Remember in the next few weeks HEROES will be off the air. If any of you have questions you’d like me to answer, I’ll take the hiatus opportunity to do so.
SEND QUESTIONS TO: firstname.lastname@example.org
As for tonight, our eighteenth episode!!
It’s so weird. It’s going so fast. In my reality we’re about to start prepping episode 22 (which I’ll be directing) of the total of 23 we’re going to make. I was just up in Jeph Loeb’s office and we were saying how incredibly fast it’s been going. It doesn’t feel like a year since we both started on this little endeavor.
Tonight is another big one (surprise, surprise). To give you an indication, here is the email I sent out to Tim, Dennis Hammer, Allan Arkush and the other writers upon reading the script: (I’ve cleaned it up a bit for public consumption.)
"Holy sh*t!!! This is the holy sh*t-est episode yet! The shockers just keep coming! It may be too much for a weak-hearted viewer and we may need to attach a warning up-front!
Anyway, this one is chock full of twists and turns – and, true to the promise Tim and the writer’s have made to the public, we will reveal the mysteries as we go and not make the audience wait interminably.
For instance tonight we reveal who Linderman is and what his master plan is. We reveal who the Haitian is really working for, and we reveal whether Hiro saves the future after all. It’s also got a pretty kick ass ending, in my opinion.
I think all of the actors did great this week. I think tonight I’ll tip my hat to Sendhil who gets to a level of intensity in his scenes with Sylar that we haven’t seen from him before. I also think that Adrian magnificently underplayed the internal struggle his character is going through. Malcolm McDowell does most of the talking in the excellently written scene that introduces Linderman, but, as they say, acting is reacting and Adrian’s reaction is amazing as he sits their half-listening and churning with internal struggle.
Also, Ashley Crow is excellent. I just yesterday called her up, after last Monday’s episode and this one to tell her how amazing she’s doing. She has been amazing since the pilot, but this episode really allows her to stretch into new arenas. Her scene with HRG where she says “I’m good at playing dumb” is one of my favorite moments.
SCRIPT DISCUSSION BETWEEN THE CAST, DIRECTOR KEVIN BRAY AND JEPH LOEB
ALI LARTER AND JEPH LOEB DISCUSS SCRIPT
HIRO AND ANDO IN THE FUTURE
HAYDEN PANETTIERE – HAVIN' FUN ON LOCATION
JIMMY JEAN-LOUIS – IS IT WRONG FOR A MAN TO BE THIS HANDSOME?
HAYDEN AND JIMMY FILMING
NEW HERO - MISSY PEREGRYM
MISSY UNDER THE SPELL OF HRG’S GLASSES
CHRIS ZATTA “LIVING THE DREAM”
Tonight I’m doing something a little different. Because Chris Zatta, who is the young man who wrote tonight’s episode, is very new to the business. Chris has been the writers's assistant on HEROES all year. This is his first produced credit of any kind. He strikes me as a very earnest, thoughtful, hard-working and all-around nice guy. He should be a beacon of hope for anyone aspiring to be in the film business who’s smart, eager and willing to put in a little elbow grease.
GREG BEEMAN: Chris, I’ve been joking about this for a few weeks, that on this one I was going do a blog called “Chris Zatta, living the dream.” And now the time has come.
CHRIS ZATTA: Yes.
GB: How old are you, Chris?
GB: And how long ago was it that you were a p.a.? (production assistant)
CZ: Well, I’m the writer’s assistant on HEROES, now. I was the writer’s p.a. on CROSSING JORDAN last year. Before that I was an on-set p.a. on AMERICAN DREAMS, and a few other jobs, catch-as-catch-can, before that. Including back in Boston.
GB: And as an on set p.a. and writer’s p.a. what were your job responsibilities?
CZ: Photocopying. Getting lunches for the producers. Getting coffee. Getting breakfast for the cast. Delivering scripts to people’s homes at night.
GB: The classic “a lot of hard work for a little money”
GB: Then this year you’ve been the writer’s assistant. How did you get that job?
CZ: Tim Kring, Joe (Pokaski) and Aron Coleite brought me over from CROSSING JORDAN. I worked on the pilot as well with them.
GB: So, obviously you did a good job in their opinion?
CZ: Yes. I hope so.
GB: What does the writers assistant job entail? Describe it.
CZ: Yes. There’s a big table. Eleven writers. And they all come in every day, around ten. And they stay in there all day until about six. They are just talking about the show. About the stories. About all the characters. Very fast, with lots of ideas coming and going and changing all the time. Basically, I’m a stenographer. I’m taking notes on everything. I take notes all day, and then at night I have to type them all up.
GB: Wow. That sounds like it would take a long time. How long does it take you to type up a whole days worth of talking?
CZ: A lot of times until pretty late. Until midnight or so.
GB: And then what?
CZ: Go home. Sleep. Wake up. Come back and do it all again.
GB: Well all the writers obviously liked you and felt you did a good job. So, how did typing notes translate into being offered to write an episode of the show?
CZ: One of the first things the writers have to present to the studio and network is an outline of the episode. It’s a scene by scene breakdown, and, actually in HEROES case, also a character by character breakdown of the story they’re planning on writing. It’s the first thing the network and studio give notes on.
GB: So it’s important?
CZ: Yes. And I guess my notes were decent enough that they felt that they could become the rough draft of the outlines. One of the writers would take my version, and add some flair, and that would become the outline that was sent in. That lead too them noticing that I was doing well.
At this moment Joe Pokaski bursts into the room:
JOE POKASKI: Greg I didn’t have any luck getting a hold of any of Chris’ ex-girlfriends for the “Chris Zatta Living The Dream” blog you’re doing.
JP: You know, Chris, so they could say what a huge mistake they made breaking up with you and everything.
Joe runs out.
GB: You do seem like a good catch, Chris. A good prospect that any Mother would love.
Chris Zatta shrugs and looks embarrassed.
GB: Okay, so then what?
CZ: They let me write a few scenes. On HEROES all of the writers work on different scenes of every episode. Every writer takes a pass. The writer in charge of the episode then takes it and polishes it. It all changes a lot. In the end only a few lines I originally wrote stayed in.
GB: Really. That’s cool. So what are some of the scenes you worked on first?
CZ: I worked on early versions of the first scenes where Peter and Cluade were first in Peter’s apartment. Also scenes with Hiro and his sister. The storyline of Claire in which her mother got sick and went to the hospital – I did the first drafts of some of those.
GB: That’s awesome. I had no idea. I ended up directing some of those scenes. So who was the first one who told you you’d be writing a script for this hit show?
CZ: Tim Kring was first. He said they were thinking of giving me some kind of writing credit.
GB: Were you surprised?
CZ: Yeah. It was unexpected. I was told that a first season show rarely gives scripts to assistants. I knew Tim had a reputation for giving people a chance. But on a show like this I thought they’d go out to someone more established. So I hoped, but I didn’t expect.
Then the writers asked if I had any writing samples.
GB: And you had them?
CZ: Yes. I had a spec script for BIG LOVE. Also a one-act play I’d written. And a feature.
GB: What kind of projects were these.
CZ: The feature was a drama, a coming of age story, about three friends in their twenties. The one-act was a comedy, about a couple who are trying to have dinner and all sorts of things keep preventing them from doing this.
GB: That’s great. Perfect. This reminds me of the old saying, “When opportunity knocks you have to be ready for it’s arrival.” You had a spec script of an existing show, and both a comedy and a drama of original work. That’s exactly what you should have.
CZ: Yes. It’s not luck or good timing. If I hadn’t had my samples this wouldn’t have happened.
GB: Okay let’s backtrack. What’s your background?
CZ: I was born in New Jersey. My Dad worked for General Mills and Campbell’s soup so we moved to Toronto when I was 6 for a few years, and then back to New Jersey and then to Belgium for two years. Then back and I finished high school in New Jersey.
GB: Where did you go to college?
CZ: Boston University. I majored in film and minored in German. I graduated in 2002.
GB: How long did you know you wanted to be in the film business?
CZ: Since I was 16. My family were all film buffs. They were very into movies and we always used to go to them and watch them together on TV. My parents loved movies.. When I was 16 I saw 2001: A SPACE ODYESSY on cable. I didn’t know what it was exactly before I saw it. I knew it was science fiction, but as I was watching and I started to realize what the story was and how it was being told. That it began with primitive man and followed mankind into space. I had a realization right then about the kinds of themes and the kinds of stories you can get across.
GB: That was your epiphinal moment?
GB: That’s so cool. I had almost the exact same experience, when I was 15 when I saw STAR WARS in the theatre for the first time. I walked out of the movies and my life was changed. I knew I was going to make films… I had no idea how or what… But I knew.
It’s great that movies can do that, isn’t it?
GB: I bet someone out there - some kid - will be inspired by HEROES the same way. I love this work. It’s the best! Okay, I’ve gotten off topic. So where did you go from Boston U?
CZ: I worked at a video store and whenever I could I’d p.a. on commercials or movies that came to Boston. There was a guy who kind of was an agent for all the local people who wanted to get work on films that came through. I worked on MONA LISA SMILE when it came into town. That was the first experience I had with a big project, and where I got to see stars that I’d seen in movies all my life.
GB: Was everyone nice to you?
CZ: Very much so. I met Julia Roberts at the wrap party. She was really nice. Nobody was a jerk at all. But after that I realized Boston didn’t have much to offer. So it was either New York or L.A. I wanted to get a little further away from the East Coast. So, it was LA.
GB: Did you know anyone when you got here?
CZ: A few people from high School. A few from college.. Maybe a half dozen people. My college friends were working as assistants, and they helped me start to try to get jobs.
GB: So when go from that to you, on set, with Malcolm McDowell and Adrian Pasdar doing your scene.
CZ: I know. I was sitting, with you, at the monitor and they’re saying the dialogue, but it’s on the monitor. Then I’d poke my head around the corner and see it was real.
GB: How was the whole experience for you?
CZ: Amazing. Amazing to be on set and actually to have a creative say in things.
GB: So you actually are “living the dream?”
CZ: Yes. Definitely.
GB: Are you happy with the episode?
CZ: I’m happy with it. It taught me to step back. It’s my first experience and I really saw how you have to step back. There are a lot of departments and producers and the director who all have such a strong say and who all put their stamp on it. Some things change from the way you first conceive it. Many times for the better. From beginning to end there are so many voices and so much input. I have definitely learned a lot and it will help me next time.
GB: Now what? Hopefully it’s just the beginning for Chris Zatta.
CZ: from this experience I have been able to get an agent. I’m working on another spec feature, an idea I’ve had for awhile, and I’ll write it over the summer. I’ve been speaking with my agents about what to do next. It’s all going very fast. I’ve been waiting for a while now it feels like it’s here.
GB: Excellent. I’m proud of you. Well, if I have any advice, not that you're asking for it, if I have any tip for longevity in this business it’s just… Don’t quit. I look back and realize now that I’ve done nothing but direct or produce, in some fashion or other, since, like, 1984. I’ve had big ups. I’ve had big downs where I was unemployed and unemployable for a long stretch. But, looking back now, it never even occurred to me to quit. A lot of people I’ve worked with or went to film school with, they moved on. But I never did no matter what.
CZ: That’s great.
GB: One last thing. I think we should pause and note Tim Kring’s generosity with you. He has a huge job and all the pressure and responsibility that goes along with creating and maintaining a show of this magnitude, but he took the time to help you out also.
CZ: I know. I’m very grateful. He has that reputation. Joe and Aron were both writers’s assistants. I think Tim thinks it’s the best scenario, when you give someone a chance. The person knows the show and the ways the stories are told and also you’re helping them get a foot in the door. And that’s a good thing. It’s great he’s done it for so many people. I am grateful. Very grateful.
CHRIS ZATTA – LIVING THE DREAM
CHRIS ZATTA – LIVING THE DREAM WITH MASI OKA
CHRIS ZATTA – LIVING THE DREAM WITH MALCOM MCDOWALL AND ADRIAN PASDAR
Okay. That’s it. For the next six Weeks HEROES is of the air. I’ll be answering fan questions for the next week or two (if I get any)
If you fans have any questions you’d like me to answer, remember send them c/o Craig at HEROSITE.NET at this address: