Post by Major Hathaway on May 31, 2005 7:11:36 GMT -5
Following is the complete interview with Stephanie SenGupta - Once again, I wish to express our thanks to Ms. SenGupta for her time.
I know there are many fans of Criminal Intent who are not members of this forum - please feel free to direct them here; they can read the interview just logged in as a guest. However, please note permission to copy this interview is not granted.
Please be considerate and respectful of the people who worked to bring this interview to all the interested fans.
Post by Major Hathaway on May 31, 2005 7:15:36 GMT -5
1. What are your dreams for your writing future? If you were not a writer for Criminal Intent, what would you like to be doing for a living?
At the moment, my dream is to finish the Criminal Intent script I’m currently working on. Beyond that, I hope to be able to continue writing quality television.
I’d still be writing, and would do whatever was necessary to support my writing habit. There’s a great quote from Preston Sturges: “When the last dime is gone, I’ll sit on the curb with a pencil and a ten-cent notebook, and start the whole thing over again.” That’d be me
2. If you could pick a story and write it for the big screen, what would it be?
I’ve written several screenplays, most of which are pretty terrible. One was optioned, but none have been produced. My screenplays tend to be darkly comic and a bit absurd.
3. Do you have a background in psychology?
Nope. But Criminal Intent has given me a crash course in it. Dr. Park Dietz, who’s a consultant for the show, gave me a reading list when the show first started, and that helped me immensely.
4. Is Criminal Intent the first series you've scripted for? How did yo begin writing for CI? Would you share with us what else you have written?
The first show I was staffed on was a drama called Hopewell. My agent put me up for it. René Balcer wrote the pilot, which was shot. CBS ordered six scripts, and René hired me as a staff writer for that series. I wrote one script for it, but CBS killed the series before it ever aired. The demise of Hopewell coincided with the birth of CI, and when René went on to develop CI, he offered me a job on the writing staff.
5. If you don't mind a personal question? Is your background Bengali, in whole or in part? I ask this out of mere curiosity as I was born in West Bengal at an Air Force base just outside of Calcutta. My curiosity with all things Bengali gets the best of me at times, I'm afraid.
Yes, I’m half Indian. My dad’s from Kolkata, in West Bengal. My mother’s American, with French ancestry.
6. Where did you grow up and go to school, what are your impressions and memories of your childhood and your professional training?
I was born in Washington, D.C., and spent a good chunk of my childhood in Minneapolis, MN. I got my B.A. in political philosophy from Carleton College, my J.D. from Washington & Lee University and my M.F.A. in playwriting from NYU’s Tisch School. I practiced law in Brooklyn, NY before going for my M.F.A. I was a trial attorney with the Juvenile Rights Division of The Legal Aid Society of New York City, where I represented children in abuse/neglect cases as well as in criminal cases – everything from fare beats to homicides.
7. What is/are the things you like most about American Culture then about Indian Culture?
The thing I love most about American culture is that we’re a country of immigrants, and that this nation is the product of a grand political experiment. The thing I most value about Indian culture is the emphasis on spirituality over materialism (though that’s changed greatly over the past fifteen years).
What is/are the things you dislike most about American Culture then about Indian Culture?
I guess the thing I most dislike about American pop culture, specifically, is the way it tends to worship youth/inexperience and denigrate age/wisdom. Not that I have anything against youth and inexperience, but pop culture does take it to the Nth degree. Honestly, the thing I dislike most about Indian culture is the bureaucracy. The caste system which, although no longer codified still exists, is also something I dislike. It’s the slimy underbelly of Indian spirituality.
8. How would you suggest an aspiring writer get a foot in the door?
My best advice is to write, write, write, then rewrite, rewrite, rewrite, then write some more. Specifically regarding the television industry, two things are generally necessary: 1) several spec scripts for series that are currently on the air; and 2) an agent. But I think it’s a mistake for a writer to begin by writing television specs. I think it’s necessary for a writer first to find his/her voice through original writing. Good television specs written by someone with a voice and point of view will always attract an agent, and then the agent will open the doors necessary to employment in the industry.
9. What are the major themes and influences on your work (writers, childhood, friends, enemies, specific shows or movies, etc.)?
There are more than I can mention, and more even than I’m probably aware of. But in terms of highbrow influences, the biggies for me are Brecht, early Shaw, Cocteau, and the German expressionists. Myths and archetypes are also big influences – particularly those myths that have been dramatized. Lowbrow and pop culture influences include everything from “General Hospital” to current hour-long dramas “Lost” and “Huff” to various “reality” shows. I’m a junkie for anything related to dramatic storytelling.
10. Are you the Stephanie Sengupta who co-authored Mandatory Injustice: Case Histories of Women Convicted under New York's Rockefeller Drug Laws? If so, how did you become involved in that project? Do you feel that it has affected your writing for Criminal Intent? If you are comfortable talking about it, I'd be interested in whether you feel it affected you in other ways, as well. If you did co-author this: I'd like to know whether your work and interest in the real criminal justice system came before or after your interest in writing about it for fictional television. Again, if you are comfortable talking about it, I'd be interested in what sparked your interest in the criminal justice system in general - whether fictional or real life.
Yes, I did write them. I worked for the Correctional Association’s Juvenile Rights Project while I was at NYU, and wrote those case histories for their Women In Prison Project when the person initially hired to write them bowed out. The writer on the project before me had identified the women who were to be profiled. I went to the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility to interview each of them, then wrote up the case histories. The idea was to humanize the women profiled and draw attention to some of the inequities wrought by New York’s Rockefeller Drug Laws. Sadly, their stories are just a tip of the iceberg.
My interest in the criminal justice system began when I was a kid, and is the result of my growing up in a biracial, politically active household. When I graduated from college it was quickly apparent that making a living as a playwright wasn’t in the stars for me. I went to law school because I wanted to provide high quality legal representation to indigent criminal defendants.
11. Can you describe the best example of artistic capability, in any medium or form, you've ever come across and what made the work so good or inspirational to you?
There are lots, but in terms of dramatic storytelling, the works of Caryl Churchill and Tony Kushner stand out. Particularly Part One of Kushner’s Angels in America. He’s a structural master. That play seamlessly synthesizes melodramatic and surreal structures while simultaneously telling a story that’s compelling, political, funny and poignant. The play itself is an amazing piece of literature. Even the character descriptions and stage directions are distinct and beautiful. I also think the poodle monologue from his play A Bright Room Called Day is a perfect piece of writing. Actually though, any good play, television show or movie is inspirational to me, because it reminds me that there are limitless possibilities for successful storytelling, and that’s exciting.
12. And....what's your favorite flavored ice cream? Godiva’s Belgian Dark Chocolate.
Post by Major Hathaway on May 31, 2005 7:17:15 GMT -5
INTERVIEW CON'T ...
13. a. How do you approach writing a "ripped from the headlines" story, and writing a completely original story not based on any news headline? Are there similarities or differences in writing both types of episodes? b. When you have been assigned a particular "headline" to turn into a script (if that is still the system for deciding who writes what), does Balcer give instructions about how close to keep it to the original crime, or is that left mostly up to the individual writer? Do the writers then come up with a basic story before the first meeting with Balcer, or do you work together to come up with the story in a meeting? Once you know the beats do you write out a full treatment, or go straight to writing the first draft of the script? Or does that vary from writer to writer, with no requirement for a treatment, but some writers preferring to write one?
Each writer on the show works separately with René, and we all have our own unique processes. René assigns the stories, and he’s always pretty clear that the “headline” is simply a starting point.
I approach all my CI scripts in exactly the same way because I’m anal, and because having a ritual helps get me in the mood. Once assigned a “headline” or story, I write up a brief memo to René concerning what I think the story is about thematically. He reads it, comments and once we’re on the same page about theme, we start breaking the story. I’ll start by coming up with what I call a “Sample Teaser” and René reads that before we meet for the first time. Then we have a story meeting and beat out the Real Teaser (which typically bears little resemblance to the Sample). Then I come up with a “Sample Act I” and we do it all again until we have a complete beat sheet. The Samples are just jumping off points for the beginning of a dialogue and it works well for me and for the way René and I work together.
Once the story’s all beat out, I write a first draft of the script and give it to René. He reads it, makes notes on the draft, faxes it back to me for a rewrite, which I then turn back in to René. René then does a final polish on the script and it’s published to the production office, the network and studio.
14. Do you have a favorite episode that you've written? A favorite episode of Criminal Intent overall?
“The Faithful” will probably always be my favorite because it was my first produced episode of television. My favorite overall CI episode changes depending on the day.
15. A silly question, but can you reveal anything about the Santa Mug? (This mug moves between Eames & Goren's desks on various episodes)
The Santa Mug was a gift to Eames from her dad, who was also a cop. It was his old eggnog mug. Goren likes it and won it from her once in a bet. She then won it back. It goes back and forth between their desks depending on which one of them has most recently won it in a bet.
16. Could you take us through a typical show production from the writing of the first draft to filming?
See #13 for part of this. Once the script is published, it enters an 8 day prep period, during which locations are scouted, parts are cast, sets are built (if necessary), costumes are created, props are acquired or made, etc… That’s also when the cast read-through of the script takes place. Basically, everything necessary to bring the script to life in front of the camera is accomplished in those 8 days. After the prep period, the episode goes into 8 days of production, during which time it’s filmed. After filming, the episode gets sent off to post-production where it’s edited down to the 42 minutes and 12 seconds that’s ultimately aired. The whole process is an amazing collaboration.
17. I've noticed that LOCI has many women writers and producers. Could you comment on this?
I suspect René would be a better person to ask about this, as he’s the one who hired us. Maybe he’s going through a girl-writer phase, maybe he hasn’t noticed we’re girls, maybe it’s because he sometimes gets mail addressed to Ms. René Balcer. I honestly don’t know…
18. Backstory issues:
a. Is Eames Senior to Goren?
They’re both Detectives first grade, but Eames has more seniority with both the NYPD and Major Case.
b. Ms. Sengupta, can you settle the lingering questions about Eames' husband? Was there a husband? If yes, was he a cop? Was he killed on duty?
Yes, she was married to a cop, and he was killed on the job. But it happened quite a while before the show started.
c. Do you have a "bible" for each of the characters that all the writers share?
We do. We have descriptions of each character and their backgrounds.
19. Do you have to be on the set all the time for adjustments in the script, does that happen often?
No. My involvement with the process ends when production begins. Our scripts are locked by the end of prep, and there are no additional changes made. At that point, it’s time for me to go back to LA and start working on a new story. I do have some involvement in the post-production/editing phase.
20. Has your view of the criminal justice system changed over the course of writing for Criminal Intent?
No, not really. My view of the criminal justice system was formed during the years I practiced law, and hasn’t changed as a result of my work on CI. Additionally, CI is a highly fictionalized version of the criminal justice system. I don’t mean that as a criticism of the series. The show is entertaining and it’s good drama, but it is also fictitious.
21. How do you think Goren has changed over the course of the series?
He’s not quite as socially awkward and overtly quirky, and he’s more psychologically layered. He still knows everything!
Post by Major Hathaway on May 31, 2005 7:18:23 GMT -5
INTERVIEW CON'T .....
22. What have you learned from Rene Balcer and the other writers on the show?
From René I’ve learned that I have a tendency to go over the top in my writing and to try to tone it down. I’ve also learned a lot about what it takes to be a successful executive producer/showrunner for a series. Maintaining quality and a clarity of vision over 22 episodes a season, while sticking to a budget, while satisfying a network, studio, actors, writers and directors is no simple task, and René does it extremely well. Watching him do his job has been an invaluable education. As for the other writers, although I don’t work directly with any of them, I’ve been enriched both personally and professionally by being exposed to them. Marlane Meyer, especially, has been a mentor to me.
23. How do you think the series will change with the addition of Logan and his new partner? Will certain writers only write for Logan and others only write for Goren and Eames?
You know, I’m just writing my first Logan episode, and I don’t think I know yet how the series will change. As far as I know, all the writers will write for both Logan and Goren. At least I hope so. I’d be sad if “Shibboleth” was my last dance with Goren.
24. I've noticed that your episodes have a certain dark humor to them. Is it important to you that humor be incorporated into your scripts?
I do think humor has a place in CI, even when the events unfolding in the story may not be funny. Life is absurd, even when it’s tragic or ugly. And the absurd is often humorous – to me, anyway.
25. Many of us are big fans of the titles of the episodes. Are the titles something that you decide on or is that something Mr. Balcer does when he polishes the scripts?
The titles are important to me, too. I prefer to title the episodes I write than to have René it, so I go to bat for titles I feel strongly about.
26. Have you ever been disappointed with the way one of your episodes turned out? Have you ever disagreed with Mr. Balcer on his rewrites and polishing? Have "The Powers That Be" tried to influence or change your vision of a storyline?
Oh, sure. I don’t think I’ve ever been entirely satisfied with one of my scripts. If that day ever comes, it’ll be time for me to move on. And I have disagreements with René all the time. They’re not ill-tempered disagreements, or anything like that. I win some, I lose some. And in the end, sometimes I realize at the read-through (which is when I get to hear the actors read the script for the first time) that he was right. I hate it when that happens!
27. I have a question relating to one of my favorite episodes, the brilliant Fico di Capo. There are always a lot of references in CI episodes, but sometimes you can read into things. When I saw it, I felt you were making a whole range of wonderful references, but did you really intend some of these things, or were they subconscious, or not intentional:
".....It was certainly reminiscent of Richard III, but there were other hints of reductio-ad-absurdem (Richard, after all, is funny enough!). Look at the names alone. Not just Ricky, but Ricky Cozzo - the name means cock and not the kind that crows. Sopranos fans should know it's a popular Southern Italian obscenity. Then there's Ricky's mom, named Rigatello, which sounds like a play on Rigoletto, the vicious-tongued hunchback (another one) in Verdi's famous opera, a jester at a notably corrupt court who tries to murder his master. And Damiano? It means tame, domesticated and poor St. Damian is the patron saint of (among other things) barbers and hairdressers."
In that particular episode, it was intentional. The idea was to do a story based on a contemporary, street version of Richard III, and to throw that character into the corrupt, chaotic, grotesque and disintegrating “court” of the Italian mafia.
28. When big-name guest stars appeared on the show (especially Claire Bloom and Stephen Colbert) were the parts written specifically for them or did an agent send the script their way?
No, the scripts are never written for a particular actor.
29. Obviously you and the cast/crew are aware of the fan commentary, especially online. Were there any fan discussions and activities that surprised, amused, or even concerned the creative staff? (Nicole Wallace is the biggy here, but if you want to avoid that particular land mine I certainly understand!)
I check out the message boards from time to time and, when I do, I’m always amazed by the details that viewers pick up on, and the depth of the discussions. But I don’t read them frequently, because I’m afraid of getting my feelings hurt. Not that I mind criticism, but it can be awfully blunt online, and that can be rough.
30. Was it surprising to realize how much variety there was among the CI fans? We can't be easily typed into a target audience of "Horny teenagers" or "Bored housewives" or anything like that, so how does that affect the writing and other network considerations?
I’ve never really understood the whole idea of targeting demographics. I believe that young, old, men, women, rich, poor, etc… will tune in to watch good stories. So it doesn’t surprise me.
31. In his commentary on the show's DVDs, Mr. Balcer notes several literary detective's influences, including Sherlock Holmes, Maigret, and others. Do you have influences along these lines?
I really don’t. My interest is less in the whodunit than in the whydunit.
32. LOCI has several "experts" as advisers, including NYPD officials and psychologists. At what stage are they involved in the writing process? Have elements of your scripts been changed by them?
I consult with the experts at the story-breaking phase on an as-needed basis. In one episode I may spend a lot of time talking to our forensic pathologist, and then I might not speak to him again until several episodes later. The one exception is that I always have at least one conversation with Dr. Dietz, the forensic psychiatrist who consults for the show, as early in the story-breaking process as possible.
33. Some CI episodes are more successful than others in not only telling a compelling story, but in providing a satisfying resolution given all the facts and information provided in the episode. What do you feel makes for a "successful" CI episode in terms of the creative process you go through to create new characters, weave them into an established crime drama, and complete the story arc?
To me, the most important thing is that the actions of the bad guys, and those around the bad guys, make some kind of psychological sense from their pathological points of view. As long as I have a clear handle on why they’re doing what they’re doing, and why they need or want the things they do, I’m good. That also means that Goren will be able to hook into a specific pathology, something unique to the individual character, to bring the criminal down.
34. Do you and the other writers ever speak with the survivors or family members of the real cases? Do you ever hear any responses from them after the show has aired?
No, I haven’t. I don’t know if any of the other writers have. As far as I know, we’ve never had any reaction from an individual directly involved in one of our “headlines.”
Post by Major Hathaway on May 31, 2005 7:20:27 GMT -5
INTERVIEW CON'T .....
35. Which episode was the most difficult to write and why?
I can’t choose one. They’re all difficult for me to write, and each presents its own set of challenges. But I enjoy tackling them.
36. It seems to me that three of your first season episodes were the ones that most established and defined Carver and his relationships with the detectives - especially Goren.
In the Faithful, there's the scene where Goren puts Carver in the position of knowing that information material to the case is being withheld... something that, it seems to me, not only makes Carver walk the very edge of ethics as far as his duty goes, but also, if the case were ever reviewed for any reason, might have a significantly damaging effect on Carver's career. He does it, but warns Goren, in no uncertain terms, never to put him in that position again.
In Semi-Professional, the judge shows us the limits to which Carver will *not* go - Carver may be willing to walk the edge of the law in the service of justice; but if you ask him to break it in the service of your own self interest then, in his eyes, you would have broken the bonds of trust and loyalty.
In Maledictis we see what I think may be the first, and for me is still the most classic, instance of Carver entering into the detectives' charade - in order to get the sister into a separate car, and then, of course, just happen to take a wrong turn, to give Goren a chance to question the suspect alone, in the suspect's childhood home. When you wrote those first season episodes, did you have a particular interest in Carver's character, and in helping to establish and define it? Or was that something Rene Balcer asked you to do? Or was it something that just sort of presented itself to you out of the particular crimes you were assigned to write about and how those stories naturally evolved?
I think René and all the writers were very conscious, in those early episodes, about establishing the characters and their relationships to one another. The specific Carver instances you mention were a combination of being on heightened alert to establish those relationships as well as fortuitous plot points that evolved from the various stories.
37. When you work on a script that really defines some aspect of a character or a relationship between characters, do you talk with the actors, either ahead of time or through story conferences as the script evolves, and incorporate something of their sense of the character? Or is it more something you work out with Balcer and hand to the actors as a finished product?
The actors get the script as a finished product, when it’s published for prep. We talk to the actors about every script, during the cast read-through which takes place during prep. The read-through typically yields minor rewrites.
38. Do you do minor rewrites of other people's scripts? Do you have other duties on the series besides writing scripts?
I read and comment on every script once it’s published. Aside from writing, I participate in the prep period for each script I write.
39. How much of what we see on screen is dialogue from you and how much is added by the actors. In other words how true to your screenplay is the final version we get to see and what compromises or concessions are made?
Our scripts are locked prior to production. There’s very little, if any, deviation from the dialogue in the scripts during production.
40. Will eames and goren ever have any implied or otherwise romantic connection on the series
They’ll never have an explicit romantic relationship on the show. I doubt they’d ever have an implied relationship either, but that’s up to each viewer to decide.
41. Have you ever been pleased with the way a script turned out, but then disappointed in the way an episode came out? And, related to that, have you ever had an interest in directing one of your own scripts?
I’ve never felt a produced episode was vastly different from one of my scripts. If anything, the produced episode tends to emphasize problems that already existed in the script.
I don’t really have an interest in directing one of my television episodes. I have directed my own plays in the past, and it’s not my ideal way of working. One of the things I love about dramatic storytelling is that it’s collaborative, and beyond the control of a single person. Especially in theater -- when a play is up and running, it’s a living breathing thing that changes from performance to performance, and actually does become more than the sum of its parts. That’s thrilling. I love seeing what a director brings to the material while still having control over the script itself. That’s one of the huge differences between theater/television and film. Both theater and television tend to be writers’ mediums. Playwrights own the copyright to their work, so a director can’t change a play without the consent of the playwright. And in television, writers are also executive producers/showrunners. That gives the writer veto power. Film is a director’s medium, and the writer’s vision is often diluted, compromised or corrupted in that process. For the sake of control, I’d probably have more of a desire to direct one of my own screenplays. Still, my ideal would be to collaborate with a director who shares my vision of the work.
42. About Goren's maneuver, stepping up onto the church pew in The Faithful, and Balcer has talked in interviews about Vincent D'Onofrio coming up with many of Goren's more unusual actions - writing his own stage directions, as it were ... If the pew maneuver came from D'Onofrio, and/or if there have been other scenes in which he added physical behaviors in scripts you had written, were those added in story conferences, with you actually writing in the changes? Or did they happen at a later point in the process?
The scripts are locked at the end of prep, so no further changes are made to them. The bit of business with Goren in “The Faithful” was a combination of what I wrote and how Vincent interpreted it. In the script, Goren has some dialogue telling the CSU photographer that he wants a shot of the corpse from directly above. In the stage directions, I wrote “Goren demonstrates, balancing on the high back of a pew. His acrobatics elicit a few raised eyebrows, which he ignores.” The part where Goren uses the CSU photographer’s head to steady himself was all Vincent. There was no story purpose for Goren to insist on an overhead photograph. The purpose of it was to emphasize his quirky style of concentration and the fact that he’s aware his tactics are sometimes viewed as strange but doesn’t care. And I think it accomplishes those things pretty efficiently. I love the look on the photographer’s face as Goren uses his head as a banister. It’s priceless.
Post by Major Hathaway on May 31, 2005 7:21:10 GMT -5
INTERVIEW CON'T .....
43. Backstory Question: One of the things I identify with in Goren is what looks to me like a kind of hypervigilance very similar to my own, though he's even more aware of static details of his environment than I am, and more aware of scents. So my question on that is, am I projecting, seeing hypervigilance in Goren because I identify with him and I am hypervigilant? Or did Balcer set Goren's character up as hypervigilant, including (perhaps especially) hypervigilance to affect? I know that parents can be traumatically frightening to a child without ever laying a hand on them, but over time I thought I had seen indications that there might have been physical violence in Goren's childhood. So, again, if you're at liberty to say, am I reading something into those scenes that isn't there, or were they reflecting a reaction in Goren to traumatic levels of beatings that he received as a child?
Goren’s hypervigilance is something that is part of his character due to his backstory. The traumatic impact of having a schizophrenic primary caretaker is something René emphasized from before we ever began writing episodes. In fact, while we were writing the character and backstory “Bible” for Goren, Dr. Park Dietz came to our office and advised us on how that might impact the character’s development in numerous ways, including his hypervigilance to affect. Goren’s hypervigilance to scents is a product of his father’s trauma-inducing behavior, as he frequently smelled alcohol and other women on his father’s clothes. Goren’s childhood environment was constantly and traumatically unstable, and it did involve sporadic acts of physical violence.
44. Has a concern about possible copy-cat crimes ever impacted whether an episode was written, or caused changes to be made in one, or affected when one was aired? That last is something I ask about because I particularly noticed that Pilgrim - which involved an attempted attack on a Veterans Day parade - was not aired the day before Veterans Day (which I think with most series it would have been) but instead was aired a week later - too late to inspire any impulsive attempts to imitate it that year.
Yes, it has been a concern that Dr. Dietz alerts us to. If he believes a story would instigate violence, we don’t do the story. I don’t know whether or not that had anything to do with the timing of the airing of “The Pilgrim,” but suspect it didn’t, because if it had been a significant concern, I doubt the episode would’ve been written.
45. Does Criminal Intent generally accept submissions of spec scripts (or treatments) from freelance writers? If so, do you, or other regular writers for the series, review them? Or who does review them?
René does use freelancers on occasion, but they don’t submit CI spec scripts or treatments. Their submissions consist of either original material or specs of other television shows and are submitted by the writers’ agents. He also sometimes gives freelance scripts to writers with whom he’s worked in the past.
46. Many of us saw a relationship between the crimes in Shibboleth and the BTK serial killer. But it seemed to me that I also saw echoes of a much older set of crimes, which, if I'm remembering correctly, involved that specific method of tying a woman up so that she strangled herself as she became exhausted (there was a minor difference, which I will not specify, in case it was changed to make the technique less effective in the event of copy-cats). It seems to me that the older cases also involved a younger male relative of the original killer seeing images of the earlier murder and being profoundly affected by it, so that he reenacted it years later. Was Shibboleth based on that older set of crimes, as well as the BTK crimes? If so, what brought those older crimes to your attention? And do you have any concern that having an actual photo of a woman in that position, and giving details of how it's done, might inspire copy-cat crimes? (Not that they would trigger a normal person to do such things, but that someone who was already disturbed might become fascinated by that image?)
“Shibboleth” was ripped from the BTK headline. I’m not aware of an older case in which women were strangled in the method depicted in the script, or of a case in which the killer was imprinted by an image he’d seen of the death pose – which certainly doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. However, “Shibboleth” was inspired only by BTK. René and I came up with the method of strangulation in the story breaking process. We chose that particular method of strangulation because we needed the manner of killing to be unique to a particular killer, and one whose uniqueness would connect the son to the father. I wasn’t concerned with copy-cats in that story because it’s a terribly inefficient way to strangle someone, and would require that the killer actually have the same sadistic sexual fetish that Frank had. There are various types of crimes that are more likely to be copy-catted than others (i.e. school shooting rampages), and this isn’t one of them. It’s my understanding that sadistic sexual fetishists are quite invested in the distinctiveness of their crimes. They take pride in the unique and elaborate details of the crimes they commit, and are less likely to copy someone else’s fetish. Additionally, Dr. Dietz reviews every script, and he didn’t raise that concern.
47. Anything that you want to add about your background, experiences, thoughts, wishes, feelings and life that our questions may have brought to your mind or that you would like to share with us?
I’m impressed by the depth and insight reflected in these questions, and appreciate having the opportunity to answer them. I hope you’ll continue to enjoy the show.
What a wonderful interview! Patcat's right -- SO many questions answered! I'm going to have to read it again, just to digest everything. But, a few impressions:
So interesting about the stage directions from THE FAITHFUL. It creates a much clearer picture to me of how the writers on the show are responsible for shaping the action as well as dialogue (which, it sounds is not ad-libbed at all).
That quote from Preston Sturges is lovely! It speaks to someone who really loves to write.
Ms. SenGupta's (I noticed she capitalizes the G, and I'm afraid we've been misspelling her name...) emphasis on the psychology of the characters in the episodes she writes definitely comes through. And, it sounds as though it's a personal choice on her part to consult with Dr. Park Dietz on every episode. (Sounds as though the expert consultants to the series are like a buffet, and the writers can use them as they need/wish.)
I've said before that I find an epic, sweeping quality to her writing, and perhaps that flavor comes from her interest in myths and archetypes. I definitely see shades of archetypal, though still individual, characters in her episodes.
LOVE the humorous response to question #17!!! I'll bet he DOES get mail addressed to Ms. Balcer! That's funny!
And, another fan of HUFF! I think we may be the only two out there!!
What a wonderful, candid interview. I'll comment more when I've had a chance to read it again.
Post by Major Hathaway on May 31, 2005 10:45:58 GMT -5
Yes; thank you LOCIfan - Ms. SenGupta does Cap the "G"
I was hoping that it would be noticed and picked up by all - I know that since most of the credits are done in all caps; it is not something that Ms. SenGupta felt we were disrespecting her on, but since we know now, we can be correct.
Wow, what a terrific interview! And thanks again to Ms. Stephanie SenGupta for agreeing to do this, and for her candid and insightful replies. I have to go through and read everything again, but I'm pleased that questions I submitted have been answered to clear up some issues I have been thinking about for a while. This has been a great opportunity, and I'm grateful for the chance to have participated in it.
Patrick Roy, 2006 inductee into the Hockey Hall of Fame
Post by goreneames on May 31, 2005 13:57:26 GMT -5
An amazing collaboration indeed! It's fascinating to get some insight into how at least one of the writers works on the scripts, with Rene Balcer and how she's involved in other aspects of the process.
I find it interesting that Ms. SenGupta comes at these episodes first with a concern for what the theme of the episode is. That's very interesting, and something, I think, that's responsible for the layers and layers I see in her episodes.
Post by gorenrocks on May 31, 2005 14:10:03 GMT -5
What a great story behind the Santa Mug!!! I'm only sorry we can't ask the obvious follow-up questions about just what sorts of things Goren and Eames make wagers on!
This interview really impresses upon me how much thought the writers give to the characters and the stories. Not that I didn't get that before, but in a series where the characters' backstories/personal lives are not the engine that runs the show -- it's impressive to know that the writers have thought of things like bets between Goren and Eames, knowing that it's something that the audience might never know about those characters.
I think it is a great mix of indepth and silly things and I LOVE those PITHY answers ;D
Seems I was right on most things; wrong on one issue I thought for sure I was dead-on with Nice to knowa final answer whether I was right or wrong. I really feel much more filled in on the background now. Feels like we are special for getting this information.
It was a personal kick to see some of my questions answered - I have been a fan of her episodes so much that when I see her name in the begining credits I actually sit a little closer to the screen in anticipation.