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UPN TCA Roswell Q&A Session

The following is a full transcript of the Roswell portion of the Q&A session for the
UPN Summer 2001 TCA Press Tour
held on Monday, July 16th, 2001.

It has been typed verbatim from the transcript.

Please be Advised:
This transcript has been edited to remove specific Spoilers!
Some generalities regarding direction have been left in.

Attending the session from Roswell:
Shiri Appleby Katherine Heigl
Majandra Delfino
Executive Producer, Jason Katims

This session was held at the Ritz-Carlton Huntington Hotel, Pasadena, CA
Charles Barile: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for attending the session for "Roswell". Since it premiered in October 1999, "Roswell" has set the standard for intelligent and heartfelt, young adult drama. That, combined with its distinctive and gripping science fiction subtext, has resulted in a genuine and popular and cult success. UPN is very proud and pleased to welcome the principals from "Roswell". Let's go to a clip and then we'll bring them out. (The transcript does not indicate what clip was shown) (Applause)

Charles Barile: Please welcome on my immediate left, the Executive Producer of "Roswell," Mr. Jason Katims; on his left, Shiri Appleby; Katherine Heigl; and Majandra Delfino. Your questions, please.

Question: I have a question for the three actresses. Is this the first time you've all seen each other since the cancellation and resuscitation of "Roswell"?

Majandra Delfino: No

Question: During that whole period where it seemed that it was uncertain what would happen as far as WB was concerned and there were lots of rumors that UPN might pick it up, when the cancellation notice came down from the WB, were you pretty confident that you would still be continuing on at that point on UPN?

Shiri Appleby: I don't think any of us really had an idea of what was going to happen, but I think we were all really hopeful that UPN would pick it up, and when it happened we were all just really happy to have a job and be on a network that supported us.

Majandra Delfino: Yeah. I try not to think about it.

Question: At the point you filmed last season's finale, was this stuff still a ways off from the future as far as what the WB might do, what UPN might do? Were there a couple of months between the time you finished the season finale and when all this stuff happened, or did you feel like that might be the end, I guess, is what I'm getting at, when you did the season finale?

Katherine Heigl: I think it was definitely up in the air. There was no, "yeah, we're definitely coming back next season on the WB." I think everyone had a real strong sense that it was very precarious.

Majandra Delfino: As bizarre as it is, I had, like, hundred-dollar bets going on with everybody that we'd for sure come back, so it's time guys.

Katherine Heigl: She didn't actually specify on what network, so….

Majandra Delfino: Yeah. But, you know, I said we were coming back, so I was pretty confident.

Question: Katherine, over here on your right, I think. Is it easier to cut your hair on UPN than it would have been on The WB? (Laughter)

Katherine Heigl: Yeah, I think so.

Majandra Delfino: Hair is quite simple.

Katherine Heigl: Yeah, cutting hair is a simple thing; it's just, you know, what people have to say that makes it difficult. WB was very - what's the right word? -- very clear, I think, about how they felt about it, and I actually cut my hair for a part thinking the show was canceled and, you know, it wasn't, but everybody's been really great about it and it actually ends up working for the season. So here I am.

Question: But they weren't upset at UPN when they saw the hair?

Katherine Heigl: No, not that I know of. At least not that anybody said to me. I hope not.

Question: Jason, on your left. Hi. Can you tell us what sort of is the theme going to be of the show now? The first season it was more relationship/teen-angst oriented. The second season a mix of that and the sci-fi. What direction is it going in and is that direction different than if the show had remained on the WB?

Jason Katims: Well, I think that the direction that we want to go in started with the final episodes of last season, which were all built on, you know, stories with universal themes and that were easily relatable, and that's something - that's where I feel the show is at its best, and so that's sort of how we're building the episodes forthcoming season. We're really sort of basing them on - from character arcs, and the theme for me of next year is change. You know, at the final episode of last year, Tess is left with her only way home and, you know, the alien characters all thought this was temporary situation being here and now it's permanent, and now they have to kind of build lives for themselves here. And that's a lot of what we sort of want to explore in this coming season.

Question: Question is spoilerish!

Jason Katims: (Answer has been edited out due to spoilers.)

Question: Back here to the right. The show has engendered a lot of love from its fans, and I was wondering from Jason and also from the ladies what it is, the reaction that you see that people love about the show? What are they saying? Why are they hooked on "Roswell?" It's got a definite core audience that loves this thing and I' m wondering why. Not that I don't agree, but …

Jason Katims: From the beginning, I - you know, when somebody looked at the pilot, I remember a lot of people's responses were about all the characters being outsiders and they said even in the pilot the sheriff character, who at that time was just an antagonist, was - he himself was outsider on the outside of society. And I think that somehow that sort of feeling of, you know, these characters all sort of being underdogs and all being outsiders and outside of the mainstream has somehow just really found this way in for our audience. I mean, we have had this - I mean it was in complete surprise to me in the first season when I found out about, you know, this fan base and this core group of fans who just are so dedicated to the show. And I think that, you know, they're just - what they really want to know more than anything is Max getting back together with Liz? Is Katy going to get a boyfriend? What's going to happen with that Majandra and Brendan and -

Majandra Delfino: Michael and Maria. Jesus Christ.

Jason Katims: I mean Michael and Maria. Not Majandra and Brendan. I didn't mean that. (laugher)

Question: And ladies, what do fans say to you when you meet them?

Majandra Delfino: Oh, God.

Shiri Appleby: Well, for me they're always asking whether or not Max and Liz are going to finally get back together because for two years they've seen these characters go through so much to actually experience what is real love. And the audience that I've talked to is just waiting for the day when they can see the two of them actually embrace each other and become a couple. And hopefully that will happen.

Question: Do you ever want to see her happy?

Shiri Appleby: I would love to see her not cry in a whole episode. Personally, I'm ready for her to smile and run around and be a fun kid, so hopefully this year will lend to that.

Question: Jason, down here. Over here. In not this season's cliffhanger but the season before, you had it where there were other people that were sending a signal off that knew that they were aliens. Howie Durell(sp) I think, played that part. So there are people that know that there are aliens in Roswell, that they are there, so there's maybe others like them. Is that storyline maybe going to be picked up and continued?

Jason Katims: You know, I think that we will definitely play with the idea of other aliens out there, but this year we want to do that in a very specific way with the characters that we choose to introduce as other aliens be very - we're going to be very selective with that and have them play sort of roles on a more ongoing basis that will stay sort of consistent throughout the season. And like I said before, what I'm most interested in is watching these characters - not only the alien characters, but the human characters - in the show try to get along here and try to, sort of, live their lives with the twist that "Roswell" offers, you know, being the thing that sort of lifts of show to the level of metaphor. So I think I'm more sort of interested in the loves of these characters and I think that the alien characters that we introduce, again, will be just very selective.

Question: And the man that ran the museum?

Jason Katims: Brody.

Question: Brody, yeah. Will he be back on this season?

Jason Katims: He may be. Desmond Askew is the actor. He's a wonderful actor, and pending this availability, we'd love to bring him back.

Question: Q&A Edited

Question: And are the guys back next year?

Jason Katims: Yes.

Question: Shiri?

Shiri Appleby: Yes.

Question: It seems last season, even though you talk about crying in every episode, she kind of became a tiger in certain ways as the investigation into Alex's death went on. What do you think we're going to see from Liz this season? Because she did go through some big changes last year, it seems.

Shiri Appleby: Well, I think through that whole experience Liz was able to become more of her own person versus standing so by Max. She was able to fight something that she believed in, and so I think it sort of gave her an independence. And this season, I think within the beginning of this season you're going to see the two of them come together and it will finally give her the opportunity to get what she's wanted for the past two years and in turn sort of open her eyes and realize that there's more out there and realize the choices that she's making are affecting other people. And so you're going to - I think you'll see her actually become more of a young woman and more of an independent person versus just chasing after a boy. She's actually going to form more of her own opinions.

Question: Also I'd like to ask about the 'death of Alex' episode because obviously you lost a core member of your cast. What was the atmosphere like on the set when you were shooting that episode?

Shiri Appleby: It was really intense.

Majandra Delfino: Terrible, yeah.

Shiri Appleby: As actors, we spent like two years together every single day for so many hours and we became such a family and to sort of lose a member of the family, is difficult.

Majandra Delfino: It was bizarre and it felt real. Like when Colin would come on the set I'd be like, "Colin," like he was really dead in my mind.

Katherine Heigl: Reading the script, too, it was really hard, sobbing in my trailer reading the script.

Shiri Appleby: So I think when we were shooting it, everyone had to go to an emotional place and we were all very supportive of each other and allowing each other to go there. And shooting it was just sad because it was toward the end of the second season, we didn't know where we were going, and we were losing one of our best friends on the show. Colin's a great guy and we were all sad to see him go.

Katherine Heigl: Yeah.

Shiri Appleby: Honestly, it was a little bit of a rough patch there.

Question: Katy, back here -

Jason Katims: Q&A Edited

Question: Q&A Edited

Question: Q&A Edited

Jason Katims: (part of answer edited) I think of it as a coming-of-age for Isabel as well as, I think, of it being a coming-of-age for a lot of the characters in the show. A lot of what we want to do this year is expand the canvas of the show and each of the characters are sort of going in different directions. The stories are getting a little bit out of high school. (Part of answer edited) So a lot of these storylines are giving us the opportunity to really see another side of these characters and have these characters challenged in different ways than we've seen before.

Question: Jason, I'll bet that ever since the series started, you've heard from lots and lots of people with lots and lots of information to give you about what really has happened at Roswell over the years. I just wondered, has any of that ever been useful at all in any way during the course of this series?

Jason Katims: You're talking about the real events in Roswell?

Question: Yeah, yeah.

Jason Katims: It really has. Before I wrote the pilot, I went to Roswell, spent a couple days there, and sort of really got myself enmeshed in the myth and the history there of what happened. And it really does - it informs the show sometimes in us creating our own version of things that happened, but using - it's just any kind of research you would do as a writer. Using what really happened or what supposedly really happened really, you know, helps us build story. And also we did an episode last year where we went back - you know, the show went back to 1947 and in that episode, we sort of combined what was the real - the myth of what really happened in Roswell, New Mexico and combined that with our own mythology that we've created.

Question: Jason, and what about William Sadler and Nick's character, how much will they be doing this year and also the parents that you see every so many episodes? And one last part, will they ever tell - will Isabel and Max ever tell their parents? Because they were thinking about - that they were aliens - at the end of the last season.

Jason Katims: I think regarding, you know, Bill Sadler and Nick, I think we definitely - I think they're great assets to the show, and I love both of them as actors and characters, and we definitely want to continue to utilize them. And what we realize is that with Bill Sadler, he started as sort of like just a bad guy. And he sort of had so much more to offer and sort of became really a friend and surrogate father in certain ways to these kids, so we want to continue that and definitely continue to explore Kyle's character beyond Buddhism and sort of keep him going. In terms of the other parents, I think that's another really interesting point. One of the things I'm really interested in playing, starting with the beginning of the year, is the family drama that is here in the show and that we've never really explored. (edited for spoilers). And I think that you know, what we are sort of building by starting off that way is playing stories about these kids in context of their parents, these kids starting to realize that their parents are human beings and are people and that what they do affects them. And I think there is just a lot to explore by sort of bringing them further - bringing them closer in and using them more in these episodes.

Question: Jason, are you going to be bringing in any new writers? Ron Moore, I guess, joined the staff. Is he still on, and will you be bringing on more?

Jason Katims: Yeah, Ron Moore is coming back. We kept a lot of our staff from last season and added a couple more writers, most notably Melinda Metz and her partner, Laura Byrnes. Melinda Metz wrote the original book, "Roswell High" and wrote that entire book series. Her partner, Laura Byrnes, was an editor, and in that field of publishing, I guess the editor and the writer are very, very closely involved, and they formed a real great collaboration. And they are joining the staff this year, which I'm very, very excited about. And in addition to that, we have another writer named David Simpkins, who is also a wonderful writer who has done a lot of work both in features and in television. So we have - you know, I'm very excited about the staff this year.

Question: This question is for each of you. What is your favorite episode so far?

Jason Katims: All right. Go ahead. I'm listening.

Shiri Appleby: Well, I would have to say the pilot is by far my favorite episode, just for the simple reason that, you know, it's the first time you see all of these random people come together and form this family for the first time. And you watch these two people that don't really know each other fall in love and all of the chaos starts, and I thought it was a really honest and sincere episode.

Katherine Heigl: I agree with that. I also loved - I loved "The White Room" from the first season. I thought it was a hugely intense episode for every character. And , you know, just for my own personal character's position, I loved "The Toy House," too. I really thought that was very poignant and one of Isabel and Max's more relationship-driven episodes.

Majandra Delfino: I liked "Summer of '47," the bizarre one, just because it was fun to - you get episode burn after a while, playing the same character, and it was really great to be someone from the '40s and just be in a sense your character, but reincarnated backwards, whatever that would be. And it was cool because they kept all of us in mind, but they made us something else. And it was really just a step outside of the whole thing for a little while. It was really fun.

Katherine Heigl: Yeah, it was really cool.

Question: Jason, during the whole thing with the "Buffy" situation, did you feel like "Roswell" was kind of a hostage or a pawn in that whole negotiation thing? What was your take on that?

Jason Katims: You know, I didn't know what to think. I didn't know what to think. I knew that we were in a position at the WB of being on the bubble, but we were always on the bubble, so it didn't really affect us necessarily that much. I think that at the end of the day, I feel what happened - with what happened is I feel really, really lucky. I think we got really lucky. I think - that's the honest truth. I think "Roswell" really scored here because we have an incredible lead-in. We have a better lead-ion than we've ever had. We have a network that's really excited about the show and has just been totally supporting it. And I feel that - you know, it's sort of hard to know or hard to weight, you know, what influenced what and how we wound up here, but I feel we landed in a really great place.

Question: How closely were you monitoring things while all of that was going on, or were you monitoring it all?

Jason Katims: My standard joke is if I want to know what's going on with the show, I go on the Internet and go to the Crashdown site and find out. And they seem to always know things before I do. Yeah, you monitor it, and - because I have a responsibility to try to do whatever I can to make sure we wind u in a good space. And I knew there was a possibility at UPN, somewhat ahead of the game, that there was interest there, so I went in and met with Dean and met with everybody at UPN and just kind of expressed that I would - if the WB didn't pick up the show, that it would be something that I would be really excited about.

Question: Majandra, speaking of doing something different in your role and your work on the show, doing those intros, how did they think of you for doing those? And is that the character? Is that almost you? What is that all about?

Majandra Delfino: You're asking me what they thought, so what did they think?

Jason Katims: Well, the way I thought of her doing the intros was if I want to know what's going on the set, I go to Majandra, and she tells me what's going on -

Majandra Delfino: Great.

Jason Katims: In a very entertaining way. And what was happening was we found that there was certain level of confusion for some of the audience that weren't catching all of the episodes because we got into some sort of mythology arcs and we wanted to sort of turn that into a positive. And I think that Majandra has just a great sense of humor and a great voice, and it was a great way to kind of make sense of some of the stuff that wasn't making sense to the audience.

Question: Will you be doing them in the new season?

Jason Katims: Honestly, I'm hoping not to do them - we haven't decided yet - not because I wouldn't love Majandra to do them, because I would. But one of our big goals this year for the storylines is to keep these episodes more close-ended, to sort of do episodes - I mean, in moving to a new network, obviously one of the big goals is to not only bring our audience but to bring a new audience into the show. And the last thing we want to do is to have somebody watch the show, either from watching after "Buffy" or somebody - or somebody who turns in because they're watching some other show at UPN and have them feel like they missed the boat on the show. So one of the things that we're really concentrating on is being able to sort of tell stories that are complete in and of themselves and satisfying and entertaining.

Majandra Delfino: Yeah, please. I don't need to ramble any more than I did last year, so I'm kind of happy about that.

Question: Jason, just as a follow up that last statement, is there going to be any kind of built-in recap of the past couple of seasons for new viewers? (Question edited for spoilers)

Jason Katims: (edited for spoilers) One of the things that, you know, I sort of feel - when you move to a new network, it's a great thing because you can sort of like bring - continue doing the things that you love about the show, and it gives you an opportunity with the things you're not so sure about to change a little bit. And one of things I felt is that some of the sort of sci-fi arcs became so complicated that it was very hard to follow. And that while I really loved those episodes, it's like you have to know so much in order to enjoy them. And I felt actually from the end of the season, the last arc of last season beginning with episode where Alex dies, I felt like the show itself got to a new level. I think it sort of was more based in character. You know, when Alex died, suddenly it wasn't so easy for everybody, one of our own has been killed. And it's not so - you know what I mean? It's not so funny anymore. We can't just get out of any jam because we have some aliens on the show. And I really like that. I feel like those are - and I think that those are really good stories for the cast to play because it gives them something to sink their teeth into. So those are more of the storylines - more of the direction I want to take the show in.

Majandra Delfino: And you ask about our following, and our following was based on what we had the first season. And it kind of was such an emphasis that we go in a sci-fi direction, which basically lost everyone, and that wasn't what our show was necessarily about, you know. So that's the great thing. I think we can go back to that this year, thank God.

Question: Katherine, how did you enjoy playing that character when you played the dual role?

Katherine Heigl: It as probably one of the more exhilarating acting experiences that I've had as an adult. It was the first time in my life that I had been given the opportunity to play a character like that. I tend to be cast a lot as the cheerleader, so it was an opportunity to completely go in a different direction. And I was a little afraid because I didn't know if I could do it. And I worked really hard to make that a believable character and to make her live and breathe separately from Isabel and separately from me as a person. And I had an amazingly great time. I had a great time with and was really grateful for that opportunity because it proved to myself that, you know, I have more range, I suppose, than I thought I did and I have more courage than I thought I did.

Question: Jason, last night at The WB party, there was lots of little bottles of Tabasco sauce available. I was wondering, with the whole campaign over the last two years, did you actually see any of those bottle that were sent, or did they just go to The WB executives?

Jason Katims: I never got any Tabasco, and I'm depressed because I'm a huge fan of Tabasco. No. I just heard about it. But apparently there was - this year they very early on, again, knowing something that I didn't know, very early on stopped the shipments to WB and went to UPN. And apparently they sent - I don't know how many, but thousands of bottles UPN.

Question: Majandra, are you going to be singing a lot more in this season? You sang a little bit last season, and I know you have a recording career at home.

Majandra Delfino: It's a touchy subject. I'm like a music snob. Yeah, I have to somehow straddle the fine line of having my own side music career and then being this character with a music career and not confusing fans that to on my web site looking for my cover of Phil Collins "in the Air Tonight." So it is hard for me because it's -- you know, there's a goal I have, yet I have this commitment to my character. Buy yeah, I am going to be singing. And yeah, I'm just going to have to be careful, I guess.

Charles Barile: One last question, please.

Majandra Delfino: Please.

Question: If you had a choice of being able to write how your character would go - you already said you would stop crying. Do you want to get back with Max seriously, like you want a relationship?

Shiri Appleby: I think Liz has been fawning over him for the past two years. It would be wonderful to finally see her with him and be happy. And I love the way Jason and Ron and the rest of the writers write for the show and write for my character, so I think this year will be really great for Liz.

Charles Barile: Thank you. Thank you very much.


All TCA Press Tour transcripts are prepared immediately following press conferences. They are provided for your convenience and are intended as a substitute at press conferences. Due to the speed with which these transcripts are prepared, complete accuracy cannot be guaranteed.