Monday, September 19, 2005

MTV Hanging Out with Neil Gaiman

Colby: Welcome to the coolest place to be on TV, this is Hanging Out on MTV. My name is Colby.

Claire: I'm Claire and it's Friday today and we have a very very special guest on our show, Mr. Neil Gaiman.

Crowd: -cheers-

Claire: So how are you? How do you find the ring?

Neil: The most wonderful. It's quite possibly the most enthusiastic place on the Earth. Turned up yesterday, suddenly like this, suddenly in a tent and three thousand people turned up. And would you believe the noise that three thousand enthusiastic Filipinos can make, that you might like.

Colby: That was actually my next question. You had quite a turnout yesterday, but what about some of the other things you'll be doing here?

Neil: Well, most of all I seem to be doing here is interviews and signing things for people and meeting people. And I've been fascinated by the Philippines for awhile, most of it is I get to go backstage in my website. This website of, and I was going backstage and noticing that everyday we'd get four or five, six thousand people from the Philippines coming in here. And I thought this is really cool! They're outnumbering the Germans. What's happening in the Philippines? So that was why I decided to come out.

Colby: You have a very good following here. As a matter of fact, we have a studio full of fans and we have Don over there and he's going to be asking questions pretty much all day long. So Don, what do we have?

Don: Yes, yes we are, we are. We're here with a bunch of fans, all right. Show your appreciation everybody.

Crowd: -cheers-

Don: All right. And then we're going to be asking Mr. Neil Gaiman some questions throughout the show but we're going to start things off with a video. Here's So Here We Are by Bloc Party. And party like the Bloc Party people!

Crowd: -cheers-


Don: Everybody you're hanging out with me Don, Claire, Colby over there, and of course, Mr. Neil Gaiman. How are you doing today sir?

Neil: I'm enjoying myself.

Don: Okay, so we got lots of your fans here right now, and they're going to ask us some questions for you, so let's go to Claire and Colby and see what you got.

Colby: Thank you very much Don and I'm here with Lala, right? And you have a question for Mr. Gaiman.

Lala: Hai. Who are your favorite musicians growing up?

Neil: Growing up, let's see. David Bowie are really out there.

Crowd: -laughs-

Lala: Freak out!

Neil: And then I was feeling lucky in lots of ways ‘cause I was fifteen going on sixteen when punk caught on New England, so it was all sort of happening around me and at that point, it was the Damned and the Ends Ups and the Clash and the Pistols, and you know, for a fifteen year-old kid, sneaking in to the local pub to watch the Jam sound check. I was too young to get into the gig. But nobody noticed this kid sneaking at the back, and just sort of hanging out in the darkness [speaking too fast]… so growing up, everybody's going.

Colby: Thank you Lala, next question.

Claire: I'm here with Kitch and she has another question for you.

Kitch: Hi! If you were casting the Sandman movie, who would you get as Death and Dream?

Neil: If I could cast, anyone from, you know, if someone gave me a time machine and magic powers, I think I would probably cast the young Audrey Hepburn as Death because I think she'd be perfect. Unfortunately, I don't have magic powers or a time machine. Of currently living actors I think Johnny Depp would make an amazing Dream.

Colby: So I won't have a chance.

Neil: Not open.

Don: All righty then, I got a question for you now. We heard that you're really good friends with Tori Amos, right? How did you get to meet her exactly? What were the circumstances?

Neil: The year was, about 1991 and I was at the San Diego Comic Convention and I was signing, which is what I seem to do much of. And a guy on line gave me a cassette tape, which was a primitive form of music transmission in this day of discs and emails, and said that this was a friend of mine, she's sort of working on an album, she mentions you on a song, please don't sue her. She's a big fan of yours, and a fan member of the site. And I'm given a lot of cassettes, these days I get most CDs, and one single I'd carry and then never play them again because they'd be you know, some you know Norwegian death rock record company [too slurred] going oh, you've come down from the sky. Your sister Death because she's cute. So I put this on, and it's Tori and it was sort of a first draft of what was going to be the Little Earthquakes album and well, I listened to some stuff and I just thought it was amazing. And there was a phone number there, so I phoned her, and she happened to be in London while I was at London at the time and then we just became telephone phone pals. We'd throw each other off and talk through the small hours and I said you are going to be huge and this is going to be enormous and this is the trajectory of your career and in three to five years this was how it was going to work, and truth, I was right. She goes I was really really clever. Eventually I just, you know, watched the English Watch Press and actually call… I always know how they always treat the first album, second album and third albums. She goes don't anybody tell them that, that I wasn't her [couldn't understand]. And then she said, come and see me play. So I came and Tori Amos gave me a place called the Kennel Brusery in London. Her entire audience consisted of me, a driver from Melanie Mayfair, her publicist, and the owner of the brand suite and it's suddenly her birthday thing, it was five thousand a table, so she stopped halfway through the gig and say happy birthday to you and that was her act. Even today, you know no matter what Tori does, ten thousand people, it could be huge, well what do you think? I say a lot of it is good. Welcome to [couldn't understand].

Don: Is the key, the character Delirium, based on her?

Neil: I created Delirium before I met Tori. She was in, Delirium was in the comic. Having said that, when I met Tori, it was like, oh my God, I met you. (laughs) You know, this enormous sort of recognition. You know she's this sort of person who, once in like 1991 we bumped into each other in Minneapolis, sitting in a hotel, sitting on the floor eating old pizzas, 2 am off this, she looks up and says quickly, now we must jump up and down and up and down and run around and around. So we did. Not so bad.

Don: Wow, that's awesome. Anyways, we're going right on to this Tori Amos video, Sleeps with Butterflies, and we'll have more of Neil Gaiman after this.


Claire: Hey everyone you are still hanging out on MTV with me Claire, I'm here with Mr. Neil Gaiman.

Crowd: -cheers-

Claire: Colby and Don are over there with our studio audience fans.

Colby: I'm here with some fans, what's your name my girl?

Waya: Waya.

Colby: And you have a question for Mr. Neil Gaiman?

Waya: Yes I do. This is about your children's literature. I was just wondering how far and how dark do you think children's lit can go, do you set yourself some limitations?

Neil: I really don't. In the first place I think that children's literature is traditionally the darkest part of literature. Look at some of the stories even now. Hansel and Gretel. It's a story of two kids whose parents cannot feed them so they decide to abandon them in the woods, they take them out and raise them, and the kids are captured by a witch and plans to eat one of the children. Luckily they push the witch into the oven and kill her and return where fortunately their mother has died so they all live happily ever after. I mean you can't get much darker than that. You got cannibalism, so I think kids are very good at coping with the dark. I think that kids are actually better than adults at coping with the dark because it's like with a lighter persons. What's really weird is my nearest novel for adults, which is called Anansi Boys, is funny and it doesn't really have swearing, it doesn't have any sex, and it's just sort of kind of a nice book. And I finished that and that's really weird because I just finished that and I've started my next children's novel, which is called the Graveyard Book and so far the first four pages is the most scary thing I've ever written. With a serial killer walking around the house in the dark calling in the night threatening to kill the entire family, looking for the baby to finish them all off. I worked at it and found oh well, I like the story since they come and seems to be the next children's story.

Don: All right, well we got another question by another fan, what's your name?

Quark: I am Quark, hello sir. This is a funny MTV trick question but I hear your friend Stephen King has a rock band with Amy Tan and other writers so I was just wondering if you were to form a rock band with your writer friends or the artists who would comprise the band?

Neil: That's scary. I actually have, before I answer that I should actually say that I have actually sung—with—the Rock Bottom Remainders, which is Stephen King and Amy Tan and Dave Barry and those guys and I was standing, watching them in the Last Book Expo America in New York about three years ago, and I was in the audience going, well it went well for the old guys. That kind of thing going and suddenly Stephen King comes up to the microphone and says Neil Gaiman's in the audience, Neil, come on up and I say, oh. So I come up on stage and they hand me a Rock Bottom Remainder's Kazoo, and I play Kazoo, on their version of New Wave, and you have to be honest, you haven't played until you've played Kazoo on the Rock Bottom Remainder's. I knew my place in rock history was never assured. And if I were to form a band, it would be fellow writers and actually what I probably do is try and shoot and get writers like, you know, people like Steven Brust. Dave McKean is an amazing musician. I'd get all these guys who can actually play things. And then I'd just sit in a corner and play music.

Claire: Okay, well I have a question for you. How did you feel as a young writer when you wrote Don't Panic and meeting Douglas Adams and all of that?

Neil: Douglas Adams, it was really educational. And really cool. And enormous, getting to work with Douglas. I was very lucky. I got a phone call one day from a publisher saying we have the rights to do the book about Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Douglas has given his permission, but we don't have a writer. Our writers just went out on us. You've interviewed Douglas a couple of times for magazines, would you be interested in doing it? I went wow, this is a chance of a lifetime for a journalist, and I did. The best of it was just having access to Douglas and his files, and sitting and going through Douglas's filing cabinets, reading all drafts of things, reading his press files, going through the various different drafts of the Shadow script and stuff. It's amazing. And of course getting to know Douglas, who was hilarious. Hilarious and a very dry sort of tripping over things way. My favorite Douglas Adams moment, looking back on it, just because I felt like it qualified for me what kind of person Douglas was, there's a thing in Hitchhiker's about knowing where your towel is. Some kind of people know where their towel is, and these are people who know where their towel is. Which means that you're cool, you know what's going on. You have your towel and you go with them. And a lot of people today love to honor Douglas by saying to me, you know, Douglas, you up for a towel day every year, we carry our towels because Douglas was a free piece sort of who, who knew where his towel. I remember being a city in Douglas's office, going through the scripts through Shadow and whatever was going through during that day, and Douglas's stepmother was wandering around and she suddenly came downstairs and she says, where are the towels? Douglas was shouting, he's in the bath, and he doesn't have a towel in there. We were wandering around the house, they'd just move into this new house, hunting for the towels and I'll let you know. The whole point about Douglas was he was the kind of person who didn't know where his towel is, because they're the kind of person who notice that he went through the divide to those of us who know where the towels are, and those who don't.

Claire: Okay, that's very very cool. We'll have more with Mr. Gaiman later. We have a music video right now.


Colby: Welcome back to Hanging Out at MTV, we have a very special guest, Mr. Neil Gaiman here. And, we have an audience asking him some bright questions. If you look closely at the audience, there's another MTV VJ who claims to be sick, but heard that Mr. Gaiman was coming, and he got out of bed. So Claire, Don.

Claire: All right, it's me Don, that's VJ Jojo hanging out, looking sick, getting there. We have a friend here, Cathy, she works here by the way, and she has a question for you.

Cathy: What's the status on the Death movie?

Neil: The status on the Death movie is it all seems to be chugging ahead. It's now with New Line, remember with Warner because [can't understand] of Warner Bros. Time Warner and usually Warner accepts that once we finish it, they said it's great but it's a fifty million dollar movie and we don't make that. So then there's that nine months to figure out how to transfer it over to New Line, which is another Warner's branch, whether with a smaller office. I'm going to be directing, everybody likes the script, we've sort of begun casting it, and we blew up and we'll be shooting it early next year. I never know really honestly if things are going to happen and how long they're holding on. Those things that seem absolutely certain never happen, and then those things you've given up on five years ago, suddenly you wake up, and this year in January, the [can't understand, name] decided that what you wanted to make in 1997 script directing with Roger Ebert and they're off shooting it in September, so there's no prediction. But we're going to be shooting it next year.

Don: We have another fan with another question. What's your name?

Gianne: Gianne.

Don: All right, what's your question?

Gianne: Who among your works [can't understand what she's saying]?

Neil: Oh, all of them! The joy of being a writer is if you're going to write to convince some characters and you're going to make them interesting, you're going to make people like them, good or bad, you're gonna have to find that little bit of you that's them, to like them. And whether it's a character like the Corinthian who's a gay serial killer who eats them and eats people's eyes, none of which, oddly enough, I actually am (laughs), but he has some losses, a lot of losses, we have some affinity there. Or you know, Coraline's evil other mother, who points to this sort of blubber and eats black beetles. And it's I go, I'm not very good at it but you can find those parts of you that treats love as possessions, treats love as ownership. And then you go okay, I can take all of that, and put that into that character. In the new novel Anansi Boys, probably my favorite villain ever, which is a cricket agent named Graham Coates, just because he's everything, everything I would hate about myself if I ever became a cricket agent. And he speaks in cliché's, and he's quite possibly the most irritating character I've ever written. So that.

Colby: Good stuff, good stuff. We're gonna have more with Mr. Gaiman when we return. And now another video…


Colby: Hi, you're still haing out at MTV, with special guest Mr. Neil Gaiman, a.k.a. the Dream King. I had to throw it in, I had to throw it. We are running out of time Clare.

Clare: Yeah I know. But before we go, we have small questions and if you have any comments, questions, or suggestions ,please check out the address on your screen, write to it, and you can email us at, and do not forget to check out our blog. Back to you Don.

Don: All right, so for our last final questions, we have, what's your name sir?

Carlo: Carlo.

Don: All right, what is your question?

Carlo: When did you first realize you were famous and how did you deal with it?

Clare: Well… (laughs)

Neil: That would definitely have been yesterday. [Crowd laughs] It's that point where you draw three thousand people, chanting and asking you to take their, it's like this incredibly cheerful, happy Nuremberg rally and you go oh my God, I'm famous. And I haven't, I have no idea how I'm going to deal with it. I'm just going to have to cope.

Don: All right, and with our very very last question, goes to?

Erwin: Erwin.

Don: Erwin, what's your question?

Erwin: Well I write a column for the Philippine Star and I asked readers, all four of them, to send in questions for you. And the best question was, what was the scariest story you ever heard when you were young?

Neil: The scariest story I ever heard when I was young, probably, I would have been about eleven years old, and it was just an urban legend about a couple making out in the road, and the guy with the hook, but what was great about it was the way it was told to me, was by somebody who had also been told by a friend of a friend, and it had a location and he said that it had occurred, definitely because everybody knew about this. In the really really dark street that I had to walk home everyday to get home from school. There was this one street which like was deep, deep, deep, with rock walls and no street lights. Every winter, you're walking there in the dark, and I knew that guy, with his hook, was waiting for me.

Colby: Well, we are out of time. One last round of applause. [Applause]


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