Whoosh! Issue 58 - July 2001


By August Krickel
Content © 2001 held by author
WHOOSH! edition © 2001 held by Whoosh!
7300 words

Editor's note: Katherine Fugate is the scriptwriter of the XENA episode, WHEN FATES COLLIDE (130/618). This interview took place in mid-March 2001.

Katherine: The Early Years (01-06)
Writing (07-11)
Influences (12-20)
Breaking into the Film Industry (21-24)
Max Steel (25-26)
Xena (27-33)
Concept of Soulmates (34-35)
Other Experiences (46-47)
The Process (48-50)
Michael McDonald (51-52)
Joxer (53-54)
Filming the Episode (55-56)
Culture Shock (57-59)
Robert Tapert (60-61)
John Fawcett (62-63)
Behind the Scenes People (64-68)
Karl Urban (69-72)
Claire Stansfield (73-76)
Lucy Lawless (77-80)
Renee O'Connor (81-83)
Ted Raimi (84-85)
Filming (86-87)
Fandom (88-95)


Katherine: The Early Years

Pretty glam for a writer, huh?
Katherine Fugate, a writer and a fan of Xena: Warrior Princess

[01] Let's start with the traditional "Katherine: the Early Years" questions. Where and when were you born? And are you really Barbara Eden's niece?

[02] I was born on July 14th, Bastille Day. I like the idea of fireworks being shot off over the Eiffel tower just to celebrate my blessed event. I am Barbara Eden's niece, and that's a pleasure, truly so. I was born and raised in Southern California, a true native of these parts. But my father is from the South, so I have a lot of that craziness bred into me, too.

[03] That craziness does seem to be a theme, from Faulkner to Williams to Conroy. Wonder why? And do you think you might explore this theme further in future work?

[04] It's so d*mn hot in the South I think people can't help but lose their heads sometimes. Any place with 24-hour drive-thru daiquiri restaurants breeds writers like that. Carolina, a film I wrote, has many autobiographical aspects to it, but ultimately I think the message is to embrace your inner nut. I have learned that only when you embrace all of yourself, especially the parts you consider unappealing or "bad," can you find inner peace. We all have a unique set of goods to work with and those "bad" traits are actually just as important as the good ones we happily cling to. They're all there for a reason. So when I admitted I'm a loon, I found life far more fun, and I was far more at ease with myself.

[05] What is the official pronunciation of your last name? It is French, I gather?

[06] It is French. It's a Cajun coon *ss name, though no one but a coon *ss is allowed to call me a coon *ss. The pronunciation is Few-Jay, rhyming with To-Day. But folks with this last name pronounce it differently too. I think it's how much do you want to sound American versus French and all that homogenization of names. I also hear it Fu-Gaw-tee, the Italian version as well. I prefer Katherine anyway.


She loves me, she loves me not, she loves me...
Gabrielle had a thang for writing too

[07] When did you first discover an interest in writing?

[08] I was always involved in writing. I have a minor in journalism and worked on school papers in junior high, high school and college.

[09] Was theatre something else you were into?

[10] I was in theatre all my life, from a wee age in community theatre. The Unsinkable Molly Brown, The Star Spangled Girl (that was me). Did it all. I graduated from UC [University of California] Riverside with a B.A. in Theatre. I was accepted at UCLA, but UCR gave me a full scholarship, and you can't turn that down.

[11] I love the immediacy and raw emotions from live events. You can't duplicate that in film. I have produced and crewed equity waiver plays in L.A. just to get back to the excitement of it all. The show must go on and it does. I write because I like the look of words on the page. It thrills me to make myself and someone else laugh, cry or muse over an actual sentence.


Call her Lao, or Ma, but never late for dinner
Yeah, you could call Lao Ma an influence on Xena

[12] What are some of your influences?

[13] Tom Robbins, Richard Matheson and Paulo Coehlo are authors I read all the time.

[14] Any particular favorites?

[15] Robbins - Jitterbug Perfume. I want to adapt it into a screenplay. The Lesson Of The Beet is taped onto the wall by my computer. The entire book boils down to the ending for me. Erleichda - Lighten Up. Matheson - What Dreams May Come and The Path. Both spiritual books with an interesting interpretation of why we're here. Where we go. Coelho - The Alchemist. I just read Veronika's Going To Die. Also something I'd like to adapt. Right now, I am reading Soul Mountain by Gao Xingjian.

[16] And how about film and TV?

[17] My favorite movies are often flawed movies that speak to me, nonetheless. The first two that come to mind are Defending Your Life and Fearless. Anything that debunks the limits we place on ourselves and forces us to instead consider the idea that we really only have today to say our piece and live our lives. Carpe diem. Live in your light while you can. As for TV, I'm surprisingly TV-illiterate. I love Ally McBeal and David E. Kelley. I watch The X-Files weekly, too. But truthfully, I watch A&E, Discovery, Bravo, The Learning Channel and the Food Network more than primetime. I love to learn.

[18] I tend to cleave unto emotional work - scenes that transport you to a new way of thinking, of consideration. That rooftop rainy scene in Blade Runner when Rutger Hauer realized "life, any life" was more important than death. I am hell-bent on getting answers for my soul this time around, so I always gravitate towards those themes.

[19] Is mythology another interest, and/or Latin? (I notice you have a few Latin lines, like carpe diem scattered about your website.)

[20] I love the Latin language for its written beauty, though I have never studied it. I have a little book, though, that has all the translations and I refer to it often. It adds flair, I do believe, and it's good for Jeopardy! I do enjoy mythology. I recently completed a course on Greek mythology at the J. Paul Getty Museum. Forever a student. I am thinking on taking a human origins class next. Studying Lucy, the pre-human little lady found in Africa and all that. Evolution of man.

Breaking into the Film Industry

Whoosh! I did it again
Katherine Fugate and IGN.com Xena reviewer Jeff Lundrigan
are mesmerized by Bret Rudnick at the WHOOSH panel discussion
of Xena at the May 5th Pasadena Creation Xena Con

[21] Post college, how did you get into the film industry? I gather you were initially a production assistant?

[22] A production assistant is a glorified runner. Fetcher Girl. Not a lot of glamour there. At first, I was a bit reticent to enter the film business on the creative side, as a writer or director. So I took the business route, working in the literary department at ICM, a very big talent and literary agency, then I worked at 20th Century Fox and at Columbia/Sony, where I was a Creative Executive. But then we had that nasty little "Good Morning, Los Angeles!" called the Northridge Earthquake and I realized I was not doing what I was meant to do - and I had to live by my own motto: Nunc aut nunquam - Now or never! It was time to stop living behind my fear and walk through it. So, I quit. I'd like to say it was easy, but it took years. I went into credit card debt, lost my car, sold my groovy stuff, delivered flowers and Chinese food and wrote obsessively. But I never gave up - and here I am. I made the transition. But it's an interesting day when you can say, "I am a writer," not "I am a writer and I work at Pink Panda." But I gained an inner calm of knowing exactly who I am and why I'm here this go around - so it was all worth it. I do think that half our life is climbing the mountain of self-discovery, and the other half is perhaps acting on that knowledge and giving it to the world.

[23] Quite a journey! What was the first script you sold? And was it also the first to be filmed? Given that scripts often sink into "in development" limbo!

[24] The first script I sold was a TV-MOW to Savoy Pictures that did indeed go into limbo purgatory after the company folded.

Max Steel

Here I come, to save the day...
Max Steel, the one...the only

[25] Then there were a couple of scripts that were produced, Kounterfeit and Constance And Carlotta, and now you are in various stages of development on projects with MTV, Lion's Gate and Paramount. You also worked on Max Steel? What is that show exactly?

[26] Max Steel is an all-CGI cartoon show that was a blast to write for. I was able to create the first female villain on the show. I am good friends with the producer and his lady, she over ten years or so. We both were assistants once - and now she's a social worker. Writing for Max Steel was a greater challenge than I thought it would be. The writing style is radically different than features or television. One has to detail each picture image of action. The plot and dialogue are almost secondary. The half hour episode is on the page as long as an hour episode of Xena. It's that complicated, and I have a whole new respect for the genre and for all the work that goes into the completed project. It's not just Saturday morning cartoons anymore.


Before they were stars
Xena, the one...the only (with her little friend)

[27] Speaking of Xena. Were you a fan of Renaissance's previous work—Evil Dead, Darkman, etc.?

[28] No. I avoid scary/horror movies. I find that since I—a petite, blonde, green-eyed girl—am usually the victim in scary horror thriller type movies, I tend to avoid them. Too many sleepless nights. I'd like to think I'm not walking around with a pick me arrow over my head for serial killers and evildoers. Otherwise, how will I ever find a date? Especially, if I believe most men want to rape, vivisect and murder me? I understand exploring our dark side and all that, but this particular exploration has been over-saturated in my opinion. What's so wrong with exploring our light - what we're all capable of? But poor Renaissance, they just got the brunt of my rant, when in fact, their movies aren't truly the particular kind I mean.

[29] What about Hercules, which of course preceded and spawned Xena?

[30] I have never seen Hercules.

[31] But I gather you were (and are) a big Xena fan, however. At what stage did you discover it?

[32] My sister was a big Xena fan first - and she forced me to watch her "guilty pleasure." I admit, I was a bit reluctant, but the first episode I saw was IS THERE A DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE (24/124), which was emotional and mesmerizing and I became a fan. Since then, I find the DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN (90/422) line about "No, I don't watch that show—bunch of chop-socky crap" is what people who've never seen the show believe. I find they have no concept of the themes of the show and instead believe it's just Lucy Lawless running around with a sword. To me, it's about finding your path in life, making mistakes and leaning from them, and always staying focused on the greater good. I have never seen Er, West Wing or Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, but I bet my image of what those shows are would be much closer to the truth than what non-Xena fans think Xena is about. I find myself almost giddy when I defend the show because I turn on someone new who watches it and then is hooked, too. My favorite episode to hand out is IDES OF MARCH (89/421). I always have a convert after that episode's been seen.

[33] I think what is so moving about the character, Xena, is the idea of female strength, courage and standing up for what you believe in. As a young girl, I found that in Isis, Wonder Woman, the Bionic Woman and even Shirley Partridge. Those images are profound to young girls and symbolically give them a mental picture to latch onto during difficult times. We could all use a little Xena in our hearts. Also, and I've spoken to RJ [Stewart] about this, the entire soulmate arc is very compelling to me. I'd like to believe we all have a soulmate, yet I have conflicted thoughts on the subject. Spending a life searching for your soulmate tends to say you're not complete without another person. That concept frightens me. Perhaps because I have not met my soulmate and I'm in my mid-30s. I'd like to think my life has been a wondrous journey already without a soulmate at my side. Yet, the romantic notion of a soulmate still swells my heart and I believe in Xena and Gabrielle finding each other. It's a dicey issue for me - and one that is very tender. But my own spiritual belief says you are whole and complete on your own, with your connection to the universe/spirit/god, whichever language you choose. The addition of another person in your life only adds to the completeness, it does not make it complete. And, if you're lucky, the other person makes you a d*mn good breakfast and holds your hand in the movie theater.

Concept of Soulmates

How many more times do we have to pose like this?
Are they or aren't they? YOU decide

[34] I'm curious—have you read Richard Bach's Bridge Across Forever? He seems to be the one of the earliest to use that term in a romantic-only sense; previously, I'd heard it used very casually, just like "kindred spirits" and "two of a kind" and "peas in a pod."

[35] I have read Bach a long time ago, but I can't say it still resonates with me. I think the romantic concept of soulmates can be detrimental if it becomes the only search in one's life—but even that is making a judgment. It would be arrogant of me to make a judgment on anyone's journey here on earth. I find it's best to get out of the way of judging others on the paths they choose. After all, if we all took the same path, it would be one very crowded road.

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