Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Friday, February 24, 2012
CM_SetReport Chat with Consulting Producer Virgil Williams - 2/23/12
VW: S'up, party people? It's me, Virgil!
gchan_s2_paget: Virgil, CONGRATS on last night’s ep. You are AMAZEBALLS! It was a GREAT ep! Especially the Morgan & Prentiss moments in the beginning & end. Question: How much of the jet scene was really Derek and Emily and how much was it Paget and Shemar?
VW: Good question, I'd say 50/50 - they (actors) always bring a little bit of themselves to a part/scene. And thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
dineen1967: Hi Virgil, how are you? Question: What is the next episode you're writing before the season finale?
VW: I'm terrrrrific. How are you. I'm writing ep 722.
LaT: What inspired you to approach the political side of the episode in the way you did, with the focus on the dangers of inflammatory and racist rhetoric? That felt very timely.
VW: I just wanted to do a cool hate crime. Was inspired by an Illinois Nazi named Matthew Hale who had a judge and her husband killed for denying him some sort of copyright. If you look at the guy he's normal, no shaved head, no tattoos, just an average white guy....scary.
Ashley_D: Hey Virgil! I hope you are well! Great job on the episode! I do have one question! How did you end up overcoming your writer's block?
VW: I chopped down that writer's block with blood, sweat and tears. And beer...
virgiliscool: Virgil, I loved last night's episode, and I think you're the best writer currently working for CM. That being said, why is the UNSUB almost always revealed toward the beginning of the show now instead of at the end, as in earlier seasons? Honestly, it makes it not as exciting for us viewers.
VW: Clearly you have impeccable taste ;) My next episode will be a throwback to the unseen UnSub...stay tuned...people will die....oh a Bruce "Big Money" Zimmerman is doing an UnSub who stays hidden in 721.
batmancm: LOVE your episodes!!!! When you are the main writer for an episode, do you get to be on set while they are filming it and do you get to participate with any of the post filming stuff?
VW: Thank you! You are REQUIRED to be on set for every rehearsal and every shot. It's part of the job. And I participate to a point. Most of my work is done by then so I let the director drive the car. But we're there.
swon: One of my favourite episodes this season! I was wondering, it seemed like the ending with Emily and Morgan was a nice way to cap end the whole Doyle arc and its repercussions. Would you say that that story line is finished? Or can fans expect to see more about Emily.
VW: Well she is leaving...so...stay tuned.
tabularossi: Does any specific team member get a focus in your next episode?
VW: Agent David Rossi.
dineen1967: Do you know the name of the episode in 721 that Bruce Zimmerman is writing?
VW: "Divining Rod" Do you wanna know what happens?
elle: It seems like a lot of the unsubs this year have had some sympathetic aspect to them - a sad backstory. Are we ever going to get another evil to the core baddie like Foyet?
VW: Yup...stay tuned.
geewiz: Do you ever view an episode once it's in the can and decide you want to change something? How close to the airdate can an episode be edited?
VW: Not too close to air at all...we have to lock the picture before we do the sound mix.
GublerLover44: yes!! what happens?
VW: people die!
SmileyGidget: Who has been your favourite guest star to work with?
VW: Carl "Apollo Creed" Weathers when I was on ER.
Dani257: Did you ever consider not ending the conversation between Morgan and Prentiss with a tidy little joke?
VW: Never...its CBS.
love_sil: Please, you writers give Emily - my girl - a happy ending! She deserves it!
VW: Happy is a relative term...one man's joy is another man's torment...keep watching.
PopcornBalls: Could you ever write an ep where people DON'T die???
VW: It's Criminal Minds Popcorn! NO!
Marisa: Hello from Chicago! Loved the episode! How difficult was it to write the cognitive interview in Spanish? Did you get help?
VW: S'up Chi-town - that's where I'm from. I wrote it in English, then we translated it.
LaT: How much influence does the network have over the final version of a screenplay?
VW: A lot. They own it. We do what they want. And smile.
virgiliscool: Did you get any kind of pushback for writing an episode about such potentially divisive and explosive topics as race and hate crimes?
VW: Yes a little. We had to keep it as non political as possible. The politics was just a back drop. Racism is always touchy. And racism + politics + CBS = brains exploding.
SmileyGidget: As an Aussie I have to always ask this question… Have you ever had Vegemite? If yes, do you like it?! If no… would you try it?! :)
VW: Never. But I've wanted to since I heard about it in the Men At Work song "Land Down Under" Lyrics: "She just smiled and gave me a vegamite sandwich!"
brbstandardam1: How much does Jim Clemente participate in CM eps this season?
VW: A lot. He is invaluable. And a great guy.
wheelsup4demily: Virgil, you are one of the best screenwriters on TV. How did you get into the business? And, do you have any advice for becoming as great as you are?
VW: Wow. Another fan with great taste ;) Advice: write everyday. And don't ever stop. Oh and I started out an actor in Chicago. I got bit by the bug early and knew I wanted to be in the biz since then.
NittyMcNitpicker: As someone who has heard of Canada, have you ever tried Poutine?
VW: No. What is that?
laurenreynoldsisdead: Gravy and cheese on fries!
VW: Oh man...nope, never. And not anytime soon. But enjoy!
tabularossi: Sum up Heathridge Manor in one word.
PopcornBalls: Hey Virgil, if you could ever go on a mythical rampage, where and how would you do it?
VW: I would kill unicorns with a scythe.
carol: Why did you decide to shoot Prentiss? I mean, she's been through so much already...
VW: Cause she's tough as nails (and hot). And because we needed to build a moment between Prentiss and Morgan.
wheelsup4demily: Virgil, if you could ever do a musical episode of CM, what would happen? And who would you have as a musical guest star?
VW: People would die while singing. Liberace.
virgiliscool: What does the cast think about all the shipping? Particular the slash shipping? Particular Shemar and Matthew and the Moreid shipping? What do you think about it?
VW: Hard to "ship" between regulars, talk to CBS.
elle: You would kill unicorns with a scythe?! What kind of monster are you?!
VW: I write on a show about serial killers. Which means I read and/or write about monsters everyday. I think I'm turning into one.
geewiz: Is writing for CM tougher than it was writing for ER?
VW: In different ways, yes.
Dani257: Which team member's voice do you feel is the easiest for you to get right? And, which one is the hardest?
VW: Gideon is easiet because he's not here, so I never have to write him. Garcia is hardest for me.
toloveandbelovedbyme: Has a real life situation that you we're involved in ever inspired a scene you wrote in Criminal minds?
VW: No and I hope one never does. But my life always influences what I write in some way...can’t help it.
littlevoiceswhispering: Do you guys have a backstory for Anderson?
VW: Who's Anderson?
banana: Do the writers ever watch old episodes to stay consistent?
VW: I watch them all the time.
Dani257: Has there ever been anything with one of the team that you wanted to do that CBS wouldn't allow?
VW: Yes. Entire stories have been forbidden.
ChocolateDivine: Agent Anderson.
VW: KIDDING - I know who Anderson is.
toloveandbelovedbyme: What is your favourite colour?
VW: Most days purple - its imperial like me.
virgiliscool: Do you feel that learning about serial killers in depth has made you more understanding of human nature in general, in a positive way? Or has it made you cynical and disgusted and at a loss for understanding?
VW: It makes me look at the world in a different way. There are monsters in the world and they do truly horrible things, things we cant even show on network TV. Cynical? No. Disgusted. Sometimes. But I'm more hopeful than anything. Where there is evil, there is ALWAYS good. One can't exist without the other.
geewiz: Do you think you'll ever want to go in front of the camera again, maybe as an unsub or victim on CM?
VW: Nah. I like being behind the camera.
Sergiocushion: Are you on team Hotch beard or team clean shaven?
VW: Starting a new team. Team Hotch Mohawk. You in?
NittyMcNitpicker: What sorts of subjects/stories does CBS ban?
VW: Extremely controversial ones. You can figure it out.
gchan_s2_paget: Will we see more of that Valdez guy or was he just in last night`s episode?
VW: Only if the story permits. We won’t force him in.
ChocolateDivine: With your next episode, can you push the boundaries of Rossi's character development? Maybe expand upon his military experience? The history he's got, his career(s) before his retirement?
VW: 722 will fill in Rossi...but I ain't sayin how...stay tuned.
tabularossi: Virgil, please tell us the name of your next episode.
VW: PROFILING 101.
geewiz: How are the cast and crew handling Paget's eminent departure? It's been really hard for many of us.
VW: :(. That was supposed to be a sad face. Emoticons…fail. Wow that guy looks pissed…nobody here mad like that, all bummed out and hoping the best for PB.
virgiliscool: What's it been like on set while Matthew has been directing? And all the early and late hours . . . is he a slavedriver? haha
VW: Great user name - MGG is a pro and like butter.
cooper050: Any good teasers for next weeks episode "a family affair"?
VW: People will die.
wheelsup4demily: What are your favorite TV shows?
VW: The Sopranos, The X-Files, The Love Boat, True Blood, sports...
Radiation: If you're not going to give us spoilers why not just ignore the questions?
Tracey_Lane: How long does it take for a story to get from writing stage to filming stage?
VW: 4-5 weeks.
NittyMcNitpicker: Will we ever learn about some of the team member's secret fears? Like, is there anything that would make Hotch nearly scream like a girl?
VW: Mice and goldfish.
Marisa: Do you and Joe Mantegna ever get into deep Chicago-related discussions?
VW: Yes, we talk about home often.
cooper050: Have the writers discussed Prentiss' departure? Or will that be in the finale?
VW: We've discussed it...keep watching.
tabularossi: Does any team member get a particular focus in Divining Rod? If so, which one?
laurenreynoldsisdead: What's your favourite line that you wrote in last nights episode?
VW: "He doesn't care about black or white. The only color that matters to him is green" Shemar added sonovabitch.
jesus: Hello Virgil. When can we see more JJ? Thanks.
VW: Watch 723 & 722 and get your tissue ready...sad tears? happy tears? Stay tuned!
zg: Will there be another Morgan episode in Chicago?
VW: Yes we just had an AWESOME table read for that ep today. The esteemed Breen "Down Goes" Frazier is writing it.
laurenreynoldsisdead: ARE WILL AND JJ BREAKING UP? :'(
VW: keep watching...you'll never break me, NEVER!
elle: if you could an episode anywhere, where would it be (besides Chicago)?
VW: Paris or Siberia.
NittyMcNitpicker: Has Paget had much input on how the character will go out?
VW: Uh, yeah, she's the one that wants to leave.
virgiliscool: Rick said we would get some good Reid scenes in the big finale. But how about some good Reid/Morgan scenes? We really miss those two together!
VW: Duly noted.
SmileyGidget: Does it ever surprise you at seeing how massive the Criminal Minds fanbase is?! And how there are fans from all over the world?!
VW: I am constantly amazed by you guys (the fans). You are, in a word, awesome. I love you guys. Follow me on Twitter @VirgilWilliams and we'll stay in touch. Again, thanks!!!! We love you guys!!!!!
wheelsup4demily: We love you too!!!
virgiliscool: THANK YOU!!!
Thursday, February 23, 2012
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Friday, February 17, 2012
RICK DUNKLE "RD": Hi y'all. Happy to be here. Week's been pretty non-news heavy re: Criminal Minds… so I'm sure none of you have any questions for me. But I guess we can start anyway.
JaniceKatharine: Hi Rick, thank you for your time. How are you going to write the season finale now that Paget's going to leave?
RD: Immediately with the tough ones, I like it... Luckily we have advanced notice so re: her Paget/Prentiss' departure so we have time to figure out the best story to facilitate the character's grand finale. How we do that will be a highly debated topic in the writers room for the next several weeks... It's interesting because as many of you know we had a pretty good idea where the season was heading and now we'll have to alter that a bit… But this show is nothing new to change and we'll make it work and give the character a worthy out. I remember writing Slave of Duty and that story was actually broken before 100… then we decided to kill Haley off in 100 and suddenly Slave of Duty was an entirely different story. It's part of the business. That's why we've got writers who enjoy their caffeine!
SmileyGidget: Hey Rick, last night's episode was absolutely amazing... It was great seeing Hotch smile some more and JJ kick butt... What was it you enjoyed the most about writing the episode?! :)
RD: My favorite part was getting to write our characters in different ways than we've seen before. Writing a casual Hotch and an ass-kicking JJ was just… FUN. The scene between Morgan and JJ was actually added the night before the last day of shooting because I was worried her sudden toughness would feel like it came out of no where. I wanted it to feel earned and also show she wasn't just sitting at a desk while at the State Department. She didn't just come back to the BAU as a profiler, she came back as a force to be reckoned with.
fran24ksawtgpb: Did anything in particular inspire you to write that car-killing scene ? that was great.
RD: You know, it came from the story itself. As we were breaking we knew we wanted to track where he was taking their cars and knew early on that Doug and Mike worked at the wrecking yard together… so where better else to have the death happen. That death actually came in many forms because we looked at multiple junk yards and the one we ended up using had the best mechanism for killing, lol. Even on the day we wanted to actually drop the car onto Rod (Doug) but the yard wouldn't let us do anything but lower it slowly… Then we thought, "smashing can be good, too, lol!"
Jasper: Between pasta parties, birthday surprises and cute little moments, do you think the focus on bringing each episode to neat emotional closure with the idea of the team as a family is prohibiting the exploration of the characters and their angst potential this season?
RD: Absolutely not. I think at the core they very much are a family and we've enjoyed the opportunity to explore that. But I also believe that the happy moments are a direct result of showing that angst for so many years. You can live in darkness without a glimmer of light at the end, but also you need the light so you can take it away and feel the loss.
MattyBangBang: 100 is an amazing masterpiece. Are there plans to do another multi-writer episode?
RD: Not this season… though come episode 200 who knows? I wonder what our anagram would be then? BO CRESE is no more… we'll have to think of a new pen name! Suggestions?
Criminallymindless: Out of the many episodes you've written, which one has been your favorite (in relation to dialogue for Paget/Emily, Paget's acting, etc)?
RD: Coda… I got to play her as the confident profiler and the very worried former interpol agent. That scene between Prentiss and Doyle at the very end is my favorite scene I've written for her because that stakes have never been higher and you can tell from her amazing acting that this SOB sitting in front of her is bad to the bone.
Hotchlovesjj: Hi Rick! That was a great fight scene that you wrote into the script for JJ. Who choreographed it? Any chance we can see more practice combats with her and Morgan?
RD: Tom Elliott, our Stunt Coordinator, choreographed the fight. I was thrilled with how it turned out and I really hope we get to see more of JJ beating the crap out of UnSubs in the future. Dream scenario: we approach a door that needs kicked down and Morgan can't quite kick his way through. Then JJ does another awesome roundhouse and the door flies apart Buffy-style! Speaking of JJ/Tom fight coordination… If you direct your attention to @cm_setreport and/or www.cmsetreport.blogspot.com we'll be posting a behind the scenes look at how that fight came about.
Natalieee: The next episode you're doing, when is it, whats happening and how good is it?
RD: May 16. The team has to diffuse some tension and solve a mystery. Faces from the past will appear. Story lines from the past will factor in. And it'll launch you directly into the final hour of season 7. It's great! Fantastic! Brilliant even! (Read: I hope it's okay because I haven't written a word yet).
Toloveandbelovedbyme: Rick, did anyone ever call you Dunkaroo back in high school? :)
RD: No, but my middle brother did call me Rickaroo! Probably because he was a Dunkaroo, too!
Kelsey: What is JJ and Wills relationship status? Will they get married?
RD: They're a modern, working couple with a toddler. I don't think they have time to plan a wedding. But are they committed to one another? Only time will tell.
Laurenreynoldsisdead: Do you believe in 'ships' between characters?
RD: Absolutely. I think the 11th Doctor & Amy should have hooked up… Maybe they did! Maybe River is actually the doctor's daughter AND girlfriend. Now, THAT'D make a great episode of Criminal Minds!
Laurenreynoldsisdead: Can Prentiss turn out to be an unsub who has a french accent, slaps people to death and makes fun of their corpses?
RD: If Paget has her way… YES!
Laurenreynoldsisdead: Hey Rick! Why did you decide to show the unsubs face from the beginning and not let it be a mystery?
RD: Good question… In my original concept of the story, we didn't learn who the face behind the bar was until later in the episode but that seemed false when dealing with the Doug/Hunter of it all. We've got the triangle between Doug, Hunter & Mike and the triangle between Doug, Mike and Andrea and I wanted us to come to understand that by episode's end. It felt the only way to do that was to see the face upfront, but to add a layer of mystery as to who is Hunter? Is that Mike's gay lover? No, it's his son! Who's the father? etc., etc.
SesameSquirrel: Rick has anyone ever called you Dunkalicious? :D
RD: Aside from myself? No.
Elle: Is Beth going to be around for the rest of the season?
RD: She'll make at least one other appearance as race day approaches (7x16).
Sergiocushion: Do you enjoy writing slightly awkward Hotch as much as i enjoy watching it?
RD: Absolutely. In 7 years we've never seen it and it's just great to experience. I think it's a testament to TG that he can bounce so flawlessly between professional profiler Hotch; Rossi's friend Aaron; and Beth's fish-out-of-water Hotchner.
CM4Always: Aside from your great, fantastic, brilliant next episode, can you give us any hints about what we should be looking forward to in episodes to come?
RD: Next week's @virgilwilliams -penned up has some great Morgan/Prentiss moments; and Kathy Baker in @iKimHarrison 's ep 7x16 is just creepy good.
SSARiverSong: Rick! If a star from Doctor Who guest-starred in a Criminal Minds episode, who would you choose and what role would they play?
RD: MATT SMITH AS AN UNSUB!!! And sorry folks, NOT an in-the-shadows UnSub… If he's on the show, we're showing him up front and center… As a killer with a bowtie fetish!
Bittersweet_Dream: Did the idea of Hotchn getting a love interest this season just happen, or did it develop over time?
RD: Over time… At the beginning of the season we discussed everything Hotch's been through and how it's been so much darkness… Haley's death, getting knife-raped by the Reaper, getting half blown up in that SUV, lol, that it felt like we needed a little possitiveness in his life… And there are only so many "Jack is cute and Hotch is a great single father" moments you can play without it feeling repetitive.
Pennyj: Every week I come and ask if there will be any more focus on Reid and every week I get ignored...sigh!
RD: There's some great Reid stuff coming up in the 2-hour finale… We have an awesome bit that we want to do with Reid that we kind of sort of don't want to do until we get Jane Lynch to swing by… and there's another story line that probably won't play until season 8. Hang tight. We love, Reid, too, but every season and episode can't be about the boy wonder!
ChocolateDivine: Rick, if you could get a cameo on the show, what would you be doing and which team members would you get to interact with?
RD: I'd play a dead body in a car that gets hit by a semi and only interact with the main cast via crime scene photos of my autopsied corpse on the evidence board (see "Paradise")!
Marisa: Can we have an awesome unsub who thinks they can slay vampires like Buffy?
RD: Wasn't that Doyle? He did stake Prentiss!
wheelsup4demily: So are you planning on a cliff-hanger for the finale or something warm & fuzzy? :)
RD:Something… different… Peace amidst chaos.
Jasper: What character do you think deserves more fan love?
RD: Anderson! He's more than a pretty face!
Paula: Talking about anderson... is he going to be at the season finale?
RD: Maybe… I'm assuming he and Prentiss get married and run off together as the sun sets and we hear a wonderfully poignant quote that provides neat emotional closure.
Sophiepelosi: omgomgomg thank you Rick! MADE MY LIFE :DDDD ... I've given up on getting writers to reply to me. One last try: What sort of things do writers fight about?
RD: Everything! We're paid to fight. We argue over whether someone's pitch "works for us"; we debate what's funny, what's thematic, what's redundant, etc. Heck, we even argue over where to get lunch from. Everyone has their own point of view and somewhere we find a consensus… or try to displease as few writers as possible, lol. I fight with Kim the most. She always yells at me for stealing her ideas… and words… and... Well that's all the time we have for tonight. I hope you enjoyed because I sure did. Keep watching and thanks for all of your support! Hugs, Dunkaroo.
Thursday, February 16, 2012
Thursday, February 9, 2012
CM_SetReport Chat with Co-Executive Producer Bruce Zimmerman 2-9-12BZ: Hi... it's Bruce here, ready to answer any questions.
PopcornBalls: I really loved seeing Reid go under cover!!! Will we be seeing more of that in future episodes, please?
BZ: We don't do that very often on the show, so it was fun to have a natural way to see our team pretend to be somebody else.
CriMiBird: What is the deal with "Plum Sauce" as a nickname?
BZ: Actually that was something the actor who plays Kevin ad-libbed on the day and we loved it. Originally I thought of having a different ending with all our people talking the bullpen, but having Morgan mulling over plum sauce seemed better.
freakingdork: Given Morgan's history as a victim of sexual abuse, why did Garcia even think Morgan would take advantage of her when she was so drunk that she didn't remember anything?
BZ: I never really thought that Garcia thought Morgan had taken advantage of her. If anything, Garcia might have been afraid that with too much wine in her she may have given Morgan the wrong message the night before and it was consensual. In the end, it was just meant to be a little bit of fun to lighten the murder and mayhem in the rest of the episode.
Schmoo: Where did you find the information about the equation when it comes to poker? I was watching the episode with an avid(and good) poker player, and he said it wasn't true.
BZ: I found the equation in a book of mathematical approaches to gambling. I was amazed that such things exist, and that gamblers can hold all that math in their heads while gambling.
Tiger: What is your next episode and which regular character will be the focus?
BZ: My next episode is going to involve a copycat killer who wants to pick up the torch of an executed serial killer. I'll touch a little bit on the personal lives of Hotch and Prentiss (separately), but there won't be a major personal story for our characters. It's about bringing down the bad guy, with a creepy twist at the end... hopefully.
SophieFCrowther: Who do you think on the cast/ crew would make the best unsub?
BZ: Of our characters I could see Reid being a good UnSub because he's so clever and evasive and seems so sweet and innocent. In the writers' room, I'd go with Rick Dunkle.
Tiger: If you were allowed to write any type of episode, it's all a dream sequence, it focuses on one character, it's a musical, etc., what would you do?
BZ: We can never do it on the show, but I think it would be fun to see our actors playing different people in a time flashback sort of story. I've written two of those before on other shows and they're always fun. Then you really could see Reid as a crazy UnSub.
SergioCushion: How much gambling research did you do for this episode? Or was that just recreational reading?
BZ: My family actually comes from Reno and Las Vegas and I grew up around casinos and gambling. I was never a gambler myself, but my cousins worked in the casinos and I was always fascinated with the stories they would tell.
hardeight: Who gets the character focus in the episode you're filming right now, Foundation?
BZ: In Foundation you'll see a lot of Morgan and how drawing on his past helps to solve and heal the current murder.
hardeight: Doug Aarniokoski (Thirteenth Step, Out of the Light) has SUCH a distinctive filming style. How do you think that influenced/affected the final product that was Snake Eyes? To me, it seemed to fit well with the bright manic hysteria of the casino and Curtis' emotional state.
BZ: Yes, Doug is an exceptionally good visual director who always brings something different to the story. Sometimes as a writer if you know the director you are going to have, you write to their strengths. As it turns out, I have Doug directing my next episode, so I'm always looking for scenes or moments that he can bring his distinctive style to.
Rutland: I liked the twist in the poker match where the unsub escaped only to be cornered later in the hostage situation. But my focus was on Reid leaving behind Rossi's chips!! Were they able to recoup that buy-in?
BZ: Rossi better get his money back or Reid is in big trouble.
BubblegumFox: When any of the writers suffers from writers block what is your most common thing to do?
BZ: Procrastinate. I'll walk around, think of other things to do, spend ridiculous amounts of time refining the one page I do have written, etc. Eventually the pressure of having a deadline is the great motivator. TV writing does not allow you the luxury of writers block.
jay_9: What is your favorite episode so far into this season and why?
BZ: That's a hard one. I feel that all the episodes have been awfully strong. I have to admit that I liked Unknown Subject a lot.
thatiendallgirl: The team seems to get less screentime than the usub nowadays, is that going to stop or?
BZ: In the coming episodes you're going to see more BAU and less UnSub. In the episode I'm writing now, for example, the UnSub is more of a shadowy presence than someone we follow walking around in his normal life. There's more of a surprise element.
PopcornBalls: Did you have to change anything while they were actually shooting, or is all that worked out before-hand?
BZ: Virtually every script gets tweaked during shooting... either for creative reasons or to service production. On Snake Eyes we had a scripted final scene where Rossi invites everybody out for dinner because they'd been giving him grief on how much money he had. But then the Plum Sauce moment trumped that so we decided to drop it.
littlevoiceswhispering: Did you write the part of the UnSub with Dean Cain in mind or did he come in at a later stage?
BZ: Good question. Dean Cain came in late, so when I wrote it I didn't have him in mind. It's always interesting for a writer to adjust the script for the actor. It is the same as contouring a script to a director's strengths. Years ago I was doing a mini series where the actor changed about five times in two weeks and I had to keep doing different versions to fit the voice and temperment of the actor of the moment.
emilyPOW: What's your favourite episode you've written?
BZ: I'm a new guy so this is only my second episode for Criminal Minds. Some of my favorite episodes on other shows can be pretty obscure. Two years ago I did a WWII script for the show Army Wives that I was quite proud of.
Hannah_CM: What do you think makes Criminal Minds so successful?
BZ: I think it's because you have good guys beating bad guys, but there's more. I worked on CSI:NY and the big difference there was that you didn't explore the characters very much. I think each one of our cast members is so distinctive and interesting that people not only get a crime that is solved, but get to learn more about these people who almost feel like part of the family. That, and the fact that the crimes are solved by crawling inside the mind of a serial killer and not just tweezing fibers for forensics makes it more compelling.
SophieFCrowTher: Have you always had a interest in criminal behaviour or has that came with the job?
BZ: It sort of came with the job. I started my career as a novelist, writing mystery suspense fiction, and it took off from there. My literary agent way back then told me in order to get published in a harsh environment it was best to pick a genre and write that. And I picked mysteries. The crime aspect of the TV writing career is an offshoot and continuation of that.
CriMiBird: What do you like to watch on TV?
BZ: My dirty little secret is that I don't watch a whole lot of TV. Not because I have an attitude about it... more a question of not having a lot of free time. But I like Justified, Modern Family, Breaking Bad, a few others.
BubblegumFox: How often do you have to completely rethink an episode to make sure it is good enough?
BZ: Once I decide on the main idea, I don't swap it out for a completely different idea. But I am an obsessive rewriter. I would estimate that I do 15 or 20 complete rewriters of my scripts, even if it's just to change a couple words here and there. Honestly, it's my favorite part of the process. Breaking the original story out of thin air is the toughest part.
Hannah_CM: How early do writers start thinking of how the season will end?
BZ: Sometimes we'll have a thought at the start of the season, but there are so many variables through the course of a year that it gets adjusted. But on most shows I've been on you start to ramp up to the finish when there are four or five left.
hardeight: The writers have really been hitting the Team as Happy Family trope hard this season. Are we going to see any chinks in that armor of unity in the back half of this season?
BZ: There will be a few bumps in the road to work out, but a lot of the issues between the team about the secret of Prentiss being alive have been put to bed by now. I think the truth of the matter is that the team has a genuine organic cohesiveness and flow with one another, and there aren't big divisive issues on the table. Having said all that, as a writer its always fun to explore conflict between characters, so hopefully we'll find those moments when we can.
SophieFCrowther: In fictional scenarios do you prefere a happy or sad ending?
BZ: I prefer happy. When I was first starting out as a novelist I felt cheated because I had a fairly upbeat take on the world and it seemed that 'important' work was always tragic and sad. Guess I have to live with it. But then... Breaking Bad is probably my favorite TV show, so go figure.
Kricket: Is the flirting between Morgan and Garcia done? It seemed pretty final in the end there.
BZ: No, I think the flirting is a part of who they are and how they relate to one another. It would be disappointing to see them have a more traditional interaction. I think Garcia will just watch that third glass of wine from now on.
Taryn: Do the individual writers come up with the main idea for the episode, or is that something you do as a group? Do you write the whole script and present it or do you present the idea, then write the script?
BZ: Generally speaking, each writer comes in with an idea. The idea is then elaborated upon by the whole room to see if it has legs, and if it does we start beating out a rough outline on the board. Once the basic building blocks are there, the writer goes off an brings in a 12 page or so outline. The room gives their notes on the outline, then the writer is off to script. There isn't nearly as much group writing on this show as I've experienced on other shows. Much more satisfying this way.
44: If you could get Bryan Cranston to guest on CM, what role would you want for him?
BZ: I'd love to see him go against type... not even the UnSub maybe, but the weird local cop who gunks up the works.
BubblegumFox: What are your favourite scenes to write? ...and what are your least favourite?
BZ: It's fun to write the UnSub scenes because you get to crawl into the head of a nut case. The BAU are the good guys, but virtue isn't as fascinating as vice, I guess. I like writing the profile scenes because it forces you to think from their perspective. Straight exposition isn't my favorite thing, and we try to keep it to a minimum on this show.
PopcornBalls: Who would be your DREAM UnSub? If you could pick any actor, who would you pick?
BZ: Rick Dunkle. No... not really. It might be comedic, but I could see a Betty White type being an UnSub you'd NEVER see coming.
Andi: Kevin was more at ease with Morgan in this ep, even finding them in a quite 'intimate' postion, compared to the unease he showed about them sharing a room in Alaska in s5. What's changed?
BZ: In my head he felt so badly about getting into a terrible fight with Garcia and storming out that he's not going to make another scene right before their first date night. I think he's going to cut her some slack.
BubblegumFox: As a writer you must of read quite a few books, what is your favourite classic book?
BZ: I like Hemingway a lot, especially the short stories. In the mysterty genre, I always enjoyed the Travis McGee series from John D. MacDonald.
Lizzan: Will Emily ever find herself a man?
BZ: I don't know. The last one drove a wooden stake through her stomach, so maybe she's taking a time out from men for awhile.
Hannah_CM: The BAU have never travelled to Hawaii, would you consider a case there?
BZ: Sure, why not. But only if the writers get to go. You can certainly fake Hawaii here in southern California. But you don't want to go to a location just because it feels like eye candy. But I'm sure the islands are swarming with UnSubs.
hardeight: So what's ahead for Morgan? We've heard there's some episodes focusing on him coming up, including yours! We really want some in-depth development for him -- Morgan is a great character, and Shemar is a flawless actor.
BZ: I agree, and I think you're going to be happy with some of the episodes coming up. Breen Frazier is writing episode 20 and it has a lot of Morgan.
Dee7822: Do you ever look at an episode you wriiten and think you should have added something or taken away something else?
BZ: Good question. Yes, all the time. That's why I haven't read any of my novels since I wrote them, and rarely watch any of my old TV episodes. You can always find moments here and there you'd like to change.
BubblegumFox: If you could write yourself in an episode, even if it was a very breif role, who would you play?
BZ: Probably Derek Morgan's twin brother. We have a similar physique.
MattyBangBang: Who is writing the episode Matthew is directing this year?
BZ: Sharon Lee Watson is writing that one. It is spooky as hell and fun.
BubblegumFox: Do you ever take your work home... in a sense where you are constantly thinking about the script and how it can be improved?
BZ: Always. My wife goes a little crazy because when I'm writing a script I keep a tablet by the bed and I am literally turning on the bedside lamp at 3 in the morning to scribble out bits of dialogue or things to remember. And she'll see me staring out at nothing from time to time and ask me what scene I'm working on. She's a trooper.
Hannah_CM: Do the cast and crew enjoy leaving the fans with a cliffhanger at the end of a season?
BZ: Great question. I'll be sure to answer it next season. Now THERE'S your cliffhanger. OK, gotta get back to the UnSub who's waiting in my office. Thanks for all the questions. Keep watching!