The Wonder Years
TWoP: And as an artist, are you cool with somebody saying something like, "Hey, we'll fund this show for you if you put our car in it"?PB: Of course. We did it with Chevy, we did it with Applebee's, we did it with Under Armour in Friday Night Lights. We were way out in front of that. We approached them, and did so gladly because we were able to then incorporate all those products into the show. Tyra works at an Applebee's; Buddy Garrity runs a car dealership; obviously the athletes wear Under Armour -- it was a natural. It was a win-win for everybody: it gave our show added authenticity, and we were able to incorporate the products into a show in a way that didn't feel as though we were pandering. It felt very organic, and I loved it.
TWoP: Last week you were busy with Virtuality, a science-fiction TV pilot you're directing for Fox, which was co-created by Ron Moore, one of the masterminds behind Battlestar Galactica. What can you tell us about it? PB: We're just finishing up, doing a little more editing. I'm gonna shoot a new scene in New York this week, and it's a really interesting show. Ron Moore and Michael Taylor wrote the original script, and as you might expect if you're fans of those guys, which I definitely am, it's complicated and original and it'll be very unique and, at times, brilliant and, at times, a bit dense. So we're trying to clean up the density and focus on what's brilliant about it, but we should know what the network's gonna do with it in about three weeks.
TWoP: Some of your work has a very passionate following on the Internet. What do you think of the give and take between creators and fans that we're seeing more and more of now? Do you value that kind of feedback, or do you just want to be left alone to do what you do?PB: I think I used to be more reactive to it when I first realized it was going on -- both reactive to the positive and the negative. And sometimes I would actually be reactive to the point where I would make adjustments just based on it. Other times I would just feel good when someone wrote something nice and feel horrible when someone wrote something not so nice. And at this point there's just so much of it that it tends to not have the impact that it used to. Every once in a while I'll read something and I'll really -- you know, it's interesting, because I still think that some of the great television critics and film critics still get it right. And for all the talk about how the Internet and bloggers are going to destroy legitimate criticism, I'm generally more inclined to read critics that I like. I'm a huge fan of, for example, Bill Simmons on ESPN, who's been a good critic of mine for a long time in terms of telling me what he likes and doesn't like -- Bill's someone that I respect. David Denby at the New Yorker is someone that I respect.... You know, my mother I still listen to. [Laughs]