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From Cnn.com

Tim Minear

Tim Minear - "The Inside" like TV "Silence of the Lambs"

Thursday 7 July 2005, by Webmaster

Lurid tales from L.A.

SANTA MONICA, California (AP) — The original concept for "The Inside" was something akin to "21 Jump Street."

But it’s turned out to be more like " ’The Silence of the Lambs’ for TV," says executive producer Tim Minear, who was brought in to revamp the Fox network’s Wednesday night series.

In the pilot, Rachel Nichols played undercover policewoman Elizabeth Worth, who used her youth and beauty to work in places like high schools or clubs. Fox ended up scrapping the concept, yet wanted to keep Nichols.

"I looked at Rachel and I thought she had a kind of a little bit of a Jodie Foster thing going on," says Minear, explaining how he hit on the idea of a young FBI agent investigating particularly heinous crimes.

Now called Rebecca Locke, she’s a survivor of a childhood kidnapping, and she brought along that emotional baggage when she joined the FBI’s L.A.-based Violent Crimes Unit.

"It’s based on, you know, things I’ve seen on other shows," says Minear, with the throwaway humor he injects into both his conversation and the writing he does for "The Inside."

"Tim is the Noel Coward of television," says Katie Finneran, who plays sharp-tongued agent Melody Sim. "Anything he writes is so clever, so thought out, and he’s such an amicable guy ... He’s got the joy ... He just loves to write and you can see that."

Minear says his characters all have "dark secrets we learn about as the series unfolds." ’We just make up stuff’

Adam Baldwin is former Marine Danny Love. Jay Harrington is the "sort of normal guy" Paul Ryan. Peter Coyote is agency head Virgil "Web" Webster, who, as his name implies, is an arch-manipulator.

"I’m more interested in trying to create some kind of mood, less interested in twisty crime plot, though I try to give plenty of that too," says Minear, 41. "The thing I try to come up with is a narrative that will somehow metaphorically say something about the characters. If you can clearly define who the characters are then you can take them and put them in any situation and they will be a machine that functions."

The story lines are lurid, but Minear insists: "I don’t think we are any more gratuitous about it than anyone else, though I will say that our stuff, by virtue of some of our stories, is more graphic in narrative."

It’s character-driven structure differentiates it from procedural crime franchises such as "CSI" and "Law & Order."

"Those procedurals are really smart. They have like lawyers and scientists on their staff. My staff is just a bunch of fat writers who don’t know anything, so we just make up stuff. Our stuff tends to be more about the big, giant, morally ambiguous character moments, and less about ’bag it and send it to the lab,’ because we don’t know anything about that," Minear says, grinning.

He was sitting outside a Santa Monica soundstage as the series wrapped filming of an episode about an obese serial killer with a taste for anorexic girls.

On Wednesday, two back-to-back episodes air beginning 8 p.m. EDT — one about the link between a suicide and several murders, the other about a serial killer who removed his victims’ hearts.

Fox is hoping the double exposure may boost the ratings for the show, which has been attracting only some 3.9 million viewers each week.