Life Unexpected Creator Liz Tigelaar On. . .
HOW THE STORY RELATES TO HER OWN LIFE
I was adopted and it’s funny, I wrote this pilot because the story interested me and I didn’t know why and it’s only in the course of going through the process, two years in development, I’ve actually found out who my birth parents were and one thing that came to light when I was meeting with the writers, was just how much of this story was something that has been with me for my whole life. It’s this, “where are my young, cool parents?[thing].” No matter how great your own family is, my parents are wonderful, but when you’re 16 and fighting with your mom you’re like, “my real, young, cool, hot mom totally understands. She wouldn’t have interfered!”
When I graduated from high school, my mom gave me journal entries of hers and I couldn’t believe how many of the journal entries were dedicated to me — I really thought Nancy Regan was my birth mom, in like a really, really profound way to the point where I would be like Nancy Regan would understand. I’d be getting $100 a week allowance, I’d be getting a pony — it was, for a good chunk of my young life, I believed it. As I got older, I learned to do basic math and realized it wasn’t possible. What I did carry with me is this thing in my life that I was searching for my young, cool, mom. It’s like that book, Are You My Mother?
HER INTERNSHIP AT DAWSON’S CREEK
The internship I got was at Dawson’s Creek. I had never heard of the WB but when I was in college, I used to row crew and on Friday night my friend would be like, ‘hurry up we gotta get home, Dawson’s Creek is on.’
Then I watched the first 13 episodes when I got the internship there and I’m like, “Oh, my God, I’m bawling. It’s so amazing how much of Kevin was infused in Dawson’s and now, doing my own show, I feel such an association with the characters.
WORKING WITH DAWSON’S STAR KERR SMITH
When he came in to audition, I was like Jack! I hadn’t seen him since Dawson’s and I didn’t know him well, so it just turned out to be this thing we have in common and such a nice surprise. He’s so charming. He came in to see me and I’m like. . .aw. . . I love your jeans. . .
WORKING WITH A WRITING STAFF
This is new to me because I’m usually the person on staff getting rewritten. I’ve been working on this for so long, it’s been really weird to open it up to all these people and their voices and their ideas. I’m writing the first two scripts and you could say I’m a little controlling about it. It’s hard to give it up to other people, but at the same time I want other people to write it well. But every script will go through my computer and my words better or worse will be infused in it, so blame me.
SLOWING DOWN THE STORYTELLING
I started on Dawson’s, so I have a love for the old WB, what they did so well with their shows, shows like Felicity and Everwood, you so longed for something. Now it’s about what are the big act breaks and promotable moments and when you do that you do stuff for shock value and you forget like Joey and Pacey, like they started out, they hated each other and it was a long time, people had to hang in and all of a sudden you’re kind of like, I never thought of Joey and Pacey and next thing you know it’s I love Joey and Pacey.
It was slow played so much, that’s something I feel like we miss as an audience today. Getting to not having everything given to us right away. I’m sure it’s a product of our time, everything is instant and the way we tell stories, you want something before you even knew it existed. I think it is nice to go back and slow down and get the enjoyment out of wanting something.
Life Unexpected premieres tonight, January 18 on The CW.
Photo: “Pilot” Pictured: Kristoffer Polaha as Baze, Britt Robertson as Lux, Shiri Appleby as Cate Photo Credit: Michael Courtney / The CW © 2009 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.