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Birds of Prey Trade Paperback
Before you see the show get familiar with the comic book that inspired it. The Birds trade paperback reprints the original Birds of Prey comic book one-shots and mini-series. Now if only DC would reprint Birds of Prey #8, arguably the best issue of the series...

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
Frank Miller's classic four-issue story about an older and bitter Batman made a lot more people take comics seriously. What would Batman do in the future? What if he made Superman angry? This is one of the definitive Batman stories, and a perfect primer for the book's sequel...

The Dark Knight Strikes Again, Vol. 1
Now, Frank Miller has brought out The Dark Knight Strikes Again, a sequel to his classic story involving older versions of MANY DC Comics heroes. At under $8, this book is well worth the money, and a perfect gift for someone who's never read a comic before. This is the first of three volumes of the series.

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Interview With Laeta Kalogridis

Gotham Clock Tower was able to have the opportunity to interview Laeta Kalogridis, who wrote the pilot episode of Birds of Prey and developed the series for television. We are very happy to be able to share this with the fans and hope this sheds some light on what to expect this Fall.

Please do not reprint this interview or portions of this interview on any magazine or other website without consulting the webmaster.

CB: How did you become involved with the Birds of Prey project?

LK: Tollin-Robbins actually had contacted because they had wanted, I guess for some time, to make a series out of the comic book, and I was familiar with the comic. And I sort of came in for a meeting with them and started talking about the ways I'd like to do it, and we just were really in sync, and it just kind of went forward from there.

CB: I hear you have a history of writing butt-kicking female characters?

LK: I like to, it's what I like to do. I enjoy writing ... empowered, physical women. It's my favorite thing to do. And so this was really an opportunity to kind of do that. The stuff I've done features-wise, a lot of which hasn't been produced, has focused either [on] Joan of Arc, and Modesty Blaise, and Tomb Raider. It's focused a lot on women who had kind of these adventurous personalities, and comic books are a place where there's a lot of adventure. So, sort of a natural fit. And I did a draft of Catwoman. But then again, just about everybody has done a draft of Catwoman.

CB: Were you a fan of the comics?

LK: I was, but I think it's pretty obvious to anybody who has read the pilot script or who sees the pilot, that I was very enamored of [them], they would do crossover stuff where they'd bring in, um, Huntress or Catwoman and ... I was really enamored of the pre-Crisis Huntress. That was the cycle of DC stories that I was always really taken with. I liked Helena as Helena Wayne a lot. And ... I was sad when that character essentially was removed from continuity. And I started seeing this as an opportunity to take the Barbara from present continuity and the Helena Wayne that I had really loved from that pre-Crisis cycle, and put them together. One of the interesting things about the evolution of the pilot was that we took the comic book and we explored a lot of things that were taken from other places. I mean, obviously it's an Elseworlds story, but there's a little bit of Dark Knight Returns in there, you know, with the whole Batman going into kind of self-imposed exile. And there's obviously a great deal of the Killing Joke, and there's pre-Crisis Elseworlds stuff. Just generally, there's Harley Quinn, who really originated through Paul Dini as an animated character. So we were kind of pulling from other places within DC mythology and bringing them all together under that name. But it's actually a wider net than the Birds of Prey title itself.

CB: Were you a fan of the animated series?

LK: I enjoy it, but you know, I watch it because my son watches it. But yeah, I do like it actually. And I like Batman Beyond, and you know, I have enjoyed the freedom that I think the animated series has had to be really close to the comics, but explore cool character stuff, and to be able to do it... you know, when you're waiting for a movie, it's years and years and years in between films, and so many things that get involved... you get so much more story out of the animated stuff. And it feels so much more mythologically -- I'll get in trouble for saying this -- it felt more mythologically deeper to me. But I also feel like it's great because of it's accessibility to younger people. I mean, my son is three and a half, and he loves that stuff. And I think that's really cool.

CB: You mentioned Batman Beyond. Is there any chance of Terry McGinnis showing up?

LK: I don't think so. We're trying really hard to focus on the girls, and not on either Batman, past or future. Because it's sort of about their lives going forward, so I doubt that we will do that. But you know, one of the wonderful things about a television series is that it gives you all this kind of freedom with the characters to go so many different places. And I think it's really hard to predict what you're actually going to do when you're just at the very outset of that.

CB: Was there anything about the development of the series that kind of evolved and took on a life of its own and surprised you?

LK: I actually think the Detective Reese character did, because he's kind of our creation. I mean, we filmed more of him than we ended up being able to show in the pilot, but his chemistry with Helena and his kind of groundedness as a character, sort of being a way to see Gotham through more "normal" eyes. I think we hadn't realized just how much fun that was going to be. So he is my favorite [character] ... we kept writing stuff for him.

CB: Will Reese be a regular character on the series?

LK: Yes. Absolutely.

CB: What fuels Barbara Gordon to keep going on? Why does she keep the crime-fighting alive?

LK: Well, for me it's exactly what it is in the comic. Which is that she went through a period of re-evaluating her life and of real despair. I mean, I think she did go through a period of feeling like her life was over. And then she had this kind of quasi-mystical experience where she felt like she'd seen the Greek delphic oracle, and she really did believe that she had a different purpose than she thought she had. She had believed that what she was about was ... kicking butt. And now she's ... a crimefighter in a totally different and oddly, ultimately, I think, more powerful kind of way than before. So what keeps her going is that the actual idealism of crime-fighting is something that [is] so ingrained in her that she can never give it up. I mean, she'll be fighting bad guys with her last breath. That's just the kind of person she is. And she might walk away from it for just a little bit, but she'll never let go of it entirely. Because it's the human being that she is; justice is her life. Which is one of the things I really like about her.

CB: What did you think of Dina Meyer as Barbara?

LK: Oh, I loved Dina! I think she is great! I think that she is so much the embodiment of Oracle, that we were so lucky to find her. And it was so interesting to see how easy it was for her to just get into that role. I mean, she just nailed it. It was amazing to me. I was really impressed, how she just slipped right into it; it was like this seamless transition. It was really cool.

CB: Which character has been the most fun to write so far, and why?

LK: You know, and this will sound like a total cheat, but they're all fun. Because they're all so different, it's impossible to actually pick one. It's like, Helena's fun because of the sort of extreme sarcasm and the walking the tightrope between good and evil kind of thing. Barbara's fun because she's such the crusader for good, but at the same time she's such an exasperated older sister. And Dinah is fun because she's this adolescent on the verge of discovering everything about herself, and there's just so much room for self-discovery in this girl. She knows so little about herself, and there's so much that she's going to find out. All of them are really, really fun to write. And of course, Reese is just fun to write because he's wandering around Gotham going, "What the hell is going on?" and that is always a kick to do.

CB: Reese and his partner McNally, do they have some kind of Mulder and Scully believer/non-believer thing going on?

LK: Yeah. McNally's totally convinced that all of this, and it's going to. There will be more pressure as time goes on in between the two of them.

CB: What made you decide to make the Dinah character a young runaway with psychic powers?

LK: Well if you look at the way the comic is structured, the globe-trotting international espionage, and we have made a conscious decision not to do that, you have this really good balance of the person in the field and the person basically running it. And to have someone like Black Canary, there was too much overlap between that character and Helena Wayne. They were too much alike to belong together, and as I have said before, for better or for worse, I am in love with that character. So when we started thinking about, if we did do Dinah, what would be another way to do her? One of the first thing that came to mind, and I admit, I wrote one of the early drafts of X-Men, and the way that they handled Rogue, which is completely as I'm sure you're probably aware, out of continuity with the actual X-Men storyline. Rogue isn't that age when she meets Wolverine in the actual comics, and it seemed like a logical place to start if we wanted to explore what it's like for a superhero to come into their powers, as opposed to the other two characters are established. And also, if you wanted to show people who had different abilities, which was a big part of the idea was, what did they individually represent? In a metaphorical sense, Barbara is, I would say, the mind. And Helena is the body, and Dinah is the spirit. They're kind of this metaphorical trio, each of them embodying strengths of the iconic hero, and that to me was the best way to explore those kind of spriritual strengths was to have somebody who really could see into other people's minds.

CB: Will Dr. Quinzel be a recurring character on the show?

LK: That's our intention.

CB: Is there any chance of Nightwing showing up?

LK: In success, I'll probably have a lot of room than I do now. If I had my druthers, certainly a field trip to Bludhaven doesn't sound like a bad idea to me.

CB: What can we look forward to in the show's first season? What kind of stories would you like to tell?

LK: I think what we'd like to do is be able to tell some fun superhero crime-fighting stories within New Gotham, and then be able to thread through that a continuing arc of a greater villian, Harley, in the first season I think, or someone like her, trying to organize the criminals into the sort of empire the Joker had created before Batman did him off.

CB: So Harley could possibly be the "Big Bad" of the first season?

LK: Hopefully. That's the way we're leaning.

CB: What inspired the decision to not have costumes in the series?

LK: I think part of it was because we wanted to distinguish ourselves from what had been done before. We wanted to make it very clear visually that this was a different era of Gotham crime-fighters. And partly it was because it was kind of a natural thing that Barbara, Oracle, doesn't have a costume in the comics, and Dinah wouldn't have at this point in her development figured out what she was gonna wear yet. And the Huntress outfit that the current Huntress wears, the purple one with the cross and everything, it's nice, but if you look at it it's not actually terribly dissimilar, except for the very small mask, to what we did. You know, so it's kind of like a combination of wanting to distinguish it from what had gone before, wanting to give it a sense of grounding. In other words, we wanted to be able to feel like it was connected to a path that you recognize in which there were costumed superheroes, but it had its own distinct feeling. And just the practical aspect of knowing that Oracle wasn't ever gonna wear one, and knowing that Dinah wouldn't have figured out what she was going to wear yet.

CB: What would happen if Detective Reese walked into the bar where the Huntress works?

LK: I think probably the same thing that happens when demons see Buffy, which they do all the time. I mean, she supposedly has a secret identity. But if you notice, no one ever, with the exception of Warren last week ... comes to her house. And just like, why don't they come to her house and blow it up? Demons certainly have access to phone books, and they all seem to know who she is. I think that a lot of people in the criminal underworld eventually do know what her identity is. I think if Reese walked into a bar and saw her, she'd have to explain it, but I don't think that he would do anything about it. A big part of who she is, is that the secret identity thing for her is not that big a deal. In other words she's not worried that the bad guy's gonna find out who she is. In a weird way ... Helena's a kind of an in-your-face sort of girl, and that's one of her things... it's like "I'm just not gonna do it. That's what my parents did, and I'm not gonna do it. And you can't make me do it." So I think if he walked in and saw her she'd be like, "What's your point? You know, arrest me for crimefighting! Go ahead!" I mean, what would he do, take her down and, you know, arrest her for having run across the rooftops in a corset?

CB: Can you say something about Ashley Scott?

LK: Ashley's really tremendous. Ashley brought this kind of vulnerability to the character that I hadn't even thought was there, and she also has this terrific presence. ... Aside from being a really good actress, she has this wonderful presence and she's into both sides of Huntress. She understands both the kind of drive to do what your father did, and the temptation to sort of stray into a little bit of the bad side like her mother did. She has great movement too.

CB: What makes New Gotham different from the Gotham City we're familiar with?

LK: In think in part it's that, what we've envisioned is the Gotham after essentially a holy war between Joker and Batman ... I mean we intentionally left it up in the air as to whether this is, you know, post-virus, post-earthquake. We kind of left up in the air because I think even we're not really sure. But it is a place that has kind of been ravaged by the fight between these two titans and the fallout of that war. So that's how it's different from the Gotham that we've seen before, to me.

CB: Can you talk about other members of the cast?

LK: I think we were really lucky in that our cast was phenomenally just great to work with. I think Rachel [Skarsten] sort of speaks for herself in that she's one of the wonderful things about casting somebody that talented who is also that young, is that she can explore all of this deep and difficult coming of age stuff in a personal age, because she's not a 25-year-old playing a 16 year old; she really is 16. And she's one of the most talented actresses I've ever seen. Really, to be able to do what she does at her age is just incredible. I think she brings a real depth to it so that it doesn't feel like a stock thing at all, it doesn't feel like the stock teenage character because she's just such a terrific actress.

And Shemar [Moore] is just ... I mean, first of all, okay, let's face it: there's a charisma about him that is just amazing. I mean, you really feel it. I think, every time we've shown the pilot to women you get this response like there's something about him that is just charismatic, and it's wonderful, and it's accessible at the same time. You know, you don't feel [that he's] distancing; he's really welcoming. And he's romantic without being all broody, and he's funny, and ... you just look at him and you totally buy that this is the kind of person that Helena would go for. You know, absolutely, you buy it. He's serious but not too serious, and he doesn't take himself too seriously either.

So it's been a wonderful experience working with this cast. I feel like we were incredibly lucky to get the people that we got.

CB: And what about Sherilyn Fenn?

LK: Well she's Harley Quinn. She definitely understands, to me anyway, what makes that character so kind of fascinating and dangerous at the same time. But we didn't get much time to spend with her in the pilot, that's one of the unfortunate things.

CB: Are we going to see her in costume at some point maybe?

LK: I can't talk about things like that. It's an evolution, as many things are.

CB: And is she going to use the word Puddin'?

LK: You know, she wouldn't be Harley if she didn't. It's got to happen sooner or later. It's only a matter of time.

CB: Why do you think people should watch the show?

LK: I think they should look at the pilot and if they like it, they should watch it, and if they don't, they shouldn't. I've always felt like one of the good and bad things about being a writer and living in your own head so much is that I am not the kind of writer who tries really hard to figure out what people want, and then write to that. I'm much more [about] what do I think is a really great story, and then I try to do that. And then you hope people respond. And that's kind of what we've done is we've created something that we thought was a good story and then we just hope that people will agree with this when they watch it.

Birds of Prey and its characters are copyright 2002 Warner Bros., Tollin-Robbins Productions & DC Comics. This is a fan site and not authorized by the WB or DC. This is page copyright 2002 Planet Krypton Productions, unless material is noted as coming from elsewhere.