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Interview with Don Francks
USA Network, December 2000
INTERVIEWER
Were you surprised when the show was canceled, originally?

DON FRANCKS
Not surprised when the show was canceled because scuttlebutt had that it was and then...I think the greatest surprise for everybody is when it came back.

INTERVIEWER
Right, well, how did you hear about that? I mean, did you, like, get a phone call telling you, oh, you gotta come on back?

DON FRANCKS
Yeah, I got a phone call and that was that, it-it simply said, we're on, and get ready, Walter, you're...you're back in Section again. It was wonderful. And especially wonderful because the fans had worked so hard.

INTERVIEWER
Were you guys aware that that was going on, that they were just...rampantly sending letters to USA and to the WB? What was the level of...the awareness of that support?

DON FRANCKS
Well, for me it was...total awareness because when we have our conventions here, I'm the one that has been chosen to do the auctioning, which usually lasts six to eight hours. Plus we have seminars and interviews...during the weekends that we have these important conventions where fans come from all over the world. So I was kept abreast of everything that was going on. And, it was just, uh...that is dedication. That's extreme dedication. There should be a show just done on the fans. And Walter of course has got, aside from everybody on the show having, uh, fans, I've got friends. I call them my friends, not my fans, that have called themselves Walter's Wenches. They kind of love the old guy. They think he's very cool, so I'm...I'm always astounded at that because, you're always, uh, aware that there are going to be fans of Miss Nikita who is the height of...in the feminist era that we live in, she's a-the kick-ass woman. And then of course you've got Steve Stunning, Roy Dupuis who's naturally...you know, they wanna see his buns as much as they can. And they adore him which, uh, rightfully they should. He's an incredible guy. And then, Operations has his following too, the guy that you love to hate. And of course, Birkoff has Birkoff's -- I think they're called Birkoff's Babes. And then of course Madeline, uh, who anybody'd fall in love with Madeline, even though she, uh... [LAUGHS] appears to be cold in the show she sure isn't cold to look at. What a wonderful woman she is, so...it's a wonderful cast. And I think everybody is aware that the cast all love each other.

INTERVIEWER
Madeline called Walter a 60-year-old teenager, is that your perception of the character?

DON FRANCKS
I think it's everybody's perception of the character, I think the writers hit the nail on the head and gave Madeline that, that line. And I think it's probably the way it goes... The ladies are quite aware that he may be...he may be 60 but he's very...he's still very active .[LAUGHS] You know what I mean, it's like saying...to all of the young girls out there, maybe they look at Walter and say, you know, maybe, maybe I should try an older man, some time in my life. Just to see what it's like.

INTERVIEWER
There's certainly this chemistry between, um, you and Peta Wilson. Um, there's...you know, there's this whole -- you call her Sugar all the time. I mean was that something you ad-libbed originally or was that always....

DON FRANCKS
Yeah, I did that right from the first show. I just put it in, I decided that Walter would have a name for this one. And it would have to be Sugar, and it stuck, uh, oddly enough. By the time, I guess, the tenth script rolled around, I think the writers finally realized that I wasn't gonna quit. And they just started putting it in the script itself.

INTERVIEWER
That's really cool.

DON FRANCKS
Yeah, I like it. And it fits her too, she certainly is sugar. He's her buddy, he's her friend, he's her confidante, let's put it that...maybe confidante is the right word. She knows that she can come to him with anything, and say anything, tell him anything and it won't go anywhere. And he'll be there to help her at all times.

INTERVIEWER
Absolutely. Well now, um, I think that the...there's this huge mystery about, um, who is Nikita's father. I mean this has sort of become the central mystery of the series.

DON FRANCKS
We're gonna find out now.

INTERVIEWER
Oh, right, well....

DON FRANCKS
Oh, yeah. You're definitely gonna find out who it is. And it's gonna be a very big surprise for all of the viewers. As big a surprise as it was to me. This show is like that for me anyway. This show is a constant surprise. For the viewer, and for the actor. We...we've talked amongst each other when we're here and all of a sudden I'll look at Eugene -- at Operations -- and say, "Man, I didn't know this was gonna happen" and he said, "Neither did I." What a twist.

INTERVIEWER
Any things -- any specific plot twists -- that sort of stand out in your head as being, like, the most shocking one you've seen?

DON FRANCKS
You know what? Everything is a shock in this show. You think somebody's gonna live and they die, you think somebody's gonna die and they live, you think this is-- something's gonna turn out rosy and it turns out real ugly and then something you think, uh-oh, this is going down and it turns out really neat. And, one never knows, do[es] one. Maybe the Shadow knows, but he's the only one.

INTERVIEWER
Well, what about when you found out that, um, Birkoff had a twin and there was sort of this intimation that Walter might be, you know -- how come Walter got to decide who got to stay and who got to go? I mean there was certainly some speculation as to what that all meant. Was that surprising to you, and do you know what it means?

DON FRANCKS
Well, you can read into this show from the time it began. I think that, the fans take care of that well on the Internet. I think they take care of it well when they come to the conventions and they ask all kinds of questions. They wanna know if there's a deep inner meaning to this, whether this is that. And I think it's just better left that way. That y'all have a chance to figure things out for yoursel[ves]. There's one thing about this show -- you can't be stupid and watch this show. Um, you have to have an intellect to watch this show, to follow it. You can't blink your eyes either. Don't think that you can step out for a moment and then come back, because you might lose something. And you're gonna have to find out about it later. They are amazing. And they're very loyal.

INTERVIEWER
Oh, so loyal....

DON FRANCKS
Very, very loyal, and they've supplied all of us with beautiful gifts, beautiful thoughts. The letters that you receive. I noticed that when I went down to pick up some letters the other day and the lady at the reception, she looked at me and she said, "My, are your fans ever wonderful." And I said, "What do you mean?" She said, "Well, your letters are different from some of the others. They're just full of goodness and full of love and full of appreciation and... they've got senses of humor and they say groovy things and...." I have that kind of affection for my fans. We seem to share this way of warmth and it's never gonna stop either,

INTERVIEWER
When you were shooting "Four Light Years Farther" and you thought it was over, what was it like? I mean, what was going through your head?

DON FRANCKS
Well, for me it was very sad. Mainly because I love the show. There may be a difference in my way of accepting it and some of the others. But I truly love this show. I believe in this show, and I think that, to find another show like it, will take probably another lifetime.

INTERVIEWER
Do you know where Section is located now?

DON FRANCKS
Not now. No. Not at all. Not at all. I'm sure that it's entered the mind of some of the viewers or most of the viewers I'm sure, especially those that have been to some of the conventions and those that have talked things over on the Net, when, on the websites...you maybe take into consideration: Is Section really a fictional thing? Many times, Eugene and I will look at each other, or Birkoff and I will look at each other and say, uh...I wondered last week while the real Section was watching this show whether they said, hey, they just about got it right on this one. Maybe taking into consideration that there really, truly, honestly is a Section. You know, it's okay to talk about the CIA and Interpol and the secret police and the Israeli secret police and everybody's secret police and Doris Day and CIA and doo-dah-doo-dah-day, but... We talk about Section here, and maybe...maybe we're close, who knows. I don't know....

INTERVIEWER
No....

DON FRANCKS
I'm only...I'm only surmising, or maybe I'm not playing the devil's advocate but just saying, leaving an open mind and saying, well, maybe there's sort of....Either a Section is already there or is being formed as we speak, as you and I speak right now.

INTERVIEWER
What do you think you're gonna miss most about the series?

DON FRANCKS
The whole thing. The whole subterfuge, the whole, the whole....And, you know, one of the neat things -- and this sounds as though I'm maybe making this up -- but when you know that the fan base, the cult following, is so strong, you know that what you're doing is not just...fluff. You know that they are there, and they truly are plugged in, and you're gonna do your very best, and you know it's appreciated; the appreciation is coming back, you're sending out whatever you can. But it's coming right back at you, maybe twice-fold. And that's probably something that...that a Don Francks, that an Iron Buffalo is gonna miss.

INTERVIEWER
You know, when you first started on the show, was the...was the chemistry between you and Peta or you and Operations -- you know, the friction, the chemistry, all that -- was that instant or was that something you really had to work for?

DON FRANCKS
I found that as soon as we got here, it...we were there. We were already there. There was such a respect, and such dignity, and no prima donna-ing. Now, you'll have to get by that word, prima donna-ing. [LAUGHTER] That's okay to say that. It was just an instant, you know, instant love....

INTERVIEWER
Do you have a favorite scene or a favorite episode that you could tell us about, something you specifically loved doing or loved watching?

DON FRANCKS
Well, I think the fans kind of liked when Walter was sent out with...Birkoff, when Birkoff was sent out on a mission which was going to be a pretty deadly mission. And I decided, totally unannounced, that I would go with him. And I think the fans kind of dug that Walter kind of blew about four people away and then looked over at Birkoff and said, "That wasn't so bad, was it?" And Birkoff...I think we had to bring him back to Section and get his pants changed.

INTERVIEWER
That was a great scene.

DON FRANCKS
It was fun. And of course I didn't mind one scene, too, when Walter... It was kind of nice when Walter had the couple of ladies going at the same time. I thought that was okay. That was kind of neat.

INTERVIEWER
I remember there was one named Belinda. Was there another one?

DON FRANCKS
Yeah, there was another one that both Walter and Birkoff were seeing but both of them thought that they were seeing her by himself. But she was seeing both of them. And...that was, uh, not a bad one either.

INTERVIEWER
How many bandannas does Walter really own?

DON FRANCKS
[PAUSE] Well, he has quite a few. Laurie Drew in her great wisdom, this last eight shows, has kept him pretty well in the same bandanna all the way. Flip it around a little bit and make the design different that way... But I guess, the story of that bandanna is really strange -- when I auditioned for the show they had me audition for the part of Operations; which you probably are aware of. And then I got a phone call that said, "No, you are not Operations, so have a good time, bye." And then about two weeks later I got a call that said, "They would like you to play the part of Walter" How do you like that? So I said okay and I came in and I didn't have to audition because I'd already auditioned. And Joel...I said to Joel, I should lose the bandanna, and he said, "No. Leave the bandanna on, because...." I don't know whether-- I know the fans are aware I wear this bandanna in life, when I ride my Harley or when I'm out driving my antique cars or when I'm... [SIGHS] When I'm just going about my business, uh, I have worn these bandannas since...let me see now-- [MUMBLES] Since nineteen sixty... [PAUSE] I guess I've worn bandannas since nineteen sixty...seven.

INTERVIEWER
Do you have a favorite one that you've worn on the show? I like the rainbow one that you--

DON FRANCKS
The rainbow one was given to me by the fans. And I made sure that I wore it.

INTERVIEWER
Walter doesn't really seem scared of anyone. Is he? Why does he take so many damn chances?

DON FRANCKS
If Walter did something really, really bad -- like sometimes he does with Nikita or Roy -- he feels good about that because he feels that he's done it in the name of goodness, and the name of right, and it feels good to his heart. It makes...it makes everything right because in his heart and soul he knows it was the right thing to do. If he thinks that somebody can just take him out when he has absolutely no defense back, and when he really didn't do anything wrong, that's when Walter doesn't like it.

INTERVIEWER
Okay. Is there anything else you think that the fans would like to know, or -- because I think that I...I feel pretty good about where we are now.

DON FRANCKS
Yeah, I think probably there's only one thing and that would be in the words of, of Lord Buckley, and, uh, one of my mentors, and I'd have to say to all of the fans -- and maybe some of them know I'm gonna say this and that is -- would it embarrass you if I were to tell you that I love you? Because I do, you know.