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Museum of Television and Radio
Beverly Hills
June 19, 2001



A REPORT FROM THE MUSEUM OF RADIO AND TELEVISION
By baermer





Come into my parlor said the spider to the fly...

The door


Although the first event of the evening was to be a reception, and so waiting in line early seemed pointless (as my friend Chris said, "They're waiting for front row cheese.), museum staffers did come and number our tickets based on our place in line. We were called in groups of ten from the reception into the screening room.

The reception consisted of itty-bitty mushroom canopies, teeny-tiny pizza bits, and an assortment of beverages in a lobby adorned with Muppet posters. I sipped a diet coke in front of Miss Piggy, Kermit, and "Iver, Groove, and Tula." I don't know that last trio.

Our party was in the 50's, and so entered the auditorium in the fourth group. Yup--1 through 10 were never called. They were already special, I guess.

The auditorium has great seats, a nice screen, and an awesome sound system. Everything was groovy except that they looped the Xena theme song continuously for over 45 minutes from the beginning of the reception through our entrance into the theater, and it continued until the screening began. That became annoying early on.

When entering the theater under close scrutiny from tight, professional security (very much like secret service agents and very much unlike anything from Creation--I believe they were MTR personnel), we were handed a 5x7 index card soliciting questions for the panel.

The we waited as the various important guests filed in, taking the first four rows.

The house lights went down, in sneaked LL, ROC, RT, and RJ to sit in the front for the screening.

Then came the screening, but you have plenty of info about the show, so I'll skip it. Suffice it to say that seeing it on a large screen without commercials and subwoofers galore added a lot. The tech stuff rocked.

At about 8:45, they introduced the panel. RJ, RT, Renee, and the Lucy, seated that way from stage left to right. The moderator, I believe she is president of MTR LA, sat on stage left next to RJ.

LL and Roc were both wearing black. LL wore a long, slinky black dress with a low neckline. She had her hair back in a pony tail. ROC wore black pants, a black sports bra covered by a black lacy thing so she sported a bare pregnant midriff.

Okay, question time.

1) Why the ending? (During this, LL and ROC seemed visibly nervous. Both twiddled thumbs or twitched fingers)

RJ: He gave a short history of Xena in episode one and Xena in the last episode saying "the ultimate redemption for Xena here is not to be brought back to life."

LL: "This show never took the easy way out. It was the strong choice. It was the bold choice. It was the risky choice. We saw the birth of a new warrior." ... "She lived by the sword and, by golly, if she didn't die by the sword."

2) On Xena's growth

ROC: "At first Xena had nothing of a sympathetic side."

LL" And the *you* changed her". (pointing to ROC)

3) on Gabrielle's growth

ROC: She was, for the audience, "their eye and their point of view; how do you live with a warrior princess?" Then Gabrielle got "more and more pragmatic."

4) Were you surprised at the cult status?

RJ: Re: LL on Herc "I right away responded to Lucy in the way that others did to her."

(LL is quiet, reserved, looking down)

Here they acknowledged that Chris Manheim and Eric Grundeman were in the audience.

RJ continued: "Lucy had veto power.:

LL: (pointing to Renee) "Only if she said I could."

5) from audience member: Was there a story you didn't get to tell that you'd like to

RT: "The musical" (The Sappho one)

6) from audience member: What made you decide to end the series?

LL: It was time

RT: As they say in a Kiwi expression, "Spitting the Dummy" (The baby won't take the pacifier anymore)

7) Did you like the comedies or dramas?

LL: Comedy

ROC: Comedy. "It was more entertaining for us."

RJ: "This kind of thing is death if you take it too seriously. We try to do it (a laugh) in every episode. You can see what a laugh ride this one was."

8) What is this show's place in history?

LL: "It revived the female action hero. It spawned a lot of children. It showed that chicks can hold a show."

ROC: "It redefined women in TV. It had a universal, timeless quality, in different countries." They show transferred well to different countries.

9) If you could work together in the future, what kind of project would it be?

LL" Musical. Comedy."

ROC: "We're out of tears."

LL: "It's almost like we grew up together. There is a lot that goes unspoken."

10) How do you choose what to merchandise?

LL: "We have nothing to so with it."

RT: "It's hard enough to get scripts our the door with four wheels on them."

11) Where did the Internet come from?

RT: "Suddenly there was a web page and they said, there's a Xena web page."

12) Did you look to the web for fan reaction?

RT: "No. First, the reaction is often bad. Second, other executive producers who did that needed intervention sites."

13) How did you hire Rob Field?

RT: "He cut the trailer for Darkman and, I think, the credits for Herc."

14) Is there a version of the script where Gabrielle dies with Xena?

RJ: Yes.

LL: "You waffled about it many times. But it was the strongest choice."

RJ: "We weighted the reaction with the fans, with the universe..."

RT: "RJ and I talked about it eons ago."

15) What about the theological issues

RJ: "Our vision is always filtered through our madness. Don't look to Xena for comparative world religion."

LL: "There is fertile ground in other philosophies."

ROC: "We didn't realize the effect until it was aired. We never took it seriously that we'd offend a whole nation."

16) What was your favorite episode or moment?

LL: ITADITH. "That was the first time I'd done... 'give it all on screen.' You can't think about how you appear, if you're pretty. Just really raw and really real."

ROC: "The musical. Especially with Ted Raimi. The Cinderella episode."

LL: "That wasn't a musical."

ROC: "But Ted and I got to break out into a song."

RT: "Gabrielle and Hope about to go down the shaft. That frozen moment before they go."

ROC: "That's so funny."

RT: "And Xena on a hilltop in Herc. I knew we had a whole series."

RJ: "The teaser in the pilot when Xena is on the pole kicking everyone. I thought 'God, this is cool shit.'"

17) What was the most challenging?

LL: "A Friend in Need. It was the hardest of all. We were mentally, emotionally so tired and because we knew we had a break coming. I can see myself trying really hard. I just wanted to crawl into a ball and go to sleep for months. I can see this in the episode, grinding in order to get the job done."

MOD: What about your character was hard to play?

LL: I'd never seen that death scene..."

ROC: "Environmental elements. In winter, water, rain machines, pools, the ocean, hypothermia. You have to go beyond that to keep the moment true."

MOD: Which was the most challenging?

ROC: "The Abyss. It was Boot Camp."

RT: "Least favorite? Some of the clip shows."

RJ: "Those clip chows.... " "The hardest part was when Lucy fell of the horse and hurt herself."

18) It was a physical show. How did you physically do it?

LL: The first couple of years, you're on a high. The third season was easy, too."

ROC: "You're so exhausted you can't believe you actually have to perform."

LL: "Everyone else is working just as hard or harder than you and getting paid less."

19) Special Effects

RJ: "It's easy to write that shit." (This made LL laugh hard)

RT: They're the bane of my existence. It's hard to get quality on short TV turnaround. It's in someone else's hands. You have to communicate properly. You only get one shot at it before it goes on the air. In some markets, some shows had one set of effects aired Monday through Thursday, and different effects for the airings on weekends.

20) ROC re her character

ROC: "I was quite fortunate. At the beginning of each season, Rob would show my the arc of my character."... "Lucy and I though we would co-write an episode."

MOD: What was it about.

LL and ROC: "It was complicated."

21) Is there any role ahead for Xena.

RT: She goes to Oxygen.

22) What are you going to do next?

LL: Settle down and have babies. You haven't seen the last of us.

ROC: It's nice to have a life.

LL: (to ROC) You want to do plays.

ROC: And directing

LL: You can make that happen for yourself.

23) What landmark do you take away from the show?

LL: I'm proud of the way we held it together. It was killingly difficult. We never treated one another badly, no one on the crew. There was a great ethos on that set.

RT: One fringe benefit I never foresaw was that for the group who liked the show, the show made them do things to help other people.

LL: You raised hundreds of thousands of dollars. StudiosUSA raised $250,000 for the child abuse hotline and Starship Hospital.

And then it ended. LL and ROC smiled and shook hands or hugged several of the people up front. LL left first. ROC and Steve hung for another minute or two. When ROC left, there was a cheer from the audience and she pumped her fist.




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