Immortalizing HIGHLANDER: THE SERIES -- Part Two -

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Immortalizing HIGHLANDER: THE SERIES -- Part Two

HIGHLANDER producer Peter Davis talks about the TV series -- and the latest on HIGHLANDER: THE SOURCE

By Abbie Bernstein     December 29, 2003

© 2000 Dimension Films
[If you missed it, the first part of Abbie's interview is available here.]

Asked about his personal favorite seasons, producer Davis says, "I think we really kicked some ass in Seasons Four and Five. I think the writers absolutely found their voice, Adrian was giving extraordinary texture to Duncan, the directing was terrific. I think the show was just fabulous in those two seasons. You try, as a feature producer who is new to television, which Bill and I were [at the beginning of HIGHLANDER, you come from a feature world, you don't do things by the numbers and you try and bring those feature sensibilities as much as you can into a new world. And sometimes those dreams are realized and sometimes they're not, but we found as we moved through the succeeding years, that more often than not, our ability to treat these [episodes] as small features with a feature sensibility was in fact realized."

This was probably due, at least in part, to the then-novel financing package that Davis and Panzer put into place in order to make the show, which other syndicated series emulated throughout the '90s: "It was ground-breaking," Davis acknowledges. "[Syndicated television] had never done financing like we put together. The combination of a U.S. syndicator, a foreign broadcasting entertainment company like [French production company] Gaumont, and ourselves, and what we all brought to the party, was unique. And the fact that we were able to leverage off of a French/Canadian co-production with a German partner in RTL for that first season to produce together was absolutely unique. We served as a model for what could happen."


Adrian Paul (Highlander/Tracker), girlfriend Alexandra Tonelli, Superman and Darth Vader pose on arrivals at the 29th Annual Saturn Awards copyright Sue Schneider

way of making HIGHLANDER had its ups and downs. "It certainly was greater creative freedom than doing a network show," Davis laughs. "Bill and I would have lasted about two minutes on a network today, we'd last longer. In this particular instance, yes, we had to answer in broad strokes to the German point of view, to the French point of view, and to a lesser degree, to [production entity] Rysher's point of view. But once you had broad arcs of how the show was going to go, unless it was a specific storyline that might touch certain sensitivities of a certain nationality, we certainly were given much greater freedom than we would have ever had on a network show."

Paul agrees: "People were given a certain freedom to create and I think that allowed people to create their vision. A lot of producers really become very heavy-handed, or studios become very heavy-handed and not being on the floor [present on the set], so to speak, they make a decision based on business, not based on what was good for the look of the show, and it was the other way around in this particular instance. The producers gave a lot of people leeway to actually create something that they could not only make the episode look good but that would make it look better than what was on the written page."


Christopher Lambert in the original HIGHLANDER

for the future of the HIGHLANDER franchise, Davis says there are a number of possibilities. One includes a fifth feature film through Miramax's Dimension arm: "Every two or three years, we get up in the morning and we put on our armament and we go out and meet [Dimension chief exec] Bob Weinstein. Sometimes we come back with our tail between our legs, sometimes we come back with a smile on our face. It's yet to be determined how we will come back relating to Highlander: The Source."

Paul says as of now, he doesn't know whether he'll be involved or not. "I don't know what it entails, I hear it's a prequel, I don't know who is involved in it, so I'm really reserving any judgment on that until I've seen a script. It's not in or out, either way. It really depends on a few factors."

There also may yet be a Broadway stage version, Davis adds: "HIGHLANDER: THE MUSICAL is in an active state of negotiation with two different groups. It's a very big financial commitment, very complex. We are hopeful that as we move down over the next three or four months that we will be able to bring some type of closure to our financing."

Davis-Panzer also has some non-HIGHLANDER projects on the horizon, Davis reveals: "We are in the final stages of putting together a financing package and a creative package on a film called ESCAPE, the sequel to MIDNIGHT EXPRESS, [which] has been contemporized. The sequel aspects have been stripped of it, but it is the story of Billy Hayes and his buddy Harvey after they escape from prison the two of them on the run in Turkey. Great drama, very well written by John Nichols and David Abramowitz, to be directed by Russell Mulcahy."

The marketing

The Immortal Duncan MacLeod, Adrian Paul

campaign for the boxed sets is not aimed at total virgins to the HIGHLANDER universe, Davis observes. "The fans will, I think, find that the second season on DVD technically is superior to the first, that the supplementals are richer. You will not convince people [who have] never heard of HIGHLANDER to go to Best Buy and buy the first season. However, the person who is either a fan, or even someone that has dabbled in the features and sort of liked it, watched an episode, it's a tap on the shoulder that says, 'Hey, guy, something interesting on HIGHLANDER is out there go take a look.'"

"Personally, I love the series," Paul acknowledges. As an actor, he has recently filmed the crime drama LITTLE CHICAGO and the fantasy THE SNOW PRINCE; as a producer, he's trying to set up a project called REBEL. "My career is in the process of metamorphosis, hopefully; it may turn into whatever it turns into, but [HIGHLANDER] was a period of time, five-and-a-half years of work that I did that was very intense and something I'll always look back on with pride, not only because of the work that was done on it, but because of the people I encountered in it. I mean, you hear this all the time, 'I loved working with this,' but I did. I probably had three or four people that I did not like in the entire five-and-a-half seasons of actors and people coming onto the show. So I was very lucky. It's a great memory to have."

The first three seasons of HIGHLANDER: THE SERIES are now available on DVD, with the final three seasons exclusively available from the official HIGHLANDER website.


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