Hollywood Unscripted Ep 34 - Liz Tigelaar (Little Fires Everywhere): A Stuck at Home Special

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Jenny Curtis: From  CurtCo  Media- 

 

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Speaker 2: There's  no  place  like  Hollywood. 

 

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Jenny Curtis: Welcome  to  another  special  episode  of  Hollywood  Unscripted:  Stuck  At  Home.  I'm  Jenny  Curtis,  and  today,  I  have  the  gift  of  virtually  sitting  down  with  writer  and  producer  Liz  Tigelaar,  who  has  a  plethora  of  television  work  under  her  belt,  including  show  running  the  acclaimed  Hulu  series,  Little  Fires  Everywhere.  Liz,  thank  you  so  much  for  joining  me  today. 

 

00:00:29
Liz Tigelaar: Yeah,  thank  you for having me. 

 

00:00:31
Jenny Curtis: I  want  to  start  with  a  big  congratulations,  because  Little  Fires  Everywhere  is  up  for  five  Emmys.  I'm  sure  that's  surreal. 

 

00:00:38
Liz Tigelaar: Yeah,  I  can't  believe  it.  It  felt  like  such  a  hard  category,  and  I'm  so  glad  we  slipped  in. The  show  of  course,  I  loved  that  nomination  because  it  really  represents  every  single  person  who  worked  on  it.  But,  yeah,  all of  the  nominations  for  individual  reasons  are  all  so  incredibly  meaningful  and  we're  just  honored  to  be  included. 

 

00:00:59
Jenny Curtis: So,  right  now  these  series  of  specials  with  Hollywood  Unscripted  we're  calling  Stuck  At  Home  because  of  quarantine.  So,  I  want  to  start  off  with  a  little  bit  of  like, how  are  you  doing? 

 

00:01:07
Liz Tigelaar: I  mean,  it's  been  interesting.  It's  like,  really  ridden  a  wave  in  the  last  five  months.  We  kind  of  had  our  system  for  a  while  and  then  we  actually  were  supposed  to  go  back  east  to  see  our  families  and we  were  supposed  to  fly  and  we  got  freaked  out,  and  so  we  just  rented  a  minivan  and just  took  our  kid  and  dog  and  drove  across  the  country,  and  never  peed  in  a  public  restroom.  It  was  an  adventure,  but  it  was  amazing.  And  I  think  it  really...  I  don't  know.  It  just  changed  my  family's  whole  outlook  on  everything,  really.  And  so  it's  been  hard  obviously,  and  easier  for  us  I  think  than  a  lot  of  people,  but  we  keep  talking  about  going  back  to  normal  and  thinking  what  is  normal,  and  do  we  really want  to  go  back  to  normal?  What  does  it  look  like  now?  I  guess  it's  been  hard,  but  illuminating.  You  know? 

 

00:01:53
Jenny Curtis: I  want  to  dig  into  Little  Fires  in a little bit,  but  I  want  to  start  at  the  beginning,  if  that's  okay.  Your  career  has  spanned  some  really  high  profile  TV,  reaching  all  the  way  back  to  Dawson's  Creek,  which  I  can  find  is  your  first  thing.  That  is  a  huge  show  to  start  on,  and  I  believe  you  were  an  assistant,  is  that  correct? 

 

00:02:10
Liz Tigelaar: Yeah,  I  actually  started  as  an  intern  right  out  of  college.  I  graduated  college  and  drove  out  to  LA  and  started  interning  at Dawson's  Creek  because  the  person  who  hired  the  interns  went  to  Ithaca,  where  I  went.  And  she  hired  me,  and  really  it  started  my  whole  career.  It  was  a  great  place  to  be  at  the  time  and  I  hadn't  really  watched  the  show.  It  premiered  when  I  was  a  senior  in  college  basically,  and  I  didn't  know  anything  about  it.  But  I  got  the  VHS  tapes  and  I  watched  the  whole  show  one  weekend  in  my  little  crappy  apartment,  and  I  loved  it.  I  was  like, " Sarah  McLaughlin,  Edwin  McCain,  (inaudible)   like  Joey  on  the  other  side of the creek." 
 I  just was  like, " Oh  my  gosh,  I'm  on the greatest  show  ever."  It  was  awesome.  There  were  all  these  writers  there  at  the  time,  you  know?  Mike  White,  and  obviously  Kevin  Williamson  and  Greg  Berlanti  was  a  staff  writer,  and  I  mean,  it  was  just  this  kind  of  who's  who  of  everyone  who  would  go  on  to  be  show  runners,  and  Ruben  Fleischer,  the  director,  he  was  a  PA  with  me.  And  I  mean,  it  was  fun.  I  kind  of  worked  through  all  the  assistant  jobs  that  you  could  do.  I  did  some  weird  stuff,  and  then  eventually  co- wrote  a  freelance  episode  with  my  writing  partner  at  the  time  and  then  eventually  moved  on.  But  some  of  my  very  best  friends  in  LA  are  still  a  group  of  women  who  I  met  on  Dawson's. 

 

00:03:29
Jenny Curtis: Your  writing  partner  was  Holly  Henderson,  correct? 

 

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Liz Tigelaar: Yep. 

 

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Jenny Curtis: And  you  did  several  things  together,  including  novels  about  Dawson's  Creek? 

 

00:03:36
Liz Tigelaar: Well,  that was  the  weird  stuff.  So,  Paul  Stupin  wanted  to  do  like...  We'd  always  do  a  scary  episode,  like  a  Blair  Witch  episode  or  some  sort  of  Halloween  episode  or  whatever.  It  was  almost  like  if  you  combined  Dawson's  Creek  and  Scooby- Doo.  It  was  like  mystery  series.  And  so,  of  course  all  of  the  writers  were  like, " No."  And  all of  the  assistants  were  like, " We'll  write  them."  And  so  basically,  all  the  assistants  on  Dawson's  at  some  point  were  credited  with  a  Dawson's  Creek  mystery  novel,  and  I  think  I  got  the  distinct  honor  of  co- writing  two. 

 

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Jenny Curtis: That's  awesome. 

 

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Liz Tigelaar: But  I  mean,  at  the  time  it  was  just  like, " Oh  my  gosh,  I'll  write  whatever.  Let's  write  in  these  characters'  voices."  And  I  can  remember  my  car  breaking  down  and  sitting  at  Toyota,  plunking  out a  Dawson's  Creek  mystery  novel,  waiting  for  it  to  get  fixed.  It  was  a  time.  We  did  a  lot  of  weird  things  like  that.  It  was  kind  of  like,  say  yes  to  anything  that  involves  getting  paid  to  write,  was  our  motto. 

 

00:04:37
Jenny Curtis: And  so  Holly  and  you  worked  together  on  Dawson's  Creek,  and  the  novels,  and  then  something  called  Totally  Spies! 

 

00:04:42
Liz Tigelaar: That was  a  cartoon. 

 

00:04:43
Jenny Curtis: I  mean,  the  say  yes  to  anything,  that's  awesome. 

 

00:04:46
Liz Tigelaar: Yes. 

 

00:04:47
Jenny Curtis: Starting  your  career  as  a  writer  as  a  team,  what  were  the  benefits  to  that?  When  did  you  decide  it  was  time  to  move  on?  Do  you  co- write  with  people  anymore?  I  mean,  besides  writer's  rooms? 

 

00:04:56
Liz Tigelaar: Not  really.  I  mean,  sometimes  now  in  a  more  supervisory  role.  I'm  doing  it  again,  and  I  actually  really  enjoy  it.  I  mean,  I  love  the  collaboration  of  pairing  up  and  at  the  time,  it  was  such  a  valuable  partnership.  I  was  so  lost  when  I  moved  out  here.  I  asked  my  parents  if  for  my  birthday,  they  would  let  me  take  a  writing  class  in  the  Valley,  where  someone  teaches  a  writing  class.  And  you're  like, " Okay,"  and  you  go  on  Saturdays  or  whatever,  and  they  would  read  whatever  spec  script  you  were  working  on,  and  they  didn't  have  a  script  to  read  that  week,  so  they  were  like, " Hey,  do  you  have  any  scripts?"  And  I  was  like, " Well,  I  wrote  a  news  radio  script  in  college." 

 

They were  like, " Let's  read  it."  And  I'm  like, " Oh  my  gosh,  they  must  have  read  it  and  loved  it,  and  now  we're  reading  my  script  in  front  of  the  class.  So,  I  dragged  to  the  Valley,  they  read  my  script.  It  is  so  horrible,  it's  so  painful.  The  script  is  clearly  so  bad.  I  went  into  the  bathroom  and  just  burst  into  tears.  I  mean,  first  I  cried  in  front  of  everybody.  Then  I  collected  myself  and  appropriately  moved  to  the  bathroom,  and then I was  like, " I'm  moving  back  to  Connecticut.  I'm going  to  teach  Kindergarten.  I  don't  know,  there's  another  career  path  for  me."  And  Holly  miraculously  was  like, " We  could  write  together,"  and  I  was  like, " Yes!"  I  was  like, " I  don't  know  what  I'm  doing!"  And  so  we  did.  We  wrote  so  many  specs.  We  wrote  together  for  a  long  time. 
 Eventually,  she  started  dating  somebody  and  became  writing  partners  with  him.  But  it  was  at  a  time  after  we  had  kind  of  dissolved  our  partnership,  and  I  think  any  dissolving  of  a  partnership  isn't  always  an  easy  thing,  but  I  think  for  us,  it  felt  like  a  natural  time  where  we  kind  of  stopped  being  assistants  on  the  same  show  together  and  we  were  just  moving  in  different  directions.  I  think  I  had  gotten  an  opportunity  on  American  Dreams  to  be  an  assistant,  and  I  had  been  given  the  opportunity  to  write  a  script  there.  And  I  think  for  me,  I  didn't  know  what  my  voice  was  alone.  I  really  didn't  know  what  my  voice  was  at  all.  And  so,  it  was  an  opportunity  to  start  to  find  it,  and  it  just  proved  to  be  very  invaluable.  And  being  on  American  Dreams  especially  was  really  life- changing  for  me.

 

00:06:56
Jenny Curtis: And  on  American  Dreams,  you  went  then  from  assistant  to  writer,  but  then  you  also  were  a  story  editor,  and  that's  kind  of  a  step  up  in  the  writer's  room? 

 

00:07:05
Liz Tigelaar: Yeah,  so  you  go  the  ladder. You start  as  an  assistant,  you  get  a  staff  writer  job  and then it's  like  story  editor,  executive  story  editor,  co- producer,  producer,  supervising  producer,  sometimes  consulting  producer,  co- EP  and  then  executive  producer.  So,  you kind of  move  your  way  up  the  ladder.  And  so,  I  got  to  be  an  assistant  on  American  Dreams  for  a  year  and  then  two  years  as  a  writer.  And  that  was  the  best,  craziest  first  experience  I  could  have  ever had. 

 

00:07:30
Jenny Curtis: Having  it  be  the  first  experience,  did  you  see  the  steps  like  you  just  laid  out  and  know  that  that's  what  you  wanted  to  take,  or  did  they  kind  of  come  at  you  and  you  would  step  up  as  you  moved  along? 

 

00:07:39
Liz Tigelaar: I  knew  that's  what  I  wanted  to  do.  Like  I  said,  I  had  been  on  Dawson's  Creek.  I  was  an  assistant,  we  had  written  an  episode  but  it  didn't  really  lead  anywhere.  I  had been  going  on  meetings  forever,  and  we  hadn't  really  gotten  anything  as  a  team  and  we  were  just  both  kind  of  trying  to  figure  it  out  at  the  time  and  going  off  on  different  shows  that  I  think  really  suited  both  our  personalities.  I  mean,  when  I  saw  Brittany  Snow  watching  American  Bandstand,  that's  how  I  felt  watching  American  Dreams,  and  I  was  like, " I'll  do  anything  on this  show.  I'll  be  a  PA,  I'll  work  for  free.  I'll  be  an  intern.  I'll  do  anything."  And  of  course,  I  knew  I  wanted  to  move  up  the  ladder.

 

 But  I  don't  think  I  had  a  huge  sense  of  the  ladder  and  of  how  long  it  would  take,  would  I  ever  get  there?  I  mean, I moved out  here  and  I  thought, " Some  day,  if  I  write  an  episode  of  television  with  my  name  on  it,"  for  all  I  knew,  that could  take  a  whole  career.  So  I  was  like, " That  might be it,  you  might  work  20  years  to  have  one  episode  of  television." I mean,  I  had  no  idea.  So,  I didn't  have  a  great  barometer,  but  I  just  knew  I  loved  where  I  was. 

 

00:08:36
Jenny Curtis: And  then  climbing  up  the  ladder  again,  you  went  from  What  About  Brian,  where  you  had  a  producing  role.  And  then  Brothers &  Sisters,  you  had  a  season  of  being  a  producer  and  then  supervising  producer.  So  you  really  went  from  show  to  show,  taking  on  all  of  these  experiences,  and  I'd  love  to  hear  more  about  what  you  learned  from  them,  what  you  took  from  each  show. 

 

00:08:57
Liz Tigelaar: So, some of  those  titles,  like  you're  all  sometimes  kind  of  doing  the  same  thing  even  though  your  title  increases  and hopefully  your  pay.  Everything  you're  doing  is  still  kind  of the same until  you  get  to  supervising,  co- EP  level  where  you  might  be  rewriting  scripts  or  really  helping  out  with  something  specific  or  being  in  post,  you're  a  writer  in  the  room  and  you're  all  kind  of  doing  the  same  thing.  You  might  just  have  more  experience. 

 

 So,  what  happened  was  I  had  been  on  American  Dreams,  and  then  it  got  canceled  and  I  did  not  get  staffed.  And  of  course,  I  was  a  wreck.  I was  like, " What  do  I  do  for  money?"  It  was  like,  I  had  been  story  editor  and  I  didn't  know  if  I  could  go  back  to  being  an  assistant,  because  that's  going  to  look  weird,  because  I'm  already  a  couple  rungs  up  and  now  I'm  jumping  back.  But  I  really  didn't  know what  to  do.  And by  some  miracle,  I  ended  up  selling  my  first  pilot  that  year.  Again,  by  some  other  miracle,  it  ended  up  shooting  in  Vancouver.  And  so,  I  ended  up  shooting  this  pilot.  It  completely  changed  my  career.  Just  to  have  had  something  shoot,  and  then  Josh  Reims,  who  I  had  worked  with  on  American  Dreams,  who  was  such  a  guide  and  mentor  to  me...  I  mean,  he  was  so  encouraging  but  he  would  also  pull  me  aside  and told  me  what  annoying  things  I  was  doing that I needed to  really  correct  if  I  wanted  to  keep  moving  up.  Which  is  a  very  hard  thing  to  do,  but  it's  kindness  to

 do  that  for  someone.

 

 And  he  really  did  that  for  me,  and  then  he  proceeded  to  hire  me  kind  of  again  and again  on  What  About  Brian  and  Brothers &  Sisters,  and  just  always...  Dirty,  Sexy,  Money.  He  just  always  really  supported  me  and  my  career.  And  so hooking up  with  a  person  like  that  and  being  able  to  grow  with  them  and  really  emulate  the  way  that  they  ran  a  show  and  ran  a  room,  and  I  really  did  that  with  Josh. 

 

00:10:32
Jenny Curtis: And  then  all  of  that  led  to  your  first  show  running  experience,  which  was  Life  Unexpected,  which  is  such  a  cute  show.

 

00:10:40
Liz Tigelaar: Oh,  thank  you.  I  loved  that  show.  I  loved  that  group.  The  writers  and  cast,  we're  all  still  such  good  friends,  and  we  all  felt  really  young,  like  we  were  all  just  doing  this  thing  for  the  first  time.  Up  in  Vancouver,  and  it  was  an  amazing  experience.  I  remember  being  in  the  writer's  room  and  going...  looking  around  and  thinking  like, " Who's  going  to  tell  me hat  to  do?"  And  I  called  Josh  Reims,  and  he  was  like, " Nobody,  it's  on  you.  And  if  anyone  helps  you,  if  anyone  has  one  good  idea,  they're  doing  you  a  favor,  but  it's  on  you."  And  I  was  like, " No,  I  was  terrified." I had  a  great  producing  partner,  Mary  Beth  Basile,  and  we  all  had  the  best  time  doing  the  show. And  it  was  like  American  Dreams,  kind  of  the  best  first  experience  doing  that  that  I  could  have  hoped  for.

 

 And  I  think  unlike  Split  Decision,  my  first  pilot  where  I  was  so  like, " I'm  so  young and I'm  so  grateful  to  be  there,"  and  I'm  like, " Meep,"  Life  Unexpected,  I  was  really  able  to  have  more  of  a  voice  and  I  don't  mean  to  say  stand  up  for  myself  like  I  had  to  stand  up  to  anybody,  but  more  like  be  able  to  voice  what  I  thought  and  not  feel  intimidated  and  know  that  my  voice  was  going  to  be  kind  of  recognized  and  included  and  that  it  mattered,  and  that  just  felt  so  empowering.  It  was  so  nice  to  have  a  voice  and  it  kind  of  made  me  feel  like, " What  do  people  do  who  don't  have  a  TV  show  to  say  all this  stuff  with  every  week?"  I  felt  like  I  just  got  to  pour  it  all  out  into the  show.  What  I  thought, and  yeah.  It  was one of the best experiences of  my  career,  hands- down. 

 

00:12:05
Jenny Curtis: And  it  was  on  the  CW,  is  that  correct? 

 

00:12:09
Liz Tigelaar: It  was.  It  was  on  the CW. 

 

00:12:10
Jenny Curtis: So,  you  had  just  come  off  of  Melrose  Place,  also  on  the CW.  Did  that  lead  to  the  show,  or  how  did  that  work  out? 

 

00:12:16
Liz Tigelaar: So,  Life  Unexpected  got  picked  up  but  it  was  starting  kind  of  late,  and  I  was  in  an  overall  deal.  So,  I  went  to  Melrose.  I  had  gotten  to  be  a  little  bit  of  a  fly  on  the  wall  of  the  pilot  of  that,  and  then  I  came  to  just  write  the  second  episode  and  moved  on  to  Life  Unexpected.  But  somehow,  I  don't  know.  I  got  credited  on  all  13  or  however  many  there  were.  I  was  like, " Oh,  this  is great." 

 

00:12:34
Jenny Curtis: You did  so  much  on  this  show. 

 

00:12:37
Liz Tigelaar: I  look  very  busy.  But  it  was  really  fun,  it  was  a  great  group.  And it  was  great  to  be  under  those  guys  before  I  was  off  to  run  my  own  thing,  just  Todd  and  Darren  were  great. 

 

00:12:49
Jenny Curtis: The  idea  sprung  basically  because  you  are  adopted  yourself,  is  that  correct? 

 

00:12:53
Liz Tigelaar: Yeah. 

 

00:12:54
Jenny Curtis: How  much  of  yourself  did  you  put  in this  show? 

 

00:12:56
Liz Tigelaar: Well,  initially,  I  didn't  really  think  it  came  from  me  at  all.  I  was  thinking  more  about  like  Knocked  Up  and  Gilmore  Girls  and  I  don't  know,  I  just  kind  of  came  up  with  the  idea  and  it  wasn't  until  it  was  already  written  and  shot  and  we  were  staffing  the  writer's  room  that  Mary  Beth,  my  producing  partner,  was  like, "This is  a  lot  about  you."  And  I  was  like, " Is  it?" And  I  didn't  really  set  out  to  do  it.  It  just  turned  out  to  be  that  way,  and then  of  course,  I  did  get  to  put  a  lot  of  myself  into  it. And  all  the  writers,  every  time  someone  new  wrote,  they  got  to  put  themselves  into  it.  So  by  the  end,  it  really  wasn't  just  me,  it  was everybody.

 

00:13:30
Jenny Curtis: Yeah.  So,  it's  write  what  you  know,  even  when  that's  unintentional,  is  what  you- 

 

00:13:34
Liz Tigelaar: Yeah,  I  guess  so.  Exactly.  It's  like,  turns  out  I  don't  know  anything  else. 

 

00:13:40
Jenny Curtis: But  speaking  of  working  within  a  network,  so  then  you  did  a  whole  string  of  ABC  Shows.  You were  on  Once  Upon  A  Time  and  Revenge,  and  Nashville  and  the  Astronaut  Wives  Club.  But  it  feels  like  you  were  kind  of  sent  there  to  launch  the  show, because  you  were  in  the  first  season  of  all  of  them.  Is  that  kind  of  what  happened? 

 

00:13:55
Liz Tigelaar: Yeah,  so  after  Life  Unexpected,  I  signed  an  overall  deal  at ABC,  and  when  you're  on  an  overall  deal,  you  kind  of  get  assigned  to  shows  basically.  And  usually  what  they'll  do  is  they'll  assign  you  to  their  first  season  shows  because  we  all  know  the  first  season's  usually  the  hardest  to  get  off  the  ground.  So,  yeah.  I  went  from  first  season  show  to  first  season  show  and  I  don't  know.  I  mean,  I  hope  I  was  helpful.  I  have  no  idea.  But  I  was  there, and  I  got  to  do  a  lot  and  be  around  a  lot  of  different  show  runners,  again  learn  what  I like, what  I  didn't  like,  what  I  thought  was  effective,  what  I  thought wasn't.  I  got  to  have  relationships  with  a  lot  of  new  people  and  just  meet  writers  that  I  hadn't  known  before  that  I  really  loved  working  with,  and  then  sometimes  reunite  with  people  who  I  had  known. 

 

00:14:37
Jenny Curtis: What do you think was  the  biggest  thing  that  you  took  away  from  doing  that  with  all  of  the  show  runners? 

 

00:14:42
Liz Tigelaar: Well,  you  know  what?  I  think  I  would  say  that  I  realize  I  need  to  be  with  my  people.  Some  shows,  well,  I'll  just  say  it.  Once  Upon  A  Time  was  a  show  that  I  loved,  I love  the  fairy  tale  world.  I love  the  themes,  but  there  were  elements  of  it  that  just  weren't  in  my  wheelhouse.  They  would  refer  to  a  portal  and  I  would  talk  about  a  hole.  Or  I'd  be  like, " She  falls  down  the  hole,"  they'd  be  like, "It's a  portal!"  And  I'm  like, " Oh,  a  portal."

 

 I'm  just  not a  portal  person  and  so  it  was  pretty  obvious  quickly  I wasn't  a  portal  person  to  them  and  to  me.  So  that,  though  I  loved  them,  that  wasn't  a  natural  fit  for  me  and  I  think  that  I  realized, " Oh,  there  are  just  people  who  like,  we're  going  to  speak  the  same  language  and I'm  going  to  know  it's  right  because  it's  going  to  feel  right."  I'm  not  going  to  feel  like  I'm  swimming  upstream.  So,  I  think  I  became  a  little  more  choiceful  when  I  went  on  shows  to  really  not  just  try  to  get  the  job,  but  to  really  investigate  what  they  were  looking  for  so  I  could  discern.  I  might  love  the  show  and  I  might  love  the  people  in  that  case,  but  I  might  not  be  the  best  fit.  I  need  to  discern  that  for  myself  a  little  bit.  So,  I  don't  know.  That  was  something  kind  of  good  to  learn  I  think  out  of  the  experience  of  hopping  around.  And  that  I  just  really  needed  to  be  in  an  effective  room  where  people  listened  to  each  other.  That  was  another  thing.  I  would  go  on  some  shows  where  it  just  felt  like  everyone  was  talking,  but  no  one  was  listening. 

 

00:16:10
Jenny Curtis: Hmm.  So  then  Casual,  I  read  something  where  Zander  Lehmann  basically  said  him  and  Jason  Wrightman  and  Helen  Estabrook  all  kind  of  followed  your  lead  because  you  had  the  most  experience  in  television.  Was  that  kind  of  a  room  where  you  guys  all  carried  each  other's  weight  and  worked  together  as  a  team  of  show  runners,  kind  of?

 

00:16:30
Liz Tigelaar: Absolutely.  I  mean,  they  hadn't  done  TV  before,  and  so  I  kind  of  got  brought  in  as  the  experienced  show  runner.  I  hadn't  done  a  comedy  before,  so  that  part  was  new  to  me.  But  yeah,  Helen,  Zander  and  I  really  ran  that  show  kind  of  in  a  three- pronged  approach.  I  ran  the  room.  Zander  controlled  all  the  scripts,  and  Helen  really  spearheaded  set  and  producing.  And  so  that  was  a  great  partnership  at  the  time,  and  I  think  that  I  loved the...  I  mean,  I  would  say  mentorship  with  Zander,  but  in  a  lot  of  ways,  Zander  mentored  me  as  much  as  I  did  him. 

 

 It  was  really  a  two- way  street  because  he  thought  so  much  outside  of  the  box  because  he  hadn't  grown  up  kind  of  in  that  box  because  he  was  so  young.  And  he'd  barely  grown  up.  But  yeah,  so  I  had  a  lot  to  learn  from  Zander  too.  I  really  appreciated  his  approach  to  storytelling  and  I  really  appreciated  his  voice,  and  I  think  he  stretched  me  to  go  outside  the  box  a  little  more,  because  I  had  grown  up  kind  of  in  that  network  box  and  structure.  But  yeah,  I  loved  running  that  room.  I  absolutely  loved  the  writers  on  that  show.  So  many  of  them  I've  taken  to  do  so  many  other  projects  and  that  was  a  great  experience.  It  was  a  really  particularly  wonderful  room  experience. 

 

00:17:43
Jenny Curtis: And  that  was  your first  experience  with  streaming,  right? 

 

00:17:46
Liz Tigelaar: Yeah. 

 

00:17:47
Jenny Curtis: So,  what  did  you  find  the  main  difference  was  there  in  streaming  versus  network? 

 

00:17:52
Liz Tigelaar: The  biggest  difference  I  think  was  getting  to  write  almost  all  the  scripts  ahead  of  time,  was  having  like  a  three- month  lead  instead  of  a  six- week  lead.  So  you  could  find  the  show  and  if  you  had  an  episode  where  you  were  struggling,  you  weren't  having  the  weight  of  production  bearing  down  on  you.  You  had  time  to  find  the  show  and  find  the  voice  and  find  the  rhythm.  Sometimes  it  can  take  four  episodes  in,  five,  six.  And  so  once  we  found  it  with  Casual,  it  was  just  such  an  easy  show  to  do  I  thought,  because  we  knew  what  felt  right  for  that  show.  We  could  just  feel  it when  we  were  in  the  room. 

 

00:18:25
Speaker 4: A  Moment  of  Your  Time,  a  new  podcast  from  CurtCo  Media. 

 

00:18:39
Speaker 5: I'm  currently  21  years  old,  and  today- 

 

00:18:43
Speaker 6: I felt  like  magic  extended- 

 

00:18:44
Speaker 5: ...  I'm going to read a poem for you. 

 

00:18:49
Speaker 6: ... from her fingertips, down to the base of my spine. 

 

00:18:49
Speaker 7: You have to take care of yourself, because the world needs you and your voice. 

 

00:18:49
Speaker 8: Trust me, every do-gooder  that  asked  about  me  was  ready  to  spit  on  my  dreams. 

 

00:18:52
Speaker 9: Her  fingers  were  facing  me. 

 

00:18:54
Speaker 10: You  feel  like  your  purpose  and  your  worth  is  really  being questioned. 

 

00:18:56
Speaker 11: You ain't going  to  stop  me  from  playing  the  piano. 

 

00:18:59
Speaker 12: She  buys  walkie- talkies,  wonders  to  whom  she  should  give  the  second  device. 

 

00:19:02
Speaker 13: Pets  don't  love  humans.  We  never  did,  we  never  will.  We  just  find  ones that are- 

 

00:19:06
Speaker 14: The beauty  of  rock  climbing  is  that  you  can  only  focus  on  what's  right  in  front  of  you. 

 

00:19:10
Speaker 15: And  so,  our  American  life  begins. 

 

00:19:14
Speaker 4: We  may  need  to  stay  apart,  but  let's  create  together.  Available  on  all  podcast  platforms.  Submit  your  piece  at  CurtCo. com/AMomentOfYourTime. 

 

00:19:33
Jenny Curtis: So,  with  Little  Fires  Everywhere,  this  is  such  a  great  show.  Reese  Witherspoon  and  Kerry  Washington  approached  you  with  the  book,  is  that  correct?  And  then  you  turned  it  into  the  show? 

 

00:19:43
Liz Tigelaar: Exactly,  yeah.  I  had had  a  general  meeting  with  Laura  Neustadter  at  Reese's  company,  because  I  really  wanted  to  go  on  Morning  show,  and  we  kind  of  had  a  general  meeting  and  I  did  end  up  going  on  Morning  Show,  but  in  the  meantime,  this  book  had  become  available  and  they  needed  a  writer,  and  she  sent  it  to  me  and  was  like, " Reese  and  Kerry  are  starring  in  it,  do  you  want  to  do it?"  And  I'm  like, " Of  course."  And  then  I'm  like, " Well,  let  me  read  it."  But  I  mean,  obviously.  And then  I  read  it and I was like, " Oh  my  god,  I love  the  book  so  much.  Even  if  Reese  and  Kerry  weren't  starring  in  it,  I  would  want  to  adapt  this  book."  I  just,  I  loved it. 

 

00:20:12
Jenny Curtis: The  process  in  adapting  the  book,  did  you  work  with  Celeste  Ng  who's  the  author  of  the  novel?  How  did  you  find  the  show  from  what  the  book  gave  you? 

 

00:20:22
Liz Tigelaar: Well,  I  read  the  book  and  I  kind  of  instinctively  knew  some  areas  that  I  might  want  to  mine,  some  questions  I  had,  some  places  where  I  thought  we  could  maybe  mine  the  story  for  even  more  story,  and  I  knew  I  wanted  to  maybe  connect  some  story  points  a  little  more.  So,  I  just  had  a  lot  of  ideas  reading  the  book.  When  you  read  something and  it  sparks  all  this  other  stuff,  that's  obviously  a  good  sign.  So,  it  sparked  a  lot  in  me  and  so  I  kind  of  pitched  out  to  Celeste  how  I  saw  doing  it  and  maybe  where  I  saw  adjusting  or  tweaking  or  doing  this  or  adding  this  element,  and  obviously,  a  huge  element  that  was  added  to  the  story  was  Mia  being  black. 

 

 Because  in  the  book,  her  race  wasn't  referenced  and  the  assumption  was  kind  of  that  she  was  white.  So,  all  of  those  things  kind  of  contributed  to  the  adaptation  and  I  really  ran  everything  by  Celeste  and  pitched  it  out  to  sell  it.  And  then  it  was  breaking  the  pilot,  which  I  did  first.  And  I  put  all  the  story  deets  from  the  book  up  on  the  board,  like  Beautiful  Mind.  Note  cards  everywhere.  It  looked  like  crazy,  but  I  just  wanted  to  lay  everything  out  so  I  could  see  it  really  clearly,  and  then  start  to  think, " How  can  things  connect  even  more?  How  can  we  take  something  in  the  book  that was  maybe  a  little bit  more  insulated  and  make  it  the  catalyst  for  something  else?  How  do  we  weave  it  all  together  and  how  do  we  tap  into  this  great  backstory  in  the  book  with  all  these  characters?"  And  just  starting  to  think about  how  best  to  approach  it.  I  mean,  that's the type  of  stuff  I  love.  It's  like  putting  a  puzzle  together. 

 

00:21:44
Jenny Curtis: And  you  can  feel  that,  because  you  tackle  so  many  scenes.  You've  got  race  and  motherhood  and  ambition  and  identity,  and  just  all  of  these  really  rich  themes  the  actors  and  I'm  sure  writers  want  to  sink  their  teeth  into.  Besides  Beautiful  Mind- ing  on  the  wall,  how  did  you  apply  that  to  the  script  and  make  sure  everything  linked  together? 

 

00:22:05
Liz Tigelaar: The  biggest  thing  was  deciding  where  the  pilot  ended  and  what  needed  to  launch  us  into  the  series.  So,  Mia  doesn't  start  working  in  the  Richardson  house  until  much  deeper  into  the  book,  but  that  was  something  we  felt  like  we  really  needed  to  pull  up  sooner  to  understand  this  dynamic  and  how  this  was  going  to  propel  us  into  the  story.  And  so,  he  almost  divided  the  season  into  three  acts  like  a  movie,  and  then  thought, " Okay,  what's  act  one  of  the  movie  and  how  is  that  propelling  us  and  launching  us  into  act  two,  and  then  what's  the  twist  halfway  through  act  two?" I mean,  we  really  almost  approached  it  like  breaking  a  movie  script  but  then  doing  it  over  eight  episodes. 

 

00:22:40
Jenny Curtis: Now,  you  said  at  the  beginning  that  you  were  still  finding  your  voice,  or  you  didn't  know  what  your  voice  was  as  a  kid,  as  a  young  woman  who- 

 

00:22:47
Liz Tigelaar: I mean,  I  was a kid. 

 

00:22:50
Jenny Curtis: But  this  show  feels  really  different  from  your  body  of  work.  So,  is  this  kind  of  finding  a  new  aspect  of  your  voice  in  the  creation  of  it? 

 

00:22:57
Liz Tigelaar: Definitely.  I  mean,  it's  almost  like  my  voice  has  gotten  to  grow  up  with  me,  which  obviously  makes  sense.  It's  my  voice.  So,  I  started  as  a  kid,  or  writing  about  kids  and  as  I've  gotten  older,  I've  been  able  to  write  what's  important  to  me,  and  I  think  that  this  was  really  the  culmination  of  that.  Life  Unexpected  was  at  a  certain  time  of  my  life and  that  was  my  voice  at  that  time.  That  was  a  time  of  being  in  your  early  30s  and  grappling  with, " Are  you  going  to  get  married?  Are  you going to  have  a  kid?"  All  that  stuff.
 This  is  a  time  in  my  life,  of  my  mid- 40s  that's  much  more  about  motherhood  and  world  view  and  yes,  of  course  examining  things  like  race  and  class  and  identity,  all  of  those  things.  So,  I  think  my  voice  has  luckily  grown  up  with  me,  and  I  think  sometimes,  you  can  get  kind  of  pigeon- holed  in  stuff  or  just  you  gravitate  towards  kind  of  staying  in  that  younger  time.  But  for  me,  I  think  having  the  opportunity  to  write  a  story  about  all  different  types  of  mothers  in  particular,  I  felt  very  fortunate.  It  was  incredibly  meaningful,  especially  at  this  time. 

 

00:24:02
Jenny Curtis: Yeah.  So,  I'm  probably  going  to  dig  into  spoilers,  so  anybody  listening  to this  show  who  doesn't  want  spoilers,  probably  skip  forward  to  the  end. 

 

00:24:11
Liz Tigelaar: The  house  burns  down. 

 

00:24:13
Jenny Curtis: The  house  burns  down. 

 

00:24:14
Liz Tigelaar: There  is  a  fire. 

 

00:24:16
Jenny Curtis: So,  it  starts  with  a  fire,  and  I  actually  went  back  and  re- watched  the  first  episode  yesterday,  and  I  didn't  realize  the  first  time  I  watched  it,  of  course.  It just  goes  right  past  you because  you  haven't  seen  the  show  yet,  but  the  kids  basically  say  Elena's  going  to  throw  her  youngest  kid  Izzy  under  the  bus,  because  of  course  she  is.  And  then  at  the  end,  she  doesn't.  She  takes  the  blame  on  herself.  So,  from  the  first  minute  of  your  show,  you're  setting  up  exactly  what's  going  to  happen.  Was  that  in  the  book?  Is  that  just  how  skilled  you  are  as  a  writer?  How  did  you  find  the  arc  that  way? 

 

00:24:50
Liz Tigelaar: In  the  book,  Izzy  burns  the  house  down and you know it  on  the  first  page.  So,  basically  when  they're  sitting  in  the  car  saying, " It's  Izzy."  They  know  it's  Izzy.  The  twist  that  we  wanted  to  do  in  the  show  is  that  if  you've  read  the  book,  you  think  that  it's  Izzy.  And  you'll  probably  think  it's  Izzy  all  the  way  through  and  then  we  wanted  to  kind  of  twist  it  and  say, " Well,  yeah.  It  was  Izzy  starting  something,  but  they're  really  the  ones  who  finished  it."  And  when  you  really  look  at  it  globally,  you  could  argue  that  Elena  burned  the  house.
 It's  kind  of  how  you  define  burning  the  house  down.  Izzy  wanted  to  burn  the  house  down,  or  at  least  the  stuff  in their  room.  The  kids  burned  the  house  down,  and  Elena  metaphorically  burned  the  house  down.  And  I  think  that  those  were  the  type  of  layers  I  think  we  wanted  to  add  to  it  because  we  didn't  want  the  ending  to  be  exactly  the  same  and  I  didn't  want  it  to  just  be  like, " Oh,  the  person  who  you  think  burned  the  house  down  burned  the  house  down."  And  it  was  very  hard  to  earn  it,  but  it  was...  The  journey  to  earning  it  was  really  fulfilling. 

 

00:25:49
Jenny Curtis: So,  Reese  Witherspoon's  character,  Elena,  she  is  the  epitome  of  privilege,  of  white  suburban  mother  who  is  incredibly  racist  but  doesn't  realize  it.  We  love  to  hate  her  because  she's  awful.  But  also,  Reese  is  so  good  at  what  she  does  that  you  find  so  much  empathy  in  that  character.  I'm  really  wondering,  do  you  consider  Elena  the  antagonist,  or  is  she  something  else? 

 

00:26:15
Liz Tigelaar: That's  a  good  question.  It's  interesting  because  we  really  tried  to  approach  it  the  way  that  Celeste  approached  the  novel  of  no  one's  the  hero  and  no  one's  the  villain.  I  think  it  is  easy  to  look  at  Elena  and  look  at  her  as  villainous,  and  it's  easy  to  look  at  her  especially  now  through  a  lens  and  say  she's  incredibly  racist.  But  I  think  Elena  herself  doesn't  feel  that  way  at  all,  and  I  think  a  lot  of  people  who  are  a  lot  like  Elena  don't  feel  that  way  about  themselves.  It  was  interesting,  when  we  talked  to  Celeste,  she  was  saying, " Everybody  knows  an  Elena,  but  nobody  thinks  they  are  an  Elena."  And  I  think  a  lot  of  us  are  Elenas,  you  know?  A  lot  of  us  are  well- meaning  white  people  who  really  think  we  are  allies,  or  who  really  think  we've  done  the  work. 
 And  this  was  something  we  were  talking  about  in  the  writer's  room  two  years  ago.  How  do  we  explore  not  KKK  members  or  people  marching  in  Charlottesville.  How  do  we  explore  white  liberal,  progressive  women  who  really  don't  believe  they  have  a  racist  bone  in  their  body,  yet  are  doing  all  of  these  things  constantly  that  show  something  and  reveal  something  different?  And  so  that  was  exploration  and  I  think  that  what  Reese  did  was  such  a  brave  performance. 

 

 Because  I  think  she  used  a  level  of  familiarity  to  invite  you  into  this  character  that  you  think  you  know.  Oh,  it's  Reese  being  a  perfect  mother,  being  this  type  A  woman,  but  where  she  went  with  it  to  me was  something  I've  never  seen  her  or  anyone  else  go  to  that  place  in  that  way  before.  I  mean,  where  she  gets  in  the  finale  is  so  ugly  but  also  raw,  and  really  honest.  And  I  think  there's  something  about  honesty  that's  in  a  lot  of  ways,  so  much  better  because  it's  clear.  You  know?

 

00:28:10
Jenny Curtis: And  with  her  and  Kerry  having  brought  this  story  to  you,  because  Kerry  did  such  a  phenomenal  job  with  Mia,  holy  crap.  I  know  it's  a  collaboration  no  matter  what,  but  how  much  did  you  guide  them  in  their  characters?  How  much  did  they  bring  you  the  characters?

 

00:28:25
Liz Tigelaar: It  was  both.  We  kind  of  initially  met  and  talked  about  the  characters, and  I  had  ideas  in  my  head  from  them  and  then  I  really  went  off  and went into  the  writer's  room  and  we  all  did  the  work  together,  me  and  the  writers.  And  they  read  scripts  and  weighed  in,  but  they  were  doing  American  Sun  and  Big  Little  Lies  and  Morning  Show.  They  were  doing  other  things,  and  then  once  their  other  things  ended,  the  writer's  room  wrapped.  Then  we  were  able  to  collectively  say, " Okay,  here  are  all  eight  episodes.  Let's  really  look  at  them." 
 And  it  was  really  rolling  up  our  sleeves  and  doing  a  lot  of  work.  We  examined  Elena,  we  examined  Mia.  We  kind  of  worked  everything  we  would  want  to  work  out  in  a  more  macro  sense,  and  then  once  we  were  shooting,  we  were  able  to  really  go  in  a  much  more  micro  way  into  each  scene,  and  whether  it  was  Reese  talking  about  just  how  teenagers  in  a  house  behave.  Because  she  has  teenagers  in  her  house,  or  it  was  Kerry  with  specific  ideas  about  Mia's  dynamic  with  Bebe,  or  Pearl.  We  were  able  to  incorporate  their  own  personal  experiences  kind  of  into  these  characters.  And  a  big  thing  from  Kerry  was  Mia  being  non- apologetic  and  not  trying  to  make  people  okay.

 

 Because  I  think  as  women,  we  try  to  smooth  it  out  and  make  it  okay  and  oh,  it's  uncomfortable  and  we're  like, " It's  okay,  let's  just  get  through  it."  And  to  see  such  a  strong  woman,  not  to  mention  a  strong  black  woman  who's  like, " My  job's  not  to  make  it  okay  for  you.  If  you  dig  yourself  in  this  hole,  I'm  not  going  to  kick  you  down  in  it  further,  but  I'm  not  going  to  give  you  a  hand  and  pull  you  out  either,  because  this  isn't  my  hole."  And  I  think  that  that  was  incredibly  powerful. 

 

00:30:00
Jenny Curtis: Yeah,  it  was  really  interesting  to  watch,  because  you  start  out  and  you  don't  know  the  characters  very  well.  And  yeah,  Mia's  kind  of  unpleasant  and  you're  like, " Why  is  she  so  rude?"  And  then  as  it  goes  on,  you're  like, " Oh,  no.  That's  everything  I want  to  be,"  because  she  just  says  what  she  says. 

 

00:30:17
Liz Tigelaar: Well, and  you  realize  how  offensive  Elena  is  being  without  realizing  it  and  how  much  Mia  is...  It  is,  it  seems  like,  paper  cuts  or  microaggressions  or  however  you  want  to  look  at  it.  I  mean,  they're  not  even  micro.  They're  macro.  And  I  loved  the  audience  kind  of  feeling  one  way  and  thinking  they  knew  one  thing  about  a  character,  even  to  say, " Why  is  Mia  so  mean?"  And  then  to  be  like, " Oh,  Mia's  not  mean,  Elena  is  deeply,  deeply  offensive,  and  if  I  didn't  notice  that,  maybe  I'm  deeply,  deeply  offensive."  And  same  with  Moody.  There was  so  many  characters  that  we  tried  to  do  that  with.  Moody  deserves Pearl,  and  he's  the  good  guy  and  suddenly,  then  being  like, "Does  it  matter  what  Pearl  wants?  Do  we  care  or  is  this  just  such  a  TV  trope  that  the  nice  guy  finishes  first  or  should,  that  we  get  sucked  into  that?"  You  know?  So,  anyway,  those  are  the  fun  stories  to  just  explore. 

 

00:31:11
Jenny Curtis: The  young  Mia  and  young  Elena  was  played  by  AnnaSophia  Robb  and  Tiffany  Boon  who  were  so  well  cast.  Oh  my  god,  so  well  cast.  Tiffany  especially,  her  mannerisms,  her  facial  expressions.  She  was  the  same  Mia  that  Kerry  was.  Did  they  work  together  on  that?  Or  did  she  come  to  the  audition  with  that  already  prepped,  or  how  did  that  work? 

 

00:31:33
Liz Tigelaar: Both  AnnaSophia  and  Tiffany  came  to  set  and  really  did  a  lot  of  observing,  and  they  each  had  different  ways  that  they  did  it.  Reese  would  even  read  the  lines,  record  them  for  AnnaSophia,  so  she  could  get  her  inflection,  things  like  that.  And  then  Tiffany  just  embodied  Kerry  in  every  way.  I  mean,  her  mouth.  It  was  eerie.  I  mean,  you  kind  of  couldn't  even  believe  it.  I  honestly  wish  we  could  do  a  whole  season  with  those  two  as  those  characters,  because  they  just  encapsulated  them  so  perfectly.  You  really  believed  it,  and  I  loved  seeing  who  these  characters  were  before  we  met  them  in  the  pilot.  You  know?  This  idea  of  the  women  that  they  were  and  how  they  became  the  women  that  we  knew. 

 

00:32:18
Jenny Curtis: I  do  have a question about  the  photo. 

 

00:32:20
Liz Tigelaar: Oh,  the  photo.  Oh,  no. I know. 

 

00:32:23
Jenny Curtis: But  it's  such  a  stunning  photo.  So,  your  whole  story  revolves  around  this  piece  of  art,  that  can  sell  for  a  quarter  of  a  million  dollars,  and  it  is  young  Mia.  But  it's  not  young  Mia.  So,  how  did  that  happen? 

 

00:32:35
Liz Tigelaar: Well,  okay.  I  mean,  the  email  chains,  the  discussions.  So  you  see  the  photo  before  you  ever  see  Tiffany,  and  when  you  see  the  photo,  you  have  to  know  that  it's  Mia  for  the  story  to  make  sense,  because  she's  looking  at  this  woman  pregnant,  and  crying.  If  you  had  put  Tiffany  Boon  in  the  picture,  you  would  have  been  like, " Who's  this  girl  that  Mia's  crying  about?" 

 

 And  then  in  two  episodes,  you  would  find  out, " Oh,  that's  young  Mia."  It  felt  like  the  audience  could  more  easily  suspend  their  disbelief  of  understanding  that  Tiffany,  yes,  is  a  different  actress  playing  young  Mia  versus  the  confusion  of  a  picture  of  Tiffany  Boon,  when  it's  important  for  the  audience  to  know  this  is  Mia.  So,  what  we  prioritized  was  story  clarity  knowing  that  the  puzzle  pieces  of  this  were  going  to  be  slightly  confusing.  Also,  we  had  to  shoot  the  picture  well  before  Tiffany  was  cast. 

 

00:33:32
Jenny Curtis: Ah. 

 

00:33:33
Liz Tigelaar: So  we  didn't  even  have  a  young  Mia  when  we  had  to  shoot  the  photo.  But  yeah,  I  know.  A  lot  of discussions. 

 

00:33:38
Jenny Curtis: That  was  just  one  little  thing  I  wanted  to  bring  up.  But  the  photo  itself  though  is  stunning.  So,  what  was  the  process  in  finding  and  art  directing  and  making  sure  you  had  a  photo  that  could  believably  sell  for  so  much  money,  not  just  because  it  was  a  famous  artist,  but  because  it's  a  gorgeous  work  of  art?  How  did  you  get  there? 

 

00:33:58
Liz Tigelaar: It  was  incredible.  Our  production  designer  Jess  Kender,  it  was  working  with  artists.  We  had  so  many  test  photo  shoots,  belly  photo  shoots,  how  should  it  be?  And  we  were  just  so  thrilled  with  the  finished  product.  I  mean,  the  photo  for  sure,  but  all  of the  art  in  the  series  done  by  Connie  Martin  Trevino  was  so  beautiful  and  just  so  stunning  and if  it  wasn't  weird,  I  would  just  have  it  on  the  wall  of  my  home.  But- 

 

00:34:26
Jenny Curtis: Why  don't  you? 

 

00:34:28
Liz Tigelaar: I  know,  there's  a  pill  bottle  that  says  Valium  for  Elena,  and  it  has  little  tabs  on it that  say, " Return  Blockbuster.  Give  Blood,"  and  then  something  else  funny,  and  I'm  like, " I  kind  of  do  want  to  bring  that  one  for  my  wall."  But I mean,  yeah.  Just  all  of  it.  The  art  was  so  stunning.  That  photo  was  incredible. 
 We  had  different  photographers  come  in,  but  Connie,  our  main  photographer  and  artist,  not  just  photographer.  But  yeah,  the  art  was  so  important  and  it  was  so  important  that  it  feel  elevated  and  real  and  like  something  that  would  sell.  And  yeah,  we  had  different  artists.  That  was  Pauline's  photo  of Mia, so  that  was  a  different  artist  than  what  Mia's...  So,  there  was  a  lot  of  thought  into  who  were  the  artists,  not  using  the  same  artist  when it was  supposed  to  be  two  different  artists,  like the lens  and  the  eye  had  to  be  different. 

 

00:35:30
Speaker 16: Hi,  I'm  Robert  Ross, host of Cars That  Matter.  You  might  be  wondering  what  makes  a  car  matter,  and  I  have  a  feeling  you  already  know  the  answer.  Some  cars  have  changed  history.  Some  you  can  hear  a  mile  away.  Some  have  lines  that  make  your  heart  skip  a  beat.  If  a  car  has  ever  made  you  look  twice,  then  I  think  you  know  the  ones  that  matter.  Join  me  as  I  speak  with  designers,  collectors,  and  market  experts  about  the  passions  of  drivers  and  the  passions  we  drive.  Cars  That  Matter,  wherever  you  get  your  podcasts. 

 

00:36:05
Jenny Curtis: There's  a  storyline  in  the  show,  a  major  storyline  obviously  about  adoption  and  you've  said  that  you've  drawn  from  your  own  experience  and  applied  it  to  the  story,  but  I'm  curious  to  hear  what  your  thoughts  are  on  what  the  right  ruling  would  have  been  in  court. 

 

00:36:20
Liz Tigelaar: Oh,  I  mean,  I  don't  know.  I  honestly  don't  know  the  answer.  I  feel  like  in  some  ways,  there  was  no  right  ruling  and  no  wrong  ruling  because  look,  I'll  be  honest,  I  came  into  it  as  an  adopted  kid  being  like, " That  baby  is  Linda  McCullough's,  she's  been  there  for  10  months,  she's  the  mother  she  knows,"  and  in  my  mind,  I  was  saying, " It's  not  about  her  nice  house  and  all  the  things  she  can  afford  her,  it's  just  that  that  baby  is  attached  to  her.  That is  a  long  time  for  a  child  to  be  with  a  mother  figure  and  then  to  be  taken  away."
 And  I  still  feel  that  way.  At  the  same  time,  I  feel  incredibly  protective  of  Bebe's  character  and  Bebe's  journey,  because  one  of  the  things  we  wanted  to  add  to  the  book  was  that  Bebe  was  in  the  country  illegally,  because  we  felt  like  it  made  it  even  more  justifiable  why  she  couldn't  just  go  to  the  fire  station  and  say, " We  need  help,"  because  if  she  exposed  herself,  she  might  be  deported,  her  baby  would  still  be  here,  and  she  might  never  get  back  to  see  her  again. 

 

 So,  that  was  an  element  we  wanted  to  add  to  it,  but  I  think  just  to  really  explore  what  it  must  feel  like  to  be  in  a  country  with  no  safety  net,  with  no  support,  with  nobody  you  can  turn  to,  not  knowing  the  language  well,  not  having  a  credit  card  that  you  can  just  put  formula  on.  All  of  those  things.  I  mean,  to  really  understand  what  no  safety  net  looks  like, because  I  think  a  lot  of  people  might  not  have  much,  but  to  have  nothing  else  aside  from  what  she  had,  that's  different.  And  so,  I  think  there  was  no  happy  ending  because  either  way,  they  both  were  deserving  mothers,  both  doing  the  best  in  their  circumstances. 

 

00:38:03
Jenny Curtis: In  the  same  vein,  but  different,  all  the  way  back  to  episode  one,  Pearl's  Poem  states, " Can  something  be  stolen  if  it  was  always  meant  for  you?"  Which  obviously  sets  up  the  whole  series.  I'd  love  to  hear  more  about  what  the  discussion  was  on  right  or  wrong  in  Pearl's  sense  with  Mia. 

 

00:38:20
Liz Tigelaar: Well,  that  was  another  thing.  I  feel  like  people  could  so  harshly  judge  Bebe  but  nobody  was  judging  Mia  in  that  same  way  because  you  fall  in  love  with Mia  and  you  understand.  I  mean,  you  look  at  Pearl  and  you  say, " Well,  of  course  Pearl  is Mia's  baby,"  and  yes,  Mia  did  something  that  I  guess  technically  wasn't  right,  but  how  is  it  not  right  to  be  with  your  own  baby?  And  that's  what  we  talked  about.  May  Ling  will  be  a  Pearl  in  15  years,  and  why  would  we  not  feel  that  same  way?  And  what  really  became  an  interesting  discussion  was  talking  about  how  much  good  motherhood  is  tied  to  being  able  to  afford  it.  And  I  think  that  was  something  in  the  room,  and  we  also  talked  about...  One  of  the  writers,  Shannon  Houston,  brought  up  a  really  good  point. 
 She  said, " If  Linda  McCullough  had  a  baby,  two  babies  of  her  own,  biological  babies,  would  we  be  so  convinced  that  she  somehow  deserves  Bebe's  baby?"  And  I  think  the  answer  would  be  no.  But  somehow,  she  deserved  it.  It's  like,  yes,  she  deserves  a  baby,  but  why  does  she  deserve  Bebe's  baby,  and  why  doesn't  Bebe  deserve  her  baby?  So  those were  all  the  discussions  that  we  had  and  definitely  modeling  Bebe  and  May  Ling  after  Mia  and  Pearl.  And  I  think  what  made  it  so  amazing  is  that  there  was  no  right  answer.  I  mean,  I  don't  think  you  could  say  that  Mirabelle  wasn't  Linda's  baby.  Of  course  she  was. 

 

00:39:43
Jenny Curtis: Do  you  have  a  moment  of  Little  Fires  Everywhere  that  you're  proudest  of? 

 

00:39:48
Liz Tigelaar: Oh,  that's  a  good  question.  Gosh,  there  was  a  scene  between  Mia  and  Izzy  in  episode  seven,  that  really,  really  touched  me.  Izzy  was  finding  out  that Mia  had  been  with  a  woman,  and  Mia  was  saying  to  Izzy, " You  won't  swim  forever."  That  was  a  moment  I  just  like,  every  time  I  saw  it,  when  I  was  there  for  filming,  when  I  saw  it  in  post,  every  cut,  it  just  guts  me.  And  watching  Megan,  watching  her  eyes  just  well  up  with  tears,  that  was  a  moment  that  I  felt...  Maybe  it's  not  that  I  felt  so  proud.  I  just  felt  so  moved  by  that  moment,  and  I  think  that  the  bravery  of  the  kids  was  something  that  I  felt  really  proud  of  for  them,  Lexi  Underwood,  Jade  Pettyjohn  and  that  scene  with  Mia  where  she  kind  of  really  tells  it  like  it  is. 
 Gavin,  like  so  many...  SteVonte's  break  up.  I  can  just  think  of  moment  after  moment  where  I  just  had  so...  I  felt  like  a  maternal  pride,  I  think  for  the  kids.  And  just  how  brave  they  were,  working  with  these  big  movie  stars  and  how  they  held  their  own  and  did  the  work  and  pulled  these  performances  out  of  themselves,  and  being  so  young.  So,  I  think  I  had  a  lot  of  pride  in  that, and  I  think  really  behind  the  scenes,  I  had  a  lot  of  pride  of  all  the  women  working  on  the  show  and  all  the  people  who  were  allowed  to  be  mothers  while  they  were  working.  And  that  we  got  to  work very  hard,  and  we  also  got  to  say  like, " Hey,  I've  got  your  back.  Go  home.  Go  get  to  your  kid."  You  know?  I  think  those  moments  felt  really  profound. 

 

00:41:21
Jenny Curtis: So,  if  you  could  relive  one  day  on  set,  over  and  over  and  over  again  besides  the  Izzy  scene,  what  day  would  you  choose  to  relive  Groundhog- style  wise? 

 

00:41:31
Liz Tigelaar: I  think  in  the  finale,  the  Mia/ Elena  scene.  It's  their  final  showdown  where  Elena  comes  to  the  door  to  tell  Mia  she's  out  and  Mia's  like, " Yeah,  you think?"  That  dynamic,  it  was  so...  Any  time  Reese  and  Kerry  were  together, it  was  so  palpable.  They  both  had  it.  They  really  didn't  need  anything  from  anybody.  They  just  were  ready  to  go  toe  to  toe.  And  they  were  giving  each  other  all  they  needed.  And  so  I  think  we  were  just  able  to  sit  back  in  video  village  and  just  be  like, " Oh  my  gosh!" 

 

 Like  Kerry  would  say  something  that  surprise  Reese,  and  Reese  would  do  something  and  you  just...  I  mean,  I  could've  watched  that  forever,  and  I  think  we  were  all  just  like, " Oh,  man.  That  was  good.  That  was good." And  so  much  of  it  honored  the  book,  which  I  loved.  It  was  hard  sometimes  to  get  dialogue  from  the  book  into  the  dialogue  of  the  show  because  the  book  was  so  beautifully  written,  and  you  write  a  different  way  than  you  speak.  So  sometimes,  putting  in  dialogue  could  sound  a  little  false.  But  that  was  a  moment  where  I  felt  like  we  really  could  use  the  dialogue  from  the  book  and that  it  could  feel  natural  enough  that  people  could  be  speaking  it.  And  so,  I  loved  that  too.  There were  a  lot  of  days  I  would  love  to  relive.  I  mean,  sometimes  when  Funnel  Cake  showed  up,  I'd  be  like, " Oh  yeah!"  Behind  the  scenes.  We had a  hawk  once.  I  mean,  there  were  random  things. 

 

00:42:49
Jenny Curtis: Why  did you  have  a  hawk? 

 

00:42:51
Liz Tigelaar: Well, because  we  shot  in  Pasadena,  and  there  are  crazy,  wild  parrots  in  Pasadena that  just  chirp  all  night.  And  so  whenever  we'd  shoot  at  night,  we'd  have  to  get  the  set  hawk  to  come  in  and  basically  scare  out  all  the  parakeets.  So  it  was  very  exciting.  I'm  like, " A  set  hawk?  This  is new." 

 

00:43:06
Jenny Curtis: That is  awesome. 

 

00:43:09
Liz Tigelaar: Yeah,  anytime  we  did  big  rain  and  big  effects,  there  would  be  an  energy  where you'd just  be  like, " Oh,  what's  going  to  happen?" I mean,  I  loved  those  moments  where  they  were  about  to  shut  us  down  in  two  minutes,  we  had  to  get  the  shot. We're  like, " Are  we  going  to  get  it?"  And you're just  running  on  adrenaline,  totally  stressed,  but  you're  like, " We  got  it,  we  got  it."  I  liked  those  moments. 

 

00:43:27
Jenny Curtis: So,  this  has  become  one  of  my  favorite  questions  and  it's  kind  of  piggybacking  off  what  you just  said,  but  what  does  it  mean  to  you  to  have  created  a  life  in  storytelling? 

 

00:43:37
Liz Tigelaar: I  mean,  it's  incredible  to  get  to  dive  into  these  characters.  I  mean,  this was  a  good  example  of  diving  into  the  topics  of this  show  gave  me  the  gift  of  exploring  myself.  It  challenges  me  with  my  own  gut  reactions  and  my  own  biases  and  my  own  belief  system  and  why  I  have  the  belief  system  I  have  and  it  reveals  you,  you  know?  And  I  think  not  only  the  subject  matter  of  the  show,  but  being  a  show  runner  and  running  a  show  and  being  in  charge  of  people  and  having  to  manage  people and  their  feelings  and  their  work,  all  of  those  things  challenge  you  as  an  individual  and  you  have  to  learn  how  to  rise  to  the  occasion,  and  it  reveals  where  you  need  to  be  better.

 

 It  reveals  what  you're  good  at.  It  reveals  a  lot,  and  so  I  think  that's  just  such  a  gift,  and  I  honestly  don't  know  what  I  would  do  if  I  couldn't  tell  stories  for  a  living.  I  really  have  no  idea.  So  I'm  glad  it's  slightly  working  out. 

 

00:44:32
Jenny Curtis: Yeah,  slightly. 

 

00:44:34
Liz Tigelaar: (crosstalk)   I'll  be  like, " Portal,  hole,  portal,  hole!" 

 

00:44:41
Jenny Curtis: Oh,  Liz,  it  has  been  an  absolute  joy  talking  to  you.  You're  such  a  delight.  I  can't  thank  you  enough  for  joining  me  today. 

 

00:44:48
Liz Tigelaar: Oh my gosh,  thank  you,  Jenny.  Thanks  for  having  me. 

 

00:44:51
Jenny Curtis: Anyone  who  hasn't  watched  Little  Fires  Everywhere,  it's  on  Hulu.  I'm  sorry  I  spoiled  most  of  it  for  you,  but  you should go  and  check  it  out.  And  good  luck  in  the  Emmy  season! 

 

00:44:59
Liz Tigelaar: Thank  you! Thank you so much! 

 

00:45:00
Jenny Curtis: Okay,  thank  you.  Hollywood  Unscripted  was  created  by  CurtCo  Media.  This  special  episode  of  the  Stuck  At  Home  series  was  hosted  and  produced  by  me,  Jenny  Curtis,  co- produced  and  edited  by  Jay  Whiting.  The  executive  producer  of  Hollywood  Unscripted  is  Stuart  Halperin. 
 The  Hollywood  Unscripted  theme  song  is  by  Celeste  and  Eric  Dick.  Make  sure  to  subscribe  so  you  don't  miss  any  special  episodes  of  Hollywood  Unscripted:  Stuck  At  Home.  And  we'd  love  to  hear  from  you.  Leave  us  a  rating  and  a  review,  tell  us  what  you  like,  tell  us  what  you  don't  like.  Maybe  we  can  do  better.  Thank  you  for  listening,  and  stay  safe  and  healthy. 

 

00:45:45
Speaker 16: CurtCo  Media,  media  for  your  mind. 

Media for Your Mind
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