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Monday, November 15, 2010

My Impressions of Hart Hanson at The Varsity

Hey all!

Sorry this took longer than expected to process -- the interview had a ton of little nuggets of goodness in it but that's how it goes sometimes. I'm finally all done but I figured I'd spread it out over the next day or so 'cause, really, I've got nothing exciting going on right now.

So, without further ado, here we go:

Sitting up in the front row, like the little keener that I am, I watched as Hart Hanson -- of BONES fame -- made his way to the stage and sat across from interviewer Richard Crouse. We'd just finished watching 'The Maggots In The Meathead' -- a Jersey-shore-ish episode -- and our applause was still in full swing but he wasted little time in turning it toward the director -- who was actually there in the audience -- Tim Southam, calling him 'a nice Canadian boy' who had gone down to work in LA.

And with that they set off into the interview proper, the first topic: Does he enjoy seeing his work up there on the big screen? Mr. Hanson discussed how it was hard for him to watch it because he was able to point out every single flaw -- that said, it was nice to watch the show with an audience. He sees the show as a 'Crimedy' and felt it was nice to see the audience laughing in all the right places.

Also: Apparently BONES does fantastic with the female demographic... and teenage boys. He said he's not exactly sure why women flock to the show, but then conceded that having David Boreanaz take off his shirt from time to time probably didn't hurt.

Mr. Hanson credits the 'high-budget' look of his show -- saying it looks $800,000 to $1 million more than it actually is -- to his brilliant (and stable) crew, some of which have worked with him since his days on JUDGING AMY.

Interesting side note: When Mr. Hanson first hired Emily Deschanel for the titular role of Dr. Brennan, she made him promise that Booth would only 'save her' a few times, at most. He joked that even in the few times that Booth has had to save Dr. Brennan, she usually ends up saving him right back.

In regards to, what some might call, 'disturbing' levels of gore he actually credited former FOX executive Craig Erwich with presenting the idea to have a 'signature' horrible or baffling moment off the top. Something to elicit a sense of 'How the hell did this happen?' that would draw the viewer in. Mr. Hanson said that he especially liked the idea because it meant that he could allow Ms. Deschanel some time off from in front of the camera (as she'd been in almost every scene in earlier episodes).

Show-wise, in regards to keeping the show fresh for six years, he said that it helps to have a lot of fingers in the pot. Apparently they have eight writers and are quite active in the Writer's room.

Specifically, in regards to "The Maggots In The Meathead", Dean Lopata -- the credited writer -- had approached him early on saying that he'd wanted to do a 'Jersey Shore' themed episode. Though Mr. Hanson had originally said no to the idea, the writer went back to the room and persuaded the C0-Executive Producers that it would be a great episode. By the time the story was re-pitched to him, he found himself quite impressed and gave it the go ahead.

Mr. Hanson said his major contribution to the episode was that he pushed Dr. Brennan's anthropological take on it -- that she thought 'Jersey Shore' really was actually a documentary.

The conversation hit a tangent then, following the 'keeping it fresh' topic, they broached the subject of Season 3's cannibalistic serial killer Howard Epps. Apparently it was a very popular storyline, which was tough for Mr. Hanson as he personally doesn't like serial killers.

This pushed them into the topic of Zack -- originally intended to be a victim of the serial killer known as Gormagon -- the Writer's strike came up and ended up shortening their season substantially. He believes that there's no such thing as excuses in television but the shorter season made it impossible to do the story properly as it had been intended. In the end he felt bad for the actor (who's character was going to be killed) and instead decided to make him an accomplice that way at least there would be an opportunity to bring him back from time to time.

Numbers-wise, the show tends to pull in an average of about 10 million viewers a week, which is fantastic for our current television climate -- Mr. Hanson noted that in the past, on his first show CUPID (with Jeremy Piven), it was canceled because it wasn't performing well and it had 14 million viewers at the time. By the time he left JUDGING AMY (at the 100th episode) it was doing 18 million viewers and it was considered a big hit.

Interesting fact: Apparently studies have shown that if they can get you to watch three episodes of BONES then they've got you hooked. He's not sure why that is (but I'm sure he's not complaining).

More to come tomorrow! Stay tuned ;)


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