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:: S H O W T I M E  L I V E  C H A T ::
with Ilene Chaiken April, 11, 2004

: ILENE CHAIKEN is Creator and Executive Producer of Showtime's The L Word. Previously, she has written the SHOWTIME Original Pictures Damaged Care and Dirty Pictures, which won a Golden Globe Award for Best Television Movie in 2000. Her feature film work includes Barb Wire, which was produced by Propaganda Films and starred Pamela Anderson. Prior to her writing career, Chaiken was an executive for Aaron Spelling Productions and Quincy Jones Productions. She lives in Los Angeles with her life partner, Miggi Hood, and their two daughters.

ilene_chaiken: Thank you all for supporting the show so phenomenally during the first season. I hope we made you all happy!

cry: Bette and Tina's relationship is one of the positive things about the show, why did the writers feel the need to break them up?

ilene_chaiken: I know that there's been a lot of concern and dismay over the possibility of Bette and Tina's breaking up. I don't consider them to have broken up. I think that during many long-term relationships, couples hit some challenging moments. Infidelity is a fact of life and a factor in many relationships, gay and straight. I wanted to see Bette and Tina navigate through these challenges. There is much to be learned from seeing how two people who truly love one another face a challenge like this.

corleyan1979: Ilene, how much, if at all, has fan opinion/power influenced/will influence your storylines for Season 2?

ilene_chaiken: Corleyan1979, I try to strike a balance when I read the message boards, which I do occasionally, and when I hear from fans and viewers. I'm interested and enlightened and probably subconsciously influenced. I care a lot about what the show's fans think. The writers and I ultimately will tell the stories that we believe are the right stories to tell, that are the truest stories, but it's significant to us what the people who have been watching the show think about the characters and their lives.

carebear_queer: will there be more sex next season?

ilene_chaiken: Do you want more sex?

sandyscritters: When you look at a spec script, what is the most important thing you look at?

ilene_chaiken: When I'm reading scripts in consideration of hiring writers, Sandyscritters, first of all I always ask to read an original spec. I always learn more from reading an original spec than from reading an episode of an existing television show. I want to know what a writer is thinking about and how she creates characters and what the stories are that she wants to tell. Once I've read a good original, then I'm sometimes interested in reading a spec episode. In order to tell me whether that writer has the skill to capture the voices of characters who have already been created.

adam: Do you feel that by showcasing promiscuity, adultery, and drug use, the show reinforces negative gay stereotypes? Or is it merely striving for drama and realism?

ilene_chaiken: I don't actually feel that we're showcasing promiscuity, adultery and drug use. I feel that we're representing a range of human experience and allowing our characters to be real, flawed, human, interesting. I don't think that anyone would believe or be interested in a group of perfectly well-behaved lesbians. I think the characters are often admirable, kind, empathetic, and just as often, flawed and imperfect.

jenlara: Ilene, how many takes did that fight scene between Jennifer Beals & Laurel Holloman take? It was amazing!

ilene_chaiken: Jenlara, that was an extraordinary difficult scene to shoot. The director, Tony Goldwyn, rather than doing a lot of takes, simply kept the camera rolling for an amazingly long time while those two actresses poured themselves into that scene.

fuzzy14: Ilene, I think it was really interesting to bring in the drag king culture since it hasn't received much attention from the media lately-- will Kelly Lynch return?

ilene_chaiken: I'm very hopeful that Kelly Lynch will return. I love that character. I loved what Kelly did with the character and so enjoyed working with her. Every member of the cast is hoping that her character will get to have an affair with Ivan next season.

chicarocka: Is Kelly a real drag king?

ilene_chaiken: Chicarocka, to the best of my knowledge, no.

reginadoll: where do the writers get their ideas for the show from? it appears to be based on actual events

ilene_chaiken: We get our ideas from so many places. We start with our own life experience. By now, our characters are very much alive for us, and they have begun to tell us their stories. Our process is that we sit in a room for weeks on end telling stories to one another, discussing what we think would happen next, trying out ideas, and delving into them in great psychological detail. Kind of like group therapy. And we know intuitively when we've finally got the story that we want to tell.

shiroi: Hi Ilene, i really love The L Word, and my favourite character is Lara! Is there any chance that you might consider putting Lauren Lee Smith as MAIN cast for Season2 The L Word??

ilene_chaiken: Shiroi, thank you for loving the show and for loving Lara! I also love that character. We don't at this moment have definitive plans to bring her back. But I think about it often, and I would love to find a reason to bring Lara back into the ensemble. It's certainly a possibility.

chewycat: is there going to be a soundtrack released

ilene_chaiken: There is! Tommy Boy Records is releasing the soundtrack. It's coming out in early May, I believe. Quite soon.

ilene_chaiken: There's talk that the cast of the L Word will do some in-store events around the release of the first L Word soundtrack record.

mefantm: Hey I love the show but I only have one thing that I want to know and that is why are there no Gay men on the show? Thank you have a good day and keep up the great work!!

ilene_chaiken: Thank you, and you have a good day, too. There have been a few gay men on the show. Harrison, Dana's tennis partner and personal trainer is gay. There will definitely be more gay male characters in the future As is true of so many people not yet represented on the L Word, the more opportunities we have to go on telling stories, the broader will be our representation.

belledenuit: When writing, how difficult is it to keep the characters' personalities consistent?

ilene_chaiken: Belledenuit, at first it was occasionally a struggle as the characters weren't fully defined. Even I was just getting to know them. By midway through the first season, each of these characters spoke to us in such a clear voice that we always knew whether we were getting it right in scripting for them. It's no longer a struggle at all. Certainly when new writers write for the show, all the scripts come to me so that I can be certain that the characters' voices are consistent and appropriate.

bragadoccio: Do you listen to music while writing for the show? If so, what gets your creative juices flowing?

ilene_chaiken: I've always been a writer who requires absolute silence. However, I was just away on vacation with my family and I had to write while we were on holiday, and I found that the only way I could do it was to put on my headphones and play music while all the children were playing and screaming and making a lot of noise. I listened to the L Word soundtrack while I was writing!

nonya_gurl_2007: Hey. I know you hear it alot but...I love the show. I was just wondering if there's a chance that Shane and Dana will ever be together?

ilene_chaiken: Nonya_gurl_2007, I can never hear too much that people are loving the show, so thank you. I've no plans for Shane and Dana to get together right now, but in the world of lesbian friendship relationship connections, it's always a possibility.

okiedokie: Ms. Chaiken, first let me say thank you for your dedication and hard work that brought The L Word to the TV.. and my living room. The entire cast is wonderful, but Ms. Beals and Ms. Grier, are wonderful actresses and the story of their characters is a great example of inclusiveness. As an aunt to a three beautiful biracial children, Bette and Kit's relationship touches me deeply. Do the actors have any input in the development of their characters or their back story?

ilene_chaiken: The answer is yes, the actors have a great deal of input in their characters' development and their characters' back stories. They're an incredibly smart, insightful group of actors, and it's my belief that they know their characters just as well as we the writers do, and they certainly know facets of their characters better than we do. There are themes that I've dealt with in the Bette and Kit story that I never would have touched without input from Jennifer Beals and Pam Grier. They contributed a great deal to those stories.

lover_girl: Is Tina leaving the show?

ilene_chaiken: Lover_girl, definitely no. Tina has a huge story to play in Season Two of the show.

kendra_fisher: Are any of the writers, creators, producers, etc... connected to QAF??

ilene_chaiken: No. There is no connection between the two shows.

t-boz: Ms. Chaiken, I just wanted to know, if you had these specific actresses in mind, for the parts? Did you immediately think of Jennifer Beals, for Bette's character, or did she have to win the part, from other actresses. Whatever, I'm so glad you folks selected Ms. Beals. She's pretty awesome.

ilene_chaiken: T-boz, the script was written before any actors were cast. When writing, I never had an actor in mind, but in the case of Bette, Jennifer Beals was the first and only person to whom we offered that part, and we're just terribly lucky that she said yes.

monie63: Will Bette step out of her conservative box

ilene_chaiken: Not by choice. But I think that Bette has created a situation in her life that's going to require her to go places that she hasn't anticipated. She certainly might find herself stepping outside of herself in the second season of the show.

loveword: Hi Ilene! I love the L Word. It's such a powerful, moving show! What can I expect from my fav couple, Bette & Tina next season? I know you probably can't give it away but I just want to be hopeful.

ilene_chaiken: Loveword, I really believe in Bette and Tina as a couple. But I think that they're going to have to navigate through some very difficult terrain in order to find their way back to one another. I hope that they eventually will. I think they're meant for each other.


ilene_chaiken: I think that's a really interesting idea. I would certainly be open to it. I'm not sure offhand what the logistics would be. But I'll mention it to my colleagues at Showtime, and we'll see whether it's a possibility.

cattycakes: Why won't you bring Marina back next season as a main character???

ilene_chaiken: Cattycakes, Karina Lombard has been invited back for the second season. I'm hoping that we'll see her again.

bluesky: Any hints to future celebrity guest stars for Season 2 of The L Word?

ilene_chaiken: It's a little too early to answer that question. We're just writing scripts and we don't know yet what's called for. But we're hopeful that we'll be seeing some really fabulous and interesting guest actors and actresses on the second season.

greyhound: do you think the character of jenny makes bisexuals look bad (cant make up minds, promiscuous, other stereotypes)?

ilene_chaiken: Greyhound, I view Jenny's character as an individual and not as a spokesperson or representative of all bisexuals. I think of Jenny more as someone who's grappling with new information about herself. Her struggles have more to do with the fact that she hadn't contemplated that she might be anything other than heterosexual. I think it remains to be seen whether she's gay, bisexual, heterosexual, or something else entirely.

cawper: will season 2 be longer?

ilene_chaiken: No. Season Two will be thirteen episodes. Thirteen just under one hour episodes.

jdjewell10: is there going to be a baby in the next season?

ilene_chaiken: As of right now, we're not sure whether we're going to get that far, as babies take quite some time to make. It's still possible that Bette and Tina will have a child. It's also possible that one of our other characters will, and it could happen by the end of the second season. I'm just not sure yet.

xeshan: Ilene, does jenny reflect on you in anyway?

ilene_chaiken: Xeshan, Jenny's story resonates in some ways. If anything, her story and the emotional issues with which she's dealing, reflect on long-ago experiences for me.

jstnthrgal: Did anyone turn down a request to be on the show because of the subject matter?

ilene_chaiken: To the best of my knowledge, no. However, when we were casting, I imagine that there were some actresses that were uncomfortable with the subject matter and declined to audition or to consider roles in the show because of it. I wasn't made specifically aware when that happened, but I have no doubt that it did happen from time to time.

realcandice: ILENE... quick question please... is jen's story truly your coming out story? and if so... is it in total detail? or did you color it a bit?

ilene_chaiken: Realcandice, Jenny's story isn't my coming-out story, although there are some details of it that vaguely resemble some things that happened to me. Every story in the show is a work of fiction, but fiction is always formed by real life and real experience. Sometimes more explicitly than others.

ortontaylor: Do you feel that any of the characters need more time to showcase their personalities next season?

ilene_chaiken: In an ensemble this large, I feel that all of the characters are always fighting for the time to say everything that needs to be said. It's one of the challenges of doing an ensemble drama. I feel that each one of these characters' stories could take up an entire season of television. But I hope that in the spirit of "less is more" what we don't say is just as intriguing as what we do say.

foxylady219: Ilene you are an incredible writer and even now answering the questions you keep us wanting more. Did you ever feel this show would have such an impact?

ilene_chaiken: Foxylady219, I've been bowled-over and blown-away by the response to the show. I never expected it would be as far-reaching as it seems to have been. It's very gratifying. While we were making the show, we felt excited. We felt as if we were telling stories that really would touch people, and I just hoped that a few people would come and hear what we had to say. It seems that more than a few people have. I hope that we continue to live up to the expectations that we now have set.

scout: I wanted to know if there is any way to get on the show as an extra?

ilene_chaiken: I don't actually know the answer to that question. We shoot in Vancouver, and I believe that there's a Canadian extras union. I don't know the rules of that union.

gotjingle: Ilene...Love the show...I applaud your daring in making the characters real--warts and all. There must be tremendous pressure to have them represent the "community" in a uniformly positive way. I think their portrayal as whole, beautiful, graceful yet flawed is fantastic. Do you feel as though you can be even more free in the second season since the audience may be able to trust your vision more?

ilene_chaiken: Gotjingle, I never felt beholden to any responsibility other than to tell good, frank, honest stories. My hope in the second season is simply that we'll be better because we know better how to write for these characters and how to put these stories together.

speechless: Ilene, is it difficult to write so many different but relative stories for one show? and which storyline is your favorite to write?

ilene_chaiken: It is challenging to keep so many stories afloat. It's one of my favorite formats to write in. I love writing for an ensemble. As to whether any one of the stories is my favorite, that would be like favoring one child over another, and as a mother, I can't even let myself contemplate that! I love them all equally. I'm devoted to each of these characters and each of these stories.

xflisa: Ilene - how many writers are on your staff? Are they all women?

ilene_chaiken: In season one, we had seven writers, two of whom were men. In this second season, we have six writers, and one just happens to be a guy.

acryliceye21: What evolved during this last episode with Dana and Allison is a complete surprise to me. What plans do you have for the two of them next season?

ilene_chaiken: In season two, Dana and Alice are going to spend a lot of time trying to figure out what that was all about and what impact that will have on their friendship, and whether it will remain just a friendship. Dana and Alice are two people who are likely to continue their approach/avoidance relationship for years to come.

unique: Why isn't the show shown in Canada and are there any hopes for it?

ilene_chaiken: Unique, the show is going to be shown in Canada. It was one of the first territories sold. I don't know the name of the cable network in Canada, but it definitely will be on in Canada.

milesbian: When does the next season start?

ilene_chaiken: The next season starts filming in June. As of right now, it will begin to air in January 2005, although that could change. But January 2005 is when to look for the next season of The L Word.

sho_moderator: Ilene, do you have any closing comments?

ilene_chaiken: I just want to thank you all for being such a fantastic audience. For giving us such passionate and challenging feedback. I hope you'll continue to be involved with The L Word, to be a part of all of our characters' lives, and to keep them as a part of your lives. We loved this ride, and we hope that you loved being on it with us.


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