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Ken Johnson's Re"V"lections, Part 2

In this second part of our conversation with "V" creator Ken Johnson, he discusses the development of "V": The Second Generation, which he ultimately wrote as a novel.

V_Second_Generation_Rev-400x600 As he explains it, the first notion of a modern day follow-up to "V" came to Ken Johnson when he was recording the commentary for the DVD release of the original. "I was at the dubbing stage, and we got to the last scene, where my leading lady, Faye Grant, tried to send a message into deep space, trying to contact an enemy of the Visitors, hoping that an enemy of my enemy would be my friend," Johnson says. "And a little bell went off and I thought, 'I wonder what would happen if that message ever got through.' And that led me to think, 'What would happen if I picked up the story 20 years later and took it from there? To see what had become of my characters; the people we loved or the people we hated.' And it was a fresh way to go. People had talked to me over the years about doing a revisitation to 'V,' and I had always ducked it because I felt I had done the original very well, and I felt it was something of a classic and didn't want to mess with something that wasn't broken. But this gave me an opportunity to build off of everything I had done previously and then move forward, and take the story to a whole new level and to a whole new sort of ending.
   "I pitched the idea to NBC, where we had done 'V' originally, and they sort of got it," he continues, "though they never got it the way Brandon [Tartikoff] got it 20 years ago. They bought it at any rate and I moved forward. At first it was going to be a three-hour project, because they didnt' know about doing a four-hour project. It was a tedious process and it took many months just to organize the deal. Now with Brandon I wrote a 230 page screenplay in 19 days. He read it over a weekend and sent me into production. With these guys now at NBC, this was a process that took 18 months. I stil wrote very fast, but it would take them sometimes six months to read a draft of the script. It was obviously a very frustrating situation. And after we got to a point where everyone seemed very comfortable with it, they told me they were thinking about doing a remake of the original first. Warner Bros. and I both sort of said, 'Why?' and the NBC brass said it wan't their idea, it was the NBC marketing department; they thought it would be a good idea to do a remake first, and it was not something I was interested in pursuing. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized, 'Look, maybe this is the only way I can get my sequel  made. Secondly, maybe there's a way to go back and bring the original up to the 21st century and deal with cell phones and iPods and terrorism and that sort of thing. And still be true to the original story, the original concept, the original characters.'"

Look for part three on Wednesday.

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