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Witches of East End - Maggie Friedman Interview : "Maggie Talks Season 3, Musical Episode, James Marsters, Asgard & So Much More!"

Five years ago, on September 23rd 2009, one of my favouritest shows of all-time premiered. That show was Eastwick. A breath of fresh air on the primetime schedule, Eastwick delivered everything I needed to fill my Charmed void, and so much more! Eastwick became a witch show on its own merit and it didn't need the Charmed comparisons to elevate it. Charmed is my all-time favourite show, but in all honesty, had Eastwick had a fair shot at the same amount of success as Charmed, I would guess that Eastwick would be my number-one show right now.

Alas, it was not meant to be and Eastwick's run was cut horribly short to just 13 episodes. 2 episodes remained unaired until my home country, the fabulous United Kingdom, aired them on January 19 and February 14 2010 respectively. I didn't have a Valentine that year (or the other 21 years I've been alive), but the final episode of Eastwick was all I needed. Yep, that made me sound sad, but when it comes to me and Eastwick, it's my "Be Fri" where I am Eastwick's "Est Ends" (shout-out to the Eastwick fans who understand this).

Fast forward to October 6, 2013 and the next-best-thing premiered - Witches of East End. A new show on Lifetime, it was also about my favourite kinds of supernatural creatures - witches. What really drew me into the show, though, was that it was adapted for television by none other than the glorious sorceress who brewed up my beloved Eastwick. The name Maggie Friedman was not one I would be forgetting when Eastwick came into my life so when I discovered she had been attached to a new project for Lifetime, I was sold by her name alone. Maggie Friedman is the Shonda Rhimes for witchy television, she delivers shows overflowing with magic. Take my word for it people, she's fantastic, and if there's anybody who knows anything about that, it's me! Not only did Maggie pioneer the best two supernatural dramas in the past five years, she has also been part of the writing team for shows such as Wasteland, Once and Again, Jack & Bobby, Related, and perhaps most famously, Dawson's Creek.

Maggie gracefully accepted my invitation to do an interview for SpoilerTV (what did I tell you about her just now? Wasn't I right?) so I rallied up fan questions submitted to me from the readers of the site as well as fans on Twitter, Facebook, and even through e-mail, so I could have a wide range of questions for her. The response was phenomenal - I got almost two-hundred questions submitted from everywhere and it really made my job harder because I had a lot of questions myself that I wanted to ask her. Fortunately, the fans of Witches of East End, and even Eastwick, were on the same wave-length as me and a lot of people had better questions to ask than even I could have thought of.

During my interview with Maggie, I learned so much about what's coming up on Witches of East End. Maggie revealed some intense, amazing teasers for the brand new episode airing tomorrow. If you thought the first five episodes of the show's second season were amazing, you have seen nothing yet! Fellow WoEE's, tune in tomorrow to see the episode. It is going to be one of the best episodes to date. Let's make history guys!

The interview with Maggie was just too good to cut down and pick apart to write about. I hereby present the entire interview where Maggie will discuss that scene from last week's episode regarding Joanna and Alex, the Spike-turned-Tarkoff James Marsters debut, whether we will get some backstory on our favourite witch Wendy, and maybe, just maybe, you guys can get a little excited about the possibility of a third season! There's so much to know about our favourite supernatural drama and Maggie reveals all...


SPOILERTV: Thanks so much for taking part in this interview for your fans at SpoilerTV. The response was phenomenal and I got so many questions sent to me from all over the place. First things first, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what it is you do? Who is the Mistress of All Magic really?

FRIEDMAN: [Laughs] Well, my name is Maggie and I have a thing for witches! I am the showrunner/creator of Witches of East End. Basically that means I sit in a room with other writers all day coming up with story ideas and drinking coke and eating cupcakes (and the occasional salad), and then I write scripts, and I rewrite scripts, and then I rewrite them again. And I go to set and watch them film the scripts, and while I'm there I'm rewriting, and then I sit in the editing room and help edit the episodes. That's what a show runner does -- oversees the entire process of making the show -- the stories, the costumes, the music, the visual effects. It's a fun job! We're all like family here at the show, and that's my favorite part. It's a tight-knit group of really funny, interesting people -- the writers, the cast, the crew -- and everyone gets along great and takes care of each other. I feel we lucked out with a ridiculously talented cast, and I love writing supernatural stories about strong complex women. And in my free time (which let's face it, I don't have much of) I like to play poker and see live music around LA!

SPOILERTV: How were you pitched Witches of East End? I remember reading an interview where you said you hesitated for half a beat – did you think that it was something that would end up stereotyping you?

FRIEDMAN: I had a meeting with a producer named Erwin Stoff who had the rights to the book. I did hesitate -- only because my most recent show had also been about witches, and yes -- I didn't want to stereotype myself as "that chick who writes about witches." Because I AM interested in other things. But once I read the book, I fell in love with the characters, and I knew this was a story I wanted to tell. I felt it would make a great TV show, I thought it had "legs."

SPOILERTV: Do you and the cast get up to any antics, say… google sex spells and see if they work?

FRIEDMAN: The cast do get up to many antics! They are genuinely cool people who really get along with each other, and hang out all the time when they're not on set. I would say Daniel (Killian) is the biggest prankster, but they're all super-fun. And I do believe the four main women ARE secretly witches. At least -- I wouldn't be surprised if they had magical powers. They're all pretty magic. I love hanging out with them -- there's lots of laughter and hijinks. They're just FUN.

SPOILERTV: Last week’s episode, Boogie Knights, introduced a very surprising but totally awesome plot twist with Joanna’s bisexuality. How did the idea of that come about, were you trying to appeal to the show’s LGBT audience?

FRIEDMAN: The idea for Joanna's relationship with Alex (Michelle Hurd) came about very organically. We just felt that Joanna is a character who -- let's face it, she's been around about four hundred years -- she's had many great love affairs in her life -- and she's an open, loving Earth Mama-type -- so of course (at least) one of those loves would be another woman! It just made sense to us. I like introducing surprising facets to characters you think you know, twists that still hopefully manage to feel organic and not false even though they're a surprise. And in the end, for Joanna, I think it wasn't about "a relationship with a woman" -- it was about a relationship, period. She fell in love! And who wouldn't fall in love with Michelle Hurd? She's pretty kick-ass.

SPOILERTV: That makes so much sense when you put Joanna’s relationship like that, and I agree, I would fall in love with Michelle Hurd too. Will we see much more of that storyline in the rest of the season, if not with Alex then maybe with someone else?

FRIEDMAN: We will see more of the storyline in next week's episode, and learn more about why they broke up, and where they stand in their feelings for each other today. Stay tuned!

SPOILERTV: Rachel Nichols had a fantastic appearance in The Brothers Grimoire as Isis, which blew my mind to introduce a character that legendary in mythology. Will we be seeing Isis again since she got away?

FRIEDMAN: Never say never with Isis. She's out there somewhere!!!

SPOILERTV: Do you have any plans to show Asgard in the future? Maybe see what happened on the other side to make it a war-zone?

FRIEDMAN: I would love to show Asgard. So yes, it's a strong possibility. If we do it, I wanna do it right…

SPOILERTV: The care you’re putting in the show is awesome to see. It’s so cool that James Marsters will be appearing on the show. Just what can we expect from his debut on August 24? Is there anything you can tell us about his character Tarkoff?

FRIEDMAN: James Marsters is a badass. I can tell you that. His character, Tarkoff, has been involved with the Beauchamp family for hundreds of years. He knew Joanna back in Asgard -- in fact, he introduced her to her husband Victor. Their history is long and complicated. But he is not all he seems, as we will reveal. I think James is an incredible actor who plays a fabulously scary villain. He has a long arc on the show and we couldn't be happier with his work. He rocks.

SPOILERTV: Will we see what happened to Wendy prior to the Pilot in the years she was distant to Joanna and the other times she died? There was also something Wendy said along the lines of “at least you can have children” to Joanna. Will anything materialise from that statement as it seems to suggest Wendy can’t conceive, maybe because of her curse?

FRIEDMAN: This season we will learn more about what Wendy was up to when she and Joanna were estranged -- when someone rather surprising from her past returns to town looking for her. It's a really fun storyline, and we get a glimpse into who Wendy was during that time. And yes, the fact that she never had children and why that is, will be explored in more depth. Stay tuned!!

SPOILERTV: Seeing the past lives of the witches through the years is amazing! Will we see more about Dash (his porn-stache on Sunday's episode was hilarious) and Killian's past and how they ended up as Athena's children?

FRIEDMAN: We will definitely learn more about Dash and Killian in the past, and they will learn more about Archibald Browning and their connection to him and their mother's true identity. And there is a storyline coming up in which we will explore a past life of Killian's, in which he was a famous figure from history who was involved with the Beauchamps in the 1800s!

SPOILERTV: During comic-con, fans were warned that more beloved characters will be taken from us by the end of the second season. Can you possibly elaborate on that because a lot of fans are freaking out about it?

FRIEDMAN: About beloved characters dying, I can elaborate. There is one such death that occurs in this week's episode believe it or not! This week is a crazy one, and heartbreaking. But the final few episodes of the season are where the craziness gets turned up even higher -- and several more characters will, sadly, lose their lives. What can I say -- East End is a dangerous place!

SPOILERTV: Have you spoken to Lifetime about a third season yet?

FRIEDMAN: We have spoken about a third season, and I even know the general arc of the plot in season three, and what the theme of the season would be. Already I have so many season three story ideas I'm super excited to tell. But we have nothing official yet in terms of a pick up. Season two ends on some giant cliffhangers, so let's hope we get another year!! Fingers crossed.

SPOILERTV: Do you have a possible ending for the show already etched in your mind? Hopefully the show will never end, but just in case, do you have an idea?

FRIEDMAN: In terms of the actual ending of the whole series -- I haven't thought about it. I'm just hoping we get a few more years. [Laughs]

SPOILERTV: You wrote the premiere of season two, are there any upcoming episodes that you have penned that we can look forward to?

FRIEDMAN: Yes I co-wrote episode 8 this season (which is a doozy! Let's just say it will be a Frillian fan favorite.) And I wrote the season finale, which is just about to start shooting next week!

SPOILERTV: When you write for the show, or even for Eastwick, do you get any inspiration from other witch-themed shows or films that you simply love?

FRIEDMAN: My inspiration comes from all over the place. The writers and I do discuss other witch-themed material, but frankly we also mine our real lives for stories! We talk about things that have happened to us, and how we felt, and then we extrapolate what that might look like in a supernatural setting -- how that would affect the characters in our world. We try to keep the emotional core grounded even when telling crazy stories about magical powers.

SPOILERTV: Do you ever get bored or annoyed at comparisons to Charmed? It seems like you can’t have a witch in anything anymore without people shouting “Charmed”, even though the show is so different.

FRIEDMAN: The Charmed comparisons don't bother me really, because I know how different the shows are, despite obvious surface similarities. I mean, both shows ARE about families of witches, with themes of sisterhood and female empowerment. So I get it. Of course, there's plenty of shows about cops out there, or lawyers, or doctors, or vampires, or zombies -- so I say, there's room for all! And if people happen to like both East End and Charmed -- that's great -- I'm all about it. Charmed ran a long time and had a loyal fan base and was a cool, fun show. So I say -- compare away! Oh, and regarding the house -- that was a total coincidence that the houses on the shows look similar. We were just driving around Vancouver looking at various houses as possible exteriors and we happened upon one we all loved -- it had so much character and seemed kinda spooky and witchy, yet inviting, and that's why we picked it. Go figure. [Laughs]

SPOILERTV: I have to talk about Eastwick, just because I simply adore the show still to this day. I actually had a lot of fans of the show asking about it. Could you maybe tell us what you had planned after Pampered and Tampered? Leave no stone unturned.

FRIEDMAN: I need to go back and watch those episodes of Eastwick. I haven't seen them in so long. Your enthusiasm for them is really awesome and appreciated -- we all worked so hard on that show and felt very proud of it and it was one of my favorite jobs I've ever had. For a long time I couldn't go back and look at the old episodes because I was still so sad it was over. Working there -- it was just a happy place to be. So I will have to go back into my old notes to give you specifics about the stories that were to come -- because there were SO MANY, and I've written so much since then!!

SPOILERTV: I noticed a parallel between Dash healing patients in the hospital and Kat healing patients in Eastwick, have you got any plans to, or have you already, included material in East End that you wanted to use on Eastwick?

FRIEDMAN: Oh yes, tons of stuff that I had wanted to do on Eastwick, I'm now doing on East End, which is one of the reasons I was excited to take on this job -- I still had all these witchy stories I'd yet to tell! Many of the stories you've seen on East End I was noodling around for years. It's so exciting to be able to do that -- of course, the stories have to be changed and molded to suit this world and these characters -- which are obviously quite different from Eastwick in many ways. But yes the Dash healing story has a lot of parallels to Kat and what she went through. I thought about that a lot when we were working on it. That's one of the things about magic that interests me most -- the idea of consequences and a price. Like, yes, you can violate the laws of nature, but nature will find balance! Kat paid a price when she healed all those people, and Dash paid his own kind of price.

SPOILERTV: There was talk about a potential musical episode of Eastwick when producers hinted that Rebecca Romijn, Jaime Ray Newman and Lindsay Price will have to sing in an episode, but I’m guessing that was more for Jaime’s rendition of 'Spooky' in Mooning and Crooning. Was there going to be a musical, and will there be a musical episode of Witches of East End?

FRIEDMAN: I would have loved to have done a full-on musical episode of Eastwick. I mean, you saw Jaime Ray Newman singing in Mooning and Crooning and she was amazing. She's such a talent. Had we stayed on the air longer, we definitely would've found a way to get those ladies singing more. As for Witches, I have no idea if there would ever be a musical episode. The tone of this show is so much darker than Eastwick, so I'm not sure it would work. But I was just THRILLED that we got to write Jenna [Freya] a dance episode. I told her when we were making the pilot -- dammit, I'm gonna find a way for you to dance! Because she's just such an incredible dancer -- and luckily, it felt organic to the story and the flashback, that of course Freya was a disco queen in another life!

SPOILERTV: I have to ask as an aspiring writer, how do you write episodes that are filled with so much excitement and amazingness? Bonfire and Betrayal. Tea and Psychopathy. Red Bath and Beyond. Potentia Noctis. Oh, What a World! The list literally goes on. What is the process you go through when writing your episodes?

FRIEDMAN: Aw. I'm so flattered [Laughs]. The process is, the other writers and I sit in a room together and work out story beats. We begin the season with a general idea of what each character will go through -- how they will grow and change and what their challenges will be. We spend several weeks just talking about that. "What's Freya's arc for the year? What will Ingrid be going through?" Then once we have a general feel of the shape of the season as a whole, we get into further specifics of each episode, one by one. We come up with an emotional theme (say, forgiveness, or betrayal) and we try to work the stories around that theme, while still having to pay attention of course to the ongoing plot. Because East End is quite serialized. When we start on a particular episode, we always know where it will begin -- which is generally where we left off last week! We think about the general arc of the episode -- then we try to think about where the episode will end, and work backward from there, filling in the middle part. As we sit in the room eating junk food and making off-color jokes (because that's what writers do) everybody pitches out ideas for story "beats" and we argue and debate about them, and the rule is, it's a safe space, and there are no bad ideas. I want people to feel free to pitch whatever they might think up, because sometimes a seemingly bad idea sparks a good one. Anyway, as we pitch out different beats and ideas, we write them up on a big dry erase board, and move them around and erase and rewrite them again and again. The story goes through lots of changes throughout this process and there's tons of lively debate until we feel we have it just right -- until we have a solid plot with real emotional underpinnings, and we know the whole episode beat by beat. And then whichever writer is writing that episode, goes off and does an outline. And then that gets rewritten and honed several times, and then they are ready to write the actual script. By the time you are writing script scenes, you want to have the plot completely worked out -- that way, you just get to play and have fun with the dialogue, let the characters talk without being worried about "where is this story going??" That said, of course sometimes you make discoveries in the writing of the script that send you off in new story directions that you hadn't anticipated, and that's always fun and cool and exciting -- when the characters come alive and seem to guide you in way you didn't expect, and the story takes a new twist. And of course throughout the process, the script gets rewritten again and again -- until we all feel it's just right. Writing is rewriting! And then each writer sits on set as their episode is being shot, and they talk to the actors and the director about just how each scene should play, and they continue to tinker with the script until they can't tinker no more!

SPOILERTV: I could talk about Eastwick all day long, but I have to move on unfortunately. A question was submitted to me by the reviewer of Witches of East End for SpoilerTV, Virginia Fontana, about Dawson’s Creek. She asked what was it like to write for the show during the height of the Pacey/Joey/Dawson love triangle?

FRIEDMAN: I loved writing for Dawson's Creek! I wrote a number of episodes during the Pacey/Joey/Dawson love triangle era (not to brag, but I wrote BOTH prom episodes! [Laughs] The prom where Joey and Pacey were falling in love, and the prom the following year where they sadly broke up. I still have vivid memories of being on a big party boat in North Carolina in the middle of the night, getting all teary-eyed watching them film that break up scene.) Anyway, that show was just super-fun and the fans were so passionate. It was really cool to be a part of it.

SPOILERTV: How did Dawson’s Creek come about? It was a huge show way back when so it must have been a huge deal for you?

FRIEDMAN: My first job out of film school was a different Kevin Williamson show called Wasteland. It was very short-lived and Dawson's was already a phenomenon by then. When Wasteland was cancelled I sat down with Greg Berlanti who was running Dawson's at the time and we just totally hit it off and he gave me a job on the show. I feel I owe my career to Kevin, Julie Plec, and Greg Berlanti. All great people. Greg and I have worked together a bunch since then and he's just such a talented person who always teaches me something about writing, every time I'm around him. Anyway, yeah Dawson's was a huge show and it was such a fun staff to be on -- everyone was super young and enthusiastic. It felt a little like high school -- in a good way. Because we were so young, our memories of being teenagers were still fresh in our minds so we could write from a really honest place. Plus I still just couldn't believe I had a professional writing gig! It was a dream come true. And so many of those Dawson's writers have gone on to do amazing things. The level of talent on that staff was huge. Oh -- and two of the other writers on East End were Dawson's writers as well!

SPOILERTV: What can you tease us about this Sunday's episode, When a Mandragora Loves a Woman (brilliant title, by the way)?

FRIEDMAN: Haha thanks for the compliment on the title -- I am a huge fan of puns. I think I came up with that one while I was sitting in Austin for the ATX festival having lunch with Richard Hatem trying to break episode nine. We were like "shit, we still don't have a title for 6!" And I think that one just came out of my mouth. He and I laughed hysterically and I was like "we have to use that!" and he thought I was kidding but I wasn't. The writers on the show are constantly pitching me titles and the punniest one generally wins. Al Septien might be the best one on our staff at coming up with title puns. Anyway, although this week's ep has a funny title it's actually a really scary and suspenseful episode. It was directed by Joe Dante -- JOE DANTE!!! I mean, come on. He directed Gremlins! And Gremlins 2! The man is a legend and a fantastic director. It's kind of a crazy thrill-ride, this one. Nonstop action, creepiness, and suspense. Ingrid is in her trance and off wreaking havoc with the Mandragora. As you saw last week -- Dash was attacked by the Mandragora -- and now he's in a bit of an altered state. It ends up being a very intense episode between Dash and Freya -- where much of their relationship baggage is unpacked -- but he's temporarily psychotic so that makes it interesting. We'll see a new twist in the Wendy/Frederick dynamic, their relationship will be tested for sure. We'll see some badass witchcraft of course. We get to see Freya in superhero mode. And we'll learn more about the Alex/Joanna relationship -- they have a crazy adventure themselves, and we learn about their history and why they broke up, and whether there's still feelings between them. And we'll learn more about Eva and what she's up to and why, as Killian's new powers get stronger! And finally, of course -- a beloved character will die! Tune in to see which one!

SPOILERTV: As we end this amazing interview, is there anything you would like to tell the wonderful fans of Witches of East End?

FRIEDMAN: I would like to say thanks for watching! And the next few episodes are our strongest ones yet. I'm really proud of them. So much cool stuff -- action, scares, romance, sex, fun, comedy, darkness, and magic. Things get really intense. We just finished editing episode 9 -- and I literally cried as I watched it. Even though I knew what was going to happen, that one hit me hard -- it's a very emotional episode. But that's all I can say without giving out a massive spoiler. Anyway, I hope you guys keep tuning in -- there are so many upcoming surprises, and the best is yet to come!!

Because there were a lot of repeated questions and just a lot of  questions in general, I had to cut a lot of questions by fans so I apologise for not including yours if you read this and find your question was not asked. There was just a huge volume that I couldn't possibly have asked her all of them. I also had to leave out names for questions because there were a lot that were the same too.

Be sure to follow Maggie Friedman on Twitter and catch an all-new episode of Witches of East End TOMORROW at 9PM on Lifetime! "When a Mandragora Loves a Woman" promises to be yet another fantastic (and deadly) installment of the spellbinding show's second season! You DO NOT want to miss it!!

About the Author - Gavin Hetherington
Award-winning author of 'Abyssal Sanctuary: Remnants of the Damned'. Gavin joined SpoilerTV on August 9, 2014 and will be reviewing 2 Broke Girls, Mistresses, Orange is the New Black and Salem in the 2014-15 season. Gavin's favourite shows include Charmed, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy, The Walking Dead, Once Upon a Time, Revenge, Scandal and much more. You can contact Gavin at
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