WE tv

Marin Ireland, left, and Paul Schneider appear in a scene from the series “The Divide,” which airs 9 p.m. Wednesdays on WE tv.

Writers take their time creating ‘Breaking Bad’ spinoff

Published: Wednesday, Jul. 23, 2014 - 12:00 am

There’s no question, “Breaking Bad” is one of the biggest things to happen to TV in decades. The AMC series was so popular, you would think that the people behind the spinoff series, “Better Call Saul,” would be working to quickly get the new program on the air.

But that’s not what’s happening. Series creator Vince Gilligan is a little more laid back than that.

At the annual summer meeting of TV critics tour in Los Angeles last week, Gilligan took full responsibility for the series launch being delayed to an early 2015 start.

“I am slow as mud as a TV writer. I always have been. It was my big fear when I got the job on ‘The X Files.’ I had been writing movie scripts, and I didn’t know if I could write at a TV pace. I still feel I’m very slow for television. We had a pace, thanks to AMC and Sony, on ‘Breaking Bad’ that was deliciously stately for television, and it was nothing that they wanted,” Gilligan says. “I think I can speak for them, it’s nothing any studio or network would want, but we have a way of doing things that is slower than most TV shows.”

It took an average of three weeks to put together an episode of “Breaking Bad.” That was the reason the final 16 episodes of “Breaking Bad” were aired in two eight-part seasons.

It was such a long process, and that’s why Gilligan’s not surprised it’s taking a long time to make “Better Call Saul.”

“We want to think everything through, and we feel that that pays dividends because, with ‘Breaking Bad,’ people say, ‘That seemed to knit together pretty well.’ Thanks to AMC and Sony, we had time to think everything through. So here we are doing it again, and I think we could have made November, but the bigger point is could we have made our 13 coming in at the same time with Season 2,” Gilligan says.

“And AMC was very gracious to us and did not push us to say, ‘You’ve got to figure out a new way to do this job.’ Because, A, they’re good folks who were understanding of our process and, B, I think they also know we only know the one way to do it.”

If “Better Call Saul” is half as good as “Breaking Bad,” it will be worth the wait.

Ireland faces ‘Divide’

Actors prepare for roles in a variety of ways. For Marin Ireland, the prep work she did for “The Divide,” the first scripted drama on WE tv, was an internship.

“The Divide” explores morality through the modern justice system. As a worker with the Innocence Initiative, Christine Rosa (Ireland) looks into the case of a death row inmate she believes was wrongly convicted of a young family’s murder 11 years earlier. She finds new evidence in a search for the truth and confronts an equally passionate district attorney, Adam Page (Damon Gupton).

Ireland did an internship with a legal group similar to where her character works.

“I saw a lot of different things. The main thing is that it looked and felt different than any other legal atmosphere I’d ever seen on television or in a movie. It was a wide open plan and everybody was sort of bringing things back and forth to each other. And they’re dealing with a lot of emotions at that place. They’ve learned to use each other to cope with those things and to talk to each other,” Ireland says.

“There would be moments when a big cheer would go up across the room and then the whole room would kind of cheer and look over the tops of the cubicles to see what’s going on. It was definitely … very much of a sharing atmosphere.”

The research wasn’t about one specific case. She wanted to get a feel for basic things such as what a person like her would do all day at their desk.

“I couldn’t visualize it at home thinking about, well, when you’re dealing with a bunch of documents from 1986 that are sitting in boxes in Nebraska somewhere, what do you do at your desk all day?

“So for me, it was more about what does this feel like? How do you talk to them on the phone? What do the phone conversations with clients who are currently in prison sound like? What do you say to somebody like that? What do you do? How do you persevere? What do you do when it gets to be too much? I was busy trying to understand that.”

Really? Not really

It’s about time the definition of “reality” is changed.

The term has been so twisted in regards to the endless parade of cable and network programs that are called reality but are as close to being real as LeBron James is to Miami.

Nicole Richie – who will one day be in the reality programming hall of fame – has another show that falls in the genre with the VH1 offering “Candidly Nicole.”

Here’s where the reality thing gets blurry. Her new cable series is a look at her real life. But Richie doesn’t see it as a true reality show. She’s calling her new cable series a “real life comedy.’”

“I think nowadays it’s not as black and white. It’s not there are scripted shows, and there are reality shows, and then there are some that are just kind of in between. The way that I look at this show is really a place for me – when I started doing this on the Web, I was kind of interviewing different people and stepping into their lives and actually getting some real info, and so that’s how we approach the show,” Richie says.

“I love to learn, and I like to explore, and I like to have fun. So I’ve created a space where I can do all three.”

Read more articles by Rick Bentley

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