Carrie Fisher is 'On the Lot'

Sunday, May 20, 2007

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Author, screenwriter, actress, forever Princess Leia, Carrie Fisher is one of the judges on Fox's "On the Lot," a new reality competition among aspiring film directors executive produced by Steven Spielberg and Mark Burnett ("Survivor").(Among those competing: West Alexander native Andrew Hunt, 31. More on him in tomorrow's Tuned In Journal.)

On a recent teleconference with reporters, Fisher and Burnett talked about the show, premiering at 9 p.m. Tuesday and 9:25 p.m. Thursday.

How good are these wannabe filmmakers?

Carrie Fisher: I promise you, four or five of these filmmakers are exceptionally good and there are a few really good writers. In order to be a good director on this show, you have to be a good editor, a good camera operator, you have to be able to light the set. It's not just being able to wake up in the morning and having a good voice. You have to have many skills, not the least of which is to delegate and on the set be the parent figure.

Do you look to other reality show judges for inspiration?

CF: I do admire Simon [Cowell from "American Idol"] because I understand what Simon is doing. I could never do that, but I appreciate what it is. This is a coliseum and there are people watching this as spectators. It really is kind of: You live, you die. ... Even though people say they don't like what he's saying or doing, people are watching him.

Mark Burnett: [The contestants] would listen with rapt attention. One of them said, "I can't believe I'm 10 feet away from Princess Leia."

CF: Which is what I want to hear at the age of 77.

What part of the process have you most enjoyed?

CF: It was so riveting to watch six different directors shoot the same page of screenplay. You can really see different peoples' strengths, especially watching them doing a suspense scene six different ways. Quite seriously, it was one of the most extraordinary experience I've ever had in my life and I don't think I've had a sheltered life.

As a writer, did it give you pause before doing a reality show since many writers view reality television as taking jobs away from them?

CF: As an actor, when I worked with Woody Allen I enjoyed improvising within the understanding of what a scene was. As a writer, it is threatening, but as an actor, it is exciting and very, very challenging to have to make things up. It's great for a producer because you don't have to pay the writer and you have an actor who is a writer, but it's not great for a writer.

MB: This show is WGA (Writer's Guild of America, West) and DGA (Director's Guild of America), so it is a full union show. There are writers working on the show, WGA writers.

CF: They actually hand me things to say that are written that I rewrite. I don't think reality television is ever gonna get rid of written television. It can't. There's room for both forms of entertainment.

How did you get involved in "On the Lot"?

CF: Steven [Spielberg] asked me to do this, and if Steven asks me to do something.... And I really respect what Mark has done. ... Combining a reality show with movies is sort of the best thing I could imagine and having Steven around got me in.

It's the 30th anniversary of "Star Wars." Will you talk about that on "On the Lot"?

MB: I've been so busy in the edit bay and getting married [to Roma Downey] that I haven't thought about it, but as you know I've done stuff with "Star Wars" before [on my other reality shows].

CF: I will wear the iron bikini [from "Return of the Jedi"] on the show. We won't discuss it, we'll go on with the show as usual, that's what will happen. It won't be nice at my age, but it will be what happens.

Mike Yarish/Fox
Carrie Fisher (AKA Princess Leia) is one of the judges this week for Fox's movie-making competition series "On the Lot."


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