Moonlighting With
Women Writers of Moonlighting: Part II
An Interview with Writer, Story Editor and Co-Producer,
Kerry Ehrin

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

This particular interview came about by chance, almost an act of serendipity. Back several months ago, we received at the site a special email from Moonlighting writer Ali Matheson who had dropped us a few lines thanking us for including her on the site.

She wrote: "That's nice of you to put me on your web site...god only knows where you dug up my too-perky picture and I'm sure my old partner Kerry Ehrin WAY more deserves to be on your line-up than me, but thanks anyways--it's an honor! Best, Ali"

After several friendly emails back and forth, it was decided that Kerry would make a great addition to the site, so Ali checked with Kerry and then passed her email address on to us. Over a period of a few months correspondence, we were fortunate to be rewarded with this special interview. Thanks to Ali, and especially to Kerry. Kerry has always been one of our favorite ML writers, having been credited with writing several of our personal favorite episodes.

Cindy & Diane

Here is a list of Kerry's credited ML episodes:

Kerry Ehrin: Page 1 | Page 2

How and when did you originally become involved with Moonlighting?

I started by doing a freelance episode for the show during their first order. I think it was in 1986.

Did you and Ali Matheson come as a writing duo, or were you placed together?

No, we were not placed together. Ali and I were just out of college and writing as a team at that time. Moonlighting was our first professional job.

Can you explain the general writing process on Moonlighting?

As a freelance writer, I would come in with several possible stories for the show and pitch them orally, which was incredibly painful for me as I can be quite shy and not real comfortable with a roomful of people looking at me expecting me to be clever. I have to give Glenn and the writers all credit for looking past my trembling voice and general awkwardness to hear what I was actually bringing them. All the writers were incredibly nice and supportive. Especially Ron Osborn and Jeff Reno, who Glenn told me "championed" my being asked on staff. (Thank you, guys.) Roger Director, also, was always very supportive and helpful. And Glenn, of course, started my career. I owe them all a lot.

After pitching, a few days would go by and I'd get a phone call saying they liked a certain premise and could I push it this way or that way. About a week later I'd go back in and pitch the new take. This would go on, sometimes for quite awhile, until finally Glenn would sign off on the story and I'd get to start writing. I would be given about three weeks to do my draft.

Who came up with the story concept?

Some were my own and some came from the writing staff and Glenn.

Who chose the principal credited writer?

As I said before, usually the writers wrote their own ideas which they brought in. It was rare that an idea existed, and then a writer was chosen for it. At least from what I can remember. It was a long time ago. I could be totally wrong.

What does the credit "story by" mean?

It means you worked on the story but probably not on the teleplay. Sometimes, if a group of writers wrote an episode together (which would happen under the gun, to get something done fast) we would parcel out the credits as you can only have three writers on teleplay per the WGA. (I think. Again, I could be remembering this incorrectly.)

Once the basic episode was written, did you work as a total writing team to make revisions?

As a freelance writer I would sometimes get a chance to do a pass at the notes. However once I was on staff, I believe we would all sit down as a group and go over the script page by page to do notes and punch it up.

Were many revisions made on set?

I was such a junior writer, and such a chicken at the time that I never went anywhere near the set. The few times I was there, I remember Glenn totally making great stuff up on the set, adding lines and blocking, etc.

Did the actors suggest input, and were they able to make changes?

Again, I was such a junior writer I had no interaction whatsoever with the actors. I imagine they had input and could suggest changes. After all, it was Bruce Willis and Cybill Sheperd.

How much of a presence was Glenn Caron in each final script?

I can't speak for other writers, but he had a huge presence in mine. I learned a ton from him. I was such a novice and he was so amazingly talented. He always made everything I wrote better.

Was it easier for you to write for either Maddie or David?

I connected to both of them. And I loved both of them. I don't think I had a favorite.

Where did your story ideas come from — personal situations, current events, issues you felt needed addressing?

All of the above. You have to realize, when I was first pitching to MOONLIGHTING, I was a struggling writer who had never been hired professionally. When my agent would call and say I had an opportunity to go in and pitch, I would have a limited number of days to come up with ideas. It was crazy. I remember just walking through malls, looking at everything, thinking "Can I make a story out of that?" It was challenging and frightening and isloating and terribly exciting.

Moonlighting did a lot of location shooting. Did you know you were going to have that freedom when you were writing an episode?

I didn't know jack about production. I was an English Major. I had NO EXPERIENCE with production. Some of my first drafts, as I remember, were so unproducable, in the sense of being practical for a seven day shoot of a TV episode, that it's hilarious to look back on. I didn't really think about production then, I didn't know any better. I always just wrote from my heart and wrote what I wanted and what worked in the context of the storytelling.

"Next Stop Murder" is the first episode that you and Ali episode with a lot of characters and action. Do you have specific memories of that episode?

I remember the first time we went in to meet Glenn. I remember him coming in soaking wet (it was raining) and he was late and I just loved him as soon as I saw him. I also remember making him laugh. That made me happy.

I remember the day (after we'd worked on the story for quite awhile) that he told us we could go to script. I remember thinking "this is a turning point in my life". And it was. Symbolically, my decrepit AMC GREMLIN broke down in the downpour on the way home. I was so happy and excited I didn't even care. I knew things would change for me.

I remember being terrified to actually write the thing.

For some reason I remember writing the part where the train starts to leave the station and David's stuck on it. And I remember falling asleep from exhaustion (I did nothing but write and worry during those three weeks) while writing the last "drawing room" scene where David addresses the group about who did the murder.

"Money Talks, Maddie Walks" is a fan favorite. You got to showcase Cybill and Bruce in some great settings, and to really let the readers in on the characters and their motivations. What did you want the readers to know about David and Maddie when you started to write this episode?

I'd like to say I remember, but I don't. Sorry.

"Portrait of Maddie" really lets the readers in on Maddie's thoughts and makes her a much more sympathetic character. Was it a conscious decision to make her less of an ice queen from this episode forward?

If it was, it wasn't my decision and I wasn't privy to it. I was still just working as a freelance writer. I, however, always felt sympathetic to her. I got that she was trapped inside herself and that she was afraid of connecting, but nonetheless desperately wanted to.

"The Man Who Cried Wife" deals with the serious subject of physical violence. Was this a 'hot topic' while it was being written? Did you envision that Maddie slapping David would be such a powerful scene?

I'm embarrassed to admit this, but the "issue" aspect of it isn't what the primary interest was to me. I just loved the notion of this guy who accidentally killed his wife during a fight, buried her in the woods, then suddenly started getting "gaslit" by her. What a horrible, isolating, brain-f*** that would be. And I also loved the idea of the sister who loved this guy so much that she knew he could never live with himself thinking he had killed his wife, so she tried to convince him the woman was still alive. It's completely dark and bizarre and insane. And I loved it.

Maddie hitting David: I'm not sure I put that in the script. I think it might have been Glenn. I honestly can't remember.

More ----->>>>>

A Gallery from Kerry Ehrin's ML episodes:

The Next Murder You Hear, March 1985

Money Talks, Maddie Walks, October 1985

Portrait of Maddie, November 1985

The Man Who Cried Wife, September 1986

Blonde on Blonde, January 1987

To Heiress Human, May 1987

Father Knows Last, December 1987

And the Flesh Was Made Word, March 1988

Between a Yuk and a Hard Place, December 1988

Kerry Ehrin: Page 1 | Page 2

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