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LIZ FRIEDMAN Producer HERCULES/XENA; R. J. STEWART Executive Producer XENA (BR) [232-248]

[232] Renaissance in general, and XENA in particular, have some of the most creative as well as nicest and most personable people working for them. High on that list are R.J. Stewart and Liz Friedman. I will disclaim here and now that I am a big fan of R.J. Stewart's writing. I think the guy has done some very memorable work. After all, he is the one who created such characters as Callisto and Gabrielle. His dialogue scenes contain some of my favourite moments in the show. Liz Friedman I don't know that well. I met her briefly before, but this was the first time I was fortunate enough to hear her speak publicly. She too is very conscientious in her work, as was evinced in a critical portion of her talk at Burbank. They are both... unalike... in many ways, but they do make a fine team, and that was clear during their appearance at Burbank.

Photo courtesy of Amy J. Putnam

[233] Liz greeted the crowd with "Hi guys! You may have heard there's going to be a wedding in the future. Not on the show, in real life. R.J. and I are just so happy that our relationship will finally be out in the open." The audience laughed and appreciated the joke.

[234] Someone asked if there would be an opportunity for characters to "grow" in the coming seasons. "I don't know if you've been watching this year," R.J. smiled, "But they've been growing like they have glandular problems." He pointed out that we had seen the characters in a number of situations, including parents, relationship problems, and so forth. He also reminded us that Xena started out on HERCULES as an evil character, and the whole premise of the show is about her changing. "Gabrielle was just a kid when she hooked up with Xena" and that character has grown up a lot since. He said that how much the characters can change is what makes it fun to write the show.

[235] Someone asked if we'd see Ares undressed, and Liz replied that there would be an episode on HERCULES in February where "we'll see quite a bit of Ares."

[236] The first part of ARMAGEDDON NOW (#H72-H73) was written by Paul Coyle, Part 2 the story and teleplay was by Paul Coyle and Neal Tobin. Both parts are directed by Mark Beesley.

[237] Several questions were asked about specific actors or characters and when or if they'd appear in the future. Several ideas have been talked about but there weren't a lot of concrete plans except where noted. People asked for spoilers but R.J. and Liz were suitably vague.

[238] When asked what "fantasy" episodes they would do if they could, R.J. said he'd do an episode where Lucy and Renee fell in love with him, and Liz said she'd do an episode involving roller derby, since Xena hadn't invented roller skates... yet.

[239] Someone asked Liz if Hudson's portrayal of her in the upcoming YES VIRGINIA, THERE IS A HERCULES (#H74) was accurate. "Liz is more attractive," R.J. quipped. Liz answered that Hudson's portrayal was accurate except for the fidgeting. "I never fidget," Liz declared, as she fidgeted.

[240] R.J. explained the evolution of Gabrielle as someone who was something of a "blank slate" to begin with. Gabrielle has a strong sense of right and wrong, but she isn't experienced like Xena. She continues to learn and grow with Xena.

[241] Someone wanted to see Salmoneus on XENA and trade Joxer to HERCULES. "Not a chance," R.J. answered.

[242] XENA isn't really targeted to any specific audience, they just want to tell good stories. They can be teen-appealing sometimes and mature-appealing sometimes. "We go from Kierkegaard to Three Stooges fairly effortlessly," R.J. remarked.

[243] Someone said "Thanks for the subtext." "What are you talking about?" R.J. smiled.

[244] Liz said they were talking about developing a HERC show that had Apollo, in a YOUNG HERC storyline. There is also a storyline in the works that has Autolycus, Salmoneus, Joxer, and Gabrielle.

[245] Then someone asked the dreaded "rape" question. The questioner bluntly asked how they justified rape as a storyline. "She asked you," R.J. passed it off to Liz. "Deserting the ship," Liz pointed to R.J. Liz, to her great and esteemed credit, not only didn't duck the question, she thought very carefully about her response. She did not have a prepared answer, it looked to me as if she really thought long and hard before answering. "Dahak is a force that impregnates Gabrielle. It's not a representation of a man climbing on top of Gabrielle in an act of [violence]. I do think there's a distinction. I understand why it was troubling to you, but I don't know how otherwise to have done *that* story. We had the idea that evil could only enter the world through the corruption of good. And to me, the corruption was Gabrielle's stabbing the priestess. There wasn't a sexual violation of Gabrielle in that episode, in my opinion. But that's my opinion." The audience applauded loudly and seemed to approve. Bravo to Liz for taking that very difficult issue head-on.

[246] Someone wanted to see Mount Olympus on HERCULES. "Me too!" Liz answered. She said it would be hard and expensive to show it as something other than a one-room shack by a lake. But there was a possibility.

[247] One of the Creation staff took R.J. aside for a moment. "What have you done?" Liz asked him when he returned. "They extended us for two more hours," he replied

[248] A few more questions, calls for subtext and characters (such as Meleager) and time was up, alas.

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