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B&TF: So, you have
your show Exes & Ohs, tell me a little about it. How did
you come up with the idea and where is it going?
Michelle Paradise: Well, we’re in our first season
and it’s based on a short film that I wrote and starred
in a few years ago called The Ten Rules – A Lesbian
Survival Guide. So, most of the characters come from that.
It’s something I wrote in 2000. It was made in 2001
and it made the festivals and then Logo got a hold of it and
we started developing it as a series for them. We have 6 episodes
in our first season and it’s actually doing very well.
I just found out we’re the number 4 download for MTV
which is great!
B&TF: How many episodes are there?
MP: Six episodes in Season 1; four have aired and then once
the 6 are aired we’ll be just waiting to hear about
Season 2 with our fingers crossed.
B&TF: Will you be picked up by Logo for Season 2?
MP: We don’t know yet; Logo will tell us.
B&TF: I read an article which compares The L Word to
your show. Can you tell me what similarities and what differences
do you see given that your show is more of a comedy than a drama?
MP: Well actually I’ve been asked that question before and
I don’t even know how I would compare them except that they’re
both shows about lesbians. I mean really they’re two completely
different shows doing two completely different things. For me, and
I’ve said this before, it’s a little like trying to
compare ER and Scrubs simply because they’re both shows about
doctors; they do different things and they’re both completely
successful at doing what they do. You wouldn’t compare ER
and Scrubs and then try and say how they’re alike in this
way and not alike this way. I don’t think the comparison works
very well for our shows.
B&TF: Ilene Chaiken has alluded to how The L Word is
“our stories” and some of the fans are disappointed
because some of the stories are far fetched and they are saying
that “these are not our stories”. In your show, do you
try to portray stories of the Lesbian community or is it more personal
MP: Well the show is very personal. Again, these shows are two
shows doing two very different things. We do try and reflect real
experiences of these characters and we try to be true to them and
what they’re going through in their lives. No show is ever
going to reflect the breadth of an entire community’s experience.
We’re doing the best we can, using the characters we have
to reflect lesbians in an honest way. We’ve only had six episodes
to do that and, fingers crossed, hopefully we’ll have more
seasons to do that and we look forward to doing more and telling
more stories. I hope we’ll get that chance.
B&TF: What were you looking for when you chose the
actresses for your show? I read there are 3 lesbians and 3 straight
MP: The only criteria was – the best actor for the job. Really,
what we did do was that every person who came in knew that it was
a lesbian show and that whatever their sexuality is they needed
to be comfortable with kissing other women and things like that.
Anyone who was not comfortable did not come in for the audition.
So really it came down to the best actress and whoever was comfortable
with the material; that was the criteria. The fact that we ended
up with 3 of our 5 lead actors who are ‘out’ is fantastic,
it’s really great and we’re happy to have that. We’re
happy with our entire cast.
B&TF: Do you think if a person is openly a lesbian,
it’s easier for them to portray a lesbian or do you think
it’s more about acting?
MP: I don’t think it matters at all actually. It’s
“finding a character” and that is always a challenge
for an actor and being gay or being straight doesn’t give
you a leg up at all. If you can find the heart of that character
and bring that character to life it is really about acting and not
who you are in your personal life.
B&TF: The characters in The L Word said that they watched
some love scenes, not necessarily lesbian, to see how the scenes
were done. They said if they saw fear in the eyes of some the characters,
they knew it wouldn’t work. So, did you use some form of preparation
for the sex scenes so that they would seem like genuine love scenes?
MP: I’m an executive producer on the project as well so when
our actors have a scene that they need to do that’s intimate,
we always talk to them ahead of time. Because it is two women and
much of the crew is men, we make sure that we clear the set for
them, we make sure that only essential people are there and working,
we make the space very, very comfortable for them. The script dictates
what we need from them in terms of story but then we really talk
to them or, I should say, the director talks to them about how that’s
actually going to play out. Our actors have been really fine with
it. Our show is on Logo which is a basic cable channel so we can’t
go as far as The L Word does on Showtime. Our actors have sensitive
moments but they don’t have the sex scenes in the same way
that other actors on other shows might. We’re always careful
to talk to them, make sure they’re comfortable, make sure
the set is comfortable while we’re filming and really do our
best to make sure everyone feels good about what we’re doing.
B&TF: One of the actresses, Heather Matarazzo, was
in the third season The L Word. Did she ever talk to you about her
experiences on The L Word?
MP: No. I actually didn’t see her in that role but it’s
my understanding that it was a very different character than the
one she plays on the show. And she’s a consummate professional
and she creates one character for one project and she’s created
a different character for our project. Whether or not they bled
into one another, you’d have to ask her.