Moonlighting With
The 2004 Interview with Glenn Caron
By Rebeca Gomez

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RG: When you are directing, do you allow your actors to do any improvising or are you very strict with sticking to the script?

Debra Winger
GC: Well, when I do a television show, and I can't be on the floor all the time, which is to say that I am not directing personally, myself, yeah I tend to be very, very strict about the script. When I am actually present and I am directing, improvising is a tool and sometimes it's a really good tool, it will get you to a place you wouldn't otherwise get. And with really good actors, you're foolish not to do it sometimes. At the end of the day, I am responsible to make sure the story is getting told. So as long as I am there and I am confident that the story is getting told, I'll do anything necessary to make the scene work, including improvise or fool around. When I was doing Wilder Napalm, Debra Winger said to me, and I thought it was a really smart thing, she said, "You know, on a movie set, the best idea wins". And I think that's true. You know, that ideas can come from an actor, it can come from anybody. Usually though what someone thinks of as improvising is someone tossing a line off randomly and for whatever reason they think it fits better in their mouth. And sometimes I can be pretty tough about that. I'll think to myself, "So you think that something that you can come up with in three seconds is going to be better than something that a writer labored five months over", but, as I say, people can always make a liar out of you. Sometimes someone will pull something brilliant out of nowhere and you're a fool if you don't embrace it.

RG: Do you enjoy the process of working with actors?

GC: I love working with actors. I love actors and I love working with actors, yeah.

RG: Is there any piece of your work that you are the most proud of, any of the television shows or the films?

GC: Obviously, I am extraordinarily proud of Moonlighting. Clean And Sober. I love all of my films, you know. I still… I love Wilder. Wilder was loudly panned when it came out. It played in one theater in New York and one theater in LA for a week. It got some of the worst reviews that I have ever gotten. I also, strangely, got some of the best reviews that I have ever gotten. There were actually people who were quite touched by the film. It's an odd thing. Now, if you go and look on the web, people are sort of discovering it on DVD and they seem to love it. You love all of your movies. You have different feelings about them. Picture Perfect is obviously not as personal a film as say Clean And Sober or Wilder Napalm. You know, Love Affair I don't think that it is any secret that that was a very tough film to shoot. Warren and I had a lot of differences of opinion and at the end of the day, because he was the producer and the star, he prevailed in the editing room. So, the final version of the film is not something that I am terribly comfortable with. Short of disowning a whole period of your life, it is very tough to not love all of your own work in a way you know, because it represents "Oh, this child was born during this period or this thing happened during this period". I mean, it's tied to all kinds of other things. Okay, I'm smart enough to know that Love Affair is not my best work (laughs), but I have special feelings for everything I do.

RG: I saw on IMDB something called The Making Of Me. Is that something that you did?

The Making of Me by Glenn CaronGC: It is a film that shows every fifteen minutes at the Epcot Center at Disney World. It stars Martin Short, and it is the closest thing to sex that they have at Disney World. It is all about how babies are born, or actually how babies are conceived. It came about when Michael Eisner called me and said that he was, back in 1990, getting very concerned with the alarming rate of teen pregnancy in the country and felt that…they were opening this new part of Epcot called The Wonders Of Life, and he felt very strongly that they should do something to at least stimulate conversations in families about the business of conception. And the film really comes out of that. It is really a conversation starter for children about, you know, how Mommy and Daddy make a baby.

RG: Did that come after Womb With A View?

GC: What a good question! I think it came after.

RG: So, he probably saw that and said, "Ah"?

GC: I have no idea.

RG: On the Moonlighting DVD, you talked about emotional vs. physical jeopardy, and I was wondering where that term came from. Was it an existing term, or was it something that you invented as a way of convincing the network that there was a form of jeopardy on the show, even if it wasn't the form that they were used to seeing?

David and Maddie Emotional Jeopardy
Moonlighting: Emotional Jeopardy

GC: I don't think that I had heard it before. What I did hear was that the networks would always give me this note: jeopardy, jeopardy, jeopardy. And, of course, their concept of jeopardy was that you take your lead character and you put them in a car and the car is about to go over a cliff. And I kept arguing that we've been watching television for forty years now, well I hadn't but television had been around for forty years, and we all know that this guy is showing up next week (laughs). There is no jeopardy there (laughs) that's absurd. The only real jeopardy is emotional jeopardy. So, it was really my response to getting that silly note about jeopardy over and over again from the network.

RG: What advice do you give to writers hoping to break into television writing and/or screenwriting?

GC: It's lonely and it's hard and you don't get any feedback and there is no validation, but at the end of the day, you're never going to get anything done if you just don't sit down and write. The best way to learn to write is to write. And also you have to figure out who you are and what you own to be a good writer. So many writers today are kind of going into it as sort of a career move or a career choice. They don't really have anything in their belly that they have to write about. And I think you can feel that in their writing. And they are doing their version of a movie or a television show that they saw previously. Writing is hard and you should only do it if you absolutely have no other choice.

RG: How many screenplays or projects did you write before you had one that you felt was good enough to show to somebody or pass on to someone?

GC: (pause) Well actually, now that you mention it, I thought the first thing that I wrote was good enough to show somebody (laughs). That's not to say that it was, by the way, but I certainly thought that it was. It took me a while to break through though… to break in. And I am trying to remember what that was. I had met someone who knew someone who had read some of my work and had asked me to write a screenplay for them for free, which I did and I was very young, and they were a nobody. But they ended up, a couple of years later, being an executive at NBC. This was the very late seventies. And he remembered me and gave me a shot and that is how things happened for me. But my advice would be write.

~~Interview by Rebeca Gomez, April 19, 2004~~

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