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NEWS IN BRIEF

ON THIS PAGE
UK convention news
Roswell writer leaves Battlestar for a Carnivale
The next Ferris Bueller?
Roswell: What might have been
Diane Farr gets new job at ABC
Katims takes on Boston Public
Thunderbirds are go?
US FHM poll results
FHM poll results
A door closes in Roswell, a window opens in Miami
Diane Farr is arresting as a vulnerable cop
Roswell invades the Virgin Megastore
A tale of two writers
Sadler directs Roswell
Shiri and Majandra signing
Frakes to be master of Illusion
Roswell - the movie?
Whoa, Nelly!
Roswell teen aliens ready to move on
John Doe: The coolest dad ever
Graduating from Roswell High
Angel vs. Roswell ratings
On a Roswell high
Sara Downing
Press tour photos
Roswell gets legal nudging
UPN website's fall schedule details
Melinda Metz joins writing team
Teen angst & aliens
Frakes to direct more in season 3
The Roswell army fights for its show on the web

Previous news in brief


UK CONVENTION NEWS
ADDED: 07.04.03

Roswell stars Majandra Delfino, William Sadler and Nick Wechsler will all be guests as a Roswell/Smallville convention to be held in London at the end of May.

In addition to the Roswell guests, other attendees include Smallville's Allison Mack, Eric Johnson and Tony Todd, plus David Nutter who directed the pilot episodes of both shows, along with Michael Sheard, who appeared in The Empire Strikes Back and two Indiana Jones movies (although he's probably best known for his role as Mr Bronson in Grange Hill as well as no less than six guest appearances on Doctor Who).

All the guests will be giving talks and undertaking autograph and photograph sessions. There will also be late night discos, live bands, karaoke, auctions and exclusive video screenings.

In addition, Majandra's first ever UK concert will take place on the Friday before the convention.

If you want to know more then click HERE or follow the banner links elsewhere on The Crash Festival. THANKS TO STEVE OF CRASHDOWN CONVENTIONS. BACK TO THE TOP

ROSWELL WRITER LEAVES BATTLESTAR FOR A CARNIVALE
ADDED: 03.02.03

"My work with Battlestar is essentially done," says Ronald D. Moore. "The lion's share of it was hammering out the script and getting things in motion with [producer] David Eick and the preproduction process. Then I had to cross over and pretty much focus on Carnivale."

"So I keep in touch with tehm. They call, and we have meetings periodicaly, but by and large, Carnivale is really what I'm doing."

Last spring, Moore, who had just come off a stint on Roswell (after a long association with the Star Trek franchise), signed on to pen a remake of the 1978-79 science-fiction series Battlestar Galactica, which followed a ragtag fleet of human space colonists, led by a mighty warship, fleeing the tyrannical, mechanistic Cylons.

A miniseries that also acts as a backdoor pilot for a proposed series, Battlestar is scheduled to go before the cameras this spring in Vancouver, Canada, under director Michael Rymer (Queen of the Damned). It's expected to air on Sci Fi Channel at the end of this year.

"They keep me informed of what's going on," Moore says. "I look at things and try to hlep out now and again, but I don't have an ongoing, steady role. I don't have an office over there."

At about the time he began work on Battlestar Galactica, Moore joined the writing staff of Carnivale, a new series for HBO, created by Daniel Knauf (Wolf Lake).

Set during the Great Depression of the 1930s, Carnivale focuses on two characters who represent good and evil: a mysterious 18-year-old (Nick Stahl) taken in by an Oklahoma Dust Bowl canival, and a charismatic radio evangelist in California called Brother Justin (Clancy Brown).

In production for a fall debut, the series also stars Michael J. Anderson (Twin Peaks), Adrienne Barbeau (Escape From New York), Patrick Bauchau (The Pretender), Tim DeKay (Swordfish), Clea DuVall, John Fleck, Karyne and Sarah Steben (Cirque du Soleil: Saltimbanco) and Brian Turk.

Last fall, Moore was asked to take over as showrunner.

"It's set in a carnival freak show," he says. "Carnivals of the day had Ferris wheels and ring tosses and carousels and freak shows. Some people in the carnival have certain supernatural abilities, I would say, for lack of a better word. They're otherworldly, let's put it that way. That's the A-story."

"The B-story happens at the same time in a small town in California named Mintern, where out villain resides, Brother Justin. It's a sort of Grapes of Wrath environment, a small, agricultural town, migrant farm workers. Brother Justin has a small ministry there."

"We will follow these two stories for quite a while. They really don't cross over for a while, but they're thematically related and related in story."

Asked about the challenges of the production (which takes place at various Southern California locations), Moore says, "It's something else. It's a huge show, very ambitious. HBO themselves say it's the most ambitious thing they've ever attempted. It's an enormous production, an enormous cast. It's got a complicated mythology, ongoing story. IT's pretty cool. It's genuinely unlike anything else I could compare it to on television."

While Moore labours to bring Carnivale to life, fans await the revamped Battlestar. This latest incarnation comes after a few abortive attempts to revive the show, including efforts that involved original series star Richard Hatch and X-Men director Bryan Singer. The miniseries incorporates characters and storylines from the original, with some new ideas and twists thrown in - which does not plaease some of the most ardent fans.

"I periodically surf through the boards and see what people are saying about the project," Moore says. "It goes with the territory. Nothing that's said matters at this point. The audience's reaction to the actual film is what matters. Everything else at this point is just speculation. It's just people getting hot and bothered about something they haven't seen yet."

While Moore can't predict what hardcore fans will think, he hopes everyone - old fans and new - keeps an open mind. "Galactica is more of a distant memory to most people, who are going to accept it and approach it as a fresh version of the show that they're not that familiar with."

"Even people who are fans of the old show will at least be able to see that this is a good product. It's a good story, a good script. They're doing a great job designing the sets. I'm encouraged the way casting is going so far."

"There is a possibility that you're going to get even some of the hardcore fans of the old show to change their tune once they see it. It's all about seeing it. They have to see the damn thing. They just can't go on these rumours and leaks."

Those wishing to catch up on the original Battlestar Galactica can see a special airing of the series, Monday to Friday, Feb. 17 to 21, from 11am to 4pm ET, on the [US] Sci Fi Channel. BACK TO THE TOP

THE NEXT FERRIS BUELLER?
ADDED: 29.01.03. SOURCE: DARK HORIZONS

Ferris Bueller's Other Day Off: After much rumour, gossip and hyperbole - 'On the Water' sets the record staight about the comedy sequel: "A week or so ago you said something about the Ferris Bueller sequel doing a scene at the stadium. This is true...but it wasn't a scene. It was a call for extras - and the meeting space just happened to be the stadium. Now the deal with Ferris' Other Day Off is that the studio were looking at doing one direct to video (I believe this is because John Hughes refused to get involved). Unfortunately it's not Matthew Broderick in the role either, but an actor named Nick Wechsler (from Roswell). I haven't heard much about it in a while, so it may have fallen through (I know a director hadn't been found) - and that the studio were waiting to see how some of their other direct to video sequels do this year." BACK TO THE TOP

ROSWELL: WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN
ADDED: 27.01.03

The cancellation of Roswell is bound to leave many fans wondering what might have been, and what direction the show might have taken had The WB not decided to interfere.

In the words of the those behind the Roswell: What Might Have Been, "What would Roswell have been like if its first network had not interfered with its content?" Since taking up a collection to pay Jason Katims to write what he would have written didn't seem practical, they've decided to try to come up with their own version of those stories instead.

They've started in the first season, just after Sexual Healing and so far three episodes have been produced: Damage Control, Don't Tell Mama and The Witness, with episode 20 currently in production.

So if you'd like an alternate take on how Roswell could have been, why not take a look for yourself? THANKS TO ERICA. BACK TO THE TOP

DIANE FARR GETS NEW JOB AT ABC
ADDED: 13.11.02. SOURCE: ZAP2IT

Diane Farr, who played Amy DeLuca in the show's first two season is developing and will star in a comedy for ABC that she describes as a "blue-collar version of Friends."

Farr, who made her name as a co-host of MTV's Loveline and who starred in ABC's ratings-doomed The Job, is working with producer Bruce Helford (The Drew Carey Show, George Lopez) on the project, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The show will depict a group of friends in their late 20s who find life's big decisions sneaking up on them.

"[It's about] the crossover from your mid-20s into your early 30s, where you have a little success at one thing in your life - either love or career - and you start to desperately panic that you're never going to get the other one," Farr says.

Farr will play someone who fits the love-challenged part of the equation, while her best friend will have the opposite problem.

In addition to her on-screen work, Farr has also written a book called The Girl Code, a do-and-don't guide for single women on the dating scene. BACK TO THE TOP

KATIMS TAKES ON BOSTON PUBLIC
ADDED: 09.08.02. SOURCE: ZAP2IT

Creator David E. Kelley will be stepping down as executive producer and head writer of Boston Public, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He is shifting his focus away from the Fox high school drama to focus on his other two series, The Practice on ABC and the new legal drama, girls club on FOx.

Kelley won't be abandoing the show entirely; he will be an executive consultant on Boston Public from now on. Kelley adds, "I believe that this is in the best interest of all of these shows. I still expect to write episodes for Boston Public and will continue to contribute to the show on a regular basis."

Writer-producer Jason Katims will be replacing Kelley. No stranger to high school angst, Katims developed and executive produced the teen alien drama, Roswell. In 1994, he was a writer on ABC's cult hit teen drama, My So Called Life. Katims will be the show's new head writer and will executive producer Boston Public along with longtime Kelley collaborator Jonathan Pontell (Ally McBeal, The Practice). BACK TO THE TOP

THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO?
ADDED: 20.07.02. SOURCE: VARIETY

According to Variety, former Roswell exec producer Jonathan Frakes has committed to directing a live action version of 1960s Supermarionation series, Thunderbirds. Set in 2065, the original show used puppets to tell the story of a top secret international rescue team comprised of retired astronaut Jeff Tracy and his five sons, as well as several others. The film has been in development hell for years, but recently Working Title Productions took it back for reconceptualisation to make it more like the original ITC series. BACK TO THE TOP

US FHM POLL RESULTS
ADDED: 16.06.02

As with the UK edition, there were a couple of Roswell-related entries in the US edition of FHM 100 Sexiest Women poll:

And once again, it was Katherine Heigl who waved the flag for Roswell, with a two place rise from last year. Nelly Furtado, who appeared in Baby, It's You, also featured:

97 NELLY FURTADO (new entry)
Canada's finest

Just 23 years old, this multi-talented, multi-ethnic, multi-platinum western Canadian already owns a Best Female Pop Vocal Grammy. You can bet Nelly doesn't take success for granted, as she was humbled by eight summers as a chambermaid.

69 KATHERINE HEIGL (last year: 71)
Roswell resident

Katherine gained exposure as the precocious daughter in 1994's My Father the Hero. "Men still come up to me and say, 'You were really hot in that film!' I was 14, for God's sake!" She also bears the unenviable burden of having dated Joey Lawrence. BACK TO THE TOP

FHM POLL RESULTS
ADDED: 12.06.02

There were a couple of Roswell related babes in the UK edition of FHM's 100 Sexiest Women poll:

87 DIDO (new entry)
Thrilling triller

FHM says: Appearing on Eminem's single Stan shot Dido's career skywards faster than a firework - culminating with Best Album and Best Female Artist awards at the Brits, and the title biggest-selling British artist last year. Not too shoddy for a girl who once dropped 16 glasses of wine over Stephen Fry while working as a waitress.

42 KATHERINE HEIGL (last year: 30)
Close encounter

FHM says: She who plays the alien hottie in Roswell has a massive fan base, and not just because she's appeared in such crap-but-cool classics as Bride of Chucky and Under Siege 2 with Steven Seagal. The incredible body and fine face may also figure in the equation.

She says: "I was flat as a board as a teenager so I prayed and prayed for big boobs."

Katie was also voted into 9th place in the "lesbian vote".

For what it's worth, the top five were: 1) Anna Kournikova, 2) Rachel Stevens, 3) Britney Spears, 4) Jennifer Lopez, 5) Kelly Brook. BACK TO THE TOP

A DOOR CLOSES IN ROSWELL, A WINDOW OPENS IN MIAMI
ADDED: 29.04.02. SOURCE: ZAP2IT.COM

Adam Rodriguez hasn't starred in any long-running series yet, but that certainly doesn't mean he hasn't been logging TV time.

After a one-year run on the Steven Bochco police drama Brooklyn South in 1997-98, the native New Yorker hopped into a short stint on The WB's Felicity.

In the spring of 2001, he appeared in the short-lived UPN hautned-hospital drama All Souls, playing wheelchair-bound computer expert Patrick Fortado. When that show closed up shop, he signed on to play Harvard-educated lawyer Jesse Ramirez in the teen-alien drama Roswell, which moved last fall from WB to UPN.

Effectively dead after its second season - which came about partly because of a concerted campaign by fans, who sent in bottles of Tabasco sauce, the aliens' favourite condiment - Roswell got a reprieve when it followed fellow WB expatriate Buffy the Vampire Slayer to UPN, airing after Buffy on Tuesday (9pm ET). After a long hiatus (when it was briefly replaced by the blink-and-you-missed-them comedies As If and Random Years), it returns to that slot on Tuesday, April 23.

Whether because it airs opposite such tough competition as 24, The Guardian, NYPD Blue and NBC comedies Frasier and Scrubs, or the eagerness of some key cast members to move on, Roswell has run out of second chances.

With the demise of Roswell officially announced, all the bottles of Tabasco sauce in the world won't be enough to stave off the series finale, currently scheduled for May 14.

"We actually finished March 11," Rodriguez says. "It's one of those things that everybody knew about. Probably three-quarters of the way through the season, everybody had the feeling that not getting a pickup for next year was becoming inevitable."

"I think everybody was pretty ready to move on. The majority had been there the last three years. Sometimes you wear thin with a character, or sometimes you're ready for a new challenge."

"Maybe that was everybody's feeling, that they were ready to move on and do something else. There was a bit of joy and excitement at what the future might hold, but at the same time, there were certainly a lot of tears that flowed for some people."

When he signed on for the show, Rodriguez says he expected the job to last a year, maybe two at the most, but he still misses his co-stars.

"Certainly Katie," he says. "We spent a lot of time working together, and I couldn't have had more fun. Honestly, she was an absolute sweetheart. But I really bonded with everybody. I had little moments there and there with different people. I went to a U2 concert with Nick (Wechsler)."

As hard as fans fought for the show, fighting even harder since the beginning was executive producer Jason Katims. "As sad as it was for us," Rodriguez says, "it was especially sad for Jason. It was his baby. He really did try. I tell you, my heart really went out to him. No matter what, even if you know it's time for something to be finished, it's a hard thing to let it go."

"I know, for sure, that he will bounce back. In his own way, he's got to be excited about moving on to new things. That's life." Rodriguez hasn't wasted time moving on in his own career. He's signed on to CBS' CSI: Miami, a spin-off of the network's Thursday-night hit CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, which focuses on the use of science to solve crimes in Las Vegas.

Rodriguez plays Eric Delko, a former Florida State quarterback now working as a forensic investigator. The cast so far also includes David Caruso (Michael Hayes, NYPD Blue), Emily Proceter (The West Wing), Khandi Alexander (NewsRadio, ER) and Rory Cochrane (Empire Records, Dazed & Confused).

"I play an underwater-recovery guy," says Rodriguez. "My specialty is going out and removing cars that get dumped into canals and swamps and whatnot. I also work in the lab."

Asked if the role means skintight wetsuits, Rodriguez laughs. "Yep. Yeah, ladies."

Viewers won't have to wait until fall to get a taste of the new series, since the May 9 episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation is a backdoor pilot that introduces the Miami characters.

Current CSI investigators Willow and Brown (Marg Helgenberger, Gary Dourdan) fly from Las Vegas to Miami to investigate the murder of a law-enforcement official and the kidnappy of his family. About half the episode is being shot in South Florida (while set in Vegas, CSI largely films in Los Angeles).

"I'm back in the big show," says Rodriguez, who returns to one of the BIg Three networks for the first time since Brooklyn South. "It feels good, feels good. Spent a couple of years down in Triple-A, I'm definitely ready to have a nice, long cup of coffee back in the big show."

"But there is a good finish to Roswell, a great finish. It's certainly something that could have left room to come back another time or even in a movie. They certainly left themselves the room to do that. But the ending is good, and it will bring a tear."

CYBERSPATIAL ANOMALIES: Roswell fans that want to follow Adam Rodriguez to his new gig may want to catch up on all the CSI excitement so far, and there are plenty of Web sites to help. Among them are Elyse's Comprehensive site and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Fan Fiction, which does contain some mature content. On the reality side, there's Crime Scene Investigation, which focuses on how investigators work and how to become one. BACK TO THE TOP

DIANE FARR IS ARRESTING AS A VULNERABLE COP
Added: 12.04.02. Source: The Arizona Republic, 11.04.02

NEW YORK - On ABC's The Job, Detective Jan Fendrich wears a savory half-smile that declares her tough and sexy. But underneath the heavy lids, her eyes say different: sadness and vulnerability.

"She's a very straightforward New York woman who has a lot going on underneath," says Diane Farr, the actress who makes her that way.

As written, Fendrich is an unusually well-rounded character for any half-hour comedy; well-rounded even for The Job, with its precinct full of richly drawn personalities.

But Farr can bring alive this cop/single mom with just one flash of her come-hither-get-lost look. Among a solid ensemble including series star Denis Leary as well as Bill Nunn and Lenny Clarke, Farr is seldom upstaged.

Even more impressive, she comes at her role from a chasmic distance: In real life, she is chipper, open and, at 30, nearly a decade younger than Fendrich.

"Even people in the business say, 'Who are you on The Job?" she reports with a laugh. "I say, 'I'm the girl!'"

Right! The GIRL! The Job (which airs two new episodes Wednesday at 9pm EDT) is very much a guy show as it tracks the chaotic life of New York City Detective Mike McNeil (Leary), whose substance abuse, philandering and overall recklessness takes only an occasional break for law enforcement. As the lone woman in the squad room, Fendrich is necessarily one of the boys.

So is Farr, and she loves it.

"They're guys' guys," she says of her castmates - "a bunch of blue-collar people who happened to become actors. I think I'm also the youngest member of the cast, which is nice, because I worked on Roswell for two years, where I was the oldest."

Her first acting job was on the late-night crime drama Silk Stalkings, and, more notably, she dispensed sex advice on MTV's Lovelines, a gig she accepted to raise her profile as an actress who aspired to move beyond shows like Silk Stalkings.

She had no particular counseling credentials, she readily concedes.

"But at the bottom of my resume it said that I had been teaching in a maximum security men's prison for two years," she explains, "and the casting director ran with that: If I could hang with murderers, rapists and child molesters, he figured a question about herpes wasn't gonna roll me off the couch."

It didn;t, nor did anything else. She was part of the Lovelines panel from 1997 to 1999, then went on to publish The Girl Code: The Secret Language of Single Women, an archly informative guide to "dating, sex, shopping and honour among girlfriends."

She practiced what she calls "the philosophy of common sense. People wondered, 'Where did you get your MSW?'" She laughs. "I have a degree in drama. I can spot drama from far away!"

Farr got her start in show business as a younger growing up in a working-class Long Island town, when she decided she wanted to model.

"I was thin, lanky, I couldn't fill an A-cup until I went to college: I gained weight from drinking beer. I was dyyyyying to model - it was the only way to utilise what was holding me back from dating."

She found success. Then, after high school, she studied drama in England, travelled the world and, back in Manhattan, got a waitressing job to support herself while she went to auditions.

Soon she was managing the restaurant and bar, whereupon she became a co-owner. Her business was flourishing, and, at 25, so was she. But she was too busy to make her auditions.

"Then I said, 'What am I doing?' Like, I forgot the whole point!"

Cashing out, she recommitted herself to acting and soon had a starring role on Broadway in No Place Like Home, a comedy about eight inmates of an insane asylum.

She moved to Los Angeles and landed guest roles in series including Bull, Arli$$, It's Like, You Know... and in the HBO feature Sacrifice.

She is now starring in Superfire, a TV film about the risky world of smoke jumpers in the forest-fire-besieged Western United States. Farr is heroic as a tough-gal pilot who must navigate dialogue like "This is gonna be bad, isn't it - no matter what we do?" The film airs on ABC at 9pm April 20.

The Job, which premiered for a short run last spring, returned in January for a run that ends, likely forever, on April 24. Although critics have generally hailed the show as fresh, funny and shrewdly true-to-life, it has struggled for viewers in a brutal time slot.

But whatever its fate, The Job has been a great job for Farr, she says, and Fendrich a great role for her to play. "Someone like her probably has more baggage than anyone. They're just not the kind of people who will ever tell you."

Fortunately, Farr is an actress who can guarantee her audience gets the message. Back to the top

ROSWELL INVADES THE VIRGIN MEGASTORE

28.03.2002 - Cast members Brendan Fehr, a lovely-looking Shiri Appleby, Majandra Delfino, Nick Wechsler and Adam Rodriguez along with series creator Jason Katims, made a public appearance at the Virgin Megastore in Hollywood to promote the Roswell soundtrack album on 26 February. Shiri and Jason Katims also introduced Sense Field (whose track Save Yourself appears on the album) to the fans in attendance.

After a brief performance by the band, Shiri ran a contest allowing the winner and a guest to attend a VIP party with members of the cast and Sense Field, along with other prizes. The cast then signed autographs, posed for pictures and even had a surprise visit from Jim Ortlieb who played Nasdeo in seasons one and two (and who can be seen in season three of Angel). Source: Cinescape Online. Back to the top

A TALE OF TWO WRITERS

05.03.2002 - Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz - the editor and author who created the Roswell High series of youth novels - have passed through the looking glass by becoming staff writers on Roswell, the UPN television series based on the books.  The writing partners already have one episode to their credit, A Tale of Two Parties, which aired Jan. 1.  It's the first TV writing job for each.

For Burns and Metz, making the jump from books to TV was like entering an alternate universe.  Though the TV series has its roots in the popular books, the plot and characters have diverged widely.  Moreover, TV writing is a collaborative process, unlike the often isolated endeavour of writing a book.  The writers took a moment recently to sit with Science Fiction Weekly on the set of the series, which airs Tuesdays at 9pm ET/PT.

It must be very strange to be writing for a show based on your books.

Burns: It is very strange.  I think that it was never anything that we were expecting, I mean, on any level.  Because we both were in book publishing for a while, and we had developed many different book series.  It was the first series of books that Melinda wrote.  I was her editor on them, so I hired her to write them.  So that was new and different.  But for us, it was kind of, every step of it was kind of exciting and would have been enough by itself.

Metz: I just got to the point where I just hoped the pilot would get made so I could see it.  It was almost too much to hope for that I'd actually [end up writing for it] ...

Burns: The concept of the books was really fun.  And then I was happy to get Melinda to write them, because she's great. ...

Metz: It was definitely my first book series.  I think I'd written like a novelisation of an episode of Goosebumps that was already based on a book.  That was my introduction to writing.  I'd been an editor for a bunch of years. ...

Do you find that TV writing is very different from what you were doing before?

Burns: [For this] kind of editing, you do a lot of rewriting, a lot of actual plotting and writing of outlines and brainstorming.  It's just a very creative process.  And we were doing series book, mostly for kids and teenagers.  So for us, it was always, you're plotting for characters that are going to continue from book to book, which we thought would be very translatable to television. ... The TV rights sold, based on the first manuscript, and that was exciting, and then we heard that [executive producer] Jason Katims was going to be attached, and he's a brilliant writer.

Metzz: We love [Katims'] My So-Called Life.

Burns: And then we heard the pilot was getting made.  So every step along the way, you just couldn't believe -

Metz: That it was actually going that far.

The TV show and books are very different.

Burns: All through the whole development process, and then the first two seasons ... the books and the television shows were very separate.

Metz: Different audience and different backstory.

Burns: Liz has a different last name.  [Ortecho in the books, Parker in the TV show.]

Metz: A couple of them have different [names]. ...

Burns: Some of them are the same.

Metz: Alex, whose last name was [Manns] in the books and Whitman in the show.

Burns: The setup is very much the same.

Metz: And the couple matching.

Burns: And then, after that, it's sort of that we started in the same places ... and the show went in one direction, and the books went [in a] different [one].

Metz: They're like alternate universe of each other.

Burns: Quite different.  Very different.

Metz: Each change kind of creates ripples all the way through.

Burns: The characters are on different paths.  The show has always been more adult.  Just an older tone.  The books were basically aimed at 10-year-olds.  Ten and 11.  So it had to be a much younger voice.  And it was very much high school.  And the show, the characters have just gone through so much, they're sort of wise beyond their years now and much more mature than your average group of 17- and 18-year-olds, and the stories are much more adult. ... Because it's a different medium, you can tell different stories.  And it's just very different.  But we love it just as much.  We were all big fans of the show.

Did you always intend to wind up writing for television?

Burns: When we met each other, we were both editors.

Metz: We were editors at the same company.

Burns: And shortly thereafter, we started saying to each other, "You know, what we're doing, we could just do it for TV instead of books, and that would be so much more fun."

Metz: We wrote a proposal together before we knew anything of what we were doing.  Or before Roswell and everything.

Burns: Right, we wrote a proposal for a TV series.  We just always wanted to do that, because, as I said, it's a similar skill set, when you're plotting for an episode equals one book in a series.  You just have to know what the end point is when you're starting out a series.  And we had been doing it for a long time.

Metz: We always talked about making the jump.  But we were talking about moving out here even before we got this job, just to kind of break in.

Burns: We both ... watch way too much TV [laughs].  Melinda more than I will see every movie that comes out.  You know, we're both entertainment buffs.  It's something we definitely always wanted to do.  It's very strange, because ... what we did for Roswell High was very much focused on the books, and it was just developing a book series, which we had done a lot of before, and then the TV stuff, for us, always seemed kind of separate from it.  We wrote two pilots for Regency and 20th [Century Television] before we got this job.  And so we kind of were going in backwards.  Usually, you start as staff writers.

Metz: [This is] the opposite way most people start.

Burns: Obviously, Roswell has helped us a lot.

Metz: Hugely.  Maggie Murphy at Regency had read the first manuscript, and she was the one who hired us to write a pilot, just because she wanted to know if we had other ideas.  She just called out of the blue.  Even though we had it on our calendars: "Start writing spec script." ... We really did have it on the calendar for the same week.  We were like, "We should start planning our spec script." ... So when Maggie called, we said, "OK, we'll take that time we have scheduled, and we'll work on our pilot instead" [two years ago].

Burns: We wrote them, and we're told wonderful things, and they never got produced.  The usual story.

Metz: We learned a lot.  And we met a lot of people.

Burns: We met a lot of people.  And we loved them very much.  Everyone we worked with was really supportive and creative and great, and it was the first time we'd actually been writing in screenplay format with each other, so it was a great learning process.  It was fun to develop.

How different is it to write a script versus writing a book?

Metz: We knew that we were kind of in sync.

Burns: We knew we could write together. It was more, "Wait a minute, we can't describe what the characters are thinking. So we have to somehow [show it]. ..."

Metz: We'd always have the thing where it's like, "Wait, is this all for the scene?"

Burns: What they're wearing, we don't have to talk about.

Metz: [Or] what they're thinking. That's in their head. ... It's fun. I always like the learning curve.

Burns: And for us, too, because we're writing together, it's so much about the dialogue, we can talk back and forth to each other and see if it works.

Metz: Writing a novel or something together I'm sure would be much more challenging.

Was it difficult to jump universes, from the books to the series?

Burns: It had been a long time since the book series ended.

Metz: Yeah, I think that helped.  I think if we had just finished working on book 10, and then like a few weeks later started here, it probably would have been a little gear-grinding.  But I had done another series after Roswell High, and Laura had worked on all kinds of projects.

Burns: And also, we had been watching the show for two seasons.  So we kind of ... knew the voices of the characters on the show, versus the characters in the books.  To us, they're just different characters, really.

Tell us about your first script, about a New Year's Eve.

Burns: As a staff [we] wanted to do a New Year's show, because it's airing on New Year's Day, so clearly it had to be a New Year's show.  And I think everybody kind of automatically went the whole New Year's Eve party thing.  But then, we knew what kind of feel we wanted, just kind of a fun, fast-paced, bouncing around [feel]. ...

Metz: Where we could see pretty much everybody and what they were doing.

Burns: So then we came up with the idea of ... there's a party, kind of a secret party.  It's like a treasure hunt, and you follow clues.  Everybody knows where the first clue [is], and that leads you to the next clue, and the next clue that leads you to the party.  And this is an annual thing, that's like [a] legendary ... rave, just the best party of all time, called Enigma.  And what we thought is, that we're going to put them on the road to this party, in various groupings, and follow their adventures as they try to find the party.

Metz: The two-party thing was always that Liz is stuck at the Crashdown party...

Burns: The old folks party.  Because she works at the Crashdown.  Poor Liz.

Metz: It was very collaborative. ... We worked with the other writers outlining the story.

Burns: We break stories together in the writers' room, sometimes scene by scene, literally every scene.  It's really fun.  Sometimes you want to kill each other.  But more often than not, it's really fun.  You're sitting around with a bunch of people who are smart and creative and just talking about a TV show that you all love.  So it's really great.

Metz: That's one of the things that I really like after writing books.  I think I'll always like writing books, and will always want to do it.  But having that collaboration and being able to like ... I just got tired of being in my apartment all by myself all day. ... It's the opposite, but it's still stories.  So I get to take that part, which I really love, and combine it with people, which I also love. Source: Sci-Fi WeeklyBack to the top

SADLER DIRECTS ROSWELL

02.03.2002 - This piece from Sci-Fi Wire contains a spoiler for season 3, episode 17:

William Sadler, who plays former sheriff Jim Valenti on UPN's teen-alien series Roswell, told SCI FI Wire that he recently stepped behind the camera to direct an upcoming episode that will feature the return of a familiar character.  "I have been asking to direct an episode of Roswell since season one," Sadler said in an interview.  "I think they are going to be very happy with what they got.  We came in on time and on budget with a good show.  I think they're going to wish we had started this in year one.  I'd be a seasoned old director by now."

Sadler also offered the spoiler that the episode, Four Aliens and a Baby, will deal with the return of the fourth alien, Tess, portrayed by Emilie DeRavin.  "I don't want to spoil it for people but I think it's all right to say that a character whose name starts with T comes back," he said.  At the end of last season, Tess left Earth in a family way after seducing fellow alien Max Evans (Jason Behr).  Now she is back, and she's not alone.

Four Aliens and a Baby will be the 17th episode of Roswell's current season.  It may also turn out to be one of the last, given that a fourth year for the seemingly always-on-the-bubble series remains in doubt.  "I know there are rumors flying around about a fourth season," Sadler said.  "I heard a rumor a while back about a film - a Roswell movie - but I'm not holding my breath.  Everybody seems to be going on with their lives. ... I mean, you always do this in television, because you can never count on [the future]."

For first time director Sadler, the experience was both educational and harrowing at times.  "This episode that I do, we have dogs, we have babies, we have green screen, we have stunts and special effects and huge scenes with all of the actors in them," he said.  "There were moments there when I was way over my head and had to turn to the people around me and say, 'You're going to have to help me with this one.'"  Though Sadler welcomed the challenge, he admitted that he would have preferred a less complicated script for his directing debut.  "They chose this episode for me.  I would have chosen one where two people sit in an apartment and talk for 40 minutes."

Regardless of the show's fate, Sadler said that he would like to continue directing if given the opportunity.  "It's fabulous.  Once you've faced each and every one of these challenges, there can never be another first time for it.  You've done it already.  So it's not going to be unfamiliar territory anymore."  After a two-month hiatus, Roswell returns with new episodes at 9 p.m. ET/PT April 30.  Four Aliens and a Baby is scheduled to air May 14.  Back to the top

SHIRI AND MAJANDRA SIGNING

28.01.2002 - Shiri Appleby and Majandra Delfino will be participating in a signing event at Metro Entertainment in Santa Barbara, California, this Saturday.

For details on getting a personalised autograph from the actors, which comes with a candid picture of the star and a Certificate of Authenticity, email MetroComix@aol.com for information.  Back to the top

FRAKES TO BE MASTER OF ILLUSION

26.01.2002 - Roswell exec producer Jonathan Frakes has signed onto a new film being developed at Disney Studios, Illusion, billed in The Hollywood Reporter as a blend of F/X and The Fugitive.

No stars have been set for the film, which centres on a successful illusionist who must go on the run after witnessing the death of a famous industry tycoon.

Brent Bell and Matt Peterman have been tapped to write the script.  Back to the top

ROSWELL - THE MOVIE?

13.01.2002 - Despite Roswell's future on television looking increasingly shaky, there could yet be another way for the franchise to continue.

Comingsoon.net has a couple of snippets hinting at a possible big-screen version of the series.  BBC2 viewers should note there is a major spoiler for Cry Your Name in the second paragraph.

"I recently attended Fangoria's Weekend of Horrors convention.  I talked to a man who works as a technical adviser on UPN's Roswell.  We talked a little about the show, and he told me that the show is not faring well on television.  Jonathan Frakes has an idea to make a feature length film after the season, should it be canned.  They want to make it a big movie - an adventure like Star Trek - with the original stars and some larger stars in it.  It's all a bit speculative at the moment, but none the less, [I] found it interesting."

It appears that Frakes isn't the only one interested: "My sister in CA informs me that the blatantly gorgeous Colin Hanks was on Howard Stern last week, talking about his new movie.  They mentioned his show Roswell - that's he's now left; and he said he's heard whispers that the director wants to do Roswell: The Movie.  He laughed about his character returning - being dead and all.  Thought it was funny and interesting."

Thanks to Chris B.  Back to the top

WHOA, NELLY!

12.01.2002 - Nelly Furtado, who guest starred in Baby, It's You, is the latest female celeb to complain about the UK edition of FHM's habit of doctoring photographs in order to show a bit more skin.

Furtado says the magazine altered a picture of her to shorten her shirt and reveal her stomach.  And then they altered her stomach.

"There I am with a shirt that has actually been digitally altered to go to just below my chest, with a stomach that I don't recognise," she told Radio 1.

Furtado says she didn't pose for the magazine or give permission to be put on the cover.  A source close to her told The Sun: "She was asked to do a shoot but she said no.  She's not a men's magazine kind of girl."

Billed as "Canada's sexiest export - in her hottest ever shoot!", Furtado appears on one of the three covers gracing the February 2002 issue (although I've only seen the Mariah Carey and Jenny from Atomic Kitten ones).  Her management said FHM somehow obtained photos that were done for another magazine.

"I don't like being misrepresented to my fans," she told the BBC.  "You work hard to represent a certain thing and have a certain image...and somebody can take it all away with the cover of a magazine."

Furtado's career has recently shifted into high gear, with the singer earning four Grammy nominations this month - best new artist, best pop vocal album, best female pop vocal performance and song of the year.

Her album Whoa, Nelly!, released in January last year, has sold over a million copies in the US.  The single On the Radio (Remember the Days) was released in the UK last Monday.

In an online chat, Furtado said that she studied music since the age of four, starting with piano and moving on to ukulele, trombone and choirs.  She played in school bands, took music lessons five days a week and began writing her own songs at age 12.

"In school I wasn't that cool - I've just become more confident and comfortable with myself," she said.

"As a child I was an over-achiever a little bit and really wanted to get the best grades and the best everything.  I was a little bit more awkward...now I'm more at ease in my own skin."

FHM have made no comment on the matter.  Back to the top

ROSWELL TEEN ALIENS READY TO MOVE ON

10.01.2002 - From the Knoxville News Sentinel, 4 January (UK viewers should be warned there are spoilers for season three, and spoilers for forthcoming US episodes are flagged partway through):

Shiri Appleby, who stars at Liz Parkers on the alien series Roswell is ready for her character's own independence day.

"I'm glad the writers have made her stronger," Appleby said.  "You see her growing up."

In fact, it would be good for Liz to learn she can be happy without Max Evans, the alien teenager she has loved since he saved her life in the Roswell pilot, Appleby said.

"I really want her to move on in her life, rather than be in a relationship with him," Appleby said.  "She's a little bit possessed.  She's not discovering who she is without him."

But Appleby said she's glad Roswell has returned to focusing on relationships instead of purely science fiction.  She didn't say what the writers have planned for Liz and Max in future episodes but noted she knows fans like that relationship.

Appleby talked about the show with a reporter as she and other stars mingled with fans during a Roswell party at the Soul Train set at Paramount Pictures.  Roswell is produced at another sound stage on the same lot.  A trip to Hollywood, the party and a tour of the Roswell sets made up the grand prize for winners in a national radio contest.

Most of the young fans there were dedicated viewers, bringing photos for Appleby and others to sign.  Some of the folks said they hadn't seen Roswell but entered the contest for the trip to Hollywood.

Getting everyone to see Roswell remains a problem for the show, but the series is getting adequate ratings for the network it's on.  Roswell, which recently was no. 108 in the ratings, airs at 9pm most Tuesdays on UPN.

During that week, it was the network's sixth-highest rated show and wasn't that far behind reruns of Enterprise or Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

(Roswell is pre-empted this week (Jan. 8); the network is airing the half-hour sitcomes The Hughleys and One On One instead.)

UPN picked up the series, based on Melinda Metz's Roswell High book series, after The WB cancelled the show last year.

Moving on with their lives is a theme for Appleby's Liz and the rest of the Roswell characters this season.

"Now that they are on Earth to stay, they have so many choices to make," Metz said.  Metz, who joined the series as a staff writer, co-wrote last Tuesday's episode, which showed how the characters celebrated New Year's Eve.

For the most part, the Roswell characters "are still in high school; they're on Earth permanently," Metz said, adding, "I think Roswell is a parallel for kids who feel alienated, who feel they're complete outsiders."

Ronald D. Moore, the former Star Trek producer and writer who is now the co-executive producer of Roswell, explained further.  "Ultimately, it's a show about growing up," said Moore, who with Brannon Braga co-wrote the scripts of Star Trek: Generations and Star Trek: First Contact.

Majandra Delfino, who stars as the human Maria DeLuca on the series, said it's time for her character to move beyond her boyfriend, the alien Michael.  "He's not a very good boyfriend," she said.

Arguably, neither is Max at times.  He led Liz into trouble by getting her to help him to pretend to rob a convenience store so he could get a look at a spaceship.  Later, Max found out the ship couldn't be flown, but don't expect him to give up on trying to leave Earth.  The son he had with not-to-be-trusted alien Tess is elsewhere in the galaxy.

There's room for smiles amid all the gloom on Roswell.  This season, Max's alien sister Isabel Evans (Katherine Heigl) got married, showing the characters can have their own lives.

And you can expect more humour.

Spoilers for forthcoming US episodes follow.

An upcoming episode, I Married An Alien, is a spoof of Bewitched and includes something you've never heard on Roswell - a laugh track.

When Isabel starts dreaming of a simpler life, she begins to see everything in terms of a 1960s sitcom, Moore said.

Appleby's life, meanwhile, is a world apart from Liz's.

For one thing, "I've never had a serious boyfriend," Appleby said.  Appleby is continuing her studies at the University of Southern California, and she recently starred in the upcoming independent movie, Swimfan85.  In it, "I'm the girlfriend of a boy who has a fatal attraction," she said, comparing the plot to the Michael Douglas-Glenn Close movie.

(Coincidentally, Swimfan85 is produced by Douglas' Further Films.  Jesse Bradford and Erika Christensen also star.

"It's a serious psychological thriller," Appleby said.  "It was fun and really sexy and very interesting."

Roswell, meanwhile, is making time for music.  William Sadler, who plays former Sheriff Jim Valenti on Roswell, said he's enjoying Jim's new career as a country band leader.  In fact, Sadler wrote the songs the band played at Isabel's wedding.

Sadler joked he was ready for a Roswell episode to end with an announcement, "Tonight's episode included music by William Sadler."  Back to the top

JOHN DOE: THE COOLEST DAD EVER

26.12.2001 - UK viewers should beware of a couple of general spoilers for season 3 in this article from Zap2it.com:

When John Doe released his last solo album, Freedom Is... he did a number of appearances in Borders bookstores to promote it.  He'd play a few songs, then sign the CDs.

Most of the fan who'd come to see him, Doe tells Zap2it.com, were what you might expect: a mix of younger and older fans who knew his work from the landmark Los Angeles punk band X and have since followed his solo career.

"But every once in a while, maybe every other one," Does says, "there would be this little clump of 15-year-old girls.  And they of course would want to know..."

How he balances his acting and singing career?  If he would be collaborating with the Old 97's again?  When X might get together again for a couple of shows?

"'Is Shiri cool', No. 1 - well, actually it's a close call, with 'How hunky is Jason Behr?'"

Doe is in a position to have this information by way of his role on Roswell, the aliens-in-high-school drama on UPN.  He plays Geoff Parker, owner of the Crashdown Cafe and father to Liz Parker, the girlfriend of Behr's brooding alien Max.

For the record, Doe says the answer to the first question is yes, and he doesn't feel qualified to answer the second.

"I'm also unable to tell them if Jason is a good kisser," he says, laughing.  "Shiri says he's pretty good, but I don't have any personal experience.  Yet.  But you never know - I did line dance.  If they're gonna make a punk-rock guy do line dancing, they may have him french-kissing a man any second."

Doe is working more steadily on Roswell this season, as the show's adults re-enter the story after being pretty much absent from the second season, its last on The WB before moving, along with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, to UPN.

"I think I worked twice the second season," he says.  "This season has been much more family oriented.  I think people got ... confused with all the plotlines last year.  It was a little too X Files."

That the shift in storytelling and the shift fro The WB to UPN occurred at the same time is merely coincidence, Doe believes.  "As far as it being more family-oriented [this season], that's just what the first season was about - the human drama, dealing with the fact that there are aliens in our midst.  That's a lot to deal with right there."

Doe, who's appeared in about 30 movies since the mid-1980s, says the thing he values most about his work on Roswell is "the chance to keep my chops up."

"If you go three or six months between jobs, for the first couple days you're flopping around like a fish, thinking 'Do I remember how to do this?'" he says.  "Here, there's more time to develop a character, more different situations."

He plans to continue his movie work during the show's off time; he recently completed work on an independent thriller called Jon Good's Wife.

"I know I'll be doing more independents because that's what I like, and that's what directors and casting directors like me for," he says.  "It's where I'm comfortable.  Basically, my take is more money, more bullshit."

He's also continuing his music career.  X reunites several times a year "for fun, and some profit," and he's working with songwriter-producer Joe Henry on some new tracks.  He recently recorded a song with the Old 97's for a tribute album to the Knitters, X's countrified alter ego.  "That was very strange, to be on your own tribute record," he says.

His song Totally Yours from Freedom Is... will be featured in the Jan. 8 Roswell, playing at the end of an episode in which one of the show's couples breaks up.

Doe won't say who it is.  He will admit, though, that he believes UFOs exist.  "I saw one," he says.  "It was definitely an unidentified flying object.  Whether it was a spaceship or not, I couldn't tell you."

He then adds, conspiratorially, "I think that's classified information.  I'll have to check with the sources.  We have more information than a lot of people.  Being on the show Roswell, they tell us stuff."  Back to the top

GRADUATING FROM ROSWELL HIGH

27.11.2001 - Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz - the editor and author who created the Roswell High series of youth novels - told Sci-Fi Wire that it's like entering an alternate universe now that they are staff writers on the TV series based on the books.  Writing partners Burns and Metz recently completed their first Roswell script, A Tale of Two Parties, which finished production the week of 19 November and is slated for a 1 January air date.

As anyone who's read the books will be aware, the TV series is based on the first novel, but its plot and characters have diverged widely since, a fact acknowledged by the writers.  "It's sort of that we started in the same places...and the show went in one direction, and the books went in a different one," Burns said.

She added that "the characters are on different paths.  The show has always been more adult. ... The books were basically aimed at 10-year-olds. ... So it had to be a much younger voice.  And it was very much high school.  And the show, the characters have just gone through so much, they're sort of wise beyond their years now and much more mature than your average group of 17- and 18-year-olds, and the stories are much more adult. ... But we love it just as much.  We were always big fans of the show."

Metz said she enjoys the collaborative nature of television writing, in which ideas and storylines are developed by a group of writers working together.  "That's one of the things that I really like after writing books," she said.  "I think I'll always like writing books and will always want to do it.  But ... I just go tired of being in my apartment all by myself all day. ... I really love it.  It's the opposite, but it's still stories.  So I get to take that part, which I really love, and combine it with people, which I also love."

Spoilers for A Tale of Two Parties follow

Burns and Metz's first episode takes place on New Year's Eve.  "We Knew what kind of feel we wanted - just kind of a fun, fast-paced, bouncing around," Burns said.  "There's a party, kind of a secret party.  It's like a treasure hunt, and you follow clues.  Everybody knows where the first clue is, and that leads you to the next clue, and the next clue that leads you to the party.  And this is an annual thing that's legendary, like a rave, just the best party of all time, called Enigma.  And what we thought is that we're going to put them on the road to this party, in various groupings, and follow their adventures as they try to find the party."  Back to the top

ANGEL VS. ROSWELL RATINGS

08.10.2001 - We'll be covering season three's US ratings here on TCF when the series premieres on UPN tomorrow, but here's an interesting snippet from The Futon Critic about Angel's ratings in Roswell's old slot:

For series in new time slots, Angel came up just short of Roswell's premiere numbers last year (down 2.33%) and fell noticably from 7th Heaven's lead-in (43.24% vs. Roswell's 36.76% last year).  Angel's numbers were also down from its own premiere last season (6.67%).  It will be interesting to see how these numbers play out over the long run but for the time being, Roswell did better in the time slot.

No doubt many Roswell fans will have a smug smile after reading this, and let's just hope that the series continues to show The WB what it's lost by defeating Smallville in the ratings.  Back to the top

ROSWELL CAST ONLINE CHAT

11.09.2001 - Eonline's Wanda will be having an online chat with the entire cast from the show's set at Paramount Studios on November 5.

A couple of weeks ago, Wanda was asked whether it was true that Shiri and Jason "despised" each other, to which she only replied that "'despise' was a strong word."

However, despite any possible friction on that front, Wanda says that she "ran into Majandra, Brendan and Shiri last Friday, and I can tell you that despite the nasty rumours about tension among other cast members, those three are very tight."  Back to the top

ON A ROSWELL HIGH

28.08.2001 - The following article includes a very minor season three spoiler (the name of a new cast member, but nothing more):

Dedicated fans of former WB and now UPN show Roswell, which makes its season premiere on Oct. 9 (after fellow WB expatriate Buffy The Vampire Slayer), know that the TV show was originally based on a young-adult book series called Roswell High, published by Pocket Pulse.

The books were written by Melinda Metz, who worked on them with Laura J. Burns, the editor who helped develop the book series and brought in Metz as the writer.  Now the two - who are friends and writing partners - have realised their dream.  This season, they joined the staff of Roswell, which follows the saga of teen aliens (Jason Behr, Brendan Fehr, Katherine Heigl) stranded on Earth, and the humans (Shiri Appleby, Majandra Delfino and, now, Adam Rodriguez) who love them.

"We share a brain anyway," says Metz.

"We always think and say the same things," says Burns.  "It's embarrassing."

"It's good when you're writing partners, though," says Metz.

While the pilot and first episode for the series closely followed the plots of the first two books, beyond that point, the stories went their own separate ways.

"It becomes like alternate-universe Roswell," says Metz.

"With a lot of the characters," says Burns, "the relationships are frequently the same.  It's interesting because the way they've gotten to them is very different than the way we got to them in the book.  It's been fun.  It really is an alternate universe."

After careers as editors and writers in the New York publishing industry, Metz and Burns decided to take the plunge and try to realise their dream to work as television writers.  "We had written a couple of pilots for Regency Pictures and 20th Century Fox over the last couple of years," says Burns.  "We were out here [in Los Angeles] in staffing season interviewing with a lot of different shows, trying to get ourselves on staff this year.  It was just serendipity that we ended up on Roswell."

"We met [executive producer Jason Katims] informally for breakfast," says Metz, "because we had the Roswell connection.  It was in that time when The WB had let the show go and UPN hadn't picked it up, so we were just meeting him."

"None of us were even sure that Roswell would have a future," says Burns, "so all of us were very excited when Roswell was picked up.  When Jason wanted to bring us on board, we were over the moon."

"We love the show," says Metz.

Metz and Burns first met while working for Parachute Press, which put out R.L. Stine's Goosebumps series.  Later, when Burns was developing Roswell High, she brought in Metz, who had moved from editor to full-time writer.

"It became pretty clear to us," says Burns, "that the stuff we were doing would translate very well into writing for television, because we were doing a lot of plotting..."

"And a lot of series books," Metz continues, "where you have a lot of story arcs for a 10-book series."

"Some of the characters were continual," says Burns, "where you'd have the same setting.  It's very much using the same muscles that television writing would use.  And we're both complete TV junkies and movie junkies.  So it was just a natural progression."

"It was a pipe dream - if only we could write for television."

"We kept saying," says Metz, "'OK, we're going to do spec scripts.'  So even before Roswell, we had talks about how the two of us would like to do something together for that.  It's just moved along slowly."

"But here we are," says Burns, "and we're thrilled.  It's just what we've always wanted."

Now relocated to LA - and suffering from excessive driving and the lack of decent pizza - the former Manhattanites face the strange situation of seeing how their baby has grown in other people's hands.  The partners are also hearing from the fans of Roswell, a dedicated bunch who have supported the show with letters, e-mails and bottles of Tabasco sauce (the aliens' favourite condiment).

"It's a wonderful thing to behold," says Burns.  "The funny thing for us is, they're saying, 'Oh, it's going to be great for the show that Melinda's there,' and Melinda and I mostly feel like..."

"It's great for us to be on the show," says Metz, picking up the thought.

"It's great for us to have this chance to learn the field," Burns continues.  "We're just so new at television writing, and it's what we want to do."

One bonus, particularly for Metz, is the experience of being part of a writing team.  "It's so collaborative," she says, "which is fun.  I've spent the last bunch of years in my apartment in New York, by myself.  It's really great to be in a community of other writers."

"The life of a freelance writer is very lonely," says Burns.

And you are now, officially what?  "Staff writers," says Burns.  "This is our first job in TV."

"Even though we had a career in publishing..." says Metz.

"We're entry-level," continues Burns.  "We're learning."

"We don't know anything," says Metz, "so that's where we should be."

"Teach us," says Burns.  "We are a sponge."  Back to the top

SARA DOWNING

20.08.2001 - BBC2 viewers won't have seen her character yet, but those with Sky will recognise the photo on the right as "babe" Courtney.  Sara Downing, who played her, is currently starring in The WB's new series Dead Last.

Born in Washington, D.C., Sara was a self-proclaimed "drama queen," who started acting at a young age in Shakespearean theatre.  This was followed by modelling in Boise, Idaho, where she was raised.  Having been singled out by an agent, she had the opportunity to see the world and after extensive travel, she settled down in Los Angeles to satiate her appetite for acting.

She made her movie debut in Never Been Kissed, where she had the opportunity to throw eggs at a geeky Drew Barrymore.  More recently she has starred in the horror films The Forsaken starring Brendan Fehr, and Wishcraft starring Meat Loaf.  She also appeared in the acclaimed independent film Tumbleweeds and stars in the upcoming indie thriller Rats.

Television credits include a recurring role on MTV's Undressed, as well as guest-starring role on Boy Meets World and Titus.

Although she misses the outdoor life of Idaho, Sara currently resides in Los Angeles.  When not working, she enjoys throwing parties, designing clothes and watching movies.  In addition, she's recently completed The WB's Fill In The Blanks:

The trait you admire most in your closest friends is:
Loyalty and, uh, the ability to stay positive and happy.

When you die, people will always remember you for:
Love.

My friends can always count on me to be:
Energetic and supportive.

People would be really amazed to discover that I am really:
Hmmm, that's a tough one.  I don't know.  I think I tell everyone everything.

The one-liner that best describes my life story so far:
I gotta skip that one, I can't even think of anything.

The one thing that I never leave home without is my:
Dr. Pepper Chapstick.

If I could step into the shoes of any rock star for one day it would be:
P.J. Harvey.

I'm completely obsessed with:
Psychology.

If we peeked in your fridge we would find:
Lots of old take-out.

Growing up you swore you would never:
Let myself be unhappy.

Looking back on your life you still can't believe that you've actually managed to:
Live on my own, like have my own place, pay bills.  I never thought I'd be responsible.  Back to the top

PRESS TOUR PHOTOS

11.08.2001 - As previously reported on TCF, last month saw the Television Critics Association's press gathering in Pasadena, CA, where the broadcast networks went face to face with the press to promote their new season shows.

On hand to promote Roswell were a number of the cast, including Shiri, Katherine and Majandra, as well as the show's creator and executive producer, Jason Katims.

Cinescape Online has shots of some of the Roswell cast:

Shiri and Jason Katims | Katherine | Majandra and Shiri | Back to the top

ROSWELL GETS LEGAL NUDGING

21.07.2001 - Just how much do some Roswell cast members relish their new life at UPN?  So much, apparently, that show producer 20th Century Fox needed to threaten legal action against at least one actor who didn't show up to promote the series.  After getting canned by The WB last year and then picked in the 11th hour by hand-me-down happy UPN, most of Roswell's cast members smiled graciously for reporters Monday at the Television Critics Association Press Tour in Pasadena, California.  In attendance was the show's female contingent - Shiri Appleby, Katherine Heigl and Majandra Delfino.

But notably absent were costars Brendan Fehr and Jason Behr - and when reporters asked where they were, an awkward silence fell over the room.

That's because it apparently takes more than free drinks at the Ritz-Carlton to get them to show up.  In a letter sent anonymously to E! Online, lawyers for 20th Century Fox threatened legal action against at least one of the show's stars if he didn't make the media rounds in Pasadena.

"Make no mistake, such a cavalier disregard of your documented commitments to the series will not be tolerated," the letter reads.  "We are hopeful, however, that [20th Century Fox] has either been misinformed as to your intentions or, if you actually did not intend to appear at the TCAPT, that you will reconsider your ill-advised decision and agree to honor your contractual obligations."

Although the name addressed on the letter was blacked out, sources at the studio confirm it was sent to Fehr.  Another source, meanwhile, claims the letter was sent out to the entire cast.

Either way, the letter seems to make it painfully clear that not everyone is as thrilled as the fans that Roswell was resurrected for a third season.  Of course, it's been a running joke that most stars dread the TCA Press Tour and all its mandatory flesh-pressing.  But for a series that scraped through last season on The WB (averaging 4.1 million viewers), you'd assume its stars would do anything short of dousing themselves with Tabasco sauce to get the free publicity.

"It's very important for the network to have its stars there for a show as important as Roswell," a studio source said.  "When we were told Brendan wasn't going to be able to attend, there was some concern."  So out came the lawyers.

Fehr apparently had a reasonable excuse for not showing up: he was in his native Canada filming public service announcements for the Ontario government warning kids about the threat of sexual abuse.  Jason Behr was also working on another project and later excused by the studio from attending the press day.

Fehr's manager, Jim Sheasgreen, says he doesn't know who sent the letter out to the media, but he adds carefully, "I think it's already been expressed that not everyone was particularly excited about going back for a third season."

As for the rest of the Roswell crew, most of the show's stars remained mum about the subject while schmoozing at a UPN party on Monday night.  When asked about the letter, Shiri Appleby responded, "I don't really want to talk about the letter.  I'm here, I'm being supportive, and I don't want to talk about any of the negativity."

A source close to the show said the studio's biggest concern was with Fehr, but the matter has since been dropped.  "He's a good kid," the insider noted, "but Brendan has always been just a big pill."

Fehr's manager, meanwhile, insists the actors will be back in Los Angeles and ready to work when production on season three begins on 23 July.  Back to the top

UPN WEBSITE'S FALL SCHEDULE DETAILS

21.06.2001 - UPN's website is pretty thin on the content front, but at least it has details of its fall line-up and hopefully the content will be expanded now it has the likes of Roswell, Buffy and Enterprise to cover.

Here's their introduction to Roswell:

Conspiracy, deception and the destiny of four teenagers with an amazing secret all collide in Roswell - moving to UPN this fall with all new episodes.

July 3, 1947.  The crash of a spaceship, an event officially denied by the government, leaves three young aliens to grow up in the small town of Roswell, New Mexico.  Banding together, Max Evans (Jason Behr), his sister Isabel (Katherine Heigl) and Michael Guerin (Brendan Fehr) keep their identities a secret from their families and friends.  But the shooting of classmate Liz Parker forces Max to use his extraordinary powers to save her life, and their ensuing relationship brings Liz and her best friend Maria DeLuca (Majandra Delfino) into the fold.  Concealing their extraterrestrial origins is soon made harder with the discovery of a fourth crash survivor, Tess Harding (Emilie de Ravin), who reveals that they are royalty destined to one day save a dying alien race.  Their fight against being exposed is made all the more difficult by a sheriff (William Sadler) whose personal obsession drives him towards the truth about what really happened in 1947.

Science fiction meets human drama as four teenagers on the brink of adulthood share a dangerous secret about the past that will shape their future in the newest addition to UPN's lineup, Roswell.

CAST:

Shiri Appleby, Jason Behr, Katherine Heigl, Majandra Delfino, Brendan Fehr, Nick Wechsler, William Sadler. Back to the top

MELINDA METZ JOINS WRITING TEAM

20.06.2001 - Melinda Metz, author of the original Pocket Books novels and her writing partner Laura Burns have been hired as staff writers for Roswell's third season.  Ms. Burns was formerly Metz's editor on the Roswell High novels.

This could mean a return to more relationship based storylines after the more science-fiction skewed second season.  On the downside, it could mean the television series being aimed at the same teenage audience as the novels, or the inclusion of some of their dodgy science-fiction concepts.  Back to the top

TEEN ANGST & ALIENS

14.06.2001 - For the past two years NBN's on-again, off-again teenage sci-fi drama has been pushed and pulled between timeslots and network programming decisions.

Screening at 10.30pm on Wednesdays, the classy show about alien teenagers living in Roswell, New Mexico, is now mid-way through its second series and is once again keeping teenagers, and more than a few adults, up late at night for their regular fix of teenage angst and alien drama.

Despite the series' compelling sci-fi premise, there's little doubt Roswell's cast of impossibly attractive 20-somethings has more than a little to do with its longevity.

And although viewers score their fix of steamy romance thanks to stars Jason Behr (Max) and Shiri Appleby (Liz Parker), they also tune in for the side-dramas supplied by cast members such as 23-year-old Nick Wechsler.

Wechsler plays Kyle Valenti, Liz's ex-boyfriend and son of the town sheriff.  An all-American high school jock, Kyle has not only had to adjust to losing Liz to the leader of the aliens Max, but his father (William Sadler) is now in the aliens' camp.

Now Kyle finds himself attempting to adjust to his new role of friend to the aliens.

Not that Wechsler minds the change in character development, he's just happy to be a star on one of America's favourite teenage dramas.

The native of New Mexico says he's confused by the "Hollywood thing" - fame, fortune and having somebody bring you a bottle of water.

"It's kind of strange," Wechsler ponders.

"There are people who bring you water all the time.  Why can't people get their own water?  I don't get it," he says on the set at Roswell's Paramount Pictures studio.

Wechsler left his very un-Hollywood home of Albuquerque, New Mexico - where his father is a sheet-metal worker and his mother works for the US Forest Service - after he graduated from high school.  He soon landed a small role as a purse-stealing punk in the 1996 TV movie Full Circle and a supporting role that same year in the TV series The Lazarus Man.

In 1997, Wechsler was cast as Trek, a child conceived at a Star Trek convention, in the short-lived series Team Knight Rider.  But the sporadic work wasn't enough to support himself, so he went to work at a video store before landing the role of Kyle Valenti, the scene-stealing smart-mouthed jock who makes life difficult for the teen aliens on Roswell.

He says when the role was pitched to him, he jumped at the opportunity.

"It was like, 'Do you want a job?'  It didn't matter what the pitch was.  I had to get something because I was doing nothing.  It sounded all right to me.

"I initially read for the role that Colin (Hanks who plays Alex Whitman) got," Wechsler says.  "Then they called me back for the role that I ended up getting.  I know it sounds kind of funny.  OK, they're aliens and they're walking among us and they're in high school.  My good friends are always picking on me about it."

Ribbing aside however, Wechsler admits his fame has begun to catch up with him, especially among female fans who will approach him on the street but he doesn't let that affect the way he sees himself.

"I haven't gotten anybody who is crazy enough to confuse me with my character yet," he laughs.

"I'm a little afraid of that.  I try to accommodate people as much as I can.  Handshake.  Hug.  Whatever they ask for.  A couple of times, they've asked for an autograph.  I don't think of myself like that.  So when people ask, it's kind of a strange feeling.  I'm like, 'Who me?'"

Wechsler carries this refreshingly low-key attitude to fame into Roswell and says that he would hate to allow his public persona to consume him.

"I know plenty of actors who are arrogant and don't deserve to be," he says.

"But because they are arrogant, they just perform better because they don't believe they can fail.  I know I'm mortal and I explore it constantly and because of that I get down on myself."

As far as life after Roswell goes, Wechsler says he's just taking one job at a time.

"I don't want to really go to school.  But I probably should.  If you're asking what I'd ideally like to be doing, I'd love to be doing movies and pretty much nothing but," he says.  "Who knows how long this acting is going to last for me?  I don't want it to sound like I'm threatening to leave.  I'm excited about going to work.  I love acting.  But I have yet to like one of my own performances."

But one thing is certain for Wechsler, when it comes to the small screen, he's begrudgingly hooked on Reality TV like everyone else.

"I don't like it when there's a wave of anything," he says.  "It just seems everybody is trying to beat everyone else to the punch...But there are things I get hooked on.

"Seriously, I enjoyed Survivor.  I didn't get to watch all of it.  But the little bit that I did, I was like, 'This is pretty good', I like to watch people actually argue." Source: The Newcastle Herald (Australia), Friday 25 May.  Back to the top

FRAKES TO DIRECT MORE IN SEASON 3

14.06.2001 - Jonathan Frakes.net reports that he'll be stepping behind the camera to direct several season three episodes.  Apart from his well-known Star Trek directing credits, Frakes' Roswell credits include directing River Dog, Four Square and The White Room, as well as appearing in the Pilot and The Convention.  His wife, Genie Francis, played the Pod Squad's mother in DestinyBack to the top

THE ROSWELL ARMY FIGHTS FOR ITS SHOW ON THE WEB

11.06.2001 - When Jason Katims, an executive producer of Roswell, is asked whether his show's fans are, well, a little different, he laughs.

"You mean, like, they're crazy?" he asks.

Last year, when the drama, about a group of stranded aliens posing as human teenagers in Roswell, N.M., was about to be cancelled by WB after one season, its fans mobilized - like crazy.  Adopting Tabasco sauce, a favourite food of the alien characters, as their weapon, they sent 6,000 bottle to the network over a three-month period.  This year, when it became clear that WB was going to drop the show, roughly 12,000 bottles of Tabasco were sent to the offices of UPN in three weeks.

"I will say it made a difference," said Dean Valentine, cheif executive of UPN, which picked up Roswell and will show it on Tuesday nights this fall, following another former WB show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  "You really have to sit down and think about a person who gets up in the morning, who has many, many things to do, and who took part of their day to go to the grocery store and buy a bottle of hot sauce to send to some executive in L.A."

Roswell, which blends science fiction and adolescent angst in its story of the ultimate alienated teenagers, has built a small - an average of 4.1 million viewers last season - but fervent audience that crosses age and gender lines.  And it's a group that quickly seized on the potential of the Internet as a rallying ground.  Fan sites, particularly the sophisticated Crashdown.com, have been the mechanism for the well-coordinated and timed letter-writing and Tabasco-mailing campaigns that have helped keep the show on the radar and, so far, on the air.

For some, being part of the Roswell army may be as important as watching the show.

"I think it's really the community that's built around the show that's more of an attraction," said Kenn Gold, a founder of Crashdown.com.  "The show is great and I love it, but I think the community will survive after the show goes away."

When My So-Called Life, another teenage drama with a small but devoted following, was cancelled by ABC in 1995 after 19 episodes, viewers began a belated fund- raising campaign over the Internet to pay for ads in trade publications.  Five years later, fans are more aware of the power of coordinated action, and the television industry is more aware of the fan sites.

"There's no question that we produce a great show and have a phenomenal cast and crew, but it appears that none of that mattered until you spoke up," another Roswell executive producer, Kevin Brown, wrote in an e-mail to a fan site after UPN's announcement.  "From the bottom of my heart, I want to say thank you for, in fact, saving our show."

The show's producers say the fans provide not just support, but also information.

"I would joke with people that if I want to find out what's going on with the show or the WB, I would go to Crashdown and find out," Mr. Katims said.  "They seemed to know things before I did."

All of this back-and-forth has led to an unusually close relationship between the show's creators and cast and its fans.  At a fan-sponsored party last August in Los Angeles, the entire cast showed up and many of the actors mingled with the crowd.  Brendan Fehr, who plays the sullen alien Michael Guerin, regularly ruminates on the fan-actor relationship on Internet message boards, and answers fans' questions.

Mr. Fehr's manager, Jim Sheasgreen, was one of the first people associated with the show to begin posting on fan sites, and it was his idea that the fans direct some of their energy to matters beyond Roswell.  "I was getting so upset that these people would dwell so hard and so long, and they would spend hours and hours just on this show," Mr. Sheasgreen said.

Now most fan get-togethers, like a season finale party held in New York last month, are benefits for charities, and a prominent message on Crashdown.com asks fans to make donations to the Pediatric Cancer Foundation as a way of thanking UPN for picking up the show.  Shiri Appleby, who plays the human teenager Liz Parker, was stunned when a fan donated $7,000 to charity in exchange for lunch with her.  "I can barely convince my friends to have lunch with me," she said.

Mr. Katims, trying to explain the deep resonance the show appears to have - why people would spend thousands of dollars, or spend up to 40 hours a week maintaining and monitoring Web sites - pointed to the diversity of the fans.

"It's difficult to pigeonhole," he said.  "They're young, they're old, they're men, they're women, they're from all walks of life.  And maybe the common theme of why they connect to the show is that they feel like outsiders."

Kathy Appling, a 49-year-old mortgage processor from Florida, sees her own missed opportunities in the youthful enthusiasm of the characters.  "They want to change the world, make a difference," she said.  "I think we all want to believe that we can still do that, but as we get older, you realize that maybe you didn't make all the right choices.  These kids are still young enough to make the choices they want to make."

Teresa Williams, a 19-year-old from Georgia who boarded an airplane for the first time to attend last year's party in Los Angeles, said she appreciated the show's realistic depiction of issues she has faced in her own life, from abuse to the suicides of friends.  She sent 50 bottles of Tabasco sauce.

One consequence of such involvement: viewers who are particularly resistant to changes in the direction of the show.

"As many people as there are logging into Crashdown.com, that's how many opinions there are," Mr. Katims said.  "If you tried to service all of them, it would be harder than trying to please a network."

And sometimes fans can become too involved, or too insistent on their privileges.  Mr. Fehr was recently moved to write on an Internet forum: "What fans should realize is that, at least in my case, is that yes I appreciate everything and try to keep you up to date and let you in a little bit because I think it's exciting for you guys and because I feel good in giving back.  But, you're not family and not friends."

But then Mr. Fehr stayed online into the early hours of the morning, posting messages as playful as those of any of the Fehrians, as his personal fans are called.  By the end of the night he had written enough to raise his posting status to "Fan," and celebrated by posting bouncing smiley faces.  He had officially become a fan of himself. Source: The New York Times, 11.06.2001.  Back to the top