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Lone Gunmen Go Solo
LOS ANGELES - There are still some people in this world who, when
they speak, are guaranteed an audience.
Fans of "Star Trek" come to mind.
As do aficionados of Chris Carter and his Fox Broadcasting paranormal
drama, "The X-Files."
So if you happen to be one of those people, listen up.
With "The X-Files" in its eighth season and a ninth year in doubt,
and after a long, distracting legal tussle between Fox and star David
Duchovny, Carter is not only in the midst of determining the future
of his series, he's also hard at work on a spinoff, "The Lone
Due in March in "The X-Files" Sunday night time slot at 9, the
hourlong comedy/drama will give those computer-savvy conspiracy geeks
Byers (Bruce Harwood), Frohike (Tom Braidwood) and Langly (Dean
Haglund) - also known as the The Lone Gunmen - a Fox show of their
Carter, the creator/executive producer here again, says his latest
series wasn't part of some long, drawn-out plan.
It happened, really, by chance.
"We did episodes that were dedicated to the Lone Gunmen...really as a
result of the unavailability of Gillian [Anderson] and David when we
were making the movie [1998's "The X-Files: Fight the Future"]."
The "Gunmen" episodes, says Carter, were very successful. "We thought
the guys were very funny."
But cool? Never.
Described as a "misguided `Mission: Impossible' team" with "stagnant"
social skills, the trio will get some help from the distracting
presence of Yves Adele Harlow, played by newcomer Zuleikha Robinson.
"She's just stunningly beautiful," says Carter. "She's very young and
she's very green, but she's terrific."
From his perspective, Robinson is cut from the "Bond Girl" mold. But
the British-born actress, who was raised in Thailand and Malaysia, is
also a woman of the world - one with a British accent Carter will use
in the series.
Look for a fourth gunmen, another unknown named Stephen Snedden, to
join the show, as well.
Duchovny and Anderson were hardly household names when Carter cast
them as Mulder and partner Dana Scully. Carter says he prefers
casting no-names rather than big names. "I think if you have faith in
your taste, it's the way to go," he says. "Because it creates a level
of interest for a show, for the material, that might not be there
otherwise. People have already made up their minds about certain
Carter didn't find the audition process too painful, either, speaking
clearly of Robinson's role.
"Mostly we cast bland everybodys and everymans. And every once in a
while, we get a chance to actually see beautiful women."
For the "X-Files" faithful who simply must know, assuming they
haven't hacked into a Web site somewhere in search of an answer, "The
Lone Gunmen" won't get too much of a boost from "The X-Files" as far
as setting up the series. The Gunmen will appear more frequently
on "X-Files." But Mitch Pileggi, who plays assistant director
Skinner, is the only star scheduled for a crossover appearance.
Don't look for Duchovny, certainly. "I don't know that he would do
anything," says Carter.
Duchovny, who has been missing in action for a good part of this
season, after being abducted by what appeared to be an alien space
ship in the season-seven cliffhanger, has already been, essentially,
replaced by Robert Patrick as Scully's partner, agent John Doggett.
Anderson is under contract for one more season. Patrick signed a
multiyear deal, says Carter.
"This show certainly could come back," he says. "But I don't have a
contract, and [when] I came back this year, I said I would only do it
if I could figure out a way to make it good. That's the way I would
come back next year. So I'm considering it. I'm not saying no, I'm
not saying yes."
The plan, he explains, is to turn the television series into a movie
"It's still kind of in the talking stages," Carter says of the movies
to be. "We really want to figure out how to wind the TV series down
or reinvent it before we do that [next] movie specifically."
(Duchovny would, however, ideally be in whatever big-screen version
came next, says the producer.)
Still, though Carter says he loves the job that Patrick ("Terminator
2: Judgment Day") has done in a difficult situation, Duchovny's
public disappointment and protest over his share of "The X-Files"
dividends has taken its toll.
"Every year has its new problems and degrees of difficulty," says
Carter. "And this was just another one. It was one I had never worked
with until last year. And I think it certainly affected me and I
think it affected the working relationship. But, you know, these are
things that happen - certainly with a show that goes as long as this
show. Also, when people, when their interests start to conflict,
which is what a vertical integration system creates, it pits everyone
against everyone else. And it's not good for friendships."
(He says his working relationship with Duchovny, however, is fine.)
The fans haven't made it easier, either.
"This year's been interesting," Carter says, "because there are so
many people who are invested in Mulder and Scully. Then all of a
sudden you change that. And you hear about it, believe me. There is a
lot of mail and a lot of opinions. And, you know, not all of them are
In fact, he says of the particularly tuned in, known as "X-
philes": "They were ready to hate the show this year. They were going
to punish us for changing what they had come to know and love.
There's still a group on the Internet who just will not tolerate what
we've done - even though I think we're doing it well."
There's simply "a lot of hysteria right now," says Carter, including
those who are convinced Scully is going to end up marrying her new
That kind of palpable exasperation from the show's creator may shed
some light on why Carter says "The Lone Gunmen" is a show (and it is
a comedy as opposed to a drama), that stands on its own.
But rest assured, though there are many "wonderfully lowbrow"
moments, Carter says he has no intention of writing down to the
audience and the program will operate in the same milieu as "X-
"Right now, they're not dealing with the paranormal," he says of "The
Lone Gunmen," which is at about the halfway point in preparation for
Conspiracy theories like the Kennedy assassination will be part of
the plot lines, without a doubt. In general, however, Carter
says, "They have more to do with what I'd call contemporary crime and
"The kind of stuff where the government is lying to us," says
Carter. "Also white-collar crime and we've got a story about the
legendary water-powered car. We've got a story about a philandering
senator. We've got a story about a possible Nazi war criminal, who is
a woman living in America."
The last one, for a reason he won't explain, makes him laugh out
"It's just very funny."
Yes, Carter has his own cryptic moments.
When he mentions that he has one more pilot he will make for Fox and
tosses in that it's "something I've been thinking about for a long
time and I'm very anxious to do it," he won't get into specifics
except to say it's "about everything."
That, and the fact that, "It would take a lot of lessons learned
from 'The X-Files' and try to employ them."
Who knows what to file that under?
The X-Files is © 20th Century Fox
This story is © JAMES ENDRST, The Hartford Courant,
December 29, 2000
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