“L Word” Co-Creators Michele Abbott and Kathy Greenberg Break Their Silence

AE: So that explains Kit in a sailor cap and with braids in the retrospective.

KG: Oh, God!

MA: Jesus!

AE: She was a cross between Pop-Eye, Pippi Longstocking and Angela
Davis. What the hell were you thinking?

MA: Aye! Come to me, I’ll tell you tales of the old days!


AE: Clearly that character lost something in translation, as did The
Chart on Kit’s back. Was The Chart on the napkin?

MA: The Chart was on the napkin, absolutely. It seemed crazy to do an ensemble
piece without referring to it. But The Chart was in the zeitgeist. No one person
can claim that’s an original idea. … But it was certainly never
intended to be on Kits’ body!

KG: We originally thought it might be an art installation, a good avenue for
feminist expression.

AE: Can I assume that the original Chart had your names and the names
of your friends on it?


AE: Okay. Who are Lauren and Tamara?

[Momentary silence]

KG: I don’t know who Tamara is.

[More silence]

AE: That’s all you’re giving me?

KG: That’s it.

AE: Do you want another drink?

KG: That’s not going to work.


AE: Back to the collective consciousness, the lesbian zeitgeist. As
you pointed out, what group of lesbians hasn’t said, ‘We should write
a book/TV show about our lives’? But few actually do, because they lack
the necessary connections. It’s unlikely that the show would’ve made it
past the notes-on-a-napkin stage if it weren’t for the people you knew…

MA: That’s true. … We sat on the idea for a while,
until one day Ilene called Kathy and said that she was approached by Randy Barbato
and Fenton Bailey [World of Wonder founders and directors of Party Monster
and The Eyes of Tammy Faye] about doing a lesbian TV show. But theirs
was a campy Charlie’s Angels-ish version, as I recall. …
Ilene had pitched to Kathy in the past at Working Title, and Kathy is the Godmother
to Ilene’s children, so they had a relationship. … Anyway, Ilene
had envisioned a lesbian show of her own, so she called to ask Kathy to collaborate
with her.

KG: I told her that I was working on a show myself with Michele, who Ilene
also knew for many years, and I said we should all join forces. So we did. We
pitched our version of the show to Randy and Fenton, and then it was pitched
to Showtime …

MA: One of the key selling points was a scrapbook of ‘The Last Lesbian
Blow-Out of the Millennium.’

KG: Oh, no!


MA: Kathy had these legendary lesbian-only parties at her house up in ‘the
bird streets’ [that was] formerly George Harrison’s house. …
The parties were peppered with celebrities … Ellen and Melissa, studio
execs … and the Hollywood lesbian scene. … These were the pool parties
of Bette and Tina.

AE: But nobody ever died in your pool?


KG: Nobody died, right.

MA: But there were lots of fun times in that pool…. In the pilot, they
sort of … Shane …

KG: That didn’t happen at my house!


MA (Imitating KG): I’m just a farm girl! (Laughter)
… All right, moving on. The scrapbook showed the studio execs a world
they had never seen or imagined as traditional lesbian culture.

KG: And, to be fair, it was a subculture of the subculture.

AE: Prominent L.A. lesbians, you mean?

MA: Exactly. At the time, we both were in the thick of it. I was dating an
agent …

KG: Madonna’s agent.

MA: And Kathy was running around with k.d. [lang].

KG: That was the Leisha connection, through k.d.

MA: It was the time of Madonna’s Sex book and
we were ensconced in that world. … And the scrapbook was a window into
that world. … [Showtime executives] said, ‘Oh, we get it. Now we
see what you’re talking about.’

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