First off I need to state that I DID NOT conduct this interview. This interview was done by the awesome DJGENERAL (follow him on twitter —> http://twitter.com/djgeneral). He was able to snag an interview with The Exec, Stephen Stohn. DJ plans on interviewing other cast members, etc. in the future, so make sure to follow him for future updates.
Interview With Degrassi’s Executive Producer, Stephen Stohn
Stephen Stohn is the president of Epitome Pictures Inc., and is the executive producer of one of the most popular teen shows in the world, Degrassi: the Next Generation, now simply known as just Degrassi.
Stohn is married to the other producer of the Degrassi series, Linda Schuyler, who created the series in 1979. Throughout the decades, Degrassi has been praised for its storylines, and the fact that the actors look like actual students you would find at your own school.
The show has just recently started airing its 10th season, and it is the biggest yet. A New York movie which aired on July 19th in the US brought in over 1.2 million viewers for TeenNick, making it the highest broadcasted show in the history of the network.
The 10th season will also mark the 200th episode of Degrassi, which is a rare accomplishment for a television show, especially one from Canada. Most shows dream of being able to just make it to 100 episodes, but to be able to pass 200 episodes is truly remarkable. The 200th episode aired on August 5th.
We never know too far ahead exactly where the storylines will take us, or which characters will take us there. For the forthcoming episodes we don’t have any stories planned for Emma or Spinner, but who knows!
After two successful Degrassi movies, can we expect a third one to come next summer?
We should do something special like that—but we’ve been wondering if it should be a two-hour again, or maybe a one-hour special could work really well too…still talking about it!
The 48 episode season idea has turned out to be such a success. Will we see seasons like this in the future?
It’s been a real success, so yes you will continue to see it. We may not make it 48 episodes though, we could cut back to 44…it’s such pressure on everyone doing the 48 it could be better for the fans and the series to do very slightly fewer episodes!
One of the most talked about topics this season is the transgender storyline. How did this storyline come about, and why did it take so long to be covered? Was the crew worried about controversy surrounding the subject? What was the process like finding the right actor to portray the role?
One of the key elements in Degrassi story-telling is that major issues always happen to ongoing principal characters… we don’t have someone drop in for a few episodes with some major problem and then leave, they need to be a character who we are all engaged with and know the backstory to, and are interested in finding more about. So it’s not just a question of writing the story, it has to be developed over time, and with the right character and right actor. We were very lucky with Jordan, because she is such a perfect actress and she was thrilled to have the chance to portray Adam.
Fans have been really responding to the music this season. While the music has always been something the fans enjoyed, it seems like this season you guys really took it to a new level. Where do the song ideas come from?
You know how much music is important to me personally, but there are many others on the team who share that passion. With the switch to MuchMusic in Canada it became even more important to introduce great music—and even more challenging to select exactly the right pieces so that the lyrics and the melodies totally underscore the key moments…it’s absolutely my favourite part of the entire production process..
Degrassi has been known for the episode titles named after songs from the 80s. This year, many of the titles are very relevant to current music, and come from artists like Kelly Clarkson, Jay-Z, and Christina Aguilera. What caused this change?
Well, in the tenth Season we were entering a new decade and it seemed appropriate to expand forward the music titles!
The removal of the “freeze frame” at the end of each episode, something Degrassi has been known for over the course of its run, was removed this season. Why did you decide to change it now?
It was Stefan Brogren who suggested it…a lot of shows do it, and when we tested it out it just felt right!
A new cast addition to season 10 is Cory Lee, an actress you have worked with before on the hit show Instant Star. How did it come about for her to join the show?
We’ve kept in touch with Cory, she is one of our favourite people, and when we knew Mr. Simpson was moving on from MI to become the principal we knew we needed a new MI teacher. We were actually having a discussion about music at the time, and someone said why not have a teacher with a musical background…and then we all almost shouted at once—how bout Cory Lee!
It was recently announced that Melinda Shankar will be leaving Degrassi for a period of time to work on another show. Will she be temporarily written out, or will she just be gone for awhile and other cast members will be focused on?
Her work on How to Be Indie will largely be over the hiatus when we are not shooting anyway, and many of the cast members will be over in India…but something major does happen to poor Alli… something intense…
Occasionally Degrassi features pets on the show. We’ve had Ferret Bueller (Ellie’s ferret) and Edgers (Emma’s dog) just to name a few. This season, Fiona gets a pig she names Porcelina. What was it like working with a pig on set?
EVERYONE loved the pig (whose name in real life was Edward). We all wanted to keep him on the show, and I wanted to do a spin-off series just based on him! He was totally adorable.
You’ve recently stated on Twitter that the episode “All Falls Down”, named after a Kanye West song, and which will air as the mid-season finale of the show is “the most incredible episode of all time”. That is quite a thing to say for a show that will have aired over 200 episodes by the time it makes it to air. What makes this episode so good?
Everything reaches the boiling point in the final two episodes, particularly in the final episode. I won’t say anything about the storylines, but there are several plotlines that all intertwine, the music is pounding away relentlessly and there are some absolutely shocking moments that will have fans screaming at their television sets. This is one episode you must see exactly when it is on the air. Cancel everything else in your life to watch it!
There has been a lot of talk recently about a Degrassi spinoff. Is this actually happening? If it does happen, will it feature an entirely new cast, or will we see characters we are already familiar with…maybe playing a new role? Will it even be called Degrassi?
It won’t be called Degrassi. We’re getting closer to talking about it. It may or may not be a spin-off… if it is it will feature one or two Degrassi characters as leads along with some other different cast members entirely…
The interview is pretty lengthy, so we’ve broken up into two parts. Part 2 will be posted tomorrow, Friday 8/20. Find out about Stefan Brogren’s role behind the camera, which season Stephen thinks best represtents Degrassi, and….*drumroll*…..The Exec gave DJGENERAL the episode titles for 1025 – 1044! A few of them have already been revealed here and there, but the come back tomorrow for the complete list!