|CHAIKEN and GRIER Interview
By Pam Cole
ATLANTA, GAIlene CHAIKEN and Pam GRIER graciously signed
autographs for around 300 fans at the Best Buy in Atlanta, Georgia
on Jan. 4, 2006. After the event, CHAIKEN and GRIER retreated with
Pam Cole to a back room (yes, a back room) for a brief interview.
PC: Thank you for your time today and for coming to Atlanta
to do this event and the premiere.
We're happy to do both events. And thanks for all the support The
L Word Fan Site has given us. I love your site! It's one of my favorites.
GRIER: Hey, I go to the site, too. I belong to the site.
PC: Were you surprised that there weren't more Emmy nominations
for the cast in Season 2?
CHAIKEN: I wasn't surprised by it. I'd love to get an Emmy nomination.
It would be great and gratifying. But first of all, you never expect
it. It's a huge field and a lot of competition, and I think that
although we've really broken through in a mainstream way, it's still
"the lesbian show" and the Emmys are a pretty conservative
organization and we are still stigmatized by being a lesbian show.
PC: What have you heard about a possible Season 4?
CHAIKEN: We won't know until we've been on the air for at least
several episodes. The network isn't obliged to let us know for quite
some time. You shoot a season, you finish it, you hope you did good
work and that the audience comes back and loves it again, but you
don't really know if there's going to be another season after that.
PC: But you're prepared to do a 4th season?
CHAIKEN: Definitely. We've done three and I'd like to think that
we could do a couple more. It would be great. We have so many stories
to tell and one of the reasons that I made this a large ensemble
cast is that it's the first lesbian show and we have a lot of stories
to tell. We have to go on making the point that we're not monolithic
and that we have a lot of stories.
PC: Speaking of lots of stories, I'm thinking about Daniela
Sea. She's coming on as the new butch character. Is she going to
be in competition with Shane for that role?
CHAIKEN: I don't see it that way but that's certainly what a lot
of people are saying. I'm always intrigued to see how people respond
and what people come up with. I don't see Shane and Moira (or Kate
and Daniela) as competitive. They're very, very different yet they
both have a little butch edge, a little androgyny, but in totally
different ways. It will be interesting to see whether people continue
to compare them to one another.
PC: In Season 2, the show was a lot more dramatic than Season
1. What is the tone in Season 3 going to be like?
CHAIKEN: It's going to be funnier. It's more fun. It's still dramatic.
It is a drama. But one of the things that we (that is, my writer
colleagues and I) said to one another when we got together back
at the beginning of the Season 3 to decide what to write, was that
we really liked the show when it was funny. We like ourselves when
we're funny, when we poke fun at ourselves and we went back towards
that. Season 3 is a lot more like Season one, but better.
GRIER: It's better times 5!
PC: Kit has really changed since Season One. What's up for Kit
in Season Three?
Kit had a problem with life but she has gotten better. She's found
herself and she's having to deal with the truth that she found.
One of the things about a twelve step program is that you have to
accept the truth about yourself, the world, and everyone, and then
what you can and cannot change
CHAIKEN: But Kit has a good time in Season 3.
GRIER: Ilene made sure of that! Kit has a damn good time in Season
3! But you can still see that she has found the strength that people
told her she never had. Other people are seeing it. It started with
Bette, her sister and that community (all the girls at the planet,
and then Ivan and Benjamin
reinforcing her as they saw what
she had to go through. They had this ageless support, sharing things
that have not changed in a hundred years and never will. Truth is
truth, life is life, lies are lies, and love is love. And she is
responding to it in a very positive but tenuous way. Every day is
a day of building confidence. She's totally found herself in Season
PC: Pam, after 35 years in show business you're still this hot,
sexy woman onscreen. What do you think about that?
Yeah, it's hot and exciting all the time! I didn't even have time
for menopause. I had sex right through it, I didn't care! I was
like, what menopause, what hot flashes? I thought it was just orgasms!
And there are issues about that in the storylines in Season 3.
It's like Ilene said, there are so many voices, so many storylines
to tell. We're getting there, we just can't do it all in every show.
But we're trying and with the support of the audience and new audiences,
understanding and feeling "yes, tell my story, hear my voice."
That gives everyone more leverage and more respect that you don't
have to fight for and there's a healing in a sense. There's a lot
of families that will find that forgiveness for not having the love
for their family member, their child, their brother, their sister.
And Ilene has made sure that we're going to try and tell as many
stories as possible.
PC: I read that Elizabeth Ziff is on the writing staff in Season
3. Is that true?
CHAIKEN: In Season 3, Elizabeth Ziff was again the music composer,
and also a producer on my writing staff --and a very active producer.
She wrote one script and she did some rewriting and made huge contributions
to the stories.
CHAIKEN: And if indeed the third season is as good as we all think
it is, she had a lot to do with it.
She has written quite a bit before. She wrote a play that she and
her partners have been performing. Having worked with her for a
season, I found her to be a storyteller of like mind. Which is really
the key. I've worked with a lot of non-writers, or inexperienced
writers on the L Word. I found that they've worked better for me
than tried and true TV writers who come with so many fixed ideas
about how to tell television stories. I've been much more successful
working with playwrights, with novelists, and with just random baby
writers who come with a fresh voice and they're just passionate
about telling these stories. Elizabeth fell into that category to
begin with but wound up being a real and active producer colleague.
GRIER: Ilene, when someone writes a song, they tell a story.
CHAIKEN: Exactly. Very much so.
GRIER: She's honed her skill that way. She had all the validation,
all the credentials. And you knew exactly what she was saying and
you could take it from there and give it the feeling. Because when
you write songs, you're interpreting and you're having to tell stories
that have comprehension, and I think she was very good at that.
Very skilled at that, in order to do plays and musicals. That's
coming with a lot of experience.
PC: Pam, one of the characters is rumored to have cancer in
Season 3. I know that you are a cancer survivor. (GRIER was diagnosed
with cancer in 1988 and given 18 months to live.) As a cancer survivor,
how did that storyline affect you?
GRIER: I had a few meltdowns
even during our meetings.
CHAIKEN: It was pretty emotional telling some of these stories
and that one in particular.
GRIER: Because many of us have experienced losing family and friends.
In a way, it's bittersweet that we have not become desensitized
to the issue by seeing so many stories on the health channels and
the medical channels about people surviving. It was quite profound
and moving. And to relive it all over again, there would be times
when they almost picked me up off the floor. So I did have my moments,
but I wasn't alone.
I think the audience will see and feel the same way as I did when
I watched it.
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