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Prision Break-Sara..The Real Story-why she was killed

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  • Prision Break-Sara..The Real Story-why she was killed

    Exclusive: The Real Story Behind That Prison Break Death

    Sarah Wayne Callies by Jeremy Cowart/FoxIf you're still in denial about the horrific turn of events on tonight's Prison Break, well, stop reading, 'cause a stone-cold reality check is coming your way: That was definitely Sara Tancredi's decapitated head staring up at Lincoln from that box. No ifs, ands or red herrings about it. Michael's long-suffering soul mate is dead and she ain't comin' back.

    Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out. And now prepare yourself for another sobering piece of news. Yes, my friends, it gets worse. The sad truth is, it didn't have to end this way. It wasn't supposed to end this way.

    As Prison Break executive producer Matt Olmstead explains in this exclusive interview, the violent nature of Sara's death was the culmination of long and fruitless negotiations between the show and new-mom Sarah Wayne Callies. It's enough to make your head spin. (Sorry. Poor taste.) Stick around after the Q&A for Callies' response. And then feel free to assign blame wherever you feel it's warranted.

    Last January, after it was announced that Sarah was pregnant, your colleague, Paul Scheuring, assured fans that he had no intention of killing off her character. What changed?
    Matt Olmstead: What changed is that our initial pitch to the network was [rejected], so we had to go back to the drawing board. I remember we were sitting in the room thinking, "How do we unlock Season 3, motivation-wise?" Since we're not a procedural, we have to keep everyone moving forward. We have to evolve. And given what Michael's been through, how do you keep him going? And then it was tossed out, "What happens if Sara gets killed as an extension of what we already had planned for Season 3?" We knew that would work. But clearly it was a big conversation. And when we pitched the network, they wanted to know if there was any way we could avoid that, because everyone loved Sarah's work. But in order to make the season work, we really didn't have any other motivation for Michael. We determined that this was the right thing to do in order to really jolt the series.

    Did you ever stop to consider that this might be a slap in the face to fans who had invested two years in the Michael-Sara relationship?
    Olmstead: We took everything into consideration. Our initial idea was to have [Sarah/Sara appear in] the first 13 episodes, so she and Michael could have a proper goodbye. There were going to be some really emotional scenes where he tried to save her from dying, but she ultimately passed. So then we whittled it down to 11 episodes, then 10 episodes, then nine episodes, then four episodes…. Then we suggested flying to her — she was pregnant [at the time] and living in a remote part of Canada — and bringing a camera crew to her house, but that wasn't accepted. We then whittled it down to just a phone conversation, and that was turned down, too. We were really looking forward to paying off that relationship. But [when] it became evident that that wasn't going to happen, we made lemonade out of a lemon.

    So, as a result, you were forced to kill her off sooner than you had planned?
    Olmstead: Much sooner. We used the story to our advantage in that she was being held hostage. [Sarah] was gracious enough to let us use her image, which really helped. I totally get it, personally. She was, at the time, pregnant and living in a remote part of Canada and nesting; [she] kind of looked at the options and didn't want to go forward. No hard feelings whatsoever. The show is an ensemble. The show moves forward. There are very few untouchable actors on the show.

    Wasn't Sarah under contract? Didn't she have to return?
    Olmstead: That's a business-affairs question.

    [At this point, 20th Century spokesperson Chris Alexander interjects: "We had to either pick her up for the entire season of 22, according to her contract, or we had to make a new contract with her. We determined in May that we didn't plan to use her for the full 22, so we chose not to renew our existing contract with her. And so, to get her back for the 13 or 14 that we wanted, we had to make a new deal, and she declined."]

    What was your understanding as to why she didn't want to come back? It seems strange that she refused to return in any capacity. Doesn't it seem strange to you?
    Olmstead: It looked like a pretty good deal on the face of it. We definitely came up in money. Thirteen episodes would have allowed the character to have a proper exit. We were willing to push the start date back [to accommodate her maternity leave], which would have meant her coming in [around] Episode 10, but that wasn't accepted. So then we offered to come up [to Canada] before she gave birth and film at her house. Pretty good money and she wouldn't even have to leave her house. That wasn't accepted. So it was a little curious to me and to others why she was taking such a hard stance. [Maybe] she felt that she was made certain assurances about being part of the show this season. And in fairness to her, those assurances were given, because she was such a valuable member of the show…. Also, she's up [in Canada]. She's comfortable. She's starting a family. Maybe she didn't want to have to fly down and have to do this stuff. Or maybe she felt like she wanted to be part of the show [full time], not just half the season. Perhaps she felt a little jilted. Our [original] plan was to definitely keep her for [all of] Season 3, but after a couple of times of getting it kicked back from the network, we had to come up with a new idea and that necessitated her character being killed.

    Did you ever get an inkling that she wasn't happy working on the show?
    Olmstead: No. I've worked in TV for 10 years. I've been around difficult actors. I've definitely been around malcontents. She was none of those. Great actress. Very smart. Good suggestions. And an asset to the show.

    Sarah was recently quoted in a French magazine saying that she was "sad," "shocked" and felt "deceived" by the decision to kill off the character. Presuming this is what she actually said, does this surprise you?
    Olmstead: Not really. She was invested in the character and wanted to be a part of the show. We felt the same way.

    Let's discuss the way you killed her off. Some might view it as you guys exacting revenge on Sarah for not returning.
    Olmstead: We really had no way of using her image other than the existing images that we had. Those Polaroids we used are old wardrobe shots from Season 1 and 2. She didn't give us any new photos. So [we had to devise a way to] kill her [and still] show a body…. Obviously she wasn't going to fly down and be a DOA for us. We just wanted to go with the most dramatic way to do it, a way that you could do it and not need the actress. Also, what it does is it helps put teeth into the antagonist of the show, the Susan character. Because a lot of times with [villains], they're constantly wagging their finger, "You better do this, you better do that or this is going to happen" and it becomes hollow after a while. So, this absolutely dramatizes that when Susan issues a cautionary to Lincoln and that goes unheeded, this is the result.

    So Sarah's refusal to return essentially limited how you could kill her?
    Olmstead: Yeah, basically. Could you have seen a [body] double's feet being shoved into a meat grinder? Sure. Could you see a wide shot of a female body being dumped in an ocean? Probably. But dramatically, this allowed us to get the most out of what little we had to work with…. We used her not coming back to our advantage. When the bomb finally drops for Michael — and he finds out that she has been killed — it's an unbelievable sequence between him and Lincoln. And it really lays a huge motivation on him.

    Response from Sarah Wayne Callies
    Although Callies declined multiple interview requests, last Friday the actress sent me the following statement via her spokesperson.

    "As hard as we all tried, the Prison Break powers that be and I were unable to find a way to meet both the needs of the story and the needs of my family. We parted wishing each other well. I had a wonderful time working with the creative team and have a world of respect for all of them; they took great care of Dr. Sara. I'm also enormously grateful to the fans. They've been so gracious and supportive, and I hope they continue to enjoy the show."

    So, there you have it. Michael and Sara's love story was cut short over a frakkin' contract dispute. Assuming you're already in the anger phase of your grieving process, let the blame game begin in the comments section below. Also, don't forget to check out this week's Ask Ausiello for scoop on the next chapter in this unbelievable tale: Michael's rebound relationship!


    That makes me so mad! Its her fault..she was being stuborn!

  • #2
    Thank you for that cali! I had wondered if it as a contract thing because every time you saw her in moving shots it was the back of the head or feet, never her face.

    That seems pretty selfish on her part. Either 22 episodes or none at all. What I get from that article is even if they would have requested the 22, she would have asked to be released from her contract. She didn't want to come back at all. Understandable as a mom, but it really threw a wrench for the viewers who really had taken a liking to their love story.
    Ready for the friggen season already!

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    • #3
      I'm sorry.. but if you are upset because of an 'investment' between their relationship.... you've wrapped yourself into this TV world Wayyyyyy too much.

      I don't blame her for wanting out. The series is dying in a big way, and its going to run itself into the dirt like a rock falling off a cliff... it already has. So she demanded something that was either going to be extremely profitable despite the series sinking like the Titanic, or she gets the chance to get out now... save face... and move forward. Thats what most actors want to do anyway. She's not a 'big money' person on the show as it is. So its time for her to move forward with her career.

      I mean, we know this isn't a series that can go on for years like Frasier, Seinfeld, M.A.S.H., or Cheers. The reality is this should should have stopped after year one... when it was still good.

      Now they are clinging onto a HORRIBLE storyline that involves them ALLL ending up in the same ridiculous prison in some 3rd world watevers.

      Personally.. I applaud her for seeing that the very show that has given her some positive face-time, is dropping like the jaws of the very people that were shocked to see a TV series named "Prison Break" go three seasons... two after they broke out of prison!

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      • #4
        "The reality is this should should have stopped after year one... when it was still good"

        I agree!

        True Female Broncos Fan. Yes, We Exist!

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Ravage!!! View Post
          I'm sorry.. but if you are upset because of an 'investment' between their relationship.... you've wrapped yourself into this TV world Wayyyyyy too much.

          I don't blame her for wanting out. The series is dying in a big way, and its going to run itself into the dirt like a rock falling off a cliff... it already has. So she demanded something that was either going to be extremely profitable despite the series sinking like the Titanic, or she gets the chance to get out now... save face... and move forward. Thats what most actors want to do anyway. She's not a 'big money' person on the show as it is. So its time for her to move forward with her career.

          I mean, we know this isn't a series that can go on for years like Frasier, Seinfeld, M.A.S.H., or Cheers. The reality is this should should have stopped after year one... when it was still good.

          Now they are clinging onto a HORRIBLE storyline that involves them ALLL ending up in the same ridiculous prison in some 3rd world watevers.

          Personally.. I applaud her for seeing that the very show that has given her some positive face-time, is dropping like the jaws of the very people that were shocked to see a TV series named "Prison Break" go three seasons... two after they broke out of prison!
          I'm invested in the Broncos....does that mean I've wrapped myself up in their world WAYYYYYY too much? You post on a Broncos message board, you have for a decent amount of time....I guess you have wrapped yourself up WAYYYYY too much. THat was a pretty unfair assessment. Usually people get invested in the shows that they watch. In the original post and those after....it isn't a life or death situation, but it was a big surprise for those of us that still enjoy this show that she was killed off. A lot of us wondered what led to that. Cali gave us an article to show the reason why. That by no means that we are wrapped up in TV world, it means that we are invested in something that we spend an hour a week watching.

          It's pretty simple, no one is forcing anyone to tune in. If you don't like the show, it's on Monday nights...turn on MNF.
          Ready for the friggen season already!

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          • #6
            [
            I don't blame her for wanting out. The series is dying in a big way, and its going to run itself into the dirt like a rock falling off a cliff... it already has. So she demanded something that was either going to be extremely profitable despite the series sinking like the Titanic, or she gets the chance to get out now... save face... and move forward. Thats what most actors want to do anyway. She's not a 'big money' person on the show as it is. So its time for her to move forward with her career.

            I mean, we know this isn't a series that can go on for years like Frasier, Seinfeld, M.A.S.H., or Cheers. The reality is this should should have stopped after year one... when it was still good.
            OK, I am gonna have to call B.S. On this one, I'm sorry.

            To me, this season is as good as ever. They had to change it up somehow, and the way they did it was cool if you ask me According to the ratings, MILLIONS of other viewers agree also

            As for this Sarah chick, it seems to me they tried to accomodate her every way possible, they literally kissed her ass to come back, she turned them down, so srew her, who needs you? You werent THAT big of a part of the show! Dont let the door hit ya in the ass on the way out huh?
            Now they are clinging onto a HORRIBLE storyline that involves them ALLL ending up in the same ridiculous prison in some 3rd world watevers.

            Personally.. I applaud her for seeing that the very show that has given her some positive face-time, is dropping like the jaws of the very people that were shocked to see a TV series named "Prison Break" go three seasons... two after they broke out of prison![/QUOTE]

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            • #7
              She's coming back!!!

              Prison Break fans, prepare to seriously lose your heads.

              Sarah Wayne Callies — whose rather ugly contract dispute with producers led to her apparent decapitation last October — is returning next season. Full-time. As Dr. Sara Tancredi. Head and all. Seriously.

              How? Why? When? ***?! All legitimate questions. Good thing I just hung up with Mr. Answer Man (aka executive producer Matt Olmstead).

              So... I take it that wasn't Sara's head in that box....
              Matt Olmstead: Yeah, that wasn't.

              But initially it was supposed to be her head. What changed?
              Olmstead: What changed was.... once we realized that the emotional hook of Season 3 was going to be the death of Sara, when we didn't get the actress to do it, as soon as we wrote it and shot it, we realized that there was actually a way she could still be alive. Lincoln glanced at the head in the box for a split second. That could've been anyone. He wasn't about to pull it up from the hair and inspect it closely. And then we were fairly careful thereafter of references we made to that and who took credit for it and what was seen or heard, and we left it fairly [vague]. But initially when we realized that we never actually saw the character get killed, we just had that knowledge in our back pocket and moved forward with the narrative as we intended. Which was: she's out of the picture, Michael's [feeling guilty] and Lincoln is freaking out because if they did that to her, they could do that to his son. It really gave us a real push for the season.

              Don't you think that was a little unfair to the audience — particularly fans of Dr. Sara — to jerk them around like this? They had every reason to believe she was dead.
              Olmstead: I don't think it was unfair, because it gave us some real juice storytelling-wise — it put teeth in the antagonists. Obviously they were now capable of killing somebody. It also gave us a couple of episodes where Lincoln withheld the information from Michael, and that gave us conflict with the brothers. But also, what were we really going to do? Were we going to see Sarah Wayne Callies tied to a chair for 13 episodes? And then if she broke free, what is she really doing? It was almost a disservice to that character to keep her around last season. Certainly, we could have put her on a cruise ship and she's off sailing away. But we felt that if we're going to lose that character, why not get the most drama out of it? We didn't look at it in terms of [us] trying to tell the audience to go, you know, do something to themselves.

              What role did the fan response to Dr. Sara's death play in her return?
              Olmstead: It factored in. It was kind of a confluence of events. We saw on the message boards that a lot of fans were wondering if she really was dead. And then that led to conversations of, "Well, what if she isn't?" But then we put that on the back burner and moved forward with what we had to do, because it wasn't anything that could be dealt with right then. And then when we came back after the strike and we realized that we were not going to finish Season 3... we creatively decided to blow it all out, jump forward in the timeline and get a fresh start. And so, when we pitched that, a lot of those elements remained, but we were still looking for that emotional core for Michael. We were kind of exactly where we were in the beginning of Season 3, which led to her demise, quote unquote. So we went back and revisited [the idea of bringing her back to life]. And once we started talking about it, it was mentioned again that fans are still wondering about her. And when people who are fans of the show — and of Sarah — are asking, "Is she really dead?", what they're saying, essentially, is, "I hope she's not dead." And then it became a kind of groundswell.

              But then you have to get the actress to agree to return, which I assume was no easy task given the bad blood that seemed to exist last season.
              Olmstead: There wasn't bad blood on our side. It was a business decision. I understood where she was coming from in that she was given a provisional assurance that she was going to be a part of Season 3, but we had to revisit Season 3 a couple of times in the pitch stage in order to get it picked up. Fox was still looking for that emotional hook. Once we came up with the idea of her character going away, that gave us what we needed to push things over the edge. And although we were comfortable with it, she wasn't. I also understand on a personal level how it factored in. She was pregnant at the time and looking forward to giving birth, and this wasn't something she was interested in doing.

              What changed for her that she's willing to come back now?
              Olmstead: She and I spoke a couple of days ago at length about what we have come up with creatively for her character.... We're jumping ahead a little bit in the timeline. There's a little bit of a mystery period for all of these characters in terms of how they got where they are and what happened to them. And we have some interesting things for her, and she responded to them creatively. We won't just be picking up where we left off with her character. And she won't be a damsel in distress waiting for her hero to return. There are some complicating factors involved with her character and things that she's looking forward to. So we spoke about it, she thought about it, and we made a deal.

              No hard feelings, then? Everyone's moving on?
              Olmstead: Moving on. She's a very smart lady, and we're all adults here. It was never personal. It was a business and creative decision, and we're absolutely moving on.

              Can you say how she'll be reintroduced next season?
              Olmstead: It's going to be about figuring out what happened to her during that mystery period [between the end of Season 3 and the start of Season 4], and how she and Michael deal with it.

              How much time will have lapsed?
              Olmstead: About a month. Enough to jump past expected events that we left hanging at the end of Season 3, answering those things, but also moving forward.

              And Sarah is onboard for the entire season?
              Olmstead: Yes.

              http://community.tvguide.com/blog-en...ison/800036399

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              • #8
                what???????
                sigpic

                "Today's the tomorrow that you should've feared yesterday."

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                • #9
                  I'm so far behind in the series.

                  sigpic

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                  • #10
                    I read about it a few weeks ago that they were bringing her back, and had to work around the fact tha Linc saw her decapitated head in a box.

                    So now they will have to contrive something like it really was not her, or someone who looked like her... typical bs. At least they won't have Michael wake up in a hotel room with her oin the shower to find all of season 3 was just a dream. (shades of Dallas)

                    Like the show still, but this should be interesting to see how they are working around this.

                    Also? What is it with time jumps. Lost does it to great effect.

                    Now Prisonbreak announces a slight jump forward, and Desperate housewives is doing the same. (and No I do not watch that show, but I readit in TV guide)
                    The Game Day Thread: Year 17 in progress!!! sigpic

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                    • #11
                      Doesn't this feel like the "Dallas" season where everything was just a dream? Nothing you saw was real, it was all a figment of your imagination.

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