Universe Creative Consultant John Scalzi
Stargate: Universe Creative Consultant John Scalzi
Carl and James
Carl and James
Brad and John
Brad and John
Where Destiny will be docked.
Where Destiny will be docked.
Foie gras
Foie gras
Sweeeet scallops
Sweeeet scallops
Le Crispy Canard presented...
Le Crispy Canard presented...
...and served.
...and served.
John's first duck
John's first duck
Dessert!
Dessert!
Les mignards
Les mignards

Back in 2006, I read a novel that totally blew me away and single-handedly revived my passion for literary SF: Old Man’s War by author John Scalzi. It was smart, humorous, and unbelievably entertaining. So entertaining, in fact, that I ended up recommending it to anyone and everyone – friends, fans, and family alike. And their responses were equally enthusiastic. I picked up the second and third book in the series, The Ghost Brigades and The Last Colony, and enjoyed them so much that I made another Scalzi novel, The Android’s Dream, a Book of the Month Club selection on this very blog (for this stragglers who’d yet to discover the man). And today, it gives me great pleasure to (finally) welcome John Scalzi to the Stargate: Universe production as its new Creative Consultant.

Now what, you may ask, does a Creative Consultant do? Well, allow me to inform, clarify, and put some rumors to rest…

1. Does a Creative Consultant provide commentary on scripts in development?

Yes, the Creative Consultant reads outlines and scripts, helping to creatively shape a future episode by providing insightful input along the lines of “The color of alien plant life is dependent upon things like atmospheric chemistry, and the proximity and brightness of the star the planet happens to be orbiting!” or “Uh, James can’t be the one who saves Young. You killed her off back in episode three.”

2. Does a Creative Consultant write scripts?

It’s theoretically possible, yes. If he’s got the time, a good idea, and the inclination – why the hell not? So long as it’s understood that I’ve already called dibs on any potential future storylines involving smart-aleck robots, telepathic dogs (the beauty is that, from a visual effects standpoint, their lips never have to move), or ending with the audience realization that the episode they just watched was actually a story being read to Jelly (the ship’s telepathic canine mascot) by Anne D. Roid (the Destiny’s sassy robot caretaker).

3. If a Creative Consultant has a problem with the script, is he/she allowed to physically punish the writer?

Alas, gone are the days when studio executives could march into the production offices unannounced and kick a writer for such transgressions as contrived plotting, wooden dialogue, or liberal use of the Canadian spelling of color (“colour“). Today, as unfair as it sounds, you must have a pretty good reason to kick a writer. A weak third act break or the shoddy job he did waxing your car just won‘t cut it anymore. State labor laws and the inroads made by the WGA in recent years have all but eliminated the physical abuse of writers, except under the following circumstances:

Writer misses a script deadline = A warning for the first offense and pinky twist for the second offense (note: while the bestowing of extreme discomfort or the eliciting of plaintive cries and tears is permissible, fractures and dislocation are not. Note: Sprains are a bit of grey area open to debate.).

Writer’s script is short = Unlike a long script which can be sent back for editing, any work the writer does to a short script will amount to either the padding out of existing material or the addition of superfluous scenes. On such occasions, it is permissible for the producer to administer one paper cut to any area of the writer’s body (excluding the eye and genital area.  Note: This particular clause being an annoying antiquated holdover from the old Geneva Convention.) for every page the writer is short (assuming the average page count).

Writer fails to bring back everyone’s lunch order in a timely manner = Another area open to debate: What constitutes “a timely manner”? Well, a recent agreement between the WGA and the AMPTP defines “a timely manner” as: “An interval of time up to general grumbling but not to exceed the moment at which a producer must trek to the kitchen in search of a handful of nuts to tide him over”. In this instant, it IS permissible to strike the writer BUT ONLY WITH AN OPEN FIST (closed-fist strikes are reserved for actual screw-ups with the lunch orders – ie. A failure to ensure there is, in fact, mayo on your burger.).

Writer produces a script that necessitates a full rewrite on the part of the producer = Punishable by one kick, a head butt, or two swirlies to take place at a mutually agreed upon toilet. (On the bright side, should the rewrite succeed, the fact that the writer’s name remains on the finished product will undoubtedly win him/her the accolades of many a fan who simply don’t know any better.).

4. Does the Creative Consultant get an office and a parking space?

Since Creative Consultants tend to be involved in a more infrequent manner, contributing whenever a script or outline is delivered as opposed to being a part of a production’s day-to-day operations, they are generally not afforded the luxury of their own office. Nor are they given their own parking space although, on occasions they do visit the offices, their on-screen credit ensures they must submit to only the most minimal of cavity searches prior to gaining admittance to the lot.

5. How much does a Creative Consultant get paid?

Numerous factors come into play here: background, experience, size of the production, workload. These factors are carefully weighed and, after some discussion, both the production and Creative Consultant agree on a reasonable rate – to be paid in World of Warcraft currency (note: John, please check the fine print in your contract).

Hope that answers some of your questions.

Anyway, John came by the production offices yesterday. We sat all sat around and discussed the show and the Air three-parter, took a stroll down to Stages 4 and 5 to tour the in-progress Universe sets, discussed John’s involvement in the production and, finally, moved on to the most important part of his visit: Dinner at Fuel.

We sat down to a five-course menu and, for my very first time, as a customer I actually gave them specifics as to what I could not eat: sugar, fruit, and starches. “What are you going to have for dessert?”owner Tom Doughty wondered aloud. But, twenty minutes later, returning to serve us our first course, he was all smiles. “We’ve got the perfect dessert for you,”he assured me.

Well, to all of you particular about your food, head on over to Fuel because the gang loves a good challenge. I started with a delicious brodo with sliced wild game sausage, followed by a mouth-meltingly good seared foie gras on salsify and creamed Jerusalem Artichokes, then some sweet and tender grilled scallops, and, finally, the house crispy duck for my main. It was John’s first time having duck and he was, as expected, wowed by Fuel’s version. In fact, John seemed to really enjoy all five courses, particularly his dessert: a chocolate terrine that he luxuriated over, polishing off one leisurely bite at a time. As for me, my dessert was a dry-aged Alberta prime rib steak with beet salad. I kid you not. Even though I was close to tapped out, there’s always room for dessert, right? I ate half and brought the other half home for Fondy (who didn’t eat it fast enough so I had it for breakfast this morning). To complete the meal, we were served a tray of little bite-sized sweets: nougats, gelees, sables, and, for me, celery sticks with all natural peanut butter. All in all, a meal most creative AND delicious. My compliments to Ted who called the shots in the kitchen.

As for the company – well, what can I say – Scalzi is as hugely entertaining one on one as he is on the page (If you don’t believe me, have dinner with him.). We talked about books, film, television, writing, family life, travel, food, and, oh yeah, Ohio sushi restaurants. Lotsa fun. Looking forward to working with him.

Finally – I was walking by the kitchen yesterday and ran into actor Mike Dopud who played Colonel Chernovshev in SG-1’s Full Alert, Odai Ventrell in SG-1’s Bounty, and Kiryk in Atlantis’s Tracker (see last season, editor). He was in the office, awaiting a copy of Tracker, so I seized the opportunity to invite him to do a fan Q&A on this blog (ie. “Hey, Mike, I’m not sure if you’re aware but the terms of your contract require you to do an online question and answer session on a blog of the producer’s choosing…”). Anyway, Mike contacted me this morning to tell me he’d be happy to swing by. So, if you’ve got questions for this former pro athlete turned stuntman turned talented actor, start posting.

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Christle
Christle

I got a question for Mike Dopud! -waves hand in the air frantically- What’s your favourite book, and if said book were to be adapted into a movie, which part would you most like to play?

AV eddy

Hi Joe!

Yet another yummy sounding dinner! smile And John Scalzi to boot! WooHoo!

So glad someone so talented (and darn funny) is joining SGU’s production crew!!! (That’s the right term, right? Or is he Guy Who Hangs Out Sometimes and Does Stuff?)

What does salsify taste like?

I’ll start thinking of questions for Mike. So sweet of him to comply to…uh…”his contract!”

eddy

Belouchi
Belouchi

Dear Joe,
Well buddy great 5 seasons of SGA and I’m impatiently looking forward for the SGA movie. I hope you guys deliver the same quality in story telling as you did in the series. A question please:
1. How many ZPMS are within our possesion? ( 3 in Atlantis, one in the Odyssey, Does that seem right)
2. Was the Zpm that was given to power the ancient chair of Antartica or might I say Area 51 destroyed along with the chair?
3. Are the ZPMs powering Atlantis nearly depleted?
Also that now that you guys at Bridge Studios have a better grasp of the complexities of Stargate Universe:
4. Do you know roughly, the size and scope of The Destiny? Is it comparable to an Aurora Class ship, or more in the range of a mega ship such as Anubis mothership or Atlantis like ship.
5. Do you know where we can get Pierre Herme Macarons in Montreal?

Thanks buddy

sylvia
sylvia

John Scalzi joining SGU – Sweet
Mike Dopud doing Q&A – Sweet – many of us wondered about Kiryk. He was just great in Tracker and looks good too!

I’ve gotta try the duck at Fuel…it looks wonderful.
Thanks for the dinner photos…love to dine vicariously through you.

Blademos
Blademos

I do have a question for Joe and John. Will there be a Movie comming soon cause rumor has it that there might not be a movie cause none of the real cast has signed, but imdp.com says they are.

Alexandria
Alexandria

*grin* It’s very cool to hear of an Ohioan on board SGU. grin
Go Buckeyes! wink

Sherwood Forest Maiden
Sherwood Forest Maiden

Hey Joe, I dont have a question for John, but I do have one for you. Have you read Twilight, or any of the other books in the series?? Or seen the movie??

Mellow Yellow
Mellow Yellow

Writer fails to bring back everyone’s lunch order in a timely manner = Another area open to debate: What constitutes “a timely manner”? Well, a recent agreement between the WGA and the AMPTP defines “a timely manner” as: “An interval of time up to general grumbling but not to exceed the moment at which a producer must trek to the kitchen in search of a handful of nuts to tide him over”. In this instant, it IS permissible to strike the writer BUT ONLY WITH AN OPEN FIST (closed-fist strikes are reserved for actual screw-ups with the lunch orders – ie. A failure to ensure there is, in fact, mayo on your burger.).
*****************

OMG! I love this one..I’m going to see if I can get this written into my company’s policy..I’ll just need to change the words writer/producer ..I hope you don’t mind!

I don’t have any questions for Mike but please let him know I think he is HOT! and he did an excellent job playing Kiryk and I actually was choked when he sacrificed himself to save everyone else..AND I would have loved it if they made him a regular or recurring character on SGA..that is how great he was..I don’t usually miss a character that I see once on a show but he left me wanting more… smile

bridjess
bridjess

Brad and Joe look so solemn in that picture. Have you ever been beaten in the terms of writing? I can’t believe how long you’ve gone without sugar, well done

Tori
Tori

OMG! DUCK! Must try that sometime.

Plus, John Scalzi on SGU! Bonus!

SGA note – the last two episodes were well-written, although oddly dissatisfying.

Vegas: Awesome episode…but not really an episdode of Atlantis! Second last episode is a time to start wrapping up the storylines not a time to start writing AU fanfiction!

Enemy At The Gates: Awesome series ending…for SG1! SG Atlantis was supposed to be about the New Galaxy, New Allies, New Opportunities, and New Enemies…not about Earth! So why did you take Atlantis to face the Wraith on Earth, leaving the Pegasus galaxy stuck with the Wraith? Totally wrecks the premise of the show: John Sheppard wakes up a new evil and stays in a strange land to fight it and find his sense of home and family.

I have watched since Day 1, and enjoyed reading your blog and commentaries, even though I don’t comment. (End of show is exception.) But somewhere in the last couple of seasons, Joe, I feel like you lost the point.

Overall, Atlantis is an okay show, but I’m sorry to say it’ll never be as great in my books as BSG, Sarah Connor Chronicles, Firefly, or even Eureka.

Maybe you’ll do better on Universe with John’s help. I am intrigued to see.

Sparrow_hawk

Thank you so much for clarifying the role of a creative consultant and how they work with the show’s writers. That was a wonderful job description (payment in World of Warcraft money, eh? tee hee!). The administration in my hospital intermittently requests a “job description” from me and usually I just procrastinate until they forget about it — a technique that has served me well for the past 10 years. But I’m going to keep your excellent description to use as a template if they ever corner me and I can’t weasel my way out of writing it!

Congratulations on snagging John Scalzi as your Creative Consultant! I have not yet read “The Old Man’s War” but it is on my shelf waiting for me and I’ve heard very good things about it. It’s next on my reading list.

That dinner looks fantastic. I had a meatball sandwich from Potbelly’s for dinner. *sigh*

WillySkilly
WillySkilly

Any chance that if Atlantis gets a second movie it would be Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow? I personally thought it was a great idea, possibly the best time travel concept Stargate has come up with.

Shawna
Shawna

Hey, I call foul. Peanut butter and celery sticks is an after-school snack, not part of a gourmet meal.

Great to hear about the new consultant. I’m sure once I read Old Man’s War, I’ll be even more excited.

IMForeman

http://www.space.com/news/090113-obama-nasa-administrator.html

“Obama asks retired Air Force General Scott Gration to run NASA”

Hmm, an Air Force Major General in charge of America’s space program. Must be to better coordinate with Stargate Command.

whovian

Hey Joe!

What else can I say about Scalzi and SGU but SWEET!

grin

My internet is down so I’m using Jeremy’s internet on his phone. It’s times like these that remind me why I married a computer geek. lol

Alright. I’m givin’ the geek his precious internet access back.

Take care!

Trish

wolfenm

To Mike Dopud ~

First, I juist wanted to say that Kiryk was utterly captivating from the first moment your character appeared! He’s the #1 character that I wish we could have seen again in the series! Thank you for bringing him to life for us, for making him a character to care about!

Now for questions ….

1) I understand that you have quite a range of talent in the acting world, doing stage, television/movie acting, stunt acting, and voice-overs — what aspect did you get your acting start in, and how did you get into those other areas? Do you have a preference?

2) Wikipedia says that you’re also an athelete — what sport(s) do you participate in?

3) Which actors and directors would you most like to work with, given a chance?

4) What’s been your most and least favourite roles so far?

5) What would be your dream role? (It can be something vague, like a mustache-twirling villain, or a specific role that’s already been done, like Han Solo.)

6) Of all the costumes you’ve had to wear, which have you liked the best in your career? The least? And what one has been hardest to perform in?

7) Of things you haven’t appeared in, what are some of your favourite plays? Movies? TV shows?

8) If you pitted the three Stragate characters you’ve played against each other in a fight, who would win?

Thornyrose
Thornyrose

Will you get into trouble for revealing the secrets of company discipline? I was rolling through the whole explanation. Though it’s a shame Mr. Scalzi is coming on board too late to enjoy the full benefits of his Creative Consultant title. I can only wonder what penalties he might have imposed for such offenses as egregious punstering, retreading of prior plots without extenuating plot twists, or spilling of drinks on the produer’s copy of the script. Given his obvious inventiveness, it would be educational to see what Mr. Scalzi would come up with.
The more you talk about Fuel, the higher on my list of “to do before I do” it moves. May even manage to swing a visit to that establishment in the foreseeable future. I’m counting on you to make sure they stay in business until I can check that item off of said list.
Thanks for getting Mr. Dopud to agree to do a blog visit. I hope to have some questions ready for him tomorrow.

dyginc
dyginc

I can’t wait to get to Fuel…every time you talk about that place I get giddy—and it rocks to know that they will be able ot meet my needs of what I can’t eat. I should be getting the menu for Feb 14th soon—at least the manager said I would…I can’t wait. I also hope to find a place that actually does schnitzel RIGHT! Any suggestions?
Ooh on another note—Brent Weeks (author of the Night Angel Trilogy) has asked me to be the moderator for his forum—I am thrilled and overwhelmed but you may ask yourself why is she telling me this…simple-if it wasn’t for me taking part in your books of the month selections I would have never truly hunkered down and read my Joe Abercrombie book and then never realized I love fantasy when someone who can destroy the box writes a story. So thank you! Oh and where is the studio—I would love a picture outsided in front of the gates when we get up there…that would rock!

Christin

John Scalzi as creative consultant on Universe?

It made me squee on a day when I thought I was too tired from shoveling snow to squee.

Well done.

tamijb
tamijb

To Mike Dopud: I just wanted to say that I enjoyed your work on SG1 and SGA. I would have to say that I enjoyed you as Kiryk the most. I love characters like him that pretend they are tough but really have a soft side. You really brought that in his character. Thanks.

Questions:
Out of all the characters on Stargate franchise which one did you like the most/least to play?

If asked would you come back to the Stargate franchise on SGA as Kiryk or even SGU as another
character?

Thanks for the Q&A.

@Joe: Will we see Rob Cooper and Paul Mullie’s Q and A soon? Glad to see that there is an Ohioan on board SGU staff. What area in Ohio is Scalzi from?

Thanks.

dasNdanger
dasNdanger

@ tamijb – Just have a sec, and didn’t want to ignore your question…

I am loving Sanctuary, although I am a bit worried about a couple things that won’t be resolved until next season – namely, ‘Foot’s fate, and…well…that’s about it…lol. Really very busy today, with little time to think. As far as the last ep, to be honest, I was totally distracted because of EatG, and I must watch it again to fully take everything in. What I actually paid attention to I loved (esp. Druitt’s reaction to the ‘naked’ kids… lol ). As far as Chris goes, well…what can I say. He just makes me fall in love with whatever character he portrays! Not sure how he is in real life, but on the screen he just oozes charisma! I have yet to be disappointed in him, or his characters.

But, gotta run! Catching up on my comic books tonight (I still have about 50 to tackle…maybe 75… lol I’m all caught up with both Iron Man books, Wolverine Origins, Astonishing X-Men, X-Force, the current special events, and some odd one-shots here and there. Just read 1985 (saved that one to read all at once – I really should switch to trades on some of these things…). I think I’m caught up with Uncanny, too. Have only a few Ultimate U books to read…but WAY behind on Amazing Spider-Man. razz Saving Wolverine’s current arc until I get all the books, and but behind on Wolverine First Class, and a few odd X-books here and there. Yeah, I’m thinking about 50 books, oh…and then a ton of back issues I picked up a while back…oh, and…Sparrow_hawk! I picked up the first Elric book (which is actually in book #3 of this confusing collection I bought…I think they’re released in publishing order, not in chronological order, just to screw with my OCD)…so, maybe about mid-July…2022…I’ll finally get to read it… razz

@ Joe – I really didn’t have time to ‘read’ your blog tonight (I wonder why roll ), but I skimmed through – I’ll save it for coffee tomorrow morn – it looks good. But congrats on bringing in the new guy…and maybe someday I’ll get around to reading Mr. Scalzi’s work, but by that time I’ll probably be like…105, or something. razz

Maybe I should switch to audiobooks…

das

OHinNJ
OHinNJ

Scalzi! Really?
Hmmm…SGU just got much more interesting to me…

cat4444
cat4444

I just hope you advised Mr. Scalzi of just what he is getting himself into in the interests of full disclosure and all that.

Narelle from Aus

Congratulations on the Scalzi pickup Joe. Fantastic.
I’m sure John Scalzi would be able to barter with his WoW currency and end up getting more than 1:1. I hear it’s the only currency holding up in these tough economic times.

Now that would have been a great dinner to sit in on.

Trish – I don’t have a spider phobia, but if a bird eating spider dropped on my head and plunged a set of fangs in, I’d be fainting too. I’d also be walking around constantly looking at the sky from that day forth.

Das – You show a lot of pluck for an arachnophobe.

Ponytail
Ponytail

Some questions for Mr. Mike Dopud:

> How did you like working with Jewel, David, and Jason in Tracker?

> Have you ever worked with any Atlantis cast member in the past?

> Did you do all your own stunts in Tracker?

> What was your favorite scene in Tracker and why?

> Your character and Jason’s character are/were both runners. Personality wise, how do you think Kiryk was different from Ronon?

> Do you think your character Kiryk survived after diving through the gate with the Wraith in tow?

> Of your 3 appearances in SG1 and SGA, which was your favorite and why?

> Any upcoming projects you’d like to mention?

> Joe mentioned you were a pro athlete. Care to elaborate?

Thank you Mike for stopping by Joe’s blog. Joe must be a smooth talker to get you to agree to a Q&A. Really enjoyed your character and performance in Tracker. Good luck with your future projects!

Lesley