It’s been widely reported for several months (and making Variety’s breaking news this morning as an April 15 deadline looms) that FOX (which airs the series in its first run episodes) and Universal (which produces House) have not yet reached an agreement to renew the hit series TV series House, M.D.
“I would be absolutely astounded if there wasn’t a season eight,” noted House, M.D. creator and Executive Producer David Shore during a conference call with television journalists Friday afternoon. “FOX wants a season eight; Universal wants a season eight.” The question is, whether Universal, which produces the series, and Fox can come to a meeting of minds. It won’t be until after an agreement is reached that the studio can proceed with negotiating contracts with the supporting cast and David Shore himself. (Only Hugh Laurie and Olivia Wilde have contracts that extend beyond season seven.)
Shore explained that the series is moving forward on the assumption that there will be a next season. However, as Variety is now reporting, the sides are still far apart. If no agreement is reached, says the entertainment newspaper, FOX may lose the series, a mainstay of its schedule. Earlier this week, TVLine reported that Robert Sean Leonard is returning to Broadway, which may affect his role on House moving forward. Although Shore didn’t want to speculate, he is “operating on the assumption that [Leonard] will be back. That relationship [between House and Wilson] is one of the cornerstones of the show.”
Creating an unlikely hero in a misanthropic, cynical, atheist genius, Shore continues to be astounded by the success of the series, seen in more than 65 countries by millions each week. Although Shore has often described House as someone without a heart of gold—not a “good person,” House has always written as a multi-dimensional human being. But does he have a compassionate side beneath it all?
“That is a question that’s been on the table since day one,” replied Shore. Noting he doesn’t like answering questions that require interpretation, he prefers to let viewers decide for themselves, and let “the work speak for itself.” But House’s humanity (or lack thereof) is something Shore is particularly reluctant to discuss.
“Everybody has their own interpretation. I want them to see what they want to see; to challenge [the viewers] in that regard.” But, he continued, “of course he’s human; he’s not an automaton.”
Cognizant since “day one” that they didn’t want the character, who is all about rationality, and a seeker of objective truth, to be “Spock” (who fought his own battles in Star Trek to overcome his half-human emotional side). “[House] is a human being, and intended to be mutli-dimensional.”
The show’s 150th episode will air Monday night on FOX (8:00 p.m. ET) as Olivia Wilde returns to her role as Remy Hadley (“13”). Shore is stunned that they been able to “take this character and explore him for 150 episodes. It’s been amazing.” Originally Shore hoped only that they’d get a “niche audience,” but his expectations have far exceeded anything he might have imagined. Although House’s creator admits he’s not been “thrilled with everything [he’s] done” on House, he doesn’t “lose sleep over it.” Shore would rather not say publicly what those things may have been, but hopes they’ve learned from those experiences and been able to move forward from them “with a slightly different perspective.”
Shore commented briefly on the House-Cuddy relationship “I’m very pleased,” he said, “with what we did with that.” Acknowledging that with millions of fans, some are going to be disappointed with the ultimate resolution to the story arc, he said that it’s impossible to please everybody. The trick of pulling off the relationship (while it lasted) was keep the characters in character: “to keep House, House—and to keep Cuddy, Cuddy.” One of his directives to writers in developing the story line was never to have them “too content or happy.”
Keeping the series fresh and story ideas fresh is a challenge, Shore admitted. You have to keep challenging yourself, he noted, and not to get complacent and assume what you think is fresh, actually is fresh. “What is it about this story that is interesting?” is something to explore with each episode. “What is it about this story that enlightens us about House” and the people in his universe.
With Olivia Wilde returning Monday night in “The Dig,” does that mean Amber Tamblyn’s Martha Masters is on her way out? Shore was coy, noting that an upcoming episode (“The Last Temptation,” Episode 7×19) will answer that question.
However, Shore’s comments suggested that Masters’ days are numbered. “The plan was never to have her stay forever. But, he added, “it became very tempting.”
House’s 150th episode, “The Dig” airs Monday at 8:00 p.m. ET on Fox. If you don’t mind being mildly spoiled, have a peek at yesterday’s preview article.