Hey this is your pal David. I’m a writer, you may have watched House on Fox. I’ve also written for other shows.
My twitter is http://twitter.com/shorez. As most wanna be messiahs have said, I want followers.
I’m here today to answer any questions you have. Also, check out the pilot of my new show Sneaky Pete on Amazon. It’s already been picked up for nine more episodes so I actually don’t care.
I’ve heard good things about reddit – don’t let me down.
Do you ever feel bad that Hugh Laurie’s has a real limp now?
yes but he can afford a lot of physical therapy
You won an Emmy for Three Stories which is generally regarded to be the best episode in the show. Other fan favourites include One Day, One Room and of course, the two part Season 4 finale — House’s Head and Wilson’s Heart. Were there any episodes you wrote, or any episodes in general, that you yourself are a fan of, or have a special connection to, aside from these ones?
As I’ve said, I love all my children equally. But my children know that’s bullshit.
I did like those. A lot.
Was Hugh Laurie your first choice to play Dr. House?
We offered the part to several people; we auditioned many, many more. But once Hugh auditioned, there was no doubt
What is Mike Tomlin like in person?
you actually made me laugh one of our writers came to Omar, told him he looks like the new Steelers coach – Omar mocked him, all black people look alike, huh? – then Omar saw Mike’s picture and shut up
Would you ever consider bringing back House (the character or the show) in some form? What do you believe happened to House and Wilson after the show ended? Did House ever see Cuddy again?
I would. But the chances of coming up with a story, having all the actors available. And…… all the corporate entities reaching agreement…
What does a character need to stay interesting and relevant in episodic dramatic TV? Most of your shows don’t have huge overarching season long plots (like a Breaking Bad) and deal with the case of the week (House, L&O). How do you successfully design and develop a character inside of that framework?
Very good question. Too long to answer. The real challenge is to have a character and situations that surprise an audience that expects to be surprised in a way that makes complete sense but no one saw coming. If you can do that, you’re golden.
Did Stephen Fry ever want to do a cameo?
he never asked but we often thought about it – unfortunately never could figure out just the right story if you think you’ve got one, please keep it to yourself because I’ll either think you’re an idiot or feel deep deep regret
I’ve always liked how Kutner’s suicide lent more credence to House’s committal into Mayfield. Despite the show’s procedural nature, I feel like that episode, and the four after to the end of Season 5, work really well as a whole. Without ads, I think that’s slightly over three hours. Was it always the plan to send House to an asylum, even before you knew Kal Penn was leaving?
I’m pretty sure that was worked out as one big arc – glad it felt like it
What TV shows are you currently watching?
I have many friends in the industry but I secretly hate them so I don’t want to promote any shows that aren’t mine
Is it especially stressful to pump out hour-long episodes every week? Also, what is your favorite house quote?
Yes. Very stressful. This one is long but: you know nuns, once you get the IUD out of them, they bounce right back. How bout this: Blew the Janitor Or… Everybody lies. I know I’m forgetting one. And I think it might be my actual favorite.
How did the character of House change as you were creating him?
I’m really not sure. I stewed for months. And months. And then he kind of was birthed fully formed.
I think the Holmes/Watson :: House/Wilson parallels might not have been obvious to viewers early on. (Even though the first case was an Adler…) Did it take the fans and critics longer than you expected to pick up on the homages? Or were there people from the get-go who saw what you were up to?
Some people pick up right away. Others just noticed when you asked that question. I do find that surprising.
How did you come up with the concept for House?
Lots of stewing. Bit of Sherlock Holmes. Bit of me (that’s kind of a cheat isn’t it). Bit of a good experience with a doctor that should have been a bad experience. Bit of me now wanting to create another Marcus Welby. Bit of the networks wanting a medical show from me (I didn’t really want to)
How’s working with Amazon? What are some differences between that working relationship and the one you had with Fox?
So far it’s been fantastic – they seem to really respect the creative process
Do you have any weird/funny stories from the House set (or any other)? Any gossip? Also, what’s your favorite food? I’m probably cooking tonight, any suggestions?
here’s as far as I’m going to go with gossip: someone on the crew was sleeping with someone else on the crew and they weren’t married to each other regarding dinner, breakfast at night is always nice
Why and how did you settle on the name House?
For the character or the show? For the character, it was an homage to Holmes (say them out loud) For the show, I hate cute names, it seemed simple and apropos. There was actually a lot of debate – someone called it a ‘fatal error’ – so plenty of others were considered – the one thing I was dead set against were puns (House Rules, etc.) Once the network came up with the logo (reminiscent of hospital symbol) it was done
How did you come up with that song to lead each episode?
During pilot shooting, Bryan Singer comes to me, really excited about something, drags me to his car to play a song for me – that song
How did you and the crew usually react after Hugh delivered a powerful line you had written? Obviously you had heard it in your head upon writing but for a line like “I like being alone. At least I’ve convinced myself I’m better off that way.” how did Hugh, or any other cast member’s performance impact you upon delivery?
once we came up with a joke I absolutely loved – went to Hugh and told him he can deliver this line absolutely any way he wants and it will still be funny – he viewed it as a personal challenge
Any thoughts on why you didn’t wind up writing more for NYPD Blue?
don’t think they liked my first script
Was Hack an enjoyable experience, coming into a show created by someone else?
no; seriously, it wasn’t – love Morse and Braugher but didn’t love the job – that’s what made me decide I needed to do my own show
Would you care to let us in on why Cameron was written out of the show?
set up that they were on a 3 year fellowship; didn’t want the do the fake TV thing of people being “rookies” forever
My friend/roommate was always obsessed with House growing up, he’s now in med school and I’m convinced House played a part in that decision, do doctors ever come up to you and tell you that House inspired them to become a doctor?
actually yes, hugely thrilling (but scares me for my future medical needs)
I absolutely love the show, and I’ve always wondered how much medical advice you were given. Did you have a doctor consult with you about the medical maladies, or did a doctor suggest some of the episode ideas to you?
one doctor part of writing staff, three doctors outside consultants who reviewed all and one nurse on set – not nice to tell people with brain cancer that there’s a cure if there’s not – nor is it nice to tell people with the flu that they’re going to die
In the case of Gregory House, what was the experience of writing a nihilistic misanthrope and getting into the head of that character? A depressing or enlightening process?
Really good point. It was both. It was gratifying and thrilling but it was also really complicated to live in that head for eight years.
How do you decide whether or not a show can continue running?
the network lets you know quite clearly
Who was your favorite person on set? Any funny memories while shooting that come to mind?
Lambie. (Look it up on youtube – it was an RSL alter ego)
How did you know Hugh Laurie was the right choice? Was there something from his audition that you remember sticking out?
others read and I would think they were good but something was somehow missing – then Hugh read and I just had this sudden realization that ‘yes, that’s what I meant’
What’s the best advice you can give someone who is interested in writing?
write. yes it’s trite but that’s the only advice. write, rewrite, then rewrite again – the stuff you think is great you will think is shit next week so keep at it
Did you ever consider ending the show with the twist that House was really Wilson’s brother with the mental disorder, and that he was hallucinating/fantasizing being a brilliant doctor the entire time?
yes, but I decided that that was stupid
What were the pills in the Vicodin bottles?
candy was in the Vicodin bottles (in one episode we were shooting in an actually pharmacy, I’m sure we could have stolen anything we wanted)
You came from the same town, and worked on at least one show (Due South) with Paul Haggis? Did you two come up together?
Not really. But my dad used to play his dad squash. Seriously.
What do you think of the place of comedy in dramatic films/series? You obviously have a good sense of comedy and it is all over your stuff. What do you think of dramas with little or none?
Thank you. They bore me. Except for Bones. (That’s a joke)
What’s the reason behind the London Ontario inside jokes? (That’s where I live!)
Speaking of “That’s where I live.” Season 1, I’m at a press event/party, show hasn’t been on, no one knows me, feel like I’m wasting my time, need to find a way to contribute. See a reporter from a Toronto paper, go up to him say ‘hey, I used to live in Toronto’. He looks right past me and says and I quote: “I still do… I see Paris Hilton.” Then he walks away. Anyway I lived in London Ontario till I was 20.
Why did you decided to break up the old team and decided to have a new one in season 4?
change before you’re asked for change and come on, who could work for that man for four years
On Twitter you said you asked Lisa to come back to do the final episode, but she didn’t. Why? When will the truth of her leaving be revealed?
I’d love to speak for her. So I will. Because it would be too painful to say goodbye again.
Any memories from the set of Meatballs?
I got my hands on the script one day and thought this is the worst thing I’ve ever read. I was very wrong. Also… I ruined a scene by wondering through the background. On purpose
How was the transition from Canadian TV to US? Any advice for others?
I didn’t really do it. I moved here, then got a job in Canada. So… no. No advice
What’s your creative/writing process like from concept to final script? Do you use notecards or whiteboards to map out the acts?
white boards, cards – love being able to visualize the whole story
In your own head-canon, the most important canon there is, what do you think happened to House after Wilson died?
I control what I control. The characters lives after I’m done, it’s whatever you want.
What is your writing method? Do you choose a particular place to write or particular music? What do you do when it comes to feeling writer’s block?
No. I can pretty much avoid writing anywhere.
Were there any character traits or important aspects of Dr. House that you did not get a chance to develop?
I don’t think so. That’s why I felt eight years was enough. There might have been more stories to tell but I didn’t think I had anything more to actually say.
I’ve always wondered, how much flak did you get from the media, or maybe even fans, claiming that the show glorified and possibly played down the effects of prescription opiate abuse?
the one standards and practice note we got during the pilot (we got more later) was to ask me to promise not to treat his addiction as a joke. And that was never our intention. It’s obviously a serious issue. Proud to say we got much much more praise than flak
House seems different than most Sherlock Holmes adaptations/homages on TV. Did you feel pressure to take elements from those stories as the seasons went on, or did you just take the name, the Wilson relationship, the superiority and the substance abuse, and tell your own story?
it was more vague inspiration – never felt constrained
Are cable networks like HBO, Showtime, or Netflix that aren’t as concerned with censorship more appealing than networks like Fox, CBS, etc? Were you ever required to cut scenes from House because of censorship concerns?
actually no – I couldn’t swear, I couldn’t show nudity but that just forced us to be more creative Which brings me to a story… Clinic story with a little girl who House realizes has been masturbating – network wouldn’t let us say that so we needed to come up with euphemisms – and I wanted to create our own…. Which were… Finding Nemo, Ya Ya’ing the sisterhood and… I can’t remember the third one but I will laugh when one of you remind me of it
Is it true you love Western so much that you’d like to return to do a writing workshop with students?
Yes. Why haven’t I been asked? My feelings are hurt. (So much I may not even do it if asked.)
How did you and the writers come up with all of the interesting underlying causes of illness for the episodes? Did you have medical professionals sharing head scratching cases? Or did you flip though medical journals, pick a rare illness and work backwards?
creative usually came first come up with story line with specific ethical dilemma, ask one of our doctor consultants how we can make that work in real world, they say we can’t, we rephrase until they say yes
Did you find any particular inspiration from real-life people when writing the character of House?
No. Anyone who says they were the inspiration is lying. (Ironic I suppose)
As a writer, do you feel the same as Jane Anderson referenced in her Emmy speech last night that it’s “a horrible horrible blank page”?
blank page 18 is particularly difficult
As a former Canadian/someone Canadians will always claim as Canadian, what do you think’s needed for Canadian television to be better?
Vicious circle. Talented people need a reason to stay. Which will only happen when the shows get better. Which will only happen when talented people stay. And no, people offended by that answer, I’m not saying there are no talented people who stay up there. I’m saying there aren’t enough. I’m sure you’re a genius.
How far in advance are you outlining? Did you know the end in the beginning and just fill until is is time, or was it a matter of “end is nigh, time to write a series finale”?
I did not know the ending at the beginning In broad strokes I usually was about a half season ahead of where we were writing
I still rewatch and am amazed and the tight interplay between the character plot points and the medicine. Which part of an episode would be written first, the character arc or the medical arc?
my writers referred to that as the shore weave (if it was a more clever nickname it would be obnoxious for me to say that) – we were always trying to do both at the same time
Are you a fan of pulp novels? Because it seems to have many references to “doc savage” in your works…
finally, that’s exactly what I was going for also, who’s doc savage? (was that a doc savage reference I just made)
Did making the show House ever make you a hypochondriac when you started to feel sick?
I hurt my leg at one point and my biggest fear was that I’d need a cane and have to spend the rest of my life listening to clever witticisms
What was your favorite House moment?
During the pilot, there was one shot by Bryan, rack focusing through an X-Ray onto House’s face and I suddenly knew this was a show Also when Lisa jumped out of bed during a scene forgetting she wasn’t wearing anything. Also when Chandler told Monica he loved her
Any news on Sneaky Pete?
Not sure when it will be on. But it will be on. Ten in total (to start)
Are any of those medical mysteries real?
They are possible and/or plausible but not real per se
Why isn’t it lupus?
our sweet spot for diseases was… can look like many other diseases and can kill you
Did House ever feel any responsibility for this moral dilemma and psychological pain (I know, “Life is pain”), and do you think House was a good or bad influence on the doctors he supervised?
he was both – anything else would have made for a much less interesting character and show Chase thought he was House but wasn’t Foreman was the opposite
Will you continue to make tv series for network or are you more and more attracted by the cable?
I believe network tv should be capable of (virtually) everything that can be done on cable but unfortunately the networks don’t seem to agree with me.
When creating an episode for a case, did you just search for a problem or disease and then base the episode off of that, or did you have the episode in mind then add the problem later?
usually started with both a disease and a character – always needed
What’s your favorite movie/ are you a movie guy?
not really – usually go and wish I’d stayed home and watched tv (even if it’s not on)
f Lisa left because of contract issues, why do the rumours seem so true?
no one was happy – when rumors don’t seem true, they don’t gain traction – that doesn’t mean they are true
Why don’t you make a sitcom anymore ? You were great in Everybody Loves Raymond…
I told Ray Romano I look like him. Thought he was going to slap me.
Do you have any advice on pitching?
Make it funny. Catch them quickly. Good teaser.
How does one get to pitch?
Get an agent. How does one get an agent? Write a great script. How does one get their script read? Now you’ve got me stumped.
How do you work in a writer’s room?
Badly. I’m quickly bored.
What has been the best film you have seen this year?
little indie called Jurassic World (I don’t see a lot of movies)
Where did the idea for House to frequently use metaphors come from?
I’ve been married for 20 years and my wife hasn’t asked me as many questions, in total, as this person has
How difficult was it to finish House M.D?
quite emotional when an actor finishes on an episode, after their last shot, the first assistant director announces ‘that’s a wrap on…’ when I heard ‘that’s a series wrap on Omar Epps’, cried a little
Any thoughts on Bernie Sanders? Feel the Bern?
after I won the Emmy (see how I slipped that in there), someone from the press asked me my opinion on the government response to Katrina. My opinion on both is – I’m not an idiot but the world should treat me as one.