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Original 'Quantum Leap' producer Deborah Pratt on 'coming home' to direct her first episode, 'Family Style'
Pratt gives more Quantum Leap history in Part II of our interview for "Family Style".
In this week's episode of Quantum Leap, "Family Style," Ben (Raymond Lee) leaps into the eldest daughter of an immigrant Indian family in Portland, Oregon, who are trying to keep their family restaurant afloat the year after the death of their patriarch. Ben has a personal connection to this particular family, because he sees his own back story in theirs. And the same goes for the director of the episode, Deborah Pratt. An executive producer on both the original Quantum Leap and NBC's current revival, Pratt is, for the very first time, directing an episode of the series which helped define her career.
In the second part of SYFY WIRE's conversation with Pratt, she dives into how she came to direct "Family Style," finally getting to helm an episode 30 years after the original, and a seemingly throwaway Easter egg line that has a lot of resonance to her family and the series.
**SPOILER WARNING! Spoilers below for the latest Quantum Leap episode, "Family Style"**
How did you come to direct this season, and did you get to pick the episode or was it just the one that came up in the rotation?
Well, I certainly asked for it. In the original show, only two women directed on the show. Both of those were supposed to be my slots, but I was running the show and running the writers' room. Literally, I couldn't do it. And so I brought in two black women. The only women that directed the show were two black women: Debbie Allen and Anita Addison. And then [Anita] brought me in to direct Grey's Anatomy. I did the season  finale. But for women in general, and black women directors in specific, it was very, very hard back in those days. It was like a unicorn.
Now, I'm so grateful to Martin (Gero), because he does bring diversity to the set. It's imperative to have women and to have people of color to tell those stories. When this episode [script] came, they said, "We want you to direct it." I read it, and I called [writer] Aadrita Mukerji and said, "You nailed it!"
The subject matter seems like it was a tailor made story for you to tell in this mythology.
Thank you, I feel like I did a great job. I had a great time. I was really excited to work with the cast who I have befriended from the very beginning and they've befriended me. I mean, we had a wonderful love fest between us.
Was it surreal getting to direct a story in this world, 30 years later?
There was some deja vu, because we were shooting in areas that we had shot the old show on the [Universal Studios] back lot, for sure. It did affect me in that way. But because there was so much love for the show, from the cast, from the crew, from the staff, it felt like I was coming home. I came home.
The episode has a bit of everything, from explosions to small family moments and even comedy. Was there a favorite scene to bring to life?
As the director, those were absolutely fun and fantastic with big, high crane shots. But the scene that really meant the most to me was a oner. The Latino chef comes into the kitchen and the camera swings around to show Ben and his mom. They're talking and he says, "We've got to bring my sister back!" And she goes, "No, we don't. We've got you. We got me. We've got...." and then I did a swish pan over and [the chef] is sleeping. That to me was fun and funny. And they played it perfectly.
In a scene between, Ian (Mason Alexander Park) and his ex, she says she hasn't seen them look so sad since Pretty Little Liars was cancelled. Your daughter, Troian Bellisario, was in that series. Was that an insider Easter egg?
Yeah. Did you know Troian had done an original episode of Quantum Leap? I wrote an episode called "Another Mother" and that was when I made up the lore that children under five and animals could see Al (Dean Stockwell) and Sam (Scott Bakula). She played this little girl whose older brother was kidnapped, disappeared and was never seen again. That was what Sam had to put right. And she walked in with her doll and looked up and she said, "Where's my mommy?" And the brother and sister said, "Your mom is right there." She said, "No, that's a man dressed in mommy's clothes." That was her acting debut.
With Quantum Leap picked up for Season 2, will you be back to direct again?
Well, I'm supposed to direct another episode this summer. But for now, I'm asking people that when you watch this episode, please tweet your favorite food or your favorite family memory. Tweet or Facebook or Instagram what is it like to be an immigrant in a foreign country and how blessed are you to have family.