Back to Jaw About Odyssey

Paul McCusker, executive producer for AIO, joined us on October 18, 2001 for a chat. In the hour-long chat, he discussed the upcoming season, Eugene Meltsner, Eugene and Katrina, AREM, Novacom, when the story arc will end and more. Check out the transcript below.

See Paul's list of AIO credits.

<Nathan_Host> I believe our guest of the hour has arrived.
It's me.
<Nathan_Host> Hello, Paul!
<Patchings> Hiya.
<Patchings> Hi, everyone. Am I late?
<OdysseyFan> Nope, we're all just early
<Nathan_Host> I believe our guest of the hour has arrived.
<whitsendpb> The big question is… Who is AREM?
<Patchings> AREM is a computer hacker.
<whitsendpb> can you say who
<Patchings> No, I can't answer the identity of AREM.
<howdypardner> Where in England did you live, Mr. McCusker? (I'm a military brat and I lived there for 3 years.)
<Patchings> I lived in Winchester and Hailsham.
<jaredwalczak> Q: How do you get voice actors for AIO radio? Who contacts them? How are they chosen?
<Patchings> The voice actors are generally living around Southern California.
<AIOFG> do you check out fan sites?
<Patchings> I try to check in on the fan sites occasionally.
<Patchings> But more often than not, I'm stuck for time. I rely on Nathan to keep me up to date.
<howdypardner> Who is your least favorite character?
<Patchings> Least favorite character? I don't think I have one.
<AREM> (Q) Is AREM someone we know
<Patchings> I don't think it'd be fair to give you clues about AREM.
<jaredwalczak> Q: Will any characters return this year?
<Patchings> Almost all of the characters will be back this year.
<howdypardner> (q) What are the chances that Tasha or Donovan will ever come back?
<Patchings> No plans for Tasha or Donovan right now.
<AIOFG> (Q) Do you have plans for the people Jason meet on the way to the timothy center during the storm?
<Patchings> We might do something with the characters from "Best Laid Plans."
<jaredwalczak> Q: let me rephrase that - will any characters that have left AIO return?
<Patchings> Are you asking about any particular character? Glossman is in a Mexican jail, you know.
<jaredwalczak> Q: Glossman is in a Mexican jail? You're making that up, right??
<AREM> (Q) Why did Will Ryan leave?
<Patchings> He's very busy with his own projects right now...
<Patchings> And we have big plans for Eugene...
<Patchings> But you have to keep listening to find out what they are...
<jaredwalczak> Q: So you are saying that you expect Will Ryan back in the future (just probably not this season)
<Patchings> We'll have to see what happens with Eugene to say anything about Will...
<howdypardner> (q) Did Amy's husband die, or did he leave?
<Patchings> You'd have to ask Marshal about Amy's husband.
<Patchings> My impression is that he left...
<Patchings> But maybe he died...
<Patchings> I don't remember hammering out the full details when we discussed the story...
<Patchings> Amy sounded bitter, though, didn't she?
<KSseven> What is AIO's position on Divorce and Remarriage?
<Patchings> AIO's position is the same as Focus On The Family...
<Patchings> Divorce is a bad thing.
<Patchings> I defer to what the Bible says on the subject of remarriage...
<Nathan_Host> Here's a question above that seems to be on everyone's minds, Paul. Can you tell us anything about Eugene and Katrina?
<Patchings> Eugene and Katrina are certainly part of the forthcoming Story Line.
<tenjiee> (Q) Is Jared DeWhite coming back?
<Patchings> Jared is always around somewhere...
<Patchings> Hiding in the bushes...
<Patchings> Looking through binoculars...
<Patchings> Tapping phones...
<Wooton816> (Q) I know we've all been asking about future shows, but will Glossman make a return since Blackgaard is gone?
<Patchings> Glossman is in a Mexican jail for selling illegal Velvet Elvis paintings.
<jaredwalczak> Q. "Jared is always around somewhere" - does that mean it's possible for him to return?
<Patchings> You guys should know by now that just because someone hasn't been heard on the show...
<Patchings> Doesn't mean they're gone...
<AIOFG> (Q) In Malachi's Message I, II, &III the angel said "Things will get worse b/f the get better" what will become of that?
<Patchings> I think things often tend to get worse before they get better.
<AREM> (Q)Will Jason meet Barry in South America?
<Patchings> Jason will be meeting someone in a remote location.
<Patchings> I can say that much.
<Patchings> Maybe AREM and Katrina will slip away together...
<Patchings> Then Eugene can marry Connie...
<Nathan_Host> How about Eugene and Connie?
<Patchings> How about them?
<howdypardner> Is Connie ever going to go to college?
<Patchings> Connie is awfully busy right now.
<Patchings> I don't know how we'd squeeze college into it.
<Patchings> At least, not in the immediate future.
<Patchings> Isn't she still sixteen?
<Nathan_Host> (Q) Here's a question lots of people have wondered on the
Town Hall. Why isn't Paul McCusker writing many AIO shows now?
<Patchings> I'm not writing because we have enough good writers on the show...
<Patchings> I'm writing a lot for FOTF Radio Theatre.
<KSseven> For example, The Eugene/Katrina story line seems to be YOUR story line
<Patchings> I don't know how it became my story line...
<Patchings> I really wanted them to wrap it up while I was away...
<Patchings> But no one did.
<Patchings> I don't know why.
<AREM> Why not?
<Patchings> Honestly, you'd have to ask Phil, Marshal and the rest of the gang about that.
<jhpark> are you planning to do all of the chronicles of narnia (or have you finished them already?)
<Patchings> Yes, the rest of the Narnia stories will be out next year.
<Patchings> Nathan... have you told them your news?
<Nathan_Host> No...I haven't told the news yet.
<Patchings> Well, maybe you should.
<Nathan_Host> I will be joining Focus as a staff writer in January.
<Patchings> We're looking forward to his return.
<Nathan_Host> I've told several of you online already.
<Patchings> Maybe he can makes some sense of our story line.
<Nathan_Host> Anyway, getting back to Paul. :)
<Patchings> Nathan, are you blushing?
<jaredwalczak> Q: can you release any titles of the new shows after Relativly Annoying?
<Patchings> I think Nathan has the titles on his site.
<Nathan_Host> (Q) Can you tell us any clues about the upcoming shows? Such soon will we hear about Novacom again?
<Patchings> We have a few shows that tie into Novacom...
<Patchings> But not in obvious ways...
<Patchings> Our plan is to get back to traditional stories...
<Patchings> Once we finish this Novacom business...
<Patchings> Which we plan to do by June...
<Nathan_Host> (Q) So the Novacom saga will end in June?
<Patchings> Our plan is to answer a lot of the questions...
<Patchings> And bring everything to a BIG finish no later than June...
<whitsendpb> I got the new set with the with the triangle epiode out of order did you know about that paul on the CDs
<Patchings> I knew we had a glitch on the Triangle in the new set...
<Patchings> Sorry about that...
<Patchings> It was a technical fault in our mastering...
<Patchings> We're trying to fix it...
<howdypardner> (Q) Is there going to be any interaction btwn Jason and Whit? It seems like they never ever talk.
<Patchings> Yes, Jason and Whit have some business to take care of.
<howdypardner> (q) Is Jana coming to Odyssey any time soon? She's been gone 4-EVER!
<Patchings> No plans for Jana right now.
<Patchings> But we were talking about the long lost "Member of the Family" episodes today.
<Wooton816> (Q) There isn't any end in sight for Odyssey is there
<Patchings> No plans to end Odyssey.
<jhpark> (q) i've read that one reason why the old kids don't come back is because htey can't do their young voices... can't the kids grow up? or would that be too confusing?
<howdypardner> It would make Connie jealous...
<Patchings> Kids can grow up...
<Patchings> But, in reality, when their voices change..
<Patchings> It puts them into an age-range far above our 8-12 audience...
<Patchings> We can't make Odyssey a teen show...
<AREM> Will there be more great Blackagaard after Novacom?
<Patchings> Blackgaard is dead.
<Patchings> Didn't you know?
<AREM> I meant Blackgard like storys
<Patchings> Our hope was that the Novacom stories would overtake the Blackgaard stories...
<Patchings> If not in affection, but in drama...
<Patchings> I don't know that Novacom is better than Blackgaard as a story line.
<Patchings> We're not trying to do that. But everything has its time and place.
<Patchings> Blackgaard was a great story line.
<Patchings> Though confusing sometimes.
<Patchings> We figure we can be just as exciting and confusing as that with Novacom.
<jhpark> (q) are episodes not i yet in albums (there have been a few over
the years) going to be released in an album sometime soon? How about the albums that are only tapes as CDs?
<Patchings> We're going to repackage most of the older albums.
<Patchings> Put in bonus material.
<Patchings> New covers.
<Patchings> That sort of thing.
<Nathan_Host> (Q) What sort of Bonus material?
<Patchings> Some of the trivia fillers...
<Patchings> We're now producing...
<Patchings> Behind the scenes stuff...
<howdypardner> (Q) When a fan sends in a script, do you always send at least a rejection notice back?
<Patchings> I would hope that, if you ever submit a story to us, you'd hear back from someone...
<howdypardner> Okay, 'cause I sent a script in about 2 years ago, and I never heard anything back...I guess it got lost in the mail.
<Patchings> Two years!!!!!
<Patchings> Thank heaven I wasn't here then.
<Patchings> Okay, I'm going to fire everyone tomorrow.
<Patchings> Two years... honestly.
<howdypardner> yup
<Nathan_Host> You might try sending it again, Howdy.
<Patchings> Yes. Send in the story again. In January. To Nathan.
<jhpark> (q) so the plan is to get the older albums out on CD too? I may just have to wait before buying the tape albums then... I was planning to burn them onto CDs
<Patchings> Yes, the older albums will come out on cd.
<AIOFG> can you confirm that the next album is Countermoves?
<Patchings> Counter Moves is the current title, yes.
<Wooton816> what about Wooton? Is he going to become a major character like Nick?
<Patchings> That's up to you guys.
<Patchings> Should Wooton go or stay?
<jaredwalczak> Wooten should leave ---- NOW!
<Nathan_Host> I like Wooton.
<tenjiee> STAY STAY STAY
<howdypardner> I dunno - I'm an intellectual-type, so people like Wooton get on my nerves REALLY quickly.
<whitsendpb> have to hear more shows with him
<tenjiee> please don't get rid of wooten
<jaredwalczak> wooten isn't so bad in himself...but him working at whit's end is strange
<AIOFG> (q)can you confirm that the next movie is: "The Caves of Qumran," video #3 ?
<Patchings> "Qumran" is the next video.
<jhpark> But the ones that aren't in an album yet... will they be in albums?
<Patchings> We might package a "lost episodes" collection.
<Patchings> I heard the first aio radio the other night.
<Patchings> Pretty good, I thought...
<Patchings> A little rough around the edges maybe...
<Patchings> But that's cool.
<Patchings> That's the thing. Making it better...
<Patchings> Learning as you go...
<Patchings> Experimenting...
<AREM> (Q) Who aswers the Ask the Producers Questions?
<Patchings> A little old man we keep chained in the back.
<KSseven> (Q) ok, I just have to bring this up, will we every get to hear the lost parts of "The Great Wishy Woz"?
<Patchings> A full version of Wishy Woz is on the album.
<Patchings> Unless there are some lost parts I don't know about.
<KSseven> I mean with the stuff that didn't make the final version
<Patchings> Which stuff?
<KSseven> like the Ding Dong Song
<Patchings> Nathan, did we cut that out?
<Patchings> Is it gone forever?
<Patchings> I'll have to ask John.
<Nathan_Host> There were a couple parts of Wishy Woz that were lost.
<Nathan_Host> Including that song.
<Nathan_Host> (The main reason it was cut, though, was because it was so fast and, well...the actors had a hard time keeping up.)
<Patchings> (Oh yes. Now I remember.)
<Patchings> A good idea gone bad.
<jaredwalczak> Will Dave Madden have a major role this year?
<Patchings> We hope to get Bernard back in soon.
<jaredwalczak> Q: then did bernard leave temporarily?
<Patchings> No.
<Patchings> Bernard is still around.
<Patchings> But he hasn't had much to do in the current story line.
<AREM> Will Novacom stuff Continue for years?
<Patchings> Not for years.
<Patchings> Months, maybe.
<jaredwalczak> Q: will they be new characters?
<Patchings> Oh yeah.
<Patchings> We've got some new characters coming.
<AIOFG> who will David Griffin play in the new episodes
<Patchings> David Griffin has a fun part coming up...
<Patchings> In an episode called "Plan B."
<Patchings> Rather... "Plan B" part two...
<Patchings> Or maybe it's part three...
<Patchings> I don't remember now.
<Patchings> Plan B is a four-parter.
<jhpark> wow, a 4 parter???
<Patchings> Yep. We've got some exciting things coming up.
<AIOFG> (q) any main characters will ever die on Odyssey.
<Patchings> No plans to kill anyone today.
<Wooton816> you aren't toying with me are you? four parts?!
<Patchings> Four parts.
<Patchings> Would I lie?
<jhpark> nathan did you write it? :)
<Nathan_Host> I wrote parts of the 4 parter.
<Nathan_Host> Marshal wrote most of it.
<Patchings> It begins in...
<Patchings> uhmmmm...
<Patchings> I think it's the 8th show of the season...
<Patchings> Or thereabouts...
<Patchings> Which means it should air in March?
<Patchings> I don't have my schedule handy.
<Nathan_Host> I think Plan B will be late January, early Feburary, if I remember correctly.
<Nathan_Host> I'm not positive, though.
<Patchings> We're planning to run all new episodes for the next 12-14 weeks.
<Patchings> I think.
<jhpark> paul, do you have any favorite authors? fiction or non?
<Patchings> I love CS Lewis...
<Patchings> Dickens...
<Patchings> I read a lot of Stephen King when I was younger...
<Patchings> But I don't recommend him...
<Patchings> I pick up some new authors now and then...
<Wooton816> How about Left Behind?
<Patchings> I didn't read "Left Behind..."
<Patchings> CS Lewis was a direct inspiration for Radio Theatre...
<Nathan_Host> (Q) What is your favorite book that you have written?
<Patchings> Favorite book?
<Patchings> Of mine?
<Patchings> Hmmm...
<Patchings> I like them all for different reasons...
<Patchings> And would rewrite some of them for different reasons...
<Patchings> So I don't know for sure.
<AREM> Paul sounds very different than Hal
<Patchings> Paul is very different from Hal.
<Patchings> Similar voice quality.
<Patchings> But not the same.
<Wooton816> I don't like Paul's laugh as much, though...
<Wooton816> he laughs, Hal chuckled.
<Patchings> No, Paul doesn't laugh like Hal.
<Nathan_Host> (Q) Asked above, what do you think you would do if (heaven forbid) something happend to Paul Herlinger?
<Patchings> We've made no plans for Paul's death...
<Patchings> If you know what I mean.
<Patchings> In other words: we haven't talked about it.
<Patchings> Paul's in excellent health, by the way.
<Wooton816> ooo, Mortal Coil Backup, Part 3
<Patchings> That's right, Wooton...
<Patchings> "Uh, could you just say this line in case you die?"
<howdypardner> (Q) Are all the AIO actors Christians?
<Patchings> No, not all of our actors are Christians.
<Patchings> On either show.
<Patchings> Odyssey and RT, I mean.
<Patchings> We like working with non-believers.
<Patchings> Maybe they'll get to know Jesus a little better...
<KSseven> (Q) What is the deal with the Short skits, Why aren't they on the Split Episodes in the Albums and R yall trying to put most of them into like BTVs and such?
<Patchings> I'll be brutally honest here...
<Patchings> I wasn't a big fan of the Shorties...
<Patchings> They were very funny and well-produced...
<Patchings> But they cut in on the drama...
<Patchings> And getting into the characters deeper...
<KSseven> so, would yall consider putting them in likeBTVs and Kids Radios and such
<Patchings> We put some into a recent BTV...
<Patchings> And I might put them in to some of the albums...
<Patchings> as bonus material...
<Patchings> We really want to re-think the albums...
<Patchings> I'd love to put more in them than we currently have...
<Patchings> Inserts...
<Patchings> Collector's stuff...
<Patchings> Things like that...
<Patchings> But that might mean they'll cost more.
<Patchings> Which doesn't make anyone happy.
<AIOFG> question do you like introducing eps?
<Patchings> I don't like my voice, to be honest.
<Patchings> So I'm not keen on talking.
<Patchings> There are people who sound better than I do.
<Patchings> But they cornered me into playing Glossman...
<Patchings> Against my will...
<Patchings> And then they make me do these little voice over things...
<Nathan_Host> (Q) Paul, did you have any idea when you agreed to play Glossman that he would be in a bunch of shows?
<Patchings> No.
<Patchings> He was supposed to be a one-off character.
<Patchings> In Recollections.
<Wooton816> Glossman isn't coming back, is he?
<whitsendpb> maybe glossman will sneak out and come back to odyssey
<Patchings> Glossman is long long gone...
<Patchings> Mexican jail.
<jaredwalczak> Q: Why do u keep saying mexican jail?
<Patchings> We have done that episode... where Glossman is arrested...
<jhpark> hmm... do you find that christian actors play Christian characters more easily? or is it pretty much the same?
<Patchings> Not necessarily.
<Patchings> I think a good actor, Christian or not, should be convincing.
<Patchings> Though some argue that Christians make very good bad guys...
<Patchings> Because they understand the true nature of evil...
<Patchings> One would hope a Christian would play a Christian better...
<Patchings> But it isn't always true...
<howdypardner> Are you going to do any more eps about Whit's past?
<Patchings> Whit has a lot of past to be explored.
<Patchings> We're still discussing a "Young Whit" mini-series...
<Nathan_Host> (Q) Paul, how would you compare your writing for Radio Theatre with your writing for Odyssey?
<Patchings> It's completely different.
<Patchings> For one thing, I'm adapting material that isn't... well....mine.
<Patchings> I just spent the past three weeks adapting "At Home in Mitford..."
<Nathan_Host> Is adaptation generally "easier" or more difficult?
<Patchings> Adaptation can be harder...
<Patchings> To accurately get the spirit of the work...
<Patchings> Without it becoming my own...
<Patchings> That's the trick.
<Patchings> To stay true to the source material.
<Nathan_Host> How does (sorry, can't remember the name) author of Mitford feel about the adaptations? Does she approve them?
<Patchings> Yes, Jan Karon.
<Patchings> She's a wonderful woman.
<Patchings> And has been very helpful in our adaptation.
<whitsendpb> is there any plans to bring back phil lollar he did a lot of great shows
<Patchings> And yes, Phil is great.
<Patchings> But no plans for him to write for Odyssey.
<Patchings> When he produced the show a couple of years ago...
<Patchings> He made it clear he wasn't interested in writing any more episodes...
<Patchings> He wanted to move on to other things.
<Patchings> But I know he's been busy with some other very successful programs.
<KSseven> One last question before I go, Is England a good place to live?
<Patchings> Yes, I loved England.
<Wooton816> Are any AIO actors Canadian?
<Patchings> A couple are Canadian.
<Nathan_Host> Paul, we don't want to impose on your time, how long can you stay?
<Patchings> I've got a few more minutes...
<Patchings> Anything else I can answer before I go?
<Nathan_Host> (Q) Will any of the future shows have a parental warning
on them?
<Patchings> We don't intentionally create shows with parental warnings.
<howdypardner> On Missionary Impossible, Jason says he rode an elephant in Kabul.
<howdypardner> Any chance that you might change that?
<Patchings> Why should we change it?
<AREM> Where is Jason a missionary?
<Patchings> Jason is a trouble-shooter.
<Patchings> He goes from place to place to help out...
<howdypardner> Where does Shining Armor take place?
<Patchings> Shining Armor takes place somewhere in the...
<Patchings> uh...
<Patchings> South.
<jaredwalczak> Q: can u tell us what specific country it will be in?
<Patchings> Could be South Africa...
<Patchings> South America...
<Patchings> South Park...
<Patchings> Or not.
<jaredwalczak> Thanks for spending your time chatting with us, Mr. McCusker...hope you can chat with us again soon!
<Patchings> Nice chatting with all of you.
<Nathan_Host> Thanks for coming. Come back soon!
<Nathan_Host> It was great.
<Patchings> Take care. Let us know what you think of the upcoming shows...
<Patchings> You're our lifeline...