The Stephen J. Cannell Interview

TWoP: How does that compare to writing a show? Do you enjoy having complete control and not having to deal with actors or anyone else?

Cannell: I never did worry about actors 'cause I got along with them so well, and I liked the social interaction with actors. But the one thing about novels is that it's all you. When I write a television script or a pilot or anything like that, the script is just the starting-off place, and then we add actors and we add directors and we add musicians and we add all these elements. And if the best part of the project was my script, then I failed. It should get better with every additional element that we put into it. That's one way of looking at creating a project, and that's the way you have to create film. But with a book, you're the whole band; you get to be everything. You can't hide behind the actor; it's all you.

TWoP: Finally, what do you think about how the Internet has changed the way that fans interact with the people who create TV? Is that the kind of instant feedback you wish you could have had back in the '80s and '90s?

Cannell: I think it's terrific. One of the problems that I always had as a writer, producer and show owner in television was that I really basically just had to trust my own gut instinct for how it was. I didn't have the feedback that you get now from the Internet. And I think we're moving into an exciting new era where we're going to have completely different forms of programming developed that are going to be consistent with this new technology. And I'm very excited about it.

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