Did anybody really enjoy high school? I know I didn't, but had my less-than-stellar learning institution been anything like fictional Capitol Hill High (the setting of a satirical new late-night episodic comedy premiering February 9 at Capitol Hill Arts Center) it may not've been so bad.
When I read in the show's press release that the story involved "a sophomore transplant from Walla Walla" who "gets a crash orientation to the student body of indie hipsters, haters and fags amidst a scandalous bloodletting race for Homecoming Queen," I had questions. Writer/director Dan Dembiczak had answers.
Capitol Hill High sounds hilarious. And the concept intrigues me — your hipsters and gays and artists and misfits serve as the mainstream.
Yes, but this is really not far from the truth in certain areas. Every major city has its hub of hipsterdom, and in Seattle that area is Capitol Hill. I think people tend to gravitate toward these hubs at first because they are so desperate to fit in, and finally find the validation that eluded them in, say, high school. But what's ironic, and also funny, is that then this "other-ness" becomes a clique thing and soon the freaks of yesterday are exuding the same attitude and exclusiveness as those mean cheerleaders and soccer players. So that's what I'm playing with in Capitol Hill High — along with just some really wacky and surreal stuff I had to get on paper.
Well according to your bio, you actually did some acting work on Beverly Hills 90210 back in the day, right? So I guess you know from high school serial drama.
What? 90210? It was my very first day on a real TV set, with real professionals. I was horrified because I had never done extra work and I was yanked aside to be a "featured extra." I got to shake a martini glass and I could almost taste the moment they decided to give me a line so I could sail away with my SAG card on my first day of work. Only problem was I kept fucking up! To this day I still am so awkward with a martini shaker. I had to be replaced, though later I got to play a bartender in a different scene that didn't require mixing drinks. I probably wouldn't make a very good bartender.
But speaking of 90210, one thing about Capitol Hill High that really captures the spirit of teen dramas is that the actors in the show are in the age range of 27-41. That seems to be the age at which Hollywood casts someone as a teenager, right?
Yep. I'm sure Jason Priestley was well within that range when he was all done.
Also, Ryan Seacrest goes to Capitol Hill High. Who knew he still had his education to complete while keeping so busy with American Idol?
Wow. And one of the other characters is, according to your press release, "a particularly powerful black girl" named "Shaniquala Turner" — which definitely doesn't sound like anything from 90210 or The OC or WB (or CW or whatever it's being called today). So, will this Shaniquala be pulling anybody's hair?
No hair pulling. Shaniquala is more about the attitude. She runs the school and people stay out of her way. Well, almost. There's definitely some classic catfight moments. I just thought, "Why can't the mean popular girl be Black?" We've seen her as a side-kick, but what would be so wrong with people actually worshipping and hating her? I think sometimes we get scared and PC and think if we're going to write a part for a minority, that part has to be likeable. Bullshit. I think that's just as discriminatory.
This debut episode, The Queen Isn't Dead Yet, is the first of multiple planned installments. If CHH becomes a big fringe phenom, how often will you stage new ones?
As fast as I can write! We're hoping to stage Episode 2: The Twin Has Spoken in June or July. I think quarterly would be our goal, but it all depends on the success of Episode 1. It's really vital that we build a base and get people hooked. But not too hooked on certain characters because they will be killed off. Definitely. No one is safe in this cast. It's high school, after all!