Diane Ruggiero (Co-Executive Producer)

Pages: 1, 2, 3, 4, and comments. (August 24, 2005)

MI.net: Were there any scenes that you liked but you had to cut for time? Teddy mentioned the first time Veronica and Duncan said, "I love you."

Diane: Oh yeah, there was this one scene that I wrote, and it was Duncan and Veronica almost losing their virginity last season. I forget which episode it was in, but it was told in flashbacks. Oh, it was in the "Betty and Veronica" script, which was the parrot thing. When his laptop gets stolen, she has these flashbacks of things he could have put in.

[Editor's note: Diane is actually referring to "An Echolls Family Christmas."]

MI.net: Well, that explains it, because she mentions something about the steamy relationship, but we never saw that.

Diane: The flashbacks were very romantic and sweet, and them saying "I love you." It was very young love, but the scene was kind of cool. I really enjoyed it a lot, but we had to cut if for time. But it worked out, because ultimately that now frees us to do other...we could always...you know, do something with it. The emotions are still there. But it was disappointing at the time, because I really enjoyed it. It used to happen all the time, so it's something that you get used to. And invariably the line that you think is the funniest will wind up being cut, or the scene that you are most into. [chuckles]

But a lot of times you get lucky and, like, there was a storyline from one of my scripts that we didn't have time for, so it went to somebody else's. Like John Enbom had a scene, a storyline with his scripts that wound up going into mine. So it all eventually works out.

MI.net: What were those scenes?

Diane: The scenes that were in my scripts that got put into other scripts were the tenant that Wallace's mother has. When Keith goes and gets rid of him, that was in my script that got taken out and put into another script. John, in his script, he had Veronica breaking into a doctor's office to get information about Duncan, and that wound up going into a script that Jed Seidel and I wrote together.

MI.net: The show has great continuity. Have there been things that you've written, and later realized, whoops?

Diane: I don't think so. I don't recall anything. There have been times when we were in the room and going down a path and then we're like, "Wait, hey, how does the timing on that work?" And we had to stop and think about where Lilly would have been.

MI.net: That's the most confusing part.

Diane: Yeah, it was kind of confusing. There were so many times where you just want to go a year before but she had already been dead for over a year. The timing of that was kind of difficult. But other than that, no. Not that I recall.

[Editor's note: I was under strict orders by my team members not to insult the interviewee, so I didn't bring up Logan and Duncan being best friends since kindergarten yet Logan moving to town when he was twelve; the speeding ticket that occurred two hours, and then later three hours after Lilly's time of death; the non-existent spy pen storyline; etc.]

MI.net: And can you clear up the ages of the kids? Because that has been extremely confusing.

Diane: Veronica's turned 18. Logan is going to be...I was just about to say that Logan is going to be 18, and I'm trying to remember what his birthday was.

MI.net: Do you guys have those birthdays?

Diane: Yeah, we have them in some elusive file. I can get back to you on their ages.

MI.net: Well that would be great because the fans have been doing timelines and stuff to figure it out.

Diane: That's so friggin' funny. [chuckles]

[Editor's note: D'oh! The writers changed their minds and decided not to release the birthdays after all. We have no choice but to continue freeze-framing every single scene that has driver's licenses, birth certificates, school records, hospital records, college applications, job applications, calendars, birthday cards, astrology reports, etc.]

MI.net: "A Trip to the Dentist," when did you find out that you were going to write that episode?

Diane: I think we pretty much knew that I would write that, that Rob and I would write the last two. Me co-writing the last one with him was a last minute thing, because of his wife's having a baby. But I think we pretty much knew that I would write that one. I had done another Rashomon-like episode, "An Echolls Family Christmas," and it was kind of that everybody's-perception-of-the-story. We knew that we wanted to do "A Trip to the Dentist" in that way, so Rob wanted me to write it.

MI.net: Were you ever nervous about that because that was a big episode?

Diane: Any time I'm going at something that I don't see the humor in, [chuckles] I get nervous because I don't feel very confident in my ability to write drama. And I say that but then it ultimately...that whenever I say that, Rob shakes his head at me because he's like, [sweet, supportive voice] "Yes you can." [chuckles] I looked at it and I was like, "Oh, great. How am I going to write this date rape episode and have it not just be the most depressing hour of television where people are just abusing Veronica?" But once you get into it, and you find the rhythm and you find the character....It was daunting, but it ultimately was, I have to say, probably the best writing experience I had last year was writing that episode.

[Editor's note: "Probably the best"? Hey, Diane, there's no need to be all humble and stuff. It was arguably the best writing that any writer had on any show, on any network, all season long! God, that episode was amazing.]

MI.net: Well, it's surprising to hear that you're not very confident with drama, because you're one of the best writers on the show.

Diane: Oh. Thanks. I mean, if you give me a little bit of comedy in it, then I feel pretty good. But when...I did the Veronica and her mother scenes at that bar when she finds her mother. And there's big dramatics, I was like, "[big sigh] Oh, man." That was like giving birth to a small town. [both chuckle] It was laborious to do those because they're so emotional. But usually once I wrap my head around one little section of it, then I'm able to go with it. And there's just one line that Veronica has where her mom says, "I just knew that it wasn't Jake Kane," and Veronica says something like, "In your heart because you love him?" And it was just realizing that you could have snarky or sarcastic comments and still maintain the emotion. Once I remember that, then I'm cool. It's just that I always go into it thinking, [anxious voice] "Like oh my god, it's got to be so dramatic." And then when you start writing it, you're like, [relaxed voice] "Oh, just because it's dramatic, doesn't mean it's not going to be...have that same kind of character to it." So am I making any sense at all?

MI.net: Yeah, you are.

Diane: [chuckles] Oh, ok.

MI.net: Do you find it difficult to balance all these things? Because the show is funny, and it is dramatic and emotional, and flashbacks, and all these other things.

Diane: Yeah, it can be a little daunting. The thing you usually do when you're looking at a scene that's comedic, is try to find the substance in it, and the heart in it, and the intelligence in it, instead of just finding the comedy in it. And when you're writing a scene that is supposed to be intense and emotional, to find something irreverent, to kind of go...to find the thing that gets the scene is usually what makes it more Veronica Mars.

MI.net: Is that something that Rob set out?

Diane: No, it's something that I literally just pulled out of my ass right now to try to sound smart.

MI.net: [chuckles] Well, you did a very good job.

Diane: [chuckles] And Rob would read that and be like, "What is she talking about? I'm firing her tomorrow."

MI.net: Oh, that's too bad.

Diane: No, he would not say that.

[Editor's note: And that is lesson one in Professor Ruggiero’s pull-it-out-of-my-ass Screenwriting 101 course.]

MI.net: "A Trip to the Dentist," the ending was very unexpected. It's kind of gray and no one is really at fault.

Diane: Yeah, it's kind of gray. It's weird.

MI.net: Were you ever concerned that fans would want you to be more judgmental?

Diane: Oh, yeah! I was very concerned that people were...I was concerned that it wasn't going to be satisfying. That people would worry that it was an easy way out. But when you think about it, umm...it's...any other...if it was another person, if it was Dick or if it was Beaver or if it was Logan or what have you, how is that any more difficult than you just explaining who it was? This is actually in a way, I think more interesting because it's not as clear. There is that element of, it was this girl having just this bitchy moment where she spits into someone's drink, and how much it affected someone's life. Just that little moment of being a self-absorbed bitch affected Veronica, and Duncan, and just let loose that kind of chain of events. And that made it really interesting to me.

MI.net: Was that resolution planned out from the beginning of the season?

Diane: The Duncan thing? Yes. Rob had that planned.

MI.net: How about the way he did it, how no one was at fault?

Diane: No, no, no, that was the breaking of it.

MI.net: There were so many recurring characters in the episode.

Diane: Yeah, that was one of the ideas that we had in the writers' room was to bring back some of our players that we had seen early. We thought that would be really cool and kind of reinforce this world.

MI.net: When did you decide to do it that way?

Diane: When we were in the writers' room, when we were just starting to break it, the first logical choice would be, "What 09er could she go to? What 09er was she friends with?" We've established one, and so we're talking about having her go to Meg, and then we were like, "Oh, there is that other 09er..." And then we had the idea, "Oh wow, we should bring back....Let's just have her talk to a bunch of..." We thought of the two 09ers, besides Meg, who might run in this circle in previous episodes and thought, "Wow, it would be really cool to have them back. And what about this?" We just thought about actors that we had that we could have back, and that it would make sense, and the audience would remember. I think it worked out pretty...I'm thrilled with how it worked out.

MI.net: Were there any actors who you wanted but couldn't get?

Diane: No, we got everyone we wanted. It was amazing.

MI.net: Wow, that's pretty cool.

Diane: Yeah, it was fantastic. I so wanted to get...I loved the girl who was in "Mars vs. Mars"...uhh....

MI.net: Carrie Bishop.

Diane: Yeah, Carrie Bishop. I loved her. "I wish I could get her." And we didn't think we could do her, because she is a hot property. And we were able to get her, I was very excited. And the kid that played Casey from the cult episode, we didn't think we would get him. He was doing a movie. We wound up being able to get him. It just worked out. That episode was one of my best television experiences ever.

MI.net: On Television without Pity, at one point it had 1,600 votes, and it was averaging A+.

Diane: [chuckles] Awesome. That's cool. That makes me very happy. It's weird, sometimes you do an episode and you just don't connect with it. It's like hooking up with someone you don't really like. You're like, "Yeah, we hooked up, but I really don't like you." [chuckles] As opposed to hooking up with someone that you’re in love with. Bad analogy, but it's the analogy I had at my disposal. But then sometimes when it's right, you feel it. You connect with it. It kind of feels good.

[Editor's note: And that is lesson two in Professor Ruggiero’s writing-is-like-meaningless-sex Screenwriting 101 course.]

Pages: 1, 2, 3, 4, and comments.


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