Marc Scott Zicree, Screenwriter for Sliders, Chat September 04, 1998

Moderator: Marc, anything you want to say before we start the chat?

MarcZicree: Glad to be here. And I'm glad the new episodes are finally airing!

Moderator: <HenryTheDog> to <Moderator>: Great to have you here Marc, so tell us the latest news for S5.

MarcZicree: Sliders has gotten an order for 18 episodes for season five. David Peckinpah, Bill Dial, Chris Black and Keith Damron (the freelancer who did LIPSHITZ and the VR

MarcZicree: episodes last season) are on staff as writers. My friend Michael Reaves, who won

MarcZicree: an Emmy for the animated BATMAN will be writing an episode. What else would you like to know?

Moderator: <HenryTheDog> to <Moderator>: Any thoughts on how to explain the disappearance of Quinn & Colin in S5?

Moderator: Send your questions to me, Moderator, by typing /msg Moderator

MarcZicree: Nothing solid yet on that yet, but there definitely will be an explanation... and it won't be that somebody had a dream

MarcZicree: for the last four years.

Moderator: <Quinn> to <Moderator>: I really like how Maggie Beckett has developed as a character. To what extent did you assist in her transformation?

MarcZicree: I was very much involved in that. A t the beginning of the fourth season, we writers met with Kari to discuss her character.

MarcZicree: I felt strongly that she needed to be humanized and made more compassionate and likable. I reworked many of the outlines

MarcZicree: we had in hand and wrote "World Killer" to show what I had in mind for her character. I was very pleased with what we

MarcZicree: did with Maggie's character this year.

Moderator: <Gregslide> to <Moderator>: How much time do you spend to work on one scenario of Sliders ?

MarcZicree: It varied greatly. When you're a writer-rpoducer, you're

MarcZicree: working on many episodes at once. In a given week,

MarcZicree: you might outline one story, write a script, having editing notes, be on set,

MarcZicree: etc., etc. Generally, it took me a day to a week to outline (depending on if the muses were speaking to me), then a week or two to write the script.

MarcZicree: Rewrites would follow, though most scripts only had two or three drafts.

Moderator: <Gregslide> to <Moderator>: TV magazines like Xposť found SlideCage (an episode you wrote) was the best science-fiction episode of this year. How can you explain this success ?

MarcZicree: That's very nice to hear. It was exciting to write.

MarcZicree: The story behind it is rather fun. While I was on the set of "World Killer,"

MarcZicree: I heard that the series TIMECOP had just been cancelled. Their standing

MarcZicree: sets were on the next soundstage over. I went over to Stage 16

MarcZicree: and saw these incredible futuristic sets.

MarcZicree: On the spot, I thought up the story for "Slidecage"

MarcZicree: to utilize these sets. I then went back to my office and told my

MarcZicree: assistant to get me those sets. Et voila.

Moderator: .

Moderator: <Gregslide> to <Moderator>: As some actors from the original cast left the show, the writers have a lot of work to keep a coherent story. Are you happy with the evolution of the show, or you regret some choices you have been obliged to make ?

MarcZicree: It would have been fun to write stories with Wade and Arturo, but they were gone before I came aboard. The positive side of that was that it

MarcZicree: forced us to develop and deepen the characters

MarcZicree: we still had. I'm not coming back for season five although I've been asked (I'm writing the MAGIC TIME books, setting up that series and pro

MarcZicree: bably doing a pilot or two more) but I am in conversation with the boys on SLIDERS.

MarcZicree: I think the new characters will be very interesting to explore -- and the venue of

MarcZicree: SLIDERS readily allows for new characters.

MarcZicree: Another interesting sidenote about SLIDECAGE, by the way, is that the

MarcZicree: character in the walls was written with Armin Shimerman

MarcZicree: in mind (hence the in-joke to BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

MarcZicree: in which Armin played Pascal)

MarcZicree: Armin read the script and agreed to play the part. Unfortunately, there was a one-day scheduling conflict with DS9 which we could not

Moderator1: <Gregslide> to <Moderator1>: Do you find that Sliders is now closer to the state of mind of the 1st season ?

MarcZicree: resolve -- and it was on the DS9 episode I wrote! So my DS9 episode shot my SLIDERS

MarcZicree: episode in the foot.

Moderator1: We were experiencing technical difficulties. We apologize for any inconvinence.

Moderator1: Please send your questions to Moderator1, not Moderator. We were experiencing some technical difficulties.

Moderator1: <ThunderGirl> to <Moderator1>: when will we here news about who will be all the sliders in season 5?

MarcZicree: They haven't been cast yet. I'm sure as soon as they are, the announcement will be made.

Moderator1: <Irides> to <Moderator1>: What's the most difficult part of writing an effective script for a sci-fi series like this [Sliders]?

MarcZicree: To avoid cliches -- both of science fiction as a whole and of the series itself. Early on, we realized there was a certain kind

MarcZicree: of story we were doing too many times:

MarcZicree: our guys slide into some dystopic society, get captured by the bad guys, escape, meet the valiant underground and help them

MarcZicree: overthrow the bad government.

MarcZicree: As soon as we realized this, we stopped doing that story.

MarcZicree: So the challenge is to stay fresh, come up with things

MarcZicree: you haven't seen before and

MarcZicree: be open to what's around you in the real world.

MarcZicree: To say something of truth, to write something worth writing.

Moderator1: <Quinn> to <Moderator1>: Have you ever had an idea for an episode which would require special effects that would surpass budget constraints?

MarcZicree: Actually, I was glad we didn't have a huge FX budget, because I think that can be a crutch.

MarcZicree: My real interest inSLIDERS was exploring who these people were,

MarcZicree: what they felt, how they cared about each other.

Moderator1: <SliderNum5> to <Moderator1>: Will Sliders videos come out in the near future?

MarcZicree: There were stories I wanted to do at various points that didn't gel for one reason or another, but I'm happy with what go made.

MarcZicree: I don't know, but that would certainly be a great idea. Write Barry Diller.

Moderator1: <NancyD> to <Moderator1>: Do you have a favorite sliders episode or scene?

MarcZicree: I'm pleased with both "World Killer" and "Slidecage". As for episodes by others, I really liked Tracy's

MarcZicree: "The Guardian". There's also an episode coming up

MarcZicree: that Chris Black wrote about Maggie's coming to closure over

MarcZicree: her husband's death that I think is a really fine job.

MarcZicree: And the western with the Kromagg cowboy is a hoot.

Moderator1: <Gregslide> to <Moderator1>: Sliders changed my life : I always pay attention to the consequences of my acts. Do you consider that our smallest actions can change our future, or you find the fate is important ?

MarcZicree: It's a lot of fun to think about the road not taken.

MarcZicree: As for fate, I try hard to guide my own life and live

MarcZicree: a life with meaning. It's important to step off the conveyor belt

MarcZicree: and figure out where you want to go.

Moderator1: <SliderNum5> to <Moderator1>: Is the new season going to have a new plot? Or is it the same with the Kromagg situation, or are you guys even at that point?

MarcZicree: There will be Kromagg stories, but fewer than last year --

MarcZicree: and even last year we worked hard not to have the

MarcZicree: Kromagg stories overpower the rest of the episodes.

MarcZicree: The trick with the Kromaggs was to try to do

MarcZicree: something different each time, not

MarcZicree: just tell the same story over and over.

MarcZicree: But the new season will have lead characters with new and different agendas.

Moderator1: <HenryTheDog> to <Moderator1>: So Marc, have you been enjoying DragonCon? What has been the fan reaction to seeing you and meeting you? BTW thanks for being open with the fans and always answering our questions!

MarcZicree: You're very welcome. I'm enjoying Dragoncon a lot, got to talk with Ray Harryhausen and Harlan

MarcZicree: Ellison, two guys who warped me permanently when I was a child and

MarcZicree: made it possible for me to make a living in this interesting and surprising way.

MarcZicree: The fans have been great, and I'm glad that the work I did this past year

MarcZicree: on SLIDERS and DS9 and ANIMORPHS has been met with such

MarcZicree: an appreciative response.

MarcZicree: I felt a strong responsibility to the fans to make the shows better, to have

MarcZicree: them not be artistic ripoffs.

Moderator1: <cool> to <Moderator1>: can you reveal one or two synopsis of the S5 ?

MarcZicree: I've been asked not to reveal the specific stories for season five, but I can tell you that the story Michael Reaves just sold to SLIDERS

MarcZicree: will be one that people we be excited about and will cause a lot of discussion. Suffice it to say that

MarcZicree: the story will answer a question the fans have been asking

MarcZicree: for some time.

Moderator1: <Maus> to <Moderator1>: What other projects do you have in store alongside Sliders?

MarcZicree: Additionally, I've been talking to both Chris Black and David Gerrold, advocating

MarcZicree: that they do the story that we

MarcZicree: bought from David last t

MarcZicree: season , which dealt with a gestalt mind and the issue of personal relationship

MarcZicree: to God. It will take some retooling now that the leads are

MarcZicree: different, but will still make a terrific episode, I think. The

MarcZicree: reason we didn't do it last season was that it held a certain similarity to one of our other episodes, so we couldn't do them

MarcZicree: too closely together. I'd say it's a good bet it will

MarcZicree: get made this year.

Moderator1: <Maus> to <Moderator1>: What other projects do you have in store alongside Sliders?

MarcZicree: As to other projects, I've written a modern-day fantasy pilot entitled MAGIC TIME, which David Entertainment --

MarcZicree: the company that did THE FIRM and DOCTOR DOOLITTLE

MarcZicree: -- has optioned. Sorry, that's Davis Entertainment. We're setting it up as a TV series. At the same time, I've sold MAGIC TIME as a series of

MarcZicree: books to Harper Prism. Barbara Hambly and I are writing the first book now. Beyond this, my wife and I have a series we want to do

MarcZicree: called REAL STORY. We just met with Tom Fontana -- who runs HOMICIDE and OZ -- and he's agreed to come aboard, to help us

MarcZicree: sell the show. Also, CBS Productions wants me to do a pilot for them, based on my weird family (that's a whole nother story)

Moderator1: <ThunderGirl> to <Moderator1>: do you ever go to the sliders bulletin boards?

MarcZicree: It's called CHAMPION OF THE OPPRESSED. There's a couple of other things in the works, but that's plenty for now.

Moderator1: Please send your last questions to Moderator1 : /msg Moderator1 followed by your question.

MarcZicree: I don't check out the bulletin boards, although I'm glad there is such an active group of SLIDERS fans.

Moderator1: <Gregslide> to <Moderator1>: what do you think of all the Sliders web sites out there ?

MarcZicree: I think they're great. To tell the truth, before I got hired on SLIDERS I downloaded the episode synopses off the net, so I'd know what I was

MarcZicree: talking about when I met with David Peckinpah. When

MarcZicree: Iwas hired on as a writer-producer for the fourth season, I had only seen the SLIDERS

MarcZicree: pilot. So I had to catch up fast. Truth to tell, once I got the job I

MarcZicree: took a look at the third-season episodes I was horrified. And then I thought

MarcZicree: Ah hah, I know how to make this better. Part of that was to go back to the earlier seasons and

MarcZicree: see what they had initially done right, such as the social satire and

MarcZicree: the humor.

Moderator1: <ransom> to <Moderator1>: Which show was most challenging to write for: DS9, B5 or Sliders?

MarcZicree: They all had different challenges; each was a show that I personally liked.

MarcZicree: The major challenge, though, is always the same one: to get in touch with what I

MarcZicree: feel strongly about my own life and find some way to communicate that movingly through

MarcZicree: the characters of any given series.

Moderator1: and our last question: <TheLoneSlider> to <Moderator1>: if you had sliding technology would you use it?

MarcZicree: The challenge with B5 was to write characters where Joe knew where they were going but I didn't. T

MarcZicree: The challenge with DS9 was to find some way to totally overthrow the show and do something they had never done before.

MarcZicree: The challenge with SLIDERS was to make it live up to its tremendous potential, to make it what we all had hoped it would be.

MarcZicree: It's been a very gratifying year to have had such great opportunities.

Moderator1: and our last question: <TheLoneSlider> to <Moderator1>: if you had sliding technology would you use it?

MarcZicree: If I had sliding technology would I use it... hm, interesting. I'd use it only if I could get back here, because I really like my life. Someone

MarcZicree: once asked me how I would change the world if I could, if I had ultimate power.

MarcZicree: I replied that I would give every human being total empathy, so no one could hurt anyone else. It would be nice to see that, I think.

Moderator1: Marc, any last words for Sliders fans?

MarcZicree: Thank you all for your many kindnesses and great suggestions. It's been a gift for me getting to know you.

Moderator1: I will now open up the channel ...

Back to Chat Transcript Home Page