April 14, 1998

Listen to the chat with Real Audio! (Click Below)

Universal says "Coming to you live from Universal Studios - it's The Backlot Cafe. Today is Tuesday, April 14 and you're chatting live at Real Hollywood - the place you need to be. My name is Jeremy Berg (aka MingoJones) and I'll be your moderator for the evening."

Universal says "Tonight we're happy to have Steven Sears chatting with us! Steven is the Co-Executive Producer of Xena: Warrior Princess! You won't want to miss this chat! It's going to be super cool!"

Universal says "Are you guys psyched or what!?!?! Sometime during the next two hours, Real Hollywood will be giving away a Sony Playstation!! All you have to do is pay attention!!"

Universal says "At some point during tonite's chat, the host of the show (either Universal or HSHost) will announce the top secret winning question number. For example, Universal may say "Question number 83 wins a Sony Playstation!!"  It's then up to you to get us your telephone number precisely at Question 83!!! But there's a bit of a catch….keep  reading."

Universal says "The lucky winner must supply Real Hollywood with two things: 1. The winning phrase, and 2. A valid telephone number where you can be contacted."

Universal says "The winning phrase is: I WANT TO WIN A PLAYSTATION!!!!"

Universal says "And don't worry, the phone numbers are kept strictly confidential and are not used for any purpose other than contacting the winners. So, when Universal or HSHost says question number 83 (example) wins a Playstation, the chatter who supplies us with "I want to win a Playstation 213-555-1212" wins!!! Don't forget that it has to be submitted as the 83rd question. If the phrase and phone number are not included in question 83, the prize will be awarded to the next eligible entry."

Universal says "Good luck…..and keep listening!!! Before we begin, I want to take the time to introduce The Backlot Café crew and explain to you how to participate in tonight's moderated chat."

Universal says "As always, your Backlot Café crew consists of the following stellar individuals: Jennifer Koziol (aka JavaJunky), Steve Leff (aka I Want To Dance), Jeff Pakosta (aka Woo Is Me) and Troy Rutter (aka Hero Alliance). To put it  simply….these guys (and gals) jam!"

Universal says "OK chatters, listen up!!! Here are some instructions on asking questions during tonight's live chat: If you'd like to ask a question, there is a question mark icon on the menu bar you can click on, or just type /ask space and  then type in your question. If you're using the Java client, click Ask Question (it's located in the bottom right section of the screen)."

Universal says "And for all of you Excite users out there - Thanks for joining us!!! If you're using Excite's VP chat, ask a question by clicking on the "Something to Say?" button on the lower right corner of the stage. All right folks, let's move onto the big event. This evening we're privileged to have Steven Sears with us!!!"

Universal says "Steven Sears currently serves as Co-Executive Producer of the Universal Television series Xena: Warrior Princess. Steven is also the man responsible for writing many of the series most popular episodes!!! Some of the episodes he's penned are: Dreamworker, Hooves and Harlots, The Royal Couple of Thieves, The Greater Good, Orphan of War, Intimate Stranger, The Price, as well as many others."

Universal says "All right chatters, let's get to it!! Ladies and gentleman…….it's chat time!!! Without any further ado, please welcome Steven Sears to the Backlot Cafe!!! This is a return engagement for you"

StevenSears says "Thank you very much for having me!"

Universal says "We've revamped this site and we have tons of people here now!"

Vincent Falling asks "Question. When you write a story for Xena to you have the plot already in mind up or do play it by ear."

StevenSears says "Well, when we come up with the plots, each writers has certain parameters we work within. Generally we dsiscuss where we want the series to go - we know where we want to be at the end of the season. Rob, Chris, or  myelf may have an idea for a writer that would lead us in that direction."

Mickisix asks "Mr. Sears, why have the subtle comedies of seasons 1 and 2 of X:WP been replaced with the nonsensical slapstick which is an insult to one's intelligence?"

StevenSears says "Well, I would say its an insult to your intelligence, but certainly not to ours. Zena has always run a wide range of styles.. hysterical comedies and dark dramas. We like breaking it up with slapstick - they are a lot of fun.  We kick back with the tongue in cheek attitude, and say let's have fun!"

Universal says "Some people love it and some don't. But a lot seem to enjoy what's going on with the show."

StevenSears says "Yeah, I also find that a lot. There's been a lot of controversy about certain episodes. Some people will criticize an episode other people love. Some like the dark and hate the comedy and vice versa. There are episodes I have written that I get hate email, and some send glowing reviews. You can't satisfy anybody."

Xikayo asks "Do you have a favourite Greek Myth, and will that ever be taken into account for an episode?"

StevenSears ponders thoughtfully.

StevenSears says "I did like, myoriginal script was Dreamworker , I did like the interraction with the dream gods and how closely they related, it was an interraction between the Gods. There isn't one that stands out in my mind. There are some I like, The Trojan War, The Prometheus Story... some are hard to do because they are so depressing. We always try to find victories even within our dark episodes. But in general, I enjoy reading as much as I can abou tthe myths. They arent jsut history lessons - they're fun."

Cleanthes asks "Paul Coyle wrote the second part of the Xena season-ender, and you wrote the first part. How did you decide questions of plot between you?"

StevenSears says "Well, we treated the season ender as first as if they were a 2 part episode. So it was a matter of finding a beginning, middle and an end. Paul and I worked together to try and verify where we wanted to be at the end of the 2 part episode. Then we decided where certain things fell, and then we headed in the direction to try and get to where we were shooting too."

klatuveratanictu asks "What was your favourite episode and why?"

StevenSears says "Great name, by the way! What I've written or in General from Xena? I'll answer both."

Universal says "We have 115 questions! It'll probably be another 40 questions before we can figure out what they are asking"

StevenSears says "Having said that, its still ahrd to say which one I've enjoyed - I've loved all of them. Dreamworker was my first one... theres another one called "A Good Day" that Im in the process of writing right now. In general, Ive like Prometheus, Collisto, The Dead 1 & 2 should have been on the silver screen! I tend to like the ones that have a mixture of character humor and a deeper message. That's pretty much what I'm drawn to though."

Young1 asks "Do you know if there is going to be another episode with Calistro?"

StevenSears says "There will be that you haven't seen. But, I also dont want any false hopes that they will be returning with regularity."

Universal says "Where are you guys with the season right now? Are you writing for next season already, or the current one?"

StevenSears says "We're writing for the next season, We finished the season about a month ago - and we're one week away from starting to film the new episodes."

Universal says "That'll air next September?"

StevenSears says "Yes."

Irishbard asks "Is the direction going to be more intense or a bit lighter for the following season?"

StevenSears says "We don't stick to one or the other. The third season was the darkest of the three seasons, and thats only in the range of darkness. We are going to be seeing a lot more exploration of our characters and questioning why after what they've been through, there are things that they have taken for granted that they can't for more. So there's going to be some questions the characters will have. Their committment towards each other has been underscored and will be again. It doesn't mean they cant stand up and tell each other they have flaws."

Universal says "All right chatters….the moment you've been waiting for has arrived!!!! This is it! It's time to award one lucky chatter with a brand new Sony Playstation!!! Remember, you must supply use with the winning phrase and valid  telephone number where you can be reached at. "Your entry should look like this: I want to win a Playstation  213-555-1212.""

Universal says "Question 144 wins a Playstation!!!!!!"

Universal says "If the phrase and phone number are not included in question , the prize will be awarded to the next eligible entry. Good luck!!!"

Universal says "Let's do another question while we wait"

BdaJae asks "I wrote a tv script once and it took 3 months for me to do. How long does it take you to actually create one for one episode??"

StevenSears says "It varies. There have been times, on other shows too, where I have been required to write a script as it is being shot! Zena has been pretty good, we havent had that situation. In general, if we have 5 months before a script airs, then we'll take 5 months to write it. If we have 2 weeks, we'll take 2 weeks to write it. The theory is it will take 2 weeks to outline your story, then we will critique it, then you'll have 2 weeks to rewrite it, then 2 weeks to write the script, and then 2 weeks to do the second draft."

Universal says "Do you find that's an easy way for a writer to work? Or sometimes do you punch out 3 in one week and then go over everything?"

StevenSears says "Well, for one writer, if you're punching out 3 in a week - all you are doing is typing. We go through spells of a lot of writing, then we go through spells of relaxation, where there isn't a real rush. The similarities to war, I think, are intentional!"

Universal says "Congratulations jchandra!! You won a Playstation!!! We will call you for details!! Good job!!"

Zzppf asks "When will Salmoneus appear on Xena again? I love that character.."

StevenSears says "Good question! We dont have plans for him right now, I like him - a lot of people dont understand why we dont use him more often. He's a Hercules character, we borrow him when we can - we have to have the right story. Even Rob loves doing Xena, but one of his early complaints was that the stories weren't making the character a part of the script - only for comedy. We like to make him a PART of the script, and it's hard to find those, where he fits in perfectly."

Marlene_Dietrich asks "is the saturation of joxer in next season a way to quell the sub-text issue?"

StevenSears laugh

StevenSears says "No... absolutely not. I think its amusing that Joxer could QUELL any subtext... you'd think he would DRIVE somebody to subtext. We don't even think in that direction, we aren't pressured to go any one way or the other. The interpretations are up to other people, but nobody is stelling us to just put a man in there."

Roc-A-Roo asks "Are we going to see Xena having flaws, instead of Gabrielle?"

StevenSears says "We've already seen her have huge flaws, and a few of them have been costly to Gabrielle! Theres a lot more to be mined, even in the direction now, she has taken things for granted, and those iwll start coming out.   Sometimes the confidence is also leading to ignorance when dealing with people."

Acean2 asks "will the uncut footage of The Greater Good ever be seen?? i would pay for it!!! :)"

StevenSears says "How much?"

Universal laughs out loud

StevenSears says "No, it won't ever be seen, it won't be made into any director's cut or anything."

jcard asks "Do any Xena staff members, besides yourself check the internet to see fan reaction to epidsodes ?"

StevenSears says "Not so much anymore - we've become too busy. Every now and then Rob may call and ask what people are saying on the internet, but nobody watches it on a day-to-day basis. I think the Internet has become its own living entity that could, quite possibly, continue after the show is done. There is fan mail, merchandise, and also the internet, where a lot of people gather and share ideas"

Gabriel195 asks "Will the "gabdrag" ever be mention by Gabrielle to Xena??"

StevenSears says "Probably not. Thats something that can be assumed was handled off-camera. There was enough damage done by both, so to get into that discussion, would lead us back to Bittersweet, where they couldnt hear each other because they were accusing each other."

diablo22 asks "is xena and herc, lucy and kvevin doing a qp epsoide togther soon?"

StevenSears says "No, nothing planned right now. Doesn't mean it won't happen, though."

bwolf9 asks "Hello Steve. Is there any chance we'll ever see Gabrielle actually save Xena from some physical hardship? Other than Quest and Reckoning? Thank you for being here!"

StevenSears says "Thanks right back at ya! I think that, eventually, you're going to see something of that nature. It's an interesting question because she has already rescueed Zena, in Sins of the Past, she saved Xena's soul."

SouthPkKenny asks "Whats Xena's favorite color of M&M's?"

StevenSears says "Blue."

Universal laughs

guest919 asks "How did you get started in the entertainment business?"

StevenSears says "I slept my way to the bottom!"

Universal laughs

StevenSears says "I started out as an actor and started writing audition scenes for myself. Somebody suggested I wrote a script, and I did, and within a year I was working professionally - I was very,.very lucky."

Roc-A-Roo asks "Are TPTB aware of the censorship of Xena in the UK resulting in episodes of 38 minutes and less? And what do they plan to do about?"

StevenSears says "More blood! More blood! There's not much we can do about that, thats a UK thing. As I understand it, however, during the prime-time, they cut back on the blood and guts and then really late they play the full episode. I know that's done in other countries."

kenshin asks "How far will get into Roman history and will Octavian show up eventualy?"

StevenSears ponders thoughtfully.

StevenSears says "I can't give away plots... But Octavius will not be an unfamiliar name..."

Cabby asks "Hi Steven, How do you feel about the Scifi conv. comming to Las Vegas?"

StevenSears says "I feel fine - my airfare is paid for! It should be a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to it, a couple of friends are also appearing. Patricia Tallman, Rob Trevor will also be there. Patricia is on Babylon 5, she's a friend of mine."

Universal says "Troy I see you had no problems spelling Patricia's name!"

Heath96001 asks "What are Sacrifice 1 and Sacrifice 2 about?"

StevenSears says "Once again, without giving away plots, I have to be coy with the answer. But its exactly what the titles are. Its up to you to find out what kind of sacrifice."

guest919 asks "Steve does Renaissance accept scripts from agented outsiders"

StevenSears says "Yes, they do. You have to have your agent contact Renaissance and enquire about whther we are looking for outside writers or not. We do not accept Xena scripts, and that's a big thing. A lot of people want to write one and send it to us, but under no ciscumstances will we look at a Xena script."

guest863 asks "How do you feel about other shows copying the concept of Xena?"

StevenSears says "It was going to happen eventually. What they are doing is copying success. Some have done a fair job, others have done a good job. I like Buffy, I think it's a good show. A lot of shows have tried but actually missed the point of what we are doing, and fall back on special effects and fighting, and they become an action show. I've always referred to Xena as a character show WITH action."

Universal says "What about that new Conan show?"

StevenSears says "I don't really know enough about it. I saw maybe 15 minutes of an episode."

Universal says "It looks like it's such a direct rip off. . .as far as look and feel goes"

StevenSears says "Yeah, but you know, it's still.... you really need a lot more than swords, armor, etc."

Irishbard asks "I have seen the characters grow as well as the acting ability. . Are you a direct part in your writing or have they done more to their own characters?"

StevenSears says "It's a combination. It becomes a spiral after a while. When the first scripts were written, there was no Xena, no actress - it wasnt until later on that we ended up with Lucy and Renee, and their voices then added to the voices we were writing. We adjusted the scripts to them, and they adjusted to the scripts we were writing.. and so on.   Not just the physical voice, but the whole character."

Cabby asks "Any new shows in the future, for you...besides Xena?"

StevenSears says "Yes, there are - but my first love has always been Xena."

Universal says "Are you working on any feature films?"

StevenSears says "I'm working on a pilot. I've been offered other shows, if I were to leave Xena, for a lot more money... and I've turned them down. When you've been in the business for a while, its not about money - its about doing what you love, and that has a huge cash value."

Universal says "And you've been on Xena since day one?"

StevenSears says "Just before we started shooting the pilot episode."

Universal says "Have you seen people come and go or has it been the same family?"

StevenSears says "It's been the same core group. Some people have come and gone, but as far as the producers, and the basic writing staff - we remain the same. Babs left to do some movies of the week, we brought Chris on board"

Cleanthes asks "Renee O'Connor has strong arms. Will you take advantage of that in a episode, soon?"

StevenSears says "Yeah, we're having her carry the camera now!"

Universal laughs

guest932 asks "Hi Steve, is it true that Xena: WP will end in 2000?"

StevenSears says "Not neccessarily. Im not sure where tha tnumber came from - certainly the contract with the actresses are past that. If we ended in 2000, I think we'd still be ending with pretty good ratings... so I dont know. If we can survive past 2000 is another question."

scoop2 asks "How much time do you spend it New Zealand? What do you like about it there?"

StevenSears says "I've been there. Ive done a few shows on location, But I prefer to stay here in Los Angeles. Our show is run very well down there - a whole list of people who make the show work. As far as working with a location show - its one of the best experiences I have had. What I have seen is absolutely beautiful and the people are very friendly."

Universal says "It's tough to go down there and be stuck in an office!"

StevenSears says "Pretty much. I spent maybe 4 hours to myself to see the city - the whole country actually."

Universal says "Not enough time to do a whole country I would think"

StevenSears says "No."

Gabriel195 asks "Do Lucy and Renee ever watch themselves after an ep is completed. By the way, love the third season!!!!"

StevenSears says "Bless you! I dont know. I dont know if they watch themselves... I assume they watch some tapes in New Zealand, they are a season behind us. I have a feeling they are so busy that they don't have time to."

Universal says "Once one is over I'm sure they are off to the next one."

StevenSears says "Yeah, they're working on the scripts to the next one."

Universal says "Do they still get 2 days off a week?"

StevenSears says "If we pray. We've actually tried to give both of them some time off. You notice we have a Gab or Xena light episode every now and then. To see one episode, you are watching 8 days of 12-16 hours a day, when the series is centered around 1or 2 character... it takes up a huge amount of time in their lives, and they do need a break."

guest919 asks "Steve do you really listen to Alice Cooper while you write?"

StevenSears says "Yes I do! Quite a few artists actually, but the Coop is still my fave"

Universal says "Who else give you inspiration?"

StevenSears says "I will listen to Alice Cooper to Jim Croce to the Cranberries to Big Daddy D... Whatever the mood."

guest863 asks "Why is it that whenever Xena isn't it an episode, the explanation is: She's fishing?"

StevenSears says "It isn't always the explanation - but it's sort of an in-joke"

Universal says "Do the characters say to each other and it just pops out She's fishing?"

StevenSears says "We've played with the fishing motif a few times - it's become a little joke because if you cant find Rob, chances are he's having a battle with his fish."

Universal laughs

Cabby asks "Will there be anymore singing?"

StevenSears says "There might be. That was a very difficult episode for everybody to do, but a very satisfying to watch."

Universal says "The whole episode was sung?"

StevenSears says "3/4 of the episode was done in song."

Universal says "What was the general response from the fans?"

StevenSears says "The general response was very, very good. People liked it. It was a risk, we took it. It was difficult to do, but watching Joe work his magic around the script Chris and I wrote, and with Rob's ideas behind it. It was like throwing a bunch of wet cats into a small barrel and shaking it up."

jcard asks "Are there any plans to make a Xena movie like the X-Files ?"

StevenSears says "It's been talked about a lot, but it's never made it past the discussion stage. For a variety of reaosns, not the least being the series takes up so much time."

Road_kill asks "what inspires you?"

StevenSears says "Life inspires me. It sounds sappy to say.. but I look at the world as a huge adventure and being able to tell stories about it is my way to explore. That includes the good and bad of life. I watch people interract, look inside myself and find flaws and good points, and bring those out in the open. And step back and look at things. I feel like I'm about to start singing!"

Universal laughs"

shyster asks "Why, after all Gabrielle and Xena have been through together, do the writers insist on bringing in meaningless male romantic interests, like Rafe in "King Con"?"

StevenSears says "Well, I disagree - he wasnt a meaningless maale romantic interest."

guest863 asks "What's the show that has had the highest rating?"

StevenSears says "I don't have the numbers in front of me. I would say The Quest."

Mickisix asks "Mr. Sears, please explain "deconstructing the hero" ?"

StevenSears says "It's when you have set somebody up, and the expectations of people is that they are a hero figure. A hero figure is flawless. A hero is a perfection you cannot achieve. When you deconstruct the hero... you have the hero look inside his/herself. And discover those flaws, which in a Greek tragedy would lead to their ultimate undoing. That process leads to a "heroic" person"

Novella asks "What in hades have you guys done to gabby this Season and will ya fix it soon please?????? (Jinxed)"

StevenSears says "The entire 3rd season was Gabby and Xena fixing things..."

Universal says "Maybe a little clue on what to expect in the 4th season?"

StevenSears says "I'll tell ya what .. what bothered a lot of people. You can't expect the same-old-same-old. It's a true fact that in the 3rd season, most shows stagnate. They are comfortable and don't move. That's usually when they start to decline and end up off the air. It's because the people who are running the show lose interest, no challenge. On Xena, every year we move in a direction that takes us into new territory. A lot of people dont want change and become unhappy and thats understandable"

StevenSears says "The fourth season is going to be more of the exploration. But its going to take the characters into different directions. They are going to continue to grow." And they're going to continue to change as they find an answer to a lot of the questions that life has given them. And as I've said, in the second season, you may love it, you may hate it - but you're not going to walk away bored."

Universal says "That was very informative! Thanks! Congrats to jchandra!! That's going to wrap it up for another episode of The Backlot Cafe. Our thanks go out to Steven for taking the time to chat with us!"

Universal says "Thanks again to all our chatters out there. And thanks to everyone over at Excite as well. You guys were awesome. Remember, the best chats can be found only at Real Hollywood!!! Stay tuned for actor Justin Lazard from the flick Species II! He'll be chatting in about 10 minutes."

Universal says "Tomorrow we'll have Matt Frewer, the original Max Headroom chatting at 7:00 PM PST/10:00 PM EST!!!"

Universal says "This has been a production of Real Hollywood and Universal Studios On-line, Inc.. TM & Copyright Universal Studios On-Line, Inc."

Universal says "Good night everybody!!!!"


The Real Hollywood Network TM & (c) 1997 Universal Studios, Inc. All rights reserved. The contents of The Real Hollywood Network Transcripts are property of Universal Studios, Inc.