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The 'Lone Gunman' Warm Up For New Series
As "The X-Files" sails into uncharted waters on Nov. 5 with its eighth-season premiere, featuring an abducted Mulder (David Duchovny), a pregnant Scully (Gillian Anderson) and new addition to the crew, Agent Doggett (Robert Patrick), the good folks at Ten Thirteen Productions are simultaneously launching a second project for Fox, a spin-off series called "The Lone Gunmen."
Written by Kate O'Hare
"We have a little running start at the beginning of the year because of the hiatus," says Frank Spotnitz, who is executive-producing the new show along with "X" cohorts Chris Carter, Vince Gilligan and John Shiban. "But by now, it's just a complete marathon mode."
Introduced on Feb. 18, 1994, in the season-one episode "E.B.E." written by Glen Morgan (who claims credit for the Gunmen's creation) and James Wong, the Lone Gunmen are three computer hackers -- rocker Richard "Ringo" Langly (Dean Haglund), dapper John Fitzgerald Byers (Bruce Harwood) and eccentric Melvin Frohike (Tom Braidwood) -- who monitor government conspiracies. According to Morgan, they were inspired by an actual trio he met at a UFO convention.
The actors themselves, all Canadians, are an unusual combination: Haglund is also a stand-up comic and a computer enthusiast (his home page is www.deanx.com); Harwood once trained to be an ice skater; and Braidwood got drafted into his role while acting as assistant director on "X" (he later went on to produce an excellent Canadian series called "The DaVinci Inquest" ).
Designed as a comedy/drama, "The Lone Gunmen" recently went before the cameras in the former "X" location of Vancouver, Canada, and is set to premiere in early 2001 (recent reports have it either January or March). The trio appears in the "X" season premiere and in a few other episodes, along with starring duties in the new show.
"We're filled with anticipatory delight," says Haglund, just before heading back to Canada from his adopted home of Los Angeles. "I don't know if excited is the word. We're terrified in that we're looking at 16-hour days every day, back to back. I'm terrified of losing sleep more than anything. I've gotten really used to nappin' and getting up at 11 in the morning."
In the new show, the Gunmen embark on conspiracy investigations that, according to Fox, "simultaneously highlight their genius and ineptitude." While their computer skills may be top-notch, the Gunmen are a bit lacking in social skills, a situation exacerbated when they learn that their chief competitor in the "information business" is the brilliant and beautiful Yves Adele Harlow (the London-born Zuleikha Robinson).
"The Lone Gunmen" just may be the first American network series with three Canadian leads (and one Brit) since "Dudley Do-Right."
"He was technically a Mountie," says Haglund, "so he had to be goshdarnit good. Wow. Now that you point that out, there are some sort of free-trade thoughts going through my head. It's the wave of the future. It's all global economy now. Borders are becoming nonexistent."
"They play such American characters," says Spotnitz, "it's funny. They talk about being American and patriotism and all that, and they're all Canadians. It's funny."
"They're rewriting the show," says Haglund, "so the Gunmen are much more for the ACLU and the rights of the American people, the right to know. So that's our reason for hacking and getting all this information, other than just being plain nosy."
"The X-Files" is famous for its complex mythology. Will there be more of the same on "The Lone Gunmen" ?
"I don't think you'll see much in the way of mythology," says Spotnitz. "There is some surrounding the characters, like Zuleikha Robinson, but it's is much more stand-alone caper investigations each week. It is lots of fun, but it's actually a little frightening doing comedy. It seems like, with drama, you can half-succeed and still kind of work, but with comedy, it's a much more live-or-die kind of thing. It's a weird show because we don't do joke comedy. It truly is situation comedy. There's nobody saying punchlines, the situation is supposed to be funny."
Is there a certain wistfulness for the actors about leaving "X" ?
Says Haglund, "What's weird is that we're standing outside our trailers in t-shirts, going, 'Oh, let's enjoy this,' because we won't be able to do that. It'll be damp and cold, and we'll be staying indoors as much as possible, as close to the heater as possible. I think in three years (in Los Angeles), my blood's thinned out a bit. I don't have the insulation capacity I once had, but I think I can work that back."
Are the Gunmen bereft without the alien-abducted Mulder?
"We are bereft," says Haglund, "and we are working overtime to find him. We are being the dutiful sons and using every bit of our brainpower."
Are the Gunmen getting along well with Doggett?
"Yeah, he hangs around long enough to get information. Again, we're used for our brainpower. I feel so used."
Will the Gunmen have an elaborate Web site, a la the one for "FreakLinks" ?
"There's going to be a really cool, interactive site with cutting-edge technology," says Haglund, "if all the deals come through. Of course, my own site, I had a webmaster on it, but it's sort of languishing in its updatedness only because of big, fancy contracts. I'm restricted to what I can do. I used to just be able to blab about anything, now I'm beholden to Rupert Murdoch, and I have to run everything past him before I can post it. But there's not a sympathetic ear in the house, so it's no use complaining."
The X-Files is © 20th Century Fox
This story is © Zap2it.com Tuesday, October 31, 2000.
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