1. I hope QAF goes beyond season 4 but what do you see yourself doing if and when QAF goes off the air?
Im hoping to make the transition into films (indies, etc.) during the next couple of hiatuses. Ideally post-QAF Id love to be doing 2 or 3 films a year and a play. That would make me very happy. For me to work in TV again it would have to be a show that would equal or better my experience on QAF and thats a tall order.
2. Now that you've been back on the set of QAF for a month how do feel season 3 is shaping up? Anything funny happen to on the set since you got back?
It feels great to be back at work. Everyone is in wonderful spirits. The combination of a nice long break and a shorter season has really energized us all. Even though we were gone from these characters for 6 months it was amazing how quickly we slipped back into their skins. Almost as if we never left. I think people are going to really like season 3. Besides all the wonderful new hair-dos were sporting, Im very pleased with the journey Teds going to take this year. I cant really reveal any of the funny things that have happened on the set without giving away any plot points and well you wouldnt want me to do THAT would you?
3. You answered one of the questions in the December Q&A with a Tom Waits song, are you a Waits fan? We are an obscure little community of admirers and it's always cool to find another member.
I first saw Tom Waits perform in the summer of 1986 while I was in Chicago forming The Anathong Theatre Company. He was working on a musical called Franks Wild Years that was being produced by Steppenwolf at the Briar Street Theatre in Chicago. The show was weird and amazing. But it was the songs and Toms voice that hooked me and Ive been addicted ever since. Hes a definite favorite of mine, from his older Bluesy self to his modern Brecht/Weill ian self.
4. I've noticed that your forum does not have spoilers. How do you feel about the spoilers posted on the internet, and more importantly, how do you feel about the possibility of "insiders" leaking information?
Mostly Im flattered that people are THAT addicted to the show that they just cant wait to find out whats going to happen to these. As long as people have a choice to find out or not I have no problem with it personally. Its a little creepy that people would go to the lengths of disguising themselves as dildos and vibrators to get on our set and spy. I would much rather people find out by watching the show, because it kind of spoils it (hence the name I suppose) to know ahead of time. I mean wheres the suspense and drama in watching something if you knew the chick in Crying Game was a dude or that Darth Vader was Lukes father or that Michael is going to have his foreskin re-attached this season on QAF ooooops.
5. How do you think the long hiatus between season 2 and 3 will affect QAF?
Hopefully it will only build up the anticipation (as it did for The Sopranos this past season). Its really up to Showtime to build up to the premiere in just the right way.
6. Can you tell us more about your experience on the Pyramid? I thought you were great!
Thanks. I had such a terrific time. You know, you watch those shows and think to yourself (Im never going to hop up and down like a moron if I win). Well I cant tell you how exciting it was. When that clock is ticking down and the person across from you is SO close to winning a whole heap o money but theyre just not getting it and all of a sudden, with just a second or two to go BOOM! They get it. Well, my knees got all wiggly both times that happened. The contestants were all dreams, the staff of the show amazing and, as Ive said, Donny Osmond IS the nicest guy in the universe. It was a total pleasure and I hope to get to play again some day.
7. I have read about how many takes of each scene are required. Why *so* many? It sounds excessive, if what I have read is accurate. And when crying is involved, does the actor/actress have to muster up tears for all of those numerous takes?
Well all those takes are required because every scene has to be covered from a myriad of angles and sized. The more people in the scene, the more shots. Youve got to get a master, which is a wide shot encompassing the whole scene and everyone in it. Then you move in for coverage on each of the characters; medium shots of pairs or small groups and then close ups of each character. For each of these shots you need to have two or three options just in case. The editors need all these choices to find the best performance, angle, lighting etc. to best tell the story. Plus, in TV, after the editor makes a pass at an edit, then it goes to the director, then to the producers and then the network can give notes as well. Each person may want a different type of shot than the person before. So there has to be as many options as possible.
As far as emotional scenes, theres a favorite phrase for actors: save it for the close up. Personally I find that hard to do sometimes and especially if the other actor needs your full emotional commitment. It can get pretty draining. So the work is to modulate it so that by the time your close-up does come you havent dried up.
8. In season three, with fewer episodes, does that mean you are spending more time on each episode? Is more money being spent on each episode?
Were still shooting episodes in seven days, but we do have a bunch of Safety days to use now in case an episode needs an eighth day. Thats a nice luxury. The budget of the show has gone up quite a bit this year and thats part of the reason were only doing 14 episodes.
9. To what extent, if any, are scenes filmed in the order in which they are seen on screen?
Theyre hardly ever shot in order. The only way they are is if there are a bunch of scenes in one location. For example if there are three scenes in Teds condo in one episode we will shoot them all in one day and in order. Other than that its all over the place depending on location and cast availability. It does seem with me that we always manage to shoot my sex scenes with someone before we shoot any of the dialogue scenes. I try not to be paranoid about it.
10. I loved the story you told about James Marsters in the previous Q&A. Do you have any stories about other now-famous actors you worked with in your theatre days?
Well two that are doing quite well are Paula Cale and Hope Davis. Paula and I worked on a production of Merchant of Venice together when she first graduated from DePaul University. We ran around in tights making each other giggle quite a bit. Soon after we also worked together on Picasso At The Lapin Agile and even roomed together for a while before she moved to LA, did a year-long stint on Murphy Brown and has been starring as the wacky Joanie on NBCs hit Providence for the last 4 or 5 years. I am very proud of my little Pookie! Yes I AM!!
Hope was part of the theatre company I came out to Chicago to help start called The Anathong Ensemble. She directed our first production of Arthur Millers The Creation of the World and Other Business and then played Nanny in the production of Baby with the Bathwater that I directed. When the company broke up (soon after I rejoined it after finishing my senior year at Conn. College) we all branched off on our own. Hope hit it big in the Chicago theatre scene by landing the role Madonna had originally played in David Mamets play Speed the Plow directed by Joel Schumacher and also starring CSIs Billy Peterson. She got cast in Schumachers film Flatliners and soon moved to NYC where she took the theatre scene there by storm. Her first big independent film Daytrippers is amazing and it started her down the road towards a great career. From Next Stop Wonderland (Damn, Hopies good in that one!) up to the current About Schmidt playing Jack Nicholsons daughter she constantly proves my first impression of her: Meryl Streeps secret love child.