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Saturday, Sept. 11, 2004

SMALLVILLE'S AL GOUGH

Lois Lane. The Flash. Mxyzptlk. Margot Kidder.

And that's just in the first seven episodes. Smallville begins its fourth season on Wednesday, Sept. 22, with a renewed sense of fun, new characters and special guest-stars.

The Continuum caught up with executive producer Al Gough on Friday to discuss the recent developments of The WB's top-rated show.

The Continuum: Even since the panel at San Diego, it looks like you've had some tricks up your sleeves for the new season.

Gough: Yes. We have to stay one step ahead of you guys.

The Continuum: It sounds like a pretty fun season shaping up.

Gough: Yes, we're very excited about the season. We get to introduce different characters and I think tonally the show's going to lighten up a little bit and we're going to get back a little more to our roots, which is Clark in high school and sort of dealing with those issues -- since, quite frankly, this the last year you can really deal with them since they graduate at the end of the season.

And introducing Lois Lane and the new character Jason Teague, who is Lana's new boyfriend who she meets in Paris -- it's been fun.

The Continuum: How did the casting of Margot Kidder come about?

Gough: In the season opener, there's a very crucial scene where Martha has called Dr. Swann, looking for help on how to get Clark back. He's come out of that void that we left him in at the end of the season as Kal-El, sort of his fully realized Kryptonian counterpart. And Martha knows that Clark is still in there somewhere and contacts Dr. Swann.

Initially, we had conversations with Christopher Reeve about returning. But unfortunately due to schedule conflicts -- he just finished directing a movie in New Orleans when we were shooting -- we weren't able to make that work. So we had idea, there should be an emissary from Dr. Swann since this piece of information, quite frankly, can come from nobody else but him. He's the only one who has enough information about Clark to help. Martha, who, as you'll recall from the season finale, is sort of The Last of the Mohicans.

So then we sort of do what we usually do, and that's look at the movies and see who we haven't had on the show yet. And, we thought that the idea of her, coming from Dr. Swann, would be great. She plays Brigette Crosby, who I believe is a character from the comics, as well. Down the line, I think she works at S.T.A.R. Labs.

So we called up Margot Kidder, and she was more than game to revisit the Superman legend. So she's in Episode 1 and we'll see her in Episode 6, as well. It's fun because she has a scene with Annette O'Toole, so it's sort of Lois Lane and Lana Lang from the movies getting together again.

The Continuum:I understand she's filming today. Is that for the season opener or the sixth episode?

Gough: That's for the season opener.

The Continuum: So you're still working on it?

Gough: Yes, because we needed to get this part cast. So it's a scene that we held off on filming until we had the person. The rest of it's all done.

The Continuum: And you have The Flash coming up?

Gough: We do. In Episode 5, The Flash comes to Smallville. We, again, meet him as a teenager. He's sort of this fun-loving kid who is sort of using his power to have fun, a little bit of a street urchin and a little bit of a con artist, a small-time thief. And he crosses paths with Clark, and what Flash shows Clark is that just because you have all these powers doesn't mean you have to have the weight of the world on your shoulders and always hide them. You are allowed to go out and have some fun.

And toward the end of the episode, you see that Clark puts Bart on the road to responsibility so that somewhere down the line he will become The Flash.

It's fun because we do have a Flash/Clark race.

The Continuum: Of course!

Gough: Of course! (laughs) Why get them together if you're not going to do that?

The Continuum: Was it hard to arrange to get The Flash?

Gough: No, actually. DC was very open to it and very excited about it. The thing we had to cleared from Paul Levitz and the gang there was which version of The Flash we could use. So it came down to Bart for reasons that, quite frankly, only Jeph Loeb could explain.

There is a reference, though, to all the other versions in the episode.

The Continuum: You're doing a version of Mxyzptlk.

Gough: We do. He will not be the imp in the purple hat. But there is a character who is sort of an Eastern European exchange student who is sort of a jinx. So we sort of again found our version of Mxyzptlk. He'll be in Episode 7.

The Continuum: Have you cast that character?

Gough: We have not cast it yet. We're in that process right now.

The Continuum: Any other DC characters coming up?

Gough: We're going to bring Perry White back, which we really want to do. That's sort of based on Michael McKean's schedule, so that will happen in the later part of the season. Somewhere down the line, it would be great to meet Jimmy Olsen. So I think by then we've introduced a lot of the main characters from the Superman mythology.

The Continuum: With Lois, you have her for 13 episodes. Does she have an arc to play out?

Gough: We wanted her for the full 22, and the feature division, who sort of controls these things, said we could have her for 13, which is fine actually. It gives us some breathing room between episodes so that we can do an episode with The Flash or Mxyzptlk, where, quite frankly, you don't want to have to jam a Lois story in there as well. So she has an arc that plays out over 13. So it's not 13 in a row. It's 13 that plays out over the course of 22.

The Continuum: Will the new characters be part of the opening credits?

Gough: Jensen Ackles will be part of the opening credits. Lois (Erica Durance) won't. She'll be billed as a special guest star.

The Continuum: Will we see Sam Jones III again.

Gough: We've talked about brining good old Pete back. And if we can find the right story that will work with the actor's schedule, we're definitely open to it.

The Continuum:Non-Smallville, is there anything going on with Iron Man or anything else you're working on?

Gough: No, Iron Man is circling. They were flirting with Tom Cruise for a while because he's always had an interest in the character. But now he's doing War of the Worlds and MI3. I think they're looking for the right combination to put that movie together. As you know, these things take much longer than any of us like.

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