Today being April 1st, I felt I would be remiss if I didn’t play some sort of practical joke. Specifically, some sort of practical joke on the new office Executive Producer’s Assistant, Ashleigh. So the first thing I did when I got in this morning was send Ashleigh a request from the studio:
Janet Przyjaciół here from MGM. Someone in the production offices suggested I get in touch with you regarding this matter.
The studio is planning a retrospective of long-time stage actor Theodore Wilson who passed away last month. Apparently, he appeared in two Stargate episodes and we would like to include scenes from these episodes in the retrospective. Unfortunately, I don’t have the titles. I would appreciate your help on this matter.
Note the unpronounceable last name chosen to discourage any potential follow up phone calls to the studio (“Hi, yes, I’d like to speak to Janet Przzz…Pryzzzzz….Prrrzzzyeeehakkeeole?”). About an hour later, my phony email account received the following response:
I have checked IMDB and Gateworld and cannot find him on the site; I chatted with Lawren and he said that we don’t keep a database of past actors and their respective episodes. The only other thing I can suggest is getting in contact with his agent. Once you come across the episode titles, we would be more than happy to supply you with the DVD’s. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do to help.
Hunh. The prospect of seeing her spend the entire afternoon in the writer’s room, going through every cast list of every script dissolved away. Disappointed, I had Janet write back:
I appreciate the quick response. Unfortunately, we don’t have access to a database either.
Theodore was represented by his wife Elizabeth (xxx). Drop her an email and I’m sure she’ll be able to help.
I waited. And waited. Had lunch. Waited some more. Deciding she needed a little prodding, I had the late Theodore’s wife contact her:
Someone from MGM Studios asked me to get in touch with you regarding my late husband, Theodore. It’s nice to hear he still has many fans out there. If you’re interested, he’ll be making his final convention appearance at the Collectormania Con in Burbank this weekend. I hope to see you there.
Success! Minutes later, Liz received the following response:
Thank you for contacting me; I am the new Executive Producers’ Assistant for the new Stargate show, Universe. I was contacted by MGM regarding 2 episodes Theodore appeared in on one of our series for Stargate. We are unable to find the information anywhere and MGM would like to include his episode footage in a retrospective. Would you happen to know which episodes he was in? Once I have that information I can go from there and hand over the episodes to MGM.
Stargate? Really?! Liz was quick to respond:
You work for Stargate? Coincidentally, my late husband made several guest appearances on your show.
Moments later, another emails from Ashleigh:
Would you happen to know which episodes he appeared on?
Which episodes….Which episodes…Let’s see…Liz wrote back:
I believe they were two episodes from the first series. He played the leader of an alien tribe called the Praktok(?). I recall that several years after the episode aired, we flew to Poland for a convention appearance only to be arrested as we were making our way through customs. It turned out the word, Praktok I believe it was, is a very offensive word in the Polish language. Would you happen to know who came up with the title and whether they were of Polish heritage?
And, seconds later, I followed up with:
“P.S. Was that a yes to the Burbank convention?”
As I was about to hit “send”, Ashleigh walked into my office and asked me if I was familiar with an alien race from SG-1 called “the praktok”? “Pratok”? Hmmmm. I sat back, searching my mind. Praktok….Pratok… “Doesn’t really ring a bell,”I told her. “Are you sure it’s not tokra?” ”.
She threw me a suspicious look? Was I being serious?
“Of course,”I told her. “Why?”
“It’s not that I don’t trust you,”she said, “but – I don’t trust you.”
I told her I was hurt. Did she really think I would make up a name like tokra? No, the tokra were very real – but, unfortunately, they appeared in some fifty episodes. Ashleigh explained the situation: studio request, retrospective for deceased actor, 70 year old woman with faulty memory, her futile attempt to find any reference to the pratok or patrok on Gateworld or anywhere else online.
Yep, I suggested she go with tokra but, given the ten seasons we did, it was very possible we did introduce an alien race with a similar name. I wished her luck as she headed out. “Good luck!” I said.
I then followed up with yet another email:
This seventy-eight year old brain isn’t what it used to be but occasionally it still impresses. The episode titles suddenly came to me out of the blue while I was draining my dog’s anal glands: Victorious Climax and Memories of Yesteryear.
Also, it would be lovely to have you at the Burbank con. The man who usually helps me pack and unpack the corpse himself passed away earlier this week.
I casually strolled by Ashleigh’s office on the way to set. She sat at her desk, brow furrowed in consternation. But, on my way back twenty minute later, she had a huge smile on her face.
“Hey, what’s up?”I asked innocently, finding it almost impossible to keep a straight face.
“Nothing,”she knowingly replied. “Just sending off an email.”
“Who to?”I asked.
“Oh, no one.”.
“About those titles,”I said. “Sometimes, what happens is they translate the episode names into another language like, say, German – “
“I see,”she said. “So maybe I should translate the titles to German, then retranslate them back to English.”
“Yeah,”I agreed before heading off. “You should try that.”
I left her, still smiling, and returned to my office where I found the following email sitting in Liz’s inbox:
Thank you for sending the titles. My executive producer, Joe Mallozzi has offered to sponsor me, so I have grabbed his card already and have booked my flight down to Burbank.
He is my favourite producer J
See you this weekend.
A bunch of us have plans to go out for dinner tonight. Ashleigh has already informed me that I’ll be picking up the bill. And, by the way, she’s sworn revenge.
I think I might work from home for the rest of the season.