It’s hard to believe that I’ve been updating this blog daily for over eleven years. Over that period, I’ve covered a lot of ground in a lot of entries and I thought it might be fun to randomly select some photos, one for each year this blog has been in existence, to see how far we’ve come…
My gal Jelly was a chunky monkey back in the day. She was my longest relationship – 16 years and 4 months!
The late Don S. Davis, Stargate’s General Hammond, was always a class act. Occasionally, he would swing by my office to chat or – in this case – sample from my stash of dark chocolate.
Syfy cancelled Stargate: Atlantis – but we still had a whole sixth season of stories to tell!
Ming-Na and Louis Ferreira being the scenes on Stargate: Universe. So much fun!
Executive Producer Carl Binder winding up to knock some sense into Script Coordinator Lawren Bancroft-Wilson.
My handsome boy Maximus. Near the end, I was taking every half-Wednesday off so that we could drive the 90 minutes to Guelph, then another 90 minutes, and wait around for an hour while he received his chemo treatment at Guelph Animal Hospital.
Akemi would always send me off to work with a bento box snack – oatmeal, peanut butter and fruit arranged artful display.
Back on the homefront in Van – from left to right: Jelly, Lulu, and Bubba (the love of Akemi’s life).
Five years later – What have I gotten myself into?
During Dark Matter’s first season, we lived in the same building as actors Roger Cross and Jodelle Ferland. They, and VFX Supervisor Lawren Bancroft-Wilson, would come over every Sunday night for The Walking Dead and bourbon milkshakes.
On our last trip to Tokyo, Akemi signed us up for a chocolate-making class. Here, I’ve selected the manliest apron.
The ladies (Melissa O’Neil and Zoie Palmer) kicking back on The Raza bridge.
Keeping touch with that old gang of mine – Dark Matter Co-Executive Producer Ivon Bartok and Dark Matter’s FOUR/Ryo Ishida, Alex Mallari Jr.
We are living in the Golden Age of sci-fi viewing. Thanks to the rise of deep-pocketed streaming platforms, the expansion of superhero-themed properties to the “small screen”, and a long overdue recognition of the value of genre programming, fandom today has more choices than ever when it comes to feeding their sci-fi fix.
But with the power of choice comes great responsibility. Where do you commit your time? And potential subscription fees? Who has the most to offer?
Well, after amassing a sizable show list, from Agents of SHIELD to Westworld, I put each broadcaster to the test, evaluating them across a range of criteria: quality, quantity, variety, and status of their sci-fi slate, support for their sci-fi programming relative to their other offerings, fan outreach, recognition, and respect. And, when all was said and done, these were my Top 10 Sci-Fi Broadcast/Streaming Homes:
A lot of love for genre programming in general here, but there’s a definite commitment to sci-fi with shows like Stitchers and Beyond. Ultimately, Freeform lands the tenth slot on the strength of its upcoming series: Cloak & Dagger, New Warriors (Squirrel Girl!), and Misfits remake.
Coming in at number nine is this feisty digital streaming service looking to make a splash in 2018 with not one, but two intriguing offerings. First, there’s The Tribe, a post-apocalyptic series that I’ve heard described as The 100 meets The Walking Dead. And then there’s The Row which focuses on a group of death row inmates who avoid execution by “volunteering” for a deadly space mission. Killer premise.
#8. BBC AMERICA
Being Human, Class, Torchwood, Orphan Black and, of course, the grandaddy of science fiction television, Dr. Who – BBC America has a solid track record in this arena. Looking forward to what they have in store…
They’ve got Agents of SHIELD presently airing its fourth season (with the incredible Ming-Na Wen), Marvel’s Inhumans, Somewhere Between that focuses on a mother’s attempts to avert the fated murder of her young daughter, and the upcoming The Crossing which sees America becoming home to an influx of refugees…from 250 years in the future.
Like superheroes, I put zombies in the sci-fi camp if their origins are based in science (fiction) rather than the supernatural, and that’s the case for two of AMC’s entries here: The Walking Dead and its offshoot Fear the Walking Dead. The high octane Into the Badlands gets the nod as well, as does the android-centric Humans.
#5. THE CW
The 100, Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, the forthcoming Black Lightning series. Need I go on?
FOX comes in at #4 on the strength its commitment to science fiction, past (Firefly, Fringe, The X-Files, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Sliders, The X-Files) and present (The X-Files, The Gifted, The Last Man on Earth, The Gifted, The Orville).
In addition to going all in on Stephen King’s time-hopping 11.22.63, Hulu aims to follow up on its brilliant The Handmaid’s Tale with a bevy of sci-fi offerings including Future Man, Dimension 404, Freakish, and Runaways.
Amazon’s streaming service vaults into the #2 spot thanks to a burgeoning sci-fi slate that includes The Man in the High Castle, the recently launched Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams, and a trio of intriguing upcoming adaptations: Larry Niven’s Ringworld, Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, and Greg Rucka’s Lazarus. There’s also Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett’s Good Omens that is really more fantasy than science fiction, but I mention it for its post-apocalyptic setting.
And all alone at #1 is the current king of sci-fi programming. Let’s break it down: Black Mirror, Dark Matter, Sense 8, The OA, Stranger Things, Travelers, 3%, Daredevil, The Defenders, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Jessica Jones, The Punisher. Upcoming: Lost in Space, The Umbrella Academy, Altered Carbon. And I’m sure there’s much, much more.
Honorable Mentions: The CBS All Access and Stargate Command streaming platforms offer up a plethora of classic sci-fi (Every Star Trek series and every Stargate series respectively), in addition to a couple of exclusives (Star Trek: Discovery on CBS All Access and Stargate: Origins on Stargate Command). HBO doesn’t do a lot of sci-fi, but when they do, they invest in some impressive production values. Finally, Canada’s Space Channel is home to great content including the aforementioned Star Trek: Discovery,The Expanse, andKilljoys among others but it didn’t make the list because, sadly, if you’re not in Canada you’re out of luck.
So, what do you all think? What are your go-to sci-fi homes? What are you watching and what are you looking forward to watching?
Well, that was fun. And hugely successful. Again and as always, thanks to YOU ALL. We trended and held in the U.S., hit #1 in Canada, and once again lit up twitter with our #LightTheRaza hashtag. Joining our ranks and making their voices heard were, once again, friends and supporters from the realms of television, music, books, and comic books. Thanks as always to our Dark Matter allies like Ming-Na Wen, Lexa Doig, Michael Shanks, Amanda Tapping, Martin Gero, Phil Plait, Cherie Priest, Sass Jordan, Jann Arden, Gail Simone, John Scalzi, Nick Cutter, Robert Picardo, Mark Dacascos, Ed the Sock, Scott Lynch, Jonathon Hickman, Kris Holden-Reid, Paul Amos, Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, Jean Yoon, Adam Korson, Ellen Wong, Kate Drummond, Corin Nemec, Jason M. Hough, Melanie Liburd, Mike Dopud, Torri Higginson, Mishka Thebaud, Ayisha Issa, Ennis Esmer, Matthew Rosenberg, Cas Anvar, Tamsen McDonough, Ryan Robbins, Natalie Brown, Kaare Andrews, Jessica Sipos and many more!
In order to maximize our reach in the U.S., we had to schedule our FTL Friday tweet storms at times that proved…inconvenient for many of our international fans. We apologize for that but, again, this was really a result of a need to LOUDLY target a potential new U.S. home for the show (since we already have nice comfy homes overseas and in Canada). Still, many international fans stayed up into the wee hours to tweet along with us.
Today, in appreciation for THEIR commitment to the campaign, we’ll be doing another FTL Drive more accommodating to them. We kick off at 4 pm EDT/1 pm PDT which is 9 pm UK/10 pm France.
Please follow @DarkMatterFTL for all the latest, including the reveal of the secret hashtag just before the tweet storm launch!
I’m holding onto about a dozen blooper segments. Once we start trending, I’ll post the first. And then, depending on the number of retweets I get for the first set of bloopers, I’ll retreat the next batch, and so on.
The reddit AMA was a rousing success. A little over 1350 comments in the thread…and counting. Check out the Q&A here:
I offered the following when asked about my unusually passionate focus on finding a new home for the show:
“Dark Matter is my baby and it’s frustrating to think I won’t be able to finish telling my story. The cast and crew have become like family to me and, as I wrote in my blog, I have to do right by them.”
And I have to do right by all of you, from the members of the Dark Matter Council to everyone who has taken to the internet to do battle for Dark Matter. Thank you.
Artist John Picacio, who joined us for an edifying Q&A back in July of 2008 (July 25, 2008: With Special Guest – Award-Winning Artist/Illustrator/Designer John Picacio) has been busy: last month scoring his second Hugo Award for Best Professional Artist AND winning two Chelsea Awards in the same weekend for Best Paperback Cover Illustration and Best Product Illustration. He is presently Kickstarting a 2014 Calendar featuring the first twelve artworks of a planned 54 card deck and game. According to John, he is creating a modern re-engineering of Loteria: “It’s a Mexican game of chance that I played as a kid with my mother and my grandma. I’m re-envisioning it via my artwork, and my version will be unlike anything seen before.”
Included amongst the rewards are special-edition Grande Loteria cards. They’re big, deluxe Mexican Tarot cards featuring the new art and backers collect them toward an eventual full deluxe deck. Every time the campaign hits a stretch goal, backers get a free Grande card.
Ming-Na has found her way onto the preliminary list of nominees for this year’s People’s Choice Award as “Favorite Actress on a New Series”! As most of you know Ming, played Camile Wray on Stargate: Universe, is presently starring on ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.LD.
Finally – those conference calls I mentioned the other day went swimmingly. In the case of one: some solid notes as we move forward on the outline (which I hope to deliver and get notes on before I leave for Tokyo next week – although that’s highly unlikely). In the case of the other: if the individual I spoke to is able to follow through on my suggestion (and he seemed quite excited by the idea) then we could have an announcement before month’s end.
I try. Believe me, I do try. At the beginning of every fall season, I try to catch as many of the new shows as possible, dropping those that fail to capture my interest and sticking with those that hold my attention. Slowly but surely, as the weeks pass, various of these new shows fall out of my DVR rotation until, inevitably, I’m watching my “regularly scheduled programming”: Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, Boardwalk Empire, Louie, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Community, Downton Abbey, and The Walking Dead. Notice something interesting? That’s right – overwhelmingly cable with a lone big network show. And the shows I’m in the process of checking out – Orange is the New Black and Ray Donovan aren’t big network either.
No, don’t bother recommended a series from last season. I can assure you I watched it and lost interest at some point.
But will this year be different?
Probably not, but it doesn’t hurt to try!
Some of this fall’s more intriguing candidates…
Premieres Sunday, September 29th at 10:30 p.m.
An Englishman searches for love in hard-luck L.A.
Leading the pack is yet another cable series. Stephen Merchant is a very funny guy. Finally, following behind-the-scenes contributions and onscreen supporting stints on shows like The Office and Extras, he is the lead of his own series.
Trailer makes me wants to see it: About the same.
Premieres Sunday September 23rd at 10:00 p.m.
One of the FBI’s most wanted fugitives turns himself in and offers to help the feds capture fellow super criminals on the condition he is teamed with a rookie agent.
Shades of Silence of the Lambs! James Spader is brilliant and the prospect of watching him play a villain is just too good to miss.
Trailer wants to make me see it: A little more.
Premieres Tuesday, September 17th at 8:00 p.m.
An immature young detective teams with a seasoned, by-the-book commanding officer.
Another show I’m looking forward to on the strength of its casting, specifically Andre Braugher. Also, this is a comedy and Andy Samberg is a pretty funny guy.
Trailer makes me want to see it: Less.
The Crazy Ones
Premieres Thursday September 26th at 9:00 p.m.
An eccentric but brilliant advertising executive runs his agency alongside his more level-headed daughter.
No, the casting is the draw here. It’s the pedigree of show creator David E. Kelley. I miss Boston Legal.
Trailer makes me want to see it: A lot less.
Premieres Tuesday September 24th at 9:00 p.m.
A family comedy set in the 80’s.
Based on the home movies that the show’s creator shot of his family while he was growing up. A successor to The Wonder Years?
Trailer makes me want to see it: A lot less.
Premieres Monday September 23rd at 10:0 p.m.
A rogue FBI agent kidnaps a surgeons family and threatens to kill them unless the President of the United States dies on the operating table.
Based on an unproduced Israeli series, it feels like a cable show…on network television. The premise, however, feels a little thin to sustain a 15 episode first season, much less an ongoing.
Trailer makes me want to see it: About the same.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Premieres Tuesday September 24th at 8:00 p.m.
A secret government agency investigates “strange” cases.
Superheroes and Ming-Na. What more could you ask for?
Trailer makes me want to see it: About the same.
Super Fun Night
Premieres Wednesday October 2nd at 9:00 p.m.
Three best friends have their traditional Friday night get-togethers threatened by the lure of a life outside the little world they’ve created for themselves.
Created by Rebel Wilson and Conan O’Brien. That means it should be pretty funny, no?
Heading to Comic Con in a little less than a week to do a signing for my comic book, Dark Matter, and I thought it would be nice to offer those who swing by a shot at winning some cool giveaways. In addition to copies of Dark Matter‘s first issue, I’ll also be offering up a shot at winning some Stargate-related merchandise like the signed script I featured in yesterday’s entry or this SG-1 100th Episode commemorative photo frame and keychain. Awesome, no? If you’ve got tickets for Comic Con (apparently they’re already sold out :() come on by for a chance to win:
Saturday, July 14th between 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. at the Dark Horse Booth (#2615).
Hey, JYS – what restaurants have you got lined up?
A big thanks to Blake Linton, Kelley Hirst, Chad Hansen, Joseph Sardone, Martin James Keating, TheDudeDean and all the fans who helped Stargate: Universe clean up at the Constellation Awards the other day. The show took home awards in the categories of Best Series, Best Actress (Ming-Na), Best Script (Twin Destinites), Best Technical Achievement (Joel Goldsmith), and Best Canadian Contribution to SF.
Congratulations also go out to my buddy James Coleridge who took home the prize for Best Gelato at the Florence Gelato Festival in (where else?) Italy. I’m not surprised. Ever since arriving in Vancouver, Akemi has always drawn comparisons between the food here and the food back in Tokyo. It was always: “This isn’t very good. It’s better in Tokyo.” or “This is good, but it’s better in Tokyo.” or “This is great! But it’s still better in Tokyo.”. Until we went to Bella Gelateria (where James plies his tasty trade). After sampling the ice cream there, it was the first and only time I’d heard her say: “This is better than Tokyo!” Welcome to Bella Gelateria – Home of Old-World Handcrafted Gelato
Cool time-lapse video courtesy of the Image Science & Analysis Laboratory at the NASA Johnson Space Center:
Three more episodes left to discuss in our stroll down Stargate: Atlantis memory lane…
In its earliest inception (under the working title Charly, a tip of the hat to Daniel Keyes’ Flowers for Algernon), the story tracked the capture of the wraith, his transformation, and the subsequent attempt to keep him in the dark which, of course, ends in a spectacular failure. It was interesting but lacked something. And, it was while we were in Carl’s office, discussing the fact that it needed some sort of twist, that I suggested we tell the story from Michael’s P.O.V. Rather than let the viewers in on it from the get-go, make them an audience to the mystery. This would allow them to connect with Michael and sympathize with him – and be thoroughly blindsided when we pulled the rug out from underneath them with the big reveal. It was a small change in approach but it made quite a difference in execution.
Writer/Producer Carl Binder came through BIG TIME, delivering a gripping, emotionally resonant story that is at turns suspenseful, thought-provoking, and surprisingly controversial. I love the little hints he sprinkles throughout the beginning of the episode – the fact that everyone is wary with the exception of Ronon who is downright hostile, Michael’s identification of the wealth technology, his nightmare, Teyla’s anxious look when he pins her during their sparring sessions and slams his hand down on her chest. Brilliant. And equally brilliant is the shocking “DAY 12” – “DAY 10” – “DAY 1” session reveal. As far as arc-driven episodes go, this one is seminal, developing the retrovirus and introducing one of the most complex villains in Stargate history.
Another standout guest star in Connor Trinneer whose portrayal of the confused and vulnerable Michael Kenmore elicits great sympathy, even in the darkest moments.
Rachel is equally terrific in this episode as Teyla demonstrates genuine compassion for a former enemy – something she will come to regret in later episodes.
Anybody catch McKay’s complaint about the lack of blue jello in the mess, an obvious callback to the blue jello references of SG-1?
One of the episode’s unintentionally amusing moments takes place in the infirmary where Michael spots the “Kenmore” calendar. Perhaps even more startling than the coincidence of the shared name is the fact that Carson has marked one of the calendar days as “Dinner with Cadman”. Word of advice to Carson: If you want to impress the girl you’re dating, start calling her by her first name.
This episode opens up the floor to some interesting moral and ethical debates. An exchange late in the episode nicely encapsulates the dilemma:
HEIGHTMEYER:We can’t kill him, Ronon. We’re the ones who put him in this position.
SHEPPARD:Hold on a minute, Doc. If we hadn’t given him the retrovirus, he’d still be a Wraith. We wouldn’t think twice about killing him.
TEYLA:But we did give him the retrovirus. We made him human. Now we have the responsibility to treat him as we would any other …
DEX (interrupting):He’s not human. He’s a Wraith.
In retrospect, the Michael experiment delivers mixed results. On the one hand, it is a failure in that it costs an expedition member his life and creates a powerful new enemy with dangerous knowledge of Atlantis’s existence. On the other hand, the transformation does work – albeit briefly – and offers hope of a powerful new weapon against the wraith. And there’s something to be said for Sheppard’s “If we hadn’t given him the retrovirus, he’d still be a Wraith. We wouldn’t think twice about killing him.” argument since, despite the criticism directed at the retrovirus, it IS a far more humane alternative to simply killing the enemy.
Over the past two months, I’ve had a lot of friends send me pictures of themselves reading my comic book, Dark Matter, obviously seeking to impress in the hopes that I will think of them when it comes time to cast the series/mini-series. While I’ve certainly appreciated the gestures, none have really moved me enough to decide right there and then: “That’s it! I have to cast this individual!”. That is until today when I received the above pic from my former Stargate ace editor Mike Banas P.I. Mike informs me that he and wife (former Stargate Associate Producer Jennifer Johnson) have been so busy working on home renovations that their dog, Ruby, has had to entertainment herself.
I guess it’s true what they say. Golden Retrievers ARE smart dogs!
Today, I celebrated Ivon R. Bartok Day by going to lunch with the birthday boy. We were joined by Robert Cooper at La Tacqueria for – what else? – tacos!
We talked projects on the go including Rob’s own terrific horror feature (based on true events!) that I’m sure he’ll tell you all about the next time he swings by for a Q&A. We got together for a couple of hours and then it was time for Ivon to head back to his place and get back to work on our horror movie sizzle reel. Birthday or not, that trailer aint gonna produce itself!
Two conference calls scheduled for today but the second one, rescheduled from last week, has been rescheduled to next week. The first one, I’m pleased to report, went very well. We discussed a terrific property that, if done right, would be a lot of fun to work on. The people I spoke with are apparently eager to get going, so Paul and I will take the weekend to go over the source material and then get back to them early next week and see whether we’re on the same page creatively and production-wise. In the meantime, our agent will continue his inquiries.
It would seem that, lately, everything is coming up horror for me. From a creative standpoint anyway. Over the past few days, I’ve been working on fleshing out the story for a new horror feature idea (I do some of my best thinking while I’m driving or walking the dogs) I’d like to get started on once I’ve finished my rewrite on the first one. I’ve lined up some horror viewing to get me in the proper mind frame: The Devil’s Backbone, Cold Prey, Calvaire, and Imprint (Takashi Miike’s banned episode from the Masters of Horror series). Of course, I’ll be watching alone. Akemi can barely get through an episode of The Walking Dead.
Fortunately, while I’m focused on screening horror movies, she can turn her mind to equally productive matters. Like, say, making pistachio chocolates…
Some interesting entries in the “It May Surprise You To Know (t.v. edition)…” And plenty of surprises. Reminds me of the time Ming-Na told me she was a closet Hoarders fan.
Today’s blog entry is dedicated to belated birthday gal Deni!
Damnit! My Snow Monkeys are about to go down to defeat. With 18 points to make up, my sole player tonight, Frank Gore, racked up 5.3 points in the first quarter alone! Then suffered an ouchy and took himself out of the game. Thanks. Thanks a lot, Frank. With two more weeks to go in the season, that just about eliminates us from playoff contention.
Went into the office today to watch not one, not two, but THREE episodes of Stargate: Universe’s second season – a Day 1 Mix of Twin Destinies (Some fantastic visuals in this one), a Day 2 mix of Alliances (Both Ming-Na and Jamil are terrific), and Andy’s director’s cut of the season finale, Gauntlet (Those last two acts! Wow!). One more mix and one more day should do it for 2010…
Yesterday, we hit the annual Greek Fest on Boundary Road…
Headed to the Greek fest: Ashleigh, a jubilant Remi, and some border guard we picked up along the way.
From right to left: Kerry, Carl, and extra special guest star Ming-Na!
Gyros up front, spit-roasted lamb in the back.
Kerry, just delighted to be in the company of friends. Carl, just interested in his food.
Remi and Linda, ready for some power eating.
Ashleigh sweeps down on dessert like a seagull on french fries.
Ming loving her new iPhone. They were inseparable throughout the outing.
It was a welcome warm and sunny respite from the dank and dark environs of the editing suit where I had spent most of the day, working on my producer’s cut of Resurgence with ace editor Mike “Marverick” Banas (see last issue, ed.). It’s going to be a terrific episode, especially once Mark Savela and co. deliver the finished visual effects.
Speaking of Mark and our brilliant VFX team – congratulations go out to them on not one but TWO Emmy Nominations, one for Air, the other for Space. Read all about it here:
So, I gathered up your questions for Louis and sent them his way. The next day, he emailed me back something along the lines of “Holy crap! There’s a lot of ’em!”. He suggested swinging by my office and fielding the questions while I transcribed his responses. I offered up an even better idea: he swings by the office and I’ll just videotape his answers. Well, a scheduling snafu resulted in Louis having to come in today, a day into his hiatus, something he was more than happy to do despite the fact that he was already in holiday mode…
After shooting his scene, he dropped by the production offices to spread some summer cheer…
…and, of course, answer some questions. So here we go with the first installment of an interview series I’m calling The Pineapple Diaries:
Well, she may be sneaky and cruel, conniving and occasionally vengeful, but I’ll say one thing for Ashleigh – she’s also prompt. Only one day after losing to me in a food trivia showdown, she paid up on the bet by bringing in the batch of cookies I requested: chocolate with peanut butter chips. Before presenting them, she informed me that she didn’t think they were very good, that the chocolate-peanut butter combo didn’t work, and that she was honestly disappointed with the results. And, before I could open my mouth to say anything, she was quick to add: “And, no, I’m not making you another batch tonight.”
Rather than immediately trash the cookies (my first instinct), I decided to throw caution to the wind and sample one. Taaaaas-tyyyyy! I don’t know what the hell she was going on about. They were great. And I told her as much. “You’re just being nice,”she countered. Nice? Me? When the hell am I ever nice? I’ve had people prepare meals for me out of the goodness of their hearts and thanked them by writing pointed reviews of their efforts. “No, I suppose you’re right,”she realized.
Still, I suggested that I should eat the cookies and spare her the potential embarrassment of my fellow writer-producers being hugely disappointed in the results. I warned off Lawren whose response was something along the lines of: “Wait a minute. If something is bad, you usually tell me it’s good so you can watch me eat it.” I insisted I was being genuine as a thank-you for his proof-reading Resurgence and making sure it was mistake-free before putting it out last night. “But, I did put it out with a mistake,”he reminded me, pointing out the oversight I had just mentioned to him moments earlier. I assured him he was overthinking it.
For his part, my writing partner, Paul, demonstrated absolutely no confidence in me by immediately marching over to Ashleigh’s office and trying a cookie. His response… “Great”? “Thank you”? “How thoughtful of you to bake these cookies for us”? Try – “Too many peanut butter chips.” Interestingly enough, that didn’t stop him from having another one at lunch.
As I was about to head back to my office, I noticed the first draft of my new script, Resurgence, sitting on Ashleigh’s desk. “Have you read it yet?”I asked.
“No,”she said. “I was already gone by the time it came out last night. Lawren was working on it late. I could hear him commenting on it in his office. Stuff like “this is terrible” and “what an awful script”.”
“Lawren said that?”I asked.
“Ohhhhh,”she said, her eyes alighting on the script’s cover page as if for the first time. “Is this YOUR script?”
See?! This is what I have to put up with every day (except weekends when she refuses to see me)!
Some Space-related pics I came across this morning…
Don’t forget to catch Ming-Na on the Today Show, tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m.!
The chocolate party was a success but, like most planned events, it didn’t go off without a hitch. There were a few disappointments, among them chocolatiers who put in previous appearances but who, for one reason or another, were unable to make Saturday’s chocolate fest.
Chocoatl: Sadly, Vancouver’s finest chocolate shop is no more. It will be missed, as will owner Themis Velgis who was always a delight to chat with whenever I swung by to sample his latest creations or his decadently luxurious drinking chocolate. Alas, the shop’s former location now houses a sandwich shop.
Wen Chocolates: The first time I laid eyes on Chef Will Poole’s marvelous creations was during an episode of Road Tasted. He was featured alongside some of his unique, out-of-this-world flavors: the Molotov Pineapple, the Mint Julep, and – what was to instantly become my favorite truffle of all time – his signature Bananas Foster truffle. Unfortunately, he too has closed up shop – but here’s hoping he and his Bananas Foster truffle make an eventual return to the chocolate scene.
Christopher Norman: A long-time regular at my annual chocolate event, Christopher Norman’s tea collection, baroque brownies, and hand-painted tiles are as stunning as they are delicious. This year, Ashleigh was particularly looking forward to their Blue Cheese Assortment. But it was not to be. A renovation issue resulted in my order being lost. By the time they got back to me, it was too late. Sorry, Ashleigh.
Vosges: This one really hurt. Vosges’ designer collections have been a Joe’s Chocolate Party mainstay, and their smoked applewood bacon truffles and peanut butter bonbons with sea salt enormous favorites. To be on the safe side, I phoned them ten days in advance and requested that the chocolates be shipped overnight. As Friday rolled around, I made some calls and discovered that instead of being shipped Express, they’d been sent Ground, ensuring that they would arrive Monday, April 19th – two days AFTER my party. I phoned Vosges and canceled the order, then contacted UPS and requested the package be re-routed. Well, it arrived today anyway. I have to admit, I was very tempted – but, in the end, I had it shipped back unopened.
Payard: Made its first chocolate party appearance last year – and its last. I contacted their Vegas store to place my order only to be told they didn’t ship to Canada. I informed them that they had, in fact, shipped to Canada last year. They took my order and assured me the manager would call later that day to confirm my order. That confirmation never came, so I phoned back the next day. I explained the situation to the woman who answered the phone and she transferred me to the manager. Or, at least, I’m assuming that was her intent. I was left on hold for five minutes and eventually had her answer again. Again, she transferred me. I was disconnected. I called back. Tried again. This time, I was left on hold for a little longer than I deemed acceptable for a phone call that didn’t involve my having to rectify an income tax-related issue. After fifteen minutes of waiting, I clicked off and crossed Payard off my list.
On set today for Day #2 of Awakening, and an early 7:00 a.m. crew call. Lotsa chocolate party fall-out discussion and a lunch-time chat with Peter K., Patrick G., Jen S., and David Blue about the cutthroat world of stand-up comics, high-school celebrity crushes, Battlefield Earth, and Adrienne Barbeau.
Off to watch the season finale of what is fast-becoming my new favorite show – Spartacus: Blood and Sand! But first…
PG15 writes: “And yes, I will have to echo my buddy Major D. Davis and say that you guys MUST save Balding Asian Guy!”
Answer: This is one fan campaign we’ll be hard-pressed to ignore. I suppose if you guys push hard enough, we’ll just have to bring him back.
yumenoko writes: “Do you allow your guests to invoke take-away privileges, so the decadent treats have a good home by the end of the night?”
Answer: Yes. Everyone is encouraged to take as much chocolate home as they can carry. And, if they’re looking a little light, I’ll send them back for more.
spacemika writes: “One year, you really do need to give CocoNymph a shot — maybe sign up for one of her classes to make your own contribution to the party!”
Answer: They made an appearance at last year’s party along with a couple of other Vancouver chocolatiers. This year, the local chocolate scene was represented by Thomas Haas and La Chocolaterie de la Nouvelle France, and DC Duby.
crayonbaby writes: “Are we going to get more backstory to T.J. and Young? You threw us a curveball with T.J.’s condition. There’s been really subtle hints, but nothing concrete.”
Answer: We will be exploring their relationship in coming episodes.
Arian writes: “It looks like most of the regulars in the cast were there, but there were a few absent, most notably Robert Carlyle, Ming Na, and Julia Benson. Were they unavailable, or have you killed them off and so they’ve left town?”
Answer: All were invited. Ming-Na and Julia were out of town. Bobby had other plans.
JYS writes: “who provided the stargate dish? Was it you, someone else from the crew, or did Refuel get it specially made for the party?”
Answer: Refuel had it specially made for the party. Cool, no?
Annie from Freemantle writes: “Who’s funding this opulence???”
Answer: That would be the host. Me.
Tammy Dixon writes: “Is the chocolate party something you take on yourself? Or do you have others that help plan/pay?”
Answer: I bring in the chocolate and the gang at Refuel do a masterful job of handling all other aspects, from drinks to dinner.
Shiny writes: “I still don’t see why the Civies were so mad about Rush being left behind — the Civies never mention those two dolts from the premiere who jumped through a Gate into some random world and got left behind.”
Answer: You said it yourself – “those two dolts”. THEY made the decision to head through the gate and were architects of their own demise. Rush was a victim, purposely abandoned on a planet to die.
Brian writes: “Have you tried Chocolatier Blue in Berkeley –http://www.chocolatierblue.com ? His style is similar to Norman Love but Chris Blue is the only north American chocolatier that uses exclusively Amedei’s chocolate in every part of his creation.”
Answer: Amedei is my very favorite chocolate bar (specifically, the Chuao). I found out about Chocolatier Blue too late to order in time for the party. Same goes for Lillibelle Farms in Oregon.
Brian also writes: “I am trying to organize a choco party myself, on a smaller scale. Any tips?”
Answer: Variety variety variety!
dasNdanger writes: “Joe – out of all the chocolates above – which one would you rate on top out of the dark, nut-free, non-flavored ones. I am very interested in which was just the ‘best’ pure chocolate, on the darker side.”
Answer: Hard to say. To be honest, I was focusing on the more exotic flavors and didn’t get around to tasting all of the simple darks. Of those I did taste, I found the Norman Love Black Single Origin Chocolates and the Maison du Chocolat dark ganache squares exceptional.
Sorry. Late entry today as I was off getting my hair cut. I bit the bullet and made an appointment at a place my buddy Ivon recommended. I must admit, my hair has never smelled so good.
Today, we watched the very first director’s cut of the new season. Congratulations go out to writer Carl Binder, the cast and crew, and, especially, Robert Carlyle who delivered big time in his SGU directorial debut. Next up for Bobby = he’ll be doing the catering for episode 7. Can’t wait to try his spicy jambalaya!
Alas, not much progress to report on the script front. I’m stilled mired in the Teasely morass of episode 10, Resurgence. For once, I’d love to write an episode that doesn’t include any of that pesky dialogue. Just pages and pages of action direction, meaningful looks, and people crying. And the occasional explosion.
Hey, guess what premieres this Friday night on Syfy? That’s right! Stargate: Universe is back with the first of ten new episodes. Friday’s episode, Space, offers action, adventure, aliens, and a few surprises. And, speaking of those aliens, if you want a sneak peek, look over here (http://stargate.mgm.com/), but only if you want to be spoiled.
Every so often, I like to check out the search engine terms that have led the uninitiated to this blog. Usually, its terms like “Joseph Mallozzi” or “Stargate Producer’s Blog”…Ah, who am I kidding. Usually, its terms like “Julia Benson”, “Elyse Levesque”, “Alaina Huffman” and “Ming-Na”. But, occasionally, the darndest descriptors find their way onto those lists. Some of my faves from the past few days include:
“japanese facepalm smiley”
“super sexe montreal”
“fort dodge, iowa twolly”
“awesome chocolate cake”
Hope everyone found what they were looking for.
Today’s blog entry is dedicated to Flannery. Get better, buddy!
Thornyrose writes: “well, I’m torn between that women standing together thing and the fact that you’re just a nice guy who deserves to win.”
Answer: Not to mention the fact that, while she’ll blow her winnings on rice cream sundaes for her vegetarian friends, I’ve earmarked mine for a habitat in Kenya that helps alcoholic orangutans get back on their feet.
pg15 writes: “Perhaps your hand pain will go away by itself in a few days?”
Answer: That’s what I assumed. Last month.
Thornyrose also writes: “If the hand is still bothering you might be worth going to a doc to get checked out.”
Answer: I have an appointment tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. My hand has roughly 13 hours to magically heal itself.
Lawren writes: “I’ve never supported Ashleigh this much in any endeavor.”
Answer: What about the time she tried out for the part of Billie in that off-Broadway production of Glitter? You seemed pretty damn supportive then too.
Sylvia writes: “How’s Mamma Mallozzi?”
Answer: Back home and doing better. I’ll see her this weekend. Thanks for asking.
Sean D. writes: “1. What’s your favorite tea?
2. What book did Rush finish reading in “Light”?”
Answer: 1. I’m a matcha man.
2. It wasn’t a real book, just something the props department came up with (placing a fictitious cover on a real book).
Jeff writes: “And lets hope for Butler destroying Michigan State, since I’m a Wolverine fan.”
Answer: Go Bulldogs!
Avabird writes: “Joe, how did you develop your fondness for eating body parts that most people won’t eat?”
Answer: Not sure. I was a fairly adventurous eater growing up, something I parents encouraged.
Avabird also writes: “What was the first thing you ate that you probably thought you would never eat?”
Avabird also writes: “Is there anything you have eaten that you wished you hadn’t?”
Answer: Thirteen bowls of ice cream in one sitting.
Deni writes: “I know she’s really old for a Greyhound, but that doesn’t really help, you know? She’s not in any obvious pain, but dogs can be so stoic that it’s hard to really know.”
Answer: I agree. I often wonder about poor Jelly and her bad hips. Some nights, she can’t sit still or will start furiously licking her lips or whining. She’s obviously experiencing some discomfort but I can’t exactly ask her “Where does it hurt?”. And there are other times when I’m sure she just sucks it up and suffers quietly. My poor girl. 🙁
Wow! 160+ comments and counting! Who knew haggis would prove such a popular topic. Thanks to everyone who took the time to comment on my first attempt at the Scottish delicacy.
Also, thanks to those who have been weighing in with their thoughts on Stargate: Universe – their likes, dislikes, and hopes for the future. As I stated in yesterday’s entry, you have the entire back half of season one to look forward to come April and I can assure you that many of your requests will be magically honored when the show returns. While the first ten episodes established the series, the ship, its characters and their various relationships, the next ten will be more action-oriented, focus more on exploration, and delve deeper into our crew. Still, this is the perfect time to chime in as we gear up for the show’s second season.
I’ve received a slew of comments (and expect many more), but would like to address each of the topics in term. So today, let’s discuss the responses to the first questions asked: 1. Which character would you like to see explored more?
Not surprisingly, you weighed in with a wide selection of worthy candidates ranging from main characters to background players. But leading the pack was SGU’s resident medic, Lieutenant Tamara “T.J.” Johansen. Many of you cited the character’s potential and the surprising depth of Alaina Huffman’s performance in even the most cursory of scenes or exchanges. It’s something that struck me as well, especially in later episodes, Alaina’s ability to masterfully convey so much about her character in subtleties like a simple line delivery of a thrown look. Although most of your diehard fans know where we’re going with the character, but I’ll resist the urge to spill the beans for those who don’t want to be spoiled. Instead, I’ll simply assure you that T.J. will have a developing story arc through the back half of season one, one that will have major ramifications for her character well into season two. A lot of wonderful Tamara moments throughout the back half, but Faith, episode 13, is the episode that fans of the character (and fans of actress Alaina Huffman in particular) should really look forward to. And the show’s second season gets off to a very interesting start for her as well. One of the aspects of the T.J. character we see flashes of in episodes like Water that I truly love and want to explore is her military side. In short, I want to see her kick ass!
Two more characters who you’re requesting to see more of are the Machiavellian Dr. Rush (Robert Caryle) and SGU’s spirited warrior, Master Sergeant Ronald Greer (Jamil Walker Smith). While Rush has been front and center to date, many of you are hankering for a peek at Rush’s motivations, his backstory, what potentially dark events from his past shaped him. Well, fans of the character won’t have to wait long for some answers. Human, episode 14, will explore the Rush character and, if not answer many of these questions, then at least offer some major hints to a troubled past. And, of course, Rush will continue to follow his own agenda (which we’ll begin to piece together as time goes on), ultimately taking this game to a whole new level as we head into the show’s second season.
As for Greer, many of you have expressed a desire to find out a little more about his backstory as well, what makes him tick tick tick. He’s one of the more fascinating members of the Destiny crew, a soldier’s soldier with an explosive volatility simmering just beneath his ice cool exterior. And, in episode 15, Lost, we finally get a glimpse at Greer’s past, some of the events that shaped him as well, for better and for worse. In addition to that episode, the back half of season one is sprinkled with plenty of wonderful character beats both dark and humorous, as well as moments that will speak to the bond of friendship between Greer and Scott.
Plenty of other characters made the wish list. Quite a few of you want to see more of Eli Wallace (David Blue), find out a little more about how his mother is doing, and see the character mature a little over the course of his incredible adventure aboard Destiny. Check, check, and check although, admittedly, the latter requires us to walk a fine line between having the character mature over the course of his experiences yet keeping him the grounded, fish-out-of-water the viewer can continue to identify with. There are many challenges ahead for the young genius, not the least of which being his uncertain positioning in the ongoing tug-o-war between two diametrically opposed father figures: Young and Rush. Remember that last scene in Justice where Eli goes to visit Young after Rush has been left behind? You figure he suspects something’s up?
Chloe Armstrong (Elyse Levesque) was another character that received quite a few votes and more than a few requests to see the character developed beyond what we’ve established to date. Well, things will get very interesting for Chloe almost immediately upon our April return and her harrowing experience will have repercussions not only for her, but for the rest of the crew as well.
Camile Wray (Ming-Na) and Colonel David Telford (Lou Diamond Philips) also received mentions. Wray is a civilian with a background in Human Resources and while, at first blush, the skills she possesses may seem impractical in a space-faring scenario, Camile will step to the fore later this season, especially when all hell breaks loose in the show’s two-part season finale. And then there’s that hate-hate relationships she’s got going on with Greer. We’ll be exploring that throughout – and in very interesting fashion later.
Several of you wanted to know more about Telford. As one poster mentioned: “There has to be more than what we as viewers have seen of him”. True, true. And we’ll find out plenty more about him later this season. Also, someone else cited his past with Young and suggested that this was an element that warranted further exploration. Well, yes, we have hinted at some history between these two and some of these shocking and tragic details will be revealed late in season one.
Also receiving votes: Luis Ferreira’s Colonel Everett Young (big trouble looms for our anguished commander on the heels of his shocking decision in Justice), Brian J. Smith’s Lieutenant Matthew Scott (Faith, episode 13, in particular offers us a better understanding of his selflessness and willingness to self-sacrifice for the greater good), secondary characters (some great moments upcoming for the likes of James, Brody, Volker, Park, Franklin and Riley), and Destiny itself (shipboard exploration and discovery to come).
So plenty of character development headed your way, most of which will hopefully satisfy your numerous requests (while simultaneously stirring further interest in our extended shipboard family). And if what’s ahead in the back half of season one doesn’t clear your entire wish list, well, there’s season two to look forward to as well.
To JimfromJersey who complained because I didn’t post a pic of my finished haggis. Sorry. I forgot. Here it is.
PG15 writes: “I just got accepted into the Calfornia Institute of Technology as a Graduate Student!! Woohoo!!”
Answer: I echo Carl Binder’s congratulations (If you missed it, check the comments. He posted especially for you!). Go Beavers! (to quote Cal Tech alum Dr. Alison Porter in Whispers).
Michael A. Burstein writes: “Haggis is one of those foods found in every culture, that people within the culture appreciate and people outside generally can’t understand. (In my background, that food is kishke.)”
Answer: Now kishke I have done, back in Montreal where some of my Jewish friends also introduced me to the joys of chicken liver dumplings. Yum on both counts.
dasNdanger writes: “Now…how about that 100-year old egg.”
Answer: Also done. It was a tasty ingredient in the congee Fondy and I would get when we used to go to Richmond for lunch.
Kerry writes: “You should now try Blood Sausage – a traditional Irish breakfast DELIGHT! Black or White pudding are your options, and I have to admit, if you don’t think about what you’re eating (much like Haggis), it’s a pretty great part of a Sunday fry. Alan makes his friends from home stock him up when they come to visit because the good stuff is hard to find in Vancouver.”
Answer: First Carl, now you. It’s a practically a Stargate reunion in the comments section today. So, yeah, I gratefully accept your invitation to try blood sausage the next time Alan’s friends come to town and bring the good stuff. Looking forward to it.
Dasndanger writes: “But I was wondering about the writing team – what’s really better? A team of the same writers, or mixing things up a bit by bringing in new blood? Personally I think having a consistent team of writers is good, since they really get a feel for the characters. Sure, outside writers can bring in new ideas, but what if those ideas are at the expense of the characters? Just wonder what you think of regular writers v guest writers…if you have a sec or two to share.”
Answer: You started your post by referencing Mark Harmon (who I hear nothing but good things about on and off screen) and NCIS and I just wanted to say I LOVE the fact that this show has been pulling in some of its best ratings ever in its 7th season! Hats off to them on a truly impressive achievement. As to your question – Which is better, established writers or new blood? – I would answer: Can’t we have both? On the one hand, established writers know the show and its characters better than anyone and they’ve developed a strong working relationship with the cast and crew; on the other hand, new writers could inject some new ideas and approaches to the stories and characters. Why not the best of both worlds?
Steve Eramo writes: “Glad to read that your first Haggis experience was such a positive one! I wouldn’t steer you wrong.”
I’ve finally discovered my “writing zone”, that oh-so-elusive long sought-after artistic sweet spot, a place that marries private serenity and social dynamism, where focus sharpens and creativity blossoms. I refer, of course, to the Air Canada lounge in the Vancouver Airport where, yesterday, I hit the 35 page mark, and concluded Act III of my script. At one point, when I was on my feet and pacing, running the dialogue in my head, an elderly traveler uncertainly approached and motioned to my open laptop. “Are you done?”he inquired. I wanted to tell him he’d have to wait to watch the episode like everyone else, but went with “No, sorry.” instead. He shuffled off and eventually found a seat at one of the public computers. In retrospect, I wonder – had I said yes, would he have finished the last two acts for me?
I was able to get some writing done because, despite my apprehension, it turned out to be a surprisingly smooth travel day. No endless line-ups. No frenzied crowds. I walked in and right up to the counter where I presented my passport and information. At first, the woman at the check-in informed me that I had missed my flight, then realized she had me on an earlier departure from the same gate and that I was, in fact, hideously early. Security turned out to be a breeze, the anticipated Christmas travel rush nowhere to be seen, so that by the time I hit the lounge, I had a couple of hours to kill. And, really, what better way to spend them than finally putting that tricky third act to bed.
We return to the offices on January 12th, but I’m hoping to get this script finished sooner since my friend Tomomi, in Canada from Japan to visit with family for the holidays, will be swinging by Vancouver for a couple of days. Back in Tokyo, we dined at Il Ghiottone and Yamada Chikara where we enjoyed two excellent meals so I’m going to have to go with the heavy hitters for her two-night stay on my turf. I tried to book Lumiere through Opentable but was informed I would have to give them my Visa information to complete the reservation. Well, yes , I could go through the trouble of doing that – or, I could simply click off Lumiere and click on West and go with an equally great and far more convenient choice. At a time when the fine-dining scene is hurting, I want to make it a point to help out Vancouver’s local restaurants as much as possible – but if I’m going to have to leave my Visa information every time I want to book a table at Lumiere, I’m going to assume they’re doing just fine and focus on other places.
You know, it’s always nice to be quoted, especially when what you said was mature, intelligent and/or witty. For example, my memorably astute one-word summation of the lovely Elyse Leveseque, simply “Yowza!”, that found its way into Mike Moody’s “…Eleven Babes Worth Watchin…’” Christmas countdown for TV Squad ( The Twelve Days of Festivus: Eleven babes worth watchin’ – TV Squad). Mike offers up a great list – to which I would add: Ming-Na, Alaina Huffman, Jennifer Spence, and Julia Benson (whose name continually leads the list of Search Engine Terms used to find my blog, well ahead of “Stargate”, “Joseph Mallozzi”, and, curiously, “smile now cry later”).
Well, back in Montreal and reunited with mom, sis, the dogs, and he’s-so-ugly-he’s-actually-cute Baby cat.
Felix (mom’s neurotic dog)
Aspen (the loud one)
Baby (the…er…cute one?)
And a couple of surprises from sis…
Located in downtown Montreal, run by a young couple who clearly know their chocolate, it’s considered the best chocolate shop by many local foodies.
Dark chocolate foie gras truffles – made to order. Incredibly decadent.
Another Montreal maker of fine chocolates…
Finally – Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!
A warm welcome to all of the many longtime readers who, over the past few days, took the time to come out of hiding and post their first comments to this blog. Thanks for contributing to the ongoing discussion and here’s hoping it becomes habit for you, like a morning routine or chewing your nails.
Hey, look at what’s up on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Great-Power/dp/1439168822/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1257471794&sr=8-1. It’s the pre-order page for the upcoming superhero anthology With Great Power…, edited by Lou Anders, with contributions from the likes of Matthew Sturges, Paul Cornell, James Maxey, Mike Carey, Mike Baron, Daryl Gregory, Gail Simone, Stephen Baxter, Chris Roberson, Peter David & Kathleen David, Mark Chadbourn, Marjorie M. Liu, Ian McDonald, Bill Willingham, and yours truly. Apparently, we’re looking at a July 20, 2010 street date.
Interesting. Friday night’s installment of Stargate: Universe has yet to air, but already the boards are abuzz. Tomorrow, SyFy and Space air SGU’s seventh episode – Earth. What’s it about? Let me tell you – “Trouble on the home front for Eli, Young, and Chloe while, back aboard Destiny, Telford plays his hand.”
And then, we’re in the home stretch as we head toward the mid-season break, with three of my absolute favorite episodes of this first season. First up –
Time: To those asking “When are we going to have our next alien encounter?” – be careful what you wish for because this episode provides the answer in creepy, mind-bending style. As producer on the show, I watch the individual episodes so many signs I’m honestly well weary of them by the time that final mix comes around. Time, however, is an exception. This is one of those rare episodes I’ll actually watch when it airs. Fantastic – but not for the faint of heart or weak of mind. As my second grade teacher Mrs. Vowels used to say: “Put on your thinking caps” because this one could bruise your brain.
Life: A surprising find for the Destiny crew leads to renewed hope, while an equally shocking discovery staggers one of our regulars. To those of you wondering when we’re finally going to get to know more about Ming-Na’s character, Camile, I suggest you make a point of tuning in. An incredibly touching episode that never fails to impact notoriously-heartless-me every time I watch it. No, no. I’ve just got something in my eye. Ahem.
Justice: After a heinous crime is committed aboard Destiny, the crew struggles with the concepts of crime and punshiment as they apply to an isolated, shipboard community billions of light years from home. The ladies step up, a terrible loss impacts all, and one of those Holy $&#@! moments guarantees a sleepless night for some – including a lot of people watching at home.
Can’t say enough great things about them. Trust me. These are three episodes you do NOT want to miss.