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Gargoyles FAQ

XXIII. Behind the Scenes & Production

1. Who was on the creative staff for Gargoyles?

Greg's answer:

The unsung (read largely uncredited) people who worked on the development of the series included the following:

Greg Weisman - Director of Series Development (Greg went on to be Supervising Producer of GARGOYLES.)

Bob Kline and Dave Schwartz - Development Art Directors (Bob later became a Producer/Director of GARGOYLES in its second season.)

Paul Felix and Greg Guler - Development Artists (Greg became lead character designer for GARGOYLES in its second season.)

Fred Schaeffer, Paul Lacy, Kat Fair, Cindy Chupack, Ellen Gurney - Development Associates.

(I hope I'm not leaving anyone out; we had a lot of development associates at Disney, and I'm not 100% sure if any of the others worked on GARGOYLES specifically.)

Also Gary Krisel and Bruce Cranston - my bosses, who were very involved in developing the show.

And Tad Stones - who provided some important conceptual advice.

After the show was developed and sold, we began assembling a production team for the first season, most of which was pre-produced and produced in Japan.

I was still a development executive at the time. I asked to be switched over to Producer, but my bosses wanted me to prove that I could do the job while I simultaneously held down my Executive slot. So that's what I did. We went through a couple of writers who didn't work out, and then Michael Reaves was brought aboard as writer and story editor.

In Japan, Kazuo Terada, Saburo Hashimoto and Takamitsu Kawamura were brought on as directors. Kazuyoshi Takeuchi was our lead character designer. And that's just the tip of the iceberg in terms of Japanese talent that worked on the show. (But I don't want this answer to turn into me just rewriting 66 episodes worth of credits down here.)

Back in L.A., Frank Paur was hired as our producer. Jamie Thomason was brought on as voice director. Laura Perrotta was our production coordinator. Dave Witting was our production assistant. Denise Byrne was our script coordinator. And Carl Johnson was our composer. Again, a lot of other people were involved, but that was the basic team for the first thirteen episodes.

Some of you may have noticed that I don't have a credit on the episodic television version of "Awakening". That's because, I was still officially an executive, and Disney executive's don't receive credit. The decision to allow me to officially move over from Executive to Producer came after the pre-production of the first season was completed. In fact, it came during post-production. As a matter of fairness, it was decided that any work that I had done as an executive would still not be credited. Frank Paur posted the five part "Awakening" by himself, while I posted the "Movie Version" for our Disneyworld Premiere. So I was credited as co-producer on the "movie" (which later became the home video) and on the other 8 episodes of the first season. Co-producer because I hadn't participated in pre-production except as an executive. I received no credit on any of the five parts of the television mini-series "Awakening" because my pre-production contributions were as an executive and my post-production contributions were minimal, because I was busy on the "movie".

The second season was a whole other story. We did 52 episodes and the crew expanded geometrically. Most (though not all) of our pre-production was brought back to the U.S. We added Bob Kline and Dennis Woodyard as Producer/Directors. Lisa Salamone was brought on as Associate Producer. (Laura Perrotta left Disney around this time.) Tom Pniewski was added as another Production Assistant. Greg Guler became our lead character designer. Butch Lukic, Patrick Archibald, Doug Murphy and others were brought aboard to storyboard and design, etc.

I officially shared producer credit (later supervising producer credit) with Frank. Michael remained a story editor and Brynne Chandler Reaves, Cary Bates and Gary Sperling were added as additional story editors. Lydia Marano became a regular writer on the series. My assistant Monique Beatty made the move with me and joined the Gargoyles team as a script coordinator.

Since I was no longer an executive, new executives were assigned to oversee the show. Jay Fukuto was director of current programming. Initially, he had Ellen Gurney watching the show. Later, my former development associate Kim Christianson took over. Adrienne Bello was the S&P executive from day one.

Again, refer to episode credits for a fuller listing of people.

GOLIATH CHRONICLES was a whole different animal. I wrote and story edited one episode only. Jamie Thomason remained the voice director. Denise stayed on as script coordinator. Tom Pniewski was promoted to Production Coordinator or Manager (sorry, Tom, I get those credits mixed up). Cary Bates wrote a couple episodes. Lydia wrote one. Another of our writers, Adam Gilad wrote one. Jay and Kim were still overseeing the scripts, but otherwise Pre-Production and Post- Production were moved to Nelvana in Canada. A new Supervising Producer, Scott Thomson was brought in. A new story editor, Eric Lewald, was brought in. Officially, I was a consultant, but I had my consultant credit removed, because I felt I hadn't been consulted enough to earn that credit. I believe Frank Paur may have consulted a bit as well, but I'm not sure. For the most part, it was a complete turnover in creative personnel. I've always thought that hurt the show.

2. How did the Gargoyles staff create such a detailed, complex, and well-planned universe?

Greg's answer:

Some of it was dumb luck. Serendipity. We started out with a pilot that had Vikings attacking a Scotish castle in the year 994 and then after the fact discovered that such an event was historically accurate.

After that we made an effort. We did research into both history and mythology (of multiple cultures). I already had an extensive background in Shakespeare (and a number of other random disciplines).

And we planned ahead. A whole bunch or us. Myself, Frank Paur, Michael Reaves, Brynne Chandler Reaves, Cary Bates, Gary Sperling, Lydia Marano... etc.

Personally, I had some long term plans. I was just careful about laying groundwork. I spent years working in comics which was good training for the kind of episodically serialized tapestry that we were creating. (I've also been watching ALL MY CHILDREN on and off for nearly thirty years, which didn't hurt.) HILL STREET BLUES was a big influence too.

And mostly, the stuff just wrote itself. I don't want to make it sound easy. But I had a definite sense that the Gargoyles Universe existed somewhere and that my job was to tap into it and discover what happened. Sometimes things just seemed right. Of course, Owen was Puck. Of course, Fox and Xanatos were in love. I didn't know these things when I started. But the answers became self-evident.

Nothing in my professional life, before or since, has ever given me as much pleasure.

3. Is there any part of Gargoyles Greg would have done differently?

Greg has no regrets, save what happened with The Goliath Chronicles (see FAQ XXII.1).  If he could do the whole Gargoyles thing over again, one specific change would be that he would have had the Pack shoot and kill Goliath, Elisa, Angela and Bronx in "Grief," to illustrate the point that they couldn't die while Anubis was trapped. Another would be that he would have had Cu Chulainn's armor and bones being present in the chamber that the Banshee trapped Goliath et al in, in "The Hound of Ulster."

4. What age group did they aim Gargoyles at?

Greg's answer:

We had a core age group (kids 6-11) that we needed to reach in order keep our advertisers happy, but I intentionally tried to build the show so that it operated on multiple levels and could appeal to the widest possible age range. So, no, I wasn't surprised that older fans liked it. Gratified definitely, but not surprised.

5. Did Greg have anything to do with character designs or colors?

A little, but character designs were mostly taken care of by the character designers, development artists, and animators, including Frank Paur, Greg Guler, Bob Kline, Dave Schwartz, Paul Felix, Roy Sato, etc. As for colors, Greg is colorblind, so he had even less to do with that.

6. Where did the "caped wings" idea come from?

Greg's answer:

Regarding the "caping of the wings"... That was Gary Krisel's idea, and initially I was against it because it felt too Batman to me. But at some point, I became a true convert. We sent a bunch of faxes to Japan to make sure they'd cape the wings whenever it was emotionally appropriate. That would give us opportunities to cape and uncape for various dramatic effects. Plus, hell, it looks cool.

7. Are there any blueprints for the layout of the buildings in the series?

There probably aren't any blueprints, but detailed model sheets are likely available in the Disney Archives.

8. Why do the characters wear the same clothes throughout the series?

Maybe they just like to dress that way.

If you want the real-world answer, it's that the Gargoyles crew, like the crews of nearly every animated series, couldn't afford to redesign the characters every episode. Plus, the more new looks the characters had, the more likely animation errors became.

9. Why didn't we see any gargoyle beasts at Castle Wyvern besides Bronx?

They were there, but animation budgets prevented showing the entire clan.

10. What's the story behind "Jalapeña?"

Greg's answer:

Jalapeña (which we altered on purpose, I know how to spell and pronounce jalapeño, thank you very much) was basically added to the show on a dare. Anyone who was at the Gathering this past summer [1997]heard Keith David tell the story of the Blues singer who used to say "¡Jalapeña!" instead of "Halleluia". Keith took the habit from her. (I wish I could remember her name.) Our voice director Jamie Thomason bet me I couldn't find a way to work it into the show. I took that bet. Worked it in and fell in love with it. Everyone else on the show hated it.

11. Were there ever any Standards & Practices problems with Gargoyles? Did anyone ever complain about the series' content?

Greg's answers:

We had no censors on Gargoyles. We did have an executive in charge of Broadcast Standards and Practices. Her name was Adrienne Bello. (Still is, actually.) She loved the show and is a personal friend. She understood that some things were necessary to story, and that in context they wouldn't be that bad. Duncan's magical death wasn't problematic. But we weren't allowed to stab him, because we didn't want anyone getting a kitchen knife and imitating that. Fox and Xanatos did live together at the Eyrie before they got married, but they also had separate bedrooms until they got married. I'm not saying nothing ever happened between them, and certainly we were walking a line, but I think we were always responsible to the young end of our audience. Adrienne allowed us to do this without compromising the shows integrity.

[...] I think while I was at Disney, we received two letters of complaint about the show. Both had nothing to do with content. In fact, it was clear from the content of the letters that neither complaintant had ever watched an episode. They objected to the show's Satanic content, basing their objections on the way the Gargoyles looked in the commercials or opening titles.

Actually, we were expecting a flood of this type of mail. It never came.

12. Why were there so many Star Trek actors on Gargoyles?

With Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis as members of the cast, Star Trek actors were foremost on the production crew's minds when they needed a voice actor for a new character. Thus, it felt natural to seek them out.

13. Who were all of the Star Trek actors that played on Gargoyles, and what roles did they play?

Regular actors from Star Trek

Nichelle Nichols (Uhura) - Diane Maza

Guest stars on Star Trek films

David Warner (St. John Talbot, Star Trek V; Chancellor Gorkon, Star Trek VI; Gul Madred, "Chain of Command" Part II) - The Archmage
Paul Winfield (Captain Terrell, Star Trek II; Dathon, "Darmok") - Jeffrey Robbins

Regular actors from Star Trek: The Next Generation

Jonathan Frakes (William T. Riker) - David Xanatos, Coyote (the robot), Alexander Fox ("Future Tense")
Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troi) - Demona, Margot Yale (pre-TGC)
Brent Spiner (Data) - Puck
Michael Dorn (Worf) - Coldstone, Taurus
LeVar Burton (Geordi la Forge) - Anansi, Poacher

Guest stars on Star Trek: The Next Generation

Michael Bell (Groppler Zorn, "Encounter at Farpoint") - Martin Hacker
Matt Frewer (Berlinghoff Rasmussen, "A Matter of Time") - Jackal
Robert Ito (Tac Officer Chang, "Coming of Age") - Dr. Sato
Tony Jay (Minister Campio, "Cost of Living") - Anubis
Clyde Kusatsu (Admiral Nakamura, "The Measure of a Man") - Kai
Morgan Sheppard (Dr. Ira Graves, "The Schizoid Man") - Petros Xanatos, King Kenneth, Odin

Regular actors from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

Avery Brooks (Benjamin Sisko) - Nokkar
Colm Meany (Miles o'Brien) - Mr. Dugan (Rory's father)

Guest stars on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

Salli Richardson (Nidell/Fenna, "Second Sight") - Elisa Maza, Delilah

Regular actors from Star Trek: Voyager

Kate Mulgrew (Katherine Janeway) - Anastasia Renard/Titania

Guest stars on Star Trek: Voyager

Gerrit Graham (Quinn, "Death Wish") - Tom (adult)
John Rhys-Davies (Leonardo da Vinci, "Concerning Flight") - Macbeth, Arthur Morwood-Smyth

(Additional special thanks go to the alt.fan.disney.gargoyles FAQ, by Melissa "Merlin Missy" Wilson, for help on this answer.)

14. Why didn't Patrick Stewart ever voice any roles on Gargoyles?

He was considered for three roles- Goliath, Macbeth, and King Arthur. However, none of these panned out, because they couldn't meet Stewart's agent's asking price for voice-over work. They considered circumventing this and asking Jonathan Frakes or Marina Sirtis to appeal to Patrick Stewart directly, but decided that would be unfair.

15. Considering all the other Star Trek actors you used in Gargoyles, was John DeLancie ever considered for a role?

Greg's answer:

John played L'Étranger on Max Steel. He was great. I didn't have any specific role in mind for him on Gargoyles, but I wouldn't be opposed to the idea either.

16. Did Greg ever do any cameo voice acting in Gargoyles?

Greg's answer:

Actually, I was the 2nd Commando [in "Awakening" Part II].

But I'm not in the Union. So theoretically I never said "Nice mask!" Never. Understand.

17. What's this original comedy development I've heard about?

Gargoyles was originally developed as a comedy series.  The general plot would have been the same, but everything would have been much lighter in tone and the characters were much different. Greg's answer tells it best:

The show had much the same set-up: tenth century gargoyles put to sleep for a thousand years by a magic spell. Their castle was moved to the tallest skyscraper in Manhattan and they woke up and tried to adjust to 20th century life. The gargoyles were all diminutive, kinda like Gummi Bears with a modern edge. The whole development went through a number of changes over time, and I won't attempt to list every permutation but here's the basics on the characters. The name that heads each paragraph is the name the character ended up with in the show that you guys ultimately saw on television.

Demona - Dakota was the leader of the gargoyles, and she was, in a word, boring. Too straight to be the leader of a comedy ensemble. So we changed her name to Demona and turned her into a traitor working with the enemy....

Xanatos - Xavier was a human descendent of the wizard who had cursed the gargoyles a millenium ago. He was rich, powerful and petulant. Very Captain Hook.

Owen Burnett - Mr. Owen was Xavier's assistant. In the first episode, he got hit by a magic spell that permanently tranformed him into an anthropomorphic aardvark.

Brooklyn - Amp became the leader after we changed Dakota into Demona. He was a little guy who looked more like Lexington than Brooklyn, but he had Brooklyn's out-there adventurous personality.

Broadway - Cocoa was a heavy-set female gargoyle with artistic pretensions and a great love of food. This always made us uncomfortable, which is why she eventually became a he.

Lexington - Lassie looked a little more like Brooklyn than Lex, but he was the closest thing we had to Lex. He was an idiot savant, fascinated with technology. He could spend hours working on a computer. He could also spend hours watching a traffic light change colors.

Hudson - Ralph was the couch potato gargoyle. A bit older than the others. Content to stay at home and watch tv.

Elisa - Morgan Reed was a human school teacher who befriended the gargoyles. She was also a firefighter for awhile. And a museum curator. And an archeologist. And Xavier's former partner. She had a daughter for awhile too. For awhile we played it like she was Princess Katharine's descendent. We had the Gargoyles move onto the roof of the apartment building where she lived and cause a lot of trouble for her.

There was no parallel character to GOLIATH. After the comedy development was rejected, Tad Stones (Producer of Darkwing Duck and Aladdin: the Animated Series, among others) suggested adding a dramatic male lead. We came up with Goliath and put the whole show through the prism of who Goliath was. That was the turning point, obviously.

I still maintain that the original comedy development would have made a great comedy-adventure series. Something to be proud of. That's not to say that I don't greatly prefer how things turned out, but it's apples and oranges.

18. Were there any episodes of Gargoyles that didn't get made?

There were two premises that weren't made. One was the "Weird Macbeth" and the other was a multi-Trickster story.

No details have as of yet been released on the multi-Trickster story.

"The Weird Macbeth" was a two-parter, it would have been a story where the series cast gets trapped by the Weird Sisters in a production of Shakespeare's "Macbeth." It would have had Macbeth playing himself, Demona as Lady Macbeth, Goliath as Macduff, Elisa as Lady Macduff, and various other characters in various roles. It was the only premise rejected because the higher-ups though it was too strange.

Greg writes:
    Beyond those two premises there were TONS of stories we didn't get to. "Hobgoblin of Little Minds" was one of those. But it wasn't one of the two premises that didn't get made.

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