Peta Wilson AOL Chat
(3 July 1997)
OnlineHost: Peta Wilson stars as Nikita, a young, beautiful, courageous woman given a difficult choice-join a secret, ruthless government agency or be executed - in "La Femme Nikita," the new original series on USA Network. Falsely accused of a crime she did not commit, Nikita does whatever is necessary to survive. Welcome!
AOLiveMC10: Welcome to the Olds' Celebrity Circle, Peta Wilson!
PetaWLive: Hello, everyone! I'm on a holiday, and I'm nice and relaxed.
AOLiveMC10: Ready for your first question? It comes from Mad024377:
Question: I saw your show and just wondering -- when are you going to make the big screen?
PetaWLive: God. Wouldn't I like to know that, too! I'm not sure. At the moment, I'm on vacation. I have a production company I just formed, and producing a movie called "Guns in the Night." We have a couple of movies we're doing there. I'm developing a few things for roles that I want to do. There were a few movie offers, but I'd rather have a holiday than do crap. I'm going to do some small parts in my friends' movies. They've been trying to get their stuff done for a couple of years. I may do a big movie at the end of my hiatus. I'm not sure.
AOLiveMC10: RoseBud35 wants to know:
Question: Hi, Peta! Will there be a serious romance between Michael and Nikita in the future, or will it remain an unacknowledged attraction?
PetaWLive: I don't know. You'll have to keep watching. I have no idea. There is so much tension between Michael and Nikita at the moment. Something has to happen. There's always a calm before the storm, right? So be aware of the calm between those two. It's a question for the executive producer.
AOLiveMC10: And another from RoseBud35:
Question: Peta, I love the show. Did you see the French or American movies, and how much of your character is based on them?
PetaWLive: Well, the whole "La Femme Nikita" series is based on Luc Besson's film. We based the character on the French film, but there are rules and regulations of what can be seen on TV. It varies a lot because of the medium, because some things can and can't be said. But it is based on the French film. Thank you.
AOLiveMC10: Sheresocr would like to know:
Question: How many days do you work a year?
PetaWLive: I don't know. I mean, it's going to change next year. I worked something like 1900 hours. It was a lot. A little too much for an Australian. We like a little more balance. My average day was 16 hours. Sometimes I work 19 hours a day, 5 days a week, for 9 months.
AOLiveMC10: Glassdoll wants to know:
Question: How has becoming such a big star affected your family life?
PetaWLive: Well, my family is in Australia, and they're down to earth people. It's all cool. I love my family, and they love me. There's a lot of support from them. It's not affecting them because I'm really grounded. I never thought about that. I'm not sure. All of this attention, even with your question, feels like it's part of the job. Popular culture. But I'm appreciative of all the fans, because it's doing great for me.
AOLiveMC10: Lennie119 asks this question:
Question: How do you keep in shape for your show?
PetaWLive: It's very hard to have a romantic life, I'll say that. You have only 7 hours off. Lennie -- yoga, kick boxing, I work out at my lunch hours. I do some stretching and skipping. The hours I work in the scenes that I'm in, I'm burning calories. I do as much of the stunts that they left me, and I lift heavy guns. But I work out every day in some form or another. I'm not working out at present. I'm on a little break. On a holiday.
AOLiveMC10: LDrummerG would like to know:
Question: What is the funniest or strangest thing that has happened on the set?
PetaWLive: Wow. There's so many. Roy does a lot of that on purpose. He goofs around a lot. I'm particularly clumsy. There's been things where I've slipped when running in on a scene. Roy does a few. There was a good moment once. We were sitting around the Section table, and it was the episode "Treason." There was a scene where we were wondering how to get to Mr. Tubar. And the boys all let their chairs down. There was a line that went, "He likes tall blondes." When they let their chair down, I let my chair down. They caught it on film.
PetaWLive: There was a goof at 1 in the morning, and we had these weird infrared goggles on in -20 degree weather. We were running around in the bush with guns. We had to hide behind a tree. I couldn't see a thing and ran into Michael -- a stiff character -- and he knocked another person over. It was like a domino effect because everyone fell.
PetaWLive: There was an episode of "War" where someone said "This could be it." We're in the big briefing area. We break into this song after some guy stuck the gun in his mouth. We broke into a rendition of "The Flintstones," but it's "The Section... We're the Section" sung to the tune of "Flintstones." We did it as a musical and faced the camera.
PetaWLive: There's been some serious accidents. I've had a concussion when I hit my head on a tree. But the crew fools around all day long. When I'm not shooting, I walk around with a video camera filming the crew. The things that go on!
AOLiveMC10: Vikingred would like to know:
Question: What type of acting roles do you see for yourself in the future?
PetaWLive: Well, my favorite actors are Gena Rowlands and Jessica Lange. I thought Natalie Wood was good in "This Property is Condemned." I like Tennessee Williams and the women in his play. I like to do comedy. I want to do very honest roles, and I feel like I'm a brave actress who will try or do anything. I like to play women who are very interesting. I don't see myself in conventional roles. I don't think people will buy that. I'm developing scripts with my production company. One character is an alcoholic who stuffs mattresses for a living, drives around in a Pinto, and listens to Sonic Youth. Good scripts are good.
AOLiveMC10: This question comes from Modeljame:
Question: If you could play any stage role, what would it be and why?
PetaWLive: That's hard. That's a hard question. All stage roles are great. I'd like to play Cymbeline. It's just a great Shakespearean piece. It's definitely a challenge. I love Tennessee Williams' women -- Stella or Bertha from "Hello Bertha." I'll do new playwrights. New characters. Characters that haven't been seen yet. There are some great writers -- Noel Coward. My taste is so "all over the place." I'd like to do "Waiting for Lefty." I really enjoy doing "On the Waterfront" playing Edie Doyle. That was fun. We'll see what comes to me, what I get. I'm just thinking of what I want to do next.
AOLiveMC10: Jim007bon would like to know:
Question: What qualities do you like best about your character?
PetaWLive: Nikita -- she was like I was 7 or 8 years ago. I don't know whether that answers your question. I look at her qualities. She's so innocent. And she has a certain naivete that is very warm. She has a naivete in this modern world and the world that she's from. She has a vulnerability, like an animal. Like an innocent animal.
AOLiveMC10: Chipwitch sends this question:
Question: Peta, "LFN" presents such a bleak picture of the battle over good and evil. Do any of the stories ever get to you?
PetaWLive: Yes, they do. Look at the stuff they subject me to. Emotionally, the truth is, if my character doesn't go there and I don't make it believable, then the audience isn't going to buy it. So sometimes I have to go to strange places to pull myself to make it real. There's no rehearsal. Only a little prep at night. I get very little sleep, maybe 6 hours every night. I think "Mercy" got to me.
PetaWLive: "Escape" was a rough one because it was such a metaphor for how I was feeling at the time. Not having anything outside of the series as a life. Very pent up. It's very bizarre -- many times I'm in synch with the character. It will affect my mood. The makeup artists will tell me a week later, saying that I was really out there or was not feeling well. That means I took on the character's state of mind. Working that quickly as an actor, you have to be very emotionally open. I also don't like having to shoot people. Nikita doesn't like it. It doesn't feel very nice.
AOLiveMC10: JMardin would like to find out:
Question: Do you answer fan mail? If so, what's an address for it?
PetaWLive: JMardin -- the address is LFN Productions, 505 Orwell Street. Call 905-279-6011 -- that's the phone number, and they could give you the rest of the address. To be honest, I don't write long letters to people. But I do answer fan mail. I'm very grateful to have people like the show and like me.
AOLiveMC10: And another from MWatson10:
Question: What kind of books do you like to read, and do you have any favorite authors?
PetaWLive: I read all kinds of book. At the moment, I have "Asylum," the new Tennessee Williams biography. One of my favorites is "Catcher in the Rye." I like Roland Dahl. I read history books. Ancient history books. I'm curious about the ancient Greeks. I like theosophy books. I like poetry. I have the Shakespearean sonnets that I read. I have a book written by a monk called "The Wisdom of No Escape, and the Path of Loving Kindness" by Pema Chodron, which I carry around with me.
PetaWLive: I always carry a dictionary. I'm reading a book called "Mad Cows" by Kathy Latte, which is a possible film for me. I have a copy of "Acting: The First Six Lessons." I have a whole bunch of National Geographics, and the Irish book that I have is Roddy Doyle's "The Woman Who Bumped Into Chairs." I'm reading "Spider." "Asylum" is a very good book. I just read for stimulation. I like photographic books, so I read them a lot too. I like pictures. I read it to relax.
PetaWLive: It's nice to be taken off to another world. J.B. Shalom wrote a good book called "When Nietzche Wept." "The Kindness of Strangers" is also a good book about Tennessee Williams. I'm reading Freud's "Women" right now. I read according to characters -- what they might read and what they might get off on. I like a bit of everything. I was reading cookbooks today because I was cooking dinner tonight. I like Sherlock Holmes mysteries, especially when I was younger. I like all the old poets. Wadsworth and those guys. But history is never dull.
AOLiveMC10: CodenmeAn would like to know:
Question: Peta -- I understand that you have a '56 Thunderbird -- saw it in the E Now interview -- very nice. Do you like any other classic cars? Do you plan to show your Thunderbird?
PetaWLive: No, not yet. I love old cars. Never been able to afford them. I can't really now because you can never afford old cars. My father and I looked at a '38 Cadillac, but my next car may be '57 Thunderbird. When you drive in an old car, you feel like you're driving in a car. Every car has its own personality. And I have fun. But she's lovely. She's very nice.
PetaWLive: I have relationships with my cars. I can fix them. I can go under the hood. When I first came to LA, I used $10,000 to enroll in drama school and buy a '58 Thunderbird. My dad used to fix cars. When I was a kid and he pulled on the throttle, I would giggle. Old cars never lose their value -- like good wine. I'm an old metal head.
AOLiveMC10: Hell9000 wants to know:
Question: In what direction would you like to see your character go in the second season?
PetaWLive: I'd like her to be a little more like she's got their number. "I got that number. I've had that happen before." I'd like to see her dominate more. The only way she's going to get out is to get them. I think she might get real good next year. I just try to take a deep breath and do the things she doesn't want to do. I don't think she'll accept what she does, but it's certainly not something I'm thinking about now. She knows it's the way it is, but she doesn't have to like it. She's trying to find a way to get out.
PetaWLive: She's not sleeping enough. This job is not good for restful sleep. She'll just have to get better. Beat Michael at his own game, maybe. She's certainly not going to cool off next year. She'll be feisty still.
AOLiveMC10: Mona Owl would like to know:
Question: Love the show! Which episode did your brother act in?
PetaWLive: My brother was in "Friend." He was the big guy. When I push Mijovich against the window, my brother is behind me. He's by me when we say goodbye to Mijovich in the plane. I get out of the car and he gets out at the other side. He's very big.
AOLiveMC10: How did you get your start in acting?
PetaWLive: That's like a 2 hour answer. I don't know how I got my start. But I've been performing since I was a little girl. I lived in Papua, New Guinea. We were the only white kids in an all black school. We got a lot of attention, so I played the fool. Being an army brat, I went to different schools and never fit in. Probably had something to do with the army lifestyle and living in New Guinea when I was a kid. I would see what the activity of choice was and try to become good at it, so it was sort of like acting by way of necessity.
PetaWLive: My real break when I decided to study just came upon me when I was 21. What do I have to lose? I tried the hardest thing first. I came to America and came to drama schools. I found a man called Arthur Mendoza, Stella Adler's protege. She gave her transcripts and notes to him when she passed away. I studied with him. He was very hard and strict on me, and made me work twice as hard as everyone else. He saw my potential. He still pushed me then. I stayed and studied. While others were partying, I would study. I would do the work. And then it just came.
PetaWLive: I've got a manager through a girlfriend. He wouldn't take me on because he wanted real actors. I was scared and not ready to audition, so I ran out of there. But I auditioned for "Jade," got 4 call backs, and that was enough for him to sign me. 6-7 months later, I got "Nikita." Even after "Nikita," I was in drama school studying. I might go back to class during the hiatus if there is nothing interesting coming along. So that's how I got my break. Just work. If you want to be an actor, just study hard. You have to have luck in there. If you have good karma, you probably have good luck.
AOLiveMC10: SMcK20 asks this question:
Question: Hi Peta, the show's great -- will it be renewed next season?
PetaWLive: I'm doing another 22 episodes. I don't know after that. I'm not sure. If it goes well next year, it will be renewed, and Warner Bros. will release it internationally. I don't know how that works.
AOLiveMC10: Maxie L would like to know: Question: How many seasons are you signed on for?
PetaWLive: I have a 4 year contract. I've done 1 now. I've got another one to do now. 2 more after this season.
AOLiveMC10: BPRay756 asks this question:
Question: I love the format "LFN!" The creative use of lighting and set direction is to be applauded. How do you like working with Joel Surnow, and can you tell us anything about "Mercy?"
PetaWLive: Joel Surnow is a real character. He's great. I used to have a joke with him because I like Tennessee Williams a lot. I called him "Big Daddy." Joel is like an energy ball. I've become like a daughter to him in a way. He's from Detroit. I'm from Australia. We're different, but I like him very much. He's the one that said yes and had faith in me. I'll never forget that. He gave me a break. He's a smart man. TV is a hard business, and Joel is very smart and knows how to do it. He's tough, but he's also a pussycat.
PetaWLive: I like "Mercy." There are a few scenes that I'm happy with as an actress. There's a scene with Madeline, and I walked away feeling "Yeah, this is a good scene." If I get one good scene a show, I'm happy. "Mercy" is a great script. I don't want to tell you about it, because it won't be a surprise. You'll like it -- trust me. It's the last show we shot, so it has different energy. The end of the season.
AOLiveMC10: PLeeMarin would like to know:
Question: Can you tell us a little about your first name?
PetaWLive: Peta. Pee-Tah. My mum is Pieta, or Peta (payta.) I've been a tomboy, so I wanted people to call me "Pete." I was always kind of short. My father was away in the bush on an army exercise when my mum had me. The message to my father was wrong. They said I was a boy, so he came into town looking for a boy. My dad wanted to call me "Peter." My mom didn't want that, but the name stuck. My father called me Peter. I hated my name. I wanted a name like Tanya, Louise, or Sarah. But I've had a voice like I always had and a name like Peta.
PetaWLive: At 9, I had a husky voice. I changed my name every 2 weeks. My grandmother would ask me a question in my name, but I wouldn't answer. My grandfather would have to tell her my name for the week. But now I like it. It's my name. People have such problems saying it, though. Also, 1970 Miss Australia was Peta. I think that had something to do with it, as well.
AOLiveMC10: LMBJRB asks this question:
Question: I recently heard that you played basketball professionally in Australia -- was it a hard choice to switch from a sports career to an acting career?
PetaWLive: No, because I achieved my goal as an athlete. I had done different things in my life, and had a goal. Once I reach the goal, I move on. Acting has a lot of goals. There's a lot of places I can branch off from here. I love sports. It kept me out of trouble as a teen. It gave me energy, and sports was a place to put it. Now, acting is the place to put it. I was not a pro basketball player. I was a professional Net player. It's different. You don't dribble. I would hate to get on the court with a champion basketballer. Net ball and basketball are different, like soccer and rugby.
AOLiveMC10: Hopaladop wants to know:
Question: What was your first impression of America?
PetaWLive: It's big. Everything is big. I flew into LA, I was mortified. It looked like a big cemetery. I was very unprepared for the racism. In LA, it's pretty full on. The crime -- I'm not used to those kinds of predators. I'm used to snakes and crocodiles. I'm trusting, so it was a bit of a shock. America has a lot of stress. But I like it now. I like NY. I like the East Coast and Middle America. But I'm not too crazy about LA. It's like an old stew. It smells like it, too. It's very smelly.
PetaWLive: I like America. It's multi-cultural. I'm from the land of opportunity, like America was 60 years ago. I come from a country much younger. In Australia, we had 3 channels. Here, we have 103. You ask for a main course meal, you get enough to feed an entire table. In Australia, you just get a main course. I was shocked by the media. That was overwhelming, and how popular culture -- how the country -- is into stars and things, The National Enquirer and such. In Australia, no one gives a wahooey, except Rupert Murdoch, who makes a living from that stuff.
PetaWLive: In Australia, we have our 10 hour day and are happy. I like the rhythm and the Indian Indians in the country. They have so much here, and it's all there at your fingertips. I don't know if I'll stay here. I like Europe. I see myself in a villa with a whack of kids. But there's a lot of stuff I want to do before that, and that's in America. School for underprivileged kids. A chicken ranch.
OnlineHost: There is time for one final question.
AOLiveMC10: MSJ1815 asks this question:
Question: Do you ever find yourself acting like your character?
PetaWLive: All the time. When I'm doing the show, I'm working more than I'm not because I work really long days. So it's like Nikita sleeping. When I'm home, it's Nikita takes a shower. Nikita goes to bed. Other than the show, I don't really have a life. The hours are long.
AOLiveMC10: Thanks for joining us here tonight, Peta. Any closing comments for your fans?
PetaWLive: I'm so grateful to the audience who have taken an interest in the show. The bigger the audience, the better the show will be. The suits will see there's an audience for this, and will do a more interesting show. It can get better, thanks to the audience. It started for me when the show started, so I'm at a loss for words. Everybody can do what they want to do -- I'm living proof of that. If anyone out there has a desire, whatever creative expression there is, where your body and mind is an instrument, you should try it.
PetaWLive: At the very least, it will let you know yourself better. At the best, you can get your own TV series. I'd like to pass that on to everybody. If everyone helps everybody a little bit, we could be working. It's not who you know, it's how much you work. I'd love to know the people who will start a project tomorrow. I'm doing it even during my hiatus. Be good. Good energy in, good energy comes. I'll have a nice Strawberry Daiquiri for you all in Mexico. Nikita is hibernating for 3 months, and Peta is BACK -- and she's swimming.
AOLiveMC10: Thanks, Peta, it was very entertaining having you here with us! Thanks to you in the audience, also -- your questions were great! Good night, everyone!
OnlineHost: Thanks for joining us in the Oldsmobile Celebrity Circle this evening. Remember, Oldsmobile brings an exciting guest online every Monday through Friday, and transcripts from the events can be downloaded using keywords: "Oldsmobile" or "AOL Live" within 24 hours after the event has ended.
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OnlineHost: Copyright 1997 Oldsmobile
More about this Event:
07/03 "La Femme Nikita's" Peta Wilson (Bowl)
Peta Wilson stars as Nikita, a young, beautiful, courageous woman given a difficult choice -- join a secret, ruthless government agency ...or be executed -- in LA FEMME NIKITA, the new original series on USA Network. Falsely accused of a crime she did not commit, Nikita does whatever is necessary to survive. While she works for this covert organization, she desperately tries to create a life of her own on the outside. Whenever she gets close ...the phone rings and pulls her back into a world of anti-terrorism and underground spies.
Wilson is becoming a household name, with recent feature stories in such publications as People, US, In Style, Details and TV Guide, as well as appearances on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" and "The Rosie O'Donnell Show." In addition, there are at least a dozen websites dedicated to Wilson and the series. Her personal interests include classic car shows (she recently bought her first one -- a 1956 Thunderbird convertible), the theater and all kinds of music, especially blues and country. Her first hiatus from LA FEMME NIKITA will find Wilson splitting her time between driving cross-country with her father, who has never been out of Peta's native Australia until now, and photo shoots for two more publications. She is often spotted "walking about" her favorite city, New York, which she visits frequently to stay current with the theater scene.
A native of Australia, Wilson spent her early years traveling with her family as an "Army brat" and much of her early childhood in New Guinea. She is an accomplished sailor, having garnered with her dad and brother, the title of Australian Interservice Champion Trailer Sailors.
Two experiences in Wilson's childhood placed her on the road to a career in performing, the first being the lack of television in New Guinea when she was growing up. She and her brother would put on a show for family and friends as a way of entertaining themselves. The second was a result of her family's never-ending moves and changing schools constantly. She learned to quickly size up various social situations and act in whatever manner would help her fit in. Her strong family ties continue to be the priority in Wilson's life: her grandmother stays with her in Toronto when NIKITA is in production. Throughout the year, she always has one of her relatives visiting, whether it is her mom, uncle, cousin or brother (who appeared in an episode of the show during the first season).
Wilson moved to the U.S. in 1991 to concentrate on becoming an actress and studied with such coaches as Arthur Mendoza from the Actors Circle Theater in Los Angeles, Tom Waits at TomCats Repertory Group and Sylvana Gulado. Her first role was for the Actors Circle Theater in a production entitled FOOL FOR LOVE.
Film credits include REASONABLE FORCE, SADNESS OF SEX and WOMAN UNDONE. Her acting career was officially launched in cable television's STRANGERS anthology, directed by Damian Harris. She also appeared in the Fox movie of the week VANISHING POINT.
Wilson still enjoys an active and athletic lifestyle. In addition to the vigorous one-on-one training she maintains for her role, she enjoys scuba diving, swimming, water-skiing, yoga and aerobic funk classes. An avid reader and collector of photojournalism books, Wilson also likes to putter around her garden in the Hollywood Hills, where she lives when LA FEMME NIKITA is not in production.
Michael Loceff Q&A on Usenet
(5 February 1998)
Patty (firstname.lastname@example.org) asked:
Thank you, Mr. Loceff, for answers to LFN fans' questions. Are the coming episodes single story lines or more continued stories as in the current trilogy?
There will be one, possibly two, 2-episode arcs later in the season. The remainder will be stand-alone episodes. Don't be surprised, however, if you see one or two of the more colorful characters from season one re-emerge in a new context.
Also, has the full 22 (or hopefully more) episodes been filmed yet?
We are in the process of filming #211 -- the midpoint of the season. Scripts are complete, or in various stages of rewrite, up through episode #218, and story areas have been established for all 22 episodes.
I am curious as to why the seemingly sudden turnaround of Nikita, from strong and virtuous would be spygirl to flaky, flighty and flirty angst goddess. I was hoping for a stronger, smarter Nikita this season. A Nikita who could hold her own in the Section and who could "handle" things a bit better, while still maintaining her humanity and free will. Nikita is who drew me in to the show, but she is increasingly hard to like this season, and I don't just mean in her behavior with Michael. There are so many differences in Nikita and Michael to explore, their backgrounds, their character, their belief in what they are doing for Section being right or wrong, that it seems a little frustrating to have to deal with this "romantic triangle" line. IMHO, there is nothing romantic about it. What is the thought process behind the change in the Nikita character?
Nikita is first and foremost an emotional being. Her strength to Section One is that while she is a capable operative, she persists in displaying this emotional fabric. It results in creative solutions to tactical problems but also leaves her vulnerable to certain manipulation. She *is*, however, quick to adjust and did so when she realized that Michael appeared to be uninterested in pursuing the relationship for which she sacrificed her autonomy and came back to Section. She found a kindred spirit in Jurgen - another op who insisted upon a "real" life. Given the incredible physical and emotional stresses placed on Nikita by Section, seeking an intimate relationship with such a person is not altogether unreasonable, and doesn't really constitute a change in her character as much as it reveals an aspect of it that becomes visible when she is exposed to such extreme stresses.
As the season progresses, she will demonstrate equally strong counter-aspects to her personality. In season one, we discovered the "down-the-middle" Nikita. This season we are going to see her explore some more exotic parts of her psyche at both ends of the spectrum, but her emotional center of gravity will not change.
Tracy (email@example.com) asked:
How the public response to LFN episodes in newsgroups and on mailing lists, as well as via mail and email, influence the development of the plot and characters?
Given that the episodes are prepared at least six months in advance, if you were to perceive a negative public reaction and lower ratings in response to the direction the story is going...it would be too late for you to make any changes. So to that extent, it appears that you are locked into the script you have planned in advance....and that public opinion can only influence the next season. So what impact does reading the newsgroups/lists etc. have on the writers?
This is an excellent question. During season one, all of us here at the writer's office read both the mailing list and, later, the newsgroups, with great interest. I believe that the collective net-consciousness has become such an integral part of our weekly conversations that it definitely has an effect on the decisions we are making in Season Two, especially later in the season.
I have a strong background in computers and the Internet -- I have been on the net for over 10 years, and I have been teaching (and continue to teach full-time) programming and networking at a Junior College in the SF Bay area for 15. While the other writers are somewhat newer to the net, they have all come to appreciate its value as a mechanism for communicating with our audience. We are in the process of "widening" that channel to make the dialogue more regular and effective.
It is a false impression that we cannot change episodes that have been written, are shooting, or even ones that have been filmed. We can and do make last-minute changes based on input from studio, network, and even the Internet. Certainly the net feedback from the early episodes this season has spawned many conversations among the writers and producers here concerning story areas and the outcome of episodes later in the season.
Are you able/willing to give us more background on the world in which LFN takes place? Is this an alternative present? Is most of the world run by terrorist organizations? Or is this supposed to be similar to the world in which we live now....only that we are seeing a glimpse of a supposed underground of terrorist organizations?
LFN takes place in a reality which is five degrees to the right and two degrees ahead of the world in which you and I live. With some work I feel we can increase those numbers by a degree or two in the next few months.
OK, really. That last paragraph actually has a non-facetious interpretation. We are to the right (or left) of reality in that we don't deal with too many actual locations or incidents in our scripts. We do use the names of some terrorist organizations to help root the episodes in a dash of reality. It is "ahead" in that it uses a pseudo-technology which in only partially graounded in reality. This makes it somewhat futuristic. It acknowledges that there are terrorist and anti-terrorist activities in both worlds, but a direct connection is never established. In the end, this series is about relationships between people, and we feel that these relationships and the crises that arise out of them, are best served by providing a surreal setting.
Lynn S. Goodrich (firstname.lastname@example.org) asked:
1. Both you and Robert Cochran have written for the show. You are also listed as Story Editor and Robert Cochran as Creative Consultant. What are the tasks involved with these additional positions, and how do they impact on your writing?
The process of creating stories is the subject of another question answered below (see Skbruton).
3. To what extent do the actors have any say over what is written for their character?
As you know, LFN is very privileged to have what I consider to be the best acting team in episodic drama. It would be impossible to write for such a talented group of actors and not have their input filter through to the writing.
When on set, I have conversations with each of our principals, and Joel is in touch with them on almost a daily basis. Each is extremely enthusiastic about their roles and have lots of ideas about where their characters have come from and where they are going.
The actors frequently have questions about the scripts. No one is more sensitive to their character's behavior than they, and they approach these scripts with a high degree of professionalism and scrutiny. Often these interactions result in line changes, other times they will walk away with a better understanding of what it is on the page.
As a writer, I look at where each actor has taken my scenes in the past and use this as a source of new ideas -- things I wouldn't have thought of if I hadn't seen Matthew read a Birkoff line in just "that" way, or Alberta make a choice that surprised me and which turned out better than I had envisioned. In this way the actors guide us in writing future scripts, and in making the characters develop in ways that are very much due to the cast we have, and not some abstract characters.
Krystal (email@example.com) asked:
I am having trouble with Nikita in the last two episodes...Season 2's Spec Ops and Third Person. In Season One I saw Nikita as new to Section and inexperienced, raw and just learning along with us the audience. Now we all know better and expect her to have learned and know better too, not make the same old mistakes all over again. We take this show serious and were willing to excuse her dumb mistakes as inexperience and allowed for her hesitations because of her innocents. I can't personally see her as innocent anymore. For myelf it's not the Michael & Nikita relationship that bothers me although a little more patience on Nikita's part may have been admirable. I would have liked to see more caution with Jurgen. More tact and communication with Michael about coming back to Section. More intelligence on approaching Michael, Walter, or Jurgen in hallways or Section work stations. More of a "go to hell" or even "bring on the rats" attitude which we grew to admire last season.
Nikita put herself in harm's way and intervened on the Section's behalf after her escape from the Freedom League. She did this, in large part, because of Michael's behavior and arguments. Whether she considered herself free while she was "out", she was still in control of her own destiny to a much greater extent than after her return. Thus, she gave up something extremely valuable and had a right to demand something in return. If she appeared a bit impatient, naive, even whiny, to an observer on the outside, remember that when viewed through her eyes the balance sheet might have seemed unfairly tipped. Sometimes "being smart" doesn't impress those around you, and in the end, it is not Nikita's intelligence that makes her unique, but how she manages to manuever the deadly waters of Section One without compromising her personality.
Yes, Nikita will become smarter and more careful this year, but she isn't going to become so by riding a linear function upward at a steady nine degree slope. It will be a rough ride, with some false steps and many adjustments.
There have been quite a few rumors on-line lately. I wanted to know how serious the renewal problems are for Season Three.
Warner and USA are in negotiations as we speak. No one at this office, including Joel, can say exactly what, if any, issues are left to resolve. The rumors on the Internet do not sound accurate, or even in the right ballpark, but until we get resolution, no one will know for sure. The issues are complex and it simply takes time to satisfy all parties involoved. Like you, I hope we have another season of LFN, and I hope to be part of it.
RSRIX (RSRIX@prodigy.net) asked:
My husband and I are major LFN fans and we have a question for you. Will we learn more about Michael's history this season? Where did he come from?
I can assure you, you will learn a lot more about Michael's history this season. I wish I could tell you more, but if I did ...
Krystal (firstname.lastname@example.org) asked:
Last year we felt very privileged when we were given the first 13 Episode Titles for Season 2 of LFN..... are there any new titles for episodes #214 through the end of Season 2 that you have access to and if it isn't breaking any Section Codes.....could you possibly share???
Will there only be 22 episodes for Season 2, or is there a chance that it could change to 24 or 25?
Also... are Season 3 titles going to be 3 words? [Notice I am confident there will be a Season 3!]
We have not finalized most of the titles after #214. Some that have been:
#214 "Old Habits"
#215 "Inside Out"
#216 "Not Was"
#217 "Double Date"
#218 "Off Profile"
As it currently stands there will be 22 episodes for season 2.
If there is any justice in the universe, then yes, there will be 3 word titles in Season 3 ( ...ahem... assuming there is a season 3 ... ).
Emmy in PGH (email@example.com) asked:
1) Is Roy Dupuis ever going to speak his native language on the show? What a waste of talent if he does not, IMHO.
Yes, Roy WILL speak in his native tongue this season. That episode is in the can!
3) Will the producers continue to give the Michael character increased screen time--quality screen time, in which he is a co-equal to Nikita and not simply a reactive "Number Two" to everything she does?
Michael will see significant portions of Season 2 episodes and stories devoted to his character. This is true of other principals as well. I am surprised by your question, however, since I watched the same 22 episodes that you did last year, and I was unable to find an episode where Michael was merely reactive to Nikita. His character is a very strong one and was designed to be the dramatic equal of hers.
Skbruton (firstname.lastname@example.org) asked:
I'm a fan of your writing. You really seem to understand what Michael and Nikita would say and do. They are never out of character in your scripts. Thank you for that. I was shocked when I heard that WAR almost changed the episode SIMONE into a 'farce' enacted out for Nikita. THANK YOU and TPTB for not allowing that story-line, as SIMONE is still my favorite episode, and such a change would have ruined it for me.
I would love to know the 'details' behind how an LFN writer does his job. How an episode script is 'created' -- every step of the way. Would you please share this fascinating information with us? I'm a writer of Nikita FanFiction, I've bought most of the LFN scripts and I'm very fascinated by the complex characters that you and the other writers have managed to write such wonderful stories for.
Normally stories meetings involve the four of us. This is a very difficult process to describe to an outsider as it involves cloistering into an office for days at a time bouncing ideas around the room (sometimes throwing them with full force at someone's head) until just the right story emerges. Many times we invest hours of intense work into what seems at first to be a very promising story area only to come up against the realization that it will not sustain four full acts. At that point, we crack open a box of York peppermint patties and some Banlangen tea and start from scratch.
Once a story outline is established we will assign it to an in-house or freelance writer, based on workload, individual strengths, or preference. After the first draft of a script is handed in, the staff reconvenes and gives notes to the writer for a rewrite or polish. Usually the first rewrite of any script is extensive. In any case, one of the in-house team, or two working as a pair, will take a final pass at it, scene-by-scene, until we feel it is "correct."
From this point the script goes to the studio and network for notes. More rewrites. Jamie Paul Rock tells us that it is totally impossible to shoot the script as written. More rewrites. Even then it seems to be unproducible, given the budget. But Jamie and Rocco Mateo, our production designer, work magic and somehow do it all within or under budget and make it look like it cost twice as much.
After it is produced, and the director has submitted an initial cut, one of us sits with the editor and cuts the show into its final form.
For your information, I am writing these responses between editing sessions for episode #209 and polishing rewrite of episode #213, both activities of which will continue for another two days. Joel, Bob and David are equally multi-tasking as I write.
Marian Bauman (email@example.com) asked:
I am interested in your analysis of 1)The Section, background, maintenance issues & future, 2)Nikita, how will she mature, 3)Michael, at best, a man in disparate parts, could you describe his wishes, fantasies, & dreams (try to manipulate me as little as possible even though the temptation will be there) and 4) which character/or story arc do you most identify with.
I am exhausted just reading these questions! But thank you for wanting to know so much. Although I appreciate your desire for more information about the Section, I cannot by myself, respond to the details of Section, Michael, Nikita or other aspects of the show. In a way, that's what the show is. A slow, I.V. drip of info-tainment whose purpose is to answer these questions.
I CAN say this. We will see certain aspects of Section One this season and go deeper into how it works, who makes decisions, plans missions, handles contingencies. You will see Michael give more information about himself and his feelings (in homeopathic quantities, of course), and you will see Nikita take some interesting growth spurts.
My favorite episodes of season one were Friend, Gambit, War, Innocent, and Mercy. While I don't "identify" with episodes or characters, the guys in the office always defer to me when writing Birkoff dialogue. I'm a lot like him (except OLDER!). I often cloister with a physics book or computer program after the writing of the day is done, and I teach my 4 computer classes on-line, so I'm constantly logged on and answering student questions.
Joyce Wolf (firstname.lastname@example.org) asked:
As a writer, do you think it is possible for the main characters to get together, and still maintain that "sensual tension" that audiences love? Being a true romantic, I would love to see Nikita and Michael together somehow. Thank you for your very valuable time.
This is one of those questions I have a hard time approaching. If I say, no, then those of you who hope for a "lasting relationship" between the two will be disappointed. If I say "yes" those of you who enjoy the emotional distance between them will feel let down. Your implied observation is correct: there must always be tension between these two. Sensual or otherwise. One way to do this without making things boring is to allow them to learn more about each other, while at the same time creating new mysteries about their past and present which continue to keep them from getting too close or settled in their understanding of each other.
TaraLJC (email@example.com) asked:
Nikita sees things in (comforting) blacks and whites. Either Michael loves her, or he does not. Yet after swearing each betrayal of her trust will be the last, she continues to forgive, to let him back into her life, each time hoping *next* time will be different. Michael at time seems either amazed by her capacity to trust and love, or completely takes it for granted.
My question is: Do you believe, prior to "Mercy," Michael only felt it was "safe" to express how he feels for Nikita if it is part of a larger manipulation? That somehow Section ordering him to use her *sanctions* those feelings, thus allowing him to express them at all?
This is indeed a possible explanation for Michael's behavior. Whether it totally explains Michael's difficulty in expressing his feelings toward Nikita in a vacuum is something to which I won't commit. Don't forget, however, we haven't learned everything about Michael that drives him, and there will be more this season that helps us understand this. Your question is one (but not all, I hope) of the reasons we are interested in this series.
What was the first draft of "Innocent" like, and how did it compare with the as produced version, and were you pleased or displeased with how it turned out?
The first draft of "Innocent" was very much like the final. It had a few scenes that needed to be cut for production sake, and other minor changes were made, but in the end, it turned out to be one of the scripts whose first draft hit fairly close to the target. Interestingly, the original story line called for more of a street-wise trouble maker. The moment I started in on the teaser, however, I hit on the idea of a rather simple (but "wise") pizza driver, and the rest of the script came into focus very quickly. That was a fun script to write.
I was very pleased with how it turned out. Our guest star, Maury Chaykin, interpreted Rudy brilliantly. He should have been nominated for a Cable Ace award or even an Emmy. On the other hand, I was a little disappointed in the first act action, before we meet Rudy. The towing of the jet and process shots of the warhead being offloaded were void of emotional content, and I should have worked in more character during that sequence to get to the real story sooner.
Susie (firstname.lastname@example.org) asked:
I, like many fans out there, am fascinated by [M&N's] relationship. I just think that Nikita, trying so hard to win Michael's heart (this season so far), seem a bit distant to the Nikita that I'm use to. Her strong will, independence, and toughness (that brushed off Michael as he manipulated her) was her beauty. > I'm glad that Michael and Nikita have the tension and I hope they continue to do so, but I just hope that second season won't become the wishy washy romance series...
The 'Mission Impossible' action, high tech gadgets, dark sided plots, all are other qualities that make LFN a successful series. I hope that these elements will continue to be an essential part of LFN as you and LFN production group has done so far.
There are many episodes this season whose focus is on plot twists and other relationships besides that of Nikita and Michael. Of course, those two will always be somewhere near the center of the camera field, but I think you will find refreshing side trips in which there are many other complex issues to watch besides their relationship. I wish I could say more!
There were more questions than I could get to. I read them all, and selected those that I felt were most representative. All the writers are overjoyed that you are seeing things in the show that we hoped, but didn't necessarily expect, would be noticed. And we do respect the criticisms and intelligence of the Internet-savvy fans. I hear things at meetings every week like "But that's not what our fans want to see" or "they really like it when Nikita ...". We hear you.
I hope to do this again soon. Meanwhile there is an editing room, writers meeting and script that all need me. Thanks for your support.
Story Editor, "La Femme Nikita"
Edward Gross, Retrovision # 6
Joel Surnow Masters the World of Espionage
WANTED: Young female, twentysomething. Must be beautiful with ingratiating smile, exude schoolgirl innocence, be irresistible to men and able to slit a throat without thinking twice about it.
Such were the seeming requirements of the actress cast in the lead role of USA's new television series, La Femme Nikita, based on the 1990 French-Italian film of the same name and its 1993 American remake, Point of No Return. Both deal with a violently rebellious young woman recruited against her will into a secret and enigmatic organization and trained as a deadly assassin. Despite her best efforts to create a life for herself, she is inextricably trapped.
"I knew this was going to be an extremely difficult role to cast," says Joel Surnow, executive consultant of the series, which has become cable's highest rated live-action show, "because Nikita has got to be young, she's got to be incredibly attractive and run the gamut from raw violence to soft, tender moments. We searched all over the place and the irony is that we ended up casting the third girl that came in for the part."
For the series, Nikita is being essayed by model turned actress Peta Wilson, a native of Australia whose background is as fascinating as any fictional character. She spent the first ten years of her life in the jungles of New Guinea with her father, who Surnow likens to a cross between Rambo and Harrison Ford's character in The Mosquito Coast. Her teenage years were spent in Australia where she became a top model before coming to America and attending Juliard to perfect her thespian skills.
"Three weeks after moving to New York," the 41-year-old Surnow notes, "she was mugged and moved to LA, figuring that she'd rather live there. Over the past four years she's been perfecting her skills and now everyone who sees her says, 'My God, there's something special about her.'"
And for Surnow, who most recently served as supervising producer of UPN's Nowhere Man and writer of the Ken Wahl TV revival of Wiseguy, there's something special about Nikita as well.
"Interestingly," he says, "a lot of the same qualities and shadings that you find in Wiseguy you find in Nikita, particularly in terms of the idea of dealing with a kind of tortured soul. You're dealing with an operative moving through a dangerous, violent world while trying to carve a little piece of a real life for herself."
He admits that there had been some resistance to the show's premise by USA due to the fact that several years ago they had produced a series named Matrix whose lead character was morally ambiguous as well. To placate the network, some subtle changes were altered and the series was finally given the green light by CEO Rod Perth.
"Our main alteration is that she's not quite the psychotic criminal she had been in the film," Surnow explains. "She's a street girl, but it turns out that she was in the wrong place at the wrong time and accused of killing a cop, which she didn't do. So she comes out of the 'program' two years later after all this training and isn't aware that they had found out she was innocent but didn't do anything about it because she's so talented and special. She is eternally trying to get out of this situation and have a real life for herself, and can't. I call it an action tragedy."
In some ways, Surnow considers La Femme Nikita a female version of Wiseguy, though unlike that critically lauded series it does not deal with a single storyline over several episodes. "USA doesn't even want to do two-part episodes," he laughs. "I think on this show we can do B-story arcs. Our show isn't going to be about how interesting the criminals are anyway. Nikita has got to be the most interesting person on the show and, in a way, her trying to forge a life for herself and being slammed down each week is going to be sort of an interesting thing to watch. It's conceivable we can have, for example, a several episode boyfriend arc that runs through the episodes while you still do the stand-alone crime story of the week. Elements would continue, showing growth and it makes it even more poignant that she puts so much time in to something and they ultimately take it away from her.
"In the early stages of development," he adds, "one of the questions we explored was exactly what types of situations she'll get involved with. There is a concern that American audiences don't really respond to international spy stories; that they like their crime stories neat -- you know, 'He's the bad guy, he's the killer, he's hurting this person, go get him.' When it gets into Le Carre territory with 'Who's the good guy, who's the bad guy in the shadowy gray world of the CIA?', I think what we're going to try and do is kind of visceral CIA stories. Like hostage situations, terrorists, and international drug dealers -- maybe on a bigger scale, but still accessible. We will be doing some undercover material. I think we have to use the fact that this is a young, beautiful woman and would be the last person you'd think who would go into a high-tech plane or into the world of terrorists. I think we can't not use the unexpected nature of her appearance as this lethal weapon."
Surnow himself has been something of a lethal weapon within the action genre. Born in Michigan, he and his parents -- both of whom were in "the business" -- moved to Los Angeles when he was ten years old, where he grew up surrounded by Hollywood. His best friend in high school was Frank Sutton, who portrayed Sgt. Carter on Gomer Pyle USMC, and he dated the daughter of famed horror director William Castle. He attended Berkeley for a couple of semesters before transferring to UCLA Film School in 1976, and began writing immediately. His first script was called Small Time, which "John Cassevettes wanted to make at one point and then he had to go and die, which really screwed up my feature career," he jokes." Shifting to television, he wrote some early episodes of St. Elsewhere and joined the staff of Steven Bochco's short-lived look at minor league baseball, Bay City Blues.
"Then I got hooked in to Miami Vice where I became head writer first season and literally wrote almost all of that show," Surnow explains. "There was no writing staff because Michael Mann kept firing everybody."
He shifted over to the first season of the Edward Woodward starrer The Equalizer, and then dropped back in to development, feeling he was burned out from his experiences on both that show and Miami Vice, and a divorce he was going through at the time. He -- ironically -- turned down Wiseguy and didn't start writing again for a couple of years, returning for the final season of the CBS prime time soap Falcon Crest, where he was given creative carte blanche.
"We did the best unseen season of television ever produced," he smiles. "We outdid Twin Peaks, doing such crazy shit for that show. It wasn't as obscure or artsy as Twin Peaks, but it was really a wild season."
The short-lived TV version of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure was next, followed by the development of the unproduced 50 Minute Man, a different kind of cop show that was book-ended by the cop's visits to his therapist. In 1992 he moved to England for a one-season stint on Covington Cross, and developed the series Point Man (starring Jack Scalia) which aired for a season in first-run syndication. Two years on the staff of The Commish ensued, and then he became supervising producer of Nowhere Man, which chronicled the adventures of photographer Thomas Veil (Bruce Greenwood), whose existence seems to have been wiped out by an all-encompassing conspiracy tied to a photo he took of an execution in a third world country. While the show began innovatively and with UPN's second highest ratings (following Star Trek: Voyager), the audience dropped off significantly due to the show's lack of a concrete direction and the fact that one never knew what to believe.
"The show grew to piss me off," says Surnow candidly. "Honestly, I don't know if there was enough in the concept to do twenty-five episodes. I felt like we would go down the track and do a couple of episodes ala The Prisoner, then after three or four shows like that we'd do some Three Days of the Condor government conspiracy kind of shows, and so on. It's like we did twenty-five episodes that had four or five different types of shows. The premise didn't suggest a ton of material. I think there's a reason that a show like The Prisoner only ran seventeen episodes. I'm sure they ran out of ways to jerk off the audience. Nowhere Man was like a gigantic jerk-off. [Series creator] Larry [Hertzog] always looked at the show as The Prisoner; he didn't think it needed to go anywhere. He just wanted the shows to be allegorical and didn't feel that they needed to have a linear progression. As a result, the show was limited. Sometimes it needed to just be a good meat and potatoes TV show. That's what I liked about Wiseguy. In a way it was an unpretentious TV show; on some levels it was just a good cop show."
Wiseguy ran on CBS from 1987-1990 and cast Ken Wahl as Vinnie Terranova, an undercover agent for the Organized Crime Bureau who would infiltrate criminal organizations in an attempt to bring them down. In Surnow's revival, Vinnie has moved from mobsters and New York City to the computer industry in California, where Paul Calendar (Ted Levine) sells classified information to the highest bidder. A classic Wiseguy moment occurs halfway into the movie when Calendar is murdered and the drama goes off in a different direction.
The new Wiseguy was designed to serve as the beginning of a series of movies on ABC, but the network essentially dumped it against a one-hour episode of Seinfeld and the E.R. juggernaut. Despite the film's lackluster ratings, Surnow is proud of his efforts.
"The problem with the movie is that Ted Levine should have been there through the whole thing, because he's so great and the scenes between he and Ken Wahl were wonderful. Yet his death gave the film the kind of shocking twist that captures the best elements of Wiseguy, which was our intention. We wanted to recapture the spirit of the first season of Wiseguy," he says of the episodes that pit Wahl against Ray Sharkey's Sonny Steelgrave and Kevin Spacey's Mel Profitt. "And I think in many ways we managed to do that. But besides accomplishing that goal, I felt like I was trying to create some new feeling. It was set on the West Coast, it was ten years later, it wasn't the same dynamic between Vinnie and the OCB. The world was different and I wanted to create a newer -- and I hate to say '90s, because it's so cliché -- look to the show. That didn't get fully accomplished as far as I was concerned. I see all the things I wished I had done a little differently. But I'm proud of it. For me it got about 85% of the way there. There are some sequences in there that stand up to anything that I've done and the best of what that show is all about. In terms of doing a two-hour movie and making it all work as one piece rather than in the arc format, I think that it needed a little more dramatic punch somewhere toward the end. All in all, though, I'm happy with it."
As he is about his career in general. While overseeing La Femme Nikita, he feels that he has essentially come full circle and regained what he had at the end of the 1980s, writing for some of the darker, more quality-laden series on the air.
"In 1992 when I was doing Covington Cross, all the heat I had from Miami Vice and The Equalizer had evaporated," he says matter of factly. "I was in the position of having to take a step back and it's kind of what you do in the second act of your career sometimes. You basically have to reinvent yourself, which I did. Now here I am on Nikita, doing a good one-hour action show. I'm back where I started, and it feels great."
LA FEMME FATALE
When the casting process for the lead role in USA's La Femme Nikita began, executive consultant Joel Surnow knew he had his work cut out for him -- until he met 26-year-old Peta Wilson.
"Peta grew up in the wilds of New Guinea and part of her has never left," says Surnow, who guides the weekly spin-off from the French film of the same name. "She's got this incredible combination of rawness, vulnerability, sensuality and unpredictability -- equal parts of all four of those things. It's a very tough part to play and you've got to be a lot of different things. She is. We read 200 different women and there wasn't even a close second."
In the TV version, Nikita is a young woman wrongly accused of murder who is forced into a secret government agency known as the Section, an organization whose ruthless means of protecting this country uses people like pawns. If Nikita goes along with their objective of turning her into an operative/assassin, she lives. If not....
"Nikita has got to have the physicality to be an operative, a lethal weapon, yet at the same time this is a girl who wasn't a killer," Surnow explains. "She's got to bring to it some heroism and real human appeal. Like Wiseguy, we're trying to disguise a drama show as an action show. You have to use an actor with those chops, and she has them. What's surprising to me is that she's never done anything on film before, yet she's adapted to the medium beautifully."
A native of Australia and raised in New Guinea, Wilson's formative years were spent as an "Army Brat." She traveled often with her family, which played no small part in fostering her love for acting. It began with she and her brother, due to a lack of television in New Guinea, performing shows for family and friends, and took root as the family continued to move around. Unable to establish long-term relationships with friends, Wilson found that she would have to quickly adapt, sizing up social situations and act in whatever manner would help her fit in. Ironically, it was the perfect training ground for essaying the role of Nikita; a role she was hired for six years after moving to America.
Wilson, who began her career in the theater, had been auditioning for seven months and came close to several features, but inevitably lost out to "name" actresses. Ready to head to New York and the theater circuit, she only remained in LA at the insistence of her agent who recommended she try television. To her amazement, she auditioned for and found herself wanted by three different shows -- a western, a sitcom and Nikita. Obviously, she chose the latter.
"I thought this was a great opportunity, because everything is acceptable for the character," says Wilson, who expresses gratitude to the various executives behind the show who took a chance on her. "I knew this would be a great place to get my chops wet because the character is limitless. Nikita has to constantly adjust to new situations and never forget that the people she works for are killers. Sometimes she completely denies that they are, just to get through it, but it's often like treading on glass. I think she'll never believe the Section is a great thing. She understands that her work is important, but at the same time although their ends are just, their means are ruthless. The only way to beat these guys is to join them and be better than them at what they do. Then you can get them. So it's all about her taking information now and covering the fact that she's never going to be like them, while letting them think she's becoming the spy they want her to be. It's always up her sleeve that she's not and one day she'll spring and get them, or have them at her mercy. It's kind of like she's biding her time, like a panther. Waiting. Watching them. Studying them."
Despite the fact that she hasn't been able to utilize too much of it on camera as of yet, the actress has nonetheless developed an entire biography of Nikita, taking the character from birth through her abduction into the Section and where she would ultimately like her to go. As a necessity, much of this has remained within Wilson's own mind. "As an actress," she says matter of factly, "if you try and put too much subtext in that the writers don't know about, you can look like you're in the wrong show."
One thing that does not influence her performance, she emphasizes, is the original 1990 French film or the American remake starring Bridget Fonda, 1993's Point of No Return.
"I saw the French film when it first came out years ago and loved it," she smiles. "I sat there and said, 'I can do that.' When I got the show and went in for the audition, my manager said, 'You ARE this role, just go in and have fun.' So I sort of went in, tore up offices and did all kinds of things and just had a great time. Nikita has changed a lot from the feature, because it's for television and you have to turn it down and tame it down. In the first few episodes I was full on, right out there and the executives were a little nervous, so I pulled it back a bit. So I really didn't need to see the movies to find out who she was. I sort of approached it as I would any character in any play, and probably did way too much work. But it helps in that my mind is full of the character's thoughts."
As well as potential roads the role may travel. Primarily, Wilson would love to see the job truly get to Nikita to the point where she is first emotionally and, then, physically affected by what she does. She compares the possibilities to Martin Sheen's performance in Apocalypse Now as a character that is transformed by his experiences in Vietnam.
"You might not see that color yet, but it's at the back of my mind, always, as the actress playing the part of Nikita," says Wilson. "I'd like to see her become really affected by having to do these jobs. I'd like to see her deal with ulcers and the audience see how it really must feel. I'd love to see her watching old movies in which women are being bad girls, giving her an idea of the kind of things she'll try. Maybe she'll completely submerge herself into playing characters so that when I go in and do these jobs, it's not really me. I'll be able to justify it because I'm somebody else."
Wilson's voice grows more enthusiastic as she considers ways in which the character of Nikita can expand and evolve. "There will come a point where the Section is very happy with her, but eventually you see her start to unravel," she muses. "The makeup's a little rough, things aren't quite right. Over the course of three episodes you see Nikita fall apart to the point where she actually lets somebody go because she can't do it anymore. But then he goes to kill her and she has no choice but to kill him. She stands over the body and wants to know, 'Why the fuck didn't you just go?' She disappears and they can't find her. Five days later, she's found in a sewer around the body doing a whole looney tunes thing. What comes out of that is, 'Hey, I can't hide from it any longer. I AM a killer.' Then she becomes like James Bond."
She starts to laugh at her oration and clarifies, "Hey, these are only my ideas of where it could go. A year ago, I was just beginning to enjoy acting and realizing that I'm pretty good at it. Whatever direction the show goes, to just be given the break is fantastic. I'm looking forward to really chomping my teeth and learning the technical things that the theater can't teach you. Hopefully by the time it's done, I'll be ready for the next step. I can't wait to see what happens."
Laurie Drew WB Online Cybertalk
WB Host: Warner Bros. Online presents: Cybertalk! Welcome to our live chat with La Femme Nikita costume designer Laurie Drew! Laurie attended Brock University in Toronto until she toured Europe for awhile. She then opened up a swimwear boutique in Key West Florida where her designs were picked up for a wholesale line! She eventually made her way back to Toronto where she apprenticed for several low budget features. Well, let's get on with the chat! Please join us in welcoming Laurie Drew! Welcome Laurie!
Laurie Drew: It's great to be here! Thanks for the invitation, guys!
WB Host: Let's start the questions rolling!
Justice3 asks: What input do Roy and Peta have on what clothing they wear in each episode.
Laurie Drew: I always give them a range, and depending on how the scene is locked, because they usually block a scene prior to changing for it. So they will block it and get a real feel for the mood. From the choices that I have got provided, we will pick something together that feels the most appropriate. You never know how they are going to block it or emphasizing. Or what mood you really want to create or feeling to project until you walk through it. Then when you know that, you are better equipped to make the choice. It is something we work out together in the fitting. it all happens pretty much on the fly I feel better if I have a few choices so we have that range.
Methos 3 asks: Which character is hardest to outfit?
Laurie Drew: You know, I don't think there is one! There's something about all of them that is compelling. There is something about each one of them that keeps you intrigued. They are never static, we are always changing and evolving, so there's something there in each of them that keeps the appetite happening.
Nancy127 asks: Welcome! thanks for the great choices! two words for Roy's clothes, though: More Lycra]
Laurie Drew laughs
Laurie Drew: I know that the favorite piece at the auction is his combat mission pants.. and they are 100% lycra!
Ashly1999 asks: what does she do in her spare time?
Laurie Drew: I had four months off and I spent it at a cottage on the lake. I did a lot of water painting. I have 2 terriers that I hike with. A lot of swimming and I put on 15 lbs! The series work is so stressful, so I'm usually way under, so I'm happy to put on weight! But my favorite thing in the world is traveling. I have to wait until I'm through with a series and doing movies again. Also I cook! I cook Italian
Iolanthe: How has your idea of Nikita's way of dressing changed since the first season?
Laurie Drew: We talked about that here today too. She started off very rebellious, and resentful of the situation she was in. Therefore, you know, we showed that a lot through the clothes. There was a lot of street influence in her own casual clothes. Now as she's getting a little smarter about it, she wants to express as little of herself as possible as a means of protection. I think she will conform more to code, which doesn't allow too much of herself to be known. She can manipulate them more than the reverse. I think it will be a little more formal.
Iolanthe: Do you take inspiration from the look of certain films?
Laurie Drew: I'm a real fan of French/European films. I think French films specifically for this show. Just the general feeling of all of them, which is not driven by action but more by mood.
EauClaire asks: What are some of the actors favorite outfits?
Laurie Drew: Peta's prada combat mission boots, she's worn for 2 seasons and finally we had to throw them out. Prada is an Italian designer. We had a great pair of mission boots and they were pony skin, and she just wore those to death! Now we are looking to replace them but we can't find anything to replace them! Roy's suit has to fit like a glove, and it does. Other than that, there's no real diversity. In terms of Roy, then, he needs an absolutely perfect fit. He wears Jean Paul Gaultier.
EauClaire asks: Can Madeline get more flattering dresses? She always wears dark gray and black.
Laurie Drew: Do you want color? Hmmm.. I'll keep that in mind.
Charlene asks: What do you think of fan reaction to certain costume items like the tie, floppy hat and mission pants?
Laurie Drew: I just feel really supported by the fans' energy and dynamic! It's pretty powerful. I had no idea it was so widespread. I am also shocked at the amount of ladies here that are totally in love with Roy ~ I think it's great! Therefore, all of his signature pieces are like such prizes.
WB Host: Hey Nikita fans! Did you know that Laurie received the Gemini award for her work on La Femme Nikita! This honor is equivalent to winning an Emmy here in the United States! Congratulations Laurie!
Laurie Drew: Thank you so much!
Mugri asks: Do you choose accessories too? Like glasses?
Laurie Drew: Oh yeah, everything.
Nancy127 asks: what outfit are you most proud of, for Nikita?
Laurie Drew: Oh boy. That's a hard one! I'll try and think about it.
Nancy127 asks: where on earth do you find Don's clothes or are they his own?
Laurie Drew: A lot of them are vintage mixed up with retail.
YadaBabe says: Laurie- congrats on the award- tell us how you feel!
Laurie Drew: Reallllllllllly good! warm and fuzzy! And a little bit hung over
Laurie Drew laughs
Elizabeth Wills asks: I just love the purses and high heels this year! What inspired you on this particular fashion statement?? And the gloves??
Laurie Drew: The shoes have always been a problem because we don't use platforms or chunky heels Its really hard to find the high heels. So that's always taken up so much of our time tracking and sourcing and pulling that stuff in. We're getting boots sent in from Italy this year. The new little spy boots. So yeah, we have to really work hard on those.
EauClaire asks: Has Roy grown his hair back for season 3?
Laurie Drew: That decision is being made as we speak ~ can't say for sure.
Visco asks: "Will Birkoff have a more mature wardrobe in Season 3?"
Laurie Drew: Yeah, he's evolving a bit. He's still going to be influenced by street fashion, but, it's going to be refined a bit.
Mugri asks: Do you have a favourite costume designer whose work you follow?
Laurie Drew: It changes seasonally. This year we really like a designer called Ennio whose line is called Costume Nationale. We're going to get a few pieces of theirs. To use as her section look for Peta.
Nancy127 asks: when do you start finding the clothes, -- do you have to wait for individual scripts?
Laurie Drew: Yeah, wait for the script. Read it, have a couple of meetings with Joel in LA over the phone, the director who is in-house for that episode and the production designer Rocco . We have those meetings. Then I speak to Peta and hatch out some rough ideas. And then I start to pull it together. And then we make the choices on the day just prior to shooting. Usually you have a closet for each character and you reuse that.. but on this show, especially with Peta, we can't. We can't repeat too often, so we have to keep renewing her clothes. So often it is last minute.
Justice3 asks: What episode was most challenging in terms of selecting the costumes to fit the mood of the scenes and the characters?
Laurie Drew: I hate mundanes stuff. That's always difficult. I cant remember the name of it.. Psychic Pilgrim I think.. she had to be the normal suburban housewife that was really hard. We still tried to keep a kind of feeling that we could all recognize as hers but yet make her convincing as someone different. That was hard.
Iolanthe asks: What happens to the clothes after the show is done with them?
Laurie Drew: We keep them. We're running out of room! Maybe an Internet charity auction some day... maybe.
Nancy127 asks: have you any favorite new designers for Season 3
Laurie Drew: We're just starting at this point, so it's going to be a couple more weeks before we get going. We're starting to build a couple of jackets for Nikita.. little leather numbers. I'm going to redo background Section ops. Im seeing Roy this week. We have our one and only fitting. I have him for about 3 hours on Wednesday That's about all the time we get with him.
Iolanthe: Do you always watch the show Laurie?
Laurie Drew: I watch the dailies every day. If I can, if I am home in time, I'll try and catch it. Often I have to watch it just at the office. Which means I watch it in the editing suite.
YadaBabe asks: hey Laurie! love your work- what would you like to see with the show ( costume wise)?
Laurie Drew: One thing I would like to see is more wide shots with the show. Because I think Rocco's sets are amazing and Id like to get more of a feeling of the mood and ambiance of where we are at, the world. I think that may be happening in the 3rd season, so I'm really happy about that.
YadaBabeasks: Hey Laurie-- How do you relax?
Laurie Drew: I love massage! If I can grab any spa time, I do! Or if I can get up north to cottage country.. any chance I get for 2-3 days in a row, Ill go up there.
Mugri asks: Are Nikita's and Birkoff glasses just plain glass or are they ... optical?
Laurie Drew: They are non-reflective finish. Birkoff's are prescription as well.
Visco asks: "I love the leather outfits Nikita wears, will Michael ever get the chance to wear one?"
Laurie Drew: Oh I hope so! I would loooove to! I bet you he would too! I have that feeling...
Quinn222 asks: have you been surprised by the attention we pay to the costumes?
Laurie Drew: very! I've never experienced anything like it! It's great! Whenever I'm making decisions I am totally aware of the fan presence. it's a great support for me, actually.
Visco asks: "Laurie, do you coordinate with the hairdresser before deciding on a costume for a scene?"
Laurie Drew: I have to really control myself because in Canada, the costume designer does not oversee hair and makeup I would LOVE to, but I would get my wrists slapped! Usually Peta coordinates that with the hair and makeup people. Peta and I do have meetings, but at that point, I have to pull back and let her take care of it. I will make an occasional suggestion but that is as far as I will take it.
Nancy127 asks: okay now we are jealous because you see Roy -- does he smelll yummmy?
Laurie Drew: He doesn't use aftershave I don't think.
Nancy127 asks: I can tell you use foreign fashion and film for inspiration..what are your favorite clothes to wear yourself?
Laurie Drew: You know what? I can't afford the clothes I would like to wear! Because the hours that we work are so long, we usually wear like just track pants, sneakers, T's, and parkas. When I go out at night, like last night I designed a dress for myself.. I have to make them because I can't afford to buy those kind of clothes.
PamelaJ asks: As far as costuming, has any embarrassing moments happened?
Laurie Drew: For me personally I'm very highly critical of my work. There have been tons and tons of moments that I wished I would have made a different choice. But overall, the department has done really well. We've never held up shooting or made a bad decision in terms of how the show is impacted. I think we have been very lucky that way. I have a really good crew of eight people that handle all the different areas of it. They are constantly working all the time, and they are very talented. We are just.. so far so good, a well-oiled machine. We've had great success I think because of that.
Visco asks: "Was Michael wearing a wedding ring in the ep. End Game, or were we seeing things?"
Laurie Drew: I can't remember, I'll have to check the continuity notes. I didn't hear anything about that! Let me think... wait a minute. Yes... somebody is on to something. And you will find out in season 3....
Elizabeth Wills asks: Will Michael ever wear color?? Is this a Laurie decision or a Roy decision?
Laurie Drew: Depending on his missions, which really do determine how he will represent himself, we may or may not use color on him. As his character in Section, he prefers to be in the uniform as much as possible, and I agree with him. It's more mysterious. And then when you do get glimpses of his more personal life, which we will in season 3, it's just more enticing.
Iolanthe asks: Have you and Peta ever gone shopping together?
Laurie Drew: Oh yeah! Not too much anymore though ~ she's so busy. She's doing an awfully lot of still shoots and spreads so her time is really taken up now that she getting so popular. We pretty much shop for her now.
EauClaire asks: Why does Operations wear so many turtlenecks?
Laurie Drew: It served as an option to the business look. But I find that I am tiring of that look and he's going to be a little more fashion conscious. You are going to see a change in him. A big change actually.
Mugri asks: Was Walter's headband your idea?
Laurie Drew: No... I always wanted to try options, but he's very very stubborn.
WB Host : We have time for one more question today!
Nancy127 asks: what are the famous Mission Pants made of and what is the brand/designer?
Laurie Drew: They are Spyder, its a downhill ski line. With contoured padding and its 100% lycra.
WB Host: Thanks for joining us for our live chat with Laurie Drew from La Femme Nikita! Be sure and join us all weekend for convention updates at www.nikita.com! Tomorrow we will be webcasting the charity auction live at the web site! (This is not an interactive event, it is a live feed from Toronto) Be sure you download the new media player at the Nikita web site to view the auction! Thanks again for attending and have a great weekend!
Joel Surnow & Robert Cochran WB Online Cybertalk
(11 January 2001)
Get the scoop on the latest twists and turns of "La Femme Nikita" from the creative team that brings this sizzling show to life each week on USA Network. Find out about Nikita's sexy new look, her dangerous and possibly deadly new assignment, and more, all from the people who know the show best.
WarnerBros: Welcome chatters! Today we are chatting with Joel Surnow and Robert Cochran, the creative team behind “La Femme Nikita.” We'd like to welcome you both! Thank you for being here and chatting with us today.
Bob: We're very happy to be here. Thanks for having us.
Crazy Guy: What was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome to get “LFN” on the air?
Joel: Oddly enough, back when this show first got picked up, the biggest concern was that it was a female-lead show. The first one was "Xena." Now, there are more, but back then it was considered 'too risky.'
Joel: Because female-lead shows did not succeed until that point.
Frankenfurter: What is your favorite part of making an episode of “LFN”?
Bob: (laughing) Uh, I guess thinking of story twists and turns that utilize our characters and their personalities. It's fun to come up with twists that work because of the characters in the show. It makes the characters come alive to us, as well as our audience.
Cheesy: Is the cast totally serious on the set, or are there practical jokers?
Joel: Believe it or not, Roy Dupuis is the biggest practical joker on set and yes, everyone keeps things light. Our season-end wrap reels are truly hilarious.
Johnniecakes: Were you surprised by the outrageous fan support to keep “LFN” on the air, when it was almost canceled?
Bob: We weren't really surprised because the fans have been loyal. We were delighted, but not surprised.
Crazy Guy: Is Peta Wilson as beautiful in real life as she is on the TV show?
Uncle Roger: How did you two meet?
Joel: Bob and I met in 1989 when we worked together on the final season of “Falcon Crest.” It was distrust at first sight! (laughing)
Silly Jackie: Was it fun to work on “JAG”?
Bob: Not as much fun as “Nikita.”
Freaky Dawg: What's the best part about working in Toronto?
Joel: The 40-below weather. (laugh)
WarnerBros: Where are you both from?
Bob: I was a Navy brat, but when I was 12 we settled in Monterey, California, so I consider that to be where I grew up.
Joel: California native. The West is best.
Phat Guy: Can you describe how you created the “LFN” we watch today, and what elements of the original movie drew you to the project? Also, what did you think of "Point of No Return"?
Joel: I honestly have intentionally never seen “Point of No Return.” The elements that drew me originally was the idea of being able to do a female action show (which at that time was a novelty).
Bob: Much the same. In addition, I really liked the idea of a main character trapped in a situation where she had to behave in a way that is totally different than she really is. That premise was more applicable to the series than to the original movie, but we knew early on that we were going in that direction.
Franky The Fly: When you do location shoots, do you have to get extra security to keep girls from flocking to see Roy?
Joel: No, because we usually shoot in fairly out-of-the-way places around Toronto. But when I go to a restaurant with Roy, the meal usually lasts over two hours because he's usually inundated with women.
Crazy Old Guy: How much of the action and stunts do the actors do themselves?
Joel: None…mostly for insurance reasons. Not that they don't want to! But they can't.
My Uncle Frank: What is your favorite part of the creative process you go through making “LFN”?
Joel: Getting paid. (laughing) Coming up with the story, that's where it all happens.
Uncle Wally: What do you attribute your success to?
Bob: I think for a TV writer one key is to be able to adapt your own style to many different shows. Versatility. As far as the success of the show, I think everything just came together - the story, the actors, it jelled.
Leeja1: Will we find out what Walter's last name is and how he ended up in Section One? We know the personal histories of everyone else, but nothing on Walter.
Bob: You'll learn a little more about Walter's past, but not really the things that the question asked about.
Roy 4 Me: I don't know if this question can be answered by you, but I've got to try it since SO many have wondered. Why is Roy only going to appear in a couple episodes? Was that what he wanted? And do you know of any upcoming projects he will be appearing in? This show has been superb!
Joel: Thank you. I don't know if Roy has decided what he wants to do next. We are fortunate to have gotten Roy for the episodes we did.
Zike1: Do you, as a collective writing team of “Nikita,” have plans regarding future projects together? I think all the writers of this show have been so great. I just wondered if you have talked of doing something else together in the future. Thank you for everything - it's been fantastic.
Bob: Yeah, we (Joel and I) have a project at Fox together which we have high hopes for.
Painted Cayuse: Which character(s) is/are the hardest and/or the easiest to write for? I would imagine that you've developed a sense for what a particular character would do or say in a given scene. But are some of them more or less of a challenge?
Bob: I always enjoy writing for Michael because he says the fewest words, so that means I have to write the fewest words.
Valencia M2K04: Hi, guys! Will we see Adrian in this 8 episode arc? And will either of you be at CQS4? Please?
Bob: We don't see Adrian in Season 5 and we won't be at the convention.
Allegra37: Roy and Peta have extraordinary chemistry. Watching them together has been a big part of what has kept me coming back for more each week. Will you give us closure on their relationship when the series ends? It will be painfully frustrating to be left hanging. Thanks for a great ride!
Joel: You won't be frustrated by the time this season is over.
Abeyance OpM5: When laying out the story line (and in terms of the episodes), when was it decided that George had a boss and that Nick/Mr. Jones was his boss?
Bob: I don't remember exactly when, but generally when we thought we had played out the story line that involved George and needed to go up a level or notch in order to add layers to the show both figureatively and literally.
Room 412: About a year ago a colleague of mine auditioned for the part of Nikita's sister for a spinoff of “LFN.” What happened to it? Was the idea completely scrapped or can we expect to be allowed at least a little of a weekly “Nikita” fix?
Bob: To my knowledge, there's no spinoff planned.
Adaknm: First, “LFN” is my favorite show. Several of my friends, and now even my husband, are hooked on this show. Is Walter Operation's brother, or Nikita's father? Is Walter Michael's father?
Bob: He's not Operation's brother. In terms of who Nikita's father is, you'll have to watch Season 5 to find out.
Denise LFN: Being that the show was filmed so far away, was it difficult for either of you to maintain the initial vision of an episode from the director to the actors to the final edit?
Bob: No, because the cast and crew hooked into the vision early and never deviated from it.
Francoise: Was there ever any direction you wanted to take the show, but changed your mind?
Bob And Joel: (laughing)
Joel: We felt that having her escape at the end of the first season was a season too soon. But uh, beyond that, there was no real change of direction.
Irene C: When did you think of the idea of Mick being Mr. Jones and Nikita working undercover for Center? Did you think about it on Season 2, or was it later? And who had this idea? Thanks. I’m a BIG fan from Mexico.
Joel: I directed the episode where we discover that Nick was Mr. Jones and it was borne out of a love of working with the actor Carlo Rota.
Schnee: How have the changes in the cast and crew effected the feel of the show from the creative team's standpoint? Were there any adjustments that were necessary to bring the show up to standard?
Bob: I think the cast we have for Season 5 did a great job, both returning cast and new cast members. I do think, as Joel said earlier, we would have liked to have had Roy in more shows, but that's not a criticism for the cast we did have.
Red Hairs: Is there any chance later for a “Nikita” movie on USA?
Bob: Never say never, but it's a long shot.
PWinches: Do most of the crew plan on staying in Canada, now that it's over?
Bob: Most of the crew…all the crew…is Canadian.
Genie86333: Were all the main twists and turns of each season usually mapped out at the start, or did they develop along the way?
Bob: Probably half and half. We try to have roughly half the stories roughed out before we start filming and then we try to see what's working and what's not. Then we add the twists and turns based on what we have.
Chayne: Is Roy as good a director as he is an actor?
Bob: Well, you'll be able to see that for yourself. He directed Episode 6.
Woof66: Where do you come up with the ideas for the show?
Bob: Desperation! Seriously, a group of people who believe in the show - and in each other - just sit in a room and get ideas until they get some that everyone likes. Generally, the ideas tend to be generated from the characters on the show and from previous incidents on the show rather than from, say, newspapers or real life events, although there was some of that as well.
Zeita: Why did Section frame Nikita for murder?
Bob: That will be answered in Season 5.
Kascara: Did you work with Luc Besson developing the characters, or was it an effort between writers and cast as their history grew?
Bob: Luc Besson had nothing to do with developing the characters. They were created in the pilot and their development owes something to the performances of the actors from the first season.
Emerald32: Was there any special reason why Episode 506 was specifically assigned to be directed by Roy?
Bob: Logistics reasons. We knew he was going to act in 505 and 507, so it made sense for him to direct the one in between.
Camp Freak1: Does the original writer or the production crew have final say on a script?
Bob: (laugh) Joel and I, and Larry Herzog on Season 4.
Woof66: Any chance for a DVD release of the episodes like “The X-Files”?
Bob: Uh, I don't know, that's a good question.
Emerald32: I've heard that Roy has improvised some scenes which end up being acted differently than what was specified by the script. Which criteria is used, if any, to allow these last minute changes on the acting?
Bob: Well, any significant changes that an actor or director wishes to make on the set have to be cleared with the writer first. If the idea is a good one, you go with it.
DRiven: What kind of reactions have you gotten on the last episode of last season?
Bob: Mixed. I may be wrong, but I have the impression that people in the U.S. reacted differently than people outside the United States. It was a question of whether people believed Nikita loved Michael a lot or not. That question will be answered in Season 5.
Emerald32: Which was the funniest moment during the filming of “LFN”?
Bob: (laugh) No one thing stands out…let me think for a second. Roy clowns around a lot and always provided the funniest out-takes.
Phenix Risen: Do you have any new writers for Season 5?
Bob: Yes, we do.
Irene C: Do you think the success of the show was in great part to the work of Peta?
Bob: Peta Wilson did a great job and certainly had a lot to do with the success of the show. I think the sexual tension between her character and Michael was also extremely important.
Jadore Roy: Was it hard to pick the right actors for the show, or did you already have them in mind when you first read the script?
Bob: Um, casting is always a delicate and tough process. Peta blew everyone away with her initial reading and there was never any doubt in casting her for the part. The others took a little longer to choose, but in the end I think we made the right choices.
Jozie N: Is there any chance of “LFN” staying after Season 5?
Bob: Uh, I don't think so.
AnyaB: What was the hardest episode to shoot?
Bob: (laugh) Actually, I think there were a lot that were hard to shoot. Actually, there were sequences in episodes that were hard to shoot, but I don't remember any that were a particular challenge.
PWinches: Do either of you check out the message boards to get feedback?
Bob: From time to time, yes. We're always interested in fan reaction, but in the end you have to write what you think works.
Cygnet3: If you could tell one more “Nikita” story, what else would you want to tell?
Bob: (laugh) That's a GREAT question! Let me put it this way - I'd like to flash forward and revisit Nikita five years after the end of season 5.
JJA: Are you happy that the show ended up centering around both characters Michael and Nikita, or would you have prefered it to stay only focused on Nikita?
Bob: I think, as a writer, it's always easier to work with a relationship than just with one character.
LTrinity3: I just wanted to thank you guys so much for creating this show, and for the excellence in its every aspect. It's more than once made my week, and I've had such a great time watching since the first episode. I'm sure I can speak for everyone in saying we're going to miss the show and all the great people that made it happen. Good luck in the future!
Bob: Wow! I thank you so much for your generous words. The enthusiasm and loyalty of the fans has been the single most rewarding aspect of working on the show.
WarnerBros: Thank you so much for chatting with us, Joel Surnow and Robert Cochran! We really appreciate it! We wish you much success.
Bob & Joel: Thank you, too! We really enjoyed doing this.
Nikita Continues Power Play
(Malaysia) New Straits Times (26 January 2003)
In the third season of La Femme Nikita, which airs at 11:10pm on ntv7 on Wednesdays, the secxually-toned power plays that [go] on inside Section One are far more threatening than the explosive missions carried out against enemy operations in the field.
The Australian actress Peta Wilson, who plays the title role in the hard-hitting action-packed drama, has, over the course of three seasons, evolved into a character of her own.
The shows strong advertiser-friendly 18-25-year-old viewer segment has stayed glued to ntvy on late night Wednesdays as the...opening music signals that La Femme Nikita is once again on the prowl, anxiety-ridden pauses and ruthless self-interests all wrapped up in torso-hugging black operative-wear.
The show consistently ranks in the Top 10 lists because it thrives on surprises. A character thought dead in one episode returns in another. An entire base of operations is destroyed and immediately replaced with another.
La Femme Nikita was initially conceived as a TV version of the French movie of the same title. (An American version of the movie titled The Assassin starred Bridget Fonda in the lead role.)
The basic concept follows a highly secret government agency that recruits agents from death row to [carry] out life-threatening missions to save the world from terrorist threats.
In its third season on ntv7, the show is dotted with more plot twists than a winding river -- promising even more unwieldy turns as the show progresses.
Fronted by stars Wilson and Roy Dupuis, the show's action premise masks a heartbreaking romance, albeit a mostly platonic one, about two people in love who can't express it because of factors outside their control.
The show started with Nikita being wrongly accused of killing a cop and headed for a death sentence; she avoids the unjust fate only to be forced into a new life as a top-secret agent for an unknown government agency called Section One.
Up to the current season, Nikita proves to be a reputable agent who breaks the rules only when necessary.
But wait -- there are more surprises in the show's arsenal.
Forget all the spy action stuff -- those secret, semi-Bondian meetings of nefarious world-gobbling organisations that have to be infiltrated and disrupted with plastique.
The real weekly story of La Femme Nikita is about double-dealing and betrayal and keeping humanity alive in an organisation that has little, if any, use for such an antiquated concept.
Cumulatively, the show is much better than the [Luc] Besson movie because it is constantly surprising, even to those who know the movie and have watched the show from the beginning.
....The show's appeal isn't hard to explain: the title character, played by the athletic, smoky-voiced Wilson, is a strong, wily, complex heroine who doesn't hide the fact that even guntoting secret agents struggle with relationship and career issues.
With its feminist point of view, the show has thrived and managed to revamp the spy genre on television.
In the current political climate in which rival ideologies have been replaced by rival corporate strategies, Nikita's dilemma, her individual struggle to make a difference with[in] an impersonal system, is easier for both men and women to identify with.
Sure, Nikita's a fantasy figure, but she's one who's got a lot in common with modern-day wage slaves.