HOLLYWOOD - A serial killer could be coming to Kearney.
When the Nov. 13 episode of the TV drama "Dexter" airs, a show writer and Kearney native said one of the characters "could very well be in Kearney."
"Time will be spent in the Cornhusker State," is all "Dexter's" co-executive producer and a 1981 Kearney High School graduate Tim Schlattmann would disclose.
"Dexter" is a likeable blood-splatter expert for the Miami Police Department who moonlights as a serial killer of criminals who he believes have escaped justice. Schlattmann, 48, has written for the show since it aired in 2006.
"Dexter's" new season began Sunday on Showtime.
While taking his classes at Kearney State College, he worked as a disc jockey at KGFW/Hits 106. After graduating in 1985, he went full time at the radio station, returned to school and earned a master's degree in speech communications in 1988 from Colorado State University.
He landed a job teaching communications at Washburn University in Topeka, Kan., for three years, but wanted more. So in 1991, he packed up his dog and his bags and moved to Los Angeles to try to break into the television industry.
He was lucky. Within a month, he landed a job at NBC as a production assistant where he fetched coffee, delivered scripts and learned the trade.
"It got me on the inside," he said. "It allowed me to see the process of how a television show is made."
Schlattmann wrote in his free time and eventually landed a job as a writer's assistant on "Roseanne" when the show was No. 1 on ABC. By working with the writers and having them critique his material, Schlattmann learned it's the characters that draw an audience.
"It's not about the setup and the punch line, it's about who's saying those words," he said.
Schlattmann found an agent, and his first full-time writing job was with FOX's "The Crew." He transitioned from writing comedies to dramas with "Get Real," which featured young actors Anne Hathaway and Jesse Eisenberg.
Schlattmann went on to other projects such as "Smallville" on The WB and "Dinotopia" on ABC. In 2006, he was sent the "Dexter" pilot. Schlattmann worked his way up to co-executive producer of the show, and he and his co-workers have earned "Dexter" three straight Emmy nominations for best drama series.
The show's success, Schlattmann said, lies with viewers being able to identify with Dexter, the unlikeliest of characters, who is fighting with his dark side.
"You have a character who, on face value, isn't one you think you would have anything in common with. And as a human being, who among us doesn't have a dark side to our personality? Being caught in the wake of something you can't control," he said. "And that's how we've described Dexter and how he feels about what it is he does.
"There's a reliability to this character that's made it so successful and so watchable."
The show uses voiceover for Dexter's character, which allows the audience to hear his thoughts and become co-conspirators in everything he does.
"The point of view of the character is so unique. When he goes on a journey and asks himself a question, you again bring your own life experience to the show, and you ask yourself the same questions and wrestle with the same ideas," Schlattmann said.
When possible, Schlattmann will use Nebraska references in the show, such as Good Samaritan Hospital, which was used in one of the 72 episodes.
Schlattmann declined to give any details about the Nov. 13 Nebraska episode except to say it's a mystery. He wouldn't say if Dexter would be making the trip.
Schlattmann has been voted by his co-writers most like Dexter because of his temper, especially in L.A. traffic.
"Cut me off in traffic and I'll probably swear like the Deb character and perhaps want to do to that driver what Dexter does to some of his victims," he said with a chuckle. "Thankfully, I don't act upon it."
Each fall, after the new season begins and writing has ended, Schlattmann returns to Kearney to visit his sister Cindy Schlattmann, and then goes to Houston where he visits his sister Lisa Schlattmann.
During this year's offseason, Schlattmann will work with Pierce Bronson on adapting a French film into a one-hour drama for FX in hopes of making it a TV series.
"I'm working with 007. It's really surreal, and sometimes I can't believe I'm sitting at the same table with him," he said.