Stacking Up The Dead: ‘The Walking Dead’ Showrunner Glen Mazzara Previews Season 3 – ‘Pace Will Feel Like A Freight Train’

Are you still buzzing about the Season 2 finale of The Walking Dead? Good, because we are too. Well know that Season 3 is already in full bloom. Showrunner Glen Mazzara and his writing staff are outlining episodes 3.01 to 3.06 and they’ve pitched through episode 3.08, and once they’re approved the first eight episodes of season three will be written.

Mazzara took time out of prepping Season 3 to answer burning questions the press had about the Season 2 finale and what to look forward to in season 3. There are light spoilers ahead but nothing that would ruin the experience of next season. What follows is a compilation of two extensive conference calls with Mazzara about The Walking Dead that BuzzFocus participated in. There are TWO pages of Q&A. Many of your concerns are addressed in the following piece and if anything, should keep the flame burning brightly for Season 3.

The Governor
“We had a list of actors we talked about, discussed and pursued, as who would be right for this role. And David Morrissey was someone whose work I was not really familiar with. But he came in and read and I just thought was terrific. He really had a lot of the qualities that we were looking for in the Governor, okay. I don’t want to give away any story by saying what those qualities were but he had a take on the governor and he understood what the role was. Some actors realize they’re going to play a villain and they say, well, yes, but he’s not really so bad. David was saying, ‘This is the role of a lifetime and I’m excited to play this.’

EDITOR’S PICK: Meet The Walking Dead’s Governor

governor comic walking deadDavid and Andy Lincoln (Rick Grimes) were also friends. Andy called me and said this guy is one of the best actors in Britain right now. We’d be lucky to have him. So that was exciting, you know, to us that Andy felt so strongly in David’s talent and his craft, and then David came in and met everyone and, we all were unanimous that he was fantastic.”

Michonne
“Michonne is one of the lead characters in the graphic novel, so we’re excited to finally introduce her. She is a loner. She’s a kick ass character. She’s very dynamic and we really see her as a very, very important addition to the cast. She’s a significant character and she’ll be carrying a lot of story, so we’re excited about her. We’re also excited about Danai Gurira who is the young actress who is going to play this role, so we’re lucky to have her and look forward to seeing what she does with it.

We really feel like she’s going to bring this kind of character to life that she’s going to make this character her own. Someone of her caliber will establish the character in such a way that years from now, hopefully, people cannot imagine anyone else ever playing that character. I just really think she’s going to own it in an exciting way. So I’m really happy with our casting. I think we’re lucky and these are great actors and we’re going to fuck them up and give them a lot of hard stuff to play and they’re saying bring it on, so I’m looking forward to it.

EDITOR’S PICK: Meet The Walking Dead’s Michonne

Will Michonne’s Introduction Bring More of the Feel of the Graphic Novel?
“The reason that the character’s cloaked at the end was because we had not cast the actress, okay. So that was a cheat there. We were thinking about that character during the casting process, you know, and we were just wondering, you know, how theatrical is Michonne? That’s quite a theatrical entrance and that was something that we didn’t realize at the time.

the walking dead michonne entrance

She comes from the comic book. She feels like she stepped off those pages into the show. I think that’s exciting. That’s a challenge for us but, you know, knowing me as a writer, I think I’m going to keep it real, keep it grounded because if it doesn’t feel real I think the audience will not be able to put themselves in the immediate circumstances of the story.

I think our show is successful because people watching say, oh, I’d be dead now or I’d kill that guy or I’d shoot him in the leg and get away. I think that’s what’s fun about the show. We’re very consciously trying not to keep the show too serialized, you know, not have an overdeveloped mythology so that it’s accessible to people in the way that a good horror movie is. I find the best horror movies to be very simple and that’s something that’s important and so I think overall my entire intention of the show is to keep the show grounded, real and Michonne is going to be a great challenge.”

Dale and the Comic Beats (Warning: Spoilers about Dale follow for those who are planning on reading the comics)
“Yes, he had to go. He had to go because by getting rid of Dale, you lose the moral compass of the group and, again, we just wanted to just burn it all down by the end of the season.

As for his stories in the comics, anybody can be cannibalized on this show, so we’ve still got that in our pocket. And as far as the romance with Andrea, we just weren’t going into that territory. If we were going to go into that territory, we would have. But we just didn’t feel that that was a storyline that we were going to pursue, so we didn’t really see that as a loss.

Laurie Holden is a beautiful actress and a terrific actress and so that’s somebody that we would certainly consider having romantic interest with other characters down the road, as she did with Shane, just a small, little pop. But that was just not something that we were exploring and then abandoned. It just was never really on the table.”

Will T-Dog Get His Bone
“I’ve been surprised at this because I’ve worked on shows before that have had characters in the background and have been on a slow burn. If you look at the David Snell’s character, Ronnie in The Shield, that was a character that we brought along throughout that series and he had a very significant role at the end. I’ll admit, T-Dog has been off to the side and has been forgotten. And part of my goal as showrunner was to really address developing Rick’s character and some other stuff.

So poor T-Dog was left by the side. That’s something now that he has survived the finale we’re going to correct. I think (Irone Singleton) has done a fantastic job of establishing a character and making people interested in him with just very, very little to say. That’s a strength of the show.

I think moving forward hopefully we’ll make him a strength, and that’s a character we’re looking to develop in a significant way. So that’s a fair question and we haven’t done our work yet with T-Dog, but we’re going to roll up our sleeves and get to it.”

the walking dead t-dog stance

The Annoyance of Lori
“I think Lori is a compelling, interesting character. I think she is realistic in a lot of ways and she’s certainly a character that people are talking about. So I don’t find her irritating.

I think it’s interesting that people are so focused on her. In Season 3, we really have to look at the Rick–Lori relationship and what it means; she put Rick and Shane in motion to try to kill each other. So that’s an interesting place to start and we’ll certainly examine that character. But I don’t know if we really need to start creating false beats to make her more likeable. That’s not part of the plan.”

Lori’s Reaction to Rick’s Explanation of What Happened With Shane
‘I think that was a very, very difficult scene. And I give a lot of credit to Sarah Wayne-Callies because she has no dialogue in that scene and this is really some terrific acting where she is listening to him and you’re going through her internal process with her. We do have great actors. That’s one take. Go back and look at that. Rick is speaking and she is listening and that’s just one take.

I actually wrote that scene. To me she did not ask for Rick to kill Shane. She just said take care of it because Shane struck an emotional cord when he said, ‘You know it’s true.’ She’s confused and this is a character that sanitizes the truth. She chooses to believe what she wants to be. She’s a control freak. That’s why she’s running around the kitchen saying we need to do this and that. Everybody thinks she’s sexist. No, that’s what she can control. You can’t control the world (that’s gone to hell).

lori grimes the walking dead sarah wayne calliesSo here, she tried to control Rick. Things got out of hand and led to a murder. We play the deaths in our show as very, very real, okay. We really feel the effects of the deaths on our characters. That’s something we put a lot of effort into and so do the actors and the directors. So when she learns that Shane was not killed by the zombie herd that he was killed by Rick’s own hand and Rick wanted to kill him, she’s horrified by the entire circumstance, she’s horrified by her own role in that as a catalyst, her own culpability and she is, I believe, dealing with thoughts of guilt and self-hatred.

She projects those onto her husband because who could possibly accept the idea that ‘I made my husband kill my former lover?’ That’s a horrible thought. So she’s going to push that out of her mind and just as she’s trying to do that, bam, oh, and your son’s involved. So she’s got a lot going on in that scene and she is appropriately fucked up.

Keeping Track of Carl
That’s a funny question. Here’s my rationale for this, okay. I have three sons, okay, young sons. And, you know, a lot of times I’m trying to kick them out of the house. Go do something else. Stop playing video games or whatever, you know. Before Carl is walking through the woods and he finds the zombie in the mud, he comes out of the house he’s just kicking up dirt outside the barn. He’s actually picking up shell casings, the same casings used for the (barnmaggedon) slaughter. So he’s kicking around in the dirt. He’s bored. He’s a kid. He’s going to be precocious. He’s going to be mischievous. And he’s trying to establish himself in this world. He’s trying to find his way.

There have been scenes where he’s sitting under a tree, he’s whittling and the kid is obviously bored and trying to find out what else is going on in this camp. I don’t know if it’s plausible that he would always be within, you know, in her eye line or wouldn’t he, like most boys, try to give mom the slip and go out there and get in trouble?

That feels plausible to me. If it means that she’s a horrible parent, or Rick’s a horrible parent, well, it feels real to me. I hear that criticism but it kind of feels like it’s not really thinking it through to the way we are. It makes sense to us and if people don’t like it, well, then we’ll have Lori lock him in a cell when we get to the prison and won’t have any story for that character. I don’t know what else to do. We’re trying to tell interesting stories here.

If Lori doesn’t watch him, everyone’s saying she’s a horrible parent. If she has somebody else to watch him, she’s a horrible parent. And so then I don’t know. Is everyone going to really watch a thousand scenes of Lori staring at Carl?

Does Carl’s Descent Mean a More Featured Role in Season 3
“We do have a strong story for Carl in season 3 and showing how he’s grown up in this world. Him and the rest of the group. I think Chandler’s done a fantastic job that we’re excited to write this character.”

What To Do With Carol?
“Well, that’s been an interesting character because I think the trap with the Carol character is just to make her the grieving mom and she could fit into a very, very common character type, okay. I’ve seen that character on TV a lot.

That’s why we even wrote the scene in which she’s saying, you know, I lost my child. I’m not losing my mind. She’s a woman who’s trying to define herself in this world. She really has no skills to contribute as of yet. So let’s dig in. We have a terrific actress. Let’s go along on that character’s journey as she tries to establish herself.

There’s a lot of very, very compelling material in the comic book, some of which we’ll use, some of which we won’t. And I think that whatever we throw at Melissa, she’ll be more than capable to deliver it. So I’m exciting about writing that character.”

Address the Beginning of the Zombie Apocalypse
“That story has been told in many zombie stories and outbreak movies. Even in the Planet of the Apes. Maybe we got back and do a stand-alone movie or a webisode but it’s not something that interests me or in the writers room. I’m not particularly interested in using flashbacks and filling in bits of people’s histories. I’m not interested in that because I want to propel the story forward. There’s a lot of adrenaline involved in the story. That’s just my natural inclination as a storyteller. I don’t want to go back I want to keep people guessing, confused on the edge of their seats so they don’t know what’s next. They don’t know all the information, that’s exciting. That’s the kind of show I’m interested in telling. That’s the kind of show I want to watch. So to go back and tell people how the outbreak started, who gives a shit? The outbreak started and everybody is screwed and now we’re running from these zombies. I love that! That’s my personal take as a storyteller. I just want to push it forward and have people frightened.

I like our characters being in the dark. We’ve been pretty faithful to Robert’s comic book. The survivors on the ground don’t have that information. They’re just trying to live in this post apocalyptic world. One of the rules of The Walking Dead is that we don’t really know what’s going on and how they are going to survive. It’s more exciting when they don’t know what’s going on and whether they’ll be safe again.

‘How long will The Prison storyline run for?”
“Right now I do see that prison as a significant storyline for Seasons 3 and (maybe into) Season 4. I do think that’s a major story line. I know we were on the farm for longer than perhaps people wanted. There were reasons for that.

I think the farm played a little claustrophobic for people. We want to make sure the prison does not become claustrophobic too. The entire landscape has fallen to the zombie apocalypse and zombies are literally at the gate of the prison — if you see the graphic novel, that prison is really a very, very small, safe corner and there’s a lot of danger around. So it won’t feel like we are bottled up in the same way that we were on the farm in Season 2, let’s say.

So I do think that prison is a significant storyline. But we’re interested also in opening up the world. You know, the Governor has a story in Woodbury. There are other factors out there in the world, other groups. So I think that Rick’s group is really stumbling into a much larger world.”

For more on season three click the link below…

CLICK HERE FOR PAGE 2 OF STACKING UP THE DEAD: PREVIEWING SEASON 3 WITH GLEN MAZARRA

Turner Week – Hawthorne – Wednesday Giveaway

It’s Turner Week at BuzzFocus.com. Every day this week, TNT and BuzzFocus are teaming up to bring readers a new contest featuring some of their hottest shows to watch in Summer 2010.

Wednesday night’s on TNT are all about Hawthorne, which airs at 11 PM. Hawthorne centers on Jada Pinkett Smith (The Women, The Matrix trilogy) as Christina Hawthorne, a Chief Nursing Officer ready for battle on the front lines of a war against declining patient services and hospital budget cuts.

TNT and BuzzFocus are teaming up to give away (1) Hawthorne branded scrubs.

You can enter twice daily by:
1) Following us on Twitter @buzzfocus and RT this : I entered the BuzzFocus.com “Hawthorne” Giveaway
2) Leaving a comment in the form below or on our Facebook Wall at facebook.com/buzzfocus.

About Hawthorne
The doors of Richmond Trinity have closed… permanently. That’s the dramatic reality that opens the second season of TNT’s powerful medical drama, HAWTHORNE. Jada Pinkett Smith (The Women, The Matrix trilogy) returns as Christina Hawthorne, a Chief Nursing Officer ready for battle on the front lines of a war against declining patient services and hospital budget cuts.

hawthorne

HAWTHORNE is told from the point of view of nurses as they struggle against the odds to deliver the best care possible. The series also stars Michael Vartan (Alias) as Dr. Tom Wakefield, Richmond Trinity’s Chief of Surgery who helped Christina’s husband during the last stages of his cancer; Suleka Mathew (Men in Trees) as Bobbie Jackson, a fellow nurse and one of Christina’s best friends; David Julian Hirsh (Lovebites) as Ray Stein, a nurse struggling with being accepted in a female-dominated profession; Christina Moore (90210) as Candy Sullivan, a nurse with a patriotic sense of duty; Vanessa Lengies (American Dreams) as Kelly Epson, who continues to find her footing as a nurse; and Hannah Hodson (TNT’s The Ron Clark Story) as Christina’s daughter Camille.

As the second season of HAWTHORNE opens, several Richmond Trinity doctors and nurses have been transferred to James River, a failing hospital in terrible shape. There, Christina butts heads with the ER’s head nurse, Gail Strummer (Vanessa Bell Calloway – The District), who is extremely set in her ways. Christina is impressed, however, by the charming Dr. Steve Shaw (Adam Rayner – Mistresses), who hails from England, and the hard-working ER clerk Marcus Leeds (Collins Curtis Pennie – Half Nelson), who has his eye on Camille.

This season, Christina and Tom will try to forge a romantic relationship, especially now that he is no longer serving as Chief of Surgery and can devote more time to patient care and a private life. Bobbie will once again find herself helping out homeless mother Isabelle. Ray’s lust-hate relationship with Dr. Marshall will hit some snags over Ray’s continued feelings toward Candy, who is serving a tour of duty in Afghanistan. Kelly’s confidence as a nurse will slowly build, thanks in part to her work with a nurse (guest star Sarah Gilbert – Roseanne) who’s even more insecure. And Camille takes a step toward adulthood that her mother isn’t sure she’s prepared to take.

Created by Emmy winner John Masius (St. Elsewhere, Providence, Dead Like Me), HAWTHORNE comes to TNT from Sony Pictures Television in association with Pinkett Smith’s 100% Womon Productions, John Masius Productions and Jamie Tarses’ FanFare Productions. HAWTHORNE is executive-produced by Pinkett Smith; Masius; Glen Mazzara (The Shield, Crash, Life); and Jamie Tarses (My Boys).

Here are the Official Rules:
Entering is simple. By entering, you certify that you are 18 years of age and that you reside in the United States. The winner will be contacted via Facebook message or Twitter Direct Message and will have 7 days from the point of contact to claim their prize. All entries must be received before Wednesday, September 8 2010 11:59PM PST!

Please be sure to follow us @BuzzFocus on Twitter or friend us on Facebook.com/buzzfocus so that we have a secondary means of contacting you. Email delays or getting stuck in your junk mail folder can result in you losing your prize to the next runner up.

HawthoRNe Brings Home a Heart Warming Needle-in-a-Haystack Med Drama

The latest medical drama to hit TNT is just what you would expect it to be: another medical drama. TNT’s new drama series “HawthoRNe,” starring Jada Pinkett Smith, premiered June 16, joining the summer medical premieres of USA Network’s light-hearted “Royal Pains” and Showtime’s dark comedy “Nurse Jackie.”

Pinkett Smith stars as Christina Hawthorne, a complex nurse whose compassion for her patients sometimes leads her to react blindly. Hawthorne’s actions may be in the best interest of her patients, but they constantly put her at odds with the doctors and administrative staff of Richmond Trinity Hospital. Stressful days at the hospital are off-balanced by single motherhood. Exactly one year after her husband’s death, Hawthorne must do her best to raise her rebellious teenage daughter. Pinkett Smith is joined by Michael Vartan (Alias), who plays Dr. Tom Wakefield, the Trinity Hospital’s Chief of Surgery.

hawthorne_full

Whereas “Royal Pains” took the light-hearted offbeat approach to medicine and “Nurse Jackie” focuses on the darker side of hospital life, “HawthoRNe” seems to fall into the category of the cliché. From high-school drama dialogue to the dog-eat-dog nurse vs. the world story arc, there is nothing to distinguish “HawthoRNe” from the overflowing stack of medical programming on TV. At every turn doctors and nurses play the blame game, constantly pointing fingers and undermining each other’s positions. We’re given great actors like Jada Pinkett Smith and Michael Vartan, who are constantly forced to play below their talent, do to the lack of originality in the story.

Understandably, we’ve only seen the pilot episode, but trite dialogue where nurses flatly need state, “I’m a nurse,” makes you want wince in pain every time. It’s unfortunate that this series may fall to the wayside. The opening sequence is actually very engrossing. Pinkett Smith delivers a performance filled with action and humor as she rushes to save the life of a suicidal patient. But, after the opening sequence is over, so is the entertainment.

Hopefully, Pinkett Smith’s return to TV isn’t a short-lived one due to the story she’s forced to suffer through.

The pilot featured music by Alicia Keys.