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A Conversation with House, MD Executive Producer Katie Jacobs

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Warning: Very mild spoilers ahead

House, MD executive producer Katie Jacobs has a lot on her plate. As “showrunner” of the hit series, she, along with series creator David Shore, are largely responsible for House’s feel and look; its stories and direction. Approaching its 100th episode, and in the middle of its fifth season, House was the only network series nominated for a Golden Globe award. The show's star (and executive producer) Hugh Laurie was the only star of a network drama nominated in the drama category. I had an opportunity to sit down with Jacobs by phone the other day to chat about the show and reflect on its upcoming milestone 100th episode (airing February 2).

Although House, MD came away empty-handed from the Golden Globes, Jacobs said that the nomination “made us really, really happy.” She pointed out that the other nominated series (including the winner, Mad Men) are “wonderful, ambitious, and original.” But she also pointed out that “they don’t have to do 24 episodes a year. To be included alongside them, when we have to produce so many shows a year,” she continued, “is really an honor — especially in our fifth season.”

House returns Monday, January 19 (NOTE: Another new timeslot for the show!) at 8:00pm ET with an episode entitled “Painless,” an ironic title given House’s own problems with pain. This week’s patient, suffering with pain more “advanced and severe than House’s,” according to Jacobs, has been referred by House’s former fellow, Cameron. The patient's pain has become intolerable  “to the point where painkillers no longer work,” Jacobs explained. “He’s at a place where House may find himself at in years to come. That’s the focus of the episode.” She continued, “House is in a constant state of pain; believes that his drug use lets him do his job and relieve his pain. Cameron introduces the patient to House hoping that he sees some sort of version of what it might be like for him if he doesn’t take better care of himself. She is worried about House, how he deals with his pain.”

As you all might recall, when last we saw Dean of Medicine Lisa Cuddy back in December, she had rescued a left-for-dead baby, hoping to first become a foster mother and then adopt the child. “Painless” picks up with Cuddy dealing with the challenges new-motherhood.  As anyone who has tried to cope with the trials and tribulations of being a working mother of an infant knows, it is an incredibly challenging task. The them resonates deeply with women who try (and not always with success) to find some sort of balance. “Would it be fair if we didn’t present the challenges that it presents?” asked Jacobs. “Hopefully at some time she will find a balance, but it takes time,” she added. “One of the things that is going to happen at the end of the next episode — Cuddy will see if perhaps someone else can do her job for a period of time so she can spend more time being a mother.”

In the last new episode “Joy to the World,” as Cuddy contemplated motherhood while peering at her new baby in the hospital nursery, a subdued House watched on before quietly wishing Cuddy a Merry Christmas. I asked Jacobs whether the sexual tension between House and Cuddy will cool off now that she’s going to be a mom. “Theused with permission from FOX tension and chemistry are still there. Neither one of them is actively fessing-up to looking for a relationship, but they are drawn to each other. None of the flirtatiousness is going to go away. The stakes are very high for them. The attraction is still there. We are absolutely going to continue that. It’s real and it’s palpable. And it’s who they are.”

Clearly they have strong feelings for each other. And House is capable of real, grand, romantic gestures, like arranging to have Cuddy’s old medical school desk installed in her newly-redecorated office (and the desk, Jacobs assured me, was indeed a gift from House). But House’s romantic streak is “covered in fear and pain and a desire not to make himself vulnerable,” explained Jacobs. “I think he’s deeply romantic. As romantic as he is wounded, and that’s part of the problem.” Is it also why women viewers seem so attracted to someone who is, on the surface, such a jerk? “I think we see the pain behind the eyes.. the fact that he has a soul; that’s where this all comes from. If he could only allow someone to ease that pain… But he’s not at a point where he can do that,” she emphasized.

I wondered whether anything special had been planned for episode 100, which is called “The Greater Good.” Jacobs confessed that although they are excited and grateful to have gotten to 100 episodes, “David Shore is committed to treating it no differently than any other episode. It’s an intriguing episode, hopefully. But it’s no different than any other episode,” she stressed, emphasizing that all episodes are handled with equal care. After the 100th episode will be one entitled "Unfaithful," which involves a priest. The ongoing storyline will continue to address "what it means for Cuddy to take on motherhood.” In addition, there will be a hitch in Foreman’s drug trial with 13.

Jacobs acknowledged that even after 100 episodes, she is still “amazed by the pilot. What I love about this show,” she explained, “is that we have such a strong structure, it allows us to sometimes go in a completely different direction. Do episodes outside the formula.” Those are the episode that tend to be her favorites, noting last season’s two-part finale (“House’s Head” and “Wilson’s Heart, which Jacobs directed.)  “ I think our success is in part based on the fact that we have a show that people can know; but I think my favorite episodes are those that break that [structure]."

Speaking about the show’s structure, I expressed my frustration with the recently-introduced “six-act” format. Unlike the conventional “four-act” drama series structure (“teaser” followed by a commercial break then four “acts” divided by commercial breaks), this new format cuts away less at the beginning of the show, but compensates by interrupting the story for more frequent, longer, commercial breaks during the second half-hour. Jacobs shared my (and many fans’) frustration. “We hate it! We hate it! We hate it! It’s not our choice! I’m like the audience; I don’t like to cut to commercials that frequently at the end of the story. We beg and plead to go back to a four-act structure. We control content as best we can, but we have no control over this.” Audience unite! When do we start a petition drive?

Jacobs is very involved with establishing the musical feel of the show, and has strong hand in selecting the series’ soundtrack — the diverse range of songs that overlay (usually dialogue-free) montages. Music is a crucial element in the series, especially since House is, himself, a musician and aficionado of eclectic tastes. The music is often used not only to establish mood and atmosphere, but to move the story forward.

The show has developed an extensive music library, from which the series' tracks are chosen. “Music supervisors Gary Calamar and Lynn Grossman, Hugh Laurie, and (writer/executive producer) Peter Blake and I all contribute to the music library," Jacobs explained. "The music editors cut in what they think fits (as a first pass). The director gets a version, possibly more changes, then I come in, and I always like to hear a bunch of different things. I let them sit in my brain for a little bit.

“It’s a cool part a show,” she continued. “We use music sort of differently. Not just as background filler. We aspire to use it more cinematically. We usually try to have some sort of soulful element to them.” But Jacobs emphasized that a variety of genres fit the bill. “Curtis Mayfield (‘Superfly’ was used in the season three episode “Top Secret”) fits House too.”

The series soundtrack has ranged from Bach (“French Suite No. 5” in season two’s “Skin Deep”) to Ella Fitzgerald to heavy metal. Jacobs pointed out, however, that the only time she really knew ahead of time that she wanted to use a particular song was after getting an advance copy of John Mayer’s album Continuum, which included the song “Gravity.” “I knew that House would be starting out (season three) not using a cane, and then he goes back to using one. When I heard the song ‘Gravity,’ I thought ‘this will work’ for when House needs to go back to his cane. That show coincidentally aired the day Mayer’s album came out.” Anyone remembering that scene at the end of “Cane and Able” is aware of how powerfully that track resonates as House finally succumbs to the returning pain, picking up the old cane.

“In the upcoming episode “Unfaithful,” revealed Jacobs, giving me a bit of a mini-scoop for fans, “there’s a piece of music so beautiful so evocative and amazing — and composed by Hugh Laurie!” House fans do notice (and covet) those too-rare moments when House plays piano or guitar (or even sings). Of course, Jacobs acknowledged, Laurie has contributed musically to the show several times, but not quite in this way.

“Hugh has contributed not only in front of the camera, but has contributed in a way nobody else could. He is such a partner.” When Laurie signed on for an eighth season, he was made an “official” executive producer. In fact, early on during this season, he is doubly credited as both star and “executive producer.” Some very observant fans noticed that soon thereafter, his executive producer credit mysteriously disappeared from the opening credits. Although Jacobs isn’t involved in that part of the process, she explained that, true to very modest Laurie’s nature, “he probably doesn’t want the double credit up on the screen. He’s much more demure about these things. He is an executive producer, and rightly so. I don’t think that Hugh even knew it was going to be there; and when he saw it said…no, no, no…don’t want another credit up there! “The truth of the matter is,” Jacobs acknowledged, “there are three people who run this show: David (Shore), myself, and Hugh. Hugh has been contributing in so many ways from the very beginning, which is why the show is so successful. He’s really been an executive producer from the start.”

House airs Mondays on FOX at 8:00pm ET.

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About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is publisher and executive editor of Blogcritics, as well as a noted entertainment writer. Author of Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D., her primary beat is primetime television. But Barbara writes on an everything from film to politics to technology to all things pop culture and spirituality. She is a contributor to the book called Spiritual Pregnancy (Llewellyn Worldwide, January 2014) and has a story in Riverdale Ave Press' new anthology of zombie romance, Still Hungry for your Love. She is hard at work on what she hopes will be her first published novel.
  • Manu

    Thank you SO much, Barbara. Very interesting reading. They seem really invested in House and Cuddy’s relationship, and that’s enough for me to care, even if recent events turned me off a little. I’m sure it will pay off in the end.

    Great news about HL. I guess episode 15 will be directed by Yaitanes? I remember him talking about a long scene he shot of House on the piano back in october. I can’t wait.

  • Orange450

    Barbara, thank you so much for this wonderful interview and article! What a great behind-the-scenes view – I don’t think KJ would have been so forthcoming for anyone else! I *love* the esthetic feel and look of the show, which is one of the most attractive productions I’ve ever watched – so I hope you told her she’s doing a great job with that. And I think she does an outstanding job on the music, as well.

    The conflicts involved in combining motherhood with an intensely challenging career will certainly resonate with me. The practical critic in me wonders why Cuddy hadn’t already lined up some very good childcare options when she thought she was going to adopt (I know it’s not fair of me to assume that she hasn’t, but somehow I don’t think she has.) It may be sacrilegious to make this comparison – but in the few episodes of Sex in the City that I saw, I thought that the difficulties of single motherhood combined with challenging, time-consuming profession were depicted quite realistically. And Miranda had a working mother’s dream of a babysitter! It’ll be interesting to watch Cuddy (and House) work it out.

  • cath

    Thanks for sharing the interview Barbara! Hugh Laurie is such a sweet and humble person! I love him even more after reading the last paragraph!

  • to21be

    Thanks, Barbara. That was a nice treat.

    I look forward to HL’s upcoming musical composition. And it’s nice to get an answer on the mysterious exec producer credit.

  • Orange450

    Oh, and I forgot to say that when I first saw that picture of House going eye to eye with the baby, I burst out laughing. We have a picture of my husband holding our newborn (now 25 year old) daughter in the *exact* same position, with the *exact* same expression on his face. And with me in the background looking on adoringly – but unfortunately – looking nowhere near as good as Cuddy does! Labor and delivery do a number on one’s photo-readiness.

    I think that House and the baby look like equally worthy competitors – let the games begin!

  • Luna

    I had to skip some of the article (spoilerfobe, sorry!) but I loved the part about the music. She does make a great job picking the songs and styles, doesn’t she?
    Even if the songs on their own may or may not be outstanding, they always fit perfectly in the edit.

    There was only ONE song that I can recall asking myself… what the devil is that? and it was Line in the Coconut, because I didn’t know it, didn’t recognize it as the one the Kutner’s “patient” was singing, and the style of it clashed horribly to that Cuddy moment, to my ears.

    Other than that. All the music from House has always been great!

  • cath

    ah..the Lime in the Coconut song at the end of Let Them Eat Cake reminds me of how Barbra Streisand sings cheerful songs and make them sound so sad..

  • Alice

    Thanks for the interview, but except the tidbit about the music the rest is much of the same, Cuddy or House and Cuddy, quite uninteresting.

  • Gerry

    Wonderful interview Barbara–I always love learning about the music of the show, because I love it but have little background to really discuss it. And I love knowing that Hugh Laurie is now officially an executive producer and really always has been. I’m hoping the continuing exploration of House and Cuddy brings in a few more elements of caring than we’ve seen so far and that we see a little more of House dealing with what he wants, rather than characterising what’s going on between them as what Cuddy wants. The writers usually end up going some very interesting places, so I expect I’ll enjoy this ride, too, in the end.

  • Sera G

    Hello, Barbara!
    Thanks for the lovely surprise. I enjoyed the interview with Katie Jacobs very much. One small problem, the (adorable) photo of the “Huddy Family” (wishful thinking) covers part of the interview. I am unable to read from, “The tension…actually looking to fess-up to looking for a relationship…”
    Is there anyway you could fill in the blanks?
    Again, thanks for the wonderful forum you provide. Can’t wait for Monday night.
    Sera G

  • flippet

    Oh, yay for more music from Hugh! That’s very exciting. He’s so unbelievably talented, and it really is a treat to hear anything he does. And it’s fabulous for House, too…his music reveals a side of his inner thoughts that he really doesn’t share anywhere else.

  • Manu

    Hey, Sera G. It says: “The tension and chemistry are still there. Neither one of them is actively fessing-up to looking for a relationship, but they are drawn to each other. None of the flirtatiousness is going to go away. The stakes are very high for them. The attraction is still there. We are absolutely going to continue that. It’s real and it’s palpable. And it’s who they are.”

  • Sera G

    Thans, Manu!
    Sera G

  • barbara barnett

    Thanks for all of the kind words, guys. Just got in from a very long drive home (from Bloomington Indiana) in an ice storm. Sheesh. But it was nice to come home to your warm words. Katie was gracious and kind enough to continue the interview past the time agreed upon with the PR person arranging it. Really a delight to interview.

  • Grace

    That was GREAT, Barbara!!! Such a pleasure to read! I think this is the first KJ interview where she didn’t go on and on about 13!!
    My favorite song in HOUSE, as far as I can remember, was BEAUTIFUL, sung by a guy who’s name escapes me at the moment. I’m sure someone here will know it. :) I loved “Lime in the Coconut” but I couldn’t get it out of my head for several days. I’d be going along minding my own business and it would just pop right out of my mouth!!
    I can’t wait until Monday. Oh how I’ve missed Hugh. I just LOVE him to death.
    Hope you all caught him and BFTV on LENO Friday night! If you missed it, it’s all over the internet. :)
    Thanks again, Barbara!

  • Grace

    P.S. HOUSE and HUGH are up for SAG Awards next Sunday, Jan. 25th at 8 and 11 p.m. EST on TNT and TBS. I don’t know about a pre-show or red carpet show. Could be one on E!
    FINGERS CROSSED ya all.

  • Sue

    Barbara, this was a nice interview. I think they do a great job choosing the music for the show. I wouldn’t listen to most of the songs they use on a regular basis, but they do choose music that fits the episodes.

    I posted in another article you wrote that I don’t think bloggers or critics who choose to interview producers can be as critical as they might otherwise be. I am not saying anything specifically about you, but in general, can bloggers bite the hands that feed them? If you were as critical as some fans have been, would Katie Jacobs have given you the interview? The publicists check out anyone who their client will eventually speak to. I am respectful of what you write.

    I live in chronic pain. The 16th of January was the 16th year anniversary of my accident. I am very interested in how they will handle the Painless episode. There are many aspects to living in pain; most of the time people who don’t have it don’t understand it. None of the writers or producers have this condition. I want to see if they hit all the relevant points of what this kind of life involves. There are times when Wilson made some valid points to House about his pain; there are just as many times Wilson made invalid points as well.

    Katie said that Hugh has been involved in the show since the beginning. I see it in a lot of things, but two things I don’t see Hugh’s association with are the hiring of the new actors and the 13 story. Maybe a reason I don’t see it is because House has changed since the old team left, and the change is not for the better. The lack of talent in the new actors and the lack of chemistry with them and Hugh have changed a huge part of the show. I think these decisions are made independent of Hugh. While Hugh is acting, the producers are making these decisions. I see Hugh having input in the process as it is taking place. I perceive that Hugh is not happy with the changes, and it comes out of House in a noticeable way.

    I don’t know how familiar KJ is with the online remarks about 13. Here’s hoping she really does know and is going to do something with her.

  • Bertha S.

    Thank you!!! I hadn’t planned on watching Painless or the next episode since it appears to be a continuation of Cuddy’s baby momma drama, which I absolutely detest. And no, I don’t identify with Cuddy’s stupidity and lack of planning. This is something one would expect from young mothers with very, very few internal and external resources. The storyline is simply ridiculousn for a highly-educated professional woman in her mid-forties.

    I just can’t believe DS or HL is coming up with this stuff. House was a great show. Maybe S6 will be better.

  • http://www.playboy.com/magazine/interview_archive/hugh-laurie/hugh-laurie.html Eve K

    Great interview! I do not agree that you have to be nice and bias to interview the producers. I also think that a lot of the crazy people on the internet wouldtnt last one day as a writer, so they should just shut up with their banter. Jacobs and Co does an amazing job!

    Elvis Costello made the version of “Beautiful” exclusively for House MD. This was meant to mirror the little girls version of the song in the beginning of the show, but give it a more Housian male sound.

    I love the musical part of the show. It reminds me of another favourite show of mine, dare I say it – Gilmore girls – a show I loved for the music and cultural references. They had a lot of indie music and of Elvis Costello. They also had a lot of musicians as guest actors. (Sparks, Sonic Youth)

    I think that because HL is a musician with a very good taste and Katie Jacobs also has great taste, that side of the show is excellent. Using contemporary hits can make the show sound “dated” when you view it later, I love that they use old songs from The Who, Boomtown Rats, ans so on. And the classical music and jazz is always a pleasure. (Although using Bachs Prelude in “Informed Consent almost ruined it for me, I couldn’t stand that nazi scientist with the rats, all though I did GET the episode) I love a good soundtrack, and Gravity was a heart-wrenching song that fitted perfectly to the scene.

    I could go on an on about the music, but I will say that this season I shall try to watch the show spoiler free! I have got the spoilers for the first three episodes but that’s it! My New Year’s resolution. Have you read the interview with Laurie in Playboy? The URL will take you to it. I don’t think there is any spoilers there.

  • Eve K

    I hope you get that I dont mean the commenters on this blog! To discuss things in a good way is always interesting.

  • Elaine

    Like Katie Jacobs, I love the pilot episode, but whenever I see it and compare it to a Season 4 or 5 episode, I find House so completely different – the man AND the show – that I can’t understand why Katie Jacobs can’t see it. Viewers can see it and continually point it out on message boards, but KJ never seems to address these changes. It wasn’t the Princeton 90210 version that we seem to be seeing these days.

    My only other comment is that I’m sorry to read that David Shore chose not to make the 100th episode special. The 100th episode is a rare milestone, both for the cast and the fans, and ALL members of the cast who made it special should have been represented in it. I’d elaborate further, but don’t want to spoiler it for anyone.

  • Alex

    Elaine, I agree with you, ALL the members of the cast who made the show special should have been represented in the 100th episode, but Shore chose not to put Cameron and Chase in it. I’m sorry for Jennifer Morrison and Jesse Spencer, they deserve better.

  • dilara altinbasak

    Hugh Laurie is adorable with his humble character and gorgeous appearance! HOUSE and HUGH are up for SAG Awards next Sunday, Jan. 25th at 8 and 11 p.m. EST on TNT and TBS.

  • Sue

    Someone commented that Cuddy should have been prepared with child care before she got the baby. Remember, in Joy, Cuddy said she was done with the quest to get a baby. This baby came to her so unexpectedly, she did not have time to prepare. Plus, even if she had a perfect plan in place, no new working mother can anticipate all of the problems that can arise. When you add an 8 year old, snarky, sarcastic misanthrope to the mix, no one can be prepared.

  • barbara barnett

    It’s interesting. I still see House as fundamentally the same as he was in the pilot. He has been consistently written (as consistent as his his paradoxical personality can be). Not all viewers dislike what they see this year. I think that this year has had some of the best episodes of the series. But not everyone is going to see things through my POV. It’s all a matter of perspective and perception.

    I also think that part of it is expectation. Some one made a comment above regarding leaving people out of a forthcoming episode. When people base their expectations on spoilers, clips or otherwise incomplete knowledge they can’t help but be disappointed. I remember the bitterness that preceded the finale episodes, which turned out to be two of the best episodes in the history of the series, if not THE best.

    Every season people hate something or another, and it’s human nature to do that. In season one, people thought the series was too predictable and formulaic. Then came Vogler, and some people hated him and breaking into the screentime of the main cast. then came Stacy. I remember the terrible bitterness at her insertion into the story with people threatening to leave the fandom because of her. Then there was Tritter. Etc., etc.

    From my own POV, I disliked most of the beginning of season 2 (except for Autopsy, where I felt we got MY personal version of House back briefly.) I disliked Acceptance, Spin, TB. House was too sarcastic, too mean for no reason…

    But season two turned out to contain some of favorite episodes as well. Like any other show, they will have eps we like and some we don’t and that will be different for everyone else.

    As far as the bias of a writer or interviewer, noted above and biting the hand that feeds it. Would you say the same thing of any news person? I don’t write news, but neither am I beholden to FOX, NBC or the show. I write opinion pieces, essays and interviews. I’m not part of the show, not paid by the show and derive no benefit from it, other than occasional access to people who run , act and write for it. If I didn’t try to do that, I wouldn’t be doing my job.

    Am I 100% objective? Probably not, but I have my own perspective, even if no one else shares it. )I’m going to write what I see, good or bad, and as far as House is concerned it is still far and away the best (in my opinion). Your mileage may vary.

  • barbara barnett

    Alex–I really don’t think you say that with absolute certainty. Please do not bring that sort of presumed and very specific spoiler here–especially without absolute verification and ample spoiler warnings. This isn’t the place for it. Sorry.

  • barbara barnett

    Sue–I wanted to address your remarks about biting the hand more specifically. It has never occurred to me that my obtaining an interview had anything to do with how critical I am of the show. I requested an interview in October with KJ, and was not granted it until now. It serves the show’s PR purposes to get publicity for the show coming up on episode 100. So they offered me an interview. It has nothing to do with helping the nice commentators, it has to do with promoting the show–critical or supportive. I doubt even the most critical television writers would be denied an interview they think would publicize the show.

    I like the show. I wouldn’t waste my time watching it, much less writing about it if I didn’t, because I simply do not have the time to waste. I think (and I hope) that the powers that be feel that I’m fair and try to see what they’re trying to accomplish and am not knee-jerk reactive to every change in the show. But I’m no one’s mouthpiece, neither the fandom’s nor the show’s.

    On the other hand, my access did allow me to ask MY questions (and a couple of things that fans had been wondering about that had never been addressed before in other interviews).

  • barbara barnett

    Sue–nothing prepares you for motherhood exactly, right? I remember trying to arrange a meeting with a client the day after coming home from the hospital with my youngest. Here I was talking to a CEO from my living room, baby nursing away. It was insane (and it was my second kid). Then I had to scramble to find someone to look after him–after I’d already committed to the project and couldn’t be with him 24/7. Eegads. I totally feel Cuddy’s pain.

  • Sheelagh

    Thank you Barbara for asking all the questions we wanted answered……for for Ms. Jacobs for taking the time to answer them.
    Now….how do we set about a petition to stop the the ‘six-split’ of our favorite show. Can you tell us how to let TPTB know that in no uncertain terms that we want them to stop messing with House & go back to the four split? Perhaps we can all help?? Who do we contact? How could we best acheive this aim ?
    I love the music of House, particularly “Gravity'(Caine & Able), “Are You Alright'(Fetal Position) and ‘Whisper’ (Joy To The World). The choices move me to tears at times.

    I saw on a video that RSL says Wilson’s homeless LLB has schizophrenia. The writers can do a lot social good with this deeply emotional storyline. I’ve always thought Wilson’s childhood wasn’t the cake walk he presents it as & that he was the de facto ‘partent’ or ‘care taker child’of his siblings and perhaps his Mum.

    And am I surprised Hugh Laurie is so modest and declined his EP screen credit, absolutely not. The man lets his talent speak for him…and it fairly shouts.

  • sdemar

    Congrats on landing this interview, Barbara. This is truly a feather in your cap.

    Do you know that the song, Gravity, has always been one of my favorites that were played on this show? And I will never forget the scene when House opens his closet and pulls his cane from the golf bag while this beautifully written and sung song was played. It made the tears well up in my eyes.

    I loved all of this from your confirmation about Hugh’s modesty by not allowing his Executive Producer title to be displayed on TV to Katie’s assurance that my favorite relationship of House and Cuddy remains fully intact to the wonderful surprise of a forthcoming musical composition by Hugh.

    Thanks for this wonderful treat.

  • Elaine

    Barbara, does anyone know why the six-act format was implemented? I always tape the shows “live” and carefully edit out all the commercials. It seems to me as if we still are getting approximately 42 minutes of the show, with the rest being commercials. If we’re still watching the same amount of advertisements, why are they broken up in such an aggravating way? How can that possibly benefit the network? Inquiring minds want to know!

  • sdemar

    One thing I forgot to mention: Yea for the confirmation that House was the one that brought Cuddy’s old desk out of storage. I know some had speculated that it was Wilson but that never made sense to me. That House, what a romantic!!!!Now the last question I have about that desk and I know we will never find out is whether they had sex on it? That desk has special meaning, enough for House to bring it back, so I would say “yes”.

  • barbara barnett

    I want to clarify one thing about Katie’s comments re HL’s exec producer status. I say it in the interview, but want to make sure you all noticed that I used the word “probably.”

    Although Jacobs isn’t involved in that part of the process, she explained that, true to very modest Laurie’s nature, “he probably doesn’t want the double credit up on the screen. He’s much more demure about these things. He is an executive producer, and rightly so. I don’t think that Hugh even knew it was going to be there; and when he saw it said…no, no, no…don’t want another credit up there!

    She obviously speaks from authority, but it’s not necessarily the definitive explanation, just what she believes probably happened.And it makes sense, given what we (and she even better) know of HL. Just wanted to clarify.

  • Luisa Borges

    Barbara, thank you so much for this great interview. I´ve just come back from my vacation and this was a great “welcome home gift”.

    You asked all the questions I would have like to see answered.

    The insight about the music was precious. As music is such a major element of House. And they never seize to amaze me with song choices, they are varied, never follow an expected pattern and are always perfect for the scene.

    Loved the bit about the desk, that really shows how right the concept of House as a romantic is. We get bits throughout the whole series where we can see glimpses of House´s romantic nature and the greatness he shows in these gestures is, IMHO, akin to the greatness he shows as a brilliant doctor.

    The fact that he is a brilliant doctor, someone with supperb analytical skills and master detail attention capabilities, as well as a romantic and wounded soul is an important part of what draws me to the show. The other, which is in no way second to the first, is the witty writing of the scripts, the dialogue in this series is just great. Grand at that.

    Even in episodes where the plot line (i.e. POTW) doesn´t get me going I can always marvell at the dialogues, and the one liners, and the great acting that is done in this fantastic show.

    And for that I should thank Katie Jacobs, David Shore along with everyone involved with produtction, writing and direction of the show.

    It is a consistently great show, with great actors, and I know this is what this Globe nomination surely meant.

    Thanks for the opportunity to read this Barbara, loved it as I love all your writing.

  • Eli

    Many thanks, Barbara, for the article and for the news: a new Hugh’s musical composition! … I can’t wait to hear it!
    The Jacobs’s words about his role as executive producer and his “modest nature” confirm how humble but so marvellous person Hugh is.

  • marie

    oh wow thank you so much Barbara, I too was exstatic about confrimation of the desk *swoon* and the music in a future episode *swoon again *…great interview , well done to you for getting it in the first place , it just seems so much better when ( and I hope you take this the way its meant…. a real Hugh lover .) one of our own asks the questions , we are sure that the answers and info we are getting is true and straight from the horses mouth and not chinese whispers ha ha …xxxx

  • orange450

    Sue wrote:

    “Someone commented that Cuddy should have been prepared with child care before she got the baby. Remember, in Joy, Cuddy said she was done with the quest to get a baby. This baby came to her so unexpectedly, she did not have time to prepare. Plus, even if she had a perfect plan in place, no new working mother can anticipate all of the problems that can arise.”

    Hey Sue – that was me. And I said that I wondered why Cuddy hadn’t lined up some good childcare options when she was planning to adopt. Don’t forget that she was expecting to take Joy home – the adoption fell through unexpectedly. So I’d think that the Dean of Medicine at PPTH would already have the numbers of some crackerjack, upscale nanny agencies on her speed dial – even if the nanny she had hired originally is no longer available. I only had a brief maternity leave when my oldest was born, and I spent the entire time interviewing prospective babysitters. I was very lucky – the person I eventually hired became a third parent to our children for 16 years. And I was not a Dean of Medicine, and was NOT earning what Cuddy does, and could not afford the kind of agency that sends a steady stream of applicants to one’s door – like she can.

    I also said that it’s not fair of me to make any assumptions – and it’s not. And there’s no question that bringing a newborn home is fraught with tension. But I also wouldn’t be surprised if some of the frazzle is laid on thick for the added drama. No matter. I’ll enjoy watching IAC. With a sigh of relief that mine are now grownups, and can feed themselves when they wake up hungry in the middle of the night. :-)

  • Abby

    Is Chase and Cameron not being in the 100th episode a spoiler? I thought it was an anti-spoiler, something is not there rather than something it is. There were far more specific spoilers about what’s going to happen in the episodes than that. The only harm it can do is that those who watch for Chase and Cameron won’t tune in but if the show is good without them, that won’t matter.

    It’s good to know that the desk came from House rather than Wilson but I’m having trouble seeing it as a positive for their relationship because it’s about their past rather than their future.

  • barbara barnett

    Abby–I’d call it more a rumor (unless anyone has seen the complete script, it can’t really be spoiler). But not to go all semantic on you, it’s a rumor until the episode airs (or you’ve seen it). I do see the gift as a positive, as it took a lot of thought and planning. He told no one about it. It was incredibly sentimental (something that House absolutely can be) and sincere. What can be bad about that?

    But you are of course correct in that if the episode’s good, who’s in it and to what extent means something only to those who watch only for those characters.

  • Paul

    Well, someone has seen it and confirms what Ausiello also confirmed, Cameron and Chase are not in the 100th episode. As Abby says it can only affect those who watch for those characters.

  • barbara barnett

    Well, then, what will be will be, and I will reserve any judgment on the episode until after I’ve seen it. Which goes for all episodes. Of course ;).

  • Val

    Thanks for the wonderful write-up on the interview with Katie Jacobs, Barbara! I always enjoy your articles.

    I enjoyed the focus on the music and think it has the best soundtrack on TV. I’ve discovered many a fantastic group via the House soundtrack. If I recall correctly Hugh Laurie has done small compositions on past episodes, but if there is a longer one…wow, can’t wait!

  • barbara barnett

    Val–
    Katie gave me the strong impression that Hugh’s musical contribution would be a more full-fledged composition than the bits he’s given up from time to time. I can’t wait either.

  • JL

    Thankyou for this, Barbara – very interesting to read. :)
    I especially appreciated getting a little more info on Cuddy dealing with new motherhood. I’m reading so much about this and many fans seem angry at the thought that Cuddy will be portrayed as incompetent or naive for struggling with her responsibilities.
    Speaking as a young mum, I’m currently panicking at the thought that Baby Number 2 might decide to turn up early rather than a little closer to his due date. I know it’s going to be hard. And, back before Baby Number 1 showed up, I knew that that was going to be hard, too.
    But that didn’t make it any easier!
    And I got pretty irate at people who suggested that my difficulties indicated that I was naive / incompetent.
    Babies are just HARD WORK.
    I hope Cuddy’s struggles are portrayed sympathetically. Just because she’s a competent, mature woman with access to babysitters, childcare or whatever shouldn’t negate the fact that the first 12 weeks are a burden on anyone’s general sanity…

  • Eve K

    More about the music.
    I love that HL have been composing an original piece! AND that he gives suggestions for songs to a musical archive.
    I love that Jacobs is so involved in choosing the soundtrack. Using both the music AND the lyrics to work for the story line.

    The music editor on a show that I think also did this, The Sopranos Kathryn Dayak, told that they used their creator David Chase and other member of the staffs personal records as an archive when choosing the soundtrack.

    They however didnt have composers on the show – as a rule -, solely relying on choosing music from our (their) cultural heritage. They did mix the songs up a bit technically sometimes, to make them fit into the show.

    They also did strive to use the music as much as possible in a natural way (out of a radio, television, someone singing and so forth) This I think, is often the case on House, which makes it more real.(Or else it can turn into an MTV music video) Since the character House is a musician and loves music and maybe expresses his moods in music, it will be an element easy put into the show in a natural way. (example: House listening to “Beautiful” on his ipod before trying the motorcycle and then the music goes from inside his earplugs and then “out to us”.) Cant wait to see in witch way they choose to use HLs piece.

    The music editor (on Sopranos) was also seated next to the editors in the cutting room (which is unusual), so that they would get the music just right. The higher the music people (if they are good) are in the hierarchy, the better the show gets. Over at House it seems like the music is on top.

  • Kyrpio

    Wow, so many things to respond to – thanks again Barbara for such a great article. I’m probably just gonna repeat what others have said…

    It was fantastic to get confirmation on the desk! I too am worried about how they’ll portray Cuddy over the next few weeks, but more interested in how House will react to her supposed inability to cope at first (bearing in mind he was first telling her she would be incapable before U-turning to admit that he thought she’d be a great Mum).

    I also love the music used on the show, and have chased down both individual songs and albums from some of the artists featured, makes for very peaced out listening (I haven’t included Lime in the Coconut in this playlist…). I agree that it can move me to tears, Gravity and ‘God doesn’t limp’ probably more than any other.

    Can’t wait for the next few episodes, I had a mini House marathon yesterday re-watching the Tritter arc, good to have a new episode to watch though!

  • Doris

    Barbara, I’m curious about something, do you know when Thirteen, Kutner and Taub’s fellowship is up? if you ever had the chance to speak to Katie Jacobs, could you please ask her this? And if once their fellowship is, are they going to bring in new fellows? Thanks

  • bliffle

    I used to enjoy this program, but it is sinking into conventional Soap Opera. It’s lost it’s punch.

    I don’t give a damn about the House/Cuddy relationship.

    In fact, the personal lives of these characters is unimportant. Dwelling on such matters will doom the program.

    I’ve been watching “The Mentalist” a little, and it’s pretty good, but even now in the first season it’s sinking into Serial Cliche. I suppose that pretty soon we’ll be wondering when Jane and Lisbon will be clinching. Ho hum.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the dramatic success of cop, lawyer and doctor programs depends on the fact that these people are the ones who interfere in other peoples lives, and that what is interesting is the OTHER people! It’s not the cops, lawyers and doctoors, who can be expected to argue and rut just like anyone else. The interest and variety comes from the “face in the crowd” nature of the Others.

    The most famous series in TV were sustaining, not because of their insipid lead characters, but because of the rich panorama of outsiders. “Dragnet” was not carried by Webb, “Route 66″ could have had anyone besides Martin Milner, “The Fugitive” had a remarkably inept actor in the lead.

    What made those series interesting was the phenomenal ablities of the BIT actors, whose talents were honed by years of making an impression in small supporting parts, who were at last able to create a full persona in a few minutes.

  • bliffle

    I used to enjoy this program, but it is sinking into conventional Soap Opera. It’s lost it’s punch.

    I don’t give a damn about the House/Cuddy relationship.

    In fact, the personal lives of these characters is unimportant. Dwelling on such matters will doom the program.

    I’ve been watching “The Mentalist” a little, and it’s pretty good, but even now in the first season it’s sinking into Serial Cliche. I suppose that pretty soon we’ll be wondering when Jane and Lisbon will be clinching. Ho hum.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the dramatic success of cop, lawyer and doctor programs depends on the fact that these people are the ones who interfere in other peoples lives, and that what is interesting is the OTHER people! It’s not the cops, lawyers and doctoors, who can be expected to argue and rut just like anyone else. The interest and variety comes from the “face in the crowd” nature of the Others.

    The most famous series in TV were sustaining, not because of their insipid lead characters, but because of the rich panorama of outsiders. “Dragnet” was not carried by Webb, “Route 66″ could have had anyone besides Martin Milner, “The Fugitive” had a remarkably inept actor in the lead.

    What made those series interesting was the phenomenal ablities of the BIT actors, whose talents were honed by years of making an impression in small supporting parts, who were at last able to create a full persona in a few minutes.

  • Sheelagh

    Re comments by “biffle: you are clearly watching the wrong show. You want a straight forward procedural and House has always been a character driven drama. What is interesting about House MD, and will always be interesting about House MD , is House as played by Hugh Laurie.There is more then one type of underline theme for a TV show & you appear to have wandered into the wrong for feild for you. House without the full focus on the character & heart of our anti-hero would be like going to Mount Rushmore and examining the pebbles instead of the cliff face. In fact, that may just be the problem this year…way too many ‘pebbles’ on screen. When the focus wavers from House/Laurie the show looses its soul.

  • barbara barnett

    Bliffle (and thanks Sheelagh for your response)–at its core House isn’t a conventional procedural. The procedural is the comfy formula upon which the rich character study can be hung. House is a character drama–telling the story of Dr. Gregory House. Sheelagh is right on the money. CSI, it’s not.

  • bliffle

    Procedural? Why on earth would you think that a procedural such as CSI is the only alternative to Soap Opera?

    It’s pretty weak to hang all the interest of a program on one character and the actor who plays him.

    As time goes by House becomes more of a petulant child and that becomes even less interesting to any viewer who has actually had to raise petulant children.

    Besides, I think Hugh Laurie was much better in the “Jeeves and Wooster” series about 15 years ago when he teamed up with his pal Stephen Fry for the Wodehouse classic. His comic obliviousness was brilliant. It still comes out sometimes in scenes with Wilson.

    The House episode I’ll tune in for is if the producers bring in Fry for the kind of psychiatrist role he’s been playing lately on US TV. That would be a hoot.

  • fhmd

    Thankyou Barbara for another well written article. Most of the questions that lingers me had all been answered. I look forward to more great new episodes of House in 2009. I think DS, KJ and company are still doing a beyond wonderful job after all this time. After 4+ years, it still remains the only must watch show for me.

    No show will pleased all its audiences and I,for one, am glad TPTB have stick with their guns and continue with the visions that they have for the show. I don’t love all the episodes and there are even a few lemon episodes (for me), but they are far and in between the many many great epsiodes: S1’s Paternity, The Socratic Method, DNR, Three Stories. S2’s Autopsy, Failure To Communicate. S3’s Lines In The Sand, Finding Judas, One Day One Room, Half Wit, Fetal Position. S4’s Mirror Mirror, Frozen, House’s Head, Wilson’s Heart. S5’s Birthmarks, Joy, Last Resort … just to name a few.

  • housemate20

    loove it that the huddy saga continues to soar high! thanks for not disappointing us! =)
    thank you also barbara for the article! i loove it swear! =)

  • Alessandra

    Hi Barbara! I’m here just to say hello and thanks for the article: if I could only speak on the phone with KJ! Wpw!
    bye again from Italy and see you soon (I’m waiting for the next review because I desperately would like to discuss with someone who has seen the ep, too, and in Italy we are very, very, very few, since they are at 5×01 now). :(((

  • ann uk

    One of the many things I have to thank ” House ” for is introducing me to groups like The Who ,which I missed in my youth , being too much of an intellectual snob at the time ! I agree that the subtle use of music is one of the great strengths of the show.

    That said, I still wish we could have more classical music, especially played by Hugh. I have heard snippets of him playing Chopin and would love to hear more. I am sure House would be a lover of the classics as well as jazz and pop.

  • blacktop

    Late arriving at this party, but many thanks Barbara, for this excellent interview with Katie Jacobs. Her first-rate intelligence and creativity shine through in her comments here as they do in the show itself. I am delighted with the direction she, Shore, and Hugh Laurie have taken “House” this season, focussing on the twisted dynamics of family and loss. The death of Amber, the loss and recovery of Wilson’s friendship, the death of House’s father, Thirteen’s internal conflict over the cruel death of her mother, the loss of hope and then sudden discovery of joy through Cuddy’s baby, the looming threat to House’s complicated relationship with Cuddy, all these storylines play closely into this season’s theme. The writing and acting have been superb this year.

    As you and others have noted, this show is a character study of one relentlessly complex man. The medical procedural is the bare skeleton upon which the real meat and soul of the show is hung. We are indeed fortunate that Hugh Laurie has chosen to give his time, energy, and terrific talent to developing “House” for our enjoyment.

  • Amie

    Thanks again for sharing this interview, Barbara.

    I love the music in House, always so fitting and the songs are really great. I don’t know if this is appropriate to post this here so feel free to delete my message if it isn’t, Barbara, but I’ve started a play-list on this (completely legal) website.

    I’m only halfway through season 3 at the moment but I’ll complete it when I have the time. Just trying to make a small contribution to the house fans community…

    Can’t wait for your review on Painless ;-)

  • Louise

    Thank you for confirming that the desk in Cuddy’s office was arranged by House. What a interesting discussion of the music. But, most of all, the Executive Producers of House have avoided what those on St. Elsewhere did not–in trying to keep the program exciting and new, they haven’t gotten mean toward their characters. I feel like the people running this show care about their characters and are protective of them. That’s why we, the fans, love the characters so much but also why we trust them not to lose the edge . . . and not to let our honest, insistent clammoring for things that might damage the balance of the show. Bravo!

  • barbara barnett

    Hi guys, thanks for the nice comments. Painless review will be up later this morning. Sorry it’s so late.

    Blacktop, like you, I’ve liked the theme they are exploring this season and feel this is has been a very strong season.

    Annie–sounds great. i love the music of the series. i remember taking a long trip overseas towards the end of season three (16 hours of travel). I downloaded from iTunes every “ending song” from season three (and a few from other seasons). I kept the episodes very much in mind as I listened to those tracks (of course with the three thousand or so other tracks on my iPod)

    Louise–I agree with you. They do still love their charcters and haven’t made them mean or silly. they all have an edge–even sweet Kutner for all of his Zen-ness. There’s something very three-dimensional about each character. No one’s all good/all bad (well–there was Vogler ;)). But the main cast are fantastically drawn.

  • Anna (from Italy)

    Barbara thank you for your fantastic interview.I think I share your preferences because the episodes of season 2 that you mentioned were exactly the ones i liked least. It’s really impossible to please everybody when it comes to shows like House, especially when the audience is composed of educated people ready to be critical to any faults, and not of enthusiastic teenagers. I adore the show: there have been changes, some for the better, some for the worse, but this season is full of poignat moments. I am looking forward to your Painless review!.

  • PATTY

    I can’t read the entire article either because of the picture of House holding Cuddy’s baby, but I must protest anyway. Undeniably, there have always been sparks between House & Cuddy (and quite frankly I am sick & tired of the “Huddy” acronym. It’s childish, to say the least), and there probably always should and will be. BUT in real life as in the fiction world of TV, it is never a good idea for co-workers to get involved, especially when that person is also your boss. Invariably, something happens & work relations become awkard. And invariably when that happens on TV, the show is doomed. Sometimes, the sexual tension is what keeps viewers hooked. The show has definitely taken a day time soap turn to be sure. In my opinion, the story lines aren’t really getting a chance to develop, and everytime I watch, I think about the TV Guide interview with Hugh Laurie & Robert Sean Leonard & how the show was going to begin to explore their friendship. Haven’t seen much of that yet. I will continue to watch the show because it still holds my attention & to drool over Hugh Laurie, of course, but the writing has definitely gone down hill starting towards the end of the 3rd season, through the strike-shortened 4th & of course this season.

  • barbara barnett

    Hi Patty–

    I tend to agree about “Huddy” “Hameron” “Hilson”. I seldom, if ever, use those tags in my articles, but I’ve seen them everywhere–even in the mainstream media. So…everyone has their preferences, and who am I to say. The practice goes back a long way.

    I do disagree with your assessment of the show at this juncture. And this season, I’ve liked Wilson better than I ever have (after “Not Cancer,” anyway). There have been clunkers (minor) in all seasons, but I’ve really liked this season, but we all look for different things in the series, so mileages may vary.

  • Debbie

    As much as I love the House/Cuddy “will they, won’t they” I like many fans still prefer the House/Cameron will they “will they, won’t they” Hopefully we can see more of that in the future with an aim to them getting together. That would be so funny and thnk of the storylines!!