Friday, January 15, 2016

CRIMINAL MINDS Season 11 - Showrunner Breen Frazier's Exclusive Interview by

by Tari Jordan

It’s been a while since we’ve heard from him, and we’ve long admired his writing. Classics like The Uncanny Valley, and Pleasure Is My Business populate his portfolio, as do the polarizing Zugzwang and the universally praised fan-favorite Mr. Scratch. Now Breen Frazier is sitting on top as Executive Producer for Criminal Minds, sharing showrunner duties with Erica Messer. Join us as he discusses his episodes and gives up some background about his life before Criminal Minds, as well as what we can look forward to if (and when, we hope!) our show gets another season.

TJ: How are things? Are you stressed out or is it what you expected? How does it affect your writing?
BF: Things are good! I think. What have you heard? Being an executive producer on “Criminal Minds” is like winning the showrunning lottery. If I’m not home to give my kids a bath, I’m home by bedtime. That’s unheard of, with this position. I’m the lucky beneficiary of a job that has a very long institutional memory. We know what we do well, we know what we don’t do well, we know how to produce it so that our stages always look like the police department the team goes to every week. We’ve gotten so good at this that I can trust everyone on this show knows how to do their job, and they do it efficiently, on budget and with a level of ingenuity I can’t even begin to appreciate.
       In order for things to go wrong, I would have to steer the ship directly into the iceberg on purpose. And even then, there would be a long line of people, starting with Erica Messer, and continuing with Glenn Kershaw, Harry Bring, Sharon, Virgil and Bruce, all asking me, “The iceberg is right there, are you sure…?
       I mean, we’ve had pretty much the same writing staff for five years. We know each other about as well as we know our spouses. We know what kind of stories each writer likes, we complete each other’s sentences, sometimes we cut up each other’s food. We genuinely like each other and, because it’s case-of-the-week and not serialized, all we want to do is help each other write the best stories possible.
       That having been said, yes, it has been stressful, but it’s pockets of stress as opposed to the normal daily routine. The best example this season was when I was in post-production on Episode 11 while writing the first draft of 16 and continuing to help the rest of the staff break their stories. Messer warned me at the beginning of the season that my writing time would be the first thing to go, which is true. But I’m still expected to crank out three scripts like everybody else. I find that it’s more late nights (after my kids’ bedtime and bath, natch) or early mornings, but that’s the job. Whenever I think about complaining, I remember Messer’s doing this times two, with Beyond Borders.

TJ: What are the main differences in your role as showrunner, versus your duties as writer/producer?
BF: ...

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