Married to the Frenemy: DC's 'Arrow' EP vs. Marvel's 'Agent Carter' Boss
Marc Guggenheim and Tara Butters talk about how they balance their work and home lives -- and joke about whether their marriage would survive a time slot face-off.
A version of this story first appeared in the Feb. 21 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Marc Guggenheim and his wife of nine years, Tara Butters, are about to test their marriage. The writer-producer power couple, who met on Law & Order (he at big L&O, she at SVU), now work for historic rivals: Guggenheim, 43, is an executive producer on The CW's DC Comics adaptation Arrow, and Butters, 42, is developing Marvel's Captain America TV spinoff Agent Carter for ABC (in addition to the network's Resurrection, premiering March 9). Ahead of Valentine's Day, THR asked how they balance their work and home lives.
Will working for Marvel and DC be a problem in your household?
GUGGENHEIM: As a fan, I want all of the Marvel TV projects to be successful. I am a comic book fan. I remember the dark days when, thanks to 1966's Batman with Adam West, comics were considered the ugly stepchild of popular culture. Plus, let's be honest: I get 50 percent of everything Tara makes, so I want her to do well!
What if Agent Carter airs opposite Arrow?
GUGGENHEIM: We would have to question whether ABC really wants our marriage to survive! My biggest problem is: Will I be able to rein in my instinct to trash-talk?
BUTTERS: All I can control is the quality of the show and hopefully make it a good hour of television.
GUGGENHEIM: I did sue you over [the title] Resurrection [also a graphic novel he wrote]; you did get a cease-and-desist letter. [Editor's note: Actually, ABC did.] We just laugh about it now. It's the most interesting bit of conflict that we've had in our careers.
Do you read each other's scripts? What can't you talk about at home?
BUTTERS: We read each other's material. We're not necessarily looking for notes. It's usually for an overall, "What did you think? Does it work?"
GUGGENHEIM: I'm always asking, "Am I embarrassing myself?!" Tara just read a spec feature I finished, and you had a terrific note, and it affected the overall read.
What comic would you like to tackle together?
GUGGENHEIM: We would write the hell out of Fantastic Four because it's about a family.
Do you watch each other's shows?
BUTTERS: I watch Arrow as a fan. I put our daughters [ages 6 and 8] to bed between 8 and 9 p.m., so I usually watch it the next day.
GUGGENHEIM: Even my wife time-shifts my show!
You co-wrote a comic before, have you talked about developing a show together?
GUGGENHEIM: It's not something we've sought out, but if it presented itself and the stars were aligned, I think we would totally do it. But the right opportunity hasn't presented itself at the right time.
BUTTERS: I would work for Marc in a heartbeat and I think that Marc would work for us in a heartbeat. From a business standpoint, it's not always smart to have all your eggs in one basket. In that sense, it is nice that we do have two different shows so that if one goes down, the other one is still working.
Who do you think would win in a head-to-head fight, Agent Carter or Arrow?
GUGGENHEIM: I'm biased but I don't see how Arrow doesn't kick Agent Carter's ass! He has five years of training in the worst places imaginable. I don't think that's a really fair fight. Maybe if Agent Carter was wearing Iron Man armor or something it might be a fair fight.
BUTTERS: She's such a different character. She's a spy!
GUGGENHEIM: Bring Captain America over and then we'll talk.