‘I had tears in my eyes’ Exec. Producer Stan Spry after hearing about Ties that Bind in Interview with TV Series Hub

Hi Stan, we would like to welcome you and thank you for joining us. Most of the people might not recognize your new show but you on the other hand have some wonderful accomplishments in the business. How did you start out and how is it going up to now?

I started in the business as an unpaid intern working for a small production company 8 hours a day, while working at Kinkos from midnight to 8am.  I got my first job as a Production assistant on a series of BMW commercials.  I was so thrilled to be working on sets that I literally ran everywhere, carried everything, and people took notice. I then got hired on movies like Spiderman, Jay & Silent Bob strike Back, and S-Club 7.  After that I wanted to get into development and took a job working for a production company called Optional Pictures (who had a deal with 20th Century Fox).  When that company disbanded I got a job working for a literary manager and producer.  I then started representing clients (writers/directors/producers) and then became a literary agent.  When the agency sold, I went to run a management/production company called Artist International for two years.  After that I started my own company, and four years ago founded The Cartel (Cartel Entertainment/Cartel Pictures/Cartel Enterprises).  Our website is www.cartelhq.com.  We have produced over 30 movies in the last four years, own a production complex in Hollywood, had a series called A Place in the Sun on Discovery, and now Ties That Bind on UP.  We represent some of the top writers and directors in town, people like Joe Henderson, Sheryl Anderson, John Tinker, Pat Charles, Meals & Goldberg, Wyscarver & Golden, Steven R. Monroe, Nick Copus, and many more incredible talents.  I absolutely love my job and my career, and I love the people I am in business with .  I thank God every day for blessing me with amazing people in my life.  I¹m really quite fortunate that I love my clients and partners so much, it makes me want to work that much harder for them, and they all make me better at my job and at life.

‘Ties that Bind’ when you hear it, it’s more like a romantic movie or series but when you watch it it’s very different. What made you go for this name? Any background significance?

Sheryl (our creator and Show Runner) came up with the name.  I think the relevance is that at it’s core, Ties That Bind is a show about Family, and about doing the right thing even when faced with difficult circumstances.  Even when the right thing is hard to do, when you make the right decision good things come from it.  When you choose the wrong path, there are consequences to pay.  The main thing that binds all the characters of our show together is Family.  So, what ties the McCleans together is their sense of family and of doing the right thing.  At least that’s what I think Sheryl was going for 🙂

 The series is totally new, let’s say I don’t know about the series and you are trying to sell it to me in other words want to make me watch it. How would you describe and summarize the show?

In our show, Allison McClean (played by Kelli Williams) puts her brother (Luke Perry) in jail and takes on his teenage kids to raise, even though she has her own two teenage kids to raise and a working  husband.  The show is about family, and what the home & work life of a female police detective looks like.  It also has a police procedural element, in that there is a case each week, and the case will often parallel the themes that are happening in the McClean’s family.  We like to think the show is a hybrid of family and police drama.  It’s about doing the right thing, it’s about what the consequences of our actions are,  and it’s heartfelt, dramatic, inspiring, uplifting, and also has a lot of really cool cop and action stuff.  It’s a show that families can watch together, kids and parents, and all have something to relate to. The kids in our show are also AMAZING, as are all our stars.

We have seen all kinds of family problems and we have seen plenty of criminal investigations, what is the balance between the two in the show? Which one is more important as in the plot. Do the writers along with you want to show a perfect case or you are more after showing how the family is functioning?

I think that the show doesn’t want to show anything as being perfect.  It wants to be a reflection of real life.  Where things are complicated.  Things aren’t always black & white, there are many shades of grey.  I think that one of the coolest things Sheryl and the writers have done is that they’ve built cases that reflect what may be happening in the  family drama.  I think the show is a good 50/50 mix of family and case work.  Just like with a lot of working mothers, Allison and her husband (played by Jonathan Scarfe) both have to balance their work time with their family time and try to raise good children.

From the episodes that have aired, we have seen three different cases. The last episode actually had a very interesting one as it showed more of a flashback or trip down to memory lane of our MC. Is it always going to be a new case like are we going to see a CSI style series here or will we soon start to pick up connections in the case.

That’s a really good question.  Some of the cases will be new, but there is also going to be some connectivity throughout.  Also, assuming we get a season 2 ordered, the writers have a really great storyline that they want to explore. But the answer here is that it will be both.

Most of the time MCs tend to be the ones standing at the end maybe as a hero, winner etc. but is this going to be the case for our MomCopAunt or are we going to see her going down? The most provocative plot is that the person who shot her is going to walk away without paying for shooting a cop. Is this going to be the main story that the series will focus on or will it continue to give various interesting cases?

Very insightful question!  One of the things we are going for is to always have that sense of family, of coming together.  No matter how tough the case, no matter how bad the day, we always want to see the family there for each other.  Even when they are fighting or angry, the family is what is most important.  In regards to your question about the plot of the shooter (Jason Priestly) I think I am only allowed to say, keep watching as I think you¹ll like where it evolves to!

In the episodes so far we have seen more action from the MCA (MomCopAunt) than the whole family together, how will the on going feud and rebellious actions be portrayed as episodes pass by? Will the family members be given more time or will the cop work be seen more?

There certainly are going to be episodes where the family is more of the focus.  Some of the episodes we will see more of the MomCopAunt (I love that by the way) in action, and sometimes it’s going to be more of her at home.  It’s a tricky balancing act that the writers had to do, and I think they’ve pulled it off excellently.

Talking about cases, how do your investigations and all the cases that we see on the series thought of? Are they inspired by real life events?

Good question again.  We have a writers room which consisted of Sheryl Anderson (Show Runner/EP/Creator), Dean Batali (Co-EP), and Peter Hume (Co-EP) and we had several great freelance writers.  Basically the writers sat in a room and broke out the season arc,the character arcs, and the cases week to week.  Most of the stories are original ideas, while some of them certainly were influenced by real life events.

We have seen how the MCA has problems with her brother mainly because she arrested him. Will we be seeing more on what he did or why did she decide to not let it go? As Cameron asked at the start.

Yes, we absolutely will!  This is a major plot point as the season evolves and we will be seeing more of her brother (Luke Perry).

In your own point of view what are you more interested to see come out from this series? Do you want to portray how families can be dysfunctional or how cops suffer as well? What is the main objective behind the making of the series?

I think the main thing I love about this show is that it’s a good family show that can be watched by all ages without having to be overly violent, sexual, dirty or gritty.  I think that we want to make people laugh, cry, love, and be inspired by our family and by our cases. We want to show what real life is like, and want to create something that people feel good about watching.  I wouldn’t say we want to show how families can be dysfunctional, I think we just want to show that with love and family any other issues can be dealt with. No matter how difficult.  Personally for me, I really hope this show can inspire people to love each other even in tough times.

The series can be divided into two parts, the police investigations with crimes that happen and the family problems between the new family members. How did you come up with this idea of the series?

I had been talking to Charles Humbard, Barbara Fisher and the team at UP for quite some time about doing a scripted series.  They told me what they were looking for in a series:  family, maybe a procedural element, real life consequences for actions (good and bad), etc. I then sent that off to my client Sheryl Anderson.  She came in to pitch me two ideas.  Sheryl is one of the greatest story tellers I’ve ever met.  She pitched me Ties that Bind first, and I had tears in my eyes.  She said now I’ll pitch the other one.  I said Don’t. This is it. This is the show. Sheryl (who you should definitely interview) could give you more about how she came up with this series.  It’s a personal story for her, and I think she would love to share it with you!

This series can actually be compared to The Fosters as both have Cops that are mothers and family problems happening all the time. How important do you think female leads are at this moment in the industry?

I think it’s extremely important. Women have long been ignored or treated as the supporting role for way too long. I am extremely proud to be alive at a time when Women are making a huge splash in the world. We have a woman running for president, we have female executives, female presidents of networks and studios.  Not only is our show about a Mom, but also an Aunt, and also a cop.  The family unit in our show is a reflection of America.  2 working class parents.  Raising kids.  Trying their best to be good people, give their kids a happy home while still having to work hard to provide.  I love that Allison is a strong woman, a working woman, and a good mother.  I’m glad that we can show a character than many women across this country can relate to and that both men and women can admire.

We have seen the shooting, the shooter and he is currently going to pay for some time. What should we expect next once the story of the shooter ends? Or will it continue till the end of the season?

You have to keep watching 🙂 I can tell you that the storyline is not over.

What other aspects are you going to show us in the series? Will there be high school problems or maybe the father/uncle doing some construction?

Absolutely. You¹ll see school, you’ll see internal drama in the family, you¹ll see Matt (the dad/uncle) working.  We really try to trace the entire family throughout the season, both at home and outside of the home.

What is the toughest challenge you have faced up to now in making this series?

Hm.  That’s a good question.  I honestly don’t know the answer. I don’t want to say this has been easy, it has not, it is always hard getting something made.  However, this has been a real dream.  The network (UP TV) has been incredibly supportive and amazing to work with. Everyone at UP is incredible.  I could not be more grateful to Charles Humbard (President/CEO/Founder) to have given us this opportunity. Barbara Fisher at UP is honestly one of the single greatest executives in Hollywood.  She’s smart, creative, and supportive.  Our partners at Reel One were amazing and put together a phenomenal production team, and our physical producers Gilles LaPlant & Matt Drake were Godsends.  The writers did an awesome job, and Sheryl ran a great room and production. The actors are all dreams to work with.

How do you think the cast members and their characters are similar?

Kelli Williams is similar to Allison in that she is a mother, is a strong woman with an amazing husband, and is extremely kind and caring. She’s also super funny in real life. Jonathan Scarfe is similar to Matt in that he is a strong supportive husband with an amazing wife and kids of his own.  He is really a great guy and his real life story is actually quite amazing. He¹s lived such a cool life.  Dion Jonstone plays Allison’s partner Devin.  Dion is such a talented actor, he¹s actually doing Shakespeare in DC right now.  Dion is a kind caring and compassionate man.  All the kids on the show are amazing too.  Rhys Matthew Bond is a super talented actor, he is actually a really great kid and not really that similar to his character in real life, Natasha Calis & Matreya Scarrwener are both really sweet and fun girls in real life, and Mitchell Kummen is hilarious.  They all are really great kids with amazing talent. The person who is least like his character in real life is Luke Perry.  He plays a criminal in the show, but in real life he is one of the nicest, kindest, and most humble human beings I’ve ever met. The one thing that is like his character is that Luke is an amazing dad who loves his kids more than anything.

Thank you very much for your time. We appreciate it and wish you luck in the future! Would you like to spill some teasers for us?

Thanks so much for your time and for watching the show.  We all appreciate it so much!  I can’t spill any details, but keep watching, the show is a great ride and a lot of surprises and AWESOME guest stars are coming up.  A couple of my favorites are C. Thomas Howell & Lochlyn Munro who have great roles coming up.  Also, the season finale is going to be super intense and fun. It¹s directed by Steven R. Monroe who is incredible.  Thanks again for watching!!!

Ties that Bind airs on Wednesdays 9 ET on UP TV