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Interview with Matt Nix of "Burn Notice" on USA Notice 7/27/12
I love "Burn Notice", and it's always great to talk to
anyone from that show. I've spoken with most of the actors, but this was
the first time with the show's showrunner. He was very nice and, so
smart. He loved to talk, too! I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. I
would have asked more questions, but I was waiting to board my plane in
the Atlanta airport!
Moderator: Amanda Altschuler
July 27, 2012
3:00 pm CT
Alysia Sands: Hi, everyone. Welcome to the Burn Notice call with Matt
Nix. Burn Notice airs Thursdays at 9:00/8:00 Central on USA Network. And
if you have any questions after the call, please feel to reach out to me
at firstname.lastname@example.org. And now I will turn it over to our
Operator: Thank. Ladies and gentlemen, if you would like to register a
question, please press the 1 followed by the 4 on your telephone. Youíll
hear a three tone prompt to acknowledge your request. If your question
has been answered and you would like to withdraw your registration,
please press the 1 followed by the 3. If you are using a speakerphone,
please lift her handset before entering your request. Once again, to
register a question, please press the 1 followed by the 4.
And our first question comes from the line of Matt Carter of
CarterMatt.com. Please proceed with your question.
Matt Carter: Afternoon, Matt. How are you?
Matt Nix: Very well.
Matt Carter: Great, well first thing first, letís just get into the
shocker at the end of the episode. When was it for you that you made the
decision that in order for Michael to move forward we had to see Nate
Matt Nix: I hadnít thought of it quite that way but, the - I mean,
answering that question, itís - thereís sort of like a story version of
answering that question and then a kind of a more behind the scenes
version of that. In the sense that - I mean, one answer is, that one of
the things I really wanted to do this season is - you know, weíre in our
sixth season and I just really wanted to shake up the show, like, and do
some really new stuff. So, part of that was just really putting the
people that burned Michael to bed.
You know, like weíve donít it - so, Anson is the last of them and heís
gone and so then the question becomes what is something that keeps that
sense of Michaelís mission, a propulsive sense for Michael, something
thatís personal to him. And, you know, so in thinking about what to do
with this season that was part of it. just this ideas that over the
course of these five seasons or 5-1/2 season, Michael has, like, really
grown closer to his family. Heís developed friends. All of these things
that he didnít have at the beginning of the series, he now has.
And so, and that means, you know, good things for him as a human being
in some ways, but it also means that thereís a lot more that can be
taken away. And so, in taking that away, it sort of launches him with a
new sort of personal mission that lead to all sorts of complications
going forward, vis-a-vis, the intelligence community and that kind of
thing as heís trying to figure out what happened with his brother.
So, it was a combination of a lot of different things. You know, and
then also just the desire to do something, you know, that wasnít - you
know, we just sort of fallen into a bit of a pattern of like the big
things happen in episode one and then the half season finally, and then
in the second half season premiere and then in the second half of the
season finale. And so, just doing something really big and exciting in
the middle of the season, in the middle of by far our most serialized
season ever, was also a priority. Just do - shaking up the - like, the
shaking up the show - shaking up Michael as a character, shaking up the
show, all of it.
Matt Carter: Yes, and you just touched on this but, for you as a show
runner, how refreshing is it now to be able to use a little bit more of
a serialize approach versus, you know, what weíve seen past few seasons.
And itís not just for your show, but it seems that all of USA right now
seems to be undergoing a little bit of a transformation and giving us
some more long form stories versus, you know, some of what weíve seen in
Matt Nix: Itís great. I mean, itís - yes, I love this kind of
storytelling. And one of the things that, you know, it was kind of a
discussion with USA and they were down with it for reasons, you know,
for sort of network priority reasons. But for us, you know, one of the
things we said was that, you know, if you just look at what are peopleís
favorite episodes of Burn Notice over the years. They tend to be the
most serialized episodes. Theyíre the first couple of the year and the
last couple of the year and people donít seem to be - and actually, you
know, people do watch those episodes in reruns. The fact that thereís a
little bit of a previous (unintelligible doesnít really seem to bother
people. So, you know, although going all the way back to season when
Victor died, you know, that was a very serialized pair of episodes at
the end and our fans really seemed to respond to that.
So, you know, that was - this season in shaking up the show, you know,
one of the things we did was, you know, we havenít really had a
traditional client all season. Weíve had, you know, (Barry)ís from last
nightís episode was - is a client of sorts but his problem was really,
you know, A, heís sort of part of the team and, B, his problem was sort
of generated by the team. Itís not like he had a problem in the abstract
and he just needed our help with it. When I say our, I mean, the team.
Matt Carter: Yes.
Matt Nix: You know, Michael got him in trouble and Michaelís got to -
and now Samís got to get him out of trouble. Thatís a very different
orientation for us than I am a resident of Miami and someone in my
family has been kidnapped. And I think we were sort of sick of that, you
know, we wanted to do something new. So this season is really about
focusing on the team and making sure that everything that theyíre doing
is really focused on the characters, focused on what it means to them,
very personal. And it fits well with this serialized form of
Matt Carter: Well, great. Well, thank you so much Matt. Really enjoying
this season so far.
Matt Nix: Thank you.
Operator: Our next question comes from the line of Ann Bailey of The Two
Cents. Please proceed.
Ann Bailey: Good afternoon, Matt.
Matt Nix: Hi.
Ann Bailey: Iím upset with you right now.
Matt Nix: Oh, you are? Oh, Iím sorry.
Ann Bailey: Seth Peterson is such a great guy. I just - it had to me.
Why did it have to be Nate, you know? But, what...
Matt Nix: Well, you know, I - pardon me, go.
Ann Bailey: No, go ahead.
Matt Nix: Oh, you know, itís - when I started on the show, you know, six
seasons ago, one of the things that I talked about with my wife
actually, because we had always watched shows together and she made the
point about The Sopranos. That part of what made it compelling to watch
was the sense that things could happen on the show that really mattered
to you, and that things could actually change.
And, you know, as part of that conversation she basically said if you
ever kill a character off and then say we didnít mean it, heís not
really dead, you donít get to sleep in our bed anymore. And so,
partially just as a storytelling priority and partially to save my
marriage, I - not save my marriage - partially to preserve my marriage,
I realized, like, that, you know, I need to - if weíre going to take it
seriously - this kind of storytelling seriously then we have to do
things with real consequences.
And so, that was why, for me, you know, in looking at it, you know, it -
we couldnít - if we wanted to do something big on the show it couldnít
be hey remember Michaelís old neighbor Sugar the drug dealer who lived
downstairs, heís dead now. Isnít that crazy? So...
Ann Bailey: Yes, I get it. What is this going to do going forward with
Michaelís relationship with Madeline?
Matt Nix: Woo hoo, a lot. Yes, itís - that actually - another thing just
in terms of this whole story turn is that we all on the show - all of
the writers really - and the actors too - wanted to do something that
had emotional consequences that continued. Because even when, you know,
when youíre on a show that - like, when we have to do very
self-contained episodes people sort of have to forgive each other really
quickly and be done with stuff.
So, you know, in relatively short order, you know, like a couple
episodes. And weíve had some of that with, like, Michael and Fionaís
relationship and things like that. But this is far - this has a far
greater impact than anything weíve ever done, just from an emotional
perspective. Thereís a really sea change and then talking to Sharon, I
actually just - as an actor she was talking about how look, we had
really long conversations and important conversations about how she felt
this impacted her character and how that carries forward and that kind
So she, you know, sheís in this very difficult position of kind of
blaming Michael for putting his brother in harmís way but also realizing
that, you know, her remaining son is still in danger and in a difficult
situation and his situation only gets more difficult over the course of
the season. And so, you know, to what extent can she forgive, to what
extent was she responsible. I mean, all of those questions come up over
the course of the season. And not just in one episode, I mean, it really
I mean, itís all sort - itís a little bit similar to putting Fiona in
jail. Like, we were like, okay if weíre going to put Fiona in jail,
sheís got to be there for a while. And similarly, if weíre going to play
the card of Michaelís brother dying, then itís got to have real impacts
Ann Bailey: Right. All right. Well Iím a big fan so I forgive you.
Matt Nix: Pardon me?
Ann Bailey: So, thank you - I said Iím a big fan, so I forgive you.
Matt Nix: Oh, well thank you. And, you know, the other thing I will say
about the great gayness of Seth is that he is a great guy. And part of
the think for all of us in this was just, you know, wanting - you know,
heís been - he comes on the show for a couple episodes or an episode
here or there and then really giving him an arc and giving him some real
stuff to do and, you know, in a way heís never been more impotent to the
serious. And so, that was a nice thing, I think, for him and for us.
Ann Bailey: Well, great. Thank you for talking to us.
Matt Nix: Thank you.
Operator: Our next question comes from the line of Jamie Ruby of
scifivision.com. Please proceed.
Jamie Ruby: Hi, thanks so much for talking to us. Iím a big fan too and
I was sad too but I forgive you. At least you didnít kill one of the
main-main characters, then that wouldíve been more worse. So, you
mentioned how, you know, (Fi) stayed in jail for a while and it wasnít
over right away. Can you talk about, is the fact that, you know, sheíd
been away and Michael rescued her and everything and, you know, that she
didnít listen to him and, you know, turned herself in, is that going to
have, like, a lasting effect on the relationship? And can you talk a bit
Matt Nix: Well, I mean, one thing is the reunion that they imagined is -
like, I think that her being in prion sort of allowed Michael to
acknowledge like, in a way it brought them closer. You know, like, heís,
like, her - the fact that she sort of makes this sacrifice to kind of
save his soul at the end of season five, and then, you know, the lengths
that goes to save - to get her out of prison. In a way, theyíre as close
as theyíve ever been when sheís getting out of prison.
And I - you know, the - I think the - this magical moment that they both
anticipated of coming together and, you know, the fact that that
coincides with Michael finally resolving, you know, finally wrapping up
the last guy associated with his being burned. Like - and in that same
moment having that torn away by Nateís death, it does have a really
And, in a general sense, you know, the big thing at the end of last
season was Fiona basically saying you donít - like, Michael is really
dedicated to his quest, you know, getting done the thing that he needs
to get done. But, that can be costly and if heís giving up all of his
principles for the sake of doing what he needs - what he wants to do, is
that - or for the sake of take care of the people he loves - is, is that
acceptable and her answer was no.
And going forward, that central issue becomes - it becomes a greater and
greater issues over the course of the season as Michael is now trying
to, you know, dealing with his brotherís death and, you know, his
dealing with that and his investigation into that and his, you know,
thirst for vengeance and all of those things. It pushes Michael really
to the brink in a lot of ways - personally, morally. You know, all of
those things come into play and so, you know, I guess itís sort of like
the question - a question that she imagined was resolved only gets more
central and worse, and the answers get more challenging and more
challenging as the season goes on.
So, thereís a big impact and her yearning for, like, the resolution to
all of this and the possibility that they might be able to be together
in a less complicated way, you know, is snatched away at exactly the
point where she imaged it couldíve been hers. So, thatís a big part of
Jamie Ruby: Oh, okay. And are we going to have more of MI6 coming to
bother her again or is that done with?
Matt Nix: Itís - it is - her sort of association with the CIA, I mean,
as part of her deal in getting out of the - out of prison, you know, she
has to have some association with the CIA. Protects her to some extent
going forward but, you know, that entity doesnít go away. I mean, so
itís not a huge part of the season, but itís not just - itís not as if,
you know, sheís best friends with British Intelligence at this point.
Jamie Ruby: All right, well thank you so much.
Matt Nix: Youíre very welcome.
Operator: Our question comes from the line of Toby Jeffery-Greer from
thevoiceoftv.com. Please proceed.
Toby Jeffery-Greer: Hi, Matt.
Matt Nix: Hi, how are you?
Toby Jeffery-Greer: Iím okay, just waiting for the Olympics to start.
Right, my son is very excited the opening ceremonies. So, I was
wondering, does Nateís death signal a darker turn in the show?
Matt Nix: Well, I guess Iíd say yes and no. We actually have some really
fun episode coming up with some real humor.
Toby Jeffery-Greer: Right.
Matt Nix: And so, itís not that going forward everybody mopes around a
lot. At the same time, I think that, you know, over the course of all of
our seasons, the serialized storytelling is always more kind of serous
and emotionally impactful than the self-contained aspects of the show.
And so, you know, so, you know, kind of the - in the early seasons, the
client of week tended to be pretty light and/or lighter, and then the
serialized stuff tended to be more, you know, more serious and a little
darker. And now this serialized stuff is coming to the fore.
So, I wouldnít say - itís not like I, you know, sort of woke up in the
morning and was like okay, Burn, now this is going dark. But, you know,
to the extent that emotional consequences continue, itís sort of
unavoidable. Like, you know, if you have an ongoing storyline called,
ďMadeline Does Not Forgive Michael for the Death of Her SonĒ, thatís not
really a laugh riot of a, you know, of a storyline.
Toby Jeffery-Greer: Right.
Matt Nix: So, you know, and yes, I - itís important to preserve the fun
of the show and so itís not like we - itís not like that just gets
abandoned or anything. But, I think the maturing of the show has been in
a direction of, you know, more like characters with ongoing emotional
lives and things that tend toward the darker.
Toby Jeffery-Greer: Okay. And, will Michael ever have complete
resolution to being burned or will it always be? It seems like weíre
going to get it and then something else happens.
Matt Nix: Well, there are - the short answer is yes. I mean, Anson is
the last guy. He is the last guy.
Toby Jeffery-Greer: Yes.
Matt Nix: That does not mean that there are not complications in the
vis-ŗ-vis the intelligence world.
Toby Jeffery-Greer: Right.
Matt Nix: So, you know, and itís funny actually. Sometimes, like, you
know, people will say like oh, and itís a guy behind a guy, you know,
which, you know, in previous sessions. To which my response has always
been, well, like, if somebody, like, you know, conspiracies involve
multiple people. You know, like, itís not literally thereís one person
behind another person. But, you know, if you look at any conspiracy in
history, you know, itís not just a single person acting alone.
Toby Jeffery-Greer: Right.
Matt Nix: So, you know, the idea that he was burned by an organization,
weíll there are multiple people in that organization. Itís not that, you
know, everybodyís not the head, they have different jobs. But, you know,
that organization has been wrapped up, they are done there. But there
are other complications, you know, as you might imagine, you know, you
just wrap up one of these big conspiracies and, you know, thatís - itís
not like you didnít know anybody, itís not like they werenít doing
Toby Jeffery-Greer: Yes.
Matt Nix: Itís not like theyíre, you know, -- and so, it has
Toby Jeffery-Greer: Well, he didnít shoot himself.
Matt Nix: Yes, exactly, he didnít shoot...
Toby Jeffery-Greer: Yes.
Matt Nix: ...himself. Yes, exactly. But...
Toby Jeffery-Greer: Okay.
Matt Nix: ...like, I can actually - you know, itís not as if, like, I
will say this, itís not as if, like, Ansonís secret boss did it, you
know. So - because Iím, you know, Iím - itís sometime - like, Iím sick
of that, you know. So, it doesnít...
Toby Jeffery-Greer: Well, I was going to ask how patient do you think
your audience is, so Iím glad to hear that youíre tired of it too.
Matt Nix: Yes, no, I mean, itís - but part of it is - yes, itís, like,
things get real complicated vis-ŗ-vis - letís just say Michael isnít
going to hold back in trying to figure out who killed his brother.
Toby Jeffery-Greer: Okay.
Matt Nix: And, you know, Michael off the chain isnít, you know,
necessarily playing by CIA rules, isnít necessarily, like, the asset
they want, you know. So, that turns in -you know, and he has friends in
the CIA and he has pa tractors in the CIA, and so thereís a whole world
of compilations ahead for him that donít have to do with the people that
burned him, you know.
And, ultimately, you know, I can tease this - like, he finds himself
rather worse off than he was vis-ŗ-vis the intelligence community by the
end of the season.
Toby Jeffery-Greer: Okay. All right, thanks so much.
Matt Nix: Thank you.
Toby Jeffery-Greer: Youíre welcome.
Operator: Our next question comes from the line of Suzanne Lanoue of TV
Megasite. Please proceed with your question.
Suzanne Lanoue: Hi, Matt. Thanks for talking to us today.
Matt Nix: Oh, youíre very welcome.
Suzanne Lanoue: I was going to ask you - well, a lot of my questions
been answered, thank you. What I was going to ask you was whether
Fionaís cellmate, now that we know sheís going to get out of prison
early, weíre going to see her in future episodes?
Matt Nix: Not Fionaís cellmate, but...
Suzanne Lanoue: I mean, not her cellmate...
Matt Nix: ...did you see...
Suzanne Lanoue: ...the woman that helped her, yes.
Matt Nix: Ayn, yes. Yes, you do see Ayn again, yes. She - yes, itís
actually been - itís been really fun this season because, again, in
being able to do this, really, I mean, I feels like this seasonís
suddenly, like, you know, a door has been unlocked and we get to run
So with regard to a lot of the storytelling, even the client
storytelling, whereas, once upon a time we would - we kind of had to
think about it like okay, how do we meet this person whoís unrelated to
the team, right. And so that - there was that whole mode of
storytelling. Now, a lot of times itís okay, how are these people coming
back, how is this person closely related to the team. Itís kind of the
opposite of what we used to do, and thatís been really fun. So, yes, we
- she does show up again, you know, in a different capacity.
Suzanne Lanoue: And is there anything else you can tell us about what
might happen this season?
Matt Nix: Well, we have some really fun - Rebecca will be returning, who
was in the finale - you know, who betrayed Michael...
Suzanne Lanoue: Yes.
Matt Nix: ...in the finale and was working for Anson. So, she comes back
in a new and sort of unexpected capacity. And so, yes, weíve got that.
Yes, there are all sorts of things I...
Suzanne Lanoue: Sorry.
Matt Nix: ...itís hard not to be spoiler-ish.
Suzanne Lanoue: Right.
Matt Nix: So yes, itís - and then, you know, yes I think thatís a big
one and Michaelís, you know, mentor and ally at the CIA, Tom Card is
also going to, you know, Michael has to lean on him in a way that he
hasnít leaned on him before and turn to him for help. So thatís a big
part of the season going forward. So, you know, to what extent is he
going to get help from Tom Card that the CIA might not be willing to
give him is a big part of it as well.
Suzanne Lanoue: All right, well thank very much. I love the show, Iíve
watched every episode, and I have them all on DVD. Thank you.
Matt Nix: Thank you.
Operator: Our next question comes from the line of Brandon Routh of
Spoiler TV. Please proceed.
Brandon Routh: Hi, thanks for taking my call.
Matt Nix: Youíre very welcome.
Brandon Routh: How does Nateís death affect Fionaís relationship with
Matt Nix: Oh, wow. Itís - I think the main impact there is between
Madeline and Michael. I mean, itís such a deep impact that it has -
thatís the real focus for a little while. part of it is actually that
Madeline - Madelineís upset with everybody, as becomes clear over the
course of the, you know, the next episodes. Itís not just that she feels
like Michael shouldnít have put his brother in harmís way, itís also,
you know, that whole team, you know, theyíre all sort of trained. They
were working with Michael and, you know, so thereís plenty of blame to
So, itís not that she, you know, really takes Fiona to task
specifically, but that comes into it. But moving forward, you know, the
Madeline sort of mourns the life she imagined Fiona and Michael couldíve
had together in Miami with her. And, so I think that Fiona becomes one
of the things that draws Madeline back. You know, that keeps Madeline
from just writing it all off, you know, writing her family off and
really slipping into despair.
So, that is a, you know, sheís itís not like Madeline is particularly
close to Fiona in the upcoming episodes, because sheís made at
everybody. But ultimately, you know, one of the things that weíre
exploring is just the ideas that this whole group has become a bit of a
family now and, you know, this is a real challenge to that family. But,
you know, it is a family nonetheless, you know, everybody. So, thatís
part of it as well.
Brandon Routh: Also, if Burn Notice does get a seventh season would you
definitely be looking for it to be the last?
Matt Nix: Looking for it would be a strong term. I mean, I think that
the, you know, one of the things for this season is the - I mean, itís
funny actually. If youíd asked me that last season, I wouldíve said, you
know, how many more of these can we do, you know. But, now, this season
I think has breathed some new creative life into the show for all of us
- for the actors, for the writers, for me. And so the fact that weíve
been able to do this new kind of storytelling that we havenít done a lot
of before has been really exciting.
I think that ultimately, with any of these kinds of shows, there is, you
know, you do need to aim towards some sort of resolution. So I could
definitely see a seventh season being the last season. And - but, if the
actors are willing and the network wants it and the studio wants it and
everything, like, I could also imagine a circumstance. I wouldnít, you
know, guarantee it, but I could imagine a circumstance where we might
say, hey there is some creative life here and there are things we want
But I guess I would ultimately make the decision on that basis. Like, is
there cool stuff to say because, you know, you occasionally see shows
that just sort of, you know, somebody backs up a money truck and
everybody, you know, takes the money and then they just sort of like
phone in a last season, and I wouldnít want to do that.
Brandon Routh: Yes, I - Burn Notice is one of my favorite shows, so I
just want to thank you for that. And my last question, are there any
plans to bring back Tim Mathesonís Larry in any capacity?
Matt Nix: No, as I said before, Iím not really allowed to bring back
dead characters or my wife kicks me out of the house. So, yes, I mean,
Brandon Routh: Heís kind of infamous for that.
Matt Nix: My thing about - my - I mean, we sit around all the - I mean,
just so that everybody knows that we feel the same pain as our audience.
Like, Iíve had writers just, like, I had a writer walk into my office
the other day and say of an episode, ďYou know what this episode
shouldíve been. It shouldíve been Brennen and heís dead and Iím angry
And weíve done the same thing with Larry as well. Itís like - but, you
know, again, if, like, for these characters, that, you know, you got to
have real consequences or itís not as exciting. And so, you know, and
Larry - part of it is, you know, Larry had been one kind of mentor to
Michael and now weíve got the character of Tom Card, John McGinleyís
character, and he - heís - he was another kind of mentor to Michaels. So
thatís a - thatís part of it as well.
Brandon Routh: Oh, I think this seasonís been one of my favorites so
far, so I really look forward to the rest of it. Thanks.
Matt Nix: Oh, thank you.
Operator: Our next question comes from the line of Stevie Wilson of la-story.com.
Stevie Wilson: Hi, Matt. How you doing?
Matt Nix: Very well.
Stevie Wilson: Good. Thanks for taking the time to talk to us today. You
brought up about how you all put things together and that youíre not
always happy with having to kill off somebody, and the way - the
plotting of it. How far in advance are you plotting this?
Matt Nix: Every season, at the beginning of the season we sit down and
lay out a - an overall plot line for the season, and kind of break that
up into individual episodes. And then, you know, we have a general sense
for were the show as a whole is going, and but then all of those things
are flexible. So, the - so, for example, you know, sometimes weíll find
that there; s a particular aspect of the serialized storytelling that we
can move up or that is - or that isnít as interesting as we imagined it
would be or that kind of thing.
So, Iíd say, you know, if you looked at our sketch for the - that we had
in January for this season, you would definitely recognize how things
go. You know, it wouldnít be radically different but youíd see
individual episode where, you know, we just found something more
interesting or more fun.
Stevie Wilson: Okay, because itís interesting because how this one, you
would think that this would be possibly a finale episode but itís not.
And thereís three more...
Matt Nix: Oh, actually thatís a funny one. I can tell you specifically
about that. For a couple of reasons, some of them having to do just
with, like, how the network told us how the season would be split
initially and then how - and then what we were thinking and then some of
the moving around of the episodes we -youíll see going forward in the
I think we figured out once that something like eight episodes this
season had very originally been conceived as finales or premieres, and
then just in the moving around of it we realized, like, oh wow, we have,
you know, a - what we originally imagined as a season finale in the
middle of the season. And then that turned into - I mean, because so,
like, Iíll cop to yes, we absolutely thought about doing this episode as
a season finale and then kind of where it laid out it was coming earlier
And then we moved it even earlier because another aspect of the show
that I really wanted to shake up this year was, you know, I think people
sort of settled into this groove of like, when does big stuff happen on
Burn Notice, episode one, episode 10, episode 11, episode 18. And so, I
really like the idea of basically saying to our audience, no pay
attention in the middle of the season, big stuff, you know.
And, you know, without giving away specific episodes, there are multiple
episodes, like, really big deal episodes buried in the, you know, at
points in this season where you would never expect them. Like, big, big
turns there would normally have been that were actually originally
planned as premieres or finales.
Stevie Wilson: Wow. Okay, so this is one of those situations where you
really need to pay attention to the entire season.
Matt Nix: Absolutely. Yes, absolutely. There is - like, we have - yes, I
mean, especially in the winter section of the - I mean, there are
multiple episodes coming up that are huge turns and then in the back
half of the season, itís - I mean, like a lots. The back half of the
season just runs like a freight train, I mean, itís just - or a bullet
train. Itís really - itís pretty intense and there are lots of turns. I
mean, itís very - yes, itís - and by the end of this season, a lot of
the things that people expect of Burn Notice are completely turned on
their heads. Just, you know, by the end of the season, it doesnít even
look the same. Itís a big, bug difference.
And, you know, and I donít want to, like, for fans of the show, like, it
still has the same pleasures. I mean, itís not like people are going to
be, you know, I think people are going to be really into it. I mean, the
people who have seen those episodes have been really excited. But, itís
- we just decided weíre going to sort of break all the rules this season
and thatís what weíve been doing.
Stevie Wilson: Awesome. Thank you. Thank you very much.
Matt Nix: Thank you.
Stevie Wilson: Thatís the best thing I could hear about this show
because Iíve watched it since the very beginning.
Matt Nix: Well thank you very much. And, you know, I just feel like we
sort of owe our regular fans something new, you know. Like, I think we
proved somewhere in there, like, okay we can do a client of the week
story that has certain satisfactions and, you know, thatís fun but, we
want to reach for something more.
Stevie Wilson: Love it. Thank you very much. I really appreciate your
time. Thank you.
Matt Nix: Oh, thank you.
Operator: We have a follow-up question from the line of Jamie Ruby of
scifivision.com. Please proceed.
Jamie Ruby: Hi, again. Can you talk about how you originally came up for
the - with the concept for the series?
Matt Nix: Very originally. I mean, it sort of, like, depends on what you
mean by originally. But in a general sort of way, I had been interested
in - I had always been interested in espionage since I was a little kid.
I had some conversations with a guy name Michael Wilson, whoís a
consulting producer on the show who worked in the field of private
And Iíd been, you know, so Iíd been interested in the intelligence world
and, you know, that had sort of rekindled an interest. But one of the
things that Iíve always had a personal interest in is just - is less
like the mechanics of it, you know, less the mechanics of okay, how does
the United States do counterintelligence vis-ŗ-vis, you know, China or
that kind of thing.
It - which is not - itís not uninteresting to me, itís just the thing
that I was primarily interested in is what kind - what are the - what is
the personal aspect of it. Like, what kind of person becomes a spy, what
super powers do they have. And I donít mean cartoonish super powers, I
just mean, like, how do they experience the world, where do they come
And so, in my very original conception of the show I thought, oh okay,
well I guess I should do a spy show if I want to do that. And then, that
evolved over the course of thinking about the show and developing the
show into well, what if I did a spy show about somebody who wasnít -
about what showcased the personal skills of a spy and that took a spy
out of the spy context. So that, you know, rather than taking Michael
Westen and, you know, showing how good he is at , you know, dealing with
a Russian diplomat, you know, who may or may not be spying or, you know,
the kinds of things people do...
Jamie Ruby: Right.
Matt Nix: ...on spy shows. What if we can take those skills and apply
them in a different context, in a way that would, you know, tell you
more about who spies are as people and what they can do and that kind of
thing. So, it turned out to be sort of a nice way to explore the things
that I was most interested in. And without getting into the murky world
of what is essentially politics, which is, you know...
Jamie Ruby: Right.
Matt Nix: ...I think anyone who watches the show can tell thatís not
really the central dramatic question of Burn Notice.
Jamie Ruby: Right. Now you mentioned their, you know, super power
skills. How do you guys come up with a lot of the - and I always think
of MacGyver - but, the kind of things that they do. I mean, are a lot of
them really things you could do or are some of them just made up? Iíve
always been curious.
Matt Nix: Oh, no everything - I guess Iíd say everything is - the
standard we hold ourselves to is would this work - does this basically
work, does this work. This isnít quite the right term - word but, in
theory. So, and the arena in which - hereís a great example, in the
first season of the show, Lucy Lawlessís character, Evelyn, removes the
trigger bar spring from Michaelís SIG Sauer and without - and he
discovers that and realizes oh, his gun is broken. And he has a - I
think itís a bobby pin, right because of something that happened earlier
in the episode. And so, he repairs the trigger bar spring using this
Jamie Ruby: Right.
Matt Nix: So, the standard we help ourselves to was we did it. Like,
letís - if you can repair a trigger bar spring with a bobby pin, then we
will do this gag. And the answer is, yes, you can absolutely do it, our
prop guy did it, right.
It took our prop guy maybe two minutes and we let Michael do it in about
45 seconds, you know...
Jamie Ruby: Yes.
Matt Nix: ...so did we fudge it a little; yes we fudged it a little bit.
But, you know, Michaelís a super spy, sure so he can do that. Similarly,
in season two, you know, we - he sort of improvises a - an X-ray thing
to X-ray something in the trunk of a car, and it would be an engineering
task but everything in principle. Oh, weíve checked it all out with
engineers and scientists. Everything in principle works.
The television fudging we allow ourselves is the image of the X-ray, is
Jamie Ruby: Yes.
Matt Nix: ...than that image would actually be. But again, we sort of
allow ourselves like, all right, weíre not going to have Michael read a
really fuzzy X-ray on screen and then, you know, because itís possible.
We know basically it works and so weíll fudge the...
Jamie Ruby: Right.
Matt Nix: ...the thing. We just got - you know, they did a myth busters
on a (unintelligible) thing and actually discovered precisely that. They
were like, yes, this absolutely works in theory. It would be a lot
harder than it looks on the show, but it works in theory.
Jamie Ruby: Right. All right. Well thatís cool. Thanks. Iíve wondered
that for a while.
Operator: And we have a follow up question from the line of Stevie
Wilson from la-story.com. Please proceed.
Stevie Wilson: Hi, I had to come back and follow back because you had me
thinking about how you plot this out. Obviously, you probably have ideas
about whatís going on for next season. And given that, you have just
changed how the ballgame is being played in this series, and actually,
quite frankly, youíre right. Everybody was starting to lose the middle
parts and just tune in the for first two, the last two and could figure
out how you were - how it was being modeled. And this one has been so
very different that you - itís become again the must see TV. So...
Matt Nix: That was our goal.
Stevie Wilson: ...youíre - yes, well yes, really. But the point is, is
that where - how much farther do you have to reach when it comes to -
down to being - plotting and writing to keep up the pace in terms of
where your characterís going to go for the next season, which youíve got
to be thinking about?
Matt Nix: I mean, you got to go a lot deeper. I mean, thereís just no
question. Itís - the - it does mean - I mean, we actually had to revise
how the show is written so that once upon a time an individual writer -
basically means all the writers must be way more - well, without being
too much - doing too much inside baseball about it. We had to change the
way the show gets written from the way that very episodic shows get
written to the way that very serialized shows get written.
So, in a very, you know, in a very standalone procedural show, you can
break an episode and then send the writer off to do that episode and
that writer can kind of rejoin the room and get back into the show, you
know, in a, you know, when theyíre done with their episode, right.
Stevie Wilson: Right.
Matt Nix: But in a very serialized show, everybody has to work together
on everything and be talking back and forth and nobody can leave for
very long. Because, you know, suddenly writers have to have lots more
conversations about, okay, I need you to set this up in your episode so
that I can pay it off in this episode. And no, your character canít say
that in that episode because, like, in my episode, five episodes later,
that character doesnít have that skill, you know what I mean, or that
character doesnít have that relationship or whatever it is.
So, we had to revise all of that. And absolutely in thinking forward to,
you know, what will hopefully be on season seven, you know, network
Stevie Wilson: You (unintelligible).
Matt Nix: ...I think itís - you have to be a little bit like a baseball
player. You know, you get a little superstitious, you donít want to...
Stevie Wilson: Yes...
Matt Nix: ...get call (unintelligible)...
Stevie Wilson: ...I got it.
Matt Nix: ...by assuming anything. But, yes, so, I mean, now - youíre
right. Again, itís kind of like how of just a much more serialized show
does it in the sense that you - we have to think about where - when we
land, what are the storytelling possibilities, you know, moving out from
there. And but, you know, at the same time, this season has given me
some more confidence, vis-ŗ-vis our ability to just tell different kinds
of stories. Because, you know, if you told me at the beginning - if you
told in season five, you know what, next season, youíre not going to
have any traditional clients, right.
Stevie Wilson: Yes.
Matt Nix: At no point is some random person in Miami just going to walk
up and say I need help with something, right. I was like, I probably
wouldíve said, well thatís kind of the show, how do we do that, you
know. And the truth is, you just do it. You just get into it and figure
out how to do it.
And so, you know, I will say one thing that has been sort of a luxury is
the fact that we havenít done this for all of these seasons. Means that,
I mean, to take a show I really like, Prison Break, right, once - like,
they entered into this super episodic high octane mode of storytelling
from the very beginning, right. And itís incredibly compelling and
youíve got to watch every episode, but itís really hard to make it last
for, you know, six seasons, right. Because, God, those people have been
running for a long time, you know, like...
Stevie Wilson: True.
Matt Nix: And so, the fact that we sort of entered into that mode of
storytelling more in season six means that weíve just never eaten that
lunch, you know what I mean. We - thereís all sorts of stuff for us to
do. So in some ways actually, things that we had always imagined doing,
that I had always thought about doing, that I thought that werenít
possible, well, I can do that now.
So, you know, in a way, season seven is a little daunting because it
isnít something we have - havenít done - because it isnít something
weíve done before. But in a way, like, what Iíd hope to do in a season
seven is also what Iíve been thinking about for six years.
Stevie Wilson: Wow. And thatís pretty amazing that you could actually
finally get what you wanted initially. And have it...
Matt Nix: That I could actually what?
Stevie Wilson: Well, achieve what it is that you originally wanted, you
know, with thinking about back in...
Matt Nix: (Unintelligible)
Stevie Wilson: ...and then finally get it seven seasons later. Get to
that point where youíre able to kind of tweak the show enough to really
kind of give it a whole new breath of fresh air.
Matt Nix: Yes, honestly, if you told me that we would be able to do
this, I wouldíve said it canít happen. Because part of it is just, you
know, and big ups to USA. Like, they - it isnít all the time that a
network says, like, oh you know that way weíve been doing things that
has been really successful for a long time, well letís just do the
opposite, and thatís what they did. And, you know, and you can see it in
their other shows as well. Like everybody got lead off the chain a
little bit to do more serialized storytelling. And, you know, and I
think itís been a good thing for all of their shows.
Stevie Wilson: Great. Great. Thank you so much for, you know, circling
back around on this with me. I appreciate it.
Matt Nix: Oh, of course, thank you. Yes.
Operator: And we do have a follow up question for Jamie Ruby at
Jamie Ruby: Hi, again. Now I forgot what I was going to ask. I was
listening so much. Oh, crap. Can you talk about any of the other guest
stars that weíre going to have this season?
Matt Nix: Letís see, well, Kenny Johnson will appearing from The Shield.
Has a - I mean, it sort of depends on what you consider the season,
like, the overall season or the summer season. But, you know, Kenny
Johnson appears in both. So, he has a great part that I wonít get into
too much. Weíll see some more of Agent Pearce, so got her. Tom Card,
again, McGinleyís character. Time trying to think - weíve got some great
guest stars. Not much in the way of gigantic, you know eventy kinds of
people but, you know, some really great actors.
But yes, most of our sort of big casting-casting was in the
(unintelligible) characters. So, McGinley would be a great example
Jamie Ruby: (Unintelligible) great.
Matt Nix: And then in second half of the season we have some more, you
know, more characters like that but we can talk about that then.
Jamie Ruby: All right. And I remember what else I was going to ask. I
was going to say, you, you know, you write, you direct and you produce.
Is - and I know it looks like a lot of them youíve written and directed
on the same episode. Is it hard to do, you know, both? And do you prefer
one over the other or is one harder than the other? Just kind of talk
Matt Nix: Well, I think they are two different things but I actually
enjoy both. Iíd say that directing, you know, I mean, itís the
difference between, you know, creating the vision and executing it. And,
you know, directing, you know, the chance to work more intimately with
actors is really fun and explore things.
I also, you know, one of the reasons I like to direct is it keeps me
connected to the actually physical doing of the show. I mean, the - you
know, Burn Notice is a very difficult show to make because we are
packing a lot of plot and a lot action and a lot of story into our 42
And, you know, if you just look at - weíve had episodes where we were
doing two major stunts a day. Stunts that a lot of other shows would do,
you know, they do one stunt in the entire episode. And so, you know, and
thatís just stunts or effect. I mean, there are a lot of things. And so,
just numbers of scenes, page count, all of that.
And so, for me directing is partially, you know, remaining connected to
the actual execution of what weíre promising in the writerís room. But,
yes, I really like both. I will say, like, they donít feel as different
as you might think to me. Just because ultimately, when Iím directing,
it feels like - in my head, it feels a little bit like a rewrite, you
know what I mean. Like, oh, now Iím rewriting it with people and
Jamie Ruby: (Unintelligible)
Matt Nix: And so I feel like, you know, I saw this episode before in my
head a couple times. I saw it when it was outlining it and then I saw it
when I was writing it and then I, you know, and now Iím seeing it again.
And as to episodes that I write and direct versus somebody else writes
and directs, weíre all so involved in every episode itís not really like
I, you know, itís not like I sit down to read an episode that I - where
I donít know what happens. If itís not...
Jamie Ruby: Right.
Matt Nix: ...me writing, you know what I mean. I was intimately involved
with it regardless. So...
Jamie Ruby: Okay, great. Well thank you so much.
Matt Nix: Thank you.
Operator: And there are no further questions at this time.
Matt Nix: Okay, great.
Alysia Sands: Thank you so much.
Matt Nix: Thank you. All right, talk to you guys later.
Operator: Ladies and gentlemen, that concludes the conference call for
today. We thank you for your participation and ask that you please
disconnect your line.
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