09.26.10 10:39 PM ET
Please Don't Kill My TV Show!
Who are you? Why are you here?
I’m Kyle Killen. I created a show on Fox called Lone Star.
Can you summarize it quickly, as if we were in an elevator together and I would only listen until the doors opened at the penthouse where I live and keep my pet tiger?
It’s about a con man named Bob whose life’s been complicated by the fact that he’s fallen in love with two of his marks in two different cities. After a lifetime being raised by and working alongside his grifter father, Bob decides he wants out. But, navigating by his own warped moral compass, the right way to deal with the fact that he’s in love with two women is not to leave either, but to commit himself fully to both.
So, one man, two wives, and a father who’s not about to let him go straight just as they’re getting close to their big score. Simple right?
I don’t know. I wasn’t listening. How’s that all working out for you?
Well, it turns out finding an audience in television is a lot like trying to get Jennifer Aniston to fall in love with you. At first it seems totally IMPOSSIBLE. But then you think, “I don’t know, she seems sort of down to Earth, approachable.” Suddenly you find yourself thinking, “I bet if she really knew me, I mean, the real me… if I could just get her to spend ONE HOUR with me where she’d see how clever, and deep, and full of emotionally revealing plot twists I am, she’d totally be down for a date every week and possibly some reruns in the summer.”
But, one week after asking America to fall in love with Lone Star, America is still seeing John Mayer. I have, however, received a number of letters from Serbs who seem to have taken to us.
It kind of sounds like a cable show. You’re not trying to sneak a cable show onto Network, are you? I could have my pet tiger eat you for that.
Define “cable show.”
Dark, antihero, maybe a little moral ambiguity. F Words. Breasts.
Well, okay, yes, we have some of those things. But if we do our job right, it’s just a good story. Why does it matter what channel it’s on?
Don’t ask questions when I’m interviewing you. It’s annoying. What are you doing with a TV show anyway? Aren’t you just some moron from Austin?
Yes. But since Fox bought the show a year ago I’ve surrounded myself with much smarter and more ambitious people so I can spend most of my time under the desk in my office. Chris Keyser and Amy Lippman, who created Party Of Five, and Marc Webb who directed 500 Days Of Summer, all came on to help with the pilot. When we became a series we assembled a writing staff that all went to schools that wouldn’t even have sent me an application. Since then I’ve spent weekdays in Los Angeles holding on for dear life and weekends in Austin where my three children pee, poop, and vomit on me.
Sounds very glamorous. Sort of a double life, like this Bob character you were droning on about earlier.
Yes. If Bob traveled between a minivan and an air mattress on a friend’s floor we’d be exactly the same.
Y our show was critically-lauded, some calling it the best new pilot of the season, but debuted to infomercial-like ratings. Explain, but do it as if I had a gun to your dog’s head and only a satisfactory answer would keep me from shooting him.
I think the show’s got a slightly different pace and feel than other things that are out there. Given that critics have to watch everything, things that are different stick out to them. Viewers just want to be entertained for an hour and are likely to stick with their favorites until you prove you can deliver.
Very well. I will not shoot the dog. Is it true that the numbers were so bad they’re making you mop floors at Fox?
Apparently I failed to read all the clauses in my contract.
And now you’ve written a letter to the Internet begging people to tune in. Have you no self-respect?
I wasn’t begging. I wrote a letter arguing that despite the soft start and the tide of television history against us, we might pull off a stunning upset and grow our audience in our second week. Sort of a Miracle On Ice thing where we’re America and Dancing With the Stars is the Soviet Union. I also offered to mow lawns.
That sounds exactly like begging to me.
If I have to plead to get people to give them a shot for a single hour, then I’m more than happy to do it.
Maybe it is. And you know what? I’m fine with that. I’ve never been surrounded by a better group of individuals, top to bottom, and if I have to plead to get people to give them a shot for a single hour, then I’m more than happy to do it.
We should all hope, at least once, to be associated with something we’d be willing to mow a lawn for.
Uh-huh. And how’s the Internet been treating you?
It’s the one place you can feel like you’re being hugged and kicked in the groin at the same time.
Are you crying?
Yes, but about something else. Africa.
Well, my tiger and I wish you luck with your stunning upset tonight. Does that make you feel better?
Strangely, yes. I think it’s all going to be fine now.
Kyle Killen is an award-winning fiction and screenwriter. He created the new Fox series Lone Star, and penned the upcoming Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster film The Beaver. He lives in Austin. You can follow him on Twitter at killen8.