This coming Sunday NBC will be bringing their viewers yet another television event in the form of XIII.
XIII or thirteen is a mini series, which centres on a huge conspiracy inside the US government. The story starts a number of weeks after the assignation of America’s first ever-female President. A strange man bails out of a plane and is rescued by an old couple. The man in question has absolutely no memory about whom he is or why he has the number XIII tattooed on his person.
SciFi Pulse was recently granted an interview with XIII producer Jay Firestone who talked about the shows Comic Book origins and his involvement in the bringing it to the small screen.
When asked what attracted him to do XIII Jay revealed that he had a number of reasons.
“I’m a world traveller and I knew this book was known around the world. It’s a very famous character in France and I do a lot of business in France. It’s an international story. I can’t think of anything other than everyone seemed to know the character. They made a video game out of it. The illustrated comics were well known. So I just picked it up and liked it I guess.”
One of the things many viewers will pick up on when they see XIII is that the character trying to find his own identity works in a similar way to the Bourne books and movies.
“I think even the writer of the book said he was inspired by the Bourne books.”
However XIII losing his memory is where I’d say the comparisons to Bourne end. In Bourne the plot was heavily based around Jason Bourne and the Treadstone programme within the CIA. In XIII the conspiracy is far bigger than that, and involves the US Government and many high ranking officials.
“One of the reasons we got excited about it is because it’s not impossible that this kind of plot might be in somebody’s head somewhere. When you talk about some of the gossip that goes around. Sometimes people wonder if there are indeed plots within the American government, which is kind of scary. I think they’re all crazy ideas. But people gossip about them.”
For the last 8 years we have seen a number of television shows and specials, which deal with plots in the US Government. But none have seemed to boast quite as big a conspiracy to the one we see in XIII. Which in a sense makes it quite timely.
“I have to say. I’m lucky in that way because I’d been pursuing the project for several years probably eight or nine years. And it just became more timely every year.”
Aside from having a compelling storyline and some of the best television writing out there. XIII also boasts a fairly impressive cast, which includes Stephen Dorff as the title character, and Val Kilmer as the ruthless assassin Mongoose, who is dispatched to capture XIII and bring him back into the organisation.
When talking about the cast of the show Jay revealed that they did have their wish list of actors for the various roles and he was rather lucky to get the actors he got.
“We had our wish list from the beginning. We wanted bigger stars and big picture guys like Matt Damon, which we wouldn’t have got obviously.” Laughs the producer.“Matt Dillon at one point was among the few people we’d listed. But in the end I found that I wanted the stars that had more of a feature following than a television following. Steven Dorff I knew from a movie I did when he was 13. I always liked the character he’d played in the Blade movies and thought he was a great actor. Val Kilmer to me, he just sounds very cool as the bad guy. So they just came up through the various agencies as a good pairing. The two had just done a feature film in which they’d worked very well. I can’t remember the name of it right now!”
One actress that Bond fans will spot right away in XIII will be Caterina Murino who thankfully has a role with a little more substance to it in XIII, than the role she got in Casino Royale.
“She actually played in very well because she has a European accent, which makes her a little bit mysterious. And plays into what we want to do in the next stage.”
When asked Jay revealed that his production team are hoping to do second mini series of XIII or maybe a series later on in the year.
“I don’t know if you know this but it was the most successful original programme in the history of French Television. So it already has a huge international following anxious for it to go further.”
When you look at Jay Firestones many credits on Internet Movie Database. You’ll find that he has been involved in a great many genre shows, which include science fiction shows such as Andromeda, Highlander The Raven, The Pretender and of course La Femme Nikita to name only a small fraction of the shows he has been a part of. So when asked about the espianage shows like Pretender and Nikita the producer revealed.
“I love the genre. La Femme Nikita I did for five years and it was fun. I’m actually developing a few more shows like that right now. It’s just a genre I like. It’s not very easy to take a comic book and translate it to television. It’s a little easier to do it to film, but even then it’s a little difficult and something I like to pursue.”
Another show that Firestone was connected with was the hit 1990s series The Pretender. When I mentioned my love of this series to Jay he said that XIII has a similar central storyline. I.E. XIII is searching for his true identity in much the same way as Jarrod on Pretender was.
At present Jay is working on a number of new projects. When asked he was understanably reluctant to give to much away. But he did give us a few clues.
“At the moment I’m in partnership with a UK based partner for a mini series based on the classic John Wyndham story The Day Of The Triffids for the BBC.”
In recent comments to SFX Magazine, which were reported here at SciFi Pulse, Day Of The Triffids director Nick Copus revealed that the new mini series would have a sort of environmental storyline attached. When asked about this Jay confirmed that the story would “sort of be that,” but due to his discretion and consideration for his partners wouldn’t elaborate beyond that.
“To be honest I’m not really to sure how much I should be talking about Triffids right now. There’s a few partners involved so I don’t want to comment to much at this point.” “I’m involved in quite a few other projects, which are SciFi things. I’m shooting a pilot right now for a series based on a succubus.”
Which is a Demonic female spirit that uses her sexuality in order to get close to a person so she can suck the life out of them. Some people can make the common mistake of saying that a succubus is sort of a sex vampire. Which is a misconception that Jay is quick to point out.
“I’d avoid the word Vampire because a succubus sucks the life from you, not the blood. It’s a very different show to a vampire show.”
Another thing, which Jay is working on, is a movie adaptation of the popular book Neuromancer, which I confusingly referred to as a horror novel. When asked about this project again due to his partnerships with others involved Jay couldn’t really give too much away.
“I wouldn’t say Neuromancer was horror. It’s more like the Matrix than anything else. There’s a lot of people who say that it inspired the people that made The Matrix movies.”
Again much like Triffids it’s early days for Neuromancer, but Jay tells me it’s a work in progress.
“We’re still working on the script. We hope to have the film in production this spring, we’re still casting. So there’s not a lot to say. But in two months I’ll probably be able to announce a lot more.”
As to a future for XIII beyond this weekends mini series. Jay is very positive that he will get a series in productions real soon, but cannot make any announcements about casting yet due to the fact that he has a fair bit of negotiating to do in order to insure he gets the best actors for the show.
SciFi Pulse would like to thank Jay Firestone for his time.
- XIII will air this Sunday on NBC and the second part will air on 15 February, which is the following Sunday. Trust me, its well worth the watch.
By Ian M. Cullen