Here are the answers to your questions for “House” co-showrunner Katie Jacobs. She was pretty selective with the queries and answered the five that inspired her the most.
The show, about cranky diagnostician Dr. Gregory House and his co-workers and patients, has continued to rack up awards, most recently garnering is two Golden Globe nominations last week, for best drama series and lead actor Hugh Laurie, and two SAG nominations — for Laurie and the ensemble — just this morning.
Jacobs shares showrunner duties with David Shore — he runs the writers' room and she oversees the non-writing aspects of the show. She has also directed several episodes including “Half-Wit” with guest star Dave Matthews as well as the finale of both seasons three and four and this season's ninth episode — "Last Resort" — guest-starring Zeljko Ivanek, which aired Nov. 25.
Previously, Jacobs served as co-showrunner on ABC’s “Gideon’s Crossing,” starring the incomparable Andre Braugher, as well as CBS legal drama “Century City.” Before turning her focus to television, Jacobs produced several films, including Alan J. Pakula’s thriller “Consenting Adults” and the Carl Reiner comedy “Fatal Instinct.”
We'll start with the winning question. Diane will receive a DVD set of season four.
Q. How common is it for a non-writing producer to be a co-showrunner? It seems to make sense, since showrunning sounds like a huge job involving a lot of non-writing producing duties, but it doesn’t seem that common. Are you an anomaly? How do you split the duties with David Shore? — Diane
A. I feel like the show is best served by allowing David Shore and his writing staff as much writing time as possible. It is the voice of the show that makes it unique, the script and the words are king. Having said that, there are many other factors that contribute in making the show what it is. I spend most of my time casting, in post-production editing, selecting music, meeting with directors, writers, the network and actors… it’s a lot. But it’s an honor to run a show alongside David Shore.
Q. How far in advance do you plan a characters developmental arc? For instance, it has been revealed in the season 4 that House was abused as a child, and in season 5 that John House is not his birth father. Have you had these critical bits of info mapped out since the inception of the character? Or were they ideas that came to you as the character of House developed over the years? — Jodi
A. One of the most enjoyable aspects of scripted TV is that you live alongside your characters. Each of the characters, Cuddy, Foreman, Wilson etc. become part of you. Certain details are known from the beginning while others are mapped out as you go along. We just spent three days at a writers retreat figuring out the rest of the season.
Q. Are the opening credits images in “House” visual metaphors for the roles the characters represent in the show? — Libby
A. Initially when you do a title sequence you are trying to separate yourself out from every other show. You look to establish a unique visual brand along with a distinct sound. The shots in our sequence don’t have any “specific” meaning, but I do like the fact that in the last shot, David Shore’s name is where the head would be on a body. He is the brains of the show. Some images we initially wanted to use included a shot of a cane and one of a bottle of Vicodin. The network was not on board with those two choices and requested that we replace them. As a result the image with Jennifer Morrison’s name became the shot of rowers on a river — we needed another shot.
Q. Will we ever hear more about Wilson’s long-lost brother? — Mindy
A. Yes, we will hear more about Wilson’s brother. We have established him as homeless but we will reveal more about him before the end of this season.
Q. Earlier this season, House confirmed that his dad wasn’t really his dad… will we get to see more family drama with confronting his mom in the future perhaps? — PC
A. I’m not sure House will be “confronting his mom”, but it was a big discovery for House to, in fact, prove that his dad who he grew up with was not his biological father. That revelation, like everything else, has now become part of the fabric of his character.
(pictured, Jacobs directing an episode)