Diane Ruggiero (Co-Executive Producer)
MI.net: Were there any episodes that you didn't feel particularly connected to?
Diane: I didn't really feel connected to the "Betty and Veronica" episode, the parrot episode. But I think it ultimately worked out. It was just so difficult to marry the light story with the dark story. The whole time I was writing it, I felt very daunted by that. But I kind of vacillate, every other script I feel connected to. [chuckles] Like "An Echolls Family Christmas," I felt pretty connected. And it's different, there're some episodes that you feel good about some parts of it, and you don't feel good about other parts. I love writing Logan, so if I have a Logan storyline, it's usually a fun thing to just write.
MI.net: So what do you like about the Logan character?
Diane: Well, first of all, he's such a great actor. But it's just that you get to, in the beginning [of the first season] more so, or with certain people, you get to kind of go to that dark place. And you get to do it through a character that's still somehow likable.
MI.net: Do you think that's the writing or the actor?
Diane: I think it's a combination. I think if we wrote him differently...I mean, I really do think it's the combination. If we wrote him less edgy, I don't think it would work as well. And if you get a different actor, it wouldn't work as well. So I think it's a combination.
I mean, I do enjoy writing for all them. Writing for Kristen is just such a joy. I know "joy" sounds cheesy, but when you write something, you know that you don't have to worry. She gets it. She looks at a scene, and she knows exactly what you want. You don't even have to...there's times where I don't even worry about a parenthetical. Like, "She says this with sarcasm." You don't even need to do that because she can look at a scene, and go, "Oh, this is what it's about." She gets the nuances that you have in your mind without you having to put them down. It's like a writers' dream. I want her to be in absolutely everything I write for the rest of my life.
MI.net: [chuckles] She's going to be a busy girl.
Diane: I know. It's like, seriously, if she could star in my diary. [both chuckle] I wish she was older. She's so young. Because I'm 34, so all the stuff that I write down with that 34-year-old heroine...I'm like, "Okay, I'll just wait until Kristen gets older."
MI.net: After the show is done, she'll do your autobiography.
Diane: Yeah, by then I'll be 110. I'll be writing senior citizen stories.
MI.net: How much taller are you than Kristen?
Diane: [somewhat puzzled] How much taller am I than Kristen?
[Editor's note: What? That's a perfectly legitimate question.]
MI.net: We ask that of everybody.
Diane: I don't know. How tall is Kristen?
Diane: I'm 6 inches taller than Kristen. I'm 5'7".
MI.net: Is there anyone shorter than Kristen?
Diane: Yes. I have not said that. Actually, Dayna Lynne North might be like 5'2", I think. Well, she would be an inch taller than Kristen. [chuckles] She's the story editor and she's pretty petite also.
MI.net: It's a petite cast.
Diane: Yeah, but Jason's pretty tall. At the upfronts in New York, I took my picture with the cast. You know, I waited in line. [chuckles] I took my picture with them. Yeah, Kristen, she's like...I could carry her around. And, you know, I would, pretty much, if she asked me. [both laugh] "Diane, could you carry me around please?" [sycophantic voice] "Yes, Kristen. Of course, Kristen. Keep on being brilliant." She shouldn't have to walk on her own. She should have some people carrying her. The sad thing is that Rob makes me carry him. And he's like 6'4". It's just that I carry him at work. It's kind of like how I got the co-executive producer's job. He said, "Okay, but you must..."
MI.net: You must carry him all the time.
Diane: Yes, so I carry him into the writer's room.
MI.net: Have you seen his hula photo?
Diane: Yeah, that's my screen saver. How do you know about that?! Because he asked...I told him you had asked me about that in the e-mail. How did you know that?
MI.net: He had it on his bio when he did the luncheon.
Diane: Oh my God, that's so funny. It's called "Maui Wowie". It's the title of the photograph, and it's my screen saver.
MI.net: That's your screen saver?
[Editor's note: Oh, oh, oh, we want one, we want one. Rob, you so need to add that photo to the download area on your site.]
Diane: So if you come into my office....And I forget, like I'm so used to seeing it, it doesn't even shock me. And when new people come here, and they're at my computer for some reason, they're like, [uncomfortable voice] "Ummm...why do you have a picture of Rob in a grass skirt as your screen saver?" If he ever gets mad at me, I have ammunition. But I think he has some embarrassing pictures of me from his wedding that might rival his "Maui Wowie" photo. I think we're kind of even now.
MI.net: What did you do that could rival the Maui photo?!
Diane: [chuckles] I think I wore a scandalous dress.
Diane: But no, it would never rival the "Maui Wowie" photo. I don't think anything I've worn in my life could rival that.
MI.net: When we first saw that, it was like, "Huh...okay, Rob."
Diane: A new side of Rob.
MI.net: Which is your favorite Backup?
Diane: [melty, I-love-doggies voice] I love the new Backup.
MI.net: You love the new Backup.
Diane: [melty, I-love-doggies voice] Yeah, it's so sweet.
MI.net: So it's a nice dog? It looks big.
Diane: [melty, I-love-doggies voice] Yeah, but it's so sweet. In between takes sometimes, it backs up on Kristen, and rests its hiney on her leg when she's sitting down. It's one of those dogs that just wants contact with you. It's so sweet.
Diane: Though I suspect that my dog would make an excellent Backup, but you would never be afraid of him for a second.
MI.net: Pick one word to describe each of the main cast members and writers.
Diane: The writers?
MI.net: And the cast.
Diane: Oh, that's impossible. I could...uh....
MI.net: Do you want to start with the cast?
Diane: One word? That's so hard. Kristen would be...uh...my brain just popped out of my head.
MI.net: I'm sorry.
Diane: I'd have a easier time doing the writers. I don't know. I could probably do them, I don't know.
The photo from left to right:
Dan Etheridge - Producer, Phil Klemmer - Story Editor, Diane Ruggiero - Co-executive producer, Cathy Belben - staff writer, Rob Thomas - The Creator, Alex Mercer - Assistant to Rob Thomas/Director of Development Rob Thomas Productions, John Enbom - Story Editor, Dayna Lynn North - Executive Story Editor.
MI.net: We asked the other people and it's interesting to compare.
Diane: Did they get it? Was Rob able to do it?
MI.net: Well, we didn't interview Rob. We interviewed a couple of the actors and guest stars.
[Editor's note: Nope, we never did interview Rob. *cough, cough*]
Diane: Did they give you a word for everything?
Diane: [gasp] I feel so inept.
MI.net: Well you can look at their answers, and copy it.
Diane: Yeah, I think that one's too hard. Especially since I'm looking at one of the writers right now, John Enbom. I'm always busting his chops. He's the other half of what we called "Klembom," which is Phil Klemmer and John Enbom. They are two story editors this year. They were staff writers last year. They're just ridiculously brilliant. They're probably like the two greatest writers ever.
MI.net: Better than Rob?
Diane: Well, under Rob, I'll add everyone. I suspect they don't like each other. No, I'm kidding. I always bust John's chops. I say that Phil is so much better and that Phil carries him. If I had to choose words for them, I would probably choose "brilliant" for Phil, and for John "not as brilliant as Phil" just to screw with him.