Interview with Creator/Executive Producer Hart Hanson from Bones

Hart Hanson, the Creator/Exec Producer of one of my favorites, Bones, spoke with the press earlier this week about the rest of the season, the Booth/Bones relationship, Emily Deschanel’s (Bones herself) real life pregnancy, the “spin-off,” and his thoughts on next season. He was so fantastic to talk to. You can tell he really loves what he does, really loves the show and the cast, and is really excited about the new show. Check out the great answers he gives below!

More on the crossover episode

Well, my worry if that the Bones fans will feel away from their Bones people more than they would be comfortable unless these guys charm them instantly, which I hope happens. The only character from Bones who doesn’t appear in it to work with Walter and Ike and Leo is Sweets. Everyone else is in it and interacts with him. So I hope we’re not away too much but at the same time, we had to make an episode that showed what these other characters can do and show them together enough that we would see what a series with them would look like. So it’s quite an experiment. It’s a really good question. I guess we’ll know Friday morning how the Bones fans took to Walter, Ike and Leo.

Jump with us to see more.

On Booth’s emotional journey and taking responsibility for his past relationships

If that moment [where he looks and realizes his part in the failures of his past relationships] happens to him then it happens in a flash of light. How’s that? That’s about all I’m willing to say about it.

[I will] tell you this—we’ve been building all year to something. I would hate to say what it was, but we’ve been building all year and I’d hate to cheat the audience in any way out of the experience that we’ve worked really hard to get them to. That is in there.


On the spin-off

Spin-off has always been a troublesome term to me. It’s more like we did a crossover with a series that doesn’t exist yet and that we hope it does come to exist. I have an overall deal at 20th. I either write or work on a pilot each year, it’s part of my deal. This year I was kind of laying low in a way and then Lisa Katz at 20th gave me The Locator novel called The Knowland Retribution by Richard Greener and it is such a good idea, a simple, clear good idea for a network series. A guy who can find anything—find people or things. There’s a line that I put in the Finder crossover/pilot episode where Walter says to Brennan, “It’s amazing how many times people ask me to find something and the real treasure is something else altogether.”

Good stories are generated by people after a tangible thing or outcome, and then if what they really want or their desires are at odds with that then you get a good story. It seemed to me that doing a series based on a guy who could find things, both tangible and intangible, for people would be a really good idea for a series. It just generates so many stories.

Then—is this a longer answer then you wanted?—the idea that being a crossover really appealed to me because last year when I went to do a pilot I was away from Bones for weeks and weeks and this being a Bones episode meant I didn’t have to leave home. That I could keep an eye on getting through the end of the season on Bones while doing this spin-off at the same time, so it just all came together. It’s a really good financial model for the studio and the network. It just seemed like a good thing to try. It turned out quite well and I have great hopes for it.


On casting for the spin-off

Well, casting the Finder was hilarious. I mean the part played by Michael Clarke Duncan was originally written for an old, skinny white man, and instead we got Michael Clarke Duncan who is none of those things, and Geoff—the role of Walter Sherman was a bit darker. He had some brain damage in Iraq and had a darker side, and then this man came in—Geoff Stults came in to talk to us and read the part and he was just really funny. He feels to me like some—if we don’t make him a star on Finder somebody else is going to grab this guy and make him a star.

I feel like it was akin to how they must have felt when they saw Tom Selleck walk in the first time. A big handsome guy who’s very funny and doesn’t seem to be at all vain about his looks and it really turned out. Then the three of them—Saffron Burrows is in it as well—have a great chemistry. It feels like a show to me but we did make some shifts as we casted, which you always have to do, but it was a delightful shift, this one, not ones that curtailed the project.


On “The Change in the Game,” the season finale

The last two episodes of this season I think are going to run the whole gamut of tone that Bones does from, I’m going to say A to Zed, but I better say A to Z. A lot happens in those last two episodes, and I think the title of the season finale, “The Change in the Game,” is about as much as I want to say about it in any kind of detail. I just think it’s going to be one of those shows that the Bones audience will talk about and enjoy hugely. If anyone feels there’s an anticlimax to it, then I totally failed in my job.


On what he finds most gratifying about working on Bones

Oh, there’s a lot of things. The Bones cast and crew are like a theater company. We really enjoy each other. It was really fun to have some outsiders come on to Bones for Finder and react to our cast and crew. It was very gratifying to see people from the outside recognize what it’s like to work on Bones. These are great people. I think as long as people keep murdering people we’ll have stories, and the chemistry between all the actors on Bones allows us to go in many, many directions.

Bones is fun to work on. It’s a fun—I keep saying the word fun but it is. Of all the shows I’ve ever worked on Bones is gratifying and fun to work on, and it gives us a wide variety, wide range of tones that we can do. We can make you cry. We can be odd. We can make you laugh and maybe throw up a little bit and that’s a lot of fun to work on for all of us.


On working with Emily Deschanel’s baby bump

Well, those are big Season Seven questions, and I don’t want to obstinate too much but we have a lot of decisions to make as we move forward into Season Seven. Season Seven would probably be a curtailed season in some respects. We don’t know how much yet. We have a lot of things to figure out about how to deal with Emily’s pregnancy, never mind anything we decide to do with Brennan and there are an infinite number of ways we could deal with the pregnancy. We can hide it. We can not hide it.

We have a plan right now. I’m going to be stubborn about saying what our plan is going into Season Seven. We’re shooting the final episode of Season Six right now and we’ve had no cause to show or hide much of Emily. She’s not showing all that much yet. That will happen soon but if I told you how we were going to proceed into Season Seven, it would give you too much information on how we intend to get out of Season Six.

We’re still contending with the effects of Emily’s pregnancy on the show. For example, one possibility would have been for us, if we had enough scripts in the pipeline, to keep going through this summer instead of taking a hiatus and then take the hiatus when Emily was unable to work and have her baby. We don’t have any scripts in the pipeline because we haven’t been picked up for Season Seven, but there’s any number of range of possibilities as to what we would do. Do we do shows without Emily? Do we simply shutdown when Emily’s not available and thus do 16 or 18 episodes or do we do a few episodes without her? These are all choices that we have to make.

I’m ready to pitch a bunch of alternatives to the network but of course, we haven’t had those conversations yet. We’ve had creative conversations on how to get out of Season Six but we haven’t had any creative conversations or production conversations with the network about how to get in to Season Seven. We of course have had multiple production conversations with the studio but in the end, the network will weigh in heavily on—for example, were we to do four episodes without Emily, is the network interested in that for Bones or does their testing show that that would hurt the show? Those are all conversations we haven’t had yet that I just have to be ready for any one of those contingencies, what the Bones show will look like in Season Seven.


My first question, on how having a baby will affect Angela (& actress Michaela) and her work

Well, the person question that’s most concerned about this is Michaela saying, “Does this mean I’m staying home or anything,” and it’s like as far as that baby goes it becomes—he or she because I don’t want to give away to much—folds into the family. I think the Jeffersonian probably has top notch daycare and it will become another source of stories but I don’t expect it to diminish Michaela’s/Angela’s participation in the show one jot, although we would like to show that it’s not nothing to have a baby in your life. It changes your life to have a baby; anyone who’s had a baby knows, and so we will make that part of the story telling but we don’t want to in any way diminish one of our most important character’s role in the show.


My second question – on the baby Hodgela health problems and its effects

Well, we always wanted—I always think of Angela and Hodgins as just the greatest couple in the world. They don’t have very many internal problems so they have to go through obstacles that come at them from the outside and watch them deal with it. As things stand now in our Bones show, the baby has a 75% chance of being born fine—with the sight absolutely fine—and a 25% chance of being born blind. We just want to see how that looks to Hodgins and Angela, and I think it’s alright to say that the season ender has a lot to do with the birth of Angela and Hodgins’ baby. We’ll find out then how they are going to proceed in their lives as a family.


On any additional characters to the Finder series if picked up

Aside from the three central, the other main character will be Isabelle who is attached probably to the Miami FBI. It could be Miami field office of the FBI or the Miami Dade Police Force. She is Walter’s main squeeze on and off. I’d like to really avoid doing another “will they or won’t they” series. It’s more emotional than romantic. This is his law enforcement connection with whom he sometimes has an on again / off again affair. Those would be the four main recurring characters right off the bat. It’s also possible that we need someone else in the Ends of the Earth Bar where Ike runs the bar to help her there although that would be down the line.


On renewal status and option for truncated season

They are talking like crazy over there, I know. In 2009, it wasn’t settled until the weekend before Upfronts, so I imagine this could be anywhere between now and May 15th we’ll come to a deal. I’m very confident that we will, in fact, come to a deal but there’s all sorts of hoops and hurdles to jump through and over.

[A truncated season is] part of the negotiations as everyone tries to figure out what exactly it will look like. Are we going to make 16? Are we going to make 18? Are we going to make 22? I guess those are all the models they’re going through, although far be it for me to say how that affects the license fee negotiations. We’re kind of used to that over here right now because House is in the same—well, not quite the same place but in a very similar place to us.


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