Interview: Robert Hewitt Wolfe

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Enterline Media: What movies have you watched lately?

Robert Hewitt Wolfe: The last three movies I watched were Murderball, The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, and Mrs. Henderson Presents, all on DVD. I liked em all. Highly recommended.

EM: What are the best DVDs you watched in the last six months?

RHW: See above. I also really like Gunner Palace. I've been on a documentary kick lately. I just watched Walk the Line and Capote as well, both of which I think deserved all the praise they got.

EM: Worst movie you saw in the last six months?

RHW: Hmmm, I can't think of anything off the top of my head.

EM: Favorite TV shows at the moment?

RHW: Currently on my TiVo list: Lost, the Sopranos, Penn & Teller's b*llsh*t, The Colbert Report, The Daily Show, and Grey's Anatomy. I also occassionally watch Supernatural, Veronica Mars and Desparate Housewives, since my wife likes them a lot.

EM: Any airdates being discussed for Dresden Files yet?

RHW: None yet. If I had to place a bet, I'd say early 2007.

EM: Speaking of Scarlett, any possibility of convincing Lion's Gate to let you expand the pilot into a 90 minute movie?

RHW: Doubtful. It'd cost a ton of money and the script was really a pilot script. It wasn't written in a way that would lend itself to an easy conversion into a 90 minute movie. Sadly, I think Scarlett is destined for the great elephant's graveyard of discarded TV pilots.

EM: Do you wish more pilots were filmed for 90 minutes length today given the crop of direct to DVD releases? Wouldn't it make more sense to have a studio be able to recoup some of their money if the pilot isn't picked up?

RHW: I think it does make sense to shoot pilots that can be aired as movies. But not all shows lend themselves to this. SCARLETT didn't. It worked much better as a one hour. DRESDEN worked great as a 2 hr. Really, it's something you have to decide on a case by case basis. The goal is always to go to series, so the pilot has to be structured in a way that best maximizes your chances to hit that goal. Everything else has to come second.

EM: Any chance of convincing Lionsgate to revive Scralett as a new direct to DVD production and include the Lifetime pilot as an extra?

RHW: Again, doubtful. It's the nature of the beast that many, many interesting pilot projects never get past that point. As of now, pretty much all the major players on SCARLETT have moved on to other things, so it would be very difficult to reassemble the key cast and crew members to continue the story. Not impossible, but difficult.

EM: What are all the hurdles you had to go through to get the Scralett pilot shot? I know Hurricane Katrina forced you to relocate the shoot from New Orleans.

RHW: Yeah. Katrina hit on our first day of production. We evactuated the cast and crew and most of our gear to Houston the Saturday night before. We got everyone safely. Thankfully, Lionsgate and Lifetime decided to go through with the shoot and we remounted the entire production in Natchitoches, LA, (a small college town in north-central Louisisana), a few months later. We had to scramble a little bit to make Natchitoches look like New Orleans, but it does have a small French Colonial section (Natchitoches was settled about the same time as New Orleans) and we had a very talented production designer in Randy Sur, so we were able to pull it off. Everyone in Natchitoches was great to us and it's a terrific place to spend a weekend if you ever find yourself in norther Louisiana.

EM: If you didn't pick on Rebecca Gayheart as the lead, who would have your next choice?

RHW: If we hadn't gotten Rebecca, we probably would've gone to a full on casting process, so it would've been open to pretty much anyone who came in a read. I suspect we would've found an unknown or relative unknown, much like we did for Dresden. That being said, Hans and I were thrilled to get Rebecca and she did a great job.

EM: Did Scarlett not get picked up not just due to change of the people in charge, but those new people wanted to make their mark with something the prior management liked?

RHW: That'd be my best guess, yes. Things like that happen all the time in TV... or pretty much any other industry, I suspect.

RHW: Hans and I were very grateful to Lionsgate and Lifetime for going ahead with the shooting, despite the difficulties. Obviously, we wish that, in the end, Scarlett could've been part of Lifetime's plans for rebranding and establishing an new network identity, but we understood the new manangement's decision to go ahead with other projects that they'd be able to develop themselves from the ground floor. It was a fun attempt, and we wish we hadn't fallen short, but so it goes.

EM: Onto Andromeda, why do you think Fireworks and Tribune start out with great shows only to tinker with them to the point the shows aren't as good as they started out?

RHW: I think that's what's called a "loaded question." There are certainly fans who really enjoyed the last three seasons of ANDROMEDA and lots of people put a tremendous amount of work into them. No one sets out to make a bad show, and when people tinker with shows, they do so because they genuinely think they can make them better. Sometimes they succeed, sometimes they don't. That's television.

EM: Have you seen any of the Androemda episodes that were made after you left the show (or are you just going to read Jill Sherwin's book)?

RHW: Nope. Haven't seen any of them. I have Jill's book, but, self-centered artist that I am, I only read the stuff that was about me.

EM: I wish Tribune let you take the show in your direction isntead of what came about.

RHW: Thanks. I think it would've been fun.

EM: Would you ever want to write an episode for Lost or Battlestar Galactica (I have always wondered what a BSG episode would be like if Ash and Zack or you wrote one)?

RHW: I'd love to write for either one of them if my schedule allowed it. I think they're both terrific shows. I think Ash and Zack would do a great job on BSG as well. But of course, both those shows have wonderful writing staffs in place, which is part of why they're good, so they don't particularly need me.

EM: Do you have any info on how people are responding to Dresden Files of yet?

RHW: Well, I've seen it and I liked it. Hans and I have also showed it to our immediate families and some close friends, and they like it, too. I can't speak to how testing went. That's really not my balliwick. But Hans and I think it's a terrific show and we're very hopeful that SciFi will greenlight it to series.

EM: How did the production of Dresden go?

RHW: It went great. It was hard work, since most of the story takes place at night and it was unseasonable cold in Toronto when we shot it. The hours were long and the crew really busted their asses to make things work. But David Carson did a great job directing, and Jonathan Hackett ran a terrific crew, we had wonderful department heads and everything went pretty smoothly.

EM: Are you hoping that Sci-Fi likes Dresden enough and just greenlight a series like they did with the upcoming Eureka?

RHW: That's the plan. We should know soonish if we're going to series. That being said, greenlighting a series is a huge decision and a ton of different factors go into making it. So we understand that SciFi has to go through a process of weighing all the different factors. Still, we're hopeful that once that process is completed, we'll have an order.

Hans and I are big fans of Jim Butcher's books and we think the final product will both excite and satisfy Jim's fans and bring in lots of new ones as well. We also really want people to see Paul Blackthorne's performance as Harry. He's pretty spectacular. So are fingers are crossed. Now we just have to wait and see what happens like everyone else.

this interview is (c)5-7-2006 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission (except for excerpts and a link to the interview). Look for additional content at http://enterlinemedia.livejournal.com and send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com