Countdown to ‘Dollhouse’: The show’s ‘funny and twisted’ producing duo


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All the greats have a stable of writers, actors, producers, etc. that seem to follow them from project to project, and so it is with Joss Whedon and ‘Dollhouse.’ Eliza Dushku (‘Buffy’) and Amy Acker (‘Angel’) are on board, and behind the scenes, the producing/writing duo of Elizabeth ‘Liz’ Craft and Sarah Fain have also made the leap.

Whedon described Craft and Fain, who have written for ‘Angel,’ ‘Women’s Murder Club’ and ‘The Shield,’ as ‘solid and sensible’ in a conference call this morning. ‘Then they turn in a script and you remember ‘Oh, they can write, too.’ ‘


The ‘funny and twisted’ writer-producers answered a few questions for us as the Dollhouse prepares to open next week.

So, how has Joss’ approach to TV changed since his last outing?

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Sarah: We get a lot of Joss time on the show now, which is fantastic. And I sort of think, and this is just an impression again because I wasn’t there at the beginning of any of his other shows, but I think that maybe there’s -- and I don’t even know if I want to say this -- a sense of realism about how collaborative the process is at the beginning of a show. He’s just so open -- not just to the other writers on the show, but also the studios and the network -- I think he’s very open and unthreatened by others’ ideas and opinions, and can still keep true to his own vision. Liz: The other thing, you know, is that he has two kids now ... And I think that changes every show runner. I think that you become, from my observations, one becomes more efficient with one’s time.

Sarah: That’s very nice for the other people!

The two of you, having been on ‘Women’s Murder Club’ and ‘The Shield,’ have dealt with strong female characters. What’s your take on who the character of Echo is and whom she’ll become?
Sarah: That’s sort of difficult to answer without revealing anything because Echo is designed to sort of be a non-person who can become anyone in the world. She can be programmed to be any one woman in the world that they want her to be.

Liz: She’s nobody and everybody.

Sarah: Right. But I think what becomes clear very early is that, though she is supposed to be a non-person, she very much has an inner strength and an inner awareness.

It’s early (for us as viewers), but do either of you have any favorite characters that you’re writing?
Liz: We have such a great cast, so we’re lucky in that there’s no one that we don’t like to write, but Echo, obviously, and then I think that everybody loves writing Topher. I don’t think that you’re going to get one person who says they do not LOVE writing Topher.

If you could have a crossover with any show (ever), what would it be?
Sarah: Ever?

Well, we can limit it to the shows you’ve been on.
Sarah: Oh, cause I would love to do the whole ‘Love Boat’ thing. I mean, you go on ‘Love Boat’ and Echo’s on board. But hey, if she could go on ‘The Shield’ ... I would love to see Echo as a cop, you know, going out with Vic Mackey.

Liz: That sounds good. I would watch that show.

Any characters that you would write into ‘Dollhouse’ that you’ve written?
Liz: There’s a lot of characters from ‘Buffy’ and ‘Angel.’

Sarah: Also, I would love to see Claudette Wyms from ‘The Shield’ take on Adelle DeWitt. Claudette is such a moral center and Adelle is such a moral question mark. That would be kind of fascinating.

We won’t get into specifics, but what about ‘Dollhouse’ will come up that viewers don’t expect? Not plot points, but just maybe an overall feeling.
Liz: I think that everybody will expect this because it’s a Joss Whedon show, but there’ll be a lot of humor. I don’t know if you get that there’ll be a lot of humor from the premise of the show, but there’s a lot of humor.

I don’t know if the promos lay that out much.
Liz: And I think anyone who’s a fan of Joss knows that that’ll be there, but I guess not EVERYONE is as aware of Joss as we are.

Which I can’t believe!
Sarah: Well, and I don’t know if anyone will be shocked or not -- I hope that everyone realizes what a great actress Eliza is by now -- but to me it’s been amazing what a chameleon she is. She really becomes someone different in every episode in this kind of seamless, amazing way.

Liz: It’s not just the hairstyles and outfits ... she really transforms.

How has it been watching this new crew say your words?
Sarah: There’s not a weak link in the bunch! First of all, they all seem like really interesting people, so you want to write for people that you like. They’re all great as individuals and they’re also really fantastic actors. And they seem to jell in a very natural way. I think they have a really good time together.

When you first walked on to the set -- and you’ve probably watched it being built -- did you just say ‘Wow, this is a pretty big feat!’
Liz: Yeah, we’ve watched it grow through stages, from Joss’ first meetings with the production designer, then watching it being built, so we knew what was coming. But nonetheless, when we walked in and it was finished, we had the same reaction that every single person has had that’s walked in and seen this, and that is: ‘I want to live here!’ We’ve yet to have one person walk in and not say that.

Do you find yourself writing for that set as a character?
Liz: Um, yeah I think so. Everything in the Dollhouse is like our favorite stuff.

Sarah: Because of how specific and beautiful it is, it has certainly become a character on the show. It affects everything. How the music is designed, the wardrobe ... it is an integral piece of what the show is.

-- Jevon Phillips

Photo: Fox

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