December 28, 2013: Stargate Universe 1.5! The Japanese Girlfriend Edition!

Akemi and I finished watching the second half of Stargate: Universe’s first season today.  It’s been interesting to see her develop a genuine passion for the series.  “I love Stargate!”she declared this morning.  “Please call me, geeku-chan!”

Like any fan, Geeku-chan had her favorite characters, her favorite episodes.  Robert Cooper’s Time is still tops in her books.  She can’t get enough of that kino!

What follows are her thoughts on episode #11 through #20…

1 SPACE

Being a big fan of the show’s visual effects, Akemi greatly appreciated this episode, especially the sequence of the ships exchanging fire (“Poom poom poom”).  She, did, however, have some reservations about the alien who proved disappointingly weak in her opinion.  She also wasn’t a fan of Young in the alien suit – “He looked like an oompa loompa!”.

Overall though, a solid episode in her estimation.  “I feel like I’m watching a movie.”

1DIVIDED

She found certain elements of this one confusing, particularly those related to the transfer of the ship’s control.  Still, she did find it suspenseful (“Jamil almost killed Patrick!”she exclaimed at one point) and loved the space walk.  On the other hand, she found the operation sequence “scary”, the part where Rush awakens in the middle of surgery especially distressful.

1FAITH

For some reason, she found this episode difficult to understand and expressed disappointment that we never got to see “the alien who built the Tokyo towerish thing”.

She did find the burgeoning/grudging friendship between Rush and Young interesting, noting: “I find science guy and old Young very friendly now but a few episodes before they were cranky cranky.”

As for T.J.’s predicament, she was surprisingly noncommittal: “Don’t feel sad for her because it’s personal situation going on.  No comment.”

1HUMAN

“I watched twice and still don’t understand!”  Alas, yes.  She fell asleep the first time and then started from the beginning in the hopes that she wold actually understand it the second time around.  No such luck.  What was the problem?  Well, beside all the back and forth between reality and Rush’s world: “Very confusing because science guy very mumblesome.”

1LOST

An emotionally strong episode for Akemi who was on the edge of her seat throughout.  She confidently predicted our intrepid foursome would make it back to the ship at the end of last episode and, when they didn’t, she was downright shocked.  So, when the remaining trio didn’t make it back in the nick of time a second time, she was incensed.  “F**ing scientist!  Why dial?  Give last five minutes to them.  It shouldn’t happen such bad timing!”  Sadly, it did and Scott, Eli, and Chloe ended the episode off-world with seemingly no chance of rejoining Destiny.

Akemi: “I like this episode because twisted.”

Me: “You mean because there was a twist.”

Akemi: “Yeah.  Twisted.”

Her appreciation for Ronald Greer/Jamil Walker Smith continues: “I like Jamil.  I mean Jamil’s character.”, “I like Jamil’s character more because he had bad experience as a kid.”, and “I like young Jamil with yellow t-shirt and crazy hair.”

????????????????????????????SABOTAGE

This episode may not have been a fan favorite, but Akemi liked it just fine, especially the visual effect shots of the robot fixing the ship.  She did find it odd that T.J. (conveniently) didn’t knock when paying a call on Rush, simply opening the door to his room and catching him and Rush/Dr. Perry/Wray in an “awkward” moment.

This episode also begged the question: “When is geek guy going to get with her?  When will other guy die?”.  She’s apparently a Chloli shipper but likes Scott just the same.  “Very handsome,”she told me.  “But geek guy also very cute and unique.  In Japan, both would be equally popular.”

1PAIN

Right off the bat: “Why Young stop shaving his beard?  Depression comes from being father?”  I don’t know.  Maybe?

She thought this a good, scary episode with an ending that left her wanting more. Ultimately, a great episode “because written by Carl Binder-san.”

1SUBVERSION

At some point, she started referring to a character as Chef.  Well, I knew “scientist” referred to Rush and “geek” referred to Eli, but “Chef”?  Turns out she was referring to Lou Diamond Philips because she remembers him from his varied Food Network forays.  Some of her comments on this episode:

“I like the scene of Jamil punching his face, stupid chef.”

“Why chef flip it?  How he get brainwashed?  I guess it is what it is.”

“Nice to see Mike Dopud.”

“Mike Dopud is alien?  Looks like human though.”

As for the episode as a whole: “I like but why stop there?  I’m curious and can’t sleep.”

1INCURSION I

She was on the edge of her seat from start to finish and, when the episode ended, requested we roll right into the next.  The highlight for her?  Eli’s courageous bid to keep Chloe safe, at one point literally sweeping her off her feet. (“I love geek boy.”).  The lowlight?  She didn’t like the fact that Young didn’t vent the the gate room the second the Lucian Alliance came through.  Chef be damned!

1

INCURSION II

Not quite the consistent nail-biter that was Incursion I, Incursion II delivered big time for her in its last fifteen minutes.  “Very movie-ish!”was her take on the season finale.  BUT she didn’t like the fact that there was no ending.  “Not finished?  Not happy!”  The problem?  She feared for her favorite characters.  Why?  “I’m afraid because my boyfriend has no mercy.  I like happy ending but my boyfriend not all the time.”

Hmmm.  Makes me wonder what she’ll think of the series finale.

November 7, 2010: Snow Monkeys about to win! The challenges of scripting comics! Jamil’s new, personalized head shot!

An exhausting day today spent watching every NFL game televised (and that was all of ’em, folk!).  God bless the NFL package provided by my local satellite provider.  At one point, I was flipping between five different games in order to track the progress of my fantasy roster.  Looks like week 9 was kind to my Snow Monkeys who are poised to notch their fourth victory of the season and put them within sniffing distance of a playoff spot.  Provided their fifty-some point lead heading into tonight holds.  I won’t jinx it by declaring the win but let’s just say I’m feeling confident.  Still, I’d like to give credit where credit is due.  Thanks to RB Arian Foster for yet another monster game.  Thanks also go out to Atlanta QB Matt Ryan, Baltimore kicker Billy Cundiff, and the Ravens D (nice to have you back, Mr. Reed) who between ’em served up a little under 43 points.  Thanks for nothing to Chargers RB Darren Sproles, a purported week 9 sleeper who ended up doing just that – sleepwalking through his game enroute to a 0.90 point outing.  And thanks-in-progress to Green Bay RB Brandon Jackson, the latest addition to the Snow Monkey line-up via trade, who is well on his way to a killer game versus the hapless Dallas Cowboys.

I’m sorry.  I don’t want to give the impression that all I did today was watch football.  I did stop to eat and drink.  And, this morning, I did spend about an hour revising those my scripts for the first two issues of my (coming soon!) comic book series.  Damn, scripting for comics can be damn tricky.  Some of the biggest challenges I keep coming up against:

1) Keeping the panel per page count down.  Ideally, you want average about five panels a page.  You’ve got to keep your story concise, but entertaining.

2) Saving the dramatic reveals for the next page.  You time the beats so they build on one page, then deliver that visual or dialogue revelation on the following page.  What you’re gunning for is, quite literally, a page-turner.

3) Knowing when to go big.  Like I said, I’m trying to average about five panels per page.  Some might have  a little more, some a little less, but five feels about right.  But the occasional page may just have one big glorious panel.  I figure these are like Jagermeister shots.  You want to go easy on ’em, so it’s a matter of being very selective about when you splash.

4) Given the limited amount of space available, another obvious challenge is to keep inform the reader without bogging down the narrative.  The script guide my editor sent me warned writers to keep the word count down to 25 words per dialogue balloon, 50 words per panel and limit the per panel exchanges to, at most, a comment, a response, and a counter-response.  ‘taint easy.

5) Do comic book writers still use thought balloons?  They strike me as kind of old-fashioned, so I’ve avoided using them in my scripts.  Of course, that just meant I had to find another way to convey what my characters are thinking.  It forces you to be more subtle in your approach – and I prefer subtle (ie. check out the set up and final reveal in my short story, “Downfall”, appearing in the Lou Anders Masked anthology of superhero-themed fiction).

By the way, with regard to those creative head shots I displayed in a previous post.  Yes, the Indy Volker was compliments of our very own Chevron7.  Not to be outdone, actor Jamil Walker Smith (SGU’s Master Sergeant Ronald Greer) put his own photoshopping skills on display…

Looking ahead to a short week on the production side.  Prep on Stargate: Universe’s second season ends as we head into production on the season finale, Gauntlet.

May 24, 2011: Transporter: The Series Pre-Production Update! Site Stats!

No turning back now!  The production machine is rolling along and picking up steam, speeding, faster and faster, toward the precipice that will launch us into glorious flight!  Provided the mechanical wings on this contraption hold firm.  Our European team is gearing up to start shooting in Paris, Berlin, Nice, Marseilles, and the south of France.  To that end, we had a conference call this morning to go over the storyboards for the early episodes.  The guys in France have come up with some terrific car action sequences that, like the ones in the Transporters film series, are fun, inventive, and holy-smokes-impressive!  I suppose this shouldn’t come as a surprise since a number of the key people on our car and fight stunt teams are the same ones who worked on the movies.

When car stunt coordinator extraordinaire Michel Julienne gets into town, I’m just going to start catching a lift with him in the morning.

I figure that’ll allow me to shave about fifteen minutes off my twenty-two minute travel time.

Every so often, I like to check out my site stats – Top Referrers, Top Posts, and, my favorite, Top Search Engine Terms that directed new readers to this blog.  I always find it very interesting.  For instance, here’s a sampling of the Top Search Engine Terms over the past six months…

Search Views
julia benson 59,088
joseph mallozzi 36,572
joe mallozzi 16,013
mallozzi 7,600
joseph mallozzi blog 7,581
elyse levesque 6,252
jennifer spence  5,400
alaina huffman  4,193
mallozzi blog  3,876
batman  2,914
joseph malozzi  1,882
julia anderson  1,766
joseph mallozi  1,751
vanessa james  1,659
stargate blog  1,553
amanda tapping  1,526
julie mcniven  1,450
jamil walker smith  1,047
brian j smith  984
elyse levesque hot  955
louis ferreira  932
jewel staite  895
patrick gilmore  882
joseph mallozzi weblog  865
joe malozzi  839
peter deluise  831
bermuda triangle mystery solved  751
mike dopud  744
david blue  727
malozzi blog  707
stargate universe destiny  706
stargate atlantis  693
leela savasta  693
iron chef chairman  455
michael shanks  454
joseph mallozzi’s blog  433
peter kelamis  428
lexa doig  424
paul mcgillion  416
mint leaves  313
icarus base  288
wraith todd  282
julia benson pictures  267
todd wraith  265
julia benson hot  263
andy mikita  263
stargate destiny model  243
todd the wraith  242
christopher judge  234
chocolate party  223
vanessa james sgu  217
julia benson actress  203
julia benson pics 192
“jennifer spence” 190
mark savela 189
butterscotch schnapps 189
stargate universe shuttle 188
sgu destiny 188
stargate universe julia benson 175
josephmallozzi.wordpress.com 171
julia benson sgu 165
stargate universe chloe 163
vanessa james stargate universe 161
julia benson photos 149
joseph mazzolli blog 149
space shuttle interior 133
stargate atlantis city 131
seed ship 131
blog mallozzi 129
julia benson stargate universe 127
stargate universe ship 117
rodney mckay 117
2nd lt. vanessa james 109
batman pictures 109
destiny gate 109
“elyse levesque” 109
viscous 109
lieutenant james stargate 102
robert picardo 101
brad wright 101
sgu vanessa james 91
stargate universe cast 89
best atlantis episodes 89
stargate atlantis todd 89
ben browder 79
amaretto cream 79
stargate universe ships 71
paul mullie 71
coq au vin 67
carl binder 66
alien ship 55
teryl rothery 54
destiny corridor 54
the chairman iron chef 53
julia benson images 53
peter de luise 53
stargate destiny schematics 53
stargate universe kino 53
stargate destiny bridge 53
kobe beef 53
joe flanigan 51
stargate atlantis gate 50
jaffa stargate 50
julia benson picture 48
florida state cowgirls 48
dr rush 48
leaves 48
butterscotch liqueur 25
snow monkeys 19
fedora hat 15
Carl learns he comes in at 66 searches, beating kobe beef by 53 but falling well short of amaretto cream at 79. Also, for what it's worth, just a shade under "coq au vin".

More people searching the internet came here looking for “Julia Benson” than “Joseph Mallozzi” and “Joe Mallozzi” combined.  Searches for “Batman” (2914) beat out searches for “Patrick Gilmore” (882), “Stargate Atlantis” (693) doubled “mint leaves” (313), while “Joe Flanigan” (51) was trounced by “Brad Wright” (101), “Robert Picardo” (101), and “viscous” (109).

Even more interesting are the daily single digit search engine terms that range from the obscure to the downright bizarre.  Today’s stats yield a unique mix:

Search Views
sucking pig 3
brian j smith girlfriend 2
godzilla tokyo 2
mallozzi fondy divorce 2
janina javankar married or single 1
raccoon lottery 1
leon with pig puppet 1
psych symptoms include speaking in accents 1
confit brain 1
bermuda trapezoid 1

I would assume the first one was supposed to be “suckling pig” rather than “sucking pig”, but the fact that three different search attempts went with “sucking” gives me pause.  It’s nice to know there are people searching for love on the internet, doing their research to ensure their prospective future partners are indeed single: Brian J. Smith, Janina Gavankar, and my ex wife.  Also, I sincerely hope that whoever searched for “psych symptoms include speaking in accents” found the sound medical advice they were looking for here on this blog.  Finally, what the hell is a “raccoon lottery”?

March 6, 2010: Actor Jamil Walker Smith wants to hear from YOU! My February Top Reads! And a surprise in the mail!

Yes, you read correctly.  Actor Jamil Walker Smith, Stargate: Universe’s explosive Master Sergeant Ronald Greer, has kindly agreed to swing by the blog and field your questions – in exchange for my recommending him a couple of good local French restaurants with the understanding that if they fail to impress, he plans to call me out during his Q&A.

Stargate: Universe, Air III (photo courtesy MGM Televsion).

I’ll be gathering questions for Jamil over the next few days and plan to send him the batch sometime next week so that he’ll have something to do…besides learning his lines.  Oh, and acting!

For a while there, I lost my reading mojo – and just when it seemed like it was gone for good came a succession of pretty damn fine books that restored my mojo AND ensured many more nights would be spent finishing “just one more chapter” instead of getting some much-needed sleep.  So what follows are my stand-out reads of the past month (excluding Book of the Month Club picks I’ve already covered), titles I would STRONGLY recommend to all you avid readers out there…

The Somnambulist, by Jonathan Barnes

One of the things that makes SFSignal.com such a terrific site is that it is entertaining yet informative across a broad spectrum of genres and works, offering everything from articles dealing in science fact to feature op. ed.’s from some of the most fascinating people working in SF, Fantasy, and Horror today.  One of the latter – specifically, SFSignal’s ongoing Mind Meld – is a terrific source for book recommendations, like Jonathan Barnes’ The Somnambulist which would have never made my reading radar had it not been suggested by Eos‘s Executive Editor Diana Gill.

Edward Moon, a former grand illusionist suffering through the ignoble tail-end of his career, is enlisted by dark forces in London’s shadow authority to investigate a conspiracy hatched by even darker forces in London’s underbelly.  With the help of his hairless, seemingly indestructible stage assistant, The Somnambulist, Moon must save the city from a nefarious plot that threatens to overturn established society and usher in a horrific new order.

At turns macabre, bizarre, thrilling, and hilarious, Jonathan Barnes’ first book is a superb read.  It’s weird yet wonderful, one of those books that’s so much fun it keeps you up into the wee hours of the early morning.  The unique nature of the narrative makes for some surprising and rewarding developments although, ultimately, the unreliable narrator also yields some unsatisfying returns.  Still, a book head and shoulders above most first-time novels.  Devilishly witty.

Just After Sunset, by Stephen King

In my opinion, Stephen King is under-appreciated.  “What’s that?”you say.  “Under-appreciated?!”  Yes, under-appreciated because despite the innumerable awards and the 350 million + books sold worldwide, I still run into people who dismiss him as a hack for no other reason than the fact that the man is prolific.  I say “no other reason” because if anyone has ever read Stephen King, they’d be hard-pressed to deny he is an incredibly talented writer.  Granted, his work may not be to everyone’s tastes (I, for one, didn’t like his Dark Tower series), but you’ve got to give credit where credit is due and King deserves credit for crafting some of the best fiction being written today.

Just Before Sunset is a change of pace for King, his first collection of short stories since 2002’s Everything’s Eventual.  Surprisingly, the first tale off the top, Willa, is the weakest of the bunch, but the ensuing stories go from strength to strength.  The Gingerbread Girl focuses on a woman’s harrowing encounter with a potential serial killer.  Harvey’s Dream is a disquieting peek at one family’s potentially prophetic experience.  The Things They Left Behind is a touching story that focuses on a survivor of the 9/11 attacks who must come to terms with the haunting memories of his deceased former colleagues while, in a similar thematic vein, The New York Times at Special Bargain Rates tells the tale of a recent widow who receives a phone call from beyond the grave.  Capping the collection is my favorite of the bunch, A Very Tight Place, that delivers a terrifying account of the ordeal suffered by a man trapped in a toppled outhouse.  Not for the faint of heart!

A marvelous collection.  The Death of Grass, by John Christopher

Probably the most frightening dystopian novel I’ve ever read owing not so much to the hardships faced by the survivors of a global catastrophe but the lengths these people will go to in order to survive, sacrificing their very humanity to ensure the safety of their loved ones.  Published back in 1956, the book paints a scenario so deeply unsettling that it rivals any contemporary work of apocalyptic fiction.

A virus has wiped out grass and crops in Asia leading to mass starvation and civil unrest, but the English authorities appear to have things under control, assuring the populace that they are close to perfecting a counter-virus that will leave them unscathed.  But when those best-laid plans come for naught, panic sets in.  As the government wrestles with the ethical dilemma of bombing major cities in order to pare down the population and ensure food and social order for the survivors, a desperate group, tipped off to the looming danger, escape London in a bid to reach a distant farm in a remote, defensible valley.

Haunting.

This morning, I swung by the post office to pick up a package.  I was surprised to discover that it was from my friend and former house-guest Akemi (presently in Perth studying English), then even more surprised to discover the contents: a very heartfelt card thanking me for being such a wonderful host and – these…

Teddy Bear cufflinks!

I love ’em!

The package also contained business cards for the Hotel Okura – conveniently enough located in Akemi’s hometown of Osaka, should I just happen to find my way to Japan later this year.  I’d say chances are good.

What a sweetheart!

November 21, 2010: The Stargate: Universe Season 2 Wrap Party!

Last night, we celebrated the end of another production year with a wrap party at Vancouver’s Gotham Steakhouse.  But before we hit Gotham, a bunch of us met for dinner at Market in the Shangri-la Hotel…

What better way to kick off the pic parade than with a shot of belated birthday boy Lawren.
The sesame-crusted tuna.  Awesome appetizer.
Soy-glazed short ribs.  My go-to dish, but I decided to opt for something a little different this time out…
Curry chicken.  Good, but didn’t love it.  That’ll teach me to try something new.
Perennial party gal Michelle

I ended up seated between Brad’s wife, Debbie, and Paul’s wife, Michelle, who spent much of the dinner discussing potty training. Check that.  LOUDLY discussing potty training in an effort to be heard over the restaurant’s accoustics.  For some reason, they elected turned down my offer to switch seats, preferring instead to shout through me.

Eventually, we finished up and walked down to Gotham for food, fun, and frightfully horrible DJ tunes (Seriously.  It’s been ages since the last time I heard Funky Town).

Mike Dopud and his lovely wife.
Peter Kelamis and his lovely waitress.
David Blue looking buff.
Louis Ferreira already on a roll.
Appies
Me in my morning coat.
Carl is all smiles.
Jamil Walker Smith, and buddy, dressed for success.
Ready to party.
Master Chef Steve leads the catering crew.
Carl and Karen.
Kelly.  Her eyes!  They burn!
Kerry and Alan.
David and Peter.
Troy and his better half.
Ken gettin’ all Holywood.
Ivon and Sara
Carl and Ashleigh
Patrick Gilmore raises a glass – to you!
Ashleigh and Patrick.  Oh, and Louis.
Jen Spence.

Julia and Peter…

Dave
Amanda
Mike brought his baby.  Or borrowed a baby in the hopes of attracting women.  Can’t remember which.
Kelly.  Again with the eyes!
Kerry and Ashleigh.  Oh, and Lawren.
Nancy
Will and Kathy
Brian J. Smith gets ready to chow down.
The ladies of hair and make-up.
The VFX gang.
James “Bam Bam” Bamford
Ashleigh and James
Elyse and Devon
Carl and Julia
Lisa and Akemi
Lisa and Tio

A quickie mailbag:

Judy in SATX writes: “I’ve always wondered, is ‘Furling’ the real spelling? When I first saw the episode I thought it was ‘Ferling’, maybe because it’s not so Ewok-evocative.”

Answer: Nope.  The far more Ewok evocative “Furling” is, in fact, the correct spelling.

Randomness writes: “Speaking of the Gate network the seederships are laying. It’s reasonable to think that any alien species with enough knowledge could use the gates even without a remote right? Kinda like how Earth used the gate without a DHD by making a dialing program.”

Answer: Yes, that is another reasonable assumption.

Ponytail writes: “What is that building in the first picture? Garage, guest house, pool house, dog house, maid’s quarters, playhouse, neighbor’s house, detached office?”

Answer: Garage/guest room for visiting in-laws.

Freeman writes: “Also i have one last quick question for you Joe, I’m not sure if you read all of these or not but I was wondering if you get requests for people wanting to send you a “new idea” or a “partial script” that they have made up as something to spark a new path in the stargate story.”

Answer: I don’t receive as many as I used to.  I suppose most know by now that I can’t read or accept unsolicited scripts or story ideas.

JJA writes: “Have you read the Lost Fleet series of Jack Campbell??”

Answer: Nope.  You can check my (approximate) read list here: http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/384915-barondestructo?shelf=read

JJA also writes: “Also about Destiny: Does it have its own manufacturing section of the ship?”

Answer: No, it doesn’t.  Only the seed ships have been outfitted with that capability.

BTW writes: “…who’s job is it to choose the typeface used in the opening/closing credits?”

Answer: SGU co-creators Brad Wright and Robert Cooper had the final say on everything from the Destiny design to the typeface used in the opening/closing credits.  THAT is hands-on producing.

Mika writes: “As your resident scientist who has worked for a few years in a research laboratory focused on the cosmic microwave background radiation, I’m obliged to point out that seeing circles is like finding patterns in the static of old sk00l tvs. (Literally, just like it — a percentage of that static IS the Cosmic Microwave Background!)”

Answer: Hey, Mika!  I think I saw you at the bar last night, then when I turned around you had disappeared like two protons colliding at high energy.

Lloyd67 writes: “A new Stargate spin-off ? by Robert C. Cooper? Seriously?”

Answer: No.  Not seriously.

Major D. Davis writes: “Given recent developments, are you still confident about a renewal. I know theres a lot more to it then numbers, so fingers crossed!”

Answer: Neither confident nor pessimistic.  We produced a terrific second season and, at the end of the day, that’s all we can do.  Things like what night we air, what segment of our audience records or downloads, are elements beyond our control.

October 28, 2009: Another see-ya-later, this one to Jamil Walker Smith. More spinning! More Mailbag!

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Today we bid a fond see-ya-later to the wonderful Jamil Walker-Smith, SGU’s resident warrior – Sergeant Ronald Greer.  It seems like just yesterday we were watching his F bomb-studded audition stream (THAT got our attention!), marveling at his incredible onscreen presence.  His unique charm completely won us over (and him the part), then continued to wow us throughout the season.

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Trust me, he is damn likable both on camera and off.  I’ll miss his infectious laugh, his easy-going humor, his way of delivering a line with his trademark delightful quirkiness.  He’s a guy who’s as smooth and comfortable sprawled out on a couch in the production office talking about his weekend plans as he is firing off rounds at invisible aliens or lowering a Good Samaritan down a storm drain in search of the keys he dropped.  Always good for a laugh and a story, and always great for a performance that never fails to amaze.

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Ladies and gentlemen, Jamil Walker Smith has left the building.

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But he’ll be back.

More spinning today in the writers’ room and more headway made on those first ten episodes.  We ended up discussing the details of episode 1 (Paul will be doing the honors on this one), talking about the what’s and wherefore’s and, most importantly, answering Brad’s burning question: “How the hell are we going to get out of this one?!”.  Carl has requested Episode 5 while I’ve cast my lot with Episode 2.  Brad’s idea falls in the four slot, so he’ll take that one, which means Rob will be jumping on 3.  What fun!  One more day of broadstroking stories and arcs and then we get to breaking.  If all goes as planned, we’ll each have a story in hand by the end of next week, meaning we won’t have to come back to the office in December – except for Carl, of course, as fire regulations necessitate an Executive Producer be on premises at all times.

Today’s entry is dedicated to birthday gal Anne-Marie Sloan.

Another whopping mailbag:

Cherluvya writes: “Okay, so what am I doing wrong in asking questions?”

Answer: Not sure.  Are you asking the right questions?

Laura writes: “Do you ever stop reading a book that is not intriguing to you and how long to you give a book before you give up on it?”

Answer: A book has 100 pages not to lose me.  Notice I didn’t say “grab me”.  I’m already on board.  All I ask is that you don’t lose me.  And, every so often, it does happen.

Ytimynona writes: “Do you speak any other languages?”

Answer: Some Japanese.  Nihongo ga sukoshi hanasemasu.

Dasndanger writes: “It seems many of the complaints about the Chloe/Scott thing revolve around the speed with which the two came together. I do understand how some could feel that it was a bit rushed. The problem? A lack of verbal communication with the audience. A way to resolve the problem? It would have been very easy to include a short scene between Chloe and Eli where she confides in him that she is attracted to someone – and Eli, of course, would jump to the conclusion it’s him. This way the audience is prepared for the reveal when Scott takes Chloe’s hand…and it would have also made Eli’s hurt more profound.”

Answer: Sure, we could have done that.  Or had either Chloe or Scott clearly state in one of their bonding scenes: “I’m really falling for you!”.  Or had another character comment: “Looks like those two are getting together.”  I’ve always been of the opinion that viewers don’t need to be spoon fed and are fully capable of connecting the dots.  Show; don’t tell.

Dasndanger also writes: “…but when you have an audience that is used to being told everything, sometimes it takes a while for them to catch on that they have to watch carefully, because sometimes the story isn’t being told in just words, but in body language and facial expressions.”

Answer: Ah, there you have it.

Thornyrose writes: “There was the threat that wasn’t a threat(no way Destiny and its passengers were going to die, and given the characters aboard the shuttle no doubt they would make it back safely).”

Answer: But every time the Atlantis team went off-world, did you ever expect there was a good chance they wouldn’t be coming back?

Thornyrose also writes: “It’s peculiar that the same people who were so confident the ship knew what it was doing at one moment suddenly decided that the Ancient technology had failed and that the ship failed to calculate a relatively simple properly.”

Answer: I think you mean problem.  Rush stated that he believed the power issues were a result of their sudden, intrusive presence.  Also, while one could hypothesize that Destiny may be responding to the needs of its crew, it requires a big leap of faith to dismiss all evidence to the contrary and believe you’re in no danger – especially when you’re headed toward a star.

Thornyrose also writes: “How does a ship that generates a shield powerful enough to survive immersion into a star get battle damage? How does the ship convert the stellar energy, and how does the power compare to ZPMs? Why the difference in energy sources between Atlantis and Destiny?”

Answer: Flying into the heart of the star would have destroyed the ship.  Instead, it more or less skimmed the surface.  It also makes sense that the ship was designed to draw energy from a naturally occurring and convenient power source, like a sun, rather than a ZPM that could be eventually depleted.

Thornyrose also writes: “Wray has been undermined as a potential leader, having shown her instinct for self preservation overrides her concern for the whole.”

Answer: How so?  She stated her case and then reacted when Young threatened to take her name out of the lottery.

Thornyrose also writes: “Why would Rush allow the shuttle to be loaded with supplies and leave if he knew Destiny was safe? Why would he come up with a solution to retrieve the shuttle if he wanted to be rid of the other occupants of the ship?”

Answer: All good questions.  The likeliest response could be that he suspected, but had no way of knowing for certain, that the ship was designed to draw energy from the star.  He planned for the worst but hoped for the best.

Thornyrose also writes: “I am hoping to see more developments in the characters, especially developments that make the characters more likable.”

Answer: Oodles of character development to come.  Water, the next episode, does a wonderful job of exploring Scott, Young, and their relationship.  There are also some terrific moments for Greer, T.J., Eli, and Rush.

Thornyrose also writes: “Any idea on when you’ll get official word on the show renewal?”

Answer: Could be as late as December.

Belouchi writes: “ 1. Is that Pyramid shaped building on the back of the Destiny crew and general quarters?
2. Will we ever know who or what put all those holes in the Destiny?
3. What do you think of the Audi S5…. hint hint”

Answer: 1. Not sure what you’re referring to.  2. Possibly.  3. Looks nice.  Why, are you thinking of getting me one as a belated birthday gift?

EternalDensity writes: “Is Destiny millions of years old (necessary for it to be older than Atlantis, have the potentially oldest stargate, and be a millions of years long trip from Earth) or is it under a million years old (which seems to be indicated by a couple of lines of dialogue in SGU)?”

Answer: I’m going to say millions.

Arctic Goddess writes: “To Chloe, having sex with Scott may be a twisted kind of need to feel loved and protected. Which would be something she had gotten from dad and now she is trying to replace with Scott.”

Answer: Sure.  Or she could have been infected by one of those alien sex parasites like in Cronenberg’s Shivers.  Or Scott could have been hallucinating that she was James.  Or, hell, they may have both been attracted to one another.  Who knows.

Bailey writes: “All I can say is that John Sheppard was a gentleman and Lt. Scott is a horn-dog.”

Answer: Uh, yeah.  Right.

Skontel writes: “You mention how different Louis Ferreira is in person from the character he plays. Would you say his is the biggest person-to-character difference, and if not, who is even further away in real life from the character they play on SGU?”

Answer: Louis, Bobby, Ming-Na and Jamil are VERY different from the characters they play.  Alaina and Elyse are also quite different from T.J. and Elyse.  On the other hand, David does have a bit of Eli’s adorable geek in him, and Brian is as sympathetic and noble in spirit as Scott.

Shawna Buchanan writes: “If he’s still religious, it annoys me to see him being so hypocritical without any acknowledgment of that fact.”

Answer: Some religious individuals are flawed – although the majority, of course, are perfect human beings beyond reproach who pay the church a yearly tithe amounting to 10% of their annual income.

Grace writes: “UCLA got a sneak peek of “Boondock Saints 2? tonight. Writer/director Troy Duffy and actors Sean Patrick Flanery, Norman Reedus, and Clifton Collins, Jr. attended the event. I spoke with Flanery afterwards and mentioned that I was a HUGE Stargate fan, loved him as Orlin, ecc. and he sung everyones praises. He seems to be a nice guy.”

Answer: He is a very nice guy.

Michele writes: “how did this darker tone for this spinoff come about? Also was wondering what was the most exciting part of creating season one and what was the hardest?”

Answer: These are questions that could be best answered by the show’s creators, Brad Wright and Robert Cooper (I’ll twist their arms and get them to do a Q&A before long).  From what I understand, they felt that in order for the franchise to continue, rather than end with Atlantis, it needed to be revitalized and taken in a new direction.  And SGU has done just that.

Erik writes: “Also, I don’t know if I would call Eli “immature” if he ignored Chloe. “Hurt” maybe, but I think that sometimes, to save oneself from too much hurt, distance can be the only solution.”

Answer: Sure.  And that would be Eli’s decision to make.  On the other hand, it’s kind of silly to expect Chloe to end her friendship with him.

gatelady writes: “In other words, Lt. Scott is not anywhere close to John Sheppard or Jack O’Neill as fan favs.”

Answer: Not yet.

Gatelady also writes: “Gateworld and Syfy forums both have polls for fav and least fav characters. Chloe is at the bottom, with Lt. Scott second from the bottom, at both sites.”

Answer: Well all the more reason for fans to get to know these characters and get past those first impressions.  Hell, before the show even aired everyone HATED Greer.  Suddenly, he’s on everyone’s favorite list and those people complaining about him earlier have suddenly developed a case of convenient amnesia.

Phil writes: “ What does that scene with Greer stripping down and (what appeared to be) meditating meant to symbolise? That he’s cleared his mind and bared his soul?”

Answer: That’s a great way of looking at it.

Joshua Meyers Extraordinary Teenager writes: “Wouldn’t you think Rodney or for that matter Daniel be a little more interested in the 9 chevron address in the database??”

Anwwer: Sure, but the project has been ongoing for a while and there’s no reason to believe they weren’t consulted.

duneknight writes: “i dont think eli or Scott had enough time to actually have real feelings for chloe. did you push this love triangle early on to grab as many viewers possible from the beginning? otherwise there was no need to introduce this relationship at this time.”

Answer: There was no need to make the corridor lights blue or put T.J.’s hair up rather than cut it short, but we did it anyway.

Rich G writes: “Young is one of my favorite characters. Authoritative, no-bullshit, straight-forward. He’s even been nice to Eli right from the get-go (saying it was time to eat after they’d been working for hours and hours in Air part I) instead of treating him like he’s just getting in the way.”

Answer: Yep, one of my favorite moments in the opener.  That small exchange and the smile he throws Eli said so much about the character.

DemonHunter writes: “I haven’t watched any SGU episodes (no access to them yet) but it seems from reading the mailbag that the show is mainly just a bunch of stranded people having sex. Is that where most of the story lines come from?”

Answer: Pretty much.  At the beginning of the season, we write all of the characters’ names down on little pieces of paper and put them in something we call “the sex hat”.  Then, we reach in and pull out two names.  This random pairing are earmarked to have sex in a given episode and, from this notion, we spin out a possible story.

Gen writes: “Think we can get a Q&A out of him, please please?”

Answer: Eventually.

Gilder writes: “As time goes on, I start to wonder if show creators Brad Wright and Robert Cooper included various shocks and surprises to distract us from more obvious plot developments.”

Answer: Be careful.  They also do this thing when one of them crouches down behind you when you’re not looking so that the other can shove your over.

Matt writes: “Is the crew of the Destiny going to encounter any Jaffa, Ancients, Goa’uld, or any other familiar races out there?”

Answer: The Magic 8 Ball says Most Unlikely.

Abby writes: “Are we ever going to find out where Eli’s dad is?”

Answer: Hey, David Blue asked this very question yesterday.  Suspicious…

Joesmom writes: “There is a huge difference between romance and sex. We just hope the writers realize this.”

Answer: Absolutely.  It’s like the difference between a rose petal-strewn bed and the cold linoleum of a bathroom floor.

Brooke writes: “Women like guys who are sensitive and caring (like Scott shows after Chloe’s dad dies), but not guys who move pretty quickly from one girl to another.”

Answer: Right.  You know who thinks this way?  Sensitive and caring guys.

Michael writes: “I loved the cameo of Peter DeLuise, it was a nice nod to the SG-1 days. Will we see any over-sized wrenches?”

Answer: Alas, the big wrenches were a Martin Wood/Dan Shea thing and they are not working on SGU.

Michael also writes: “Since SGU is much more of a serial than its predecessors, will there be less guest villains and one or two reoccurring Big Bad?”

Answer: Oh, there may be a recurring big baddie or two.

Majorsal writes: “i like the tj and james female characters; anything for them?”

Answer: Yep.  More goodly character stuff upcoming.

Genevieve writes: “I was wondering, will there be any lasting division or resentment between the lotto winners and the losers?”

Answer: No, for a couple of reasons.  First and foremost is the fact that those chosen to get on the shuttle had no hand in the decision-making process.  It was Colonel Young’s call and the selections were random.  Secondly, those who ended up aboard the shuttle ended up in far more danger than those who stayed behind.

Genevieve also writes: “Does Chloe actually know that Eli feels more romantically towards her than she does towards him?”

Answer: That remains to be seen.

Rednor writes: “Well, I think Chloe is immature and opportunistic, and Scott is a horn-dog. I’m not buying any deep connection, and I doubt either is capable of such a thing. I know you keep “saying” it’s there, but I’m not “seeing” it.”

Answer: Surface impressions can be hard to break through.  If you want to pass judgment on the characters because they don’t aspire to some romanticized notion you may have, then no amount of further development will change your mind.  Not to make you paranoid but I guarantee that there are people in your life who have done much, much worse than have sex out of wedlock.  And you just don’t know it.  Who could it be?  Who……..?

Maddog316 writes: “I smell 2nd season for SGU!”

Answer: That’s what I thought I was smelling too, but it turned out it was the chicken cutlets I made for dinner.  They share a very similar scent.

August 21, 2009: Google Translation! Script Notes! Wedding Wishes! VFX Supervisor Mark Savela! Actor Jamil Walker Smith!

Over the course of the many weeks I’ve spent researching restaurants for my upcoming Tokyo trip, I’ve made use of numerous resources: professional reviews, personal blogs, the Michelin guide, and, of course, several Japanese food sites. Negotiating the latter has not been without its share of frustration, however, owing to the fact that many of these sites are not in English. Fortunately, Google offers a handy translation service that allows you to translate a page almost instantly – with often bewildering or hilarious results. A recent google translation of a restaurant’s home page yielded the following tasty menu items:

“Liver appetizer dish of sand”

“Zestfully zanthoxylum, side dishes and a menu”

“Shanghai ‘catching drool’ hemp ‘oak Yamato’“

“Vegetable empty cores this month”

“4 old boiled beef”

And the following helpful suggestions:
“People who are bad, please call the voice when you order.”

“Ingredients not in your mouth, please consult us in advance what the charge and any allergies.”

Hey, finally received notes on both scripts today. Thankfully (and most importantly) everyone agrees that it’s a two-episode story. “I can’t believe we thought this was only one episode,”were Paul’s words. Anyway, some terrific suggestions that will help clarify certain elements, address a few outstanding issues, and generally tighten things up. I tend to hate rewrites, but this one (technically, these two) actually looks like it could be a lot of fun.

Ah, the life of a writer. Given your profession, you’re expected to come up with clever contributions or witty turns of phrase upon request. Take this afternoon for instance when Lawren and Ashleigh marched into my office and Ashleigh asked me: “What do you write in a wedding card?“

It took me all of three seconds to come u with the obvious answer: “Come to my wedding.”

Apparently, this wasn’t the scenario they had in mind. I wasn’t the one getting married. I was writing a card for someone else who was getting married. Ah, they should’ve been more specific. Not that it helped. I’m a notoriously terrible card-writer. Still, I thought about it and, as I was heading out, I poked my head into Lawren’s office and suggested what I thought was a fairly brilliant: “May your love prove as everlasting as the Saw franchise”. (Seriously. I think they’re up to Saw 7). Don’t know if he used it, but at least I was able to head home feeling I’d made a great contribution.

Well, off to Carl’s birthday dinner tonight. But, before I go, I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to post some wonderful, incredibly supportive comments. They were very much appreciated. You guys are the best!

Also, before I go, I leave you with a few snaps from a couple of visitors to my office. First up is VFS Supervisor Mark Savela who dropped by to discuss fandom. Visual effects, and t.v. in general. Holy smokes! I thought Martin Gero was a t.v. junkie. Mark Savela actually puts him to shame. He watches everything. And I do mean EVERYTHING! Except, for some reason, Top Chef which Rob Cooper was convincing him to check out as I was leaving the office.

VFX Supervisor Mark Savela talks Big Brother and House.
VFX Supervisor Mark Savela talks Big Brother and House.

Actor Jamil Walker Smith also dropped by my office today, sporting some wacky purple he was only too happy to model for us. Trust me. If you’re throwing a party, this is a guy you want at the top of your invite list.

What the - ?!
What the – ?!

 

Yep, they're purple alright.
Yep, they’re purple alright.
Jamil Walker Smith IS the hip, new Agent 86.
Jamil Walker Smith IS the hip, new Agent 86.

June 22, 2009: 19 Down And 1 To Go! Jamil Walker Smith!

Jamil Walker Smith (Sgt. Greer)
Jamil Walker Smith (Sgt. Greer)

Well, after several weeks of talking about it, we finally sat down and did it – the writers set aside their other work (editing, outlines, autobiographies) and their differences (the Binder-Gero feud is legendary) to gather and break Episode #19. And, in under two and a half hours, we were done. Not only did we have a terrific story with not three, not four, but five FULL acts, but Robert Cooper had come up with an episode title none of us hated (which, trust me, is a major achievement). Can’t reveal the name yet but, as Carl noted, if you switched out a single letter, it would have the same title as an episode of Atlantis.

Now if all goes according to plan, we’ll break Episode #20 on Wednesday, discuss Brad’s story, and ensure everyone is poised to go to script before our lengthy hiatus.

So Jamil Walker Smith dropped by the office the other day to kick back, chat, and regale us with tales of his latest cycling escapades. I recall, in those first few weeks of production, being struck by the contrast between the actor and the character he played. Onscreen, Sgt. Ronald Greer is a smoldering powder keg, tough, threatening, incessantly ominous. Off screen, however, Jamil is one of the happiest, most gregarious individuals one could ever hope to meet. On the surface, the two seem to be polar opposites but, getting to know Jamil over these past few months, I can’t help but note he shares one major attribute with his character: a quiet intensity that drives everything from personal philosophy to performance. He’s hilarious, a hell of a lot of fun, but when it’s time to get down to business, I’ve rarely seen anyone so inwardly focused. I told him he was doing a terrific job and that his character was really popping. Ever gracious, he likened our working relationship to a tennis match, his performance an inspired response to the material we were serving. “Keep smashing it our way,”he said, “and we’ll keep hitting it back.” And, so far, eleven episodes in, they all have.

Anyway, while Jamil was in the office, I had him sign off on some pics for the blog. As he was looking through my vast collection, he zeroed in on one in particular and announced: “That’s it! That’s the one for the blog!” I studied the photo and considered, not entirely convinced. Oh, it was certainly a handsome pic. Perhaps too handsome. I told him I feared that putting it up on the blog would win him the attention of female fans, potentially distracting him from the work ahead. No, no. Better to post an alternate pic. Maybe the one with his eyes half-closed and rolled up like some fearsome zombie? While he appreciated the logic of my argument, he nevertheless preferred the less-crazed photo. Fine.

Oh, thanks to everyone who weighed in with their disquieting, occasionally revolting accounts of the countless unpleasant surprises found in your meals. Keep ’em coming!

Today’s entry is dedicated to Deni. Condolences on your loss.

March 4, 2010: The Stargate: Universe Cast Dinner at La Quercia! Check out the new network SGU 1.5 trailer!

BEST – CAST DINNER – EVER!  And I’m not just saying that because I ended up sitting at a table with Alaina Huffman, Elyse Levesque, Jennifer Spence, and Julia Benson.

Okay – maybe that had a lot to do with it.   They were lovely company and, as an added bonus, were completely stuffed after the pasta course, leaving me to tackle the entire pork platter all by my lonesome.

Elyse Levesque (Chloe), Jamil Walker Smith (Greer), and Patrick Gilmore (Volker) – best of buddies?
Director Will Waring says: “Hey, it’s Carl Binder!”
Brian J. Smith (Scott) and Patrick Gilmore (Volker).
Louis Ferreira (Young) and Rob Cooper (creator, writer, director, exec producer)
The waiter came by and offered us some veal appies. “You mean veal tongue,”I said. Yes, indeedy. Veal tongue. And delicious.
Kaleena Kiff (co-creator of Riese).
The always awesome Alaina Huffman (Tamara).
The sablefish – which Brad likened to butter.
Julia Benson (James).
Saffron risotto. Carl's favorite!
Our main course: the porchetta.
Jennifer Spence (Park)
Elyse Levesque (Chloe).
Michelle Mullie, Paul Mullie, and Carl Binder.
Michelle enjoys the vino while Paul feels a migraine coming on.
Jen Spence wonders where the hell dessert is.
Oh, there it is. As usual, these desserts are served with never-quite-enough ice cream and/or cream. In the case of our table, it was cream but in the case of the other tables, it was ice cream - which, quite frankly, I would've preferred. What gives?
Brian J. Smith says: "Good night."

And finally – Hey!  The new network trailer for the back half of SGU’s first season is up at SyFy.  Head on over to the SyFy website to see out and check out the other goodies (http://video.syfy.com/shows/universe/promos_trailers_4/the-ride–stargate-universe/v1206467#self) or scroll down to the bottom of this blog’s right sidebar.

MGM studio trailer to follow.

Tomorrow will be your last day to get your questions in for Cherie Priest!  Post ’em if you got ’em.

Today’s entry is dedicated to our friend and blog regular MaggieMayDay.

May 15, 2011: The Apocalypse Approacheth! More SG-1 Season 6 Memories! Another Monster Mailbag!

Holy Smack!  So there I was this morning, minding my own business, perusing the internet for cornish game hen recipes when I came across THIS article in which a religious group alert us to the possible end of the world May 21.  The evidence is mighty convincing.  According to the article, the group’s elderly leader claims he arrived at the May 21st date through “a mathematical calculation that would probably crash Google’s computers. It involves, among other things, the dates of floods, the signals of numbers in the Bible, multiplication, addition and subtraction thereof.”  Multiplication, addition AND subtraction! Usually, you get one, maybe two of the aforementioned in your average doomsday calculation, but the fact that this guy made use of all three (division is for losers by the way) suggests a mind-boggling thoroughness and attention to detail.  If that’s not enough to convince the skeptics, the group’s leader also points to the many obvious signs that the apocalypse approacheth.  According to the story in the Washington Post, he “mentioned the massive earthquakes in Chile, Haiti and Japan, as well as the recent tornadoes in the South. And to top that off, gay people are thriving.”  Yes to the earthquakes in Chile, Haiti and Japan. Another yes to the tornadoes in the South.  And, the last time I visited my favorite cupcake shop in Vancouver, owned by a really nice same-sex couple, business was booming which seems to be confirm the final piece of the prophecy.

I’m of two minds here.  On the one hand, I’m horrified at the prospect that, in a matter of days, everything I know will cease to be.  On the other hand, this means I don’t have to kill myself to complete that pesky script rewrite.

Hell, I’m taking the rest of the week off!

Steve Eramo interviews actor Louis Ferreira (Colonel Young) here: http://scifiandtvtalk.typepad.com/scifiandtvtalk/2011/05/stargate-universes-louis-ferreira-forever-young.html

Thanks to all those who have taken the time to weigh in with their comments and questions.  I do read them all and, hopefully, will get around to addressing most.  Eventually.  In the meantime, my trip down memory lane continues with more Stargate: SG-1 reminiscences…

UNNATURAL SELECTION (612)

Although I liked the replicators when they were first introduced, I felt a little of them went a long way – which was why I loved their evolution into human form.  Same villain but new, improved, and far more dangerous.  What made this very good episode great was O’Neill’s double-cross of the all-too-trusting Fifth.  Was he right to do it?  Sure, an argue could be made for the fact that his actions do contain the replicator threat.  Of course, the double-cross comes back to bite us in the ass down the line when Fifth escapes the time dilation bubble.  So, would we have been better served taking him with us.  Again, hard to say.  And that’s one of the things I loved about SG-1.  Sometimes, amid the high adventure and humor, there were situations that offered no easy answers.

SIGHT UNSEEN (613)

Boy, did I NOT like this episode, this despite actor Jodi Racicot’s brilliant turn as the beleaguered Vernon Sharpe.  My note at the script stage was: So what?. I mean, okay, people started glimpsing interdimensional creatures that caused them to “Freak out, man!” but, when it came down to it, those alien centipedes really weren’t much of a threat.

SMOKE AND MIRRORS (614)

See if you can spot Peter Kelamis (SGU’s Adam Brody) in one of his first guest spots on the franchise.  Yep, that young little guy who gets clotheslined by Teal’c.  That’s him!  This episode also marked the return of one of my favorite characters you love to hate: Senator Kinsey played by the brilliant Ronny Cox.  It was always a pleasure to have him on the show.

The hotel at the beginning of the episode where Kinsey gets shot is actually located right across from The Bridge Studios where the show’s production offices are located.  Apparently, back in SG-1’s early days, a new writer joined the staff and was offered accommodations in town.  Instead, the writer elected to move into The Accent Inn!  I mean, sure, it was convenient in that all you had to do was walk across the street to get to work but there is nothing of interest in the neighborhood outside of the ABC Country Restaurant.  Sorry.  Strike that.  Nothing of interest in the neighborhood.

PARADISE LOST (615)

Robert Cooper’s long-standing distaste for arugula is finally revealed.  The mysterious plant Jack and Maybourne eat in order to survive apparently tastes horrible – not unlike arugula.  Not only that but, at episode’s end, we realize it’s the cause of the frightening hallucinations that almost get them killed.  Rob’s aversion to spicy leaf plants isn’t restricted to arugula alone.  Back in the day, we used do our annual trips to Vegas to celebrate our respective birthdays that all used to fall in the same month (Rob, Chris Judge, John G. Lenic, and myself).  I remember going to The Cheesecake Factory with him once and, when our two orders of corn tamales arrived, having him look down at the heavily cilantro-topped tamale he’d received and lamenting: “Hey, why do I get to have all the cilantro?” as if to imply I’d been left out because my tamale was relatively cilantro-less.  A clever bit of reverse psychology.

METAMORPHOSIS (616)

And the award for Most Awkward Seduction scene in an episode of Stargate goes to… Whenever I see the Nirrti’s Bedchamber scene, I vacillate between squirming and laughing out loud.   “Mrs. Nirrti, you’re trying to seduce me!”.  Poor, simple, innocent Jonas.

Another thing I recall about this episode was the gratuitously gory shot of the mutant exploding on the hospital gurney that ended up being cut.

Mailbag:

Darth Novos writes: “MGM may own the rights but there is nothing stopping you from talking to other people about possible deals.”

Answer: Actually there is – believe it or not, MGM, who own the rights.

Marius writes: “I think your unwillingness to “wrap up loose ends” is what has driven the Stargate franchise down the toilet. […] It is obvious you´ve “gone with the flow” on both Atlantis (which also sucked) and Universe. […] I also want to add, that I have some genuine good ideas for an alternatively new Stargate series concept. […] I´m positive my ideas could generate a show that gathered good viewer ratings. If you believe in me, contact me via email.”

Answer: Clearly, you know what makes for a successful t.v. show better than any of us who were involved in Stargate’s 14-year run.  I’m forwarding your email to the Grand Councilor of Awesome Programming at MGM’s moonbase headquarters.  Good luck!

glennh73 writes: “1. Your comic Dark Matter, does it have any connection to the book Dark Matter written by S. W. Ahmed. Great Read!”

Answer: Nope.

“2. You stated Atlantis couldnt connect to Destiny with 3 zpm’s nor with the Ori Supergate. Well if the Anicents were still around, how would they of going back aboard?”

Answer: That’s a questions for the Ancients.  Or Brad and Robert.

“Honestly wouldnt a black hole powered ORI Supergate have more power than a Icarus type planet?”

Answer: Possibly.

“3. Oldie but goody. Daniels grandfather Nicholas Ballard. Those aliens he is with, were they the Furlings or even the Faith Aliens or something else and why didnt we get another story about him.”

Answer: Definitely not furlings.  We never did another story about him because, alas, no one came up with a good story idea that would have included him.

“4. From SG1, is there any storylines you wished you could of expanded on. Ex Daniels grandfather, the Aschen, Re’tu, ORi?”

Answer: While there were no specific stories I’d want to revisit, I would certainly love to revisit every one of those characters.

Shannon writes: “Just wondering if you can clarify here. Was it Destiny just trying to help TJ survive/cope or was this Destiny actively doing something (like, since it’s the latest fashion, uploading the baby to the Destiny computer)?”

Answer: It was the former – Destiny reaching out to T.J. and creating a scenario which would have made it easier for her to accept the loss.

tidusspear08 writes: “Did you have any plans to make Ginn a series regular?”

Answer: As much as we all absolutely loved Julie McNiven, there were no plans to make Ginn a series regular.

nm writes: “Assuming though that you are referring to the dvd market in general rather than specifically the SG1 sales figures, do you think if the movies could have been made within a year they would have been successful?”

Answer: Don’t recall the timing of the collapse in dvd sales (and, yes, I’m referring to the general marketplace) so it’s hard to say.  Back when Atlantis’s fifth season was drawing to an end, Robert Cooper floated the idea of rolling right into a production of a two-hour event (I dubbed “Project Twilight”) that, once completed, could have delivered as either a movie (in the case we didn’t receive the sixth season pick-up) or the first two episodes of season six (if we did receive the pick-up).  For whatever reason, we weren’t able to move forward on this idea which, in hindsight, probably would have been the best way to proceed.

detanfy writes: “First of all, what exactly did the Blue Berry aliens want with Destiny. I know you said they are collecting information to try and take over, but what do they actually want with the old gal. Do they even know about Destiny and her ultimate mission?”

Answer: This is something we would have discussed and detailed in time but the idea was that the Blueberry aliens had been aware of Destiny for quite some time.  It’s doubtful they would have been aware of her ultimate mission, but they certainly would have been impressed with her capabilities both offensive and defensive.

detanfy also writes: “How did the Blue Berry aliens discover Destiny?”

Answer: I imagine they encountered Destiny during one of her many refueling stops, attempted communications and, receiving no response, scanned the ship.  Their interest pique and assuming their prize was unmanned, they attempted to board Destiny – only to be rebuffed by the ship’s automated defenses.

detanfy also writes: “Can you tell us about any of Destiny’s past experiences before the Icarus crew got on board? She seems to have been through a hell of a lot of battles. I would imagine she would have just been in FTL all this time and would only drop out to recharge, so why all the battle scars?”

Answer: A lot of the damage could be attributed to attempts by the Blueberry aliens to capture the ship.  Of course I’m sure they weren’t the only alien life forms to attempt as much.

detanfy also writes: “Are the Icarus crew the first to gate to Destiny since its launch?”

Answer: As far as we know, yes, but I loved the idea of discovering some humanoid corpses during a search of the ships unexplored sections.  Along with those corpses, we would also discover a recorded account of what happened to them when they gated aboard.  Of course, the experience of the long-dead explorers would somehow help or hinder our crew (preferably both, first hinder, then help).  Again, one of those stories that never developed beyond that germ of an idea.

mike mcginnis writes: “Also was there ever a plan to bring ford back for another episode?”

Answer: Yes.  I believe the story is included as part of my AU Season 6 post.

Andrew Jung writes: “Being from Vancouver Island, would you have ever considered doing an SG shoot on the island, or other parts of BC outside of the Lower Mainland; like the Okanagan desert?”

Answer: Sure.  We considered all possibilities.  What it ultimately came down to was budgetary constraints, what we would really gain from shooting so far out of the zone and whether it would be worth the extra costs.

Andrew Jung also writes: “Was there ever any talk about having a point where the Stargate actually became public knowledge and start using the gates and ships for colonization?”

Answer: The possibility of the Stargate program going public was going to be the premise of the next SG-1 movie, Stargate: Revolution.

Don Matthews writes: “…was the idea of Destiny going into the past and creating a civilization that would stretch into the present partially designed to allow SGU to showcase human type aliens ALA SG1/SGA?”

Answer: Yes, it would offered us a plausible scenario by which humans would have colonized that section of space.

Don Matthew also writes: “Oh and frying the Wormhole drive, that was kind of a “this tech is too powerful/deux ex machina and we have to get rid of it” decision?”

Answer: Over the course of Stargate’s run, there have been several technologies the show introduced that I felt undermined drama or handcuffed the storytelling.  Off the top of my head, in particular order: beaming technology, the Asgard core, and the wormhole drive.

Don Matthews also writes: “And was there a big payoff to come with the “franklin getting absorbed by the ship” thing? We saw him but it was kind of ambiguous.”

Answer: Purposely so.  It was something we could have explored more in the show’s third season.

Don Matthews also writes: “Was the “disappearing fetus” story just a way of dispensing with a pregnancy that you didnt feel fit with the rest of what you had planned for season 2?”

Answer: Over the course of Stargate’s long run, the production has had been faced with a number of pregnancies.  In a couple of cases, we were able to ignore the pregnancies by shooting around them.  In another case – Rachel on SGA – the pregnancy became part of the storyline, as did the subsequent birth and associated motherhood issues.  Ultimately, we decided that, while Atlantis was a hopeful enough environment to raise a child, Destiny was not.  We wrestled with how we wanted to proceed, none more so than Paul who faced the challenge of scripting the season two opener and, eventually, came up with the ambiguous/mysterious solution.  It’s interesting to note that, even though it’s more or less stated that Destiny was responsible for T.J.’s vision, many in the writing department refused to confirm it one way or the other.

Don Matthews also writes: “Oh and any gate that was powered by a blackhole should have been able to contact Destiny since they were able to keep the supergate blocked indefinitely (Pegesus Project).”

Answer: Having slept on it, I’m now firmly uncertain as to whether or not it would have been possible.

ben writes: “Regarding your new series The Transporter, have you already cast the lead roles? I’m eager to find out who you will cast as Inspector Tarconi, since you both share an affinity for haute cuisine.”

Answer: Oooh, you’re in for a treat on the casting front.  Stay tuned.

Shiny writes: “Finally got to see a marathon of SGU on Hulu; was there a caveman lurking in background of Common Descent?”

Answer: Peter DeLuise loves unique-looking extras.  The producers, not so much so.  There was plenty more of him but Paul succeeded in cutting around him. For the most part.

paloosa writes: “You mentioned something about another series in the works? And are you still looking for a more permanent home?”

Answer: Everything I mentioned in my previous post is all I’ve got on the go.  And, yes, still looking for an actual house here in Toronto.

Dustin writes: “Judging by how far Destiny is away from earth could it be the gates left by the seed ships are sending back info to the other gate networks in the Pegasus and Milky way? ”

Answer: Theoretically possible, but not something we considered.

Spectrefire writes: “I read up on Netflix’s intentions on possibly footing the bill for shows and series that are about to be cancelled, and was thinking that Stargate Universe, or at the very least, a couple of movies might be right up the service’s alley.”

Answer: Agree.  I suggested this option to the studio.  The fact that it didn’t pan out suggests it wasn’t a viable option.

Arctic Goddess writes: “I have a question about Torri Higginson and something that Joe Flanigan said at the Creation Convention. I’m paraphrasing, but Joe said how good and serious an actress Torri was and how she fought for every word she got and was concerned that she only worked two days out of five, but that she got quite a lot of screen time in spite of that.

Then Joe said that the writers were all aiming for the young adult male demographic and did not write a lot of strong women parts. That the writers did not come to the conventions and see the wide audience that Stargate was reaching. and that the writers were not very receptive to Torri’s concerns.
Eventually when you keep getting that kind of reception, you stop going upstairs to talk to them. He said it would probably have been better if there had been a few women writers writing it.”  What is your opinion of Joe’s comments?”

Answer: Between seasons, we always made a concerted effort to bring in new writers by inviting them to pitch and, hopefully, sell a story that would allow them the opportunity prove themselves and land a staff position on the show.  No easy feat.  Many of the writers, while very good, simply weren’t able to offer us stories that we felt were right for the show.  Others did manage to sell us pitches but, for whatever reason (and, again, I have to stress that it often had less to do with talent than it did with their inability to “get” the show’s tone), were unable to get past the outline or script stage.  If you check the credits on past shows (particularly in the first half of each season), you’ll note that quite a few writers, both male and female, were given a shot.  Ultimately, what it came down to was the fact that the show (be it SG-1, Atlantis, or Universe) was tough to write for because, after so many years, it was backstory and mythology heavy.

I can’t speak to claims that the writers weren’t receptive to Torri’s concerns as I was never privy to any such conversations.  I do know, however, that Brad and Robert always maintained an “open door” policy with regard to the scripts and the actors (something Paul and I maintained when we took over as show runners in Atlantis’s fourth season).  I’m aware of many shows that simply ignore actor input, so I do take exception to the suggestion the writers weren’t receptive to any serious issues the cast may have had – especially since I would often see the actors in discussion with either Brad or Robert.  To be fair, there is a difference between “not being receptive” and “disagreeing with a take on a particular scene.  Simply drawing from personal experience, I can tell you I had great conversations with Bob Picardo, Beau Bridges, and the late Don Davis about their respective characters and was always receptive to any input they might have had.  The same was true for other actors like Jason Momoa (whose desire to go darkside resulted in my writing Reunion and Broken Ties) or Jamil Walker-Smith (who’s crisis of confidence story in The Hunt came about as a result of a visit he paid me one afternoon).

William Francais writes: “I wish you would have brought Jack’s clone back, did anyone in the writing room want to bring him back years later?”

Answer: Yes, revisiting Young Jack was suggested on a couple of occasions but we were never able to find the write story for the character.

scottland7 writes: “… why did Hammond get reassigned? I think I read because of Don Davis’ health problems started around this point. Is this really the reason he was written as being reassigned?”

Answer: I don’t recall the circumstances.  There was a point in the series when Rick was scaling down his appearances on SG-1, resulting in quite a challenge for the writing department.  I remember Don coming up to the production offices one day and volunteering to have his character retire so that O’Neill could take over as the commander of the SGC and thus make things easier from a creative standpoint.  That was typical Don.  Incredibly generous.  We didn’t take him up on his kind offer but, later on down the line, that more or less became the scenario that was adopted.  To my recollection (again, I wasn’t privy to these discussions), the call to have Hammond reassigned was a mutual decision on the part of Don and the show’s Exec. Producers.  He enjoyed a semi-retirement of sorts, focusing on his art but still finding the time to do the occasional guest spot for us.

MNP writes: “Also, what did Jonas do during the Ori invasion? Did he lead a resistance movement? Go into hiding?”

Answer: In my mind, he led an underground resistance movement.  Following the defeat of the Ori, he retired from public office.

Lance W. writes: “1. What does Eli do for those two weeks when he’s not fixing his stasis pod? Did he even attempt to fix it, or did he know it couldn’t be fixed? Does destiny come across problems that he alone must fix? Does he take a final trip back with the stones?”

Answer: Presumably when he’s not working on the problem, he’s eating and sleeping.  I assume if it was the 11th hour and he realized he wouldn’t be able to fix the problem, he would use the stones to pay his mother one final visit – but that’s awful pessimistic.

“2. Did Rush volunteer, knowing that Young would deny him and instead choose himself? Was Rush hoping to get rid of Young, despite how well they’ve been getting along?”

Answer: I think Rush volunteered because he wanted to be the one to stay and fix the problem, but there’s no doubt he suspected that Young might disagree and insist he be the one to stay.

“3. What year and month did they enter the pods? I wish to make a note on when the three years is meant to be up.”

Answer: I suppose whenever the episode aired: May 9, 2011.

“Finally, I’m grasping at my last straw here, but this episode seemingly left it open to a film after three years, is that even a possibility any more?”

Answer: It’s a nice thought but, given the fact that the sets are about to be struck, very unlikely.

Lisa R writes: “When you planned your original five-year arc, was it planned for the Destiny to be in a different galaxy each season as they got closer to their goal or would there be more time spent in one particular galaxy?”

Answer: That’s was the original plan – but plans change.

Phillip writes: “Were the mindless drones in SGU a metaphor for the unsupportive fans that wanted to see SGU the show end?”

Answer: Ha.  Apt but no.  Reminds me of a similar theory way back in early SG-1.  During a warehouse shootout, a bullet ricochets off a fan.  The following days, some fans were claiming this was wish fulfillment on the part of the producers = shooting a fan.  No kidding.  Well, I’ll say the same thing to you now as I told fans back then – you’re reading too much into it.  Entertaining theory though.

zakhar writes: “I was wondering if there was every any plan to further explore Alan McCullough’s unknown aliens from The Daedalus Variations episode in Atlantis.”

Answer: Another idea that was floated but ultimately shelved.

Greg writes: “Why would the blue aliens have to transform Chloe when they had access to Destiny ? I make that conclusion based on their ship detaching at the end of the one episode.”

Answer: That assumption is incorrect.  They were able to attach a scout ship to Destiny’s hull, but that doesn’t mean they were able to gain entry to the ship. And the only reason they were able to do so in Space was because the inexperienced crew was running the show (cutting off power to a section of the ship, thereby bringing the shield down and allowing the alien ship to attach and penetrate the hull) instead of Destiny’s automated defenses.

Greg also writes: “How did Chloe suddenly become Bruce Lee by changing into a blue alien when Rush was able to take one out with a metal bar ?”

Answer: Chloe wasn’t transforming into a Blueberry alien but mutating into a hybrid alien form with similarities to them – and another species they had experimented upon.

Elliott writes: “1.) Did you ever discuss who built the ruins from “Human” and “Lost”?”

Answer: Not to any significant length, no (and by significant, I mean to the point where it would offer us a kernel of an idea we could use as a springboard for another story).

“2.) Who is your favourite character from each of the Stargate shows?”

Answer: Which ones did I have the most fun writing for?  SG:1 – Vala, SGA – Ronon and Woolsey, SGU – T.J. and Greer.

“3.) Why didn’t you mention that the Odyssey’s secret mission in “Enemy at the Gate” was the search for an Icarus planet? I think many assumed that it was “Revolution”.”

Answer: I didn’t write the SGU premiere so I can’t answer that.  I assume Brad and/or Robert changed their minds and did, in fact, shift Odyssey’s mission to Revolution.

“4.) If you could change anything about each of the Stargate shows (besides cancellation, greenlighting movies etc.), what would it be?”

Answer: Probably the aforementioned tech.  I’d have lost the beaming tech, Asgard core, the Earth fleet, and wormhole drive.  I’d have maintained Atlantis’s isolation from the Milky Way.

“5.) Any idea when “Dark Matter” will be released?”

Answer: January of 2012.  Will have a firm date shortly.

John T. Williams writes: “So how’re the two types of statis chambers different? Do the Destiny type freeze completely so that the occupants don’t actually age whatsoever?”

Answer: Yes, that’s the way they were designed to operate.

Airelle writes: “How are the pups doing in day care, have they taken over the place yet?”

Answer: They’ve been attending two different daycares.  Lulu and Bubba passed the rigorous screening process and are now attending St. Roch’s Academy for Gifted Canines where they are learning arts & crafts, proper table manners, and elementary Latin.  Jelly and Maximus, meanwhile, are occasional attendees at a more downscale every-dog institution.

Lloyd writes: “How did you get into the world of Stargate?”

Answer: Our Canadian agent got us the opportunity to pitch.  We came up with five story ideas, two of which we sold.  One, Scorched Earth, was the script that landed us a position on staff.

“Have you watched before Season 4 Stargate SG-1 before coming to the team?”

Answer: No.  In fact, I had only seen one episode of the series – Emancipation – and hated it.  It wasn’t until we got the opportunity to pitch that we started watching episodes and realized – hey, this show is pretty good!

“When you watch an episode of Stargate (SG1, SGA, SGU), you have the eyes of a fan (or viewer) or a critical eye on your work?”

As with every film or television series, I view it through the eyes of a writer first and the eyes of a producer second.  My ex used to hate going to see movies with me because I’d spend most of my time sighing and muttering angrily to myself in the dark.

“If the MGM offers to return to something new: about Stargate, Will you join in?”

Answer: I’m committed to other projects and, unfortunately, would be unable to participate.  Provided Brad Wright was in charge, any new project would be in excellent hands.

“Is there some episode you remember most? and why?”

Answer: A few.  Harmony, Whispers, 200, Ripple Effect, The Hunt to name a few.  As for why – well, you’ll find out when I get around to reminiscing about their particular seasons.

“Today you have another project (the series “The Transporter”), how would you like your job, compared to Stargate?”

Answer: To be honest, Toronto has been a major adjustment (still ongoing), but I can’t say enough great things about Transporter: The Series.  I can honestly say that I enjoy going into work and that speaks to the show and the people involved.

“If you had to summarize in one word, all your work on Stargate, which one? ? and why this word?”

Answer: Fun.  That’s what I set out to do (have fun) every time I envisioned a story and sat down to write a script.  If the viewers at home had fun watching, then mission accomplished.

“Finally, what do you think about the cancellation of ALL projects Stargate?  (“Extinction”, “Revolution”, a film SGU) Why all of a sudden?”

Answer: I think sad .

Jeff writes: “obviously the ancients had to create a ZPM to power their ships, bases, and atlantis, so i guess my question is, didnt they leave directions in the ancient database on atlantis on how to actually create a ZPM?”

Answer: You would presume so but the fact that this was never discovered suggests that either: a) it wasn’t uploaded to the Atlantis database, or b) is there somewhere but is so top secret it will take a while before scientists uncover it.  Ideally, they could have uncovered it in time to come up with an alternate power source capable of dialing Destiny and sending a retrieval team to the rescue – but that’s a story for another fan fiction.

Jeff writes: “btw, the wedding is october 29, where should i send your invite?”

Answer: Just tell me where in Vegas you’ll be.

Alex writes: “in your mind was the earth Stargate still at the SGC in Colorado or was it moved to Homeworld Command?”

Answer: In my mind, it would make sense to have moved it to Homeworld Command – but the nostalgic part of me says it’s still inside Cheyenne Mountain.

C-Verse writes: “1. Given that Atlantis was more family friendly, do you think the darker tone of Universe might have discouraged people from watching it?”

Answer: I’m sure it turned off some people.  On the other hand, I’m sure it attracted new viewers as well.  It’s a double-edged sword, just like the word Stargate in the title.

“2. Again concerning the darker tone, do you think Universe would have had better luck, if it taped more in the Battlestar Galactica fanbase, than the old Stargate fanbase?”

Answer: Sorry.  Don’t understand the question.

“3. Do you think Universe could have survived if it had a smaller budget?”

Answer: I don’t think it would have made any difference.

“4. Given that more people are now downloading shows instead of watching them, do you think Sfy-Fy should put in more effort in advertising it shows online, rather than traditional media?”

Answer: Eventually, we’ll all be going that way.

Michelle writes: ” fans reacted more to how Daniel was treated than to his screen time, anyway: Jack didn’t seem to give a crap about Daniel going off undercover with the system lords; in fact, he seemed irritated at him when he made it back alive. Seriously? And on and on.”

Answer: Again, because I wasn’t privy to any discussions Michael may have had concerning his character, I didn’t realize there was an issue.  In fact, having written episodes like Scorched Earth, The Curse, and Summit (and looking at season 5 episodes like Beast of Burden and Menace), I still have a hard time seeing it.  In the case of Jack seemingly not giving a crap, being irritated with him, or not even broaching the subject that he almost killed him (Scorched Earth), I can see it but this was a source of frustration because these reactions (or lack thereof) were not scripted.

Michelle also writes: “As far as it being Michael’s decision, there was a rumor he changed his mind after filming Meridian, but Brad and/or MGM told him to get lost, they’d already found another 6′ actor to fill his role. Any truth to that?”

Answer: Again, I was out of the loop but I’d bet my last dollar that Brad and/or MGM did not tell a guy they had worked with for the last five years to “get lost” or any variation thereof.  If there was an issue, it would have been with the fact that they’d already signed an actor to a one year deal that made it difficult for Michael to come back as a series regular.  I stress again, I was out of the loop and don’t know what happened, but I’m quit certain all parties discussed the decision at length before taking the next step.

Michelle also writes: “And I know it is hard to accept, but, just as with SGU vs SGA, not liking Jonas was not solely a reflection of missing Daniel. Convenient to blame it on that, but also inadequate.”

Answer: True.  There were fans who simply felt Jonas didn’t work.  But there were also fans who, quite clearly, had not intention of ever giving the character a chance.  Some of the arguments made against him at times felt a little suspect.  For instance, the fact that he turned his back on his people led some fans to brand him a traitor and untrustworthy, yet these same fans had no problem with Teal’c who did the same – and also had the deaths of hundreds of innocents weighing upon him.

Joe Cooper writes: “At risk of sounding harsh about something that happened like a million years ago, Jonas was written as a bit of a “mary sue”; his only real flaw was that others around him (namely Jack) wouldn’t accept how ridiculously awesome he was. Over and over again everyone would be shitting bricks and then Jonas would come along and fix everything.”

Answer: That’s fair.  In an effort to make his inclusion and eventual (necessary) acceptance as part of SG-1, we built up the character in such a way that he came across as a little straight and one-note.  In retrospect, given the time, we would have been better served adding a little more depth to the character by taking our time and not worrying so much about making him an instantly beloved and accepted teammate.

Dave writes: “I’ve always wondered, was any thought given to which SG unit Young commanded before being assigned to Icarus base? Was he on an SG team back in the days Jack led SG-1 or was it more likely during the Mitchell years?”

Answer: We never got into this but I think it’s more than likely, given their respective ages, that Young and Mitchell crossed paths at some point.  Hell, it’s likely that Young and O’Neill crossed paths at some point as well.

Rachel Grizzot writes: “I was looking through the old notes about what could’ve been the Season 6 of SGA and one of the topics were ‘Carls replicator story’
can i assume that maybe that was a attempt to bring back Elizabeth Weir ? or not?”

Answer: Yep.  That was the plan.

DeanGrr writes: “With a a reputation earned by years on Stargate, why not try it to support a new or cancelled production? ”

Answer: Again, you’re approaching the wrong guy.  The only entity that can make this happen is MGM.

DeanGRR also writes: “What is Dr. Rush’s true motivation, given that even with all the power of the Ancients, he cannot bring his wife back?”

Answer: The answer to this is tied to the conclusion Brad and Robert imagined for the series.

September 10, 2009: I coulda been a reiki master! Glee! Carl receives script notes! Mark Burgess!

Patrick Gilmore (Dale Volker).  Yeah, he coulda been a reiki master too.  Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television.
Patrick Gilmore (Dale Volker). Yeah, he coulda been a reiki master too. Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television.

Patrick Gilmore (SGU’s Dale Volker) dropped by my office this morning to request permission to use some of the photos I’d taken of him for an upcoming newspaper feature (I suggest going with “Flight of the Volkery“ or “You‘ve Got Dale!”). I was, of course, more than happy to oblige, offering up free use of any of the pics in my archive including a couple of extra shots of yours truly to really round out the article. Eventually, we got to talking about tweeting, blogging, and the lulling effects of internet surfing. I’m sure you all know what I’m talking about. One second you’re logging in to check your email and the next thing you know it’s next Tuesday and you’re the subject of an amber alert. Time flies when you’re having fun, but flies even faster when you’re online. Truly, I can’t even begin to imagine the many, many things I could have been doing instead. Why, I could have taken up golf, learned to play the castanets, understood a half dozen David Lynch movies, produced my first spoken word CD, become a reiki master, or taken up World of Warcraft. Instead, here I am. Anyway, internet addiction is apparently a bigger problem than many realize. It’s a serious subject that requires serious discussion. But, unfortunately, not here because I’m far too busy working on this blog, frequenting the various foodie forums, and surfing YouTube for hilarious videos of bug-eyed woodland creatures.

Hey, you know what’s a pretty damn good show? Besides Stargate:Universe. Glee! And I’m not the only one in the writers’ room who was pleasantly surprised by the show. Carl, Paul, and Brad also give it the big thumbs up. To be honest, I had no interest in the premise, envisioning it as a High School Musical for adults, but after Carl’s strong recommendation, I checked it out – and was mightily impressed with the quick, clever, and very funny writing, direction, and performances. My only quibble is the all-too-slick musical numbers, but it’s a minor one. If you haven’t checked the show out yet, I heartily recommend you do so. And Stargate: Universe.

I poked my head into Carl Binder’s office this afternoon and discovered he was in the process of receiving notes from actor Jamil Walker Smith. It’s always amazing to watch the creative process unfold, the give and take between performer and writer, and I was fortunate enough to be able to snap a few pics of the magic happening. Check it out –

Jamil and Carl discuss Sgt. Greer's character arc in an upcoming episode.
Jamil and Carl discuss Sgt. Greer's character arc in an upcoming episode.

Then offers some helpful suggestions for the rewrite.
Jamil follows up by offering some helpful suggestions for the rewrite.

Last day to get your questions in for actor Brian J. Smith (SGU’s Lieutenant Matthew Scott).

Brian J. Smith, poised to answer your questions (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)
Brian J. Smith, poised to answer your questions (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)

Last day to get your questions in for author Matthew Woodring Stover (Heroes Die).

Finally, I’d like to make mention of yet another member of our terrific cast. Mark Burgess plays the role of SGU’s oft put-upon Jeremy Franklin and, dare I say, he is perfect for the role.

Mark Burgess (Jeremy Franklin).  Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television.
Mark Burgess (Jeremy Franklin). Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television.

Stargate fans will, of course, remember Mark from his appearance in Stargate: Atlantis’s AU episode Vegas which had him puking his guts up in a seedy motel room before a wraith eventually put him out of his misery. Well, he parlayed that sickly guest shot into a much healthier recurring role on Stargate: Universe where he finds himself considerably less nauseous but significantly more harried. His character puts up with so much with such resigned weariness that, every time I see Mark on the lot, I actually feel like apologizing to him.

HUH?!!  WHATWASTHAT?!!  (Mark Burgess as a seriously spooked Jeremy Franklin).  Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television.
HUH?!! WHATWASTHAT?!! (Mark Burgess as a seriously spooked Jeremy Franklin). Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television.

June 16, 2010: WTF does Google Maps have to do with my blog? My gal’s hip problems! And some mailbag!

WTF?  What the hell does this mean?

“The Google Maps API server rejected your request because you do not have permission to use this service over SSL.”

I ask because the message pops up every time I attempt to update this blog.  And, by some unhappy coincidence, my html keeps screwing up, line spacing is off, paragraphs are run together, and I’ve inadvertently offended someone on Skype (although I’m not entirely sure the I can lay blame for the latter on Google Maps API server, I’m going to try anyway).  All signs point to a plug-in issue.  Or, at least, the google search for the aforementioned phrase points to a plug-in issue.  How to address?  Should I switch web browsers?  Check the firewall settings on my internet security software?  Apologize?

Paul popped his head into my office yesterday and asked: “Hey, what’re you doing the last week of July?” almost sounding as though it was a perfectly innocent question.  Almost.

“I think I’ll be in Chad,”I informed him, “doing missionary work.”

“Now, you see,”he said, fixing me with a look of feigned disappointment.  “If you’d said you were gun-running, THEN I might’ve believed you…”

I knew this was about Comic Con, that he’d been asked, couldn’t attend, and was looking for me to go instead.  Unfortunately, I really did have plans for that particular week.  Not missionary plans or gun-running plans, but more possibly going to Montreal plans.  Plus, I think the fans get enough of me here on this little corner of the internet.  I wouldn’t want to overextend myself.  First it’s Comic Con and the next thing you know I’m endorsing Fritos and doing a guest spot on Cougar Town.

Damn.  After five straight days in first place, I relinquished my spot in our Office World Cup Pool to – of all people – fellow Exec. Producer Carl Binder!  I’m now tied for second alongside Paul and Brad.  Fortunately, Carl has picked Greece in one of tomorrow’s match-ups.  And, fortunately, I have not.

Hey, have you met my Jelly?

She’s the eldest of my dog crew, an eleven year old pug who aint quite as spry as she used to be on account of some hip problems.  Once a speed demon, she can barely get around anymore, relying on me to carry her up and down stairs, on and off the bed, in and out of the house.  Although a complete hip replacement is an option, it’s a fairly invasive surgery, one I’m not at all certain she’d be able to handle, so, instead, I’m managing her discomfort with medication and consigned myself to being her chauffeur for the foreseeable future.  Then, the other day, I came across this interesting article – http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1817572,00.html – detailing the use of stem cell therapy to help animals suffering from hip dysplasia and similar degenerative conditions.  Tissue is removed from the pet and sent to a special lab where a centrifuge is used to extract the stem cells, then the cells are sent back and injected into the problem area.  According to studies done since the Time magazine article was first published, the treatment has seen very positive results.  No side effects to speak of, although some pet owners have complained of feeling lighter in the wallet.  The procedure is pricey. BUT I figure if I can spend the money to go to Tokyo, I can sure as hell spend the money to help out my favorite gal.  If the treatment helps by restoring even ten percent of her original hip function, it’ll have been worth it.  Hell, even if it has no discernible effect, it will have been worth it because at least I’ll know I tried everything I could to ensure her golden years are as comfortable as possible.  After a preliminary discussion with our vet who believes the treatment may hold some promise, I was referred to a specialist.  They’re sending him the x-rays and Jelly and I have an appointment to see him next week.

Today’s entry is dedicated to blog regular Das.  Get yerself fixed up!

Mailbag:

Ian Z. writes: “While I’m not against it. What made you (and fellow writers) decide to have the Lucian Alliance use Earth weapons instead of Goa’uld weapons? Are we to assume that Earth has superseded the Goa’uld in arms dealing?”

Answer: No particular reason.  As I said in a previous entry, the Lucian Alliance is made up of disparate groups who have helped themselves to any and all tech (rudimentary and advanced) available since the fall of the goa’uld.  When it comes to handheld weaponry, that covers everything from zats to crossbows.  We decided to go with Earth (Earth-like) weaponry to differentiate Kiva’s faction from previous factions we’ve encountered.  Also, they’re cooler in a firefight.

Ian Z. also writes: “Also, have you checked out Stargate Resistance yet?”

Answer: Nope.  I’m sure it’s wonderful, but I’m not a gamer.

Mark writes: “1.if the crew of the destiny finds a seedership, could they change the programming of the seedership to build a supergate from the collected materials?

2.If the Seedership is not big enough to produze a supergate (to get the destiny through the supergate (if they could control it) to earth) they could change the programming to build more modern stargates, to change the limit of the range?”

Answers: 1. Highly unlikely.  2. Again, highly unlikely.

Simon writes: “1) What do you think of the ratings in total for SGU’s first Season?

2) When’s that Jamil Walker Smith Q&A coming?

3) If SGU where to end shorter than expected, are you prepared for that?

4) Similar to the question above. If that DOES happen, will there be more of a chance of getting the SG-1 and SGA movies?”

Answers: 1) No matter what ratings your show receives, you always want it to do better.  That being said, the key demos have been fairly consistent as have the +7 numbers.  Ultimately, any discussion of these ratings, while interesting, is neither here nor there.  Our second season pick up was predicated on a strong first half performance of our opening season.  The third season pick up will depend on the first ten episodes of the show’s second year.  And, with our scheduled move to Tuesday nights, I’m feeling pretty good about our chances.

2) Good question.  Jamil?

3)  Oh, sure.  I’ve been prepared since the end of SG-1’s fifth season.  It’s been a fantastic twelve season ride for me and I would never take anything for granted – still, if I had to put money on it, I’d say that, same time next year, you’ll be quizzing me about a possible fourth season pick up.

4) Er, quite the opposite actually.  Some fans, either because they’re ignorant to the workings of television production or simply refuse to see reason, assume that the only thing holding back the movies is continued production on SGU.  In fact, the hold up is a studio decision based on various financial factors that have nothing to do with Universe.  Continued production on Universe is what is keeping the franchise healthy and open to the possibility of future movies. As things stand now, Stargate: Universe carries the mantle of the Stargate franchise while the two movies – with scripts already in place – await the greenlight for production.  If, in a worse case scenario, SGU were to wrap production earlier than expected (unlikely but, hey, let’s play “what if?”), then I suspect that it would assume first position in any potential film schedule, pushing SG-1 to the temporary back-burner.

dasNdanger writes: “1. Did you mention the publisher? For some reason, I’m thinking either Vertigo/DC, or Dark Horse…but that may be for something else I was looking into.

2. Any time frame for release? Next year sometime??

3. What’s the difference between scripting a tv show, and scripting a comic book?”

Answers: 1. I haven’t mentioned the publisher, but will make the announcement once the deals have been finalized (just awaiting a few contract signatures now).

2. I’m hoping sometime early next year.

3. When script a comic book, you assume the role of both writer and director.

myhelix writes: “1) Will we have a episode in Season 2 that focused on Dr. Rush and Col. Young´s and Rush and Eli´s relationship ?! These three are a blast to watch, they have a great on-screen chemistry.

2)Will the Destiny crew ever stumble across a planet with a whole alien society on it?”

Answers: 1) Possibly.  2) Again – possibly.

May 9, 2010: Alaina Huffman wants to hear from YOU! Brody’s Bar! And the mailbag!

I begin today’s entry with another BIG guest blogger announcement.  As you all know, Jamil Walker Smith and Elyse Levesque have your questions and are furiously working away on them, also managing to squeeze in time for their full-time jobs on Stargate: Universe.  So to those of you asking – yes, they’re working on ’em and should have their answers back our way…soon-ish.  In the meantime, while we’re waiting, let’s put another Q&A into play…

Actress Alaina Huffman wants to answer your questions and kick some ass (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television).

Actress Alaina Huffman (SGU’s Tamara “TJ” Johansen) wants to hear from YOU.  Yes, YOU.  NOT that other guy or gal, but YOU.  So if you have a question for Alain, post away.  I’ll be gathering them up over the course of the next few days and will be sending them her way by week’s end – after which I’ll start collecting questions for yet another guest blogger!

Today was Ice Cream Day.  I made two batches.  The first, Vanilla with Shaved White Chocolate and Milk Chocolate Flakes, is for Ashleigh.  The second, Sweet Corn with Cheddar Chips is for whoever is brave enough to sample it tomorrow.  I’m sure the first will be very good, but I have high hopes for the latter. Now, all I have to do is remember to bring them to work tomorrow.

Sure, last Friday’s episode of SGU was chock full of cool elements: alien ships, robots, body switching, and, best of all, Mr. Brody’s contribution to future parties, hilarity, and interminable stories…

The concept.

Setting up the still.
Ready to go.
Brody's Bar: open for business!

Today’s entry is dedicated to blog regular Paloosa.

Let’s field some questions –

Bryan M. White writes: “Seriously though, I was watching the SGA episode Adrift tonight on DVD and was wondering if the background plate of the two galaxies was taken from the shot of Midway, replacing the station w/ Destiny?”

Answer: Can’t recall for certain, but it sure sounds like something we would do.  If we didn’t – you’re hired!

Craig writes: “1) Does the robot have a name?

2) How are the show’s ratings? I don’t think I’ve heard anything since Justice about how well the show is performing. Has it been doing better since season 1.5 started? Or about the same?”

Answers: 1) Ludwig Honenberger the Third.

2) The show came back with a 1.18 , maintained, dipped a little, then came back last week to match the 1.18.  Internally, we’re referring to it as the “Knepper Bounce” because, last week, Carl found himself on a return flight to L.A. with guest star Robert Knepper.  As they were disembarking, a passenger recognized Robert and called out to him: “Loved you in Prison Break!”  Robert responded: “Then you should check out Stargate: Universe!”

dasNdanger writes: “Joe – just wondering (since you mentioned things catching up with you) if your aches and pains have gone away, or are you still having troubles? If they’ve gone away, just curious as to what you did to feel better (as long as it’s clean and legal, that is ;) ).”

Answer: I did what any grown man would do when faced with a mysterious ache and/or pain.  I ignored it until it went away.

Scott writes: “is the robot going to be doing like fixing up the broken parts of the ship now? so that like the crew can start exploring more of the ship?”

Answer: That’s the idea.

PG15 writes: “1. Since you’re back to being an Executive Producer for Season 2, does that mean that you can give us episode rundowns for Awakening and Resurgence, like you did with those SGA episodes you wrote?

2. Is there any significance to the fact that the only 2 non-one-word SGU episode titles so far are right next to each other? Are they a 2-parter perhaps?

3. Now that Young and TJ are kinda joined at the chromosomes, how will Emily feel about this? Are you guys going to touch on Young’s wife again soon?

4. How far are you guys along on coming up with stories for the 2nd season? Got an idea for the season finale yet?

5. Has anyone in the production seen Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos” series?

6. Did you actually read this entire, extremely long comment?”

Answers: 1. Possibly, if I find the time.

2. Nope, no significance.  They were simply more suitable titles.

3. Yes, we will be touching on his relationship with Emily some time in the near future.

4. We still have a few open slots, but we do know where we’re headed for our second season finale.

5. Of course.

6. Of course.

duneknight writes: “did you guys chicken out? because of the contriversy regarding the sex scene or did you plan it like that all along?”

Answer: There were some minor changes, but no more than would be made on any script as it advances from outline to and through its various drafts.  The one change that stood out for me was a little character backstory we had planned for the Lieutenant James character.  Initially, she volunteers, makes the switch, panics, and backs out.  Rather than being a simple freak out, we learn that her reason for backing out stems from a personal issue – specifically, the circumstances surrounding her younger brother’s paralysis.  Even though it was a positive depiction of the bond between siblings, Standards and Practices felt that it cast a physical disability in a negative light because James displays grief for her brother’s condition.  As a result, we had to lose it.

imadaman writes: “No hints about when the premiere took place? Seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years after EatG?”

Answer: It would have to have taken place not too long after the events of EatG (days, maybe weeks perhaps) since the events of the Atlantis movie, Stargate: Extinction, follow very son after EatG as well (and helps explain why Dr. McKay wasn’t drafted to body switch during the show’s first season).

E writes: “I thought that’s going to happen in “Sabotage”, but it didn’t… Can we still expect clawing-eyes-out-worthy sex scenes in 1.5?”

Answer: Enjoy the teaser of Pain.

RedFlames writes: “If each dive into a star isn’t fully recharging the zpms/batteries/hamsters-on-wheels or whatever powers Destiny why doesn’t destiny stay inside the star until it is fully charged?”

Answer: Damage to the ship’s systems make it incapable of fully recharging.  Presently, Destiny’s capacitors are only able to charge to about 40% capacity.

Curiositykitty writes: “Theres also a bunch of gripes online about the music montages in episodes lately. Ive been beginning to think its just one of those sgu things now thats a stylistic thing for the series.”

Answer: Bingo.

July 12, 2010: House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds

In the year 3000, the wealthy Abigail Gentean, inspired by dreams of exploration and discovery, creates nine hundred and ninety-nine clones of herself.  These “shatterlings” and her original self (indistinguishable from her duplicates) are subsequently dispersed to the far reaches of space – to colonize, investigate, learn and, eventually, meet up every two thousand years to share the memories they have gathered over the course of their travels.  Some six million years after the Gentean line first left the Milky Way on their galaxy-spawning odysseys, two clone siblings, Campion and Purslane, enroute to one of these reunions, receive a troubling message.  The gathering was ambushed by unknown forces and most of their numbers killed.  Only the fact that Campion and Purslane were running late saved them from a similar fate.

Campion and Purslane must place their trust in an enigmatic ally, the amnesiac Hesperus, a robot of the machine people, if they have any hope of finding out  why the Gentean Line has been marked for extermination.  As it turns out, the shocking answer may lie with the mysterious House of Suns…

Alastair Reynolds is an author with an impressive academic background firmly rooted in science.  To be honest, when I heard that he was a former research astronomer with the European Space Agency, I approached my first Alastair Reynolds novel with a certain amount of trepidation.  Let me be frank.  Most of the SF authors I’ve read who straddle the worlds of science and science fiction tend to come up short in certain key areas of story-telling – namely character, plotting, and a prose style that doesn’t have you skipping whole pages to get back on the narrative track.  Still, having heard good things about Reynolds, I was cautiously optimistic when I started reading Revelation Space.  Eventually, that cautious optimism turned to relief, then surprise, and, ultimately, utter delight.  Revelation Space became a fast favorite because it delivered on so many of the levels I’d found wanting in other hard SF writers.  As for House of Suns?  Well, in my opinion, it’s even better.

One of the things I love about Reynolds’ books – and it’s a characteristic of the works of Iain M. Banks as well – is their ability to serve up BIG ideas: multi-century spanning narratives, inventive technologies, and unique takes on future/alien cultures.  Lesser writers would be content with introducing one, maybe two such cool concepts and making them the center-point of the story.  Reynolds throws about a dozen at you, each one helping to build the narrative in its own unique way, from the surrealistic game play of palatial to the Andromeda-dwelling First Machines and so much in between: the information-gathering beings known as The Vigilance, cloning and communal memory-sharing as a means to advancement, ever-evolving machine intelligence possessed of god-like abilities, vast solar system-containing devices known as stardams, the miraculous all-purpose aspic of machine, and, my personal favorite, the time dilated interrogation of prisoners.

Reynolds peoples his novel with interesting characters.  I felt for both Campion and Purslane and was wholly invested in their stories although I had a particular affinity for Hesperus who was undergoing his own parallel journey of self-discovery.  The one nitpick I had was with some of the supporting players, those surviving shatterlings, who, with a few exceptions (notably Mezereon and Betony), didn’t really distinguish themselves from one another.  As a result, the reveal of the mole-in-their-midst wasn’t quite as powerful as it could have been.

Overall, the story was very well-paced, striking a perfect balance between the establishment of some fairly lofty concepts and timely plot advancement.  The shifting point of view between Campion and Purslane in alternating chapters was admittedly damn confusing at first, but easy enough to follow once I’d caught on.  And I found the Abigail storyline equally engaging.

I’ve heard some complain that they found the ending abrupt or anti-climactic.  I disagree with the latter.  I loved the fact that despite the building suspense, race against Cascade and Cadence, and looming spectre of vengeance for the mass genocide, the First Machines have developed to a point where they are beyond it.  Their decision offers hope for all sentient beings, something that is reinforced in the book’s final moments.  Yes, the ending is abrupt – but perfectly so.  Campion is told that his lover has survived, housed within the protective gold sarcophagus created by Hesperus in a final act of sacrifice, and as he prepares to free her with the help of a descendant of the race his people almost wiped out, one can’t help but feel that sense of hope and anticipation, of looking forward to something long sought-after finally within reach, a sense of wonder that pervades House of Suns, perfectly distilled and crystallized in its closing paragraph:

“’Then I’ll help you,’the glass man said as my fingers du their useless nails into the fused seams of that golden mask.  ‘After which, with regret, I shall have to be on my way.’”

Awesome.

Well, those were my initial thoughts.  What did everyone else think?  Weigh in with your thoughts and questions for author Alastair Reynolds!

Mailbag:

Randomness writes: “Joe wouldn’t you say those aliens from Daedalus variations could just be a random alien race from another Galaxy that just so happened to come into conflict with Atlantis?”

Answer: Yes, that was the original conceit.

Chevron7 writes: “Joe, are we sure that the Joe Flanigan space suit incident was an accident? I suspect foul play.”

Answer: At the time, a straight-faced N. John Smith defending the crew member, insisting “It wasn’t malicious.”

sgugeek writes: “I know the cast is on holiday now, but if I mail my fan mail for Ashleigh today, will she get it?”

Answer: Not unless you post it on this blog and she happens to read it.

Michael writes: “1) I’ve read that SGU is moving to Tuesday but has the timeslot been announced?

2) I didn’t recognize Louis Ferreira in that robe and floppy hat, how the heck did he get past security?!

3) Why haven’t you done any commentary, the world needs to hear your genius!!”

Answers: 1) Not that I know of.

2) That was just one Friday.  You should see what Jamil Walker Smith wears on a daily basis.

3) I’ll limit my genius to this blog, but thanks for asking.

afg1 writes: “So, then, as regards the SGA movie, there’s no point in you pushing for it until MGM gets better and the SG-1 movie gets made? Is that the idea?”

Answer: Partly.

J. Chris Tucker writes: “Why are you and Paul credited as co-writers on scripts if you don’t actually co-write them?”

Answer: When we first started working on Stargate, we would write a script together, bouncing dialogue back and forth in the room.  One of us paced while the other typed.  Eventually, as we grew busier, we started working on the script separately, bouncing it back and forth between us.  He would write a scene and send it my way.  I would rewrite it and write the next scene.  He would rewrite what I’d written and write the next scene and so on.  Eventually, as we grew even more busy, we started writing scripts separately and merely doing final passes on each other’s drafts.  Eventually, we just started writing our scripts separately.  The reason we’re credited as co-writers is because while I’ve done mostly originals, Paul has done a fair amount of uncredited rewrites. And so, out of fairness (given that Paul is never credited or receives an extra script fee for what occasionally amounts to page one rewrites), we share the writing credits on the original scripts.

for the love of Beckett writes: “How long will Jelly be at the vet’s?”

Answer: She’s in all day tomorrow.  I pick her up Wednesday, then bring her back in on Thursday for the stem cell injection.

otros ojos writes: “Hey, people better not mess with the octopus. (Just saying, based on what Jeffrey Ford’s psychic octopus did in The Drowned Life.)”

Answer: True!

Angelus writes: “Judging from the Pineapple Diaries, Louis doesn’t seem very camera shy, Are there any cast members or have there been cast members who don’t like to be photographed and put in your blog?”

Answer: No, so far so good.  I tend to head down to set and snap pics on the quieter shooting days and always get the okay from the actors before proceeding, getting them to sign off any pics before posting.

Angelus also writes: “My guess is Bobby doesn’t like to be photographed considering I can’t remember a single time he appeared in your blog?”

Answer: Oh, he’ll eventually make an appearance.

Angelus also writes: “How about guest stars?, Robert Knepper perhaps?”

Answer: No, I missed out on Robert but I’m sure he wouldn’t have minded.  Very nice guy.  As for guest stars – the same rule applies.  I always tell them what it’s for, get their permission, and have them sign off on any potential public pics.

Angelus also writes: “And, Did anyone ever freak out about you posting a picture of them in your blog?”

Answer: No one ever freaked out, but Jason Momoa once suggested I ask him before posting any pics.  I thought that was very cool of him and gave him a break – which resulted in him tracking me down to take his photos for the blog, like these ones –

http://josephmallozzi.com/2008/05/28/may-28-2008-major-retailer-recalls-combustible-underpants/

E writes: “What SGA episode are you talking about? Only similar title is “Submersion”.”

Answer: Right.  Submersion.

Gabriele writes: “1. Will we see Colonel Samantha Carter again in season two of “Stargate Universe”?

2. Will we see any of the Earth ships in season two of “Stargate Universe” and in the movies?”

Answer: Maybe to both questions.

andrew writes: “Anyone on the cast or crew have an ‘out there’ favorite food?”

Answer: Carl is a big fan of Chili’s.  Does that count?

Kymm writes: “What hockey team does Ivon cheer for?”

Answer: The hated-everyone-in-Canda-except-Toronto Maple Leafs.

Luis writes: “Speaking of you and Paul’s Comic Book Series..Hows that going for you guys???”

Answer: Great.  Next step: the comic book company is assigning an editor to the project.

Michelle writes: “I offer the following translations for your Atlantis movie diplomacy:

a. MGM is in so much debt, even the SG-1 movie has a .001% chance of getting financed, the SGA movie even less. Why should I waste my time?
b. Flanigan has said negative things about SGU’s ratings and prospects; no way am I fighting to get him a gig.
c. You fans are so naive. The sets are gone. SGA is over. Get a clue!
d. Have you not noticed I’m branching out to fiction and comics? I won’t be around long enough to make an SGA movie.
e. MGM never paid me for the script. I don’t work for free.

Care to comment if any of those are accurate?”d

Answer: MGM certainly did pay for the script and I’m sure it’ll only be a matter of time before it’s business as usual with the lion, at least with regard to features and television.  The direct-to-dvd market, however, will probably continue to be a big question mark.  As for the sets – it’s much cheaper to put them in storage and put them up when needed rather than leave them standing and pay the cost of the stage rental.

May 21, 2009: Death By Musical Theater, Into the Jungle, and an Update on the Comic Book Front

Kerry informs me I'm not weaseling my way out of this one.
Kerry informs me I'm not weaseling my way out of this one.
Ready to take down the confirmation number with my lucky Tokyo pen.
Ready to take down the confirmation number with my lucky Tokyo pen.
The tickets are booked.  We are both thrilled!
The tickets are booked. We are both thrilled!

Today, I bought tickets to Altar Boyz, a musical production that the Arts Club Theatre describes thusly: “ Watch out ‘N Sync, the Altar Boyz are coming to town! Matthew, Mark, Luke, Juan, and Abraham-the gefilte fish out of water-can sing and dance with the best of them, and these heartthrobs want to praise the Lord with funk and rhyme. With lyrics like “Girl, you make me wanna wait” and “Jesus called me on my cell phone” this irreverent (but never mean-spirited) musical-comedy will wash your soul clean with laughter.”

“Why would you want to go see that?”you may ask. “What, did you lose a bet?”

In fact, yes. Yes, I lost a bet to my co-worker Kerry McDowall and now have to take her to a musical theater production of her choice. And she chose this one. I suppose it could have been worse. We could be going to see…um…we could be going to see…No, I guess it couldn’t get much worse.

I made the call this morning as Kerry looked on from her perch atop the armrest of my couch, a self-satisfied smirk on her face. The Wednesday show was sold out, but fortunately (?) Kerry was able to free up her Monday so I booked tickets for that night.

“You’ve got great seats,”the woman at the other end of the phone assured me. “By the way, how did you hear about us?”

“A – uh – friend – ”I glared over at a delighted Kerry, “ – read about it online.”

“Well great,”said the woman. “You are in for a treat.”

“Looking forward to it,”I croaked and immediately clicked off.

“We should grab something to eat before the show,”Kerry suggested.

I suggested we could meet up somewhere for dinner, then take separate cars to the show – but Kerry immediately shot down the idea. She didn’t want me “getting lost” or experiencing “car trouble”. We would take one car and eat on Granville Island where the show was taking place.

“Is there anything good on Granville Island?”I asked.

“Not any musical theater, that‘s for sure,”quipped Lawren.

Apparently, the show is two hours long. TWO HOURS! That strikes me as a little excessive. The last theatrical production I attended was done inside of an hour! Of course, the show in question was my elementary school production of Tom Sawyer, but I think we can all learn from those sixth graders. Short is sweet!

Today, the onset action shifted from Destiny to the jungles of Stage 1. A mighty heavy day but nothing compared to tomorrow when the skies will open up (or, more accurately, we’ll MAKE the skies open up) to douse our actors in a torrential downpour. Ivon pointed out that when the rain starts, the temperature in that stage drops by about ten degrees. It’s going to get a tad chilly so all of the actors have been fitted with wet suits. For his part, however, actor Jamil Walker Smith is actually looking forward to it, genuinely excited at the prospect of battling the elements. I kid you not.  This guy is hardcore!

Got a call from our agent today. He reports that our pilot script for the comic book concept was well-received. One more call with the company president to pitch out where we see the series going and, if he likes what he have to say, we can start planning our first multi-issue arc.