The executive producer/psychic explains the phenomenon that is this show
As one of the executive producers on one of the more spiritual shows on television, James Van Praagh feels that through the show Ghost Whisperer he can get people to recognize and question their own beliefs. The show focuses on Melinda Gordon (Jennifer Love Hewitt) and her ability to communicate with the earthbound spirits of the recently deceased. Her job is to help send their important messages to the living and allow the dead to pass on to the other side. Recently, Van Praagh sat down with us to discuss the very weighty issues that Ghost Whisperer tackles.
Over the course of a 22 episode season is it ever difficult keeping up and servicing all the storylines? Because they do overlap and connect?
James Van Praagh: You know the show evolves, the town evolves, the characters evolve and we try to be very true to each character. So when there's one story which we're using where we see how does so and so react to this? How are they going to be affected by this story as well? It's funny because at the very beginning of the Second Season we have Camryn Manheim (Delia Banks) who didn't know about Melinda's gift at all and how are we going to deal with that? The first season when we had Aisha (Tyler; Andrea Moreno) on the show, she knew about the gift so there was a difference in that. We could play around a lot more with should we keep it from Camryn's character or not? How are we going to play with that? That was fun to work with and play around with that. They do evolve and we found that we had much more freedom if she did know about the ability.
Sometimes the character's themselves will tell us what the story is. We might have a Professor Payne story (Jay Mohr) and it's really, really important to get that out, so we'll do a story around him.
Where would you like to see Melinda Gordon go that she hasn't gone before in the show?
James Van Praagh: Well, goodness gracious lets see, she's died two times (laughs), she's going underneath Grandview this season, lets see, where can she go? I'd like to have her have a baby! I know she would like to have a baby, I don't know if she can. She would love to be a mommy, Melinda Gordon, because she would like to settle down a little bit. I would like to see her have people around her life now who are more aware of the ability, like people of the town. Maybe have other people who do similar sorts of things? Whether it's a psychic or an astrologer, just some other people who look at life differently. I think Jim (Clancy; David Conrad) is really being burned out of supporting her so much (laughs)! I'd like to see their relationship evolve a little bit more.
How important to you is keeping a sense of reality about this show, in regards to the idea that the events being experienced are things that could and do really happen? Is that on your mind a lot as you're making the show?
James Van Praagh: No. (Laughs) I had to give that up. To a point it's entertainment. For me I got involved in this work because it was a sense of, and all my work as far as the movies I've done for television and for books I've written... it really is entertainment, that's the medium of television. I like to use that medium to get across as best as I can, to get the word out, to get the message across about life after death; about spiritual existence if you will. This show is entertainment first and foremost but within that entertainment arena you could throw in some universal truths, some spiritual truths and make people think and have them question things. It was difficult in the beginning because spirituality and Hollywood, it's like a bad train-wreck.
So I learned that from the very beginning from all the things I've worked on. That's part of it, teaching people, teaching producers, teaching studio heads, teaching network heads that there is a responsibility, not only in entertaining people, but using this medium of television in positive ways to teach people and enlighten people. I think as entertainment oriented as Ghost Whisperer is and as scary as it is... you will still notice at the end of every single episode there is a spiritual teaching. That is my hallmark. That is what I bring to the show and once that leaves I'm off the show. I won't be part of the show if they take away that and they won't because that is our stone. The crux of our show is the emotional pull at the end. It might be a small little thing at the end but that's how people leave this show. They're up on a high.
I just came back from Australia, I can't tell you how many people came up to me and said it was their favorite show because of the emotional and spiritual closure at the end.
Speaking of the whole aspect of spirituality do you think that's also why the public has been so taken by Ghost Whisperer? That the way you guys deal with death is really something people want to know more about?
James Van Praagh: Yes, I think that as human beings we are all different, per se, that's what people think. On a third dimensional level we're all different but there are two things we share in common... one is birth, and we know about that because we've been through it, we understand it, and the other is death. Not many of us know about that's like, so we want to know more. We want to educate ourselves, enlighten ourselves about what that experience is going to be like. So shows like this, books about death, movies and so forth, people can't get enough information about it.
The other thing is that every single person has experiences. Whether it's telepathic, like I think about someone, 5 minutes later they call and it's that person. Or, these weird coincidences, these things happen, what is all that about? There's so many experiences people have and they want to question those. What is that all about? So that goes into questions about spirituality, what is energy? And so forth...
I also think it's a sense of the consciousness changing in our planet. Maybe it's a time of war and people start questioning their destinies and the meaning of life and so forth, I also think it's a generational thing. I think in other generations, the 50s, the 60s, people went into religion and they were really involved with religion. I found now that religion doesn't answer certain unique questions people have about faith and belief. They've gone outside religion because they can't find it there. They question their own spirituality if you will. I think this is part of that journey for them.
What can the fans expect from Season 3 of Ghost Whisperer?
James Van Praagh: We discuss a lot about energy this Third Season. We're gonna do a lot with the vortexes... and we're going to discover that underneath Grandview is a whole other world. The reason why Melinda Gordon is brought to Grandview is not what she thought. She's being used if you will by other things that are going on underneath the town. It's a whole other world. It's going to be a show within a show and it's fascinating.
Ghost Whisperer: The Second Season is currently available on DVD from Paramount Home Entertainment.
You find out about everything James Van Praagh has happening on his website via www.vanpraagh.com.