It’s an exciting time to be Dean Devlin. The creative multihyphenate is currently in production on his feature directorial debut, the sci-fi action adventure Geostorm, and we recently learned that 20th Century Fox gave the green light to the long-anticipated Independence Day sequel (on which, as he did with the 1996 original, he’s serving as both writer and producer). Although we’re going to have to wait until 2016 for both of those films, Devlin also has something very close to him debuting tonight on TNT. Exactly ten years after launching a hit telefilm franchise with “The Librarian: Quest for the Spear, ” Devlin is launching “The Librarians,” a new ongoing series that continues the bigger than life world of the movies and features the return of stars Noah Wyle, Bob Newhart and Jane Curtain alongside a brand new cast that includes Rebecca Romijn, Christian Kane, Lindy Booth, John Jim and Larroquette.
The first two episodes of the series, “And the Crown of King Arthur” and “And the Sword in the Stone” are both directed by Devlin with scripts from show runner John Rogers and introduce a new team of Librarians assembled by Wyle’s Flynn Carsen.
In the below interview, Devlin talks about his plans for the series, likening the Sunday night timeslot to the old “Wonderful World of Disney,” and expressing his hope that the family-friendly adventures of “The Librarians” can continue on for years and years to come. He also offers updates on Geostorm, Independence Day 2 and the rumored Stargate reboot. Check it all out below and catch the two-hour premiere of “The Librarians” on TNT tonight at 8:00pm ET/PT.
CS: It’s a full decade since the first Librarian movie debuted.
Dean Devlin: Literally ten years to the day. It debuted on December 7, 2004. It’s remarkable to launch on the tenth anniversary.
CS: How far back does the idea of spinning it off into a series go?
Devlin: There had been a lot of talk about turning it into a series. For the longest time, we wrestled with it because the movies have such production value. How do you get that every single week? The budget on cable television is dramatically less than network television. It was somewhere in doing the last season of “Leverage” that John Rogers and I became confident that we had developed an all-new production technique where we could put more on the screen with very little money. So we started to get more comfortable with the idea of trying to tackle “The Librarians.” We brought it to the network and they said they wanted it. The next thing you know, we’re making ten episodes.
CS: How early was Noah Wyle involved with the series?
Devlin: He’s been my partner since day one. Since the first movie, we’ve been joined at the hip. He has always wanted to do more of these. When we finally had the idea of how to keep it going, he jumped at the chance. He’s producing the show for us and he’s involved every step of the way. It’s lovely to be able to continue that creative partnership.
CS: How involved does research get on “The Librarians”? It seems like there’s a lot of both history and mythology involved.
Devlin: You know, John Rogers has an encyclopedic mind. Having John as our showrunner is the gift that keeps on giving. He knows more trivial information than anyone I’ve ever met in my entire life.
CS: Do you have a personal favorite episode from the first season?
Devlin: Usually when you’re doing a season one, you’re trying to find the show. I think we were blessed because we had done the movies. We had a pretty good handle on the show from day one. Some of these episode came out so well, I’m just blown away by it, especially our Christmas episode and the season finale. There’s not a single episode, though, that I would consider a weak episode. It has all come together incredibly well.
CS: What has it been like seeing the franchise’s fandom building over this past decade?
Devlin: It has been astounding, to tell you the truth. You never know how these things are going to go. When we set out to do the first movie, it was interesting because the network was looking to draw in younger males. Way back when, it was pretty much a females only network. When we made the movies, much to our surprise, it tested equally in all four quadrants. What happened was, rather than being a young boys’ movie, it became something more family oriented. When it ended up hitting in December, it became something that kids, grandkids and grandparents could all gather around and watch. When the second movie came out, it started to become a Christmas tradition. There started to be more and more requests and they started to rerun the movie every Christmas. Now, the network has given up the eight o’clock spot on Sundays. For someone my age, that’s the “Wonderful World of Disney” spot. That’s when, growing up, my family would get together to watch a show. Our hope is that we can kind of bring that back. Television has become so specialized now. It’s targeted to very specific audiences. I kind of miss the show the whole family can watch together. We’re hoping to bring that back.
CS: It seems like that same approach extends into a lot of your work.
Devlin: Never try to figure out what people will like. That’s a recipe for cynicism. I’ve only made the stuff that I wanted to see. That just happens to be my taste. The movie that I’m going to stand in line to see is that kind of film. The television I like to watch, even though it’s getting harder and harder to get these days, is that kind of show. I’ve been blessed to have shows that work and that audiences appreciate. Hopefully they like “The Librarians,” because I’d like to be making this the rest of my life.
CS: So it’s really a dream project for you.
Devlin: Without a doubt. It’s everything I love about entertainment and there’s a group of humans both in front of the camera and behind the camera that I love working with. I respect them so much. There’s just good people. When you can get a group together like that, it just makes it so much a joy. I really hope it continues forever.
CS: What was the process of bringing the new cast together?
Devlin: One of the things that I really enjoy about working with TNT is that they always allow me to go after talent. It’s never about celebrity or whose hot at the moment. We were able to just cast really, really talented people. Some of them happen to be big names, but that’s not why they were cast. They were infinitely right for the job. They had the talent. They had the skill set. It’s always great to have a partner like TNT that’s not trying to cook the books in a way. Everyone we went after, the network was totally supportive of. We got really lucky that way.
CS: You’re very busy these days. Not only are you directing “Geostorm,” but now it sounds like “Independence Day 2” is finally on the way.
Devlin: It has certainly been one of the most challenging years of my life, but it certainly worked out. We finished the show before I started shooting the movie. Before we started the show, I had written the script for “Independence Day.” The dominoes kind of fell nicely on this one.
CS: How involved are you on a day to day basis with “The Librarians”?
Devlin: I directed the first two episodes and I’ve been involved with every episode as far as developing the ideas and working on the shows in post and the digital effects and the mixing. They actually built a little screening room for me here with the same sound system we have back in Los Angeles. Its been great.
CS: How has shooting on “Geostorm” been so far?
Devlin: It’s a ball. I’m here in New Orleans. We’re having a ball. It’s such a giant, giant movie and, every day, I’m pinching myself asking, “Did they really say I’m allowed to direct this movie?” Every single day, I’m just so grateful. To have a producer like David Ellison have faith in you and support you is just incredible. To have a studio like Warner Bros. allow me to do a movie of this size is so amazing. I wake up kissing the Blarney Stone… We’re shooting at NASA. They’re building a rocket to Mars and we’re shooting a movie. It’s wild.
CS: Very cool. I had the chance to visit those facilities when “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” was filming. It’s pretty incredible.
Devlin: Oh yeah! They were one of the first to use this.
CS: I remember them saying that some of those buildings are so huge they actually have their own weather.
Devlin: It’s true! It really is true. It’s a huge, huge facility and we’re taking up a big giant chunk of it. Part of our movie takes place at NASA, so we’re actually shooting NASA for NASA. It’s been remarkable kismet to have this place.
CS: Then you’re going to be moving forward with “Independence Day” after all these years.
Devlin: Yep, its been greenlit! Production on that starts immediately after I finish production on this one.
CS: So no break for you for awhile.
Devlin: You know, in a weird way, this is a break. When do you get a chance to make things like this? It feels like a vacation, just having to chance to make something this big. Now I’m working on two of them that are coming out in the same year!
CS: There have also been rumors of a new “Stargate.” Is that something that’s a bit farther down the road?
Devlin: It’s a little bit farther, but it’s something that we’re really, really excited about doing. We’re hoping to do it in partnership with MGM and Warner Bros. If everything goes well, we can jump on that right after “Independence Day.”
CS: Now can “Librarian” movies still happen even with the series on the air?
Devlin: It’s possible, but I don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves. Right now, I’m just hoping we get a second season. Down the line, though, I would absolutely love to expand the “Librarian” universe. It’s such a wonderful world and, as you’ll see this season, we do a lot to let the universe expand. If the fans dig the show, the possibilities are endless.
CS: You wear a lot of hats creatively. You’ve done everything from acting to writing to producing to directing. Do you have a favorite job?
Devlin: I think right now, at my age, I like directing the best, because I like getting to work so closely with actors. Joel Schumacher once said to me, “You have to reinvent yourself every seven years.” I guess I’m in the directing period right now. Maybe some years from now, I’ll want to do something else.
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)