21 things I learned from Rob Thomas at #MWF15.
I only went to two Melbourne Writers Festival events this year (living in the country makes these things difficult), and they just happened to both be events involving the one and only Rob Thomas (no, not that Rob Thomas – the other one) – ‘Rob Thomas: Veronica Mars to iZombie’ and ‘Veronica Mars: The Pilot’. Here are the most interesting points that I’ve distilled from my six pages of notes…
About Rob himself:
- His first TV-related job was writing novelisations of X-Files episodes.
Rob wrote three of them, all based on episodes written by Vince Gilligan. He attributes the Breaking Bad showrunner with teaching him how to write for television.
- His first actual TV job was on Dawson’s Creek.
Everybody’s got to start somewhere.
- He learned how to pitch from an episode of Seinfeld.
(This one). “Look, if you want to just keep on doing the same old thing, then maybe this idea is not for you. I, for one, am not going to compromise my artistic integrity. And I’ll tell you something else, this is the show and we’re not going to change it”.
- He doesn’t think crime writing comes naturally to him.
I’d beg to differ.
- There’s a film called The TV Set that RT thinks is a very accurate portrayal of the television industry.
And it stars David Duchovny, which should be enough of a reason to watch it.
- He thinks that the Lost pilot is a perfect network pilot.
In that it contains everything you need to please all the right people. Pity they didn’t really know where the show was going after that…
About Veronica Mars:
- Rob wrote the Veronica Mars pilot on spec.
And he hasn’t written on spec since.
- Logan Echolls was not originally intended to be Veronica’s love interest.
When casting love interests, networks tend to lean towards the generic prom king type. Jason Dohring’s audition, by contrast, was dark and intense. In RT’s words, Jason “has an intensity to him that frightens people”. The attraction between Logan and Veronica was written in later, after seeing Jason and Kristen’s on-screeen chemistry.
- Dick Casablancas got his name from his character description.
He was originally written as a one-liner called “09er Dick”.
- Duncan ran away to Australia, because they wanted somewhere far away from Neptune, but with similar-looking beaches.
Rob cannot recall if there was any significance to Mollymook.
- The graffiti on Veronica’s car (after Shelly Pomroy’s party) originally said “Abel, it should have been her”.
Those 09er kids can be cruel.
- The original Backup was fired because he couldn’t act.
The scene with the bikers outside the camelot was a nightmare to shoot, because Backup wouldn’t do what he was told.
- The pool in Veronica’s apartment block in the pilot was done with CGI.
There was a pool on location – but it looked very different. CGI was used to fill it with water, and change the colour to a nice blue.
- If Rob had been left to his own devices, the Veronica Mars movie would have been quite different.
RT wrote the film specifically for the fans, including characters and moments that he knew people wanted to see. Had it been funded in a different manner, we may have been presented with a much darker noir tale – which maybe would have garnered a better critical response.
- We won’t get a new Veronica Mars novel until iZombie ends/is cancelled.
It’s just too hard for RT to work on both at the same time.
About Party Down:
- The Party Down pilot was shot at RT’s house.
Neither Martin Starr or Lizzy Caplan had been cast at that point.
- They shot the pilot after season 3 of Veronica Mars was given a short order.
Suddenly RT and co had a whole bunch of extra time on their hands.
- Rob didn’t discover iZombie – it was offered to him.
In his words: “I wrote this strong female lead, so obviously when they want another one they’re going to come back to this 50 year-old man”.
- Aly Michalka wasn’t a series regular during season one of iZombie for budgetary reasons.
They couldn’t afford to have her in every episode. But Rob said they’ve “figured out ways to use her in season two”. I guess that means Peyton’s coming back!
- Rob wants to reinvent iZombie each season.
Season one was zombies after humans, season two will be more humans after zombies.
- And with that comes a new role for Major.
RT wanted to emphasise that Major’s character arc is quite separate from Liv’s.
Stray quotes and observations:
RT wore suave-looking suits on both days. Gotta love a sharp dressed man.
“Angela Lansbury’s always at a murder. Do not hang out with Angela Lansbury”.
“If I were reincarnated, I would want to come back as Ryan Hansen”. Wouldn’t we all.
I was thoroughly impressed by the calibre of questions offered during the Q&A. Marshmallows are an intelligent bunch.