Friedman on Programming TV's Terminator

In our weeklong look at "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles," CBR News has spoken with performers Thomas Dekker, Garret Dillahunt, Shirley Manson and Summer Glau, and we continue today with Executive Producer Josh Friedman. Before becoming the showrunner on "The Sarah Connor Chronicles," writer Josh Friedman was familiar to most for his work on the films "The Black Dahlia," "War Of The Worlds," "Chain Reaction," and his popular blog I Find Your Lack of Faith Disturbing.

Now, as Executive Producer the Terminator TV series, Friedman charts the path of the savior of humanity, John Connor, and his mother Sarah. The show begins its second season September 8 with a guaranteed thirteen episodes and the possibility of an additional nine to complete the season. Picking up only seconds after last year's explosive season finale that left the heroic Termainator Cameron in the burning wreck of a car, we catch up with Friedman right after the "Sarah Connor Chronicles" panel at last month's Comic-Con International in San Diego.

It was revealed in the panel that a main character would die in the second season, a decision that had only been made a day or two prior to the convention. "Yes, we are killing somebody off. I guess maybe I should have told the cast before the panel," Friedman joked. "It's one of those things. Everyone says, 'you've got to give the fans something, they like to know new things at Comic-Con.' It's something we've been working on in the writers' room and I was like, 'well we could say this?' I hadn't seen the cast since we made our decision. I saw the cast at 11:17am [just minutes before they were to go on stage] in the green room and they're nervous enough as it is. I was just like, 'naaaw, it will be worth the theatre,' you know?"

With "Terminator: Salvation," the first of a new trilogy of Terminator films now in production, it would seem like an amazing opportunity to tie both the show and the films together. However, Friedman is fairly confident that will not happen. "It's virtually impossible to do," he confirmed. "They're in production doing their thing [and] we're in production doing our thing. I've spent time with ['Terminator: Salvation' director] McG; we've talked about it, we've had the theatrical people sit down and talk. There's no real point to it, it's very complicated to do."

Friedman doesn't think the two timelines will confuse viewers, though. "I really believe that people are discerning enough to say this is the movie expression, this is the TV expression, and that's okay," Friedman said. "The way the genre, the way the franchises are sort of being branded out, you end with a lot of different expressions of a franchise. Sometimes they are all in canon, sometimes they are not, and I think sometimes it's more confusing for fans when people try to do back bends and make that happen."

While there's never been a serious conversation about creating a syncronicity between the two stories, one thing that has been discussed is the matter of marketing. "We have talked more about a way to dovetail off the marketing of the movie so more people can watch the show," Friedman said. "That's what I want, I want that."

Not knowing whether the season is going to end after 13 or 22 episodes created a different creative process than what the writing staff was used to. "Process-wise it's very interesting because we don't go on the air till September 8, but we are shooting episode five, we are writing episodes ten, eleven and twelve right now, and starting on Monday we will be working on breaking episode thirteen," Friedman explained. "So we're almost done with what we are being paid to do. Usually what they do is pay us to do another three scripts so they can keep the train going because if we stop working, if they then want us to do it, then we'll get completely screwed. Creatively, I've always planned for 13 and hoped for 22 so I tried to find a really good organic place for 13. It's sort of like halftime at the football game."

Outside of the televised episodes, "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" fans can look forward to specially created content available only on the internet. "It's still in the nascent stage," Friedman said. "We're trying to figure out a very economical way to do some future stories. I think that is fun stuff to do. I know that we are doing more future stuff in the regular season, we are doing at least one big dedicated future story. Last year's 'Dungeons & Dragons' was a big future story and we are going to try to integrate it more in flashes throughout the season, and we have some ideas of using those sets that they're already building to do some stuff. I'm not being vague, we're still writing them [and] we're still working on them. It's going be future oriented and it will involve some crossover with the main cast that's in the regular show and hopefully Lena [Headey]or Thomas [Dekker] or I will direct episodes of it."

Also new this season is Shirley Manson of the band Garbage, who joins the cast of "The Sarah Connor Chronices." "Shirley is a friend of mine, she and my wife have known each other for ten years," Friedman revealed. "So I've known Shirley for years, not well but off and on. You know, come over for a party or something like that. So last year, whenever I'd see her I'd say 'you should come on, do the show.' She has such a cool presence. She thought I was just joking. Then I called her this year and said 'we have this character, are you interested in trying [acting]?' She had to audition; she auditioned at [Warner Bros.] and she auditioned at Fox and she won the role fair and square as an actor."

Fox has earned a reputation of killing shows before they even begin, and with so many mid-season replacements waiting in the wings like "Dollhouse," some Terminator fans are waiting for the network to live up their reputation. "I am comfortable there as I would be anywhere [else]." Friedman said. "People ask me this and I keep saying [the Fox executives are] different guys, they're not the same guys. Maybe corporately up in the big world they are, but the guys that I deal with, they weren't that regime, they weren't the ones that cancelled 'Firefly.' They weren't around for 'Firefly' or 'Family Guy.'"

In fact, Friedman is perfectly happy that the show is on Fox. "I am trying to imagine what the show would be like on NBC or CBS." Friedman said. "To me it's a Fox show. They do action, they are an edgier place to be, they're not afraid to do disruptive television and marketing. I can't imagine any other network would have done the hanging-half-naked-Cameron last year for their main marketing. I was stunned that they did that."

Our weeklong focus on "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" concludes tomorrow with two of the Executive Producers, James Middleton and John Wirth.

It's a Zombie Tsunami in Final Trailer for Syfy's Zombie Tidal Wave

More in Movies