Phil Klemmer and John Enbom (Writers)
MI.net: "Rashard & Wallace Go To White Castle" — why did Woody tell Gia not to get on the bus?
John: I think it was because he was concerned that...He had seen the kids there, and he did not want the kids talking to Gia. He had become alarmed and sorta wanted her to stay away from them.
MI.net: "The Rapes of Graff" — Lamb and Madison, why did you hook those two up?
Phil: It just seemed so right. [chuckles]
Phil: And once again it was another one of those ideas where we had actually had the entire story for that worked out without it being Madison, but it was just one of those things where she had already kinda given Dick the kiss off early, and when we realized that it made...And she had even made reference to, I believe, that she was seeing someone more mature, and it was just one of those moments where we're like, "Well, why don't we make it Madison and it would just make it sorta better for everybody." So we did. And I do think it made it better for everybody. And we especially were delighted with the idea of being able to make that little campaign sign for Sheriff Lamb.
MI.net: Are they still dating?
John: I'm not sure.
Phil: We're not quite certain where Madison ended up.
MI.net: Well, she's in college.
John: But I would doubt it.
MI.net: Awww. Another relationship bites the dust.
Phil: Yeah. It's a cruel town.
MI.net: "Nevermind the Buttocks" — How did Duncan's hair get on the Oscar? And Lilly's blood?
John: Kendall put it there.
Phil: Yeah. Remember there's a scene with Kendall being in the Neptune Grand in Duncan's shower?
Phil: We're assuming she just like...
John: That's where the hair came from.
MI.net: How about the blood?
Phil: And I assume that came from Aaron because he had access to it.
MI.net: Was Kendall's story always meant to be that complicated?
Phil: Oh, you mean the backstory of her being a grifter with one of the Fitzpatrick brothers and all that?
MI.net: Yup. Because in the beginning all she was a cheerleader.
John: That evolved as we got sorta got deep into all that business of the second-season mystery and everything, and sorta wanting to be able to connect things. And I think it also was something when we started thinking down the road, to season three at that time, of ways we could continue to do stuff with her, because obviously hot stepmom is a limited character, and we had sorta done everything that you could do with a hot stepmom by six episodes into season two.
MI.net: So you wrote that to get her into season three, but the first thing you do in season three is off her?
Phil: [chuckles] Right.
John: That, I think, is stuff that was contractual.
MI.net: I see. And you also had the LoVe scene with Logan and Veronica when he said, "I thought our story was epic." That became a classic line for the shippers. When you write stuff like that, do you ever worry, "This sounds way too cheesy."
John: I absolutely do. And then what happens, especially in that case, is Rob then rewrites it. So that's where that comes from. I wish I could claim that because I do think that worked out really well. That was a great scene, and we actually loved that whole alternate prom episode and everything. And I think the version of that scene that I had written was a bit more dry and less cheesy because of exactly what you were just suggesting. And Rob came in and nailed this outcome. That was what he came up with so obviously he knows how to put things better than I do.
MI.net: Oh yeah. He did do Cupid.
John: [chuckles] But yeah, it was very much him. And those are the moments where it's very much Rob's show. He takes over and he's like, "I know what needs to happens here." And he weaves things the way he wants to go. I'm not saying he wrote the entire thing. I have some parts of it in there as well, but that whole epic speech, that was all Rob.
MI.net: Has he ever cut lines that you wish he didn't?
John: Oh, all the time.
MI.net: That just happens.
John: There's nothing you can do about it.
Phil: [chuckles] Yeah.
John: Every now and then you maybe try to put up a fight, but that's just the way it goes.
Phil: More often, the heartbreak is watching a line get cut by Standards and Practices. We somehow were, I dunno...[nervous chuckles]...Okay, I'm not going to actually talk about this because I don't want to get us in more trouble than we are already in. But there is the constant battle of trying to push the bounds of what's acceptable on network television. And we've gotten in trouble for things that we've, you know...
MI.net: Snuck by?
Phil: Yeah. There's nothing worse than having a joke that you just think is the funniest thing on Earth and then having to sorta gradually compromise on it until all the original humor has been eviscerated. But that's what we get for having dirty minds.
MI.net: Sometimes some of the references go over people's heads and you have to explain to them, "This is what it means." And they're like, "They got that on TV?!"
John: For some of those moments, I think we now are paying for it because they would cross out stuff that we're like, "What is that?!" Someone has found out that something we had no idea was something lurid, they find some reference to somewhere that this is some sexual act that you would never dream of in one hundred years.
John: And we're like, "Huh?"
Phil: And meanwhile on Heroes you can show a girl getting an autopsy done on her while she's still alive.
Phil: And then her body parts sewing themselves back together. And it's like, "Aww, man. That's totally fine." But God forbid you mention Stay Puft.
John: Or whatever. [laugh]
Phil: Or whatever that is.
MI.net: Are you still under the CBS censors?
[Klembom talk amongst themselves]
John: Is it? No. CW has their own Standards and Practice, I think. Stuff happens on CBS different than...
Phil: Last year was CBS, wasn't it?
John: I don't know.
Phil: I don't know.
[Klembom talk to me again]
Phil: We don't know.
John: We just look at the body of the letter and never actually checked the top.
MI.net: You just get the letter and see the notes.
John: Yeah. Every now and then Rob will argue something. I think there are times when they think we are much more fiendish and dirty-minded.
Phil: Yeah. And our guy did the coolest thing for me on the last script I did. There was this joke, and it was dirty, but it wasn't like...it was an allusion to dirtiness. And it was actual good and, like, funny. There was a kinda back-and-forth, and at the end of it he was like, "You know what, just leave it." And that sorta made me love the guy. It's funny that he was acknowledging, "Yeah, you know, that's a pretty funny joke. And it's not going to corrupt America's youth, so we're all fine."
MI.net: Awww, that was nice of him.
Phil: It was!
MI.net: Is there just one guy?
Phil: Is it still Jim Huntzicker? Is that his name?
John: I don't even...
Phil: Yeah, we shouldn't be talking about him in an interview.
MI.net: Oh, sorry.
Phil: He's a nice guy and he pays his taxes and doesn't kick dogs.
John: And all in all, I think, just from the corporate structure that we deal with, all in all, we have an extremely easy ride.
Phil: Oh, yeah.
John: The fact the show is well received and everything gives us an amount of leeway to avoid being fussed with in ways that other shows live through a nightmare of being tinkered with all the time. And we're actually treated pretty well.
Phil: Yeah. I'm bitching having a joke cut...
Phil: ...whereas on another show you could have written a whole outline, and they come back and say like, "Oh, that A story just doesn't..."
John: Or just trash that whole script or say you've got to redo everything.
MI.net: Has the studio ever cut a major storyline?
John: I don't think we've ever had them say, "We don't like this, don't. We don't want this."
Phil: Russian bride was postponed. That was originally, I think, supposed to be the A story of the episode to follow the pilot. That eventually made it in as the first script John and I did together. I don't think we had anything just tossed out the window.
MI.net: Why was that postponed?
Phil: I can't even remember the reasoning.
John: I think it was literally that it wasn't quite figured out in time and they just kinda moved onto to another episode. And I think they brought it back in when I joined because I had just married a Russian.
John: Rob just sort of handed it down. I think if you pay strict attention, you'll find it isn't as footbally as an episode about a football player could possibly be. And I think that's why. A) We didn't actually have the budget to actually have a football team, which is why you, for instance, see the guy running stairs all by himself. It's just him and the coach.
Phil: Or you have her breaking into a locker room and instead of being discovered by fifty half-clothed extras, she's caught by the coach.
John: Yeah. I think it was our good fortune that we couldn't afford to have any actual football in the episode. That sorta kept things at a manageable size for us.
MI.net: So if you had to write for Friday Night Lights, you would die?
Phil: I don't know, that's my favorite show. I love that show.
MI.net: That is a great show.
Phil: Other than our show, and The Office, and Battlestar Galactica, that is the best.
MI.net: Good choices. Phil, what shows do you watch?
Phil: Oh, that was me.
MI.net: Sorry. It's hard to tell.
Phil: It's okay.
John: I do all the same, except I actually have not watched...I've watched a little bit of Friday Night Lights, but I didn't quite get into because we were doing other stuff at the time. And I haven't figured out my TiVo yet. I'm so way behind on everything. I loved The Office. I loved the British Office. Like madly. And actually Dan Gabbe our editor just gave me the first season of Battlestar Galactica to watch on DVD. I started and really love it. It's one of those sorta things where I now have to watch it in secret because my wife just thinks it's silly.
MI.net: Is everyone else watching it because there's a lot of "frak" in the show?
John: Yeah, it made its way around. Diane loves it. Phil loves it. It's certainly one of those word-of-mouth phenomena.
Phil: We haven't done it this year, but we used to have Galactica lunches every Wednesday where we would go out with our now editor Dan Gabbe and his assistant Viet Nguyen and we would talk about Battlestar Galactica.
Phil: And Mike Weiss, our script coordinator, that's sorta the triumvirate of Galactica worship. So we used to have Galactica lunches. We should do that again.
John: I just learned Starbuck [Katee Sackhoff], she's from Portland. She went to the high school that's right next to where my parents lived for a couple of years. I would love for her to be in our show. Or just in our office.
MI.net: You're married!
Phil: I think my wife would be down with it. She can have...
John: Once I find your celebrity...
John: She can have Jim from The Office.
MI.net: So you're trading fantasy spouses.
Phil: You have to keep it lively somehow.
John: [laughs] He and his wife have been together since freshman year in college.
MI.net: Wow, that's a while.
John: That is a while.
MI.net: You also said you had to write that episode on July 4th weekend. Why was that delayed? Why were you guys late?
Phil: We had broken sorta the story halfway in the previous season before we knew we had a pick-up. And on hiatus, everything shuts down and it takes a while to get started again. Part of running nine episodes in row meant that we had to be really far ahead at the start of the season so we wouldn't fall behind with production. So that's how that happened. We were trying to get a stockpile of scripts. I think we actually had six scripts written before we had shot the first frame.
John: I think we just got a little behind, and Fourth of July weekend happened, and that threw us even a little more behind. My mom is from up in that neck of the woods, so I was going up there to see the family. And we still weren't done ([chuckles]), so we basically just had to work through the weekend. But it actually was good.
John: It was a good way to show off to the family that I actually work for a living.
MI.net: You mentioned that they had no idea what you did.
Phil: There's a real satisfaction in living in Los Angeles and having been in coffee houses where everybody's rocking a version of a final draft or carrying around a script with brass brads in it on plane. There is something nice about opening up your computer and having that sorta initial moment of subconsciousness where you're like, "Oh man, I'm an asshole screenwriter." Then being like, "Man, I'm doing my job!"
Phil: "I'm carrying a copy of the script that has an actual television logo, like, a little Warner Brothers warning on it. That's right."
Phil: "I've arrived. I don't have to be ashamed anymore." At least of that.
MI.net: Because you are no longer starving.
Phil: Well, yeah...
MI.net: You're not starving as much. You can eat a couple of days a week.
Phil: They keep us fed here with all the junk food that we can eat.
MI.net: You also mentioned you wanted a guitar.
John: Oh, yeah. We are still waiting for that weirdly enough. It's now been a week and two days since the episode aired.
Phil: I don't think Fred Gretsch is listening to the podcast...
Phil: ...so maybe if you could include it in your interview.
MI.net: Have you ever gotten free stuff?
John: Yeah, we got Draw Me stuff.
Phil: Oh, yeah.
John: If you remember...I forget, was it 18 when there was the reference to the Draw Me pirate or something like that?
John: That art school outfit was actually pretty happy with the reference.
Phil: They totally lavished us with a lot of swag. And John is wearing a CW T-shirt right now that he got at a CW...
John: Actually Diane got it at something swanky that we weren't allowed to go to.
Phil: Oh. What else did we get? We get presents from Peter Roth every once in a while.
John: Yeah. He sends us a hug coupon.
Phil: [chuckles] And they sent us earphones. What else do we get? I don't know. I steal reams of paper.
John: [chuckles] It's not like Desperate Housewives where we all get the sort of 100 grand bonuses.
MI.net: No free Porsche?
Phil: Some day.
MI.net: You just have to get a little more viewers, and then you get the free stuff.
Phil: Yeah. I know Kristen had been...There was some bargain involving a Porsche in season one that Rob, as an incentive, that Rob had made. I think it was that if we were the number one show on UPN that she would get one.
MI.net: From Rob or someone else?
Phil: From Rob. So she can thank America's Next Top Model...
John: From keeping her from her...
Phil: Thanks, Tyra Banks.
MI.net: Wow. That's pretty good.
Phil: Yeah, but I think it was a safe bet though.