I have enjoyed reading this question and answer session so much. Im always interested in talking about the show but even better is to hear about the reality of all the factors that impacted the making of the show from the guy who personally made it all happen.
This discussion reminded me of the old glory days of the Xena fan club Chakram newsletter when interviews were done during the shooting of the show. Hoo-ha~!
One thing that always strikes me about Rob is what an adult he is. When things go well, he always praises the particular individuals on the team who helped pull that off. When things go badly, he takes responsibility for that outcome. Now theres a type of boss you dont see very often.
One of the most interesting things to me is the huge respect he has for the writers of the show. At the conventions, Ive heard R.J., Chris Manheim and Steve Sears all talk about what a great working environment Rob created for everyone. I think its a pretty rare producer who not only knows but absolutely understands what the heart of the whole process is-which is that this industry is all about storytelling. Sure, sure as Lucy has said, Were here to sell soap-but the best way to get the people who want you to sell their soap to underwrite your show, is to create a great character with a great story for people to fall in love with and to care about enough to tune in to watch her next adventure.
When Rob mentioned putting all the writers in a room and having them all work together in the early stages of each episode, I remembered listening to Chris Manheim onstage with Rob at the 2005 con talking about working on XWP:
"Everybody in the room had a voice. From the assistants on up. I was a free-lancer. I came into the room for the first time and there are eight people there. And everybody had a say. I was trying to figure out the pecking order and I couldn't."
Rob added, "You have to let people make their own mistakes. Don't take that privilege away from them. Don't punish people for bad ideas.
What a fantastic opportunity it must have been for the writers, to be able to bring their own experiences, talent and creative ideas to suggest where this character might go in the future. To be so encouraged to think outside the more common box of a set in stone formula, made up before the character ever even reached the screen-man, thats just gotta be so exciting, to be such a part of the creative process. No wonder this show didnt just push the envelope, but shredded it to bits regularly. No wonder it was such an inspiration for so many other shows. And no wonder it fascinated so many of us-and continues to do so even though its been off the air for six loooooooong years. Man, do I hope Rob gets to do his dream projects with Lucy and with Lucy and Renee before too many of us die off. ;->
I imagine that sometimes in such a crucible of creativity, there must have been some head butting. But I bet there were also lots of highs achieved when things worked out. (And when they didnt, Rob would take the blame-cool!) Now theres the type of boss itd be a joy to work with.
It was also fascinating hearing all the ins and outs of this turbulent transition time for the television industry from someone whos right on the front battle lines.
My heartfelt thanks to Tobias (and anyone else who might have been involved) for setting this up, to Rob for agreeing to do it and for treating it with respect, taking the time to answer so many questions with lots of attention to detail-AND for being so playful at times. Grin. Thanks also to the fans who participated. There were some really good questions in there.
But I do have one quibble-I dont believe that Gabrielle will ever be better with a chakram than Xena was.
Edited for a little clarification but also for - darn typos! .