Wednesday, April 20, 2011
CRIMINAL MINDS EXCLUSIVE CHAT WITH SHOWRUNNER ERICA MESSER
Criminal Minds: Copyrighted transcript held on Wednesday, April 20, 2011 with Criminal Minds showrunner Erica Messer and the Criminal Minds Fanatic website.
EricaM has joined.
jill: Welcome Erica. We appreciate your being with us this evening. It has been a long time since you’ve been in the Criminal Minds Fan chat room and there is a lot to talk about but before we get started I wanted to give you just a few reminders. If anyone instant messages you please do not answer them and let us know so they can be removed from the chat room as this is one of our rules and also please type ‘done’ when you are finished answering a question. When you are ready let me know and we will begin the chat.
EricaM: Hi Jill and fans! Thanks for having me. Let's get started! done
jill: First let me remind those that aren’t familiar with Erica’s work on Criminal Minds and her previous projects that there are articles here that can bring you up to speed:
http://criminalmindswriters.blogspot.com/ While it hasn’t been kept up to date it is a great starting point. And now I get to extend my congratulations once more to her for being promoted to showrunner of Criminal Minds.
EricaM: Thanks, Jill. I'm honored to have been with our show from the very beginning and really look forward to having a fresh start with season seven!
jill: Question: Can you tell everyone what this journey to showrunner has been like for you and your progression through the Criminal Minds ranks.
EricaM: Sure. I've had such an amazing experience on this show and love it like it's one of my own children. My own kids have grown up with this being the only show I've worked on -- which is amazing in this industry.
EricaM: I've also had the privilege of working with some of the most talented writers and storytellers on this series -- past and present -- and of course, the most amazing CAST on television!
jill: It would be hard to side step the BIG PINK ELEPHANTS in the room so lets start talking about season six.
Question: Obviously from reading the blog and other sites you are aware that the fans have been less than thrilled this season with the cast changes, some of the writing, etc. Can we have your thoughts about season six.
EricaM: The elephants in the room cannot be ignored. It was a ROUGH season for all of us. Creatively we tried to use the lemons we were given and make them into lemonade -- ie: "JJ" and the Prentiss/Ian Doyle arc
EricaM: As storytellers, we look for the drama. This year, we inherited a lot of that.
EricaM: It's always a challenge to introduce new writers into our world. It's a deceptively difficult show to write because we like to layer in our hero-beats for all of you who have watched our show from the very beginning and deserve to know more about those characters that we all love.
EricaM: Change is hard. Families don't like that... and our team is our family. Everyone was feeling that pain and we tried our best to express that to all of you through our stories.
EricaM: The good news -- actually the GREATEST news -- is that AJ COOK is back and we have that to launch us into an exciting season seven.
EricaM: I want all of our writers to chat with you all again -- it's such an important part of our process to know what you all are thinking and liking or not liking.
EricaM: So look for a bunch of chats this summer and fall! done
jill: Question from fan: JJ was a brilliantly written episode which expressed so many of the feelings that the fans were feeling. You did a great job. How hard was that episode to write given that at time we didn’t know that AJ would be returning?
EricaM: Thank you so much. I was gutted. She's such an amazing woman, actress and huge part of our family on-screen and off. I wrote from the heart and you can't go wrong when you do that. done
jill: Question: Ed Bernero and the actors have partnered for years with us on charity auctions. Will you be continuing that partnership with the fans?
EricaM: Of course! You can count on that. done
jill: Question: Seaver......While she is most likely a lovely actress her character is loathed and panned by every CM website around the globe. Can you share anything about her future with us?
EricaM: Rachel Nichols and Ashley Seaver were welcomed by our team on and off-screen this season. For the fans, this goes to the idea that change is hard and none of us like it. Our team has welcomed her... accepting that she has a unique perspective. It brings a dynamic that didn't exist. And for now, we're exploring all of the options for all of our characters... Sorry I can't be more specific than that. done
jill: Question: We realize you can’t speak for CBS but the entire fandom is in an uproar over Thomas and Shemar not having contracts yet. Thomas chatted with us a few days ago. How in the world could you deal with the loss of two major characters? Fans are irrate at the prospect as I am sure you already know.
EricaM: I have to move forward believing that our two guys are back. Negotiations have given me more gray hairs than ever!!!!
jill: You are too young for gray hairs kiddo
EricaM: I know the process is long, but honestly, the sooner Thomas and Shemar's deals are done, the better I'll sleep. I wish I was too young, Jill You wouldn't recognize me! Breen Frazier thought I got high-lights. I told him it's all gray!
jill: Question: Every showrunner has their own vision for their show. Where do you want to take Criminal Minds and us next season?
EricaM: I think it's about time we're able to really have some character arcs -- all the stuff we as fans and writers LOVE.
EricaM: We don't have our theme yet for next season, but will start up with a new writers room at the end of May
EricaM: I'd love to come back when we start back up to tell you what we're thinking...
jill: The next question is somewhat of a repeat but was sent to me by a press outlet. If you care to answer it then fine and if not that works for me too.
jill: Question: The CM fans have a close connection to the show and the characters. Once the initial cast changes (Mandy and Lola) occurred the fans became even more protective and enamored of the core group. These actors have interacted with their fans through tweets, web chats and personal contact. As the show has risen in ratings the cast has become even more accessible to the fans
These fans are more like Sci Fi fans than fans of procedurals- they watch each episode and have very definite opinions. When they were told of both Pagets and AJs exits this year it was as if a family member had died.
They are deeply concerned that the central character in the show - Aaron Hotchner played by Thomas Gibson - will not return to the series next season as he has no contract past this season. They do not trust that the network fully understands the importance of the actors - that they are not replaceable and that each character has a function within the family created over the past six years. The loss of any of these cast members will adversely affect the show and the fans but the loss of their team leader would deeply disturb the balance that the fans feel. They want to know that both Thomas and Shemar will be back next season and that the return of AJ and hopefully Paget will restore the show's luster of seasons past - the sixth season, while highly rated, is generally felt to be weak in writing and character development. Ed Bernero is felt to have deserted the show and the fans take that personally. Can you tell us your thoughts on this subject?
EricaM: I don't know why we had to go through these hard changes in season six. I really don't. But inviting AJ and (hopefully) Paget back to our family says everything. They understand this show is not a typical "procedural." That it's about our family fighting the bad guys every week. And when people at that family table change, it's difficult to feel the same. It's not fair to blame Ed for any of this. He loves this show and every SINGLE PERSON on it. That will never change. Done
jill: Question: Are you hiring new writers now and if so what are you looking for? Some of the newbies this year didn't seem to understand the characters? Was it difficult for you to try to clue them in to the spirit of these characters we all love so well?
EricaM: Yes, we're bringing in some new writers with strong, original voices and some amazing pedigree! I've joined a series in season six before and it wasn't easy. There's a shorthand that we all have -- the characters and the writers who've been here from day one -- and it's really really tricky to pick that up.
EricaM: As always, we want to protect our characters as much as possible. The storylines we touched on this year were a tribute to that. Done
Hardkorr: Hi Erica...follow up question
EricaM: Hey Hardkorr
Hardkorr: Would you ever consider re-hiring writers that have previously written for CM and know and love our characters?
EricaM: Most storytellers like to move on -- it's how Simon felt this year and that it's really difficult to ever go back to that place that you once called home. done
jill: Question from fan: I want to know why the new Criminal Minds spin-off can be watched streaming online at CBS.com but we can't get Criminal Minds. Doesn't it effect their ratings and income (the online shows have their own ads). Are they planning to change it so we can watch Criminal Minds on CBS.com?
EricaM: Very good question. Hmmmm.
EricaM: It's a joint venture, just like our show...
EricaM: I've heard that show needed an extra push that they didn't think our show needed.
EricaM: I'll look into it and get back to you next chat! done
jill: What would you like the fans to know?
EricaM: First of all, we LOVE YOU ALL for sticking by us in this difficult year.
EricaM: There's a new excitement around here -- we want to feel like we did in the early days.
EricaM: That I love this show.
EricaM: I'm protective of it, just like you.
EricaM: Next season promises big things.
EricaM: Can I ask the fans some questions?
jill: Of course
EricaM: Did you like our guest stars?
EricaM: Did you like our guest stars?
wattakitty: they're awesome, well selected
jill: incredible guest actors
Hardkorr: feel free to answer
Alison: yes brilliant!
violinvictory: they were fien
JJFan18: they r great
elfie1989: Yes--they were amazing!!
MissHotchner: awesome - they're great
Sherry_Belle: awesome casting!!
lauren: Kelli Williams was fantastic
Kirst: too much focus on the unsub but the actors were good.
Krizia: Very much show. Good choices.
SSA_Carpenter: Loved them!
Lobby: Really great !
SSA_Prentiss: Very talented. , especially Tim Curry
JJFan18: all r riveting and bring their own creepy style
keyoudidlastnight: Yes *-* Of course
jill: ONLY MODS SHOULD BE TYPING
ErinLee: AJ WAS MY FAVORITE!
Marg: Second the kelli williams love
alicew: like the guest stars, but really like the main cast better
Elit3Mum: awsome guest actors this yr no complaints there
velvet: They were very well cast.
paliepal: great choices
the_celt: No too much focus on them
BB: LOL yes, AJ was the best guest star ;D
psycheek: Tim Curry brilliant
jill: Do not type when Erica is typing
EricaM: We had a lot of fun with those characters and I was just curious how you liked them. Thanks for the feedback.
EricaM: What was your favorite character arc this season? With our heroes?
jill: AJ's departure
jill: because it was so beautifully done
elfie1989: I love anything with Morgan--especially him and Garcia
JJFan18: AJ's departure for sure
EricaM: thanks jill
Alison: the JJ episode
violinvictory: Reid's headaches, though I wish there was more closure
Cephalophile: Watching the team deal with the aftermath. Subtle but awesome.
mom_to_2: Emily/Doyle scary
swon: AJ and Emily for sure
Angloette: reid and his headaches
SqueePii: reids headaches
JJFan18: sad but great and Emily's ep and especially AJ's role in it
reidfanatic: I wanted to find out what was going on with Reid but it was just dropped
Sherry_Belle: tie between JJ and Emily
criminallymindless: Definitely Emily and Doyle!
Jill: I think one of the complaints or rather concerns has been the starting and stopping of storylines. We realize much of this had to do with the cast shake ups but it made the season disconjointed
EricaM: I sat the writing staff down with the actors last week to discuss this exact thing. What we've done right and wrong this past season. We're going to work as a unit next season to make sure we don't drop these storylines... when it's a clear arc like JJ or Prentiss, that's easier to pick up the pieces. But when we lace in ideas and don't have the thematic tie to another episode, we all feel that. done
jill: We know you have a lot of work to get done this evening so we will say welcome back and congrats. We have missed you and we have sooo much confidence in you
EricaM: Thank you so much!
jill: Your passion for the show and your commitment gives us confidence you will fix our show
EricaM: I've missed being in here. Next season I'll be around. No spoilers, unless you really want 'em!
jill: When do you personally start your haitus
EricaM: Jill knows how passionate and committed I am to this show because she's known me from the beginning. Thanks for your support. It means more than you know.
EricaM: Hiatus? What's that?
jill: Good so you will be around?
EricaM: I will be around!
jill: What as fans can we do to help you and the show?
EricaM: Believe in us. Know that we're fighting the good fight down here in the trenches. That we want our show to thrive, not just survive.
EricaM: With your support, it rallies all of us. Cast, crew, writers -- everyone.
jill: Please tell Breen we have really missed him and his chats. He is adored.
EricaM: i'll tell him! We'll all be back next season. You'll get tired of us!
jill: And fair warning I am visiting, if my health allows, In August
EricaM: Wow! That's great!
jill: Take care of our show kiddo!
EricaM: I will! Thanks again, everybody!
EricaM: Thanks for showing the love! It means so so so much to me!!!!
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