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November 2015

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PRIMETIME 18 POST NOVEMBER 2015 rom the creative mind of Ryan Murphy, the producer/writer/di- rector behind Glee, Nip/Tuck, American Horror Story and American Crime Story (coming to FX in 2016), is his most recent primetime offering spoofing the horror genre — Scream Queens. The Fox series, co-created by Ian Brennan and Brad Falchuk, stars Halloween veteran Jamie Lee Curtis and American Horror Story alum Emma Roberts in a careful blend of drama, gore, blood and, oddly enough, comedy. The show's storyline is set on the campus of Wallace University 20 years after the 1995 death of a sorority pledge, where now, students are being terror- ized, and viciously murdered, by the creepy-as-hell Red Devil. According to Alexis Martin Woodall, executive producer, "the show is a homage to the '80s horror genre — it's a comedy slasher with a really strong, synth-driven score. We try to pick all of our needle drops mid- to late-'80s. Stylistically, we dabbled for a while on, 'What is it going to be?' 'Are we going to try and do that sort of freeze-frame you get out of Friday the 13th and things like that?' And that didn't really work for us. Because of the pace of the dialogue, it made it more fun to make the com- edy scenes pop and then really build tension and pace where we could for the horror moments. So, tonal shifts abound throughout the episodes." Here, in an exclusive interview with Post, Woodall discusses what makes Fox's new series tick. This is the same team behind other Ryan Murphy shows — how important is it that Scream Queens has its own look? "It's absolutely important. Because in branding Ryan Murphy television, we have to have our individual brands be in- dividual. And a lot of our fans are cross- overs. You want them to feel that they're getting a different experience with each show. Some people are like, 'Oh, it's too much like Glee because its quippy and it's fast,' but also, that is what the style is. We want quippy, fast comedy. But there are also times when we're in a process, and I'll say, 'We have to lose that sound; it's too much like Horror Story.' We have different sounds for each show and that's probably the best way to deliniate. "Aside from the obvious looks of what the shows are — because American Horror Story is very dark and very heavy. It's sort of a relentless darkness whereas Scream Queens, we wanted it to be dark, and then we want to give you that mo- ment of, 'Okay, everything's good again, everything's funny' and so, sound is the clearest way that we deliniate. "It's funny because even working on American Crime Story — our same composer Mac Quayle works with me on all three — and sometimes Mac and I and our supervising editor Adam Penn, who is very important to the process, will say, 'This piece of score is amazing but it doesn't sound right. It sounds like Horror Story or Crime Story.' So there's a lot of deliniation of sound effects but there's also a lot of stuff that overlaps where, you want a good jump scare and the jump scare is going to be a jump scare whether it's Scream Queens or its Horror Story. You want a good moment with character for something to really land and that's just storytelling. So the similarities exist, but we really work hard to make it a different experience." So music and sound is important to the production? "Oh my God, it's everything! Sound drives everything for us. I always go back to Jaws. You listen to Jaws with your eyes closed and you hear that theme, and you know exactly what's happening. But if you watch it on mute, it's creepy but doesn't have that same feel. We sort of abide by that same principle. Are we building tension? Are we listening for everything? Do our worlds have a com- pletely realized sound? When we're in the hotel for Horror Story, what does the hotel sound like? Adam and I went back and forth about how it really should be almost the bowels of hell — where you hear deep sounds from the distance. You don't know exactly where or exactly why, but the hotel is alive and it's breathing and it's churning. "In Scream Queens, it's that same idea. Does the devil make a sound? We are very spare with how he approaches be- cause he moves slowly and we don't need to belabor it — but we want to choose what his foot fall sounds like, we want to choose what his cape sounds like, want to choose how the squeak of the leather sounds when he nods. It's really mea- sured. The sound drives everything." What are some of the show's technical challenges? "Well I think for Scream Queens, and the same for Horror Story, when doing any kind of genre, especially a horror genre, there's a huge amount of footage. Just a barrage of footage because you need to have a lot to play with in your tool box. Just because it's scripted on the page, a character sees the devil, the devil approaches and the devil disappeares, FOX'S SCREAM QUEENS BY LINDA ROMANELLO SHOWING VIEWERS A DEVIL OF A GOOD TIME F Executive producer Woodall (inset) ensures the series lives up to its "comedy/slasher" horror theme.

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