[Whoosh!] [Issue 11 August 1997]





Exclusive to WHOOSH!

By Steven L. Sears

Copyright © 1997 held by author

2599 words

(Used with permission. Boldface emphasis added)



Author's Note: I read Kym's article in Whoosh! [July Whoosh! #10,

editorial "Common Knowledge?"] with more than a bit of

incredulity. It angered me for the most part. Not necessarily

Kym's reactions (though she is also off by several degrees), but

by the fact that many of the fans have succumbed to paranoia and



In the interest of that, I have decided to interview myself. I

want to focus in on some things and this is the best way to do it.

You might think that this is also a way for me to focus attention

away from things and to the areas that I choose, but I think

you'll feel differently when you read the article. I'm not holding

back. There are things in this article that may insult some

people, may make people angry, may make people look foolish, but

the point is to tell the truth. And I recognize that not all are

guilty of what I am addressing, but those who are will know it.


Right now, my opening paragraph.


RAPE. I wrote it in capital letters so we would all see it and not

mistake what I am talking about. RAPE. It isn't any cute acronym

for an empowerment organization, it isn't the punch line of some

funny joke. It is a violent act that is intended to dehumanize a

human being in order to make another feel superior. By far, it is

a crime that is perpetrated on women by men. It is a crime that

allows society to hold the victim guilty and bestows a macho

credibility on the criminal. Anyone who has experienced RAPE will

never forget it and has survived more than most people can imagine

just to be able to function again in society. As a man, I cannot

possibly understand the fear that someone would have at a touch or

a voice just because of its male gender. But a RAPE victim has no

choice, was given no choice. All trust has been stripped away,

including self respect and dignity. I don't joke about RAPE. I've

seen its effect in too many ways. And, because I have never

exeprienced it firsthand, I have only experienced a grain of sand

in the Sahara. Just so you know where I stand.


On to the interview.







Q: On the Universal Chat, why did Rob Tapert say make the

reference to Gabrielle's child in the way that he did?


A: I don't know. You'd have to ask Rob that. But that there was a

casting session for an actress to play the role is not a secret. I

assumed at the "exclusive" nature of the comment was in that he

was confirming it.


Q: Why can't you tell us definitively there was no rape?


A: When the episode that prompted the rumor finally does air, I

can then tell you why I can't say anything now. Keeping in mind

that it's my policy anyway not to reveal plotlines. At the moment,

that's what it would require. However, consider this; anything

anyone says can be interpretational. For example, the idea of

Gabrielle's Blood Innocence is important. Well, what if someone

had posted a message saying that they knew that Gabrielle was

going to kill Velasca (reference "The Quest")? And if I had said

"No". Well? Did she? Certainly the body of Gabrielle was trying to

defeat Velasca, even if that meant killing her. But to have said a

definitive "No" would then lead to people saying "Hey, you were

playing fast and loose with semantics". There would be no way I

could win. My advice is to calm down and wait for the episode.

Speculate if you will, but don't go crazy. If we committed an evil

sin, then lambaste us when you have the facts.


Q: So there is an episode that lead to the press release?


A: It wasn't a press release, it was someone's gossip article.

There is a difference. Our PR department sanctions press releases.

And, yes, there is an episode that this misinformation can be

traced back to.


Q: Why use the word "Misinformation"?


A: Misinformation is designed to lead people into making their own

assumptions by basing its validity on partial logic. Light the end

of the fuse, the gunpowder will take care of itself.


Q: Was it a deliberate "leak" to jerk off the fans and flame the



A: No. We were taken by surprise and immediately tried to figure

out how it happened.


Q: Were you surprised by the effect it had on the fans?


A: Yes and no. As soon as I saw the word "Rape", I knew that

people would react strongly (rightly so, in my opinion). What

surprised me was how quickly the story was given validity and the

abuse I was subjected to because of it.


Q: Your abuse?


A: I got a lot of hate mail. At least one was threatening.


Q: What about the conflicting comments from you and others?


A: You haven't heard any from me. I sent some mail to a few people

and asked them to let people know what I said in order to reassure

them. In at least one case, the person got it wrong and drew some

conclusions from my statements that were not correct.


Q: Why are the statements ambiguous?


A: As I said, we can't give away the plot lines. Why watch the

series if we do?


Q: What about the homophobic rumors?


A: I find this laughable. That we would be homophobic is absurd.

And, worse, it's an insult that requires me to refrain from using

an invective right now that really wants to emerge from my

keyboard. That we were told to adjust our story lines to pull back

from the lesbian inference is simply not true at all. A lie.

Incorrect. Stupid. Is this any clearer?


Q: Have you ever been guilty of pushing the subtext for the sake

of the audience?


A: Yes. Aside from the fact that I like it, I think that it adds

to the characters. And, also, it doesn't diverge from my

interpretations of who Xena and Gabrielle are or what their

relationship is.


Q: Back to the rumor in question, what about these people who have

quoted "their sources" that contradict you or say they

definitively know the truth?


A: What about them? I have it on good authority that a clan of

Bigfoot really built the Sphinx. Seriously. I have this "source"

that told me. And the same "source" let me know about the

conspiracy to frame Mother Teresa for the O.J. murderers. Why are

people so quick to believe "a source"? Is it the air of conspiracy

and mystery that makes it more believeable? Face it, I am a

source. And what I say doesn't come to you second, third, fourth

or fifth hand. There are people out there who quote "sources"

because they get their jollies by driving people crazy.


Q: What about the contradictory response to your comments?


A: There is, unfortunately, nothing that I can do about that. That

has nothing to do with me. If I say "A" and a discussion breaks

out about whether I said capital "A" or small "a", and where I

meant "ay" or not... what am I to do? Understand, people, there

are too many of you out there to answer individually. I am not in

the business of interpreting words for anyone. To satisfy everyone

we would have to, again, explain the plot in detail. Better yet,

let you read the script. Even better, allow you to watch the

episode. Which is what we plan to do. And I can bet you that, even

then, some people will then discuss our motives for doing things.

Like we were coerced or are responding to merchandising/studio

execs/Christian Right/Liberal Left/whatever. It will be something.


Q: Have you deceived us?


A: No. I have toyed, teased, played with, and tap-danced with you.

But I have not lied to you. I have no reason to. We have not been

playing, as some say, "cat and mouse" with you. It wouldn't get us

anywhere and, believe it or not, we're not like that. It's a waste

of time and energy.


Q: Should we trust you?


A: I can't answer that because I don't think it applies. You can

only trust what you have seen so far. If it works for you, then

you'll hang around for the ride. If something comes down the pike

that upsets you or offends you, then you'll factor that into your

decisions about the show. Nobody should trust blindly. But that's

what you do when you give credibility to unsubstantiated "things"

and rumors on the net.


Q: Have you ever changed a story line or idea or episode because

of the fans opinions?


A: No. We are staying true to what made this show a hit; the

combination of a unique group of people who want to tell a story.

The moment we allow ourselves to be manipulated or when we start

second guessing what we should do based on fan response, we will

lose the magic that has made this show special. We feel incredibly

lucky that we have such loyal fans. Especially on a show that we

love so much.


Q: Same question, except in regards to the Studio or Sponsors?


A: Universal has been really good with us. I can only think of

twice that we changed an episode that had already been shot due to

sponsors and once time an idea was nixed by the studio. CALLISTO

(#22) required a last minute editing to the opening to tone down

some of the war footage. IS THERE A DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE? (#24)

required a couple of snips due to blood spillage. And a possible

story idea concerning Xena's father had been dismissed... for the

time being.


Q: Merchandising?


A: Well, you got me there. Yes, I do remember Rob saying the

Warrior...Princess was going to be good if they ever started a

line of Xena clothing for halloween. That's it.


Q: Is there a cover-up?


A: No. This has all gotten out of hand and you have to look at

where it started: One article. Everyone decided to take it at face

value. We did not plan any of this and we haven't been taking

advantage of it.


Q: Are the fans guilty of making assumptions?


A: Yes. Sorry, folks, but that's the case. Not one of you out

there has definitive knowledge of what you are talking about. You

are being assumptive and reactive. And, if any of you actually has

figured it out, it's only by accident.


Q: Why did you withdraw from the Internet contact with the fans?


A: A number of reasons. I was getting pretty busy with work and

wasn't allowed the time to get to them (my social life is a bit of

a mess for the same reasons). I left the Xenaverse because of a

pledge I had made to leave if my presence ever influenced

discussion, or if I ever became a topic of discussion. Both

happened and I kept to my word. I still show up now and then on

the IRC or AOL, though not a lot lately. But that was all going on

before the flap over this rumor. The problem since then has been

that everything I was saying online was being interpreted to each

individual's perspective. I will repeat this: I can't win. No

matter what I say, it will be reworded or misinterpreted or, in

some cases, be accused of being merely the company P.R. I have

made a few commments on this subject and become angry at how

certain people use the information to inflame others. Or, that

they then use it to accuse me of things. Why wouldn't I withdraw?

Why would anyone put themselves through that? Being on the

internet and associating with the fans is not in my job

description. I did it because I made a lot of friends and, hey, I

like the fans. Those friends I have made still keep in touch.


Q: Was there a real attempt to rectify the problem?


A: Within our bounds, yes. And it wasn't to rectify a problem, it

was to reassure people and tell them not to go crazy over rumors.

But some people didn't want to hear it and, for most, it just

wasn't enough. Again, we are restrained by the secrecy involved in

doing a series.


Q: What about the "teasing" issue?


A: I requote a letter in the Whoosh article:


"The teasing, as you so properly put it, has gone from

good-natured ribbing to downright cruelty. Rape is an extremely

serious subject -- not to be taken lightly."


When did we ever tease about rape? When? Give me the quote and the

name of the person.


Quoting another letter:


"One of my opinions is that RP thought they had the Internetties

eating out of their hands"


Wrong. We've certainly had opinions about certain people on the

internet, but never that they were willing sheep. I quote any

number of discussions between myself and Carmen and others to

illustrate. But going on....


"RP should be held accountable for their actions".


So true, so true. But, what, exactly, are we talking about? Which

actions would those be? We should be accountable for rumors?

Things that we had nothing to do with? Again, going on...


"RP needs to remember that we hear everything, we remember

everything -- and we can put the puzzle pieces together if need



Only if you have the correct pieces for the correct picture can

you get a clear image. You don't have that yet. And you won't

until the new season.


Q: Will we ever know the whole story?


A: Yes. You will when the episode in question airs. The real

question is whether you will believe the truth. I can tell you the

truth, but there are those who love a good conspiracy and won't

believe me.


Q: I've heard that there is a lot of disagreement and fragmenting

of the Staff. And that Lucy and Renee are not happy with the way

the show is going.


A: So incredibly wrong. We are not fragmenting and becoming

divisive. I refer frequently to our Staff as being a dysfunctional

family. We have as much, if not more, fun during our meetings as

we ever did. Yes, there are differeing opinions and arguments, but

nothing that has us sulking in a corner and backbiting each other.

And Lucy and Renee have been just as supportive as ever about the

show. The last time I talked to Renee, she was very excited about

the upcoming episodes.


End of Interview. I hope that helped a few people. Sorry for the

blunt nature of things, but I want there to be no doubt as to what

I am saying. There are those who will refuse to understand and

there is nothing I can do about them. The rest of you, I hope,

will have a better understanding of this situation. I would only

ask one thing: That nobody repost or quote from this interview

unless they specifically request the readers to come to this site

and read the entire article in context. Without that, this runs

the risk of becoming just another source of misinterpretation.


Thank you.


Steven L. Sears

Supervising Producer - Xena: Warrior Princess


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