Last night, we celebrated the Atlantis season 4 cast dinner at one of my favorite Italian Don Francesco Ristorante Although I usually order from their special wild game menu (Hungarian pheasant, roast quail, venison, or the “House Duck for Two” that of course serves only one whenever I have it), I arranged for a unique but not too exotic menu on this night. We started with an excellent antipasto assortment: smoked salmon, prawns, calamari, olives, zucchini, red pepper, prosciutto, and salami, tomato, and mozarella cheese. Next up was the appetizer, a choice between a house salad and the truly outstanding squash-stuffed agnolotti with fresh tomato, cheese, and black truffle butter. We had four main courses to choose from including a broiled beef filet, grilled Tuscan chicken, and tagliolini with wild mushrooms and truffle oil. I, however, went with what turned out to be the best pick: grilled Chilean sea bass with lemon and fresh herbs. It was melt-in-your-mouth buttery delicious. Carl, a fishing enthusiast, declared it the best sea bass he has ever tasted. Dessert was a choice between a subtle, not overly-sweet pear tart with vanilla ice cream, or the marscapone-rich house tiramisu. I, of course, had both.
This was the second year we’ve celebrated our cast dinner at Don Francesco. Besides the terrific food and service, we appreciate the fact that we can be seated at four separate tables which offered us a more casual dining experience, allowing us to move around and chat with our fellow diners between courses. I chatted briefly with Jewel and at greater length with her husband Matt, a very nice guy and an actor himself. We discussed local restaurants, the M.O.W he starts shooting today, and Jewel’s grueling movie shoot in Costa Rica. I also talked to Jason Momoa about his hockey-playing days. “You played hockey in Hawaii?”I asked incredulously. “No, I grew up in Iowa,”he informed me. Seriously. Is Iowa a hockey hotbed?
A nice night all around. I snappd a few pics. A shot of ever-photogenic Carl Binder. Camera loves this guy! A shot of Alan McCullough’s lovely wife Teresa. The ever-delightful Jane and her fiancee who directed that Dog’s Breakfast movie. A pic of a crazed-looking Andy Mikita. And a shot of yours truly wearing Jason Momoa’s glasses which, I thought, made me look intelligent. I mean MORE intelligent. The festivities wrapped up a little after 10:30 p.m., but not before Carl regaled us with tales of his days as a page at NBC. One of his duties amounted to providing limo conversation for “stars” enroute to the airport. Apparently, some performers were so notoriously obnoxious that the pages would attempt to “trade off” the more intolerable assignments. I am, however, happy to report that Carl gave a big thumbs up to “class acts” like Michael J. Fox, Harry Anderson, and the great Jimmy Stewart.
We had our very first Atlantis cast read-through today. Since it was only the main cast and producers in attendance, Marty G. and I got to show off our acting skills by playing the parts of the various guest-stars in Doppelganger. As I stumbled my way through a Shakespeare-worthy soliloquy, Paul turned to Rob and suggested he pull the plug on my performance. To which Rob responded: “Nah, this is gold.” And it was. In the end, I think I really nailed it.
After lunch, we headed into our 1:00 p.m. Playback and Visual Effects meeting for Adrift and Lifeline. We worked our way through playback for both episodes in two marathon hours, then finished up the visual effects discussion for Adrift a little after 4:00 p.m. We were all exhausted and Paul suggested postponing the Lifeline portion of the visual effects meeting to another day. “We’re already here,”said Martin Gero. “Might as well get it over with.” Reluctantly, we agreed to forge ahead. At which point Martin – his work completed since we’d finished our discussion of Adrift – happily packed up his things and left us to discuss Carl’s script for the next hour and a half.
Oh, and they found a Winnebago on Lost tonight. Is it just me, or is it beginning to feel a lost like Gilligan’s Island?
Etta writes: “I have a question about Family Ties- whose idea was the last scene of the episode?”
Answer: I initially wrote the scene as a gag for the writer’s room. It got a big laugh and kept getting big laughs – so much so that people involved in the production were alarmed at the prospect of losing it. So I kept it in, assuming someone would make me cut it at some point. I assumed wrong.
Jon writes: “My electric ice cream maker broke at the end of the summer right as I was perfecting my cake batter ice cream recipe. What do you recommend as a replacement?”
Answer: Get another machine. I recommend something I’m thinking of picking up myself: The Gelato 3000.
Anonymous #1 writes: “How can you base a character arc on Teyla who’s been background noise at best for the best part of three seasons?”
Answer: The fact that the character hasn’t had the opportunity to shine is exactly the reason we’re doing it. This arc and episodes focusing on Teyla will allow viewers to get to know the character a little better. Enjoy!
Anonymous #2 writes: “Does your magic 8 ball say there’s any remote chance of an ‘evil’ Sheppard type episode? And for the record, i’m not beneath begging and would even throw in some dark chocolate offerings as way of bribing you.”
Magic 8 Ball says: Now it’s time for you to hold up your end of the deal. Send the dark chocolate to Joseph Mallozzi c/o The Bridge Studios.
Aaron Weinburg writes: “ There’s some rumbling going around at the firm today about Sci-Fi Channel’s long-term planning. Rumor has it that neither Stargate:Atlantis or Battlestar Galactica are a part of those plans. We haven’t done any work for them for some time, but I think they’re looking at a new ad campaign and network image.”
Answer: “The firm”? Well, I haven’t heard any rumors but I do know that Battlestar has been picked up for an additional 13 episodes.
FraiserFan writes: “As a resident of Las Vegas, I’m curious to know what places/events you particularly enjoyed (or loathed) when you visited here, especially where restaurants are concerned.”
Answer: We usually stay at the Bellagio. Dining highlights include Michael Mina, Daniel Boulud, Tableau, Le Cirque, and The Cheesecake Factory for corn tamales and dulce de leche chesecake. Martin Gero dined at Guy Savoy at Caesar’s and said it was one of the best meals he’s ever had.
Jenny Robin writes: “Re: Terror — I am still making slow headway. I have yet to break page 200.”
Answer: Well, I’ve got about a hundred pages to go and should finish it tonight. The pacing really picks up in the last hundred pages or so. Keep at it!
Michael writes: “Have you ever been In Germany?”
Royal Nonesuch writes: “If you are an ice cream fan, you must try Cincinnati’s own “Graeter’s” ice cream.”
Answer: You’re the second person to recommend Graeter’s. Richard Kind (aka Lucius) recommended it the last time he was in town.
Anonymous #3 writes: “Is that major arc for Elizabeth in season 4 still on?”
Answer: I never said it was a major arc for Elizabeth. I said “the Weir character will be a significant player in a major arc”. There’s a difference.