December 15, 1998

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

HSHost says "Welcome to Hollywood Spotlight on! My name is Peter and I'll be your host for this evening. Joining me in the studio tonight is my producer Mike and our fabulous typist, Michelle. If you would like to ask our guest a question this evening, it's very simple. Just type in /ask a space and then your question. If you're using "Excite's VP chat" you need only click the "something to say" icon at the bottom right corner of your screen. We are all very excited about our special guest this evening, R.J. Stewart, executive producer of "Xena: Warrior Princess." Welcome to Hollywood Spotlight, R.J.!"

R.J.Stewart says "Thank you!"

HSHost says "How are you?"

R.J.Stewart says "Very fine, you?"

HSHost says "Terrific. We'll jump in with questions ..."

felixthedog asks "As someone who has never watched Xena before what can I expect to see this season?"

R.J.Stewart says "This season .. as opposed to .. well if you've never seen it before, you can see a lot of good fighting and pretty girls running around. The two characters are on a spiritual quest this season and they go to India and deal with new Gods and adventures there. That's what's new about this season."

Maya Kraj-Krajewski asks "RJ, what is the ultimate Xena storyline that you would like to write, but haven't yet written?"

R.J.Stewart says "Geez!"

R.J.Stewart {action} laughs"

R.J.Stewart says "We've done a lot of them. I'd like to do something with Pompei, the destruction of it. I don't know if we can afford to do a convincing lava flow destroying a city but I'd like to see how they handle it .. like the bad guys in Jaws .. trying to cover up the fact that the volcano is about to blow and Xena and Gabrielle moving people out. And, it'll turn out that the bodies we've discovered in Pompeii today were the bad guys!"

Albion31 asks "Where do you get your inspiration/creativity for each Xena episode? Also my friend from Australia told me to tell you hello"

R.J.Stewart says "Hello! And, I get it from various places .. from real life, books about mythology, movies we rip off, from a cool little bar in Koreatown I go to. Lots of different places. The important thing is to hear the characters, know the voices and listen to other movies and things in this genre and others in real life and all of those things add up to inspiration. And, then there's sitting and writing it whether you feel like it or not."

HSHost says "Which bar in Koreatown?"

R.J.Stewart says "I'd rather not say."

R.J.Stewart {action} chuckles"

HSHost says "Okay"

Cyan asks "On the first appearance of Xena in Hercules she told Iolaus that she had THREE brothers but so far they've only introduced two Lyceus and Torris are you planning to introduce the third one or what?"

R.J.Stewart says "Hey, that's a good idea!"

R.J.Stewart {action} chuckles"

R.J.Stewart says "We hadn't planned on it but why not go to that well again? I don't think we did the brothers right so far and I wouldn't mind exploring it .. a good idea. But, we hadn't planned it."

Maya Kraj-Krajewski asks "RJ: Where abouts in Auckland is XENA filmed?"

R.J.Stewart says "I know how to drive there from the hotel but I don't know Auckland that well to put a district on it .. so I wouldn't be able to describe it .. you stay on the left side of the street, that's one thing I know for sure. I did that for the first couple of days .. driving on the right. It's not good for your health."

Cyan asks "How can we get a hold of the music videos they show on the conventions"

R.J.Stewart says "Gee, I don't know. I think those videos are put together by fans. Some of them are. I guess the others are thrown together by our editors and I think they're an in house thing .. maybe they should be available commercially but I don't think they are. I guess my answer is I have no idea."

HSHost says "Are you going to the Xena convention in Santa Monica?"

R.J.Stewart says "Yes."

EvyWP asks "Mr Stewart: Why was Gabrielle's come back so lame? don't get me wrong...I love the tension and all but for some reason I could not believe that she was brought back like that!"

R.J.Stewart says "Well, it wasn't our finest moment, I'll fess up to that. We fell in love with the cliffhanger thing and the adventure of getting her back .. the way that she was brought back that she never really died and that she was saved by convoluted logic .. wasn't our finest moment. So, we'll do it better next time!"

R.J.Stewart {action} laughs"

Sid asks "Have you heard about the new official Xena Website?"

R.J.Stewart says "No Never heard of it! I will now definitely explore it. I'm not a real big internet person. I'm evolving as I go along .. in the last year I've made quantum leaps in how knowledgeable I am ... but in the first few years I was totally at the mercy of the people who told me about it."

HSHost says "Xena has a HUGE net presence. I'm new to the net, too. A year now in January."

Maya Kraj-Krajewski asks "Have you ever been on the screen in a shot of some kind rather than always in production, RJ?"

R.J.Stewart says "I did on a magnificent performance in Calisto, however envious people cut me out of the show! They were afraid I'd overwhelm everyone else ... I'm a scarf salesman outside the temple when Calisto's going to kill the person at the end of the second act and they justifiably cut it out .. it was pretty bad. But, I had fun doing it! And, I still have the clip of me doing it. It was Calisto on her way to kill the Oracle at Delphi."

HSHost says " There's the website address for all you out there!"

Nail asks "RJ thanks for your work. I think Crusader was brilliant. Can you tell us anything about the creation of that episode?"

R.J.Stewart says "Yeah .. thank you for that compliment. And, .... we all generally felt the need for a new villain, so I went off one weekend and played with the idea of who X and G could come across. What if from another culture .. a hero with a totally different set of values were to come upon X and G .. they both think of themselves as heroic but different ways of determining what heroic and good/evil is.

R.J.Stewart says "It became apparent to me that I was talking about a Zealot .. then I thought of Joan of Arc and then I knew who the character was. The story played out pretty organically then .. of course G would be attracted to this character and X would like the idea of G being with someone who has sort of a pure way of looking at this adventure. It's not of course until later on that she realizes the Zealotry is out of control and not in check. And, it took me a while to specifically think about who that villain could be .. Joan of Arc as a villain turned out to be a pretty cool idea."

guest1421 asks "When are we gonna see the crucifixion scene!!? I need to know because its driving me crazy! Also, I just want to congratulate you and all the staff on what is at the moment a great season of Xena."

R.J.Stewart says "Thank you, great to hear that! I love it, too. You'll see it before the fourth season is over .. very late."

Cyan asks "Are there any possibilities of a Xena episode where she would be in the 1990's....that would be cool...maybe she could beat up some street gangs in LA or"

R.J.Stewart says "Um, no comment which means we're kind of in that area already."

HSHost says "Oooh right on. I'm telling you these people are savvy."

R.J.Stewart says "I mean we .. nevermind. I'm not going to say anymore about that."

La Saint asks "R.J., has Xenastaff begun discussing the direction of "Xena" for the fifth season?"

R.J.Stewart says "Yes and no. I mean we have a glimmer of a direction but we could change it completely. We're just beginning to discuss it .. some things in the fourth season will necessitate we address them in the fifth season. We had to address Xena's killing at the beginning of the fourth .. so there are things being planted now that we have to pay off next season .. but as far as designing particular episodes, it's in the most embryonic state right now."

Sal_fan asks "RJ, how are you? Any little tidbits for the rest of Season 4?"

R.J.Stewart says "Right now Robert Trebor's scheduled to be in an episode if he's a Sal fan. And, we're going to India. The spiritual quest that we keep talking about and tantalizing people with .. we're going to get into that ... brace that totally .. that spiritual odyssey once we get into India. And, some characters will return that you might be glad to see."

HSHost says "Oh, okay."

The_Goddess_of_Love asks ""How will you ever replace Callisto with another bad-girl?""

R.J.Stewart says "Well, some people really like Najara .. I don't think it replaces Callisto, she was so unique. But, we can keep trying to make up good bad .. certainly .. when I went to make up the crusader ... that was one of the ambitions .. not to replace C but to fill the void that she left. Remember how hard it is to stay dead in the Xena universe."

HSHost says "Yeah, the writers we talked to got hammered for killing Iolaus!"

EvyWP asks "Just wanted to say that Thanks so much for this pass Season and this one. You have keep me on my sit all this time and my heart stops when I read that you have anything to do with the ep I'm about to watch. I'm a fan of your work and believe are doing Kiwi Kewl!"

R.J.Stewart {action} laughs!"

R.J.Stewart says "Well, thank you very much .. that's very nice. I love doing it so that's what's great about it."

Maya Kraj-Krajewski asks "Will there be many more episodes with Hercules and Iolas as guests in XWP?"

R.J.Stewart {action} sighs"

R.J.Stewart says "Uh .... we're not planning that now. It's not on the immediate horizon."

Maya Kraj-Krajewski asks "Has XWP ever been shot in places other than NZ - if so, where?"

R.J.Stewart says "No. Never been shot anywhere other than New Zealand."

Maya Kraj-Krajewski asks "RJ: Do you live in Australia or New Zealand?"

R.J.Stewart says "I go once in a while, but I don't live there .. Rob Tapert who's my boss lives down there quite a bit cause he has a lady friend who lives down there .. named Lucy Lawless ..."

HSHost says "Oooh!"

R.J.Stewart says "They're married you know. boy, you're really out of the loop!"

HSHost says "I have no time for TV! Sorry! I'd love to be able to! I wish I could!"

HSHost {action} laughs"

HSHost says "I have time to pet my dog, eat and go to bed."

J Michigan asks "Are the current eps being run out of order? The characters seem a little disjointed from one ep to the next."

R.J.Stewart says "Well, it depends on what you mean by out of order .. run out of production order, yes. But that doesn't mean we didn't plan them to run in the order in which they're being run. You develop an episode, try to take into consideration what happened in episode one so that it's reflected in episode two, but you really can't ... each episode has to stand on it's own anyway .. that's not good that they seem disjointed .. but I don't think the solution is rigorously cementing in an order .. I think that'd make it too rigid. I don't know if I answered that question?"

HSHost says "Sounds like you did to me."

Cyan asks "When is Gabrielle getting a horse...I'm tired of seeing her walk..."

R.J.Stewart says "We talked about that a lot and I think there's a shot in the fifth season .. no decision has been made there."

HSHost says "Is there a reason she doesn't have a horse?"

R.J.Stewart says "It's just very difficult to have two horses on the set .. a production thing. But, it seemed to work that she's on the horse (Xena) and G's on foot. Like a Don Quixote thing. You get the point."

HSHost says "What's the name of DQ's horse?"

R.J.Stewart says "I don't know!"

HSHost says "It's been driving me nuts in the NYTimes crosswords!"

Cyan asks "Do Lucy and Rene catch a lot of colds since I always see there breath when they speak so it must be really cold to be hanging around with barely any clothes on"

R.J.Stewart says "These are two very strong women who are really tough and I think they get a cold a year or something ... but no not sickly people .. very rarely feel bad and when they do, they work anyway. Lucy is amazing .. the amount of work she has to do and the crazy things we ask of her ... the way she performs them is pretty amazing. She IS Xena!"

Maya Kraj-Krajewski asks "where abouts are you chatting from in the world, RJ Stewart?"

R.J.Stewart says "I'm in L.A. .. my feet are up on my desk in my office .. in Studio City."

guest1501 asks "what was the funniest thing that has happened on the show?"

R.J.Stewart says "Like what incident?"

HSHost says "Yeah, that wasn't supposed to happen? That you're aware of?"

R.J.Stewart {action} laughs"

R.J.Stewart says "I guess it's because I'm the producer, when things go wrong they never seem funny to me! I'll tell you a funny thing that happened .. early on when we first worked on the series, Steve Sears ... he's now the co exec producer, he was enthusiastically pitching an action scene to us. And, he said "and then Xena does a back flip!" and he DID a backflip right in the room!"

R.J.Stewart {action} laughs"

R.J.Stewart says "It just floored us cause we were in shock, that's not what you expect from writers .. at that time it was a rather amazing moment. Fortunately writers don't actually have to act out the action they write!"

R.J.Stewart {action} laughs"

R.J.Stewart says "Or we'd all be dead."

HSHost says "Yeah, I don't' think I could do a back flip if my life depended on it."

Maya Kraj-Krajewski asks "RJ Stewart, what is our favorite episode of Xena?"

R.J.Stewart says "Oh ..."

R.J.Stewart {action} ponders"

R.J.Stewart says "I've got a bunch of them so it's a tricky one. You know one that I respect a lot as a well designed story and I'm surprised that it's not mentioned more often .. "Remember Nothing" from the second episode, Chris Mannheim wrote it. I think it turned out well .. I watched it with a group of people and people who weren't Xena fans were impressed with it. I love the China two parter and anything with Callisto in it .. and shows that have a lot of things happening between X and G. It's a hard one to answer. I remember "I remember nothing" so well because I was watching it with non Xena fans and they were so impressed with the craft that went into it."

HSHost says "Were you surprised with the success of the show?"

R.J.Stewart says "Yes, I wrote the pilot and .. yeah ... you know I took the job because I thought with the Hercules lead in we'd have a good shot, we'd get a sampling cause we had Hercules for a set up .. we'd get some of their audience .. so .. but did I expect it to become the phenomenon it was .. no. that was a nice surprise for it to go from a spin-off series to a phenomena of our own. I love this series, this show, I think that makes me a lucky man, cause I don't know how many people in the world in any job love what they're doing .. but I love the product and I think it's amazing."

HSHost says "That's a rarity. Congratulations."

La Sainte asks "How closely do you, Steve Sears and Liz Friedman work with Joe LoDuca regarding the composition of his music for "Xena?""

R.J.Stewart says "Thank you. Not closely at all. For Crusader, Joe asked me what kind of music I imagined behind .. when the crusader is listening to the gin ... we had a discussion .. other than that, it's really the only input I have. Certainly during the making of "The Bittersweet" the writers communicated more with Joe than usual. Whenever there's a song that takes lyrics there's communication there .. but I'm pretty sure that Liz has more contact and I know Rob is talking to Joe all the time. So, the more interesting answer would come from Rob."

HSHost says "We'll have to get him on sometime."

Maya Kraj-Krajewski asks "Do you have say in choosing actors to play the characters that you have created for any of your episodes?"

R.J.Stewart says "Whenever it's cast up here, we have a casting session and I'm very involved in it and that's true of Steve, Chris and of course Rob and the other producers over there .. yeah, absolutely. When casting a new Xena we have to see the actors on tape and it's a bit more difficult that way."

HSHost says "Do you use online stuff yet?"

R.J.Stewart says "No. So, I guess we're square, huh?"

HSHost says "No. You'd be ahead of the curve if you were."

Maya Kraj-Krajewski asks "RJ, have you ever been recognized by XWP like on-screen stars have, or can you still happily live your life with respected privacy?"

R.J.Stewart says "Yeah, I don't think anyone knows who I am or even cares, so yeah, I'm very fortunate that way. That's the great thing about writers, we can get some .. make our livings and do our work and see it produced and have all this creative satisfaction and see our name on the screen and get a certain amount of attention from fans without not being able to go to dinner without being recognized. It's a nice combination."

guest1544 asks "I think you all create a truly great show. It seems there has been more criticism from the fans lately. How do you all deal with it? Do you really listen to it?"

R.J.Stewart says "As I said, I'm not the internet person. I believe that's where the criticism would be .. so I don't hear a lot of it. Others hear are more attuned to it and they give me a capsulation .. I'm sensitive to it, not cavalier about it. But, we made this series that we as a group here thought would be a good show that we like and we're going to continue to do that. We hear that data and understand and listen to it to a certain extent, but we're not going to design our show around it. But, we respect it. I have a great deal of affection towards the people that are so involved with it that they get upset about it .. but in the end, we're going to make the series that we want to make."

Nail asks "it often seems that you and Steven Sears are having an on-screen conversation. How closely do you collaborate on your scripts?"

R.J.Stewart says "You know, on our scripts .. the writing of the scripts not at all .. he writes his and I write mine. In the overall plan, ALL the stories .. we all talk about the characters in general story sessions where we're really aware of what the other person's doing. There's relatively little collaboration in the actual writing of the scripts except in a positive way of notes and such. But, the overall planning of the season is a very collaborative thing with us all .. so, yes and no."

R.J.Stewart {action} chuckles"

guest1544 asks "Using different writers and different directors from one episode the next, do you feel this ever hurts the continuity of the show?"

R.J.Stewart says "No. I mean there are probably continuity problems with the show but I'd never blame it on the directors."

twgie asks "Where you always a producer of this show or did you start to write first and work you way into it"

R.J.Stewart says "I was hired to be the co exec producer from day one when it was a pilot. The character had been created on Hercules in a three parter. John created the character and Rob sold it for 22 episodes before I came in .. but a pilot had to be written and that's what I wrote .. the franchise with X and G and right from that first day l.... I'm now exec producer .. so I've been a producer from the get go."

Truthseeker asks "The Dahak episodes of both Xena and Hercules are among my favorites. How did the idea of Dahak come up and can you give us any hints of any future plans for Dahak?"

R.J.Stewart says "Okay. Um .... That whole storyline of G's baby etc. etc. .... G's hope .. is something that Rob and I beat out in this room a few years ago in the broadest sense .. the basic direction of where we wanted to go. We asked Steve Sears to come up with the setup for that particular thing .. how is G impregnated with Hope. And, then he started researching Zaroastrianism. And, it would be a question probably addressed to Steve .. but that was the framework in which he came up with it."

Cyan asks "Is Hope gone forever"

R.J.Stewart says "You know, fall back on what the Hercules writers said last week, nothing's forever .. but we don't have any immediate plans for Hope. We're kind of hopeless."

R.J.Stewart {action} chuckles"

goodfan asks "What is your favorite piece of writing that you've done for Gabrielle?"

R.J.Stewart {action} ponders"

R.J.Stewart says "Oooh. That's a good one. Um .. wow. You know in a fun way "A Day in the Life" was a lot of fun to write. Really got into G's reaction when I had them .. the scroll .. what X uses as a scroll, G wouldn't like, that was me writing about how I'd react to someone using my work as toilet paper. I guess the reason I was struggling with it .. most of what happens with both characters, they're so interrelated ... so I apologize, not a very good answer there."

ErisGoD asks "Will an episode from Argo's point of view (like A Day In The Life) ever come about?"

R.J.Stewart says "You know, we played with things like that. And, there is ... you know, we haven't found out how to do it yet. But, we've played with things similar to that .. so we struggle with it. The time has come for us to do it so .. but we have played with concepts similar to that, yeah."

guest1544 asks "There seem to be some unanswered questions about how Gabrielle survived her fall from Sacrifice 2. It seems they just kind of met up again and there we are. When is it going to be answered, meaning how she survived?"

R.J.Stewart says "We'll address that more fully later on. To be honest with you, as I said earlier, I don't think it was our finest moment. The basic answer is she survived it because Dahak was trying to save his daughter, Hope, and inadvertently saved Gabrielle. We'll find a place to explain that more fully later on .. or not."

R.J.Stewart {action} chuckles"

EvyWP asks "Are we going to watch more of Lao ma?? Say yes pretty please! hehehehe"

R.J.Stewart says "Oh would I LOVE to say yes! But, I don't think that's going to happen, I loved Jacqueline .. boy was she great! And, I loved writing that character, boy was that fun. I don't think she'll be coming back. She loved the experience, but she's gone on to other things. We keep in touch. Keep in mind, she is dead .. we'll have to do one of our ..."

J Michigan asks "Do you foresee another musical episode at some point? Or, at the very least, will Lucy get another chance to sing (something besides the funeral dirge)?"

R.J.Stewart says "Yes, she will get the chance to sing things other than the funeral durge. A musical like "The Bittersweet" we haven't talked about. Anything's possible. But, there's no immediate plans for it. That was tough. Oooh. That was toughie."

guest1537 asks "will ares ever stop tormenting xena"

R.J.Stewart says "No! Never! For eternity he's going to try to torment her and she's going to constantly foil him."

EvyWP asks "I love the Idea of Using Reneé as Hope, are you planing on using her for another look alike? after all..Xena has one toooo many"

R.J.Stewart {action} laughs!"

R.J.Stewart says "Once again, no plans for it. I think that maybe we've "look aliked" ourselves out for a while."

HSScreener says "For those of you that missed it the official Xena website address is"

R.J.Stewart says "Perhaps there won't be a lot more look alike shows in the future. But, I think it was cool to have Gabrielle play Hope."

guest1544 asks "What's the latest regarding Amazon High? Will we ever get to see it?"

R.J.Stewart says "There is a success scare about Amazon High, I don't want to jinx it, but you may very well see it soon."

ErisGoD asks "What's the deal with 2 Amazon Queens named Cyan? Are they one and the same?"

R.J.Stewart says "Well, this is all explained in Amazon High, however, the original Amazon Queen was named Cyan, so it's a tradition that the Amazon Queen's are "Cyan.""

R.J.Stewart {action} laughs"

R.J.Stewart says "You didn't know that? Ha! It is something we planted in Amazon High and then carried into Xena and not many people have seen AH, so not many understand that."

HSHost says "Okay."

Maya Kraj-Krajewski asks "As an actress with 3yrs stage experience in acting and singing, how do I go around becoming an extra or auditioning for a cameo in Xena?"

R.J.Stewart says "What they do with extras in NZ is I'm sure there are people who hire extras. .. same as in America. You'd have to get into that pool and ... it's not something I'd suggest someone travel to get involved with. It's a long flight for such a .. if someone's doing a crowd scene, they select a bunch of people and some may never get on camera. So, it's something I'd recommend not become a great obsession for her. I think she'd just be frustrated. She lives in Australia .. that's a four-hour flight ....... I think you have to be around ... live in Auckland for a while so you can become a part of the extra pool."

HSHost says "Right. It's like flying to NY to be an extra."

ALiddel asks "Is it true they are downplaying the X&G subtext this season and in the future?"

R.J.Stewart says "Not at all. It's not true."

Klatu asks "What do you know about Bruce Campbell's character Autolycus, in terms of having him appear in some more eps?"

R.J.Stewart says "Well, Bruce is great for our show cause people love him and he's good for ratings. So, it's depending on his availability cause he's got other things going .. so he'll be back."

HSHost says "Bruce was one of our largest shows here! He's got a lot of fans out there."

R.J.Stewart says "Oh yeah .. he's great."

BattleOnXena asks "I notice that all the Kiwis have a problem with the word "been". Lucy is perfect with her So Ca accent except with "been" That's the giveaway for me. How come?"

R.J.Stewart says "Gee, that's a linguistic question ... too deep for me. But, I guess it's something about NZ speech, but of course they say it right."

Powerline asks "I know you didn't direct Adventures in the Sin Trade 2, but you were involved. Was that Renee's real hair, or a wig? (In Crucifixion scene)"

R.J.Stewart says "That was .. let's put it this way, we cut her hair later on, s