Few writers and producers have enjoyed as much success as Howard Gordon over the last two decades.
A native of New York, Gordon attended Princeton University, and upon graduating in 1984, he moved to Hollywood with his writing partner Alex Gansa. After writing several episodes of Spencer For Hire, they joined Beauty and The Beast as staff writers. The ABC pilot caught the attention of Chris Carter, which led to Gordon and Gansa making a career-changing decision to join The X-Files.
Gordon would remain with The X-Files for a number of years, writing or co-writing 20 episodes during the ground-breaking years of The X-Files Vancouver Production era. My association with Howard Gordon goes back to interviewing him twice for The X-Files Lexicon, and he’s always been gracious and accessible.
After his departure from The X-Files, Howard did attempt to develop several series, including ABC’s short-lived Strange World back in 1999. He was briefly involved with Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel before writing for 24. His work on the Fox series gave him a new identity as a thriller and espionage writer, and has placed him as a very in-demand creative figure.
As well as being a published author with two thriller novels, Gideon’s War and Hard Target, he helped guide 24 into new and exciting directions for Fox, and branched out with his long time partner Alex Gansa into developing Homeland for Showtime, and his next series, Tyrant, for Fox.
We spoke with Mr. Gordon about his new projects, the return of The X-Files, and the status of a 24 reboot…
Matt Allair: When you look back on the activity of the fandom for The X-Files in the 90s, and compare it to activity within the past thirteen years, do you think the current fandom has changed? Has it come more sophisticated and focused? Has it evolved?
Howard Gordon: The audience is more fractured today than it was during The X-Files, which really felt like some collective international phenomenon. There are simply too many choices out there. So fandom has become more of a niche enterprise. That shows like Game of Thrones and Empire can grab that many people and focus their passion and compel them to watch when (or close to the time) the show actually airs is an amazing feat.
Has the devotion of X-Files fans, been a big help, directly, or indirectly, to outside films, TV shows, or projects that you have worked on since the late 90s?
Howard Gordon: X-Files was absolutely, directly a formative experience in my education as a writer and a producer. I really cut my teeth on that show and discovered what was possible on television.
Developments with the series Homeland seem to keep taking some extreme turns, what should fans expect with the new season?
The show continues to grow in very exciting ways – exploring the dark corners of our characters and of the spy game in ways that seem increasingly relevant to what’s happening in the world today. The casting this year is, as always, exceptional.
Is Alex Gansa taking on a greater role in the development of Homeland? Are you pleased with how the series has evolved?
Alex has been running the show from the beginning, since we created it together. I stepped back after the second season, after I launched Tyrant. I continue to be wildly impressed by Alex’s stewardship. He is a brilliant showrunner and storyteller.
Is there any word on another 24 mini series? Has the Fox network shown any interest? Is there another story to be told? Do you think 24 would work without Jack Bauer?
Evan Katz and Manny Coto are at work on a draft of a spinoff which – at least for now – doesn’t include Jack Bauer. It’s still in the early stages of development. But even without Jack, the real time conceit Joel Surnow and Bob Cochran created is a powerful narrative format, especially for a thriller.
I know that you aren’t involved with the current revival, but if it succeeds and more episodes are called up for 2017, and If Chris Carter approached you, would you like another hand at writing for The X-Files series?
If Chris asked me and time permitted, I would jump at the chance to be involved in The X-Files. I’m really looking forward to seeing what Chris, Jim, Glen, and Darin have come up with.
You have another TV project in development, Frankenstein, is this based on Mary Shelley’s source material, or something completely different?
It’s currently called The Frankenstein Code – which I developed with Rand Ravich, who created the show and will run the show (airing in January on Fox). It’s loosely inspired by the source material, mostly in its exploration of what happens when Man plays God; the exhilaration and the unintended consequences. It’s also about second chances. There are some wonderful, funny characters, including a dissolute womanizing old man who used to be a sheriff, and comes back as a younger, much improved version of himself.
I hope fans will check out the new season of Homeland, Tyrant, and look for his new series in January. As far as The X-Files is concerned, fans can always remain hopeful that exciting developments could occur where Mr. Gordon could have a hand in its future.
Den of Geek X-Files correspondent Matt Allair is a San Francisco-based writer, freelance filmmaker, musician, and the webmaster of The X-Files Lexicon.