Today we have screenwriter Tim Minear chatting with Jeff about his career in screenwriting. Screenwriter on Angel, Firefly, Ratched, 9-1-1, and so much more!
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Tim Miner –
[00:00:00] Jeff: hello listeners. As far as our country today on the show, we had the fantastic 10 mine air. How’s it going? Mr. Miner?
Tim Miner: it’s going great.
I mean, the world ended in March, but I’m still here. Has
Jeff: it been made more difficult for you to get your projects done from your home? Or have you been able to do some of
Tim Miner: your work? What’s interesting. You know, back in March we just finished shooting. nine 11 lone star. And we were actually also nine one one, but I still had about eight episodes of nine, one, one that needed to finish and post.
And I was driving back to the lot in March to go sit in an editing room to work on the next episode. And that’s right when people were saying maybe you shouldn’t be in small, close places with people. so I turned around and came home and started. doing posts from home on zoom and cut the last, I think eight episodes [00:01:00] from, Oh wow.
Working remotely with my editors, you know, they, they, they managed to get the Avids hooked into the zooms. And so it was almost like being in the editing room. Except I didn’t have to work so
of, and then when we we’ve started up our writer’s rooms for both shows, you know, we had been, I think we were about three scripts into American horror story, but we hadn’t, you know, we had, we had just finished shooting season one and season three of nine, 11, and nine 11 lone star. And then the show got picked Bush has got picked up and so I’ve hired.
writers and we started writers’ rooms virtually. So I have now for almost five or six months, but really about five months have been working with writers on both shows that I have never actually
Jeff: isn’t technology. A wonderful thing. Can you imagine how difficult the pandemic would be? Let’s say 20 years ago before you could just go online with someone.
Tim Miner: I, I do, [00:02:00] but I also, I also wonder if maybe we would have been less prone to just lock everything down. Do you know what I mean? Like there just may have been a slightly different approach to things, but the technology has absolutely allowed us to keep the thing moving a little bit, but we’re just barely.
Getting the, the wheels rolling and getting the, the apparatus back up to actually start shooting. I mean, I haven’t shot anything yet in this age of this pandemic. So. I, I have friends who have my friend, Sean, Ryan, who runs SWAT. They’ve been back for a couple of weeks. So they’ve been shooting, doing physical production in LA.
So he’s sort of in the Canary, in the coal mine, the COVID-19. Yeah. So go ahead. So I’ve been getting information from him, but it’s going to be so in a
Jeff: normal world, or this was all things being equal, everything everything’s normal. The new shows would be premiering. Normally in most networks, September and October was nine one one.
And, well it was nine one one nine one one lone star scheduled before [00:03:00] COVID to have come out during this time, period would always have been maybe a delayed,
Tim Miner: start. No, they were both going to be premiering, in September, you know, we were ordered for 18 episodes for both, and it was going to be a normal, you know, a normal season, 18 episodes sometimes now is considered a full season order.
You know, it used to be 24 and then 22 and now it’s, you know, sometimes 18, but, You know, we would have been, we would have been well into post-production on some of these. So when
Jeff: are, when are we looking towards a nine one, one and nine one on lone star premiere?
Tim Miner: I don’t have an exact premiere date yet.
I noticed today that ABC has moved some of their, what would have been their fall shows into like November, I think in terms of primary. So it’ll be, you know, it’ll be, it’ll look more like a mid season show probably. for both of them, because again, we haven’t actually started shooting yet. The one upside of this for [00:04:00] us, if you can call it enough.
I mean, this is actually an upside is that usually we fall behind on scripts pretty early. And you know, I remember last year we did a, we did a solar storm. For the season finale of lone star. And because it was, you know, it was an event, but I could produce it because it’s an invisible event. Like just things just start going crazy.
And I also knew that, you know, somebody had pitched, a nine 11 call from outer space. So it’s not exactly outer space, but this is sort of a great set piece of an astronaut who was in the international space station in the, in the way of the solar storm. And it’s just a very haunting moving. Call from space where he gets reconnected with his family and gets to take advice as he dies of radiation poisoning.
But, but for instance, that episode, we were three or four days into. Pre production on that episode. And we still didn’t know what it was going to be. In fact, we were even talking about maybe the season finale should be, [00:05:00] maybe it should be, maybe it should be a pandemic. And then I’ve heard about this Wu Han thing.
Maybe that, that might turn into a thing. So maybe let’s not do that, but we’re, we’re usually really far behind on scripts. And this year we’ll be going into our first day of. Pre-production on the first episode of the season with, you know, eight or 10 scripts of both shows already written, which is unheard of for us.
Jeff: I know some people are, and I’ve heard some debate online about whether or not. Things that come out now, new shows new movies should incorporate what’s going on in the, in the world. Now, such as what’s going on with the COVID COVID situation and the lockdown with masks and everything else. Do you feel a need or any, was there any process or I thought about maybe having some records of COVID in your nine one, one series, other words, maybe have someone a mask or has something to do about social distancing or do you want it, or is it better to keep.
The entertainment world in the realm of entertainment and not let it [00:06:00] meld with what’s going on in our
Tim Miner: real world. Well, I would say the ever-changing, although it really hasn’t changed that much has it, world’s situation has been the. The, the Rubik’s cube of, of sort of how to proceed with either of these shows.
And I made a determination early on that I just really felt like we couldn’t ignore it on these first responders shows that, that we would just, it would just be too quaint for us to be operating in a parallel universe where this global. pandemic wasn’t affecting what was happening on screen. And it would have been such a, such a long time since our audience had been with our characters.
That to me, it was important that when these characters reappear in people’s living rooms, that they have been through what that audience has been through, that they’ve been isolated that they’ve gone through this pandemic. and when you’re doing a first responder show, I just don’t see how you can ignore it.
So yeah, the answer is, is yes, we’re going to [00:07:00] be observing, COVID protocols the way first responders do onscreen. So when they arrive at nine 11 calls, they will be wearing masks. they will be social distancing when necessary and the, the world will reflect as best as I can prognosticate what it might look like in a couple of months when we air.
what the audience has been experiencing too, which theoretically will also, contribute to keeping my actors and crew safe. Because if the characters on screen are wearing masks and socially distancing is needed, when they’re interacting with guests cast, theoretically what’s happening on screen is also protecting the actor who’s playing that character.
Jeff: That makes great sense. The one question I would definitely have on that is actors are also. This is, this may be a complete stereotype, but are a little on the vein side. How do they, have they discussed what it’s going to be when they’re, they’re going to have their face covered? And obviously that’s part of, you know, showing who they are, their faces on screen.
Do they have any issues [00:08:00] with that or did they discuss any concerns?
Tim Miner: You know, again, we were just barely reopening our offices and, you know, getting all those ducks in a row. So I will have. You know, in depth conversations with all the cast, I think they’re just like anybody else. Right? They, they want to make sure that they’re protected, that the production is moving forward in a, in a safe and sane way.
And, I don’t think there’s going to be any sort of vanity issues because they’re not going to be playing every scene in the mask, but, but it does make sense. When they jump off those trucks that they put on the COVID masks and I, and, and people are so used to seeing it now that I just think that, that they, they may end up not seeing it because they’re so used to
Jeff: it now, from someone who’s not as familiar with how a TV show are is, is, produced, Because they’re wearing masks.
Are they going to have to be also recorded later on for clarity or are they, [00:09:00] is the dialogue always recorded later to make sure it’s heard properly?
Tim Miner: Well, no, we try to get everything on the day, you know, re record the dialogue live. There are instances where you have to come in and do an ADR line, which is additional dialogue recording.
Often those things, don’t quite sound like they, you can, you can tell when something’s dubbed sometimes. and I know, you know, that particularly, when we were doing those last eight episodes of, of nine 11, you know, normally we would bring our cast into, to, a looping stage where they would stand up.
You did a mic and look at a screen and it’s all done in a studio and. And, we, they do as many takes as they’d need to, but when we had to do a couple of ADR lines for the last eight episodes, people were literally having do them on their phones, you know, or over zoom. Yeah. Or something, because they couldn’t go into a studio because everything was locked down.
And some of those, those, loop lines are not the best. They don’t. I mean, it can, it can really work if it’s during a normal one call so that [00:10:00] if I have a sort of a crappy. ADR recording. That sounds like it’s over a phone. Then I would just put that part of the conversation through the headphone of the nine 11 operator.
And you can never know the difference, but we’ll see. I, again, I haven’t gone out there to shoot anything with those masks. So I imagine it will present challenges to be a sound recordist as well as everyone else.
Jeff: And the nice thing about the nine 11 show, what I really enjoy about it is that it does have a very real feel to it.
I mean, obviously there’s, it’s drama and it’s fiction about it, but it has a really genuine feel to it. And so are the shows drawn from actual nine 11 calls?
Tim Miner: Well, they’re real in the sense that, you know, we want you to feel like. You can relate to the characters and that you sort of buy what’s going on.
But, you know, as a, as a rule, we try to, to make our reality more pushed than reality. So you probably [00:11:00] won’t see a tsunami taking out Santa Monica, anytime soon, you probably won’t see a baby flushed down a toilet. However, the most. Outrageous cases that you’ll see on our shows are usually the ones that we found in real life.
So that baby being flushed down the toilet and pulled out of a pipe in the pilot episode of nine 11, which was actually sort of the case that kind of inspired the direction the show would go for. Ryan Murphy, was a real case that happened in China. We find a lot of our bases in China,
Tim Miner: as long as Florida man exists, we should be.
We should, we should be pretty flushed with cases, but, and you know, given the given 2020, I take, I’ve been taken to say suddenly the world has become more pushy than my shows. So how do you, how do you make a show where, you know, it’s an Irwin Allen disaster movie one week, and then it’s, you know, it’s the Darwin awards the next week.
How do you. [00:12:00] How do you, how do you get your show? How do you push it? Just slightly past reality when reality is so pushed and that has been challenged,
Jeff: have you ever considered making a second spinoff called nine 11, Florida or nine 11 Tampa Bay?
Tim Miner: You know, when we sat down to come up with the first, or for Lonestar, my inclination was to send it Miami because I do, because I do think Florida would be a great location for, for one of these shows.
It’s, it’s got the blue skies and the Palm trees that we sort of have in LA, but also it’s got a very rich multicultural, Life, and it has, you know, retirees and bodybuilder. It’s got, it’s got, it’s got everything, and, and alligators and hurricanes. So, I, I still think that there might be a, there might be a future in Miami
Jeff: discussing when you finally settled on making it, the lone star, Texas.
How, how did that determine she didn’t come from? Like, how did you determine let’s actually make it here in Texas? What, what led to that [00:13:00] decision?
Tim Miner: that’s what Ryan wanted to gotcha. He just, he just felt like he just felt like he was interested in putting it into a, you know, a quote unquote read, and that, because that is a big part of our audience.
And, and then, and then I think, you know, it’s interesting, we’re sort of a blue state and a red state cause it’s, it’s an Austin and Austin is very blue, surrounded by a lot of red. but what it does give you is it gives you, you know, just outside of Austin, you have. At least the way we play it. you know, you have sort of like traditional, rural, Texas mixed with the, with the, with the urban hip city of Austin with the music scene.
Like it’s got all the kinds of diversity that we have in LA to draw cases from. and, you know, in a similar fashion on nine 11, it seems like there’s one firehouse that services, you know, that there used to be a. An anchor on local news here called Jerry Dunphy. And he would [00:14:00] say, you know, from the mountains to the deserts, to the ocean, well, that’s pretty much the, that’s pretty much where our fire department works from the mountains to the desert, to the ocean.
They cover, they cover the whole thing.
Jeff: Now, one thing that’s also great about your show is that the cast of your nine 11 programs are so large. What is the challenge there in balancing all these different characters and making sure they all are properly developed, that they all have equal and not maybe equal time, but enough time.
So they have their moments, in the sun, as it were as a writer, how do you balance all that?
Tim Miner: Well, it is a challenge. And, the way you balance it is you just kind of have to it’s like, it’s like a, it’s like playing jazz or, or freeform jazz or something. You just, you, when you feel like you’ve. You’ve neglected a character.
You bring that character in. And the thing that we found on nine 11, which is so great, is that different combinations of those characters give you different things. So hen and chimney are like best friends, but then, you know, hen has her [00:15:00] wife and then chimney has a romance with, with Buck’s sister, Maddie.
so you know, you, you can service them all because. If they’re all on the same squad and they’re going out and responding to a call, then they’re all sort of there in the water. And so it, you know, a character who maybe doesn’t have a personal story in an episode might do something cool on a call. And then, and then again, you just, once you start to feel like.
You’re missing somebody or you haven’t serviced somebody in a while. it’s time to get to that person. That’s sort of how we approach it on bullshit.
Jeff: Well, on the, the nine one one program, or maybe, I don’t know if you call it the main one or the, the parent nine one one,
Tim Miner: we call it
Jeff: the bullshit. Nine one one.
You have the amazing actress, Angela Bassett on that show. And she’s a, she was an actress. She won the N NAACP image award for best actress. one year I think, four year show. what does she brings it to her character. And do you find yourself writing the character of Athena [00:16:00] grant differently? Because Angela Bassett, got the role and is that
Tim Miner: character.
Well, what I would say is this, that that role was made for her. So it’s not like we were casting around for actors to play. Athena Athena grant was designed for Angela Bassett. That was one of the, that was one of the original impetus for even making the show is that Ryan wanted to. Give Angela a hit, network TV show, along with you wanting to give Dana Walden who ran 20th century Fox, who’s now running Disney, something for the network.
So it was created for Angela. So it’s all tailored to her and we’d had experience writing for him, Angela, because she’d been on horror story for several seasons. And, you know, I just remember Ryan saying to me, America wants to see Angela Bassett in a uniform. That’s what America wants and you know what he wasn’t wrong.
Jeff: The show has been extremely popular. I mean, did, at what point do you, did you realize, [00:17:00] or were you at, were you at all surprised with just how popular nine 11 proved to be?
Tim Miner: yeah, I was surprised. I mean, what’s funny is. You know, I had been canceled a lot on network TV and couldn’t figure out sort of how to stay on network TV and had always been itching to sort of move to cable and do the grittier things or whatever.
And I got that opportunity and I got to do horror story and terriers and, and even, but even some of the things I did on network TV. We’re just weird for network TV, like wonderful walls and the inside, and some of these things where we’re just, they didn’t hit a nerve with, with a large audience. And the fact that this became so popular so quickly, kind of did surprise me because we were just flying by the seat of our pants.
Like we, we went into this and Ryan was so trusted by Dana and the network that when he said, I want to do this procedural. which is not the first thing you would think of with Ryan Murphy. they said yes, and they ordered it right to [00:18:00] series. So we just jumped in and I started writing a pilot and started shooting it and then started writing the next episode without kind of knowing, what it was.
So the first 10 episodes, we sort of found what the thing was, pretty early on. We, we, we sort of approached it with the ethos of. It should feel like you’re going down a YouTube rabbit hole of failed videos, which is really what the first season feels like. And, and even subsequent seasons in some ways.
And if you look at a lot of the cases, that are on the show, they were in fact sort of based on viral videos, you know, that floor giving out at that wedding is a viral video. The guy getting caught up in the, In the, in the tendrils of a carwash, that was a viral video. So, but you’re going sort of from one hilarious thing to one terrifying thing, you know, somebody getting sucked into an escalator or a bouncy house with your kid in it flying a hundred feet into the air.
so all these things were based on that sort of feeling that you just never [00:19:00] stop and you keep going. And there was also something interesting about the calls made the things digestible and bite-size. So while you can have. Kind of a plot that’s running through an entire episode, really? usually what’s running through an entire episode or our personal stories.
And then they’re interrupted by these calls. And like I said, some of them have body horror. Some of them are simple. It’s like, I don’t feel well. And then you pull an eight foot tape format. That’s actually quite, that’s actually quite easy to shoot, but it’s still, also just a great idea.
Jeff: So when you’re planning out these episodes, are you writing the personal stories first and thinking, how can I write.
I guess the calls to maybe go around those events or do you think this is a great idea for a call then
Tim Miner: write a story around it? It’s, it’s, it’s a combination of all those things, right? it I’ll give you a perfect example. So last year, we had a script for a Valentine’s day episode on lone star.
[00:20:00] And I hated it. I didn’t like any of the cases. I didn’t like any of the stories and the thing was in prep. We were about to shoot and I threw out the script. and then we talked about, well, what could we do here that, that Tim would find interesting. And the thing that I, and so we ended up coming up with this episode called studs, which we put together sort of almost at the last minute.
But if you look at it, it’s like there’s three personal stories, I think in there that are meditations on. Masculinity in one form or another it’s Rob Lowe’s character. Who’s on chemo gets into his head that he will not be able to perform sexually. And sure enough, he meets a beautiful woman and can’t get it up.
And then it becomes about will Rob Logan. That’s like, that’s, that’s that story then? There’s the story of Sierra McClain and Jim Parrack who are jutting grace on the show. And Judd has been going through trauma because of, the events of the pilot, where he lost his entire. firehouse in an explosion and [00:21:00] he hasn’t been performing sexually with his wife because, he’s all wrapped up in his own misery.
And so that’s sort of about how, even sometimes your wife will have needs. And if, even if you don’t feel up to it, maybe you kind of need to feel up to it. So that was a meditation on masculinity in a way. And then the third story that was to me, the most fascinating was, you know, we have a character on lone star.
Who’s played by a transactor, and he’s playing a trans character. And it was the story of how does a man who is trans. Date in the world. Like when do you tell the person that you’re interested in your story or do you write like, that was the whole, that was the whole point of that story. So we had these three stories and then once we kind of decided that’s the story we wanted to tell?
I think we had a case that I, that had always interested me. That was based on a real case, which was a fire. In a bull semen factory where these, these canisters of [00:22:00] bull semen when they superheated started to explode and take off like rockets. So when the, when the first responders got to the scene, they’re, they’re living, it’s literally like they’re under mortar fire attack.
And so I knew that that was a great case and suddenly I had an episode for it. Right. We’ll put it into the mat, you know, exploding Bolcom. That’s perfect for the episode on masculinity. And then there was always a, there was a case that I was always interested in. it’s maybe apocryphal, but I know it’s been used on a lot of other, I think it was maybe on a law and order and probably on Grey’s anatomy.
Cause that’s been on for 150 years. So it’s done every single case you can imagine. But there was a case where a woman who had been self-medicating she had cancer when they went to intubate, her, her blood emitted, kind of a toxic fume and all the, all the nurses and doctors around her passed out. So I, I sort of transferred that idea to a guy who is an in cell and involuntary Sullivan, who [00:23:00] is protesting with his men’s group of women’s shelter.
So sort of a, it was sort of a pun on toxic masculinity. He also, he also had this condition and when they intubate him in the ambulance, he’s so toxic that it knocks out everybody in the ambulance and the ambulance rolls, and then we have to rescue everybody in the ambulance. So, so those cases, what we try to do.
Is, if we’re doing an episode called stuck, like we did in season two of nine 11, the cases will be variations on people being stuck. Whether it’s a guy who is trying to jump between two, you know, two buildings and get stuck in between or, or, or a dumb frat frat boy who, dares a girl to stick her head in his.
Tailpipe is monster truck head gets stuck, but then the characters will be stuck in their personal lives. Right. And so we take those themes and we try to, we try to tell a story on a theme and then try to have those cases reflect those themes to the point where it almost becomes a drinking game for the audience, because how many times [00:24:00] can characters in one episode of a show say, Karma’s a bitch or, or I just feel stuck.
but that is, you know, I mean, it’s not, it’s not subtle, but it seems to be,
Jeff: I don’t think I ever, I don’t think I remember at all a episode description for nine one, one lone star. Describe, you know, what the description on the TV will Rob Lowe get a boner that I don’t, I don’t, I don’t remember that.
Being the description on the stuff,
Tim Miner: you know, the episode’s called spreads. It starts, it starts at a male strip bar. you know, so it’s just a good example of, you know, sort of taking a theme and then exploring it, looking at it from different points of view. I, I will admit that often what happens is we’ll come up with a theme and then we won’t come up with cool, cases.
Then we’ll start to come up with cases. And then the cases don’t seem like they fit that theme, but then we’ll discover a different theme or often, instead of feeling like a theme, it feels more like a pun. I’m I’m okay with that, you know, [00:25:00] whatever, you know, whatever it gets, you know,
Jeff: now that you have, so you have the mothership, series and you have RC Lonestar, w the Muller trips, the main one.
What do you call the spinoff? Is there a word for that? Meet the lone star, but I mean, you said it’s called, you said the nine one, one is called the mothership series. What’s the name of a series that the spinoff is called? It’s just called a spinoff.
Tim Miner: Well, I mean, I didn’t even know if I’d call it a spinoff, right?
Because the spinoff sort of suggests that, you know, that Lou grant left Mary Tyler Moore to go be on Lou grant. So I would say that it’s, it’s just another iteration of the universe and the, and the franchise, although, what we’re doing something this year that I’m super excited about, which we’re actually going to be doing a crossover in episode three of lone star, we’re going to bring some of those.
Nine one, one characters over to Texas, and that’s going to
Jeff: be when you have these two shows going and they’re going at the same time, is there ever a concern that one show could overshadow the other show or one event is going to either play out to be repeated in another, in, in [00:26:00] the other series?
Tim Miner: Well, it’s yeah.
I mean, that’s a, that’s a, that’s a constant thing, right? Like, You know, and particularly now that they’re going to be airing back to back, you know, last year we aired nine one one, and then we normally go off after Christmas and come back. and then there’s usually 10 weeks of something that fills in.
And I say, usually we’ve only been on TV for three years, but that’s, what’s happened for the last two years. And this year Lonestar replaced nine 11 for those 10 episodes. but this year it’s going to be nine 11 at eight o’clock and lone star at nine. So it’s going to be, so basically what I’m suggesting to Fox that they promoted as Monday nights, a disaster.
Jeff: That’s awesome.
Tim Miner: And so, and I remember back when I was doing angel, you know, angel and Buffy used to air on the same night before Buffy went over to UPN. And so we were constantly trying to kind of calibrate what the tones would be so that we wouldn’t have to [00:27:00] super dark episodes back to back on the same night.
and you couldn’t sort of repeat ideas that were happening on the sister show. So that is, that is definitely. You know, we’re, we’re constantly, you know, saying, well, this case is good for nine one one, and this would be great for lone star, but we’re kind of already doing that on nine 11. So we can’t do it.
So, you know, we are talking about potentially 18 episodes of both shows and in each one of those 18 episodes, there’s generally four different cases. So it’s, you know, it’s just a tremendous amount of, of, Trial and error to come up with things that are cool for even one episode, because you need four things for every episode.
And now, now it’s eight things a night, right. So, yeah, you don’t want, you know, if you, if we’re doing a tsunami on, a nine one one, then yeah, I’ll do, I’ll do a solar storm on the other show this year. We’re going to be doing, you know, some disaster stuff for the first couple episodes of nine 11, but we’re [00:28:00] also doing it on lone star.
Like we will have, you know, a giant dam break and we’ll take out the Hollywood sign. That’s nine one one, and kind of, kind of the same night. The next hour and a volcano will erupt in Austin, Texas. So that’s, that’s, what’s going to happen.
Jeff: And the cool thing with lone, I mean, a lot, Rob Lowe, I’m a big fan of Ravello since the days of the West wing.
He he’s such a phenomenal actor. And also you have lived Tyler on that program is having these big stars on that show. Is there any ever concern that they will almost like take the oxygen on the show and, and, or the gravity of the show and directed towards them? Or is it, are you able to still say, you know, these are the big names, however, We will, so it can make the little characters and the other actors feel equally as important.
Tim Miner: you know, you know, we have big stars on nine 11 too, right? Like Peter crowds is a big star. Like, you know, you know, he’s been around for a while and people know who he is and he’s a name. And Angela Bassett obviously is like a giant, giant star. Right? Like she was [00:29:00] in, she was in, Yeah, I think every big franchise movie last year she was in black Panther and she was in mission impossible.
And she was in bumblebee. She voiced one of the, one of the robots.
Jeff: I did not know that actually,
Tim Miner: you know, so she’s, you know, she’s, she’s quite prolific. And, I would say the difference is on lone star. the F the thing was approached differently, right? Like when we came into nine 11 in that pilot, everything was already up on its feet and you were meeting everybody and they were already there.
Whereas with lone star, we did kind of a, a premise pilot where rod we’re we’re in Rob Lowe’s point of view, more or less. And he is a firefighter in New York who had survived nine 11. Who’s asked to come to Texas to rebuild a firehouse that has gone through a similar tragedy, not on the scale of nine 11, but similar in that.
You know, 90% of that firehouse died at one call. So, it is the story of, and also he’s just been diagnosed with, with first [00:30:00] responders cancer from his experience in nine 11, and he’s got a son who’s going through some issues. So we were sort of coming into it from the, from a single point of view of a particular character.
And then it started to branch out to the other characters. so I, I, I don’t have any problem. Because I have big names in those roles because they all know what the show is. And Rob is, you know, Rob’s a team player and, and, you know, I do feel a certain obligation to make sure that Owen is Owen, which is Rob’s character.
It’s kind of the tip of the spear on, what the narrative is for any given episode, but, you know, he’ll take a backseat and an episode and then it’ll be about him in an episode, just like on a, just like a nine 11.
Jeff: How many seasons are, do you have planned out? Is this for both nine, 11 and nine 11? Lone star is as long as they keep, getting viewers or do you have an end point where, you know, we’re thinking this meant five season six, season seven seasons.
Tim Miner: Well, you know, w we’re not doing breaking bad, you know what I mean? Like breaking bad. If you look at it, sort of has like a [00:31:00] natural three X structure to it. You know, you meet this, you meet this. This high school teacher who gets his diagnosis. And then he becomes Michael Corleone over the course of however many seasons.
And that sort of has a natural end point. Like that’s a, that’s a three-act structured kind of story that Vince telling on that show. This is different. This is, this is old school bread and butter network television. Where, you know, it’s emergency or it’s, you know, it’s, that’s the kind of show this is, or, or, you know, grays even, or you know, where it’s got its soapy elements, but really the, the structure of the show.
And I think what makes it interesting that people really kind of hadn’t seen before, at least not that I know of is that we have the nine 11 operators. So we’re playing police fire, and. the first responders of the, of the dispatch people. and I think that can go on as long as people want to watch it.
And I think, you know, you could even, you know, and [00:32:00] obviously it works in lone star in a different way than it works in nine 11, but it’s fundamentally the same thing, pushed calls. It really, I think the secret sauce is what’s often the secret sauce on TV, particularly network TV is that you’re talking about a found family.
People who decide to have each other’s backs and be a family. And I think the other thing that has resonated with at least our network audience is that this isn’t some ambiguous anti heroes thing, which I love, I love all those things, but what this is, this is about. The people, the heroes out in the world who run towards danger and strangers who show up to help you out of a crushed car.
Those are people we can root for and cheer for. And then the idea was always, you know, What are the emergencies in those people’s personal lives and how do they deal with those emergencies while they’re out there dealing with, you know, the more kind of prosaic emergencies that might be prosaic, but they also might be volcanoes and tsunamis and babies being [00:33:00] flushed down toilets.
Jeff: and you mentioned earlier with, especially with COVID introducing the real world. Into your storytelling. Obviously there’s a lot going on right now with black lives matter. And the police, that’s something that’s going to be touching upon in your please part of the story as well, or are we going to kind of keep away from that?
Cause that’s a little, I know it’s kind of a hot topic right now.
Tim Miner: Well, it’s a hot topic, but you know, look, it’s interesting. I would say that these shows are not primarily police procedurals. although we do have a police presence on the shows and obviously on nine 11, we have, you know, an iconic African-American star, playing, playing the cop and that’s Angela Bassett.
before 2020 last year, we did an episode of nine 11 called rage. And one of the stories was, Angela’s ex-husband Rockman Dunbar, and her two black kids being pulled over by what was potentially a racist white cop. So we [00:34:00] told that story last year, and we’re going to continue to tell stories like that in nine 11, but we’re not changing the thrust of our show, to accommodate.
Events, because we’ve already been telling those stories. Yeah,
Jeff: no, definitely lately.
Tim Miner: So continue to tell the stories. One thing I did do this year is that there is a, an author Cheryl Dorsey, who was a. Black female field Sergeant on the LAPD. I mean, she’s literally Athena grant. Like it’s, if you, if you, if you had assumed that we based Angela’s character off of Cheryl Dorsey, it would be hard to argue even though I didn’t know, Cheryl, before this year, I stopped her being interviewed, after the, after the protest in Los Angeles and she wrote this book called black and blue.
And she is, you know, she is an activist for police reform, but she’s also police, right. She has a long and storied history as a field Sergeant on the LAPD. And she was in [00:35:00] fact, a young officer during the Rodney King riots and which was a peanut, right? Like we told that story last year, flashback. So I hired, I hired Sergeant Dorsey this year.
To be a consultant primarily on Angela story, so that it felt real. And it felt, you know, that we, that we had a voice of a woman who had actually been there and really knew what she was talking about. So I may take it all very seriously. And, you know, hopefully we’ll, w we’re just, we’re not going to be afraid to tell the stories that we want to tell, and we’re also not going to feel obligated to propagandize
And I think it’s great that you do have such a strong character like Angela Bassett on the show. Do you get a lot of fans reacting to them saying, you know, thank you for this portray
Tim Miner: people love Angela. and we get, we get that really for all the characters, you know, I mean, we get that, I think as much for, you know, Ayesha, Heinz playing a paramedic and, you know, a powerful woman of color, on [00:36:00] our show as we get for Angela.
And, but then we also get it for, you know, people love buck and people love Bobby. And, so
Jeff: yeah, if you don’t mind, we’re also, we’re gonna take a small rate turn to the Firefly. If you don’t mind. We did, but we kind of just seemed to like organically move into nine 11 from the conversation we were having to start anyways.
So I’m trying to, I’m gonna start off with the question. You probably get a thousand times. Is there any word on Firefly returning to television?
Tim Miner: no. One’s told me. I mean, I know that there’s been talk here and there about different ways to maybe make something like that happen. But that’s probably a question for Josh more than it is for me.
Jeff: So are you surprised that even this many, how many years has it been and was 15, 20 years, almost 15 years. Are you surprised that people still talk about Firefly all the time? There’s still such a strong Cole Cole final. Cause I mean, like I said, it shows only was on for, I think, 10 episodes in a movie. Is it amazing that people still talk about it all the time and there’s such a strong fan [00:37:00] base.
Tim Miner: Yeah, it is a little bit, I mean, it doesn’t surprise me now because it sort of happened and so it exists. And so I don’t question it. I remember when it started to sort of pick up steam and, I was, I remember back then, I was thinking that it w it felt unprecedented, but it was sort of like at the perfect time, like, it, it, it got canceled, right.
When like iTunes was starting to. Appear with TV episodes. And there was like the internet and things had an afterlife. They wouldn’t have five or 10 years before that. so, yeah, I mean, people discovered it.
Jeff: Do you think if Firefly had come out now, let’s say with the actors at the same time of their life, but it was now with streaming services and everything else.
Do you think Firefly would have survived?
Tim Miner: Well, that is an impossible question to answer because I think part of the, Part of the deep love for the show has a little bit something to do with it, underdog status and being [00:38:00] sort of smothered in the crib. It’s like all that potential of what could have been, you kind of, you can’t argue with it cause it doesn’t exist.
So, I don’t know. I actually don’t know. I mean, it sort of was of its time, but, It’s impossible to say.
Jeff: Well, I don’t know. Well, I guess part of my thought process is obviously things such as how the show’s aired and also ratings when not where it was probably a different time period. For in other words, what was considered maybe rough ratings at that time, which would be really high ratings probably for show coming out now, especially, I mean, CW has shows only with 1 million viewers that keep getting renewed.
Tim Miner: I assume Firefly would be a hit. It would be, it would be a smash hit, right? If have those numbers, I don’t remember exactly what numbers it got. cause I’m not great with numbers, which is why I, got an answer
Tim Miner: but, I, I do remember at the time it was like, well, you know, Buffy said hit and fireflies actually getting more viewers, but being a hit on the WB or [00:39:00] the CW was not the same as being a hit on Fox.
So, yeah. Now those numbers, you know, people would probably, you know, sell the first born for the numbers we were getting then. And it was considered a,
Jeff: it reminds me of the original star Trek show that Amy lots of three seasons and the ratings. If any show nowadays had the ratings of star Trek from the sixties, it would have been amazing, a massive success.
One of the biggest shows probably on TV, but for the sixties. And when that came out, the numbers were relatively low for that time.
Tim Miner: Yeah, it’s true. I mean, it’s things are just so different now. And even I remember being asked when Johs released dr. Horrible. If I thought that that was kind of a viable thing for the future.
And it’s like at that time, who knows what the future is, but it did feel like that was kind of a watershed moment in a way like, Oh, there will be original material produced for the internet. And lo and behold, it’s like, you’ve got Netflix and you’ve got Amazon and you’ve got Hulu. And, you know, you’ve got YouTube [00:40:00] and there are just so many, you know, everything.
So, and which is good in a way. Right? Because then we weird little curated things that don’t require, you know, the numbers of American idol or something, or what American no, it used to be, or let’s, let’s say the mass singer, don’t require those kinds of numbers can exist. Things that you’ve never heard of.
Right. You know, things that I’ve never heard of.
Jeff: I mean, Is there also a thought that like, as you were kind of alluding to earlier that if the show had had a natural ending, it would have not held up as much because there’s one thing about a Firefly, is that because it never ended it kind of. The C the last episode kind of just ends that it lives on in imagination forever.
What could have been with these characters, what they could have been doing. And I mean, I know this is complex as well now, but, you know, and do you think if it did have a natural ending there’s some of the imagination would have been lost from it? The fans have?
Tim Miner: I don’t know. It’s hard to say. I mean, I I’ve done a few of these shows. [00:41:00]
where I tried to give them natural lendings cause I could see the writing on the wall. Like we can tell, we can kind of tell with wonderful is that, that one come back. and so we kind of at least put a period on the romance that was, you know, will they, or won’t they, and then with terriers in the same way, which nobody watched, like we got, you know, I don’t know how many viewers we’re getting, but it wasn’t a million.
but people who watched it loved it. And at the end of those 13 episodes, You know, they’re sort of at a crossroads, will they go left? Will they go right? But we, we got through a whole story and left it open to come back. But I think if people watch like those 13 episodes they’ll feel more of a sense of completion than they did not fire for it.
Jeff: Well, you also wrote one of my favorite episodes of all time on Firefly, out of gas, which I think was one of the most. Genius pieces of, episode writing for TV that I think I’ve ever seen. It was, it was so smart when you were writing those backstories for the character, because you kind of intertwined the origin story with what was going on in the present time for that story.
[00:42:00] Did you, have you already discussed with Josh what
Tim Miner: backstories were or were you creating
Jeff: it as you went in the writing?
Tim Miner: That is an interesting question. I remember I was supposed to write that episode and Josh had pitched me. Something about another pirate ship, like serenity comes up along serenity, and it was almost like that mirror mirror, star Trek episode, where you have this crew that kind of looks like our crew, but we see the difference, right?
Our people have a more, you know, I have a moral code and there’s honor among those thieves, but these guys are just bringing in their bed and I ju and he also said, you know, and, and we run out of gas. So for about three weeks, I just kind of walked around, scratching my head, going, I don’t know what this is.
Like, I’m not, no story is kind of coming into my head. So Josh and I, as we were wanting to do back then, like when we were trying to break an episode of angel, we would do the same thing. We just go out to dinner after, after work and just sit there and try to figure it out. Just the two of us, [00:43:00] or sometimes, you know, there’ll be somebody else.
But in this instance it was just me and Josh and Josh looks at me and we were both sort of like. Flailing and trying to figure out what this episode was. And John says, can we open with Mel being shot in the gut? And I’m like, yes, yes, let’s do that. I have no idea what it means, but let’s do that. because at least it was something right.
It wasn’t like me trying to figure out something. It was like, you’re opened up on this great moment. It’s like what happened? And that sort of dictated everything that came after it. You know, the, the idea that. The that we’d run out of gas and we’re just sitting there and we were going to die. Then it just kind of naturally became the story of Mao’s life flashing before his eyes.
But the question is what life, right. Do you, do you tell the story of mal as a little boy or, you know, how he got to this point? And the, I wanted to tell was the story of that ship in a weird way and how he put that crew together because we’d already. We’ve already seen how Simon and [00:44:00] river got on board and also book, right.
They were in the pilot and they were new arrivals on the, on the ship. So the idea would be how does, how does now assemble his other crew? And so that’s the story that we told. And then once I knew that that’s what it was going to be. We just talked about. I remember we just sketched it out very briefly.
On a yellow pad at that dinner, it’s like, okay, well we need to see how Kaley got on the ship and we need to see how Jane got on the ship and we need, you know, obviously we need to see how wash got on the ship. And that was, those were kind of the people that we had to service. And then once we figured out that that’s, we just thought what’s the most interesting way to see how they came into Mao’s orbit.
Jeff: yeah, and I think
Tim Miner: both, but what’s interesting is so I think the thing that. People are impressed by is that it’s not just one flashback, right? Like it starts at a moment of crisis in let’s what we’ll, we’ll call it the present day. And then it kind of rolls back [00:45:00] to a couple hours before that, where they’re all having dinner.
And it was important for me to show everybody together and happy as a family before all hell broke loose. And, so. If you look at it, like in that dinner scene, I think I say this in the commentary of the episode, pretty much everything that they’re saying to each other is there to help guide a viewer.
Who’s never seen the show before, understand who all those people are. Right. Somebody. Yeah, I call you my wife. I call you my husband. I call you the pilot. I call you the dog. Like we, we get who everybody is in that, in that exchange. And then when it came to writing it, I think it was a Friday, maybe a Thursday, but I think a Friday that we sat down to have this dinner and I wrote that thing in probably eight hours.
Like I just went home and spent a weekend and just wrote it
Jeff: now. Did you write it as vignettes because each little flashback it’s like its own little mini episode. Did you write the mini episodes first or were you able to write it literally in [00:46:00] chronological order? In the, in the episode from wherever it started the episode to the end point,
Tim Miner: the only, the only way I could write that thing is as you see it right there, there’s a, there’s kind of an internal dream logic too.
To the episode, like it flashes back to these moments in time and there’s this thread of mal, you know, trying to get, trying to drag his bloody body up to the ship’s engine, to put in the part and then get to the red button. That’s the plot, right. It’s just him dragging his body up the, up the thing, and then we’re flashing back and, and I just kind of just went off my instinct of like, okay, For this to be clear what needs to have been said?
Well, I need to explain what this thing is. That’s in his hand and I have to explain how he got shot. So what led up to that? And then I just, I had to kind of write it the way that you see it. If I had tried to break that down, if you, if you take it, what’s funny is I got a note from the, from the network, I think after we sent them the first cut of it.
Which was not all that different from what you [00:47:00] saw on TV. And, the note that I got back was isn’t it a little bit too fancy for its own. Good. Can’t you just put it in linear order. Can you put it in chronological order? And I said, if you put this thing in chronological order, he wouldn’t make any sense.
Right. Because it’s not like it’s not memento. It’s not like we. It’s not like we took one story and just kind of scrambled it up. It’s like, it’s like mal meeting, Kaylee under the engine having sex with the old. Engineer has to be juxtaposed with Kaylee as the engineer going, I don’t know how to fix this.
If you don’t have those two things together, the one thing does not make sense without the other thing. So when they got, when they gave me that note, I said to Josh, if they force me to recut this, I’m going to quit. And he said, I’d totally back you up. I
Jeff: can’t imagine the episode working any other way. I mean, the way it works.
And the other [00:48:00] thing is too, though, it seems almost insulting to the audience and that we couldn’t figure out that cut, you know, the way you had it.
Tim Miner: Yeah. There was nobody who saw that thing who was confused. There’s nothing confusing about it. You know what I mean? Like you may be saying to yourself, gee, I wonder what happened, but for an audience in, in 20 2005, or whenever that thing aired, they were sophisticated enough to understand.
What it is, they were watching. And to understand that any question that they had was about to be answered, it’s also not that confusing. There’s no, the only th the whole plot is, you know, we blew a gasket. We blew a gasket, and now everything is screwed. And we don’t have a gasket. What do you do when you’re in the middle of space and there’s no gas station, that’s all, that’s all it is.
Jeff: Do you, because when the show occurs in the series, you already do know these characters. If you’re an older fan as well, and you can already get a sense of, wow, this must have happened before this character just [00:49:00] entered the ship. This, this makes sense, you know?
Tim Miner: Yes. And also just production wise. We were careful to make sure that you could tell, right.
So. When you see that first scene of Zoe and Maui coming through the, through the, through the cargo Bay doors and seeing the ship for the first time or where he’s showing it to her, it’s, it’s got a particular look to it because all those flashbacks were shot on reversal film, which was a bit of a risk because reversal film is not the same as a regular 35 millimeter or even 60 millimeter film.
You know, reversal means there’s no negative, right? So you’re not going, you can’t go back to the negative and fix it. Because the negative is the film itself. So you get one shot at it, but we had a great DP David Boyd, and he wanted to shoot on reversal because it had a very specific look to it. It wasn’t that we just kind of made everything a little more glowy or a little more green.
Yeah. In post-production that’s the way he lit it. And that’s the way he shot it. So when you see those flashbacks and then it cuts to what the show normally looks like, [00:50:00] or it cuts to, The flashback from an hour ago that has more of a warm glow. And then the stuff in the very, very present day after Mao’s been shot has kind of a blue look to it.
Like it’s a very cold look. And then you have the sort of warm, glowy stuff from like five years ago, you put those three looks together and your eye is already giving you the information that you need to tell you where,
Jeff: and I also think is a great thing that you said when you said the idea of sort of that Mao’s life flashing before his eyes and his life starts when the crew first comes, starts coming together.
It’s kind of like saying that his life really does begin when this crew becomes an actual crew
Tim Miner: or it starts forming. Yeah, at least the life that we’re interested in. And I guess the other thing that, I don’t remember exactly whose idea was it may have been Josh. It may have been me. I don’t remember, but, I knew I wanted to start it with the voiceover of the used spaceship salesman, you know, making the pitch.
And you think he’s talking about serenity and then the very end of the episode is this moment where [00:51:00] you realize mal hasn’t been paying a bit of attention to him. Cause he’s looking across the. Used spaceship lot. And he sees serenity sort of sitting there sadly by it by itself. And it’s almost like seeing, you know, catching the eye of a beautiful woman across the room at a crowded party.
You know, it’s one was wanting to champion some enchanted evening or something. But as soon as we realized that, Oh, well, we put that together. And I don’t even know if we quite understood what we had, but when we watched it, we realized, Oh, this entire episode has been a love letter to the ship. It’s about, I mean, now walking around and patting it, you know, patting the ship sort of lovingly and talking about, we got to get to the, we got to get to the shuttles and I’m going to stay with the ship and I’m going down with the ship.
And the truth is it’s all about, you know, the captain’s relationship to his boat and what that boat represents for him. And what it represents for him is Liberty. Freedom autonomy agency and family. It’s like, it’s [00:52:00] all those things. And so if he loses that ship, he loses all of that. And that’s what it’s about.
And I think people understood it kind of on a visit.
Jeff: And also it’s very similar to, when you discuss your nine one, one programs, the idea of a found family that is to me, the very essence of a found family was Firefly.
Tim Miner: Yep.
Jeff: And it, it, like I said, there’s, the show is, was advocates is definitely my favorite episodes of any series of all time, because they say what’s so intelligent.
You also were a co-wrote another episode that I really liked called the message. I thought that was another absolutely brilliant episode. Well, that one did you call right? Was that with, Josh?
Tim Miner: Yeah, that was with Josh.
Jeff: The, the phrase, when it says, when you can’t run anymore, you crawl when you can’t do that.
well, you know, the rest of that part is that Joshua,
Tim Miner: that yours. That’s Josh.
Jeff: It was, it was very, what, what did, did you have a plan of where the show was going to go when you, like, when, after the show, after got canceled, were there other episodes that you had finished that you were thought to yourself, this, you know, that would have aired?
[00:53:00] Tim Miner: I mean, that’s the question I always get on all these shows and the truth is by the time you get to that stage in a first season, you are just desperately trying to generate material to stay ahead. I think we were behind. I mean, now I’m making it sound like I’m just chronically behind on everything and I’m sure the executives at the studio would nod their heads vigorously.
So yes, it’s always late, but, you know, You can be. I just generally don’t get to the point where I’m thinking in terms of exactly where I want to go with something. Cause I’m just trying to get the next thing done. Like I said, out of gas was written in a weekend because we were behind. The other reason out of gas was written.
Incidentally is cause we were over budget. And so I needed to write something that didn’t have any locations in it. I needed to write something that we could just shoot on the stage with the cast, a couple of guest casts, but that entire episode takes place on the ship. There’s I think a scene where Jane gets recruited, that’s still on the stage with just a backdrop of like a desert, right.
It’s not really outside
[00:54:00] Jeff: now that the, when the main nemesis on the show where those guys with the blue hands. obviously the show didn’t have an opportunity to explain who they were. Were they aliens, robots? What were they supposed to be?
Tim Miner: They were like operatives. There was some form of the Alliance, the, you know, the, the secret government, part of the Alliance.
So a little, a little bit like what, You saw in the movie.
Jeff: the other thing that I think Firefly became famous for is that is the idea that on the set, it was a tight family. obviously there’s a lot of, conversations with, I think Philly on and Juul state, I think is how you pronounce the name. I might be wrong and how tight the crew was, was the people behind the set as tight as well.
And were you guys as tight with the cast as the mythology is with
Tim Miner: them? Yes, I would say that’s true. I mean, I don’t, I don’t see everybody, although interestingly enough, when, when is this going to, when, when, when is this going to, commonly takes [00:55:00] three to four weeks. Okay. So I think by then this should be already confirmed, but, I, I just, I just hired Gina Torres to be on season nine.
so I’m pretty excited about that. I mean, you know, Tara, she’s a phenomenal actress. Yeah, she’s amazing. and then I, you know, I talked to Alan a lot and, it, yeah, I mean, we were tight. It was, it w it was a special moment for everybody, I think. And, you know, you often don’t realize things are special until they’re over, but I think in this instance, pretty much everyone
Jeff: did, I do find it interesting that it sounds like even the actors are as interested in this.
Show co coming back or at least returning for a little while as the fans are.
Tim Miner: Oh, the actors love it. I mean, you know, Nathan is constantly talking about how it was his best job.
Jeff: yeah. Everyone thinks that, just as, an old school fan boy of it, it really was a show that I thought was, was phenomenal. The only [00:56:00] issue I always ever have the show now is that when I watch it, I get frustrated that no one have more episodes.
I mean, obviously, but I will say though, in my imagination, obviously the show always has continued, which is kind of nice thing about the show on some level.
Tim Miner: Yeah. I mean then when I look back at it, I’m, I’m pretty proud of it. I mean, I do love it. And, I would say that, you know, if we were doing it today, it would, there’s obviously things that just, we do probably a little bit differently.
I mean, I think for instance, you know, the fact that we had them speaking this sort of bastardized bastardized version of Chinese, there could have been, you know, sort of more or even any, Kind of Asian on-screen characters. Like I, I just think that was a mistake, maybe not a mistake, but just not something that, you know, in 2005, we were all that, cognizant of, but I think, I think that would be
Jeff: right now.
Firefly does continue in the comp book by Greg Pak. [00:57:00] Is that something you’re aware of? Like, do you ever look at the issues or is that something that’s totally divided from what we consider maybe cannon from the. Creators like yourself and
Tim Miner: Josh? Well, I mean, I know John is involved in all that stuff, probably.
So it probably is cannon for sure. Probably the book backstory that I think Zach Wieden maybe wrote that, But I have not seen those comics
Jeff: that no, that’s, that’s understandable. I guess I will. I’ve tried right. Reading the comics a few times, but what I found was without the actors and their voices in the issue, it just didn’t feel the same, but it’s something about their interactions and their chemistry that just elevated it way more than I think you can get in a car, my book,
Tim Miner: and that’s probably true.
I mean, I remember as a kid always, you know, gobbling up any of that ancillary star Trek stuff, whether it was the animated series or whether it was comic books or whatever, and it, it, it was just never quite the same. And then of course, they made that first star Trek movie and it was like, wow, that was
Jeff: no, it really wasn’t.
Tim Miner: But then wrath of Khan [00:58:00] came along and changed everything. So there’s always,
Jeff: I mean, I don’t think quite often, you appreciate and appreciate what an actor can bring to a role and what the chemistry of between characters can bring. Until you see it without them. And you think, Oh crap, this is not the same.
It’s just not,
Tim Miner: I mean, that’s, that’s the alchemy that you can’t predict. That is the alchemy that you can’t predict. I mean, you were asking, you know, did I think nine 11 was going to be a hit, but it’s like, what part of that is the alchemy of, we just cast the show, right? Like people were interested in seeing these actors, you know, Kenny, Troy.
Ayesha, Heinz, you know, CA you know, people that you don’t normally see heading up a network TV show who got damn well should be, and people just like seeing Peter crowds, I interact with Oliver stark or whatever. And it’s the same on, on Firefly. You can’t, you can’t quantify that. I think about something like the X-Files it’s like, okay, so David, Duke Cavani, and Gillian Anderson, that, that that’s a given, right.
You just get that big sense, but at the [00:59:00] time, You didn’t necessarily know that that was going to work
Jeff: for me. It’s always, I look at the same way with, Stargate S you want to know you ever seen the show, the team when you have Richard Dean Anderson and Chris for judge and Humana tapping. Once again, the show doesn’t work.
If those characters don’t work well together, and right. When, when you were, when you were filming nine 11, nine one one lone star, when you’re, before you started filming, did you, could you see in the rehearsal, whatever that they did have that chemistry or did it just kind of unfold?
Tim Miner: I would say it unfolded a little bit, because again, we didn’t really rehearse nine one, one, we just started shooting.
Right. We just started shooting. So, so we didn’t really have that. I mean, we did, we did audition some people. I think we auditioned all over star who was getting ready to pack up and move back to England because he wasn’t getting any work. but you know, we sort of looked at the more traditional kind of like handsome leading men for a TV show, which by the way, is the hardest it’s defined.
It’s really hard. It’s really hard to find a guy who was [01:00:00] like, everyone’s looking for their Brad Pitt for their TV show. Well, there’s a reason Brad, Pitt’s a movie star, so it’s, it’s hard to find a TV star that is a male, particularly a lot of great women out there actually. but it’s hard to find like the young guy.
and in fact, we were going to, I think initially have the captain of the fire team be like sort of 35 years old. And he was going to be like the, you know, the guy. And then we, we kind of invented Buck’s character. So that we’d have a younger guy. And then we were like, screw this, let’s find, let’s find a guy who’s 50, let’s find, you know, a Papa to, to, to be the father of this team.
And then, you know, we sort of came up with Peter crowds and it’s like, he’s perfect. Right? He is. He is. It’s interesting. I would say Peter Kraus is, kind of the Gary Cooper of my show. He’s past the turn. He can be funny. He can hang back and let other people, you know, do their thing. but he’s, he’s a solid, like a rock.
so, and on, on Lonestar was a little bit different. Like we, [01:01:00] we did a lot of auditions and I had seen Sierra McLean on, mind Hunter and she just blew me away. I don’t know if you saw the second one. I have my notes. But she plays, you know, this young woman who works, you know, as a, behind the counter at this hotel.
And she interacts with our hero. And I just thought, who is this woman? She’s amazing. So I brought her in to read for the nine 11 operator for grace on lone star. And she, she had exactly what I thought, but then I also read Jim Parrack who had been on true blood and he’d done some movies and he’d done some cable stuff, but hadn’t really done anything on network TV.
And Jim Parrott comes in and just. Blows me away, but then I, you know, I had this trans character, so it’s like, well, are there any trans actors out there? Do they even exist? Well, sure enough. We had, I don’t know, 10 or 12 transactors come in and read for this part. And, there’s Brian Smith and I’m like, I would cast that guy for anything he’s so good.
But he also happened to be trans [01:02:00] and it was important that we had a real trans actor playing that character. So we found these people. and it was, I think, a little bit more of a roll of the dice with, with Lonestar because we cast a bunch of unknowns or at least unknown to us. and it turns out they have just as much unique chemistry amongst each other as my cast on nine 11.
Does. So thank you.
Jeff: Like it’s almost like fate sometimes when a show just kind of comes together and just the amount of different events that must occur for that show to come out just the way it did. And I think that’s really cool. And, another show that you’re executive producing, because I know we’re, I’ve had you for a bit, that you’re as anchor producing ratchet.
for, for Netflix, correct. Now once again, for any reader who does a listener who doesn’t know a ratchet is based on one, flew, one flew over the Cuckoo’s nest. what was Evan Romanski, his pitch to you to get you
Tim Miner: on board? Well, Evan, well, the pitchers from Ryan who said you will come and do this thing, [01:03:00] I’m like, yes, sir, I’ll be right there.
Let me just put down these other three shows I’m doing. but you know, Evan had written, I think, I think he’d written the pilot as a spec. Like he was just, I think I, if I’m not mistaken, he was like, Just looking for like an iconic character that he could put at the center of his pilot. And he came up with this idea of, well, I wonder what nurse ratchet’s backstory would be.
And so Ryan, who is a genius in many ways, like. The most talented producer I’ve ever met, I’m just a genius, but he’s also a genius when it comes to spotting ideas that he, that interests them. So whether it was, the people versus OJ or American horror story that he created with Brad Falchuk or glee.
Which was also brought to him and then he and Brad and Ian sort of, you know, reconfigured the idea, but he can see, he can see a diamond in the rough, like he had read, I think a screenplay that became feud. Right? We did, we did the story of. [01:04:00] The rivalry between Joan Crawford and Bette Davis, which was
Tim Miner: the dream year of my life writing and directing that show with, you know, Susan Surandon and Judy Davis and Jessica Lange.
And I mean, it was like, you just, you were in hog heaven with all the period stuff, but, you know, so he can see something that interests him and, So I think what you’ll see with ratchet, it really is a Ryan Murphy joined, like it’s out of his skull, how he took Evan’s concept and made it into, you know, Murphy world.
it’s very, it’s, it’s, it’s almost like, it reminds me a little bit of season two of American horror story, like it’s period, it’s Sarah Paulson, and it’s bold and surprising and scary and hilarious. I mean, it’s. It’s really, it’s really what you would want from Ronnie
Jeff: if I’m hearing you. Right. So the idea came before the
Tim Miner: character.
No, the character was the character was, the character obviously came before because it’s, it’s an, it’s an existing [01:05:00] material. Evan wrote Devin Romanski wrote this pilot for ratchet. I think what had happened was maybe he had, he’d sort of been thinking about, beta shell. And saying, wow, that’s pretty cool.
You take these iconic characters from this movie and you tell their origin story. I think that may have been his inspiration. And then he sort of picked ratchet from Cuckoo’s nest and then kind of did a similar thing and that sparked with Ryan and, And the rest is history. Like Ryan Murphy can get something like that made Ryan has a very specific, you know, approach to things.
And, and that’s what,
Jeff: cause it’s a prequel, but obviously you’re gonna have a lot of fans looking for Easter eggs that connect to once over a Cuckoo’s nest, or they’re gonna be a lot of connection between the, the ratchet pre-cal and the character that show up later in the classic movie.
Tim Miner: I mean, it’s not like we’re setting up that hospital or those Cuckoo’s nest characters.
It really is the [01:06:00] story of this woman in the forties and kind of, you know, her mysterious background. And, so I mean, what you’re seeing is that the creation of that character or who you would imagine she was before, and, you know, it’s a very dark and twisty. Wrote in
Jeff: one of the series descriptions I saw for ratchet is it described as being clandestine and something that, the nurses has come to that this particular, institution or hospital, but whatever it is on a particular mission.
So is it more like, suspense, mystery base? Is it more drama, drama base?
Tim Miner: It is absolutely. it’s. Drama horror like it’s it is, like I said, it’s, it’s, it’s probably got more in common with American horror story than it does with say feud.
Jeff: Hmm. And also at the hell, dang sets are a Paulson she’s in that’s what seems like another perfect casting that you’ve come up with.
Cause she is phenomenal. Knows everything she does. [01:07:00] She’s also the producer as well. Am I correct? Or am I wrong? She is, she is. So what, what can, so it’s how many episodes, and is this set up for multiple seasons or is it going to be a set like mini series?
Tim Miner: Oh, it can definitely go for more seasons. and I suspect if, you know, if a kid is on, it probably will.
Jeff: How many years does it? It’s supposed to be set prior to one flew over the Cuckoo’s nest?
Tim Miner: I think it takes place in the forties. So. You know, a couple of decades anyway. I mean, I think the idea would be that we could explore different decades leading up to,
Jeff: and it is the movie, not the book it’s connect.
It’s the prequel too.
Tim Miner: Yeah. I would say that’s right.
Jeff: And it comes out in September and it, it just, it sounds like a fantastic concert. Once again, flew the Cuckoo’s nest is a, is a phenomenal moment. It’s honestly one of the great classics of the last half a decade. Is there, is there any pressure in doing that, show that you [01:08:00] can?
Tim Miner: Yeah, of course. I mean, I think if you bow to that sort of pressure, you wouldn’t be Ryan Murphy. Like I think the thing about Ryan that is so great. Look, Ryan’s very cognizant about things like that. and understands, you know, sort of legacies that he’s, that he’s, borrowing. But he is he’s fearless in the way he wants to tell stories.
And, I think that’s what makes him such a success.
Jeff: You’re realizing it’s like a producer on that show. Is it basically to let Ryan do what he wants to do? Or are you there pitching ideas with them? Because once again, you’re also an accomplished writer yourself. So do you feel, you know, are you also saying, you know, here’s some stories or screen ideas I want you to work on.
Tim Miner: Well, what I, what I did ratchet more or less. I mean, I, I joked and said I was Ryan’s emotional support writer. Like mostly I was, I was in the writers room with Evan and Ryan and Ian, and the other writers when we were breaking stories and putting them on the board and, You know, problem solving. that’s mostly what I did.
I [01:09:00] consulted more than anything else, on ratchet and sort of help guide some of the story breaking. but not to the degree that I do on like, you know, nine 11 or. Even horror story where I’m much more
Jeff: hands on. Like I say, I definitely look forward to seeing it. And, once again, we, we spoke for a while, so I want to thank you so much, mr.
Mini air force. Speaking with me, you are. You’re fantastic. And like I said, you wrote one of my favorite episodes of TV in history. So I think thank you so much.
Tim Miner: Now you need that. You need to go watch terriers.
Jeff: I would love to have you back on the show. And also I would like to next time you come on talk some American harvest where I was trying to think of what some of these other shows I want to talk to you about.
And I’m, unfortunately it can hard story. It didn’t make the cut because of time constraints, but I would love to talk to you about that as well at some point. Sure. Thank you so much.
Tim Miner: Okay, good day. Okay. Bye. Bye.