Ira Behr / Craig Sweeney - "The 4400"
Comic Con International - San Diego, CA - Sun. July 29, 2007

At the recent Comic Con International, we were able to meet up with producers Ira Behr and Craig Sweeney to chat with them about the direction “The 4400” was going. A rather interesting chat, as everyone who is into the show is caught up and wanting to know what’s next and why did it all happen.

K2K: How’s the show been going?
CS:
We’ve pretty much enjoyed the season quite a bit, and the second half is looming up. This is episode 7 tonight, so we’re at the half-way point basically. Every episode from here on in, pretty much has a huge blast of energy and information, and tries to move the mythology forward, and has some good character stuff. So it’s going to be cool, very cool.

K2K: Have you been picked up for next season?
CS:
We get questions. Nothing ever changes. They tell us by the end of September or the beginning of October. We basically leap into each season not knowing.

K2K: You can’t leave it as a cliff-hanger.
CS:
Well, every year I do a show that kind of leads into and changes the playing field for what’s coming next, and yet at the same time, if need be, it raises a lot of questions that, if we did not come back, it’s still cool for the fans to be saying, “What did that mean?” or “What would have happened...?” It’s a very, kind of, narrow...
IB: Yeah, we’d know.
CS: So the cliffhanger ending was designed to be either a “would you take the shot?”. You could write the rest of the story yourself, off of that ending. So we did the same thing this year.

K2K: As some of the other [TV] series are doing “direct to DVD” movies, like “Stargate: SG-1”... if you did not get picked back up, would you think about trying to wrap up that way?
CS:
They’d have to ask us to do it, but sure. Yeah.
IB: We would like to probably do a movie, but I’m not quite sure we’d totally wrap it up ever. It doesn’t seem like that kind of story that you could just wrap up and tell you the truth. How do you wrap up 9/11? You know, 9/11 is supposed to be wrapped up. 4400 people coming back in a ball of light, if you could wrap your head around that... those changes, those ripple effects are going to happen. So yes, we can kind of put a little bit of of a button on Tom Baldwin, or Diana Skouris, or whatever. But I would not want to wrap it up in a nice, tidy bow, “The End.”
CS: Even if we answered every question about what happened while they were gone, and who truly took them and changed them... The way we sort of put Promicin out there, the story is almost as much about social change now, than it is about the mystery of what happened while they were gone.

K2K: It almost sounds like the “Terminator” series of films. People accept Terminator, although it doesn’t always make sense. Promicin is used, and they’re brought back, but now Promicin is created here, but you couldn’t have created it if you didn’t know it existed...
CS:
It’s a paradox.
IB: Ah yeah, I can always go back to Star Trek. But you have to go with those things. Time travel does not exist, and we don’t really know what it would be if it did exist. So, yes, there are those paradoxes that should not get in the way of good storytelling. And I’ve always said in Star Trek when we had the meetings about the time travel episodes... If that’s what the audience is sitting there wondering while watching the episodes, trying to figure out that, then we’ve lost the audience, and it’s not a successful episodes.
CS: I do have the equation that proves it’s possible though.

K2K: You know, we could get into the whole story about the later bass player for Iron Butterfly [Philip “Taylor” Kramer] who also happened to be a scientist. He had apparently found the structures that allowed molecules to go back and forth in time.
IB:
Are you saying that the bass player for Iron Butterfly discovered... (laughs)

At that time, Ira and Craig were whisked off by their handlers to the next roundtable discussion. About an hour later, they were both on hand at a “4400” panel, open to the public, were they answered questions from the audience, and gave further insight on the show and the upcoming episodes and season.

Craig and Ira announced that there was a new “4400” companion book available that would answer all of the fans questions (up to that point).

CS: I don’t know how many of you know it, but there is a new “4400” companion book, that is out [Editor’s note: “The 4400: The Official Companion Seasons 1 and 2”], with interviews with all of us. It’s definitely worth reading. It was written by a dear friend, Terry Erdmann.

IB: It is the best book on a TV series ever, since the “DS9” companion. The best book on a TV series ever written. What I tell people who ask me about [Star Trek] “Deep Space Nine,” I say, “Don’t ask me now. That was ten years ago. Just go to that book. I put it all in that book. You’ll find everything in that book. So he’s done a wonderful job with “The 4400,” and you will find out all kinds of wonderful little stories about the making of it. He’s a gentleman and a scholar.

Audience Member: Ira, were there certain characteristics that you saw in Jeff[rey Combs] that you thought would fit the characters in the Star Trek series?
Jeffrey Combs:
Oh, I want to hear this answer. (audience laughs)
IB: Here is the thing that is so... I’ve done a lot of shows, and worked for a lot of people, and sometimes you meet people who remind you of characters quite a bit. You can see the characters in them. Let’s put it that way. And then there are people who are nothing like the people that they play. The thing is is that Jeff is known for playing some very “out there” type of people. (audience laughs) He’s very quirky, and very interesting. He’s never boring as an actor. He is incredibly boring as a human being. (audience laughs)
JC: You may not understand it, and you’ll continue to not understand it because you’re not that smart. (audience laughs)
IB: Jeff is so awesome, in his life, to his family, to his kids. He’s a family guy. You know. We’ll hang out. He’s nothing like those characters. It’s all stuff that he brings to... and again, I know what he can deliver. I know that whatever we throw to him, he can do, much like everyone in the cast. We [“The 4400”] have a very strong cast. We wanted the best cast we could get.


Written by Philip Anderson / Photos © 2007 Keith Denison

Philip Anderson is a musician, in addition to being a writer/photographer. He has performed as a guitarist/vocalist, as well as songwriter, in several bands over the past 20 years. As a writer and photographer, he has been published by several magazines and in several books, and had his works appear on television.

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