Cathy Belben (writer)
P-C: So this was your first episode of television. So what were your feelings about it? Were you really nervous, excited? Did you get reaction from the Internet?
Cathy: Well, I was really excited. I had already seen it, of course. I'd seen it the Friday before. I was really excited. I wasn't nervous. I don't get nervous about stuff like public appearances or speaking. I get nervous about things like getting a flat tire on the 101. I get nervous anytime somebody says, "Can I talk to you in my office?" I don't really get nervous about appearances. I was excited. It was kind of cool to see my name on the screen. But in all honesty, I actually didn't watch very much of it on "TV" TV. Like two minutes after it started, a friend of mine who's teaching in India called me from India to talk. She had no idea what time it was here. Once I got to work next day, and everybody was so excited, because the ratings were really good.
[Editor's note: Friend from India...pfftt. I would hang up on my dying grandpa if he tried to call me during Veronica Mars.]
P-C: They were the highest ratings ever, I think.
Cathy: Yeah, which I think speaks really highly of Dayna's episode that came the week before too. We obviously got a lot of viewers into the show. And there's no telling why people watch a certain show or why they don't. I think the momentum for the show is really healthy.
P-C: The ratings have been going up every week.
Cathy: So we were all really excited about that. And so we did go online and read some of the comments. My inbox was full of messages from my friends and some of the actors. It was fun. My next episode appears on my birthday.
P-C: When's your birthday?
Cathy: November 23rd. It will be episode eight, "Ahoy, Mateys!"
P-C: I love the episode titles for the show.
Cathy: They're awesome, aren't they?
wyk: Who comes up with the titles?
Cathy: We do, in the room. Sometimes, you know, somebody will just clap their hands and say [this-is-so-good, you're-gonna-wet-yourself voice], "Oh my God, we have to call it..." Sometimes it takes more work. Sometimes we have to actually sit down and brainstorm it. Oftentimes a script will go through several titles before we come up with one that's going to make it.
P-C: Yeah, I really wish the premiere...it used to be called "Urine Trouble."
Cathy: [chuckles] I don't really know why it got changed. If Rob decided he didn't want to call it that or...
P-C: Actually, he told me that it just felt too light for the bus crash at the end.
[Editor's note: Presumably also the reason why "Up on the Roofie" became "A Trip to the Dentist." Because date rape, unlike sick people, is not HI-larious.]
Cathy: Oh, yeah, yeah, that's true. And in some ways, the title of that episode, it kind of works for the season. It kind of works for the show as a whole. "Normal is the Watchword" is kind of funny because Veronica's life is [chuckles] never really normal. But yeah, so the next episode that's on, I wrote with John Enbom.
P-C: The other half of Klembom.
Cathy: [upper-crust, you're-not-worthy voice] The other half of Klembom.
wyk: Which one do you prefer?
Cathy: Which one do I prefer in what way? [naughty knotty-phone-sex-operator voice] John is very sexy, but Phil is beautiful.
wyk: [laughs] Okay, that's our headline!
Cathy: Oh my God. I would just about die, and their wives would kill me. They're both...everybody is different. There are things that I like about working with both of them. I think Phil is a logician. He's really good at making sure the stories...that we have continuity and we're not missing beats. John is just a master wordsmith. He seems to be the person who always comes up with the best quips. Such as Unicornucopia.
P-C: Ahh. Good job, John. One last question about the episode. It's really easy. So Veronica and Jackie were sharing their secrets and talking about the psychic, and Backup was there, so it's obviously in Veronica's bedroom. And in the next scene, they're in Jackie's house. And so we were a little confused. Was there a scene cut? Or can they teleport?
Cathy: The next scene they're in Jackie's house?
P-C: Yeah, watching their TiVo.
Cathy: I think it's supposed to be another day or later in the day.
P-C: Oh, really?
Cathy: Yeah, and I think that you're right. I think there was a scene cut.
P-C: People were thinking initially that, "Okay, since it was Jackie's TiVo, they must be in Jackie's house. Why would she bring Backup to Jackie's house?"
Cathy: No, they were definitely in Veronica's bedroom.
P-C: Okay. And then Jackie's TiVo with her Cupid and Sunset and Vaughn.
Cathy: [chuckles] Did you guys stop it and look at that?
P-C: Yeah, we definitely caught it.
wyk: Did you catch that reference?
Cathy: Yeah, I was in the room when Rob was laughing about what he was going to put on the TiVo.
P-C: Have you seen Cupid yet?
P-C: Did you see the unaired episode with Sunset and Vaughn?
Cathy: No. I've only seen a couple of episodes of it. It was during my non-TV years. It was brilliant. And I think it's just so sad that it didn't get picked up again, and they're not making DVDs out of it any time in the near future.
[Editor's note: Sigh. Headdesk a trillion times. Sigh.]
P-C: You should get Rob to show you the rest of show. Because the very last episode, the one that was unaired, they go to the Sunset and Vaughn set, and you get to meet Sunset and Vaughn.
Cathy: That's funny. That's great.
wyk: These are just our standard questions. They're kind of goofy. How much taller are you than Kristen Bell, who is five foot one?
Cathy: I would be three-and-a-half inches taller. I outweigh her by a lot. I bet I bench more than she does.
wyk: How much can you bench?
Cathy: Like a hundred pounds.
[Editor's note: Dude, that's one badass librarian.]
wyk: That's pretty impressive.
Cathy: I think I might be able to bench Kristen Bell, now that I think about it.
wyk: That is a photo opportunity!
Cathy: That won't work. Something tells me that her managers wouldn't approve of that.
wyk: Which is your favorite Backup? The pilot one, the white one, or the one you have currently.
Cathy: I've only met the one I have currently, so I have to say that Lefty is my favorite Backup.
wyk: Was it your idea to include Lefty in the episode? Because we hadn't seen him up to "Blast from the Past."
Cathy: No, it was not my idea, but it was my responsibility.
P-C: People were complaining about not having Backup.
Cathy: [you-don't-have-to-tell-me voice] I know! I know. We knew that and Rob was like, "Yeah, we've got to get Backup in this episode." So it was like, "Put him in that scene."
wyk: Unfortunately people in some areas didn't see it. When they were showing it live, a station cut that part so people didn't even realize Backup made it in.
wyk: Yeah, I think they just screwed up on the commercial timing just a little bit.
Cathy: [utterly devastated voice] Oh, no!
wyk: I know I didn't see Backup until later.
Cathy: He was there. I'm wearing my "Always Take Backup" T-shirt today.
wyk: There's an "Always Take Backup" T-shirt?
P-C: Oh, oh, you got the Glarkware shirt?
P-C: That's awesome. I'm wearing my "Go Pirates" shirt right now.
Cathy: I just ordered the "Go Pirates" sweatshirt, but I don't think it's coming until the end of November.
[Editor's note: OMG, Glark has Cathy's address.]
P-C: Wow, we're both wearing Glarkware shirts.
P-C: I was going to get the Backup one, but I don't have a lot of money, and I already had one so...
Cathy: Well, there you go. How many shirts do you need?
wyk: Is Backup going to be in your next episode?
Cathy: I don't know. I'm not sure when Backup is going to show up again to be honest with you.
wyk: Poor doggie, being left behind.
Cathy: It's pretty easy to write him in so, I don't know.
wyk: That's what we thought! He doesn't have to say anything. Just make him sit on the couch or something.
P-C: He's probably cheaper than most of the other actors.
Cathy: He is! But there's all kinds of rules that govern using animals, so he gets a lot of breaks and stuff. He's probably got better representation than I do.
wyk: You need to switch agents.
Cathy: Yeah. [chuckles] I might have to if you publish that comment.
wyk: You know about the Maui Wowie photo?
Cathy: The what?
wyk: The Maui Wowie hula photo.
Cathy: [laughs] [boom-chicka-boom-boom voice] Yes I do.
wyk: So what was your first reaction when you walked into the room, and you saw that photo, and that's Diane's desktop?
Cathy: [chuckles] I was impressed. Rob is very muscular, and he looks great in a grass skirt.
wyk: That's your official comment. All right.
Cathy: Maybe just that he looks great in a grass skirt.
P-C: I don't know, I think "muscular" is a very important part of that comment.
Cathy: I'm sure he would appreciate it.
P-C: Yes, he does appreciate being muscular. Can you bench more than Rob?
Cathy: Oh my God, no.
wyk: Choose one word to describe the other members of your writing staff.
Cathy: One word for the whole group?
wyk: For each one.
Cathy: I don't think I can do that.
P-C: You can make up words if you want.
Cathy: I'm terrible at that kind of exercise. I can't do it.
P-C: Try animals.
Cathy: Animals. No, that would just get me in trouble. Although I can say that John is definitely a squirrel.
wyk: It's weird, neither you or Diane could do that exercise, and you guys make your living off of writing.
Cathy: I think part of it is just because it's just really hard to reduce people to just one thing. And also we don't like to get in trouble with each other so...
wyk: Is there any charity or cause that you care about that you want us to talk about?
Cathy: Well, right now I've been asked to help the Whatcom Film Association, which is my hometown independent cinema. They are running a capital campaign to build...to renovate an old building in downtown Bellingham. They now have a very small theater. They're working on renovating another building so they'll have two theaters. So I've gotten involved with that campaign, trying to help them raise the capital that they need to make good independent movies available.
wyk: Are there independent movies available there now?
Cathy: There's actually...the Whatcom Film Association has a theater named after Mary Pickford, the actress. She's from Washington state. It's called Pickford Theater. And they do show a lot of good documentaries and films. They're just trying to expand so they can show twice as many. That's my current cause.
P-C: I'm going to ask one random question.
P-C: Is it a coincidence that you co-wrote the episode about the homecoming dance? Because I went to your website and there's a picture of you dressed up for homecoming last year.
Cathy: [giggles] Oh, is this the one I'm dressed up with a big T on my chest?
P-C: Right. What does the T stand for?
Cathy: That's one of my best friends from work, Jennifer Bradbury. She's a HUGE Veronica Mars fan. The T stands for triathlon, but we were really going as super teachers/triathletes. We had swim goggles, and running pants, and bike shoes, and helmets.
P-C: Which does actually work very well considering last night's episode of Arrested Development.
Cathy: Yes. I have done triathlons, but none quite like the one he was doing. STEVE HOLT!
P-C: STEVE HOLT!
Cathy: STEVE HOLT!
And that concludes our interview with the STEVE HOLT!-yelling librarian. Thanks, Cathy, for taking a break from surfing the 'net your hectic schedule to do this interview. Hopefully the guys won't give you too much grief for calling them "beautiful," "sexy," and "muscular." But then again, who in the world would be crazy enough to mess with a 5' 4.5" woman who can bench 100 pounds?