Before I get into my Stargate reminiscences, a little update on the V1 Jets front.  For the full preamble, check out my April 19th entry (April 19, 2011: V1 Jets). In short: I booked a flight through V1 Jets, followed their instructions and sent them a wire payment but, since the wire payment did not reach them in time, they cancelled my flight.  That was over a month ago.  Since then, I’ve been consistently frustrated in my attempts to not only get a refund but even any sort of information on the status of said refund.  Finally, fed up, I started complaining – to several consumer advocate groups and on this blog.  The day after my entry, I received a call from a representative of V1 Jets who proposed a repayment plan.  Relieved that this ordeal was apparently over, I asked him to forward me something I could review.  He did and, while I appreciated the proposal, it wouldn’t have seen me fully reimbursed until well into 2012.  I countered with an alternate proposal that would see me fully reimbursed, instead, five months after the fact – which I considered more than reasonable.  However I wanted to run any language by a lawyer before signing any agreement.  Whether it was the mention of the lawyer or the terms of the counter proposal (Seriously.  Five months interest-free return of the principle!), I received a curt and offensive email back.  Well, I’ve had it.  I’ve been patient, understanding, sympathetic, and open to discussion.  The company has responded with mild initial reassurances followed by giving me the run-around then topped it off with an attempt to bully me.  Enough is enough.  I was hoping we could settle this matter amicably but, apparently, that’s not possible.  So, Tuesday, I do something I should have done from the very beginning: make a call to the lawyers and have them handle it.

Okay, with that out of the way, let’s move on to those Stargate memories.

Now, originally, I was going to dedicate a blog entry to each season but, as I started to go over the various years, the various episodes, and the innumerable behind-the-scenes events that shaped the production, I quickly came to realize that I’d be hard-pressed to fit everything into one entry.  I considered half seasons and then, ultimately, decided to just write and see where my memories take me.  I could cover an entire season in one entry or it may take me two, three, maybe more.  I’ll try to keep it enlightening and entertaining, particularly for those of you who followed the franchise from the start (or, at the very least, SG-1’s fourth season which is when Paul and I were welcomed into the Stargate family).

I got my start in animation.  After sending out about a hundred resumes seeking employment in the entertainment field as a script-reader, I received one heartening response for a little animation studio in Montreal.  At the time, it was called Crayon Animation and was in gearing up to produce an animated series based on The Busy World of Richard Scarry.  The show’s story-editor at the time, a terrific guy and talented writer by the name of Thomas LaPierre, talked me through it:  Based on the writing sample I’d provided, he was willing to give me a shot at pitching for the series.  I was to read the series bible, then send them ideas for stories to be used in the show.  If they liked an idea, they would buy it and send me to outline.  If I did a good job on the outline, they would send me to script.  And so, I studied the bible, came up with a couple of ideas, and sent them his way.  This resulted in my first script sale ever: “Patrick Pig Learns to Talk”.  It was a thrilling experience – and a lot of fun! – and the series quickly commanded my undivided attention.  I wrote several scripts for the series, then moved on to other shows Crayon Animation had in production.

The company grew, changed it’s name to Cinar Animation, and I was soon hired as their Manager of Animation Development.  For several years, I researched properties, developed shows for television, wrote bibles and scripts and, eventually, began story-editing as well.  The story-editing proved quite lucrative and, in time, I decided to leave the 9 to 5 office environment in favor of the freedom of freelancing.  I continued to story edit for Cinar, then Toronto’s Nelvana and their CBS Saturday morning line-up.

SG-1 Exec. Producer Michael Greenburg would always rib me with: "I don't know how they used to do things on Caillou, but this is Stargate..."

With my new writing partner, Paul, I made the transition to live action television with a writing-producing gig on a teen sitcom called Student Bodies.  Paul and I wrote fully a third of the 65 episodes produced and had a wonderful time with the cast, crew, and the show’s producers.  We shot the series in an abandoned high school and we would pace the empty corridors, running dialogue back and forth between each other before retiring to our office – a converted, carpeted classroom – to write.  Occasionally, the actors or actresses would drop by to say hi or challenge us to a game on the air hockey table the production had gifted us after wrapping the big “air hockey” episode.  It was a great experience and we knew how lucky we were.  I didn’t think it could get any better. Until the position on Stargate came along.

But before Stargate, there were brief stints on Big Wolf on Campus, The Lost World, and other animation projects.  In fact, despite my work in live action, animation continued to be my bread and butter.  At the time, I was doing so well story-editing and writing animation that I actually took a pay cut to join team Stargate.

Now, to be perfectly frank, I didn’t know much about the series.  I’d watched one episode, an early series episode titled “Emancipation”, that I’d found so horrid it had turned me off the show.  Amusingly enough, the exact same thing had happened to Paul with the very same episode.  So, when our agent called to tell us Stargate: SG-1 was looking to staff for its fourth season, we were leery.  It was a great opportunity but the prospect of working on a show we didn’t enjoy didn’t hold much appeal.  But, in all fairness, our opinion of the show was based on a single episode and this was a great opportunity, so why not at least do a little research.  And we did, watching episodes, reading scripts, and both, eventually agreeing that, hell, it was, in fact, a really good show (with the occasional bad episode, just like any other series).  So Paul and I got to work and sent them production some pitches.  They liked a few of our ideas and we were given a contract to write an outline.  Same deal as my animation experience: if we did a good job on the outline, we’d be hired to write the script.  But – and here’s where this opportunity differed from animation – if we did a good job on the script, we would be invited to join the writers’ room for the show’s fourth season.

Brad and Robert admitted that, in retrospect, Emancipation wasn't one of the show's high-water marks.

An impressive three of the five pitches we sent clicked with Executive Producers Brad Wright and Robert Cooper, but the one they chose as our trial by fire was a story that would eventually become our second episode produced, “Scorched Earth”.  After several conference calls with Brad and Robert, and several outlines, we were sent to script.  I remember feeling somewhat ambivalent about the whole thing when Paul and I finished that first draft and sent it off.  It was a tremendous opportunity to work on the biggest show being produced in Canada but, on the other hand, it also meant uprooting and leaving Montreal (the only city I’ve ever known) for a new life on the other side of the country in Vancouver.  Apparently, Brad and Robert were on a flight to Hawaii (for what I believe what was the first of what would become a Stargate tradition: the post-season golf trip), with a single copy of our script.  Brad deferred to Rob and held his figurative breath for most of the flight, convinced that a bad script would ruin his vacation.  Rob finished reading the script, set it aside, and put Brad’s mind at ease: “It’s good.”  And, soon after, we were offered the staff positions.

Scene from Scorched Earth, our first script but second episode produced. That honor fell to fan-favorite Window of Opportunity.

We moved to Vancouver for the start of SG-1’s fourth season.  As we settled into our offices, Brad and Rob explained that the series would probably go five seasons (which would give the studio the magic 110 it needed for syndication) so, if all went well, we were more or less guaranteed two years work.  Two years of gainful employment on the biggest production in Canada!  I figured it couldn’t get any better.  How wrong I was.

In those first few weeks, we settled in and met the various cast, crew members, and production personnel who would become a part of our daily lives over the course of our extended Stargate run.  Two stand out looking back.  The first was Peter Deluise who sat in with us to talk stories for the upcoming season as he was making the transition from series director to series writer/director.  He was friendly, funny, incredibly animated – and Paul and I took an instant liking to the guy.  At one point, he was talking about some story idea he had come up with (a story involving something called an “Unas” which meant nothing to me) when, somehow, the topic of his father came up.  “Anyway,”he said, “my father – who is Dom DeLuise – said it was as big as a bread box…”.  I don’t think Paul and I even listened to the rest of what he was saying.  We simply exchanged looks, then threw them back at Peter and I said: “Whoa, whoa.  What did you just say?”  “My father, who is Dom DeLuise, said it was as big as a bread box,”Peter repeated, then continued on with his story.  It was such a bizarre and unexpected throwaway that I still remember it fondly.  Although Peter’s father, Dom, had done a guest spot in the show’s third season on an episode called Urgo (From what I hear, the cast and crew were in stitches throughout the shooting of Urgo given Dom’s propensity for hilarious improvisation), it wasn’t until many, many years later that I actually met the man.  He delivered a speech at his son’s wedding that brought the house down.

The fastest director I've ever had the pleasure to work with. Peter DeLuise would positively sail through the day.

The other stand-out introduction was to the man himself, Richard Dean Anderson (aka MacGyver).  Although he had popped his head in to say hi when we first arrived, it wasn’t until I’d settled into my office that he actually swung by to say hi and welcome me to the show.  I remember I was working on a script, my back to the door, my pug Jelly (she must have one at the time) at my feet, when Rick stepped in and re-introduced himself.  We started chatting and I was momentarily distracted by something on my computer.  When I turned around, he was gone.  I barely had time to be register surprise when I glanced down and realized he hadn’t left – he was lying on his back on the carpeted floor of my office, playing with my dog.  That simple act endeared him to me so much that, years later, no matter what the script critiques and changes requested, I had nothing but respect for the big-hearted guy.  As I’ve often said: “People who like dogs are generally good and kind, while people who don’t like dogs are jerks at best and serial killers at worst”.  Rick was – and continues to be – a dog guy, to the point that we nicknamed him “the dog whisperer” before Cesar Millan claimed the title.

The original Dog Whisperer.

Whew!  That’s it for today.  In my next entry, I tackle the individual episodes that made up the show’s fourth season, and some of the interesting behind-the-scene decisions, developments, and fallout!

64
Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Tammy Dixon
Tammy Dixon

That was a fun read! Thank you for sharing it with us.

I hope the lawyer has more luck than you. Five months is more than reasonable.

sylvia
sylvia

Sweet!

Sg1efc
Sg1efc

A shame you had to get lawyers involved but sometimes it’s the only way for justice. Love the above StarGate info, Thanks a lot. smile

We know from history that in about 10-20 years, someone will be re-making (or hopefully continuing even sooner!) the StarGate franchise. Just like lots of other TV shows and movies: BattleStar Galactica, Hawaii-Five-O and so on… they are even remaking Logan’s Run:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0402344/

I just hope I’m still alive when the next StarGate comes out. Anyone have a spare stasis chamber I can use, to put myself on ice until the next StarGate is released? Where’s the Ancients or Thor when I need them? LoL smile

Just found this also:
http://www.redeyechicago.com/entertainment/tv/redeye-bbc-america-acquires-rights-to-battlestar-galactica-20110421,0,6612447.story

Maybe the BBC will take over or be a partner with MGM in the StarGate franchise? http://www.bbcscifi.com and the BBC-SCIFI Channel sound great to me. smile

Elminster
Elminster

Hey Joe

It’ll be great to hear you reminisce about the seasons. I bet it will take you a week a season to tell us everything! I, personally, can’t wait until season 8 to hear what you have against Moebius.

Take care
Elminster

Thornyrose
Thornyrose

Ok, my opinion of RDA just jumped several notches. ALways respected the guy, but he’s never been one of my SG favorites. It’s funny how the little things show what makes the man.
Best of luck on going after your money. Sounds like they are in pretty tight financial straits. Pity they didn’t have the sense to just fess up to you from the start and try to negotiate in good faith. Hope your lawyers are part pirhuana.
The next few(dozen?) posts should be informative and entertaining. Thanks for taking the time to look back on the last decade and share them with us.

Ponytail
Ponytail

You didn’t know Dom DeLuise was Peter’s father?? OMG, everyone knew that! With those big stars, I’m always wanting to see what their kids look like and what they decide to do in life.

I have had my eye on Richard Dean Anderson since he was in the short lived TV show Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. He was such a cute brother! And MacGyver was a “never miss an episode” show for me. I loved the easy going character he played (and his hair!) and always thought that he must have a personality like that in real life too.

Great blog tonight Joe! Really enjoyed reading it. Kinda like your bio. I look forward to continuing reading about your journey up through the Stargate years and chiming in here and there.

majorsal
majorsal

i’m going to love your reminiscing! smile

dioxholster

thanks that was interesting, i was always curious about how you started. but you were so picky, come on it had stargate in its title, how bad could have it been? Emancipation was awful but hardly the worst episode. How about the one with the chicks against the dudes? or the one with teenager who got sick and was yelling at Frazier? those were really bad.

one thing though, how did you meet Paul? Was he with you in college or something?

Deni
Deni

Repayment plan, hey? WTF did they do with the money for a service they never delivered? Make ’em pay your attorney’s fees, too! Such insanity. Sounds to me like they’re going under.

Gotta love RDA, my kind of guy! Have a good night, I’m off to bed early!

Tammy

“Scorched Earth” is actually a favorite…one it’s Daniel centric and the whole morality issue and two it introduced me to Brian Markinson. I’ve enjoyed his work since and he’s one of the actors I’m always spotting for “Seven Degrees of Stargate.”

The other would be Alessandro Juliani, whom I just saw in something – oh yeah the remake of Riverworld…it was the other day….

slamaina
slamaina

I was reading you post for today and I hear my kids break into a discussion about “The Busy World of Richard Scarry” and how great that show was. They I scroll down and I hear, “I love Caillou!” At this point they asked me what I was reading. I explained who you were. The are both Stargate fans. My seven year old said, no wonder we liked Stargate!”

Slam

Bailey
Bailey

Thanks for this! smile

Debra
Debra

Holy cow.. why should you have to wait 5 mins, much less 5 mos? Sue their sorry asses.

Very good blog. While I have known some jerkwads who like dogs, I sure give most dog lovers special places in my heart.

Speaking of dogs… plug for a rescue, who is in NY but has helped chows all over the country.. desperate needs now with over 100 chows dumped into rescue:

http://chowchowrescuecny.chipin.com/georgia-puppy-mill-chow-chows

Shawna Buchanan
Shawna Buchanan

Wow, I hope your lawyer rips those guys a new one.

Ponytail
Ponytail

by the way

I wish I was that dog in that picture with RDA. As Carl would say, “lucky dog…”.

crayonbaby
crayonbaby

Yeah, sue the bastards.

I love Cailou. It’s one of my daughter’s favorite shows.

I didn’t know that Scorched Earth was the first episode that you and Paul wrote. That episode had so much deep meaning to it. To come in to an established franchise and pull that out to write? No wonder Brad and Rob wanted the two of you.

Great stories. More please?

glowyzoey
glowyzoey

First of all, sue those jerks! ‘Kay, that’s out of the way.

Fun blog tonight! Really enjoying the reminiscences. “Scorched Earth” was one of my favourite eps. I think I fell in love with Daniel in that one. What took me so long? Oh, right. I was late to the party and caught up in reruns. “Emancipation” gave me the ughs.

It seems like I’ve always loved RDA, since McGyver. The image of him on the floor with Jelly just makes him perfect.

I would also like to know how you met Paul. Did you guys hit it off right from the start?

Looking forward to more memories. smile

Lewis
Lewis

Hey, Joe!

Great entry!!! Thanks!

Patricia Lee
Patricia Lee

Dear Mr. Mallozzi,
Thank you so much for this entry smile and the promise of those to come. I have decided to break out my 10 year box set and watch each episode on the day you reminisce about it… That will make this that much more fun!

I am sad & happy at the time, so if I forget to express my appreciation for your work, let me tell you now! You and Paul are amazingly talented and your contributions to the Stargate franchise has been immeasurable!

THANK YOU for:

– Letting us fans into your world giving us an understanding of what it means to be an Executive Producer and Show Runner for a hit show.

– Teaching us how an episode is scripted and produced from beginning to end.

– Sharing so much of the “behind-the-scenes” that we felt as if we were there watching in some cases.

– The honesty and integrity in which you handled the haters and malcontents who sometime invaded this blog.

-Sharing your adventures in food exploration and widening our individual horizons about how food can be sensual and exciting in taste and appearance.

– Giving us so much of yourself when you clearly did not have too…

This show has meant so much to me that a simple “Thank you” does not begin to express my appreciation.
Cheers
Pat wink

Lewis
Lewis

Hey, Joe!

Stargate mailbag question:
If season 3 had come to fruition were there any particular characters from the other Stargate shows that had been discussed for a guest spot… or even repeat guests like O’Neill or McKay?

Stargate ? Part Deux:
If there was any Stargate character from one of the other shows that you would have liked to make an appearance on SGU (no matter how bizarre the circumstance it would require to explain that character’s presence) who would it be?

I’m thinking Vala. I could see a situation where there’s a mishap when Young uses the stones to send a report back to Earth and he and Vala switch bodies… however she’s offworld undercover posing as a arms/space craft dealer trying to infiltrate the Lucian Alliance so Young is stuck trying to find a gate so he can get back to Earth to figure out the stone mishap but also finds out about the Alliance plotting a second attempt to re-take Destiny; while Vala takes advantage of her new surroundings & host. Somehow I can see Louis Ferreira doing a great take on Vala, and Claudia Black would be hilarious bossing everyone around on the ship.

hal ehrlich
hal ehrlich

Hi Joe:
Scorched Earth is also one of my all time favorites, and it was actually the first SG1 episode I watched.
What a coincidence it was your first episode that you wrote !
I am going to really love your next upcoming blogs with all of your stargate stories !
Thanks for everything again !!!

sparced
sparced

Ouch, sounds like V1 Jets spent your money, have a huge cash flow problem and can’t pay you back right away.

Hope you get it sorted out before they go bankrupt.

This is why i charge everything to a credit card no matter what.

Hope it just comes down to a simple letter from the lawyers to get V1 jets off their asses.

Keith Logan
Keith Logan

I remember back when you were writing for BWOC. For some reason something about bubblegum and a foreign exchange student stick in my memory.

I also remember a proposal you made with art by Dan Turcotte. An underwater themed animated show – and that was before SpongeBob! Too bad it didn’t take off.

James Gamble

I think I’m going to enjoy these grin
Thanks, Joe!

Squishy
Squishy

Nice blog, thanks for sharing! Excellent read.