s right. We talked to Steve and Craig about how they came to work together, future projects and, of course, the Pretender. Steve and Craig were really nice for talking to us and I want to thank them for taking the time.
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– by Vânia Araújo
Question: Steve and Craig, how did you two meet?
SLM: Craig and I literally met on stage. It was on the first day of an improv comedy class and we were randomly chosen to go up together and perform together. Somehow we were finishing each others sentences and the timing and energy of us working together seemed to just click.
For years after, we were poker friends who along with our group of standup and improv comics would complain about how stale and tired writing was in movies and TV and how we felt we could bring something new. Then one day we stopped complaining and started writing and just like our work on stage it seemed to click as well.
CWV: Thirty plus years later.
Q: How does the creative process work out between you two: do you always write together or you have different ideas and then meet to debate them?
SLM: Yes. No and sometimes. We usually brainstorm whatever idea we are working on together and we ‘break’ the story together and then split that outline up and go and write our respective parts. We then rewrite each others drafts and continue trading the pages back and forth until we are satisfied. Then we do the same with the script.
As for debating ideas – we do that of course. But we have learned over the years that if one of us feels very strongly about something it usually makes sense to allow him to write it the way he thinks will work. Most times it does. Sometimes it doesn’t. But in those times when the idea doesn’t work we usually find something even better we hadn’t thought of in the first place.
CWV: Bottom line is we both love ideas – the raw notions that we can ping pong back and forth to build them into one of two things; either really solid, or as we call them, fully baked concepts, or we come to the realization that an idea is just a singular cool thought one of us had when we couldn’t last night. Thankfully, it’s usually the former and we are blessed with lists full of series, movie, book ideas – more than we ever have the time to implement them.
Q: So you two were in stand up comedy. What do you enjoy the most, comedy or drama?
SLM: We loved our time in stand up but after a while realized unless you were really good you’d make about as much money as yodelers. So we focused our attention on writing.
As for comedy or drama – we usually blend them together. But our work in drama has been the most rewarding.
CWV: We started in some illustrious L.A. Comedy Clubs such as Osko’s Comedy Cave and eventually made it to the Sunset Strip venues about the time we decided writing TV and movies was the way to go.
Drama is oddly where we ended up staking our claim, but interestingly we were often brought into shows to write the lighter dramatic episodes only to end up writing the really, really dark ones. Have to say, the line between comedy and drama is thinner than most think and heavy moments always play best when there is a tinge of irony or comedy in them and visa versa.
Q: Right now, we’re seeing a new pattern arising among the TV series industry, as some websites like Amazon are now launching their own plans for shows. Do you think this is an alternate way for the industry to move on besides living just from the tv channels?
SLM: Yes and it is the wave of the future and one we are very supportive of.
CWV: Never has there been more opportunity than right now for independent artists to get their voice out to a huge audience. And that audience now more than ever has the voice to say we want more. I mean, look at the whole Kickstarter dot com victory with the Veronica Mars movie. Now the fans can make that happen instead of their calls and letters to networks and studios falling on deaf ears. Go fans! You have the power and rightly so – and we’re listening.
Q: From everything you’ve done over the years, what gave you more pride and joy?
SLM: By far it is the Pretender. While we have done many very rewarding projects including TinMan for Syfy, the Pretender has always been the project that touched our hearts.
CWV: The Pretender hands down.
Q: How did you come out with the idea for the Pretender?
SLM: The concept was one we’d had for many years. We had both been fans of a movie called “The Great Imposter” that starred Tony Curtis and was based on the life of Ferdinand Demara who was a real life Pretender. We loved the idea of a person who could be anyone they wanted to be but didn’t know who they were.
CWV: And a guy who wouldn’t turn the page on those injustices we wake up to every morning in the news. We tend to get a strong gut feeling about ideas we’re conceiving and have never had a stronger one with anything like we did with The Pretender. It was simply a very original idea with three very dynamic characters at its core each of whom were intrinsically linked to the others emotionally. How’d we do that? LOL
Q: And in your heads did you always know where the series was going to?
SLM: Yes and no. Yes in that we always knew the underlying story and where it would go long term – but we were also always open to incredible creative discoveries along the way that we could explore, side roads along the main highway, that we could go off on and explore always returning to the larger journey.
CWV: After a while the characters started telling us where they were going.
Q: What memories do you cherish the most from that time?
SLM: There are so many I wouldn’t know where to start. But probably the most personally rewarding was the amazing response from the fans. Knowing that we had touched a cord inside of so many millions of people, that something straight from our hearts had touched theirs was an overwhelming experience – and continues to be. We originally conceived this idea as something we both believed in and had no idea if people would respond to it and when they did we realized not only did we have a responsibility to do our best for ourselves but also for them.
CWV: Agree. And I also think the fans can tell when a series is a labor of love for everyone involved with the show. Top to bottom we had very talented caring people working on The Pretender and that can’t help but show in the final product.
Q: Did you ever imagine that ten years later, The Pretender would still have such a loyal fan base?
SLM: No and it is humbling. Our biggest frustration with The Pretender was how NBC and then TNT encouraged us to continue the mysteries promising that we would have the opportunity to answer all the unanswered questions for the loyal fans and then yanked the rug out from under us before we could.
But we want the fans to know we haven’t forgotten them – and are committed to fulfilling the commitment we had with them from the beginning.
Q: In an interview in 2007, you said you’d probably continue the Pretender in digital format through Strange Highway Entertainment. Is this still a project of yours?
SLM: We are committed to continuing The Pretender experience for the fans and while it may not be digitally, THE PRETENDER LIVES.
CWV: In fact, for the first time in probably ten years we can say without hesitation that The Pretender will emerge in a whole new way — and soon.
Q: What plans do you have for the future? Are you working in any new shows or movies?
SLM: As always we have tons of projects in the pipeline – including one with Stephen King based on his book Insomnia. But our biggest project is The Pretender.
Q: Right here on Facebook, we have almost 6000 Pretender fans, which for a show that ended 12 years ago is quite good. Do you have any message you’d like to leave for all your fans?
SLM: Yes. We want them to know that during this Pretender adventure they have been as important to the process as we have – and that their opinions count. What speaks to them about Jarod and Miss Parker and the other characters and the stories is exactly what speaks to us. We care about the fans and learn as much from them as Jarod cares about and learns from those he helps. We are on this adventure together and in the future we will work hard to always remain true to the characters and stories they have grown to love.
And yes we said FUTURE. In fact if you have us back for another interview we will tell you all about it.