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IN SUPPORT OF EDUCATION

I don't normally approve of letting people take "cuts". Or of breaking rules I've set myself, like the one about separate topics requiring separate posts.

But Lexy is writing a paper on GARGOYLES for her HONOR'S ENGLISH CLASS, and she needed some questions answered. I'm a big fan or Honor's English classes, so I couldn't resist. But I figured you all might be interested in the answers as well. So with Lexy's permission, I'm answering them here.

Dear Greg,

Thanks SO much for helping me with my paper. I hope
to do you,and the rest of the fandom,proud:) Here are
some questions I whipped up for an interview. But If
you have anything you think would be helpful to add or
to subtract from them, please feel free to do so.

1) What do you think are some reasons ppl find
mythological creatures, such as gargoyles, intriguing

GREG'S RESPONSE: I think people like to let their imaginations run. And why limit those imaginations to what we know exists. If a concept has its own internal logic, something real in its emotions and relationships for an audience to grab a solid hold too, then there's little limit to how far-fetched the fantasy can get.

2) What started your personal fascination with
Gargoyles?

GREG'S RESPONSE: A high school trip to Europe and hearing the tidbit that Gargoyles were placed on castles and cathedrals to scare away evil spirits. The notion that monsters were used against evil was very intriguing. And this was years before we developed the series.

3) Name some of your favorite books or stories you
enjoyed when growing up.

GREG'S RESPONSE: Wow. Um. How far back to you want to go? GO, DOG, GO was an early favorite. Later, I liked the Hobbit. I liked reading about myths of all kinds. I had the D'Aulaire's GREEK MYTHS and NORSE GODS & GIANTS books and I reread those over and over. I also was always a big fan of detective fiction. I liked Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. Later, Conan Doyle, some Christie, but my favorites were Hammett, Chandler and ROSS MacDonald. I loved the LEW ARCHER novels. I liked Heinlein in Science Fiction. "Requiem" is a heartbreakingly beautiful little story. I liked Mary Stewart and especially Mary Renault. I read a lot. I liked a lot of diverse stuff. I could go on for hours.

4) Did anything in particular inspire you to create
'Gargoyles'?

GREG'S RESPONSE: I've spoken to this before. Gummi Bears was an inspiration, as was Hill Street Blues (my all-time favorite tv show). My on-going fascination with stone gargoyles. And the pragmatic need to be constantly feeding the Dragon that was the Disney Afternoon.

5) Do you believe that gargoyles and other statuary
such as grotesques are rooted in evil traditions? Or
are they there for the common good through harsh
example? (explain)

GREG'S RESPONSE: Neither. I think they are symbolic (or rather emblematic) of something primitive and primal. They scare away evil. Not all monsters are against us. We need our dreams and nightmares.

6) (circa) When did you start work on the television
show 'Gargoyles'?

GREG'S RESPONSE: 1991.

7) When and why (circa) were you (and others) forced
to cancel 'Gargoyles'?

GREG'S RESPONSE: The question is phrased in such a way that it's difficult to answer directly. We never planned to do more than 65 episodes. That was a standard run for any show. Now in huge success, a show (like DuckTales for example) made additional episodes, and I won't deny I had hopes that we would to. But the answer came back no. Our ratings were strong. But we were a consistent second place to Power Rangers. So we weren't cancelled. But new episodes would not be made. Then ABC and Disney merged, and ABC wanted some Gargoyles. All my bosses at Disney had left and the new management wanted their own people on the show. So they made me an offer to continue that was designed to make me say no. In hindsight, I should have said yes anyway, but that's spilt milk. I left and they made additional episodes for ABC under the Goliath Chronicles banner. The ratings were not good. Neither, in my opinion, were the episodes. So it wasn't renewed.

8) What did the television show 'Gargoyles'mean to you
as it's creator?

GREG'S RESPONSE: It was and continues to be the highlight of my professional career. Nothing I've done, before or since, let me bring my vision so intact to the screen. It was very collaborative, not every idea was mine, but I still feel like that was the one show that achieved what I hoped it would achieved. I'm ridiculously proud of it, beyond all reason, really.

9) What was the central theme or message of the show ?

GREG'S RESPONSE: There wasn't just one. Among the messages was the obvious DON'T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER moral. Plus plenty about the preciousness of life and hope. Themes of redemption are very important to me. Guilt, fear, love, trust, loyalty. You name it, at some point we through it in. Often episode titles were designed to remind both audience and writer of what the major theme in that story was.

10) How many Gatherings have you attended?

GREG'S RESPONSE: All three. Two in NYC. One in Dallas. And I hope to continue to go as long as you folks want me.

11) What is your opinion of the Gatherings?

GREG'S RESPONSE: It is always one of the true highlights of my year. How could it not be? I'm basically treated like royalty for 72 straight hours. Since that doesn't happen to a guy like me much in real life, it's pretty damn cool.

12) What do you hope ppl who watch 'Gargoyles'will
come away with?

GREG'S RESPONSE: First and foremost, I hope they were entertained. Not a little, but a lot, and on multiple levels. I hope we got the adrenaline going. I hope we touched their hearts. I hope we gave them something to think about. I hope we educated them a bit, or more likely gave them reason to want to be educated about, say SHAKESPEARE or Scottish History or King Arthur or Native American customs or whatever. I'm greedy. I want all of this.

13) What did you like most about the show 'Gargoyles'?

GREG'S RESPONSE: I'm not objective enough to answer this one.

14) What did you like most about working on the show
'Gargoyles'?

GREG'S RESPONSE: Honestly, the autonomy. The freedom. I also had some incredibly talented collaborators and when we were in gear, we really hummed. But for sheer fun, it's hard to beat those voice recording sessions. That was the part of the job that generally was the least like work. It's where all the potentials of the show come to life and few of the problems are revealed. Just fun.

15) Why incorporate so many classic dramas and other
time honored themes within 'Gargoyles'?

GREG'S RESPONSE: Purely for my own amusement. And with the hope that some people will either also be amused or will come to be amused as they discover these things. Plus it made my job easier. The story of Macbeth is so good, that adapting it practically wrote itself.

Thanks so much for all your help:)!

Lexy;)

GREG'S RESPONSE: You are welcome. Let me know if I can be of any more help.


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Leong writes...

Hi Greg, just one question; whatever did Demona think of the play Macbeth?

Greg responds...

Probably that it represented poetic justice.

Response recorded on February 03, 2000

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Todd Jensen writes...

This is another question I've been meaning to ask for some time, but finally got around to. You once mentioned your feelings about "The Merchant of Venice" and Shylock here, and particularly the reasons for your ambivalent response to the play. What Shylock prompts in me, in relation to "Gargoyles", is this question.

Do you think that there is a certain similarity, in the basics, between Demona and Shylock? I see one myself, since both come from oppressed minority groups, and both became sufficiently embittered by the persecution that they and their people underwent to seek revenge. (Of course, Demona's genocide schemes automatically dwarf Shylock's demand for a pound of Antonio's flesh). I'm curious about what your own thoughts are on this.

Greg responds...

It's a great connection. I won't pretend that it was a conscious choice on my part (though wouldn't it have been cool if it was).

But I absolutely agree with your basic analysis. You call me a monster often enough and at some point as Lex put it, you get a desire to "live up to the name".

None of which translates into genocide or pounds of flesh, unless you've got some serious internal problems anyway.

But none of that precludes having some qualities that border on the noble. And I think both Demona and Shylock, for all their faults and flat-out villainy, have noble aspects too.

I think that's what makes them so fascinating.

Suddenly, I'm dying to read Harold Bloom's take on Shylock.

Response recorded on February 03, 2000

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Shakespeare ramblings...

Seeing TITUS and having some professional free time to dedicate to a more long term project finds me re-emersing myself in the Works of Will (WoW). At least, after a fashion.

Since this ramble will knock my comments on TITUS off the "LATEST RESPONSES" page, so may want to check those comments out by visiting the "Shakespeare" section of the ASK GREG archive.

But recently, I've also been reading Harold Bloom's book, "Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human". It's really an amazing work. I've been reading it while viewing various takes on ROMEO AND JULIET and HAMLET. It's really helped me to appreciate HAMLET more. In the past, I've always admired the play, but it never reached me as deeply as LEAR or R&J or MIDSUMMER or MUCH ADO or WINTER'S TALE, etc. I'm gaining a new, deeper understanding and appreciation of HAMLET now. In part from Bloom's book.

And in part, from Kenneth Brannaugh's four hour movie version, which I saw and liked in the movie theater a few years ago. Still, I'm gaining a new appreciation for it on video. So many little things to love. Such a scope. And I think I'm finally "getting" Hamlet himself.

But frankly, one of the big helps has been revisiting a film that Brannaugh directed (but did not star in) just before he took on HAMLET. In America, it's called "A MIDWINTER'S TALE". (Elsewhere, I think it's known as "IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER".) It's a little black & white film about a company of seven actors (and two support people) who put together a local production of HAMLET in order to raise money to save the church they're performining in. This is another movie I saw and liked in the theater. But seeing it again on video has been wonderful. Ophelia's song of madness has never been more poignant, then in the "rehersal" scene in this film. I can't help feeling, that this little movie was an important act of mental preparation before Brannaugh took on his big HAMLET film. Among other points of interest, the actors who play Hamlet, Claudius and Laertes in A MIDWINTER'S TALE, went on to play Laertes, Polonius and Horatio (respectively) in HAMLET.

I've also been revisiting ROMEO & JULIET. Bloom's book has some really interesting stuff about that play as well. (Though I'm convinced he gets one thing dead wrong. It's trivial, but he takes for granted that Susan is Juliet's late twin sister. His brain must be short-circuiting there. It seems beyond obvious to me that Susan was the Nurse's daughter. Born at the same time as Juliet, an infant who died shortly thereafter, making the Nurse a good candidate to be Juliet's wetnurse -- and surrogate mother.)

I've also watched the video of Baz Luhrman's version of R&J, starring Leonardo & Claire. I like it. This one suffers a bit off the big screen, but it has some great moments.

SPOILER WARNING

Romeo actually getting to see Juliet come back to life just AFTER he's taken the poison for example.

Next up, SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE on video and then the ZEFIRELLI R&J. The movie that first opened the door to Shakespeare to me. (I'm still in love with Olivia Hussey.)

BTW, I realize that a lot of Gargoyles fans won't really know what I'm talking about here. ("Who the heck is Susan?") But, you are an exceedingly bright group. Maybe all this cryptic rambling will get you to check all of this stuff out. I recommend it.


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TITUS

I saw TITUS on Saturday with my wife Beth and three people who worked on GARGOYLES.

1. Fred Schaefer, who was a development associate who helped develop the show. (I think it's safe to say that Talon was sort of Fred's idea in a very early pre-Derek form. We called the character Catscan then.) Fred is currently a producer/executive/story editor at Porchlight Entertainment.

2. Monique Beatty was my assistant during the Gargoyles years. She did a lot of research for me. She's now a producer at Kinofilms.

3. Tuppence Macintyre is an old friend of mine. She also did a lot of Scotish research for Gargoyles, just as a personal favor and because it interested her. She's a Deputy District Attorney in Los Angeles.

Anyway, the five of us went to see TITUS in Santa Monica. The film is based on one of Shakespeare's early tragedies, TITUS ANDRONICUS. It was adapted and directed by Julie Taymor, who adapted and directed THE LION KING for the Broadway stage. So it's not surprise that the film is visually stunning. Monique didn't like the anachronistic style of the film (depicting chariots and motorcycles side-by-side for example), but it's not the first time I've seen that kind of interpretation, so it didn't bother me.

And the acting is fantastic. Anthony Hopkins (who I've loved forever -- does anyone remember the movie MAGIC?) plays Titus. He's brilliant. His lament to the stones is heartbreaking. Jessica Lange is good as "Tamara, Queen of the Goths" (now tell me that isn't a Gargoyles' character in the making). And Alan Cumming (who voiced John Castaway in "The Journey") is a nice, twisted villain as Saturninus, the Roman Emperor. But the revelation is Harry Lennix as Aaron the Moor. Amazing.

The story of Titus is not for the squeemish or for children. It's a real pot-boiler. Something just this side of a horror movie with a hard R rating for violence and nudity, though thankfully a minimum of on-screen gore.

The play was a big hit for Shakespeare in his day. But it's been dismissed as a critical flop. And I can see why. I've read it a couple times and thought it awful. Which coming from a bardolitor like myself is pretty harsh. It seemed like none of the characters were sympathetic or interesting.

But I'd never seen it performed, so I was looking forward to the movie. As usual, Shakespeare plays tens times better than he reads. In the movie, I had -- at moments -- plenty of sympathy for nearly all the characters. And the wonderful thing is that my sympathies are constantly shifting. No one is without sin. All share the blame except for Aaron's son. And Aaron himself is amazing.

Although, I can't help agreeing that Shakespeare wrote TITUS at least in part as parody of the tragic genre -- the way SCREAM was designed to be both parody and exemplar of the horror film -- I can also see flashes of KING LEAR, HAMLET and CORIOLANUS in Titus' character.

But Aaron prefigures Othello, Iago, Edmund and Shylock at least. He's a remarkably progressive character for the time. A villain, who is the only character to succeed in preserving a sliver of innocence within the world of the play.

Anyway, I really enjoyed it. And I recommend it to any Gargoyle Fan over the age of 17.


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Airwalker writes...

Would Dingo have any family members who would factor into BAD GUYS somehow?

Greg responds...

Yes. Definitely.

Response recorded on December 30, 1999

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Greg "Xanatos" Bishansky writes...

Hi Greg

The other day I saw Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus. The play was performed outside, overlooking the Hudson river, and the view and the gardens remined me of Avalon. I thought the play was very good. I hear its not performed often and I could see why. The queen of the Goths, Tamora, reminded me so much of Demona while I watched it. She was just as dedicated to getting revenge on Titus Andronicus for the murder of her sons as Demona was on humanity.
Did you ever have Tamora in mind while handling Demona?

Greg responds...

Well, not consciously. I've read Titus, of course. But I've never seen it performed. There's a movie version that just hit one theater in L.A. this week. It stars Anthony Hopkins, Jessica Lange and Alan Cumming (the voice of John Castaway in "The Journey"). I can't wait to see it.

Response recorded on December 30, 1999

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Aris Katsaris writes...

It has been noticed by the residents of the S8 comment room that the gender of Ariel in Shakespeare's 'The Tempest' only appears as 'he' in a stage direction and is not referred at all within the main text itself. When you included Ariel, what would his/her gender be?

For that matter, may we assume that Shakespeare was inaccurate in portraying Prospero as abandoning his magic?

Greg responds...

Ariel's gender... Don't feel like revealing that now. Sorry.

Shakespeare wasn't wrong. But Prospero found reason to start again.

Response recorded on August 23, 1999

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Airwalker writes...

1. What would be Katana and Nashville's reaction to Malibu?
2. Do you have designs in mind for Katana, Nashville, Tachi, Fudog, and Hudson's mate? If so, could you describe them?
3. You said that Brooklyn ended up with Mary and Finella in the 1970's. So doesn't that mean that they would still be alive today?
4. Why did you say that Shakespeare's MACBETH would amuse Macbeth? It portrays Gruoch as a Princess of Darkness. How can he take pleasure in that?
5. In what era did Demona arrive in America (Colonial, Antebellum, Reconstruction, etc)?
6. In what era did Macbeth arrive in America (Colonial, Antebellum, Reconstruction, etc)?
7. Now that Renard knows the truth about Anastasia, has it changed anything for him in terms of his feelings for her?
8. Considering that after all is said and done, Goliath was raised and lived most of his life in the 10th century, what is his stand on capital punishment?
9. What are the feelings of the Trio about the Magus and Katharine, considering that they only knew them before they changed, and have never seen their redemption, only heard of it?
10. What are the Mutates feelings about the Gargoyles now living in the castle?
11. Any news on the movie?
12. If you had done BAD GUYS, would Macbeth and/or Demona have appeared?
13. Why didn't anyone ever figure out that Gilcomgain was the Hunter? He has slash marks on his face that match the one's on the mask.
14. Broadway's blindness in FUTURE TENSE, was it just Puck playing with Goliath's sanity AND a prophecy or was it only just Puck playing with Goliath's mind?
15. If the show ever did come back, would you ever bring up or try to make clearer that the people Demona smashed in CITY OF STONE were truly dead?
16. You said that Demona would find love again. But what about Macbeth? Would he have found love again?
17. How rich would you classify Xanatos, Demona, Macbeth, and Post-RECKONING Thailog (Mildly rich, extremely rich, stinking rich, beyond the reach of ordinary people rich)?
18. What did the Mutates do with Sevarious' potion from THE CAGE?
19. Would you have shown us some of Fang's past and also some of his family if BAD GUYS had been done?
20. Can you give us a clue, where in the world, which hemisphere, which continent, where ever, is Coldstone and Coldfire's new clan going to be?
21. What was the name of Xanatos' mother and when did she die?
22. You said you haven't come up with real names for Jackal and Hyena. But do you have anything in mind?
23. Does Macbeth know about the Illuminati?
24. Does the Illuminati know about Macbeth?
25. Would we have seen some of Lexington's descendants in GARGOYLES 2158?

Greg responds...

1. That would depend on the circumstances of their introduction, don't you think?

2. I've dealt with this recently. I do have a fairly clear idea about Fu Dog. But I'm not going to pin myself down at this point.

3. Doesn't preclude the possibility.

4. It has a lot to do with Mac's relationship to Will.

5. In the immortal words of my Magic Eightball: "Try Again Later".

6. Which time?

7. What exactly does he know?

8. He probably has little trouble with it but feels that in an ideal world (which he knows this is not) it's a less than stellar solution. Of course, that's all very theoretical. In practice, we've seen how he responds.

9. Distanced.

10. The Mutates aren't a monolith.

11. Nothing new, since I last answered.

12. Maybe, eventually, but not in my immediate plans.

13. Dramatic license? Or.... There were a lot of people with similar scars running around Scotland back then. Yeah. That's the ticket.

14. You didn't really think I'd answer that, did you?

15. You mean go out of my way to cover that?

16. Sure. Why not? (I'm such an old softy.)

17. Xanatos is Beyond the Reach rich. Macbeth is just stinking rich. Demona's extremely rich. Thailog's just rich.

18. Maggie saved it.

19. Yes.

20. Huh?

21. Not saying now.

22. Jack and Hanna. (Just kidding.) (Unless, I decide that those names really amuse me.)

23. Not saying.

24. Not saying.

25. Not saying.


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Airwalker writes...

Would we have seen William Shakespeare appear in the series (Not just his plays but himself personally)?

Greg responds...

Eventually, yes. But I would have tackled his inclusion with great trepidation and reluctance. To be honest, he's hard for me to get my head around as a person. Maybe I'm just too big a fanboy.

Actually, SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE might have given me a model that I could have used. Yeah....

<SOUND OF WHEELS TURNING...>



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