Ilene Chaiken Has No Regrets -- Except Killing Dana

Ilene Chaiken talks about TheL Word's final season, the hush-hush Leisha Hailey spin-off, and a rumored L Word movie -- all without revealing a thing.

BY Caroline Ryder

January 16 2009 1:00 AM ET

“Yes, but
remember, I never saw The L Word as purely
lesbian-themed,” she points out. “I saw it as
a show about lesbians for everyone. Personally,
I’m interested in telling stories. Telling
lesbian-themed stories, yes, but not exclusively. I’m
interested in making mainstream entertainment.”

Her determination
to appeal to a mass audience has occasionally put
Chaiken at odds with women who felt unrepresented among the
show’s glamorous cast of characters. But
Chaiken makes no bones about her position --
she’s making TV for America, and America likes
lipstick.

“I never
had any qualms about the way we were representing the
culture,” she says.

When The L
Word
ends in March, there may be no TV show on
U.S. mainstream cable or terrestrial television featuring
predominantly gay or lesbian characters to replace it.
It’s a problem, says Chaiken. Niche cable
channels that focus on gay content, like Logo, are
“great for what they are,” she says,
“but they don’t preclude the need to
represent us and our lives and our stories in mainstream
entertainment.”

And despite its
massive global reach, The L Word has received
little formal acknowledgment from Hollywood -- just
one prime-time Emmy nomination in six years.
“It’s pathetic,” says Chaiken.
“We really were ignored by the Emmys.” (The
late actor Ossie Davis, who played the father of
Jennifer Beals’s Bette Porter and Pam
Grier’s Kit Porter, received a posthumous nomination
for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series in
2004.)

There’s
always the possibility season 6 will receive more
recognition. With Jenny Schecter (played by Mia
Kirshner) revealed to be dead in the opening moments
of the first episode, you can be sure that the final
season of The L Word will continue take the
term lesbian drama to new levels. All in just eight
episodes.

”Having
eight episodes was a business decision by Showtime,”
says Chaiken. “We agreed it was actually kind
of a great thing for a final season, because we could
make it more contained. So we came up with a concept
for wrapping it all round one story idea.”

And once The L
Word
’s final chapter closes, then what?

Tags: television

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