Here are the answers to your questions for “Saving Grace” creator-showrunner Nancy Miller.
“Saving Grace” begins its third season on TNT next Tuesday, June 16.
It's the fourth series created by veteran TV producer-writer Miller, who — like Grace — is from Oklahoma.
Previously she was executive producer-creator of “Leaving L.A.” (starring Christopher Meloni, Melina Kanakaredes and Hilary Swank) and Lifetime’s Annie Potts starrer “Any Day Now.” She also created and produced “The Round Table,” which starred the fabulous Jessica Walter and aired on NBC in the early ’90s.
She’s served as co-executive producer TNT’s “The Closer” and NBC’s “The Profiler.” Other shows she’s worked on include “Threat Matrix,” “The Monroes” and “Against the Grain.”
Thanks to all of you for participating and thanks to Nancy for her great answers. Enjoy season 3!
Q. You have been creatively involved with TV series with female lead characters, such as "Saving Grace" and male leading characters. Is there a difference in the presentation, writing or other aspects of the creative process in the two types of shows? (Sue Claire)
A. There isn’t really a difference. Although everyone tells me that I create men who are too romantic. My answer is that I create men the way they should be! Man or woman, an actor is an actor. So working-wise, the experience is different but very much the same. Probably like any job, guys and girls have different ways of expressing themselves but we all want the same thing — to be loved.
Q. I am amazed by this character, except she was on the OTHER side of the law. I have lived in OKC. I know this character, and it’s uncanny how Hunter portrays her. How did you research or derive this character? (T. Bell)
A. I lived through my 20's! Grace, and all the characters I create are portions of myself, my friends, people that I know, articles I have read, etc. It sort of goes into my brain as mush and comes out in some form of a character. All characters on shows continue to evolve and change just like we do. I also have a brilliant staff of writers that come up with ideas, and of course Holly has taken Grace to a whole higher level.
Q. Can you describe your feelings over landing an Oscar winner for “Saving Grace”?
A. I was, and still am, in disbelief. I am still looking for the punk to be revealed. I also feel very thankful and am even a little proud.
Q. Would you ever consider a spinoff? The characters are all very rich! (Annette)
A. Ummm...let me think....YES! I would be delighted.
Q. First, I loved that you showed the terror of a character facing their own state sanctioned murder. My question is; What kind of double standards have you encountered with standards and practices? (Casey)
A. Standards & Practices operate on a different level than us creative folk. Their job is much different and they have to think of things that I don't think of. I just have to think about what is true to the story I am telling. They have a very difficult job, especially with a show like ours that is constantly pushing the edges. TNT's Standards and Practices has been wonderful to work with, and trust me, I have been on other shows where that wasn't the case!
Q. I love how Grace’s smoking, boozing, & all around sexiness stands out against her historical background — the OKC bombing, child molestation, rape — all that rage & pain — how does she manage to stay so funny & empathic? Thank you for many hours of great TV. (Arlene)
A. I think our greatest moments of humor often come from our deepest pain. And being one who has experienced pain like Grace has, she knows what that feels like, and she doesn't like anybody to have to feel what she felt. Also, being a cop, if you can't laugh, you will curl up in a ball and die from what you see on the job every day. So that dark humor Grace has comes from that place; the place of God, I have to laugh or I will cry and never be able to stop.
Q. Holly Hunter's character smokes, drinks and sleeps around...all to excess and is very tough on her family sometimes. What do you, as a writer, do to keep her character likable? (TV Watcher)
A. It is very easy for me to keep Grace likable. I love Grace. I understand her. I’ve never met anyone perfect in my life, so I am never trying to meet that standard. Grace has so many qualities to love, so many aspects that I admire. I know if I ever needed a cop, or a friend, I would hope I could find someone half as dedicated and loyal as Grace.
Q. What would you say is Grace's worst trait and her best?
A. I think Grace’s worst trait is that she sleeps with married men. Her best traits are her humor, loyalty and her utter joy of white-hot living.
Q. I like the portrayal of the friendship between Grace Hanadarko and her friend as played by Laura San Giacomo. How do you think this adds to the dynamic of the show? (Sue)
A. I think it makes it more real. TV shows rarely show friendships between women. I have a lot of great friends and we have a blast together, so I wanted to portray what I know in my own life. I have a friend like Rhetta, and we have known each other since 4th grade. A lot of the Catholic school stuff is some of the trouble my friend Mary and I used to get into!
Q. What inspired you to write a show with such strong religious overtones? (Jean)
A. I wanted to explore God. With my last series (“Any Day Now”), I explored race. And I like to take these taboo subjects and have fun with them, do them with an edge. I have to write about something that has meaning.
Q. Is the show in other countries yet? (Annette)
A. Yes, it airs in over 200 countries including France, India, Australia, Mexico and Italy.
Q. Did you always intend for this to be a cable show or did you try to sell it to broadcast networks? How would the show have to change on broadcast TV? (Kathy)
A. It could never be on network, not the way Holly and I want to do it. I never pitched it to the networks because it would have had to completely change and soften into something that would no longer interest me.
Q. Besides Grace, who is your favorite character to write for and why?
A. This sounds like a copout, but I really enjoy writing for each of the characters and these actors. It may surprise you, but Earl is the toughest. How do you write an angel?! Without making the stuff coming out of his mouth sound sanctimonious? So although I love writing for Earl, and for Leon, those scenes take the longest.
Q. What shows inspired you as a young writer or even before you became a writer?
A. I was a TV junkie and still am. I love TV. I hate a lot of the shows that are on but TV is so powerful. I watched “The Patty Duke Show,” “The Flying Nun,” “Bonanza,” all those shows growing up as a kid. Today I enjoy “Weeds,” “Rescue Me” and “The Shield,” which was a great show.
Q. What literary works do you look to for inspiration?
A. All the Southern authors.
Q. If you had the opportunity to go back to rewrite one particular storyline or scene which one would you choose and why?
A. Oh, man, great question. I know there are many but right now it's tough to think of one. Actually the one scene that comes to my mind is not from Saving Grace but another one of my pilots.
NOTE: For those fans of the show who live in L.A., my colleague Cynthia Littleton will be moderating a "Saving Grace" panel on Saturday, June 13 at the Paley Center in Beverly Hills. Creator-showrunner Nancy Miller and stars Holly Hunter, Laura San Giacomo, Bailey Chase and others are confirmed to attend. There will be a screening of the season 3 premiere at 7 p.m., followed by the panel discussion and Q&A. Tickets are available at the Paley Center's website.