The group covered several topics, with Downton Abbey's Julian Fellowes having a lot to say on everything, along with Masters of Sex showrunner Michelle Ashford, The Americans showrunner Joel Fields, and House of Cards' Beau Willimon.
Here are some excerpts specifically from Scott:
L.A. Times: What is it about TV that makes it the place you want to tell your stories?
Scott: It's the ongoing relationship with the audience — where a movie is like an awesome date, a TV show is a marriage that you are entering into with an audience. And it can go on for years and years and years. And that also makes the storytelling incredibly powerful, if you're doing it right.
Do you have your ending, where your characters are going already?
Scott: “It’s knowing thematically where you're going, knowing what you want to achieve, but almost accounting for expansion from that — having an end in mind that’s flexible. And even, I would say, our show could keep going as a story, but it would be a new story. Meaning the characters that we have, we would tell all of their stories but use the environment to tell new characters’ stories. But that’s wishful thinking that things would go on and on and on and on.”
Does that mean TWD’s characters are all going to die next season? “Next episode, actually,” he joked. Robert Kirkman has talked about how he wants the comic books to outlast the TV show, and he’s not sharing his vision for the TV show ending with anyone.
With social media, the viewers can let you know in one second what they think of an episode. How does that affect your decisions to try something offbeat?
Scott: “You can do it and hope that they like it, but you start out by doing this and being confident that it's what you want to see. But it put the onus on us to tell great stories, stories that we could stand behind, that didn't have the, you know, top billed characters in them. And I thought that was a great place to be. And I think, you know, with a large ensemble, giving every character the spotlight every now and again helps the audience, I don't know, gives the audience something else. They aren't garnishes. They're whole people. They're somebody that the audience can be interested in and follow along as well.”
Have you had reactions that took you totally by surprise?
Scott: “There was, in the [Season 4] mid-season finale, there was something that we had that I was very worried about the audience getting ahead of or not buying. Rick's daughter, who's a baby, in the aftermath of this raid on where they were, Rick and his son only find this bloody baby chair. The audience was, oh my God, I can't believe they killed that child. And it was within the realm of possibility and, man, I hate saying this in front of everybody, but it's an obvious thing: Nobody wants to see a baby eaten on television.”
Truth. And yet, it would fit in some measure with the comic books, since Judith died with her mother Lori during the prison raid in the books. In the past the writers have talked about wanting to kill off baby Judith on TV, but it hasn’t happened yet, so we’re hoping it doesn’t happen at all. Scott did say, at another point in the discussion, that they want deaths to have an emotional impact and not just seem inevitable or “Oh, someone else died…” Killing baby Judith would certainly get a huge viewer reaction … but still not as much as killing Daryl Dixon.