We are the co-creators and executive producers of the original Disney presents Bill Nye the Science Guy. We poured our heart into the show and never imagined the impact it would make.

We are still producing television from Seattle! The sixth season of our BizKid$ is premiering now on Public Television. Instead of teaching science to kids, we try to get kids interested in their financial futures.

We also now have a book out called "How to turn $100 into $1,000,000.

Ask Away!

EDIT 1: (12:42 PST) We are going to step off for a quick lunch break, but we will be back soon! Feel free to keep asking questions and we will get to as many of them as we can!

EDIT 2: We are back!!!

FINAL EDIT: Hey everyone, it's been a really fun 5 hours, but we are going to go ahead and officially sign off. Don't forget to check out the BizKid$ series on Public Television and our book on Amazon. We had a lot of fun, looking forward to the next time! Science Rules! http://imgur.com/Qygrl12

Comments: 726 • Responses: 55  • Date: 

MattBaster330 karma

What do you two think of Bill Nye Saves The World?

OfficialJimandErren214 karma

We actually haven't yet seen it. I (EG) just saw the documentary Bill Nye: Science Guy and loved it. I laughed, I cried.

jstrydor410 karma

We actually haven't yet seen it.

Then it's not too late for you then... I still remember the days back when I still had a faint light of innocence shining in my heart. Bill Nye Saves The World took that from me... he took it from all of us...

OfficialJimandErren416 karma

Yeah, we understand it didn't go so well.

 

I've been a lurker on Reddit for years, saw the negative comments and it broke my heart. I was concerned it might impact the original series and I'd hate to see the show removed from the curriculum of some school districts because it is still such an effective teaching tool.(jm)

montyberns227 karma

I wouldn't worry about that too much. It may have hurt Bill's reputation a bit, but the original series will stand for a long time as a standard for getting kids excited about science. You guys did an amazing job.

OfficialJimandErren172 karma

Thank you so much, that means a lot. (jm and eg)

beardlikegimli172 karma

Did you think that years after the show was cancelled, kids would still be screaming "BILL BILL BILL BILL" every opportunity they got? That song is like 90s kids national anthem.

OfficialJimandErren199 karma

Never imagined the success of the original show. We talked about the show being relevant for 3-5 years, max. Almost 25 years later, to have so many millennials say they got into science from the series is so amazing to me. And just a shout out to Mike Green, composer of the theme song.-(jm)

KiKoB141 karma

How did you choose the kids that were on the show? I was always so jealous of those kids, man.

OfficialJimandErren161 karma

That was a fun part of the gig, doing the casting. Back then most kid talent in Seattle did modeling or print ads and couldn't really walk and talk on camera. We scoured local school theater programs, talent agencies, friends, relatives, friends of friends....It wasn't past me to dress up my baby as yoda (use the forks Luke for the Structures show) ( http://imgur.com/us2fxSj ) when needed. (EG)

thecardinal6135 karma

Why was the part about chromosomes determining gender taken out of the Netflix version of the series?

OfficialJimandErren162 karma

We were as surprised to hear about this as anyone. We actually found out about it through Reddit comments. We have no idea who did the edit. (jm)

evil9573 karma

You guys seemed to create the genre of E/I television shows at the time. I'm sure budgets were tight. Did you have difficulty getting funding for a series?

OfficialJimandErren65 karma

YES (both of us)

Micaityl67 karma

Were there episode ideas that were refused by Disney because of content matter or the company did not think it would be suitable for their general audience?

OfficialJimandErren118 karma

Actually Disney totally left us alone, we did what we wanted. We got one note from Michael Eisner that said "love the show, could use more history" (EG)

RetroVisionOfficial54 karma

What are some funny bloopers or accidents that occurred while filming the show with Bill Nye?

OfficialJimandErren212 karma

There were a few moments of pure terror that I remember. For the rivers show, we watched as Bill paddled right into some hole in the current and disappeared. He was gone for about 18 seconds and I remember the panic. The safety boat was already below him! Suddenly he popped up and just continued on as if nothing happened.

Another time, for the Forest show, we got lost in the middle of a monster forest fire. Well, we had to shoot something, so Bill jumped out of the van and we started rolling. A huge fir tree exploded into flames right over our heads and started raining a shower of fire. I turned to Jen, our PA and asked her to back the van up and I still can see the pure terror in her eyes. We lived...(JM)

Bill was invited to fly with the Blue Angels. They warned us that the guest usually passes out from the g forces. We decided that Bill should focus on trying to say simple words like "Flight!" and "Science!" They knocked him out three times, once for about 22 seconds. Each time he woke up, he'd yell "Science!"and then pass out again. Here's a picture of him getting strapped in! http://imgur.com/NXrb64r (EG)

DontClickTheUpArrow45 karma

Were you ever approached about working on the new show? I would think if they were going for a reboot then they would want your opinions. At this point the new show is destroying what you guys helped Bill create, he needs you guys to come back to him and recreate the magic you once had!

OfficialJimandErren42 karma

Thanks - we were never approached though always happy to help out (eg)

the_schmeez38 karma

What was your favorite moment with Bill?

OfficialJimandErren109 karma

There were so many favorite moments. Inside the crater of Mt. St. Helen's comes to mind. Once, while on the road, Bill had fashioned a device for viewing a solar/lunar eclipse. He tells us to stop and we find an open location next to some tennis courts with a bunch of ladies in mid-game. Suddenly, Bill has the box on his head, screaming "It works, it works!" It was pretty awesome, but the ladies found it a little strange.-(jm) Here's a picture from that day! http://imgur.com/QdZXNuY

 

A memorable moment for me (EG) was down in Florida for a space shuttle launch, which I got to see, but Bill had to have his back to it the whole time since he was talking on on camera. (jm) same thing happened at Old Faithful

trapsmightbegay34 karma

How was Bill off camera? How much did he play up his personality?

OfficialJimandErren61 karma

On camera, Bill played the Science Guy. Off camera, Bill was Bill Nye, human- one that loves, laughs and is passionate about what he does. To be on camera, you have to push that personality.

Excedrinpm29 karma

How important do you think striking a balance between entertaining your audience and informing them is? Was there ever a time or topic where you found it difficult to keep it fun enough for kids to stay glued to the TV but still educate them?

OfficialJimandErren45 karma

Good question. Bill leaned more to education, we leaned more to entertainment, a constant battle so to speak. We always felt if they are not having fun they will tune out. Bill kept us on point with the message. We always tried to present different ways to learn, I (EG) got the most out of the sketch/humor parts, so I always leaned towards that. Bill always had great real world analogies. There were times we felt a show might be a little flat and then it went thru audio post at Bad Animals and we were always cracking up in the final review.

HipsterXTurtle23 karma

Do you have a favourite episode or project of Bill's that you worked on?

OfficialJimandErren47 karma

We did 100 episodes in four years. It was crazy and I really have to say there were so many different moments and episodes.... Wetlands stands out to me, personally. I love swamps. Also, the Watercycle show. The kid in the music video still brings a tear to my eye. We also spent two weeks in Japan in one of the most incredible science adventures one could imagine. Here's a picture of me in Japan on this adventure... they made me stay in the outfit the entire time. http://imgur.com/7nwK8E8 (JM)

 

One of my fave episodes is The Eyeball - great sketch - props - music video, I think it was one of the few times we got a scathing letter about how someone's daughter went running from the room because she saw a glass eye in one of the profiles (EG)

lovehandlegalore19 karma

What do you think it was that set BNSG apart from other shows such as Beakman's World?

OfficialJimandErren33 karma

Bill was a real scientist.

ld4323318 karma

Wasn't bill nye the science guy on pbs?

OfficialJimandErren24 karma

Yes both PBS and syndicated on network affiliates, as well as internationally

Zinjifrah17 karma

When you made BNtSG, how much were you influenced by Mr. Wizard's World? I loved both and it seems like a great heritage of bringing science to kids.

OfficialJimandErren19 karma

Bill was very much influenced by Mr. Wizard. When it came to the production of the show we were very influenced by MTV sports and the PBS show Square One television.

HempCO71916 karma

IYO, has Bill changed in his approach to Science, since you guys did the show together? Like has he flopped his stance on anything he once believed?

OfficialJimandErren31 karma

As far as I know, nothing flip-flopped, if anything he seems to have become more political. We totally support his stance on climate change. (eg)

Ryder35815 karma

What did you think of Beakman's World?

OfficialJimandErren21 karma

Very high production quality. We were so bummed when we first heard about the show actually hitting the airwaves before us, we thought we were doomed. But then we said - hey - there's more than one Oprah, as in talk shows....can there really be too many kid science shows out there. We embraced it. (eg)

typicalrowerlad14 karma

How did the idea of BizKid$ come up?

OfficialJimandErren19 karma

We were approached early on by WaMu (long gone) to create a financial literacy show. We were working on it for awhile, it wasn't quite clicking and then we came across Jeannine Glista who was pitching a kid entrepreneur show - and voila we jammed the 2 ideas together and the show came together. Now, the show is sponsored by a coalition of America's Credit Unions. A huge thank you to them! (EG)

I'd had an interest in money and finance since I was young because my father subscribed to the Wall Street Journal and I started reading it and those amazing stories on the front page. I actually wrote up a three page financial literacy show proposal when I was a young pup at KING-TV, the Seattle NBC affiliate. They sent me on my way. Later, as Erren said, we were developing a show called Financial Genius when we met J9, our Canadian partner, with her Biz Kid$ idea. We liked her title better than ours. (JM)

Frajer13 karma

Where did that the idea for Bill Nye The Science Guy come from?

OfficialJimandErren34 karma

Bill, Erren and I met at KING-TV, the Seattle NBC affiliate. Bill and I were working on a comedy show called Almost Live! I actually produced Bill's first sketch on the show about why steam rises from the manhole covers in downtown Seattle. He was the "Why Guy" then and did not have the character worked out. Later, when a guest failed to show for an episode, Bill was assigned the title "Science Guy" by our host, Ross Shafer and told to get out there and perform. Next thing we know he shows up at the writer's meeting in almost perfect "Science Guy" uniform.

A few years later, Erren and I are working on an idea to create a show for national distribution out of Seattle. We kept hearing about the need to teach math and science and started working on the concept of a half-hour show starring Bill. There were numerous shorts that we had to do to prove the concept. A six minute piece called Fabulous Wetlands won a gold medal at the New York Festivals and we used that along with another video called "Who is Bill Nye, Anyway?" to pitch the show. That pitching went on for about four years before we found the money for the pilot. (jm)

RogerMooresEyebrows11 karma

Why did the show end?

OfficialJimandErren29 karma

Funding. We got up to 85 episodes in the can and Disney said no more. Our Exec Elizabeth Brock brilliantly went to PBS and said Disney wants to fund 15 more to get us to 100 episodes. Then she went back to Disney and said PBS wants to fund 15 more episodes...so they both kicked in and we made it to 100 episodes and then money dried up. (eg)

victalac5 karma

How did you pick Nye?

Were there other candidates with more academic credentials passed over in favor of Nye's stage presence?

OfficialJimandErren5 karma

We all worked together at KING-TV in Seattle. There was no picking. It just was. (EG)

UpChuck_Banana_Pants5 karma

Who would win in a fight, Bill Nye, or Mr. Wizard?

OfficialJimandErren18 karma

Hands down Bill Nye (cuz Mr Wizard is dead) eg

2muchtruth5 karma

Did you guys get a slice of Saves The World? You deserve, at minimum, a nibble.

OfficialJimandErren8 karma

you're very kind, but no. (eg)

resonantred354 karma

What do you think of the politicization of science in our culture?

I find it despicable and dangerous.

OfficialJimandErren21 karma

The pilot episode of our series was funded by a Republican administration. The series was funded by a Democratic administration. This is one of those important discussions we should have over a beer. (JM)

This is not a one beer discussion. (EG)

MeenaBeti3 karma

How did you get your 'big break'?

OfficialJimandErren11 karma

We pitched the show over and over again for four years. We finally got funding for a pilot (right place, right person) and then thought it would take PBS two more years to raise money for the series so...Bill bought a bike to ride cross country, Jim proposed to me and when I said yes, he said good I have tickets for Vegas and the plane leaves in an hour (no tsa shit back then) ...so we got married in Vegas and while we were down there Bill called and said "you guys have to come back - Disney saw the pilot and they are flying up to meet us." So much for a honeymoon. (eg)

user768993 karma

What do you regret not doing with Bill Nye?

OfficialJimandErren8 karma

A show on Vacuums. Not my idea. Someone whom I very much admired suggested it as a show topic and it blew my mind. Why hadn't we thought of that during the series?!

Also, I would have loved to have gotten a shot of Bill standing in Pompeii with Vesuvius in the background.

One shot I did get of Bill that is one of my favorites is actually an homage to U2 and Frank Sinatra. Bill is sitting on the back of a convertible, driving down the old strip in Vegas. He looks around, then says "Las Vegas, Nev. Yep, still haven't found what I'm looking for..." (JM)

Corndogsaretheshit3 karma

Question: Following the dismal return of Bill Nye, with his "saves the world" show, have you been asked to produce a future show?

The show changed my life and was one of the best highlights of childhood. There is no reason it cannot be replicated for today's kids (if in the right hands as we have just learned). I hope you guys and Bill reunite.

OfficialJimandErren4 karma

We are currently putting our efforts into Biz Kid$ and appreciate your comment. (though we never say never) eg

roger_ranter3 karma

Hi! Thanks for doing this AMA.

Who did the lyrics and shots for the Queen Lighteefah music video? Oh my god, that was so hilarious and awesome...

OfficialJimandErren6 karma

Oh man, that's so long ago, I don't remember. We had a great writing team, Mike Green and Tom McGurk did the music. I loved so many of the music videos in fact we had a whole episode with them. It was The Top 11 countdown - because 11 is a prime number (that's a Bill thing) EG

WhatsThatSkaSong2 karma

What was the original goal you had in mind when forming the idea of the show? Was it just to educate?

Also, why was it created? Was there a something else in television that you were trying to contrast? Or was it just mandated educational material from higher ups?

What was something you wanted to include—science-wise—that couldn't make it for whatever reason?

OfficialJimandErren4 karma

We just really wanted to do production from Seattle, where we lived. And I guess the stars were aligned with 1) we were out of work 2) Newsweek just came out with a cover title "US kids 17th in Math and Science around the World" 3) there was an educational mandate for math and science So we thought hey lets do a science show with Bill....and 4 years later an overnight success. (eg)

Not_Weirder2 karma

What were your first reactions when you met Bill in person?

OfficialJimandErren5 karma

I thought he was cute (eg)

bigdog9272 karma

Scientists like to debate almost everything. How did you deal with members of the scientiffic community taking issue with certain subjects that were covered on Bills show?

OfficialJimandErren3 karma

The original Disney Presents Bill Nye the Science Guy series had very little negative comments from the scientific community. At the time, we tried to do the best research our budget allowed. We had a team of qualified young science researchers and a broad based science advisory board. We did our best with the information available at the time. Now, of course, there is this thing called the internet... (JM)

bigdog9272 karma

Are there any statistics that detail the effects the Bill Nye show has had on young people? Is there any hard evidence that suggests there could be a trend between the amount of millennials pursuing science based degrees and professions and the original airing of your show?

OfficialJimandErren2 karma

I would absolutely love to see some statistics on the effects of the show. We hear from someone almost daily about how the show impacted their lives and they made a decision to go into a field of science because of it. That is very gratifying. (JM)

FuriouFive2 karma

I have been wanting to ask this for YEARS: Who is responsible for the Drew Barrymore sketch? That was absolutely brilliant.

OfficialJimandErren3 karma

It was very impromptu. There was a script Jim can't remember if he wrote it, or Bill, or one of our writers.... but here is an old photo of Drew and Jim together! http://imgur.com/ExAfApD (EG)

HalesOwnShrek2 karma

What was it like working with Bill?

OfficialJimandErren4 karma

He was an excellent talent, did anything we asked, took direction well. And like the energizer bunny...he kept going and going.It was the perfect team. We all felt we had a mission (to nudge the world as Bill would say) it was a very passionate group, over worked and under paid. (EG)

Ansem_T2 karma

Hey guys! Big thank you for Bill Nye the Science Guy. I grew up watching it for my middle school science curriculum (I was homeschooled). I probably wouldn't have gotten my degree in Chemistry in college otherwise. Big thank you!

For your new show, have you had pushback in regards to finances being too "adult and boring" to teach kids?

OfficialJimandErren2 karma

You went on to be a scientist because of the show? Thank you! That was the plan.

We were working on the idea of a financial literacy show for years called Financial Genius. We met our Canadian partner, Jeannine Glista, with her idea for a show on kid entrepreneurs called Biz Kid$. Now, we do about five stories on kids and their money per episode, all wrapped around one general theme.

So many kids think they can't do this, but when you see where some of these kids come from and the ways they are building their financial futures, it can be mind blowing. Some have become multi-millionaires. And I think if these kids can do it, anybody can. (JM)

Islanduniverse2 karma

"Eat your crust Richie" is still one of my favorite quotes of all time.

How do you feel knowing that whenever the big tube tv was rolled into a science classroom, everyone in the room knew that we were going to watch the Science Guy, and we were all over the moon?

OfficialJimandErren4 karma

Like a proud momma! That is one of my favorite quotes as well as is "keeping shaking science guy the sapphires fall to the bottom" (eg)

imbrokeforever2 karma

Hey guys, I think we may have a mutual connection with the fellow standing on the far left of that photo you're holding. Spencer McCulloh here. Didn't expect to see you two on Reddit this morning! But anyways here my question haha. How did Bill Nye end up being the science guy for the show?

OfficialJimandErren3 karma

Hey there! To answer your question, he was born into it. (eg)

oh_sugarsnaps2 karma

What do you desire for future educational programming?

Do you have a favorite educational show that's on right now?

OfficialJimandErren4 karma

That it continues! And my favorite educational show on right now...you mean other than Biz Kid$ of course, I'd say Arthur, still an all time favorite. Make sure to go visit the BizKid$ website and take a look at what we are up to nowadays! www.bizkids.com (EG)

Kyjoza2 karma

BNTSG will probably make the history books for its profound impact on this generation as we grow up and become more involved in the world. Maybe a silly question, but do you feel that the show in a way fulfilled your life destiny/was what you were "meant to do" ?

OfficialJimandErren6 karma

Absolutely. I majored in Film and Broadcast production and minored in Environmental Science - and when i grew up I wanted to do environmental documentaries....so years later i'm on the set of BNSG and a friend taps me on the shoulder and says - you know you are doing what you always wanted to do. I didn't even realize it at the time. (eg)

OfficialJimandErren5 karma

SNL changed my life and I wanted to do a comedy show for national distribution from Seattle. At that time, doing any show from Seattle was virtually impossible. It was many years of struggle and low budgets, but we always focused on doing humor while casting Bill in commercials and industrial videos while trying to pay the rent. We kept seeing a need for science education and thought people always remember things that are funny. So, we got to do a science based comedy show from Seattle. I really did get to do my dream. (JM)

joelschlosberg2 karma

The science of economics is rarely included in general popular overviews of science, and the expositions of it are rarely counted as science popularization. (For instance, I can't think of a children's economics show with roughly the same role in relation to adult ones like Free to Choose and The Age of Uncertainty as Bill Nye the Science Guy is to Cosmos.) As the producers of both Bill Nye the Science Guy and BizKid$, why do you think this is so?

OfficialJimandErren1 karma

We touch a little on economics, but I think you may be right. Possible new series idea? (JM)

joelschlosberg2 karma

Was there any pushback on the Pseudoscience episode unabashedly taking the skeptical side in the era of The X-Files, when even Scooby-Doo was making fun of its heroes for not believing in the paranormal? Did TV stations that ran both Bill Nye and less skeptical programming have reservations about running the episode? On the other hand, did you hear from Mulder and Scully fans amused by the episode's "Muldy and Skelly" parody?

OfficialJimandErren5 karma

We really didn't get any pushback on Pseudoscience. We anticipated problems with the Evolution show and the Flowers show, which was really the Sex show in disguise. Nothing. We got some feedback on the Populations show.

Interestingly, many PBS stations were afraid of the pilot episode on the Water Cycle. It was a little too zingy, if you can believe that. I think only 18 stations ran the pilot. Disney saw the pilot and called Bill. That's when things took off and our dream came true. (JM)

WhitePantherXP2 karma

Are you related to the other famous Gottlieb from the Pawn Stars franchise?

OfficialJimandErren9 karma

Probably not. I also wished I was related to the Gottlieb Pinball machine empire. (eg)

joelschlosberg1 karma

Do you have a favorite pinball (or general arcade) machine?

OfficialJimandErren3 karma

My family is from Montana and I have a touch of Salish tribal blood in me from my mother. Dad's side were Irish settlers. I almost impulse bought Erren a Gottlieb Cowboys and Indians machine. Kicked myself that I didn't. (JM)

InTupacWeTrust2 karma

Are you happy the Bill Nye's latest show?

OfficialJimandErren3 karma

Haven't seen it. (JM)

SpitefulSoul2 karma

What are your personal thoughts on alternative medicine such as crystal therapy ? And psychedelics?

OfficialJimandErren2 karma

oh now you're having me go way back into my past (eg)

Brucem12542 karma

Does science rule?

OfficialJimandErren2 karma

Yes. I had a fear of science in high school. I met Bill and discovered how cool science can be. It changed my life! (JM)

joesaysso1 karma

Which came into your life first: a man named Bill Nye that had a persona that required you to build a show around or the idea of a fun science show directed at kids that begged for someone like a Bill Nye to pull it off?

OfficialJimandErren1 karma

Bill, most definitely. And we built the show around him. (EG)

Northern_Exile1 karma

Why did you not come forward and debunk bill nye as a real scientist, instead you let him portray a mechanical engineer as a PhD scientist in multiple fields? Don't you think that is a false narrative when dealing with facts and scientific data in an area that is based upon truths?

OfficialJimandErren3 karma

I didn't intend to portray that. And Bill, to my knowledge, has not claimed to have a PhD. (JM)

Teklogikal1 karma

Who choose to do the Morrissey cover "The harder you push me"?

Edit: this is very important, trust me.

OfficialJimandErren2 karma

It would have been one of our writers, can't remember who - maybe Jon or Melissa I'm guessing. This probably doesn't help you. (eg)

hansolo51 karma

  1. How did you guys meet Bill?
  2. What is something you enjoyed during your two week stay in Japan? (Awesome pic by the way!)
  3. How tricky was it to incorporate and properly balance humor into the show without it getting in the way of educating?
  4. Who or what would you say have had the most influence on you and what you do?

Thanks for the ama, guys. And thanks so much for co-creating such a wonderful and informative show.

OfficialJimandErren2 karma

  1. At KING-TV, we worked together.
  2. The food. Jim went to one of the baths with one of our hosts and enjoyed it so much he went back the next morning and didn't realize (couldn't read the sign in Japanese) that they switched the male and female areas and next thing I hear are ladies' screams....
  3. Yes, it was an effort to not have the education overwhelmed by the humor/entertainment. We did have one rule of the road that the science was always the science and no faking/drama.
  4. Probably my parents, even if I didn't want to admit it. (eg)

InsanitySheWolf0 karma

Could I have 100 of your 1 000 000 dollars please?

OfficialJimandErren1 karma

Buy our book to learn how to make $100 and turn it into a $1,000,000... then you won't need my 100. http://imgur.com/nStNVl4