“Burn Notice” Exclusive: Burt Reynolds and New Surprises

By Fred Topel

Warning: Spoilers follow

Hollywoodnews.com: Burn Notice star Jeffrey Donovan and series creator Matt Nix left the rest of their cast shooting in Miami while they visited the Paley Center for Media in Los Angeles. They answered questions for a local audience to tide their fans over until their fourth season premiere in June. On the red carpet before the event began, we got some exclusive scoops from the Burn Notice duo.

“A lot of this year is about kind of new relationships with bad guys and new relationships with good guys,” Nix said. “So one upcoming episode, Benito Martinez plays a client who basically despises Michael. Michael is helping really against his will and ultimately they need to help that character solve his own problem in a way, so that was a new thing for us. That’s fun.” 

Michael helps another client in a way that’s unorthodox even for him. “What’s interesting is it’s a bank heist where Michael actually allows himself to be taken hostage, which is pretty cool, so he can help the guy,” Donovan said. “The client actually is the hostage taker which is pretty cool. He’s actually helping the guy who took the hostages but he knows that he’s doing it for the right reason. He’s going to figure out how to get him out in an innocent way. That was pretty neat.”

Leave it to Burn Notice to put a twist on the tried and true hostage drama premise. “I was thinking about that episode,” Nix said. “I realized you’ve seen a lot of episodes of television where the heroes are the ones who’ve been taken hostage or the heroes are the ones who are rescuing the hostages. There aren’t that many when you see the heroes who are the people taking the hostages and are the ones negotiating with the police. It’s a really tight spot they get into and it’s a lot of fun.”

Burt Reynolds is currently filming an episode where he plays an old world spy who Michael meets. “We were incredibly excited to get him and we’d been planning,” Nix said. “To be honest, if you’d asked me a week ago, I would have said, ‘Well, we think we’re going to get him with this role and if we don’t get him with this role, we’ll get him with this role.’ We were luring Burt Reynolds on the show.” 

Before he agreed to do the show, Reynolds wanted to meet with Donovan himself. “It was great,” Donovan said. “He came and had lunch with me. We sat. It was great. He wanted to know a little bit about where I was from and how I liked the show. He’s done a couple of series so it was great to hear his old war stories and movies, the four presidents he’s met. It was great.”

Apparently, meeting the show’s creator wasn’t as important to Reynolds. “I didn’t meet Burt,” Nix said. “The thing about it is, this is a regular episode so it’s seven days. We found out that Burt Reynolds was going to do the show a few days ago. We were still in the process of making lists of who we were going to cast if Burt didn’t want to do it. So I’ve got to hightail it out to Miami if I want to meet him.”

Burn Notice is ramping up the action this year too, and that calls on Donovan to get closer and closer to danger. He’s putting himself in harm’s way just for our entertainment. “Well, just in this last script, they had three fiery explosions I had to be part of,” Donovan. “It’s a lot of setup and it’s a lot of hours. I did more hours in this last episode than I did the whole three seasons prior. We did 15 hour days for seven days straight.”

Has USA given Nix a bigger budget to accomplish all of this spectacle? “No, they’ve been very supportive and very generous but actually our budgets stay pretty much the same,” Nix said. “Just with the way budgets on shows go, things get more expensive naturally so you don’t end up with a bigger budget. You end up kind of with a smaller budget. A lot of it though is just realizing what you’re good at. We’re just a lot more organized so if we spend a dollar, it goes a lot further these days.” 

The hit cable show was immortalized earlier this year when Saturday Night Live did a sketch called “What is Burn Notice?” It was a game show where contestants were asked to describe the show, but nobody could. Nix is a good sport about it.

“Ultimately, if you look at the SNL sketch, they read a bunch of good reviews and showed some ads for the show,” Nix said. “A lot of people thought it was crossover promotion which is clearly was not, but yeah, I thought it was sort of a hoot. It surprised the heck out of me. I had no idea that it was coming, so hey, if SNL wants to pay attention to us, I’ll take it. It’s great.”

Donovan agrees. “I laughed my butt off,” he said. “I think that if Saturday Night Live is making fun of us, we’re doing something right. I thought it was a great compliment, you know?”

Burn Notice returns June 3 on USA.

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