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‘Nikita’ series finale: Maggie Q says goodbye

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“Nikita” is coming to its series finale after four seasons of action. How does the cast feel about the end of the show? This interview with the actors —Maggie Q, Shane West, Lyndsy Fonseca, Aaron Stanford and Devon Sawa — has some answers.Although none of the actors could or would give away how “Nikita” would end, there were a few teases about what might be coming. Fonseca, for example, hinted that fans should be happy about what’s coming. “It’s not gonna be a cliffhanger, but it’s not gonna be something where it’s like ‘Oh happy! Tied up in a big, pretty bow!'” the actress explained. “It feels good to have closure, but they’re also going to … I feel like I would, as a fan, be like, ‘I wonder what that life’s going to be like?’ or ‘Oh look! They’re doing that!’ You can still think about the characters.”

Maggie Q agreed that stories would be resolved by the end of the show. “I‘m weirdly fulfilled in terms of where my character is going,” she said.

One of the things that almost all of the actors noted was how they would miss the people on “Nikita.” “I’m super sad. There’s absolutely no question,” Maggie Q said immediately when asked. “These people — they’re my family. I see them more than I see my actual family. It’s just a weird feeling to not have them in my life just like that! That’s the beautiful thing about this industry, you make this family in an intense amount of time and you get really close because that amount of time is so intense. And then you just go away.”

Stanford had similar feelings about saying goodbye. “That’s the saddest thing of doing this for a living,” he explained. “Whatever time you spend with those people, they do become your family and you’re spending every day — sometimes 15, 16 hours a day with these people. You get to know them really well and the job ends — and that’s it. You break. You do keep in contact with some people, but it’s never the same.”

Sawa, however, was feeling positive about future contact with his co-stars. “We’re all buds,” he pointed out. “We all live in LA. And I assume that we’ll all stay in touch.”

While the ending of “Nikita” would of course be determined by the show’s writers and producers, the actors had some ideas of what they might like to see. Stanford referenced the movies with his bloody plan to end things. “I’d like it to end like the end of ‘Reservoir Dogs,’where there’s this giant Mexican standoff,” the actor said with enthusiasm. “Every single established character is holding a gun on someone else, and it’s all on a hair-trigger. Someone pulls the trigger, everybody drops! Everybody’s dead! And Birkhoff scurries out from under his desk — he’s like the Mr. Pink. He’s the survivor. He runs out the front to maybe get shot or who knows what.”

West had some joking theories about everyone dying in the end, but the actor actually wanted a happy ending for “Nikita” and its characters. “It would be nice to see them walk off into the sunset, that kind of thing … to show people that there’s hope,” he said, emphasizing that Nikita and Michael really might deserve some happiness at this point. “You kind of want them all to keep going … You hope for the better for all of these character, because they’ve all been through so much.”

Whatever the ending that comes, the cast and crew marked their four years on the show in a permanent way: Maggie Q hired a tattoo artist to commemorate the show’s ending. “We’re just getting a small something that I designed,” she said.

The “Nikita” series finale aired Friday, Dec. 27 at 9 p.m. on The CW.

 
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Maggie Q and Lucy Liu: Asian-Americans as Leading Ladies

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NY Times: The CW series “Nikita” begins its fourth and final season on Friday — an abbreviated run to tie up story lines, as the reluctant assassin Nikita stands falsely accused of killing the president — and while there’s still a chance, I’d like to celebrate a small but significant milestone. For six more weeks, two of the strongest and most interesting female leads on television are being played by Asian-American actresses.

I’m talking about Maggie Q, finishing her turn as Nikita, and Lucy Liu, in her second season as Joan Watson on CBS’s “Elementary,” where she is every bit as central as Jonny Lee Miller’s Sherlock Holmes. Both shows have their formulaic elements, but Nikita and Joan are noncartoonish, reasonably complex, multidimensional characters, and in prime time, there aren’t too many actresses getting that kind of opportunity in a lead role. Julianna Margulies in “The Good Wife,” Connie Britton in “Nashville,” Claire Danes in “Homeland,” Lizzy Caplan in “Masters of Sex.” It’s a short list.

Of course, that broader look also indicates that the overall picture for Asian actresses (American, Canadian and otherwise) isn’t so happy. A lot of them are working, but in roles far down the food chain from Nikita and Watson, and often playing characters conceived or shaped to reflect longstanding stereotypes about Asians.

Even Maggie Q and Ms. Liu haven’t completely escaped those archetypes. Both are playing the latest iterations of durable characters traditionally inhabited by white performers, so it would seem that race shouldn’t have any particular bearing. But the truth is that they resonate with two of the most common sets of images — or clichés — about Asian women: the high-achieving, socially awkward Dr. Joan Watson is a refined example of the sexy nerd, and the lethal, sometimes icy Nikita, able to dispense violence while wearing tight, microscopic outfits, evokes a long line of dragon ladies and ninja killers.

(You could argue that the association exists only because Maggie Q was cast as Nikita, who is based on a French film character, but it’s a self-canceling argument: The men who created the show sought her out for the role.)

In both cases, though, the actresses and their writers have avoided or transcended easy stereotypes. A lot of effort has gone into humanizing Nikita, and making her a sisterly or even maternal figure for the younger assassin Alex (Lyndsy Fonseca), and the emphasis on violent action has decreased over the show’s run. In “Elementary,” Watson has embraced her role as apprentice detective after suffering a catastrophic failure as a doctor, taking some of the shine off her super-competence. And unlike other characters in the same mold, she appears to have a normal, nonneurotic romantic life.

Clothes also tell a tale. Maggie Q fought some battles over her costumes in the early days of “Nikita,” and she has spent progressively more time in plain, covered-up (though still closefitting) workout-style ensembles and less in skimpy red dresses. Ms. Liu’s outfits, mostly chosen by the costume designer Rebecca Hofherr, have attracted a following of their own. The majority opinion seems to be that they reflect Watson’s quirky but confident style. To my eye, they have a clever awfulness, making Ms. Liu look good while signaling that perhaps she doesn’t spend as much time as she could in front of a mirror.

Either way, what Watson’s clothes don’t do is make her look ridiculous or hide Ms. Liu’s attractiveness. That’s the fate of some other Asian-American actresses in roles that play more obviously to geekiness or braininess, and are visually coded for easy comprehension. Liza Lapira wears fright clothes and dowdy haircuts as the sidekick Helen-Alice on “Super Fun Night” (ABC), something she already endured as the eccentric neighbor on “Don’t Trust the B — — in Apt. 23” last season. On “Awkward(MTV), Jessica Lu, as the rebellious daughter of strict Chinese parents, sports a hat with ears while Jessika Van, as her Asian rival, is dressed in starched outfits that make her look like an Amish schoolteacher. Both Ms. Lapira and Ms. Lu are accessorized with glasses — big black ones — something neither appears to wear in real life. Also occasionally donning glasses is Brenda Song as a video-game company executive in “Dads,” on Fox, though her most distinctive costume remains the sailor-girl outfit she wore in the pilot, part of an extended joke about the sexualization of Asian women that didn’t accomplish much besides sexualizing an Asian woman.

And there are other actresses playing less evolved versions of the Nikita-style action hero. Ming-Na Wen’s Melinda May, the black-leather-jacketed pilot in “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” (ABC), is a stoic enforcer with a dragon-lady vibe; Grace Park’s Kono Kalakaua on “Hawaii Five-0” (CBS) is equally lethal (she often does most of the kicking and punching) but favors bikinis and tight jeans. On “Once Upon a Time” (ABC), Jamie Chung plays the Disney version of a mythical Chinese swordswoman.

It takes some looking to find Asian actresses in roles that don’t easily fit into one of these two broad categories. There are a few jobs in a third category, the manipulative or overly protective Asian mother: Jodi Long on “Sullivan and Son” (TBS), Lauren Tom on “Supernatural” (CW). On the entertaining but paper-thin “Beauty and the Beast” (also on CW), Kristin Kreuk stars as a cop who just happens to be mixed race. There is, of course, a major Asian-Canadian female television star not mentioned yet: Sandra Oh, whose Dr. Cristina Yang is not the lead but is a major member of the ensemble on ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy.” As with Nikita and Watson, Yang displays some typical Asian markers — she’s a hypercompetitive, socially awkward doctor — whose race is matter of fact because there’s so much more to know about her. Yang, along with Watson and Nikita, could be considered exceptions that prove a rule, but I think the real lesson here is probably that TV would be a better place for women of all races if Shonda Rhimes (“Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal”) could just write all the shows.

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Maggie Q and Lucy Liu: Asian-Americans as Leading Ladies

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‘Nikita’ writer Albert Kim and Eva Longoria developing conspiracy drama for CW

Albert Kim, the co-EP/writer behind The CW‘s departing drama Nikita has set up a drama with the network and exec producer Eva Longoria‘s UnbeliEVAble Entertainment, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

The untitled drama revolves around a woman imprisoned for a double murder she didn’t commit who earns her law degree while behind bars. After winning her freedom, she joins the high-powered law firm that she believes is at the center of the conspiracy that framed her.

Kim, who has been with Nikita from the start, will pen the script and executive produce the drama with Longoria and UnbeliEVAble’s Ben Spector.

Longoria’s UnbeliEVAble is based at Universal Television, but Kim’s untitled drama was grandfathered in since she developed a legal show with WBTV and The CW last season. WBTV partnered Kim with Longoria after his work on the female-driven Nikita. He came up with the pitch and The CW bought it in the room.

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‘Nikita’ Writer Albert Kim and Eva Longoria developing conspiracy drama for CW

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