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Elizabeth Craft & Sarah Fain - "Lie to Me" Tv Series - Kansascity.com Interview

dimanche 27 septembre 2009, par Webmaster

Pembroke writing team Liz Craft and Sarah Fain move to “Lie to Me”

The last time I checked in with Liz Craft and Sarah Fain, the Pembroke Hill grads and Hollywood writing team I call the Murder Gals — mostly because they helped adapt “The Women’s Murder Club” for TV but also because a lot of people seem to get killed violently on their shows — they had just made the leap from “Dollhouse” to another Fox series, “Lie to Me.”

Lots of people were surprised the duo would leave producer Joss Whedon, but they’re under contract to the studio, not to any one show, so when Fox decided they were more sorely needed at “Lie to Me,” that was that.

Besides, they went from one old boss to another : Shawn Ryan, creator of FX’s “The Shield,” where Craft and Fain worked three seasons, is now running “Lie to Me,” which stars Tim Roth as Dr. Cal Lightman, “the world’s leading deception expert.”

Fox wanted a change of direction, and Ryan wanted employment after CBS canceled “The Unit.” Ryan’s first hire was the Murder Gals, who wrote the season premiere that’s airing at 8 p.m. Monday on Fox 4.

We talked about the show, why they’re not on “Dollhouse” anymore, and what drove Fain to start a blog to air her private deliberations over becoming a single mom at age 38. Our edited Q and A follows.

Q. Why were you picked to write this episode, which not only kicks off the season but reboots the show from a story-driven procedural into one that’s more character-driven ?

Craft : One, we were already in place on staff (laugh), so it was a practical thing. A writer had left “Lie to Me” to do a pilot, so they needed an extra brain, or two in our case. It went over well, and we got along with everybody, and they just decided to keep us here. Plus, “Dollhouse’s” future was in such question. It wasn’t a breakout hit, and Fox did a really smart thing picking it up.

Fain : We always write character-based dramas, no matter what world the character is in, so it doesn’t really feel different for me.

Erika Christensen plays a woman with multiple personalities. Whose idea was that ?

Craft : Shawn just said over lunch, “It’d be fun to see Lightman with a multiple personality case,” and Sarah and I said, “Oooh, that sounds like a season premiere.” It came off very quickly, which was good because we didn’t have any time. We loved Erika. She’s on “Parenthood,” and the only reason we got her was because “Parenthood” had to shut down (when cast member Maura Tierney began cancer treatment) and there was this window where we were able to get her for that episode. It was really important, like make-or-break, who we got for that role, and we couldn’t have been more thrilled.

Did you have to vet this with Paul Ekman (the lie-detecting expert on whose life the show is based) ?

Craft : Yes. He wasn’t a big fan of this episode. Sarah, is that safe to say ?

Fain : I agree. He’s really grounded in science, and multiple personality disorder is not necessarily a scientifically recognized illness.

Craft : It’s controversial as a diagnosis. We tried to kind of work with him and make adjustments to acknowledge that.

Fain : We gave Foster more of his point of view (Foster, played by Kelli Williams, is Lightman’s recently divorced colleague at his consulting practice).

And then there’s going to be a rival for Lightman this season, too ?

Craft : In Episode 4, a former protégé of his appears. And I don’t know what else we can say about him.

Fain : He turns up the pot a little. He’s someone who’s chosen to use the skills he’s learned from Lightman more to his own advantage. He’s an opportunist.

Who comes up with those photos they drop into “Lie to Me” of famous people with supposedly telling facial expressions ? Like, in this episode you’re helping vet a potential Supreme Court nominee and we see pictures of John Roberts and Clarence Thomas.

Craft : It’s a process. First, in the script where there’s a natural place to do it, we write in, “Flash to famous face showing anger” or contempt or whatever. And then we have someone who works full time looking for videos, photos, etc. As soon as he gets a script, he’ll pick the photos, and the writers will say, “We like these ones.”

The problem comes when he has to clear them through Fox Legal. Using real people is something networks tend to shy away from, and we’re flying in the face of that.

Fain : I guarantee you some pictures got vetoed.

Craft : It all depends on the context. For instance, you couldn’t say something about a rapist and then show a picture of Kobe Bryant, because Kobe Bryant was never convicted of rape. But Martha Stewart admitted to certain indiscretions, so things that are on record, we can use those.

At “The Shield” you were replaced by two women writers, and now as you leave “Dollhouse,” a female writing team has been hired in your place. Is this your way of creating jobs for women in Hollywood ?

Craft : No ! Believe me, we are trying to get more women writers onto shows that we’re still on.

Fain : It is a little disturbing because it implies that all women writers are interchangeable.

So one day this summer, a Google Alert pops up for Sarah Fain and it’s this new blog you’ve started (Starfish Envy) in which you write very candidly about being a successful single woman with no marriage prospects in sight and how you were going to have a baby anyway, and then debating whether to get pregnant by some means or adopt a baby. Why did you decide to do this as a public blog ?

Fain : There are a lot of women, about 50,000 every year, going through this process. Before I started doing this, I felt very alone in that situation, which is a terrible feeling, and I think it’s important to know that other people are going through the same thing, and to have resources.

I also think it’s important in general for people to know it’s a pretty common thing. It’s not the way you wanted things to turn out, but that’s the way it turns out, and you need to go ahead and make the life you want without the guy of your dreams.

For me, it’s been good to write five times a week about this. It really focuses me and helps me see all the options of what turns out to be a huge decision. And it’s been incredibly helpful to have people weigh in and make comments every day. It’s created a nice supportive community that I really appreciate.


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