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‘Twin Peaks’ Co-Creator Reflects on Failed Spinoff That Became ‘Mulholland Drive’

Will Mark Frost and David Lynch return for "Twin Peaks" Season 4? Frost says "we’ll just have to wait and see."

“Mulholland Drive”

Universal Pictures

Twin Peaks” is celebrating the 30th anniversary of its debut this month, which has led many fans to question whether or not creators David Lynch and Mark Frost will ever bring back the iconic franchise. “Twin Peaks” signed off in September 2017 with the finale of “The Return.” Lynch has made no announcements regarding a continuation of the series with a potential fourth season, but Frost doesn’t appear to be permanently closing the door on the show. In an April interview with Yahoo Entertainment, Frost said it wouldn’t be right to proclaim with certainty the series is finished.

“[‘The Return’] felt the right place to end it, given that Cooper had kind of defied the rules to try to undo a terrible wrong, but ended up paying a terrible price himself,” Frost said. “In terms of making more ‘Twin Peaks,’ I never say never. Who would have expected us to come back when we did? That being said, I think ‘The Return’ stands on its own really effectively, and we’ll just have to wait and see.”

Frost takes a similarly open-ended route when discussing the future of “Twin Peaks” in the new book “Conversations With Mark Frost,” which became available to purchase last month. The co-creator said, “This is a mousetrap of a question, because you always like to leave hope alive for people who are hoping for more. So I never want to close the door on that entirely. It remains a wonderful, alive creation for people that I hope stays provocative and interesting and open to their various lines of inquiry for a long time to come. As far as I’m concerned, that means the story isn’t over.”

“Twin Peaks” has run in three chapters over the last 20 years: The original ABC series, the prequel film “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me,” and the limited Showtime series “Twin Peaks: The Return.” Frost has also written or overseen various supplemental novels, including “The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer,” “The Secret History of Twin Peaks,” and “Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier.” The “Twin Peaks” universe could have been even bigger had Frost and Lynch proceeded with a television spinoff idea centered around Audrey Horne, played by Sherilyn Fenn. The name of the spinoff was “Mulholland Drive.”

“I lived on Mulholland Drive at the time and I thought it was a great title,” Frost says of the planned spinoff. “We had considered spinning off the Audrey character and setting her loose in Hollywood, in a modern noir. We had very preliminary talks; it drifted away, and then six years later, I hear it’s going be a pilot at ABC.”

Lynch’s pilot for ABC kept the basic structure of the planned Audrey Horne spinoff but substituted new characters so the project would not be tied to “Twin Peaks.” When ABC passed, the project famously ended up becoming Lynch’s 2001 masterpiece “Mulholland Drive,” starring Naomi Watts in the role originally conceived to be Fenn’s Audrey Horne.

“I know Sherilyn was eager to do it at the time,” Frost says in the book about the spinoff that would become “Mulholland Drive.” “She was ambitious, and we probably could have built a show around her. I don’t know exactly how it went from there to a pilot script without her.”

Frost says he understands why Lynch might overhaul the project to rid it of its “Twin Peaks” roots. “Maybe because ‘Twin Peaks’ had crashed and burned [after two seasons], there wasn’t much appetite for spinning off a series from it,” the writer says. “I wasn’t involved, and frankly, I needed a break from working with Lynch at that point.”

“Mulholland Drive” would go on to become one of Lynch’s definitive masterworks, while the Lynch-Frost reunion for “Twin Peaks: The Return” has been heralded as one of the most acclaimed television runs of the 21st Century. “Twin Peaks” fans will have to continue to wait and see if the creators ever come back to Cooper, Audrey, and the rest of the “Twin Peaks” gang.

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