Moonlighting With
Women Writers of Moonlighting: Part I
An Interview with Supervising Producer and Writer,
Karen Hall

Part I: Karen Hall | Part II: Kerry Ehrin | Part III: Debra Frank

Karen Hall: Page 1 | Page 2

Karen Hall and her husband Chris
Karen Hall and her husband Chris Walker on a trip
in 2000 to Venice, Italy
Karen Hall With Judging Amy's Kevin Rahm
Karen Hall with Judging Amy's Kevin Rahm
at the 2003 Emmy's
Photos provided by Karen Hall.

Tell us your involvement in planning, supervising, etc the famous trilogy in the third season.

Oh dear lord, what famous trilogy? And was I there that season? It's almost always true that the fans know the show better than the people who work on the show! I can tell you that Bruce's brother David was the one to beat at pinball, Ron Osborne read boxing magazines, Jeff Reno still had the Mach I he'd bought in high school, we used to call Chick Eglee the "bathroom wall" because of his sense of humor, when I was bored, I'd sit and wonder which of the guys I'd want to be stuck on an island with and Roger Director always won because we had two shows worth of cartharsis we could work out -- stuff like that, I'm good for all day. But who wrote what??? I'm not your go-to person, I'm afraid.

I asked Kerry Ehrin this question and she had a very good answer; I want to see what you say. We have encountered several feminist critics lambasting the show as being anti-feminist and as favoring David's opinion and desires over those of Maddie's. They claim Maddie is made to look wrong or harsh and that chauvinist David comes out on top most of the time. What is your reply to this?

Well, I was young and strident back then, and I remember banging that drum. But I also know that Glenn harped on making them equal. So if Maddie's desires looked wrong and harsh, I think that's a function of society, not of the show. For example, being responsible is uptight, and being carefree is cool. But if all the responsible people took the day off...

You have read Cybill Shepherd's book Cybill Disobedience and in one of the chapters she complains about specific incidences that happened on Moonlighting that she claims were done with the characters and plotlines to deliberately undermine her character. One of the episodes she complains about is your episode, Big Man on Mulberry Street. What is your reply to Cybill's complaint that even though the dance sequence is supposed to be Maddie's dream, it come across more as David's fantasy than Maddie's?

Dance in Big Man on Mulberry StreetDance in Big Man on Mulberry StreetDance in Big Man on Mulberry Street

I remember Cybill saying that, and my thinking at the time was that the dream wasn't Maddie's FANTASY, it was her FEAR. That's why she wakes up frightened and goes to New York. (And for the record, I haven't read the book. I have never read a memoir by an actress. Maybe someday when I'm retired and not raising children...) I would imagine that Cybill would have a problem with the name of your website, too!!

Did you find it easier or more enjoyable to write for David Addison or for Maddie Hayes? What were your favorite aspects of these two characters?

In general, I have always liked writing for men better than writing for women. I have never known why. The only thing I can come up with is that men are mysterious to me, so it's more interesting. But by the same token, I am never confident when I'm writing men -- I always have to run stuff by my guy friends. This past season on "Judging Amy", Adrian Pasdar knew he could always get me to change a line by telling me that I was making him sound like a girl. I can't argue with that -- I'm not a guy!

As far as Maddie and David go, I don't remember either of them being easier or more difficult to write. Sometimes it had to do with subject matter -- what were they talking about and whose side did I understand better? Sometimes I was just in the zone and I could hear them. Sometimes I couldn't hear anyone. I was young and always worried in those days, God only knows how I wrote anything!

David Addison - Bruce Willis  Maddie Hayes - Cybill Shepherd
From Big Man on Mulberry Street: David phoning Maddie from a bar in NYC and getting her answering machine,
and Maddie waiting impatiently at the hotel room in NYC while David attends the funeral of his brother-in-law.

It has been reported in the press that you left Moonlighting in the fourth season because you were dissatisfied with the decision to write Cybill's pregnancy into the show. When did you leave the series? What were your actual reasons?

That's funny, I didn't know I was important enough to have been mentioned in the press. And I'm glad to have a chance to answer this question. I left for two reasons, and the one you stated was the most concrete. I just felt there was no show with Maddie pregnant. But you have to understand, I was twenty-seven and an idiot. And that's the other part of why I left. I had been married for a couple of years, and my then-husband and I were in a very tense disagreement over whether or not to have kids. I had all sorts of feminist reasons for why I didn't want to, but the real reason is that I was scared to death. So I couldn't stand the thought that I'd have to come to work and write a pregnant character and go home and fight about whether or not to have kids, and either way, I'd have to be staring the thing that scared me to death in the face 100 percent of the time. So that's why I left.

For the record: I now have a 15 year-old, a three year-old, and two teenaged step-children. And I wish I could have more! Whoever said "Youth is wasted on the young" was a genius.

Beside Big Man, what are your favorite episodes of the series and why.

I just absolutely loved the Shakespeare episode. That was a thrill to work on. And we pretty much shot Ron and Jeff's first draft, as I recall. I also loved the black and white episode. And I loved "In God We Strongly Suspect." And "Father Knows Last".

Can you tell us a scene between Maddie and David that you wrote that is one of your favorites?

My favorite David/Maddie scene is an eleven page (as I recall) scene in Big Man on Mulberry Street. It's a huge argument in Maddie's office. As you probably remember, the show starts with a breakfast meeting that David shows up late for, and he doesn't have the photos the wealthy client has hired them to take. She fires them and walks away. So the fight is about why he didn't show up (he drank too much and passed out in a bar) and the only real direction that I remember Glenn giving me was, "Make it about some big issue, like 'responsibility'." I had just started on the show, and I remember him telling me that the biggest thing to remember in David and Maddie scenes was that the scene would fall flat if one of them was clearly winning the argument. That is something I have remembered for the rest of my career, and something I have harped on to my writers this season with all the Amy/David stuff on Judging Amy.

Big Man on Mulberry scene fight   Big Man on Mulberry scene fight
From Big Man on Mulberry Street: two scenes from the argument about responsibility.

You have said that one of your mentors is Glenn Caron. What do you feel were the most important things you learned from Glenn Caron.

Of all my mentors, Glenn is the one who taught me the things that are hardest to name. I mean, I can name some, but it's definitely a case of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. If I had to put words to it, I'd say he taught me how to be a brave writer, how to write with abandon. The word "life" always comes to my mind. I don't think I wrote "dead" scripts before Glenn, but he taught me how to put "life" into them in a way I hadn't understood before. Glenn is so full of life, it just reeks from the page. I think I have a lot of that as a person, but you have to be a brave writer to put it out there for people other than your friends and family. I just read Glenn's pilot for this season, and reading it was like going on a retreat. His writing just makes me glad to be alive. I would love to be a writer who makes someone feel like that. That would be a worthwhile way to spend a lifetime.

April, 2004

Dance Magazine  photo Mar 87 from Big Man
This photo from Big Man on Mulberry Street ran in the March 1987 issue of Dance
Magazine with a blurb on actress/dancer Sandahl Bergman, shown here with Bruce Willis.

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