I caught up with Jaime Paglia in the only place possible in Los Angeles … from his car. The husband and father of two spoke with me about his other love, "Eureka." The Sci-Fi hit has become a centerpiece for the SCI FI channel. While Paglia navigated the unmoving streets of L.A. we spoke about the show, the strike and I even quizzed him a little to see if he is the all-knowing, all-powerful mind of everything "Eureka."
For those that aren’t fans of “Eureka” yet, what’s the show about and how do they get caught up?
It’s small town, big secret. To me it’s a blend of “Northern Exposure” with a little bit of “X-Files” or “Twin Peaks” tossed in. A small town sheriff is in charge of a town that looks normal, but it’s a secret government think tank founded back in 1950 by Albert Einstein and President Truman. [The sheriff’s] goal is to keep a lid on Pandora’s eccentric box. Seasons 1 & 2 are available on DVD and you can download them on iTunes as well. We’ve been popular on there, which has been a nice discovery.
Your titles … Executive Producer, Creator, Writer … is there one you like better than the others?
I think writer is the most important of the titles. And it’s been fortunate enough to co-create something that has grown into a living, breathing thing that a lot of people make happen every week. But my personal investment is always as a writer first, just to tell stories.
With your role, is there such a thing as a typical day?
Not really. Before production starts there’s a lot more time for breaking down stories, looking at the season as a whole and what we want to have happen with our characters. We try to approach every story from a character angle first. The science fiction aspect is kind of the toy box we get to play in. Like … do we want to break up Jo and Zane. And we kind of plan those out, then look at individual episodes. So if Jo is pushing Zane away, can someone reverse their own magnetic polarity? And now metal is being forced away from them. Once production starts and we’re in the thick of it … now I am writing and rewriting scenes the night before they film.
What was the writer’s strike like for you?
Clearly it was something everybody wanted to avoid. My staff and other producers were very involved, in leadership capacities as well. My executive producers formed a web site Whywewrite.com. I was organizing with Joss Whedon and Rob Kutner national strikes to broaden the awareness. It was necessary and ultimately the outcome made it worthwhile but it came at a great cost.
Hanging out with Joss Whedon, was there ever a time you talked shop?
During the strike? Not at all. Pencils down, means pencils down. There was this expectation from the studios that we were going to continue working. We said, “Yeah, we are really not going to write during the strike.” It came at a rough point for us with the show. When we came back we really had to play catch up.
Colin Ferguson just owns the role as Sheriff Jack Carter, but was anyone else considered?
There were a number of people considered because of the publicity angle of wanting to stunt cast it. The truth is, I saw Colin on day two of casting. My partner, Andy Cosby was in Vancouver scouting locations and I called him and said you got to see this guy. And we really went to the mat that Colin was the person to get the role. We owe a lot to our casting directors for all the actors involved.
So, fans are pretty much saying, “Eight episodes and then a break? What the hell?”
Yeah, this would be a result of the strike. The network was very adamant about wanting to air in our normal summer time slot. For us to get back in to production for July would be to air eight episodes because we knew we would run out of material and have to shut down.
Now, when they air it was going to be 13, but because of the economy GE has made cut backs on all their shows, so we were originally going to do 13, then they ordered 21 and then we ended up settling on 18. So the back ten episodes, we’re finishing now. We are shooting number 16 now and will wrap production on 18 in the third week of January. So at this point, they could air anytime in the Spring or Summer of 2009.
One of my friends wanted me to ask this one … where’s Kevin (the Autistic son of Allison Blake)?
It’s one of those things that you have all the best intentions, then the realities of production come into play. I always intended for Kevin to be more prominent in the show and sort of this oracle. But it’s very challenging to shoot child actors. Not just from a performance stand point, but from a production stand point. And we had nine main characters we were trying to service, so something had to give.
Let’s see how well you know your own creation, here’s some trivia questions about “Eureka.”
I’m sure there are things I don’t know.
What animal does Taggart heal at the beginning of primal? That would be … lo-jack.
Who nearly hits Taggart’s flock of geese on science fair day on “Duck, Duck, Goose”? That would be Carter, but Sara was driving. That was the one where Sara was finally able to get out of the house for a while.
What lab animals get loose in a lab experiment during “Sight Unseen”? Lab rats. You’re going with rats? Oh, OK, mice. How many? Um, I want to say … eight. 18, but you were close.
Quick Questions with Jaime Paglia
Breakfast this morning? I haven’t
Last album? Radiohead
Favorite recent movie? Bolt (he has two kids)
Favorite sports team? Lakers and Dodgers
Favorite piece of fruit? Blueberries
Favorite place in the world? Cambridge, Mass.
Weakness? So many … Insecurity
Favorite Drink? Gin and tonic
Favorite childhood toy? Big wheel
Last vacation? Ojai, Calif.
What’s in your pockets? Not a single thing, but normally lip balm, so now my lips feel chapped.
Who would you be for 24 hours? David E. Kelly (writer + Michelle Pfieffer)
Who plays for a private concert? Paul Simon
Favorite charity? P.S. Arts