February 22, 2016: Continuing our trip down this blog’s memory lane…

I started this blog on another hosting site before moving over to my permanent home here on wordpress.  I was able to transfer all of the pre-existing comments with me – but, sadly, not their IP addresses.  So, more or less…

KathyC writes: “I definitely was a lurker for a long time before actually posting a comment. I think I’ve read your column daily since…since…oh geez. I don’t know when. 2012, maybe?”

Answer: March 7, 2012 – “It may surprise you to know…I watch Finding Bigfoot. LOL Stupid show, but can’t miss it when it comes on.”

poshrapto writes: “Used to be daubermaus, then maushiem, then a few other sign ons, now I just follow on fb. Came on board at the start of SG-U, after googling a recipe and finding you.”

Answer: March 26, 2010 – “Matcha Ice Cream with veins of dark chocolate ganache and a dusting of salt and cinnamon – amazing!”

Pennylnn writes: “I don’t remember my first but I do remember giving you the idea for the book club….which I never did get credit for!”

Answer: December 20, 2007 – “Hi Joe.  I feel silly that it took me a week to find your new blog….”

Betty Monfette writes: “I have been following you for an age and a half.”

Answer: December 14, 2012 as Betty Monfette but possibly as far back as March 17, 2008 under a different name?

Evil Droid writes: “My first post here was just a few months ago when I discovered Dark Matter on Netflix & binge watched all the episodes in about 3 days! ”

Answer: As Evil Droid, I’ve got January 22, 2016 – “I am so waiting for season 2. Just watched season 1 again on Netflix & will probably with it again, and again…..”

Maggy Kelly writes: “I don’t recall exactly my first post, but it was around 2008, for sure.”

Answer: October 7, 2009 – “Hi Joe! I’m a newbie to your blog and have enjoyed it so far… only have been reading since the end of August/ early September.”

Keith writes: “I’ve read every post since… At least 2008 I think. But I only post when I feel there’s something I can add to the conversation. ”

Answer: October 20, 2009 – “Your “Johnny Damon” comment kind of kicked a question into my head, a big enough question to convince a long time reader, first time writer (LTRFTW) to actually post and ask it: How do writers such as yourself actually come up with character names? Does more thought go into cast member names than just single episode appearances?”

baterista9 writes: “Gee, no, but I followed At least two of your previous blogs /production diaries at GateWorld and SciFi.com starting around…2003?

Answer: January 16, 2007 – “Sorry to say that, living in the home city of Tex-Mex, I missed International Spicy Food Day. Am enjoying, however, the ARCTIC BLAST you kindly sent to South Texas. Send more…but not right away!”

StellaByStargate writes: “Egad. Mine was probably a Sam/Jack question.”

Answer: Yep.  January 25, 2008 – “…the third part of the AT interview released on Scifi.com yesterdy made reference to the lines from Trio…I assume that interview was done before those lines hit the cutting room floor (*sigh*). Do you think you could be so kind, once Trio airs, to share with us that little tidbit that was lost…a lot of people would love to know what was said.”

Airelle writes: “I know I have been here a spell, can’t remember dates. ”

Answer: You don’t need to.  February 19, 2008 – “Joe, thank you for the blog and all your hard work making SGA the best,Congrats on the rating, and really like the pictures you post, the puppies are so cute too…”

antisocialbutterflie writes: “You made me look. I have been lurking here since at least May 2008. Wow, it’s been a long time.”

Answer: Actually, April 8, 2008 as Anti-Social Butterfly – “I have to admit I wasn’t entirely paying attention to the blog when I read McKay/Ronan/Keller Scramble and thought that Tracker was going to be some god-awful body switch episode. I think I prefer the love triangle as a plot device, though Jason playing the character of McKay does make me chuckle a bit inside.”

paloosa writes: “I don’t remember what I wrote, but I started sometime in 2007.”

Answer: December 17, 2007 – “I opt for Blogger – its black, dark oppressive feel better fits your evil persona. This light colored, cheery stuff is just too fluffy for you.”

Jon Hrubesch writes: “I started following your blog sometime last year when Ian Brock asked if he could use my artwork for the transfer transit set.”

Answer: March 30, 2015 – “Being someone who loves all things science fiction I am very excited for this show…”  But we corresponding via email prior to this.

Elminster writes: “According to your search thingy my first post was September 19, 2009, but I’m sure there are a couple before that. I’d say early 2008 or late 2007.”

Answer: September 4, 2009 – “Hi Joe.  Long time lurker, first post…  Nice blog, really friendly people. And I admit, I came to your blog for the Stargate stuff, but have stayed as much for the other things. The food, the books, dogs and the CHOCOLATE!  Anyway, what got me out of lurkdom was your indication of smilelys geting in the way of cutting and pasting remarks from the website. Try cutting and pasting into notebook first, then cutting and pasting back into whatever application you use. You’ll lose the smilelys!”

lewis writes: “Love the past blog history trip down memory lane.  Gotta ask… how many days in a row have you consecutively blogged now?”

Answer: I haven’t missed a day since I first started back in late 2006.  Even when I was locked out of my account back on the other hosting site, I continued to update the blog.  As for you… June 8, 2010 – “I just found your blog and love it! I’ve always loved your commentaries on the dvds over the years and now to read your blog … well, talk about a great read! “  Thanks!

sunstonetal writes: “I’ve lurked the blog for several years – I have it on my RSS feed and read posts as I choose from there. I think i’ve been reading since at least 2009, because I saved the link to your February 6th 2009 post which was a list of restaurants from around Vancouver that you recommended.”

Answer: February 7, 2009 – “Hey Joe.  I’m not that new to your blog anymore, (i’ve been reading for a few months) but I’ve never commented before so, ‘Hello!’”

Astrumporta writes: “My first comment was on your 3rd post, on November 29, 2006 (as Michelle)! In fact I think I broke the news to Stargate fandom that you’d started a blog. Of course someone on Gateworld forum stole my post as their own. Don’t get me started.”

Answer: Yep.  November 29, 2006 – “Thanks for the great descriptions of everything, Joe. I don’t think I could remember any of that long enough to blog it, much less make it funny. What the heck is a hairy lobster, and why were you sorry they were out of them?”

Kat Impossible writes: “Hmmm, I am not sure about my first comment. I think it was definitely something Dark Matter related.”

Answer: Yep.  September 27, 2015 – “It was mean to put in that last moment!!! I was so shocked back when I watched the episode for the first time.   Dark Matter is such a great show though, I would have a hard time picking any favourite moments, even though I quite liked it when Ennis Esmer and his crew were on board the Raza.”

Laura H writes: “Looooong time lurker here. I’ve read almost every post since somewhere halfway 2007 (including those from 2006, when reading back wasn’t as much of an effort as it would be now), but rarely posted. I think this post may be my 5th or 6th”

Answer: 11th.  August 13, 2010 – “Cool, they’re gonna perform laparoscopic surgery on the Destiny (re: concept art)? Or thoracoscopy, or… ‘brain’oscopy, or… what the heck are they planning to ‘scope’ out there?”

Line Noise writes: “January 7, 2009 was my first comment. I asked you whether you’d ever considered writing a script with a favourite author.”

Answer: Actually, it was January 8th, 2009 but your were commenting on my January 7th post..  “G’day!  Short time reader, first time commenter. 🙂  Re: Spec scripts.  Have you ever considered approaching some of your favourite sci-fi book authors about writing or collaborating on a script?”

bambamfans writes: “Hi everyone… I searched your blog and the earliest recorded answer to me I believe was August 10 2007, so I must have been around before that to have asked.”

Answer: July 25, 2007 – “I realized that although Peter DeLuise directed many episodes for season 10 of SG-1, he was not featured in ANY of the commentaries let alone his own episodes. Was he not available or simply because of the way he commentates they did not allow him to do it.”  For the record, Peter DeLuise was a commentary favorite.  Did I mention he’ll be directing Episode 209 of Dark Matter?

Star_Climber writes: “Was fun to read about the veterans that have been commenting on here. I started visiting the blog not so long ago, i think, even though Stargate is one of my favorite shows, i found your blog after the first season of Dark Matter and i love it. I do not remember my first comment, probably something like: love this, love that etc. ”

Answer: As a matter of fact… October 3, 2015 – “I hope many more people will start watching this show and grow to love it. Can’t wait for season 2! In the meantime, re-watching sounds like a great idea.”

jimfromjersey writes: “I don’t remember it, but I think I’ve found it via your handy-dandy search tool.  July 25, 2008: ”JimfromJersey writes: “ I just received BREAKING NEWS email from SyFy Portal: “Brad Wright announces that a third Stargate movie is in the works”

Answer: Actually… May 23, 2007 – “Joe, Time for a bit of fanboi-ism! With SG-1 nearing its end, I just wanted to personally thank you and everyone at Stargate(s)for many years of unsurpassed entertainment. While I’ll mourn SG-1’s passing, I look forward to the movies and a long, healthy future for Atlantis. Eat well, live well!”

Drea Crysel writes: “I remember when you first began contributing to the SG blog, then again some blog account or another, just before the current WP incarnation.  And although I did not begin regularly contributing until I discovered you had managed to get Dark Matter onto TV, ( and had only made one or two comments prior to that under a different handle) I’ve So many fond memories of the postings and people over the years, I actually had to genuinely devote some time to careful contemplation to narrow down my fav.”

Answer: Not sure but… July 7, 2011 – “Hi Joe. Ok, this should offer you something to smile at other than the absolutely irresistable charm of your triplets…..Has D Blue sent you advancement concept doc. yet? If not, email me, catch me on twitter or leave a message on our webblog and i’ll fill ya in. -Drea”

Barbaro writes: “I have no idea when I first commented on your blog Joe, but I’ve been reading it since I heard about it from Gateworld way back before the cancellation of SGA”

Answer: March 8, 2008 – “Wait a minute Joe, I do get up at 6 am. And by the way my 6 am is three hours earlier than yours is. That’s why I like it when you post to your blog early.”

FargateOne writes: “Sorry,,,nope!”

Answer: June 25, 2007 – “Vos blogs m’ont fait prendre mieux conscience de l’importance d’être un scénariste, scripteur ou écrivain de talent pour assurer le succès d’un film ou d’une émission. De mauvais dialogues ne peuvent que nuire aux acteurs si talentueux soient-ils. “

2cats writes: “I know I was an avid long time lurker before posting because I was shy about writing anything that would remain “forever” in the ether. That still bothers me.  But according to your search tool above, using 2cats, it was Sept. 13, 2015. But using Carol Z., the earliest was July 24, 2008. I asked Mark Savela some questions on his Q&A.”

Answer: December 15, 2007 – “Well, well, I FINALLY found you Joe. Still shaking from Mallozzi Blog withdrawal, (it isn’t a pretty sight). Hey, I LIKE this new locale! Speaking from a graphic designer point of view, the black text on white IS easier on the eyes, (wink-wink), so please continue the style.”

Jenny Horn…no, Jenny Robin…wait… writes: “From what I can tell, I started commenting on your blogspot blog in February 2007. ”

Answer: February 7, 2007 – “Dark chocolate + cherries + chilis (as in chili peppers)”.  Sound familiar?

Dallas Marshall writes: “I was with you for a few years during Stargate. […] I stopped posting this past December and began making my comments on Twitter because my posts stopped showing up here regardless of what login that I used. I have no idea whether or not I said something stupid and offended you, or whether it’s a glitch. If I have offended you, I am deeply sorry.”

Answer: Er, no.  Don’t ever recall being offended by anything you’ve written.  Has to be a glitch.  February 16, 2011 – “Since you say you will not be privy to new SGU developments after your move, do you have any suggestions regarding other people “in the know” that we should be watching on Twitter, blogs, Facebook or web sites? Does Brad Wright post any where?”

DP writes: “I think I was inquiring as to when Brad Wright would finish his Q&A, but had been reading posts that got a lot of Gateworld chatter before that. I was posting under my Gateworld user name back then.”

Answer: GateFanSamJack, I presume?  November 22, 2008 – “I’m having a ball reading about your jam sessions writing and planning SGU. I’m so jealous of you guys having a job where the problems are so open-ended.”

maggiemayday writes: “My first comment was probably about Daniel Jackson or some long rambling story about life in Japan. I’ve been quiet and concise lately, my surgery a couple months ago went well enough, but I am definitely not bouncing back in a timely fashion.”

Answer: December 11, 2007 – “Dagnabbit! you beat me to the Hawaiian spam blog sushi reference. mumble, mumble, mumble … taking my titanium spork and going home now.  Nevermind, I am home now.”  Have missed you and your Japan ruminations.  I’ll always fondly remember the story of your friend who ate the Japanese mustard-dipped dog.  Sending you positive thoughts for a speedy recovery!

ceresis64 writes: “Like some others, I was just a reader before a participant but can’t remember when I made my first post.  When will we get pictures for this Season, of different dogs dressed up dedicated to represent what the episodes are about?”

Answer: I’ve got August 3, 2015 – “Found my way here! It’s tricky to ask longer questions on Twitter in 140 characters!”  I’m going to wait until the costume department have put up a dog-themed post for each episode of season 2 after which I’ll shuffle them up and post them all – maybe host a contest and see who can match up each dog picture to their respective episode.  Sound like fun?

shinyhula writes: “Yep, it has been a long time on the JM blog, I came for the behind the scenes scoop and stayed for the cooking tips and friendly SG fans. I didn’t post much until the Great Whispers Naming Contest which the lovely Anne Teldy won.”

Answer: Alas, I’m not aware of your alias.  As shinyula: July 24, 2012 – “Again I make the mistake of reading this blog before lunch, so very hungry now from looking at that sandwich.”

glowyzoey writes: “I have no clue when I first commented on this blog. ”

Answer: December 15, 2007 – “Hello, Joe! I like the new blog, except for the smaller print. My eyes doth protest it. *squint squint* […]  Hugs to poor Jelly. Hope you have a good visit with your mom.”

 

 

January 25, 2013: Days of Stargate Atlantis Past! Tracker!

So, what’ve you all been up to?  Besides reading this blog of course.  Watching anything good?  Reading anything great?  Do tell.

I’m watching some t.v.  I know, I know, I really should watch more but I’m a busy guy!  I’ve got scripts to write, books to read, and dogs to walk.  I have, of course, been watching Top Chef Seattle.  Also the final seasons of both The Office (which took a bizarrely downbeat turn in its last episode) and 30 Rock (funniest comedy on television).  I’ve recorded The Following (having heard good things about the pilot script).  Other than that, I’m checking out Louie, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s 7th season (Fat Mac!) and looking forward to Breaking Bad’s final episodes.  Is there something I’m missing?

Excitement on the book front as I’ve discovered two series I’m quite enjoying.  It’s rare enough to find one but two!  I’m about to start on the fourth book of George McDonald Fraser’s Flashman series, and my third Preston/Child Pendergast novel (I know, I know.  What took me so long?).  Am also loving Hickman’s run on both Avengers titles.  Thoughts?

Spoke to my former cohorts Carl Binder, Robert Cooper, and Martin Gero today (my writing partner Paul doesn’t count because we happen to be on the same conference call).  Lots of exciting things brewing with them.  Stay tuned!

Continuing our trip down SGA memory lane with…

1TRACKER (509)

Pitching for an established series can be a daunting task at the best of times, but imagine trying to pitch to a mythologically complex production that already has some 300 stories under its belt?  This was the uphill battle that faced every freelancer interested in writing for Stargate.  It seemed that whenever someone pitched to us, it would invariably be an idea that we had done, had considered doing and discounted, or were in process of doing.  Under those circumstances, it’s hard to imagine a scenario whereby any outsider could land a story. But while the odds were always stacked against them, a few prevailed – due in large part to Executive Producers Robert Cooper and Brad Wright ability to seize on even the most insubstantial of notions and spin them into a workable episode.

I don’t think I can remember a time that someone came in and landed a contract based on an idea they pitched.  More often than not, they would pitch an idea which would give Brad or Robert another idea that would be spun into something workable – BUT because that initial idea gave them the actual idea they used, the freelancer would be given credit for inspiring the whole process.  In the case of Tracker, it was one step even further removed in that that the episode was based on an idea that wasn’t even borne out of the original idea pitched.  What happened was that during the pitch, Robert Cooper seized on the word “tracker” to spin out a completely different story about a fellow runner. Only problem was no one had said the word “tracker”.  Rob had misheard “track her” and taken it from there.

Still, at the end of the day, if that freelancer hadn’t come in to pitch, it’s safe to say that Tracker (or, at the very least, the episode as we know it) would have never been made.  So kudos to all – especially Executive Producer Carl Binder who ended up writing one of the most entertaining scripts of the show’s final season.

Speaking of Carl: Little known fact about this episode: Exec. Producer Carl Binder was originally cast in the role of the virile and ruggedly handsome Kiryk but had to bow out after sustaining a groin injury while racing for the lunch truck.  As a result, we had to go with our second choice, the equally great Mike Dopud.  Here are some shots of Carl from that initial costume fitting…

Yikes!  Imagine running into this guy in a dark alley.
Yikes! Imagine running into this guy in a dark alley.
Beefcake!  Beeefcaaaake!!!
Beefcake! Beeefcaaaake!!!
Uh, okay, but where are we going to find a stone oven?
Uh, okay, but where are we going to find a stone oven?
Hey, lookit what was lying around the shop!
Hey, lookit what was lying around the shop!
(photo @MGM Television)
Jenni-Ryk out and about (photo @MGM Television)
Stabby stabby
Stabby stabby
Director Will Waring gives the troops their marching orders. (photo @MGM Television)
Director Will Waring gives the troops their marching orders. (photo @MGM Television)
Build your kids a backyard playground.  Here's how!
Build your kids a backyard playground. Here’s how!

January 17, 2011: The Iron Hunt, by Marjorie M. Liu

Maxine Kiss is the latest in a long line of demon hunters.  It’s a responsibility with Earth-shaking consequences, both blessing and curse, bestowed upon her by her mother who received it from her mother who, in turn, had it passsed down to her from her mother before her, and so on dating back some thousand years.  Her weapons against the forces of evil are demons themselves – dormant during the day when they assume the form of tattoos that adorn her body, they awaken at night to do her bidding.  Theirs is a symbiotic relationship.  She depends on them to keep her alive while they keep her alive knowing that her death would mean the end for them as well.  However, both are also well aware of the fact that, one day, Maxine will pass her demon-hunting legacy down to her daughter – and, when that day comes, her former demonic allies will abandon her, leaving her at the mercy of her merciless enemies.

Against common demon hunter sense, Maxine has elected to settle down and enter into a relationship.  Things seem to be going swimmingly – or as swimmingly as possible given her profession – until the police show up at the homeless shelter run by her boyfriend, Grant, asking about her.  It turns out a private detective was found murdered on the bad side of town and search of his person turned up a newspaper clipping with her name written on it.

Maxine’s investigation into the matter leads her to Bloody Mama, the Zombie Queen, who charges Maxine with a formidable task.  Millennia ago, Earth was the battleground of a great war that culminated in the defeat of an army of demons and their imprisonment in a dimensional fortress.  But, over time, the walls of that once formidable fortress have weakened and soon, the veil separating the two realities will be breached, allowing the long-contained demons free reign.  And only Maxine Kiss can stop them.

It’s great premise with an even greater character in Maxine, a powerful warrior with a surprising amount of depth, much of it conveyed through her relationship with Grant.  Although charged with the task of ridding the world of evil forces, Maxine is conflicted.  The violent means she has long used to deal with the darklings runs counter to the measures presently used by the man she loves.  Instead of destroying demons, he rehabilitates them through the power of music, demonstrating an alternate, if not preferable method of dealing with them.  But old habits die hard, especially ones reinforced through generations of demon hunting, and Maxine finds herself torn.  Exacerbating matters for her is Byron, an orphan, who she takes under her wing after saving him from a zombie attack.  He is both a problem for her and a potential target for her enemies, and her developing relationship with Byron and her role as his protector also shines some wonderful light on her dark, often pained, persona.  It’s the perfect compliment to the novel’s setting, Seattle, whose grey skies and somber environs offer a grim backdrop to the action.  But like the book and Maxine herself, the city’s shadows also offer the possibility of brightness and hope. 

These hints of illumination are sprinkled throughout the book, occasionally hinted at in surprising developments, often displayed in the  flashes of humor delivered by the likes of the most unlikeliest of characters: Tracker, a fearsome yet contradictorily comic force to be reckoned with, and Maxine’s own demons, “the boys”, led by the mischievous Zee.  They go a long way toward not only rounding out Maxine’s character, but keeping the reader engaged throughout.

Overall a very enjoyable read although I did find the beginning of the novel a tad overwhelming.  The reader is dropped headlong into the story and there were moments when I wasn’t sure what was going on (and I briefly considered hunting down the prequel and reading it first), but I was able to play catch and, eventually, I came to appreciate the author’s unwillingness to spoonfeed the details and, instead, push us to piece together the narrative just as Maxine rises to the challenge and pieces together the multiple mysteries that drive her.

The Iron Hunt is fast-paced and fraught with enough twists and turns to earn itself a place as urban fantasy’s answer to The Big Sleep.  No one and no thing is who or what they seem and there are secrets around every corner.  Liu’s prose style flows effortlessly between sparse and succinct to lyrical and almost poetic in its imagery.  A nice change of pace for me and a pleasant surprise.

So, those were my initial thoughts.  What did everyone else think?  Start posting your questions for author Marjorie M. Liu!

Mailbag:

kat writes: “I just wanted to say that it is really cool how you answer everyone’s questions on here.  People attack you but you don’t filter it you just post it like it is.”

Answer: Thanks, kat.  Truth is there are occasions when I do moderate comments – for intance, if it’s spam, offensive, or what I would term “generally douchey” such as, for example, the comments you’ve been trying to post under an alternate screen name.  Thanks for stopping by.  Now, off you go, back to your angry little corner of the internet.

Diageo writes: “I’m having a weird problem. My comments keep disappearing? Seems like some kind of WordPress glitch?”

Answer: Sorry, kat/Diageo.  I’ll look into the issue and get back to you within the next 3-5 days.  Please stand by. 

Tim writes: “Would it be completely off base to say that the Stargate franchise is dead on SyFy after SGU ends its run?”

Answer: Well, never say never but let me put it this way – Next year, I doubt I’ll be paying another $21.30 postage due on their annual Christmas gift.

Deni writes: ” Ok, if two Goa’uld mated, supposedly the child born to them would have all the genetic knowledge of all the Goa’uld, right? In “Forever in a Day”, there was a mention that the child would also know all the secrets of the Goa’uld, as well. I guess what hubby wanted to know was if it only the Harsesis would have all that information or if a single Goa’uld would know the same things.”

Answer: No, the child would be far more formidable because the knowledge possessed would be genetic in source.  The same couldn’t be said for individual goa’ulds.

hal ehrlich writes: “In the past (SG1 and Atlantis) when someone would walk through the gate we would see a short little scene where you saw a wormhole and then they appeared to come out of the new gate.
Now when someone walks through the gate you hear a little noise for a split second then they appear to come through the other gate.
Did you decide not to do the wormhole scene since these gates dont travel too far compared to the gates in the Mikly Way and Pegasus galaxies ?”

Answer: No, I think it was simply a stylistic choice intended to diffentiate the look and feel of the shows.

Bryan writes: “Hi Joe, given the finite size of the Destiny.. but potentially unlimited nature of fiction, what pseudo-percentage of the ship remains unexplored?”

Answer: Probably around eighty percent.  In the back half of season 2, the crew begins to check out these unexplored sections of the ship.  And they make an incredible discovery (see The Hunt).

Bryan also writes: “What OS do you use personally? traditionalist Windows on PC, OSX on Mac?”

Answer: I’m a recent Mac convert.

dasNdanger writes: “See, if I knew you were still doing mailbag questions, I would have asked you more stuff!!! Like…can you sing? Or…do you listen to Sinatra? Or…what’s the worst thing you ever did to your sister? Or…does Todd have any other tattoos that we can’t see? If so, how do YOU know??!”

Answer: Can’t sing, don’t listen to Sinatra, I once let her take the blame for my drawing stick figures on the wall, he has a heart-shaped tattoo on his right butt cheek, Carl told me.

Alex writes: “I bought a copy of the commemorative SG-1: Celebration of 10 years book from Gateworld. I assume you have it as well and was wondering if yours has like 15 duplicate pages in it right smack in the middle?”

Answer: No, but mine does have a well-chewed corner compliments of one of my dogs.

Quade writes: “Do you think syfy might be sitting on the remaining episodes of SGU to drum up publicity and viewership? And if so, do you think it could help in getting a renewal or pickup elsewhere?”

Answer: No and unlikely.

Michael writes: “Will we see the Ancients in some form, either human or ascended in the back half of season 2?”

Answer: Nope.

Johnny writes: “In the realm of anime, have you ever given GunxSword a watch?”

Answer: Couldn’t get into it.

Patricia Lee writes: “If you launch your comic book series this year, will you and Paul be attending COMIC-CON in San Diego this year?”

Answer: Probably.

Shawna Buchanan writes: “Can you explain why Simeon was allowed to just wander around the ship menacing people in a clearly villainous way with only one guy guarding him when everyone else who they had even the least cause to suspect of potentially doing something bad was kept under lock and key?”

Answer: All of the Lucian Alliance members were kept under lock and key until they (seemingly) started cooperating with Homeworld Command at which point they were permitted limited freedom under escort.

Josh writes: “Would earth be in any great danger from a Lucian alliance attack? I mean, they got some pretty nice tech now from Atlantis and from the Asgard, so it almost seems that if the Lucian alliance would decide to attack earth, it wouldn’t really be as big of a threat as everyone is acting like in SGU. Anyway, whats your take on this?”

Answer: Alliances.  Season 2.

Rich writes: “Sort of touching on a previous post by someone else – is the question of getting a SG-1 or SGA movie into production solely a question of money?”

Answer: Nope.  There are a bunch of other issues as well.

Mihai Marius writes: “Is it possible that Amanda Perry is not dead?”

Answer: Hope.  Season 2.

Sparrow_hawk writes: “So, Joe: did you know that Sets 2 and 3 of Gintama are available?”

Answer: It’s on my list of dvd’s to pick up.  Would you happen to know whether or not it’s Funimation.  After suffering through two Funimation shows (Baccano and Claymore) that MAKE YOU sit through the previews for upcoming releases (you can’t fast-forward through them; you have to watch them EVERY TIME you want to watch a new episode) I am done with them.

Fulring writes: “Somebody posted a question about solar flares intercepting wormhole while recharging and we know that episode 2.12 ‘Twin Destinies’ deals with Rush coming back from the future, is this going to happen on the mentioned way?”

Answer: Maybe.  Maybe not.

Furling also writes: “What happened with Tria (Aurora-class battleship from ‘The Return’)? Is it left between galaxies?”

Answer: Yes, still there.

noelm writes: “I’ve lost track of all the new projects you have a’cooking. Can you run through them again for us?”

Answer: One comic book series in the works, two t.v. pilots (horror-comedy and dramedy) ready to go, two more pilots (dark comedy, fantasy) being written.  Also beating out a possible SF novel.

g.o.d. writes: “if SGU gets another season, movies, miniseries or whatever the plan is, will we find out who the Planet builders are and why did they build Eden? And the nature of the obelisk?”

Answer: That was the plan if we had gotten that third season pick up.

asdasdg writes: “Destiny has a subspace link with all the seed ships so is it possible that one or two could have retraced steps to come rescue Destiny while it was being attacked by the Blueberry Aliens only to reach Destiny when it is fighting the Drone Command Ship?”

Answer: No because the seed ships are so far out in advance of Destiny that they would never get there in time to offer assistance.

asdasdg also writes: “Why didn’t the Seed Ship have a lockout on the navigational controls like Destiny did with the master code?”

Answer: The seed ships don’t contain the valuable data Destiny possesses.  Liken them to bees.  Destiny is the queen.  The seed ships are the worker bees. 

Ian Z. also writes: “You said that you guys would handle it better, and that’s obvious because I’m an outsider. My question was what you thought of it? Have you guys been doing this stuff? Or are you also an outsider?”

Answer: Trust me when I say that every possibility is being looked into.

TheSGC writes: “You think Brett Favre is coming back?”

Answer: Channeling Carl Binder – He announced his retirement so, yeah, he’ll probably come back.

max writes: “Was the plan all along from the conception of the series to kill off the potential girlfriend of Eli ,and also Simon the villan?Or was that done later on due to budget concerns?”

Answer: Nope, that was always the plan.

max also writes: ”

One other question: has most of the non-Canadian cast members moved from vancouver back to their country since the announcement of the cancellation?”

Answer: Yes.

Major Davis writes: “I know the priority is on SGU, which makes sense, but you’ve said several times that Brad’s plan will revive all three limbs of the franchise. However, when asked about SG-1 and SGA, you say you don’t know whether Revolution and Extinction will get made (should SGU get revived)….. Which leads me to wonder, how does BW’s plan include SGA and SG-1?”

Answer: You’ll have to wait and see. 

maggiemayday writes: “How are you enjoying The Stand?”

Answer: Read both The Stand and The Dome and I have to sayI prefer King’s shorter novels (ie. Misery).

Randomness writes: “Have you seen Dokuro Chan Joe?”

Answer: No, but I’m intrigued.

Gimpy writes: “Any posibility that a major motion picture would be made that is stargate based? As was the case with star trek after it was originally canceled.”

Answer: There’s certainly a possibility, but I’d imagine something like that wouldn’t happen for a while.

Jeffrey writes: “And you do realize that SG-1 wasn’t averaging a 2.0 in its last year, right? It was somewhere around a 1.4.”

Answer: I wasn’t arguing that Atlantis was responsible for any decline, simply pointing out that you can skew the numbers to bolster any argument of your choosing.  If not SG-1’s last year, then feel free to pick the previous year, or the year before that.

August 30, 2010: The Greatest Lou Diamond Phillips Interview Ever!

I was introduced to him in La Bamba, enjoyed his work in Young Guns, and positively loved his performance as the scheming Cisco in the under-appreciated The Big Hit- but it’s been his latest role as Stargate: Universe’s Colonel David Telford that has made me a HUGE Lou Diamond Phillips fan, partly because he’s so damn talented, partly because of his ever courteous, always professional on and off set demeanor, but mainly because LDP is simply one helluva a nice guy.  It was a pleasure working with him on SGU’s first year and, should Telford survive the gunshot wound he sustained in the season one finale (in either physical, robotic, ghostly, or flashback form), then I’ll say it’s been even more of a pleasure working with him on season two.

At the beginning of the summer hiatus, I sent Lou your many questions and told him to pick and choose among them, respond to those that interested him, and then send me his answers whenever he was done.  Well, as it turns out it took a while because Lou was so impressed with the caliber of the questions that he elected to answer all of them.  A huge thanks to Lou for taking the time from work, family, and, of course, twitter to swing by and hang with us here on the blog.

And so, it gives me great pleasure to turn this blog over to fellow foodie, talented thespian, and all-around prince of a guy Lou Diamond Phillips.  But be warned! Potential spoilers abound!

Major D. Davis writes: “First off thank you Lou for taking fan questions! 1. What was your favorite episode of season 1 and why?”

LDP: I have to say the last 3 eps (Subversion, Incursion 1&2) were probably my faves of the work I did in Season 1.  Lots of meat for Telford and the great reveal that he was a brainwashed spy!  Fun stuff to play.  Plus, the character’s arc in three eps took so many twists and turns and there were so many levels to play in his interaction with Young, TJ, Kiva et al.  And, since it was a continuous storyline, it truly felt like we were filming a movie instead of a TV show. (Although, I have to say the quality of the show on a daily basis rivals a lot of features I’ve been on.)  That said, I truly enjoyed making Earth as well.  Probably one of the trippiest love scenes I’ve ever been a part of!

“2. Whats your favorite season 2 episode and why?”

LDP: Can’t really talk about the eps in Season 2 at this point. (Just knowing I’m around for them is a bit of a spoiler for those wondering about that gunshot wound in Incursion 2!)  Let’s just say the new Telford with his squeaky clean, freshly scrubbed brain has been a joy to play.  We finally get a little more insight into who he really is and the nature of his relationship with Young.  (Don’t go there…even though I do on a consistent basis.  I have, after all, been in his body numerous times!)

“3. How would you cope being stranded on the destiny? How do you think you would react to the situation and what would you do to deal with the stress and anxiety?”

LDP: I assume you’re asking LDP how I would cope with life on Destiny and not Telford.  Being from a military background myself and having spent a lot of time not only around servicemen but also law enforcement and firefighters, I would like to think that I possess the mental fortitude to adapt to the situation. (Hell, I survived the Costa Rican jungle with Speidi and Janice Dickinson!  Destiny might be a walk in the park in comparison!)  Often, when I’m dealing with stress, anxiety or just the demands of a hectic life, I tend to work-out more.  I find that the physical exertion is not only calming but centering.  I also throw myself into writing which occupies my imagination.  Perhaps a stint on Destiny would finally result in my Great American Novel!

“4. How was it voicing the part of Mark for the New Testament Audio Bible? Any cool experiences working on that project you might share with us?”

LDP: I had fun reading Mark for the New Testament Audio Bible. In many ways, it’s like doing Shakespeare.  The language is heightened and you really have to know what you’re saying to not only make sense of it but to make it interesting.  All of the readers involved recorded separately but my wife, Yvonne, did my make-up for the behind the scenes taping and photos and also did Lou Gossett Jr’s, Michael York’s and Stacy Keach’s, all of whom I’ve had the pleasure of being associated with on different projects.

“5. Who is your favorite SGU character?”

LDP: Other than Telford (who I obviously have deep affinity for!) I can’t say that I have an absolute favorite SGU character.  I think that’s a real testament not only to the cast but to the writers who have presented us with a number of well-rounded, interesting and complicated people aboard the Destiny.  It makes for great storylines and truly makes it a joy to come to work since you’re constantly dealing with strong personalities who operate on many different levels.  It also keeps me intrigued and excited for the future of these characters.

“6. What show do you watch on TV besides SGU?”

LDP: Have long been a fan of all the L&Os (I guested on an SVU) absolutely love ‘House.’ Recently fell in love with ‘The Good Wife’ and just discovered ‘The Glades.’ Have plans to get DVDs of Mad Men, Dexter and a few others I missed. Also, Yvonne and I are hard core food show fans – Top Chef, Hell’s Kitchen, Chopped, Iron Chef etc.

“7. How are you a total foodie yet are so buff? Do you run like 10 miles a day to counter all the calories? (See.. I love food, but when there’s good food i always over-eat, so I kinda have given up on being a foodie) :p”

LDP: Believe me, at my age, I have to hit the gym not only to make up for the food I love but just to maintain a shape I’ve had most of my life. (These SGU bastards like seeing me in fight scenes and will sometimes get my shirt off! Pervs!)  Still, one of the things I love about cooking is making great tasting food that’s also healthy.  When I plan a menu at home, I try to be a little calorie conscious.  However, you gotta splurge every once in a while.  I made up this saying – Moderation in all things…including moderation.

Abbas Karimjee writes: “1. In Life, we learnt that Telford was regularly seeing Emily, but they were only getting together as friends. By Subversion, do you think that their relationship evolved to a romantic one, especially with Emily believing that Young was still with TJ?”

LDP: Interestingly enough, I don’t think Telford became intimate with Emily (other than that ill-fated ten seconds when he zapped back into his own body to find himself in the saddle!)  I truly believe he had an ulterior motive (esp. considering his brain-washing) and was simply trying to ingratiate himself to get information and to achieve an upper hand over Young.  Having said that, whatever shred of decency was left at Telford’s core, I believe it kept him from crossing a line but also made him sympathetic to Emily’s plight. I do believe they became friends and he became a confidante. Still, we don’t know much about Telford’s personal romantic history so I don’t know how that factors in…yet.

“2. How many episodes will you be in for the 2nd season?”

LDP: Sorry, can’t answer that one.  Just know, as I’ve tweeted before, that Telford is like SGU herpes!  He’ll never go away and will flare up when you least expect it to complicate your life and perhaps cause minor irritation!

“3. If Telford survives his injury in Incursion Part 2, what challenges do you think he will face as he copes with life on the ship? Do you think he would try to overmind Young’s leadership, especilly since he was suppose to be in command of the group that went through to Destiny?”

LDP: I think, should Telford survive…wink, wink, that the most obvious problem is that there would be two Colonel’s on board the Destiny.  Read an interesting chat on-line discussing who would actually have seniority and I think the solution would have to go back to their graduating order from the academy.  What is more complicated and what is still yet to be seen is where Telford’s head is at now that he has been released from the effects of brainwashing.  That personal interplay between him and Young will be fun, especially considering that it was implied that they were friends back in the day.

“4. Were you a viewer of any of the previous Stargate series before you were appointed the role of Telford?  Thank you very much for taking the time to answer these questions.”

LDP: I was not a regular viewer of the previous incarnations but I certainly have respect for the success they achieved and am grateful that their legacy has been passed on to us.  Having said that, I would like to think that SGU can stand on its own and perhaps even expand and build upon what has come before.  Since I was virtually an SG virgin (although I loved the feature film written and produced by my buddy Dean Devlin) I came into this show with no preconceptions and could honestly and without baggage put my own stamp on this character and this world.  I know many of the other cast members feel the same way.

Maggiemayday writes: “Mr. Phillips, did you enjoy Stadium of Fire? How do you like our mountains here in Utah?”

LDP: Loved being a part of Stadium of Fire!  Absolutely a beautiful part of the world and we were blessed with an amazing day!  I was truly impressed with the musical acts, especially Carrie Underwood.  Didn’t know she had such great pipes and she really brought the energy!  Truly a patriotic day and how ’bout those fireworks, huh?

Randomness writes: “1. Why are you such an awesome actor?”

LDP: Fiber…Actually, I hope it’s because I really care.  Acting was my dream from a young age and I pursued it in high school and college (I have a BFA in Theatre from the University of Texas at Arlington) I truly love this Art form and this craft and feel it should be approached with respect and diligence.  Still grateful to be doing what I’m doing.

“2. How would you describe your experience on I’m a Celebrity…Get Me out of Here, like high and low points?”

LDP: I’m a Celebrity was nothing short of surreal.  I often questioned myself for making the choice to do it but, I have to say, at the end of the day it was quite the adventure.  I had hoped for more of a Survivor-type challenge in survival and wished that the physical aspect had been a little tougher. But I will say that the isolation and separation from the world and family was truly difficult.  It made me acutely aware of how much I love and value my family and friends.

“3. How did you feel when you were voted winner of I’m a Celebrity…Get Me out of Here?”

LDP: Winning I’m a Celebrity was a bit of a vindication for saying yes to it in the first place.  It not only made me feel good about how I played the game but it was a very special surprise to see that the voting public responded to what they saw on screen.  It was a chance for me to show the audience who I really am without the filter of a character and I’m proud and grateful for the support that people gave me.  Then again, I’m still working because my fans have been loyal.  A big thank you for that!

“4. What are some of your favourite foods? And wouldn’t you agree that Ice Cream is one of the worlds greatest feel good treats?”

LDP: As you can probably tell from some of my tweets and/or interviews and appearances on Iron Chef, I love all kinds of foods.  I feel fortunate to have been blessed by this business to travel and experience so many different cultures and cuisines and, strangely, my palate really didn’t become developed until later in life. I’m still on a food adventure in this life and loving every minute of it. And, yes, Ice Cream is one of the greatest gifts to your tongue ever!

“5. How do you think Telford was feeling at the end of Season 1 when he was in control of his own actions again and was around the very people that brain washed him?”

LDP: I think Telford’s head was in a blender there for a little bit. First, un-brainwashed by asphyxiation, then zapped back into his own body when he went through the gate.  Not a lot of time to acclimate!  It certainly seems that his true character has finally come through when he doesn’t have a pre-programmed agenda.  Obviously, there is residual guilt but, as soon as he got his bearings, he stepped up and showed that he has the strength of character to try and make things right.  It also seems clear now where his loyalties lie.

“6. Personally I think you do an amazing job with Telford, would you mind sharing some high and low points of working on SGU?”

LDP: The high point of playing Telford and SGU in general are the people I get the chance to work with.  Obviously, that includes the entire cast from top to bottom but I’ve also made great friends on the crew and have worked on numerous other projects with many of them.  I feel that writers, producers and directors are doing a great job of creating a vibrant, exciting and unpredictable show and the material is a joy to perform.  It’s like Christmas when we get a new script.  Truly, the only downside is the fact that I would’ve liked to get in the game a bit more during the first season but things seem to be pointing toward a greater involvement as time goes on.

“7. If you were to give some important life advice to anyone, what would you say?”

LDP: I mean, follow your dream is certainly hackneyed and somewhat cliche but it is truly good advice.  Too many people settle.  Not only that, but far too many people aren’t reflective enough to realize their dream at a younger age.  To do that would be the second part of that proposition which would be to try and figure out who you really are.  Embrace that even if it is not part of the norm and own it and never apologize for it.  Be yourself.

“8. Any favourite authors or books?”

LDP: Most recently fell in love with two of Ken Follet’s books “Pillars of the Earth” (now a miniseries) and its sequel “World Without End.”  All time faves include most of Stephen King, Richard Addams “Watership Down,”  Jonathon Franzen’s “The Corrections,” Khalil Gibran’s “The Prophet,” Richard Bach’s “Illusions”…Well, many more. Point being, love to read.

“9. How would you describe the relationship between Young and Telford now that he’s free of the LAs brainwashing, we saw he made a speech about how Earth didn’t consider the results of overthrowing the Goa’uld that really resonated with a lot of fans, do you believe he meant what he said in that regard?”

LDP: I sort of answered the Young/Telford dynamic a little before but I will say that I think it’s still evolving.  We certainly see more of it in upcoming eps and the nature is totally different than what it was.  We start to see the friends they once were instead of the rivalry.  I mean, come on, Telford has a lot to make up for!  As far as that speech goes, it’s one of the reasons I love the writing on SGU.  That speech is totally valid regardless of Telford’s brainwashing and perhaps that’s the reason he could finally open his mind and see something from another culture’s point of view, regardless of his military indoctrination.  Even though that speech is coming from “The Bad Guy” I’m glad it resonated with many of the fans because there are obvious parallels in our world, our country and with recent global confrontations.  That’s one of the great services science fiction can actually provide because, when well done, it can make you think about your own world and your own experience and perhaps see it without the veil of politics or nationalism.

“10. Any favourite songs/bands/groups you would like to share with us all?”

LDP: Liking a lot of the new stuff (my tween girls, Grace, Isabella & Lili keep me up on the Top Forty) but my all time stand-bys are from my youth – Springsteen, U2, Sting, Tom Waites, Jackson Browne – a lot of singer songwriters really.  They are my influences whenever I dabble in lyrics.

skye writes: “Mr. Diamond – My Question is What was the most fun Character u have ever played on tv and/or in the Movies?  thank u for your time”

LDP: Well, not to be too mercenary but the list has to be led by Telford because he’s still evolving.  He’s like a novel that has many chapters still to go and I find that exciting and intriguing because his journey is mine.  Other than the most immediate, I feel very privileged to have played some characters that have over time become almost iconic.  Ritchie Valens. Chavez from Young Guns. Angel from Stand and Deliver. The King from my broadway production of The King and I.  I might as well throw in King Arthur from Camelot.  Cisco in The Big Hit was most certainly one of the craziest and most fun.  Monfriez in Courage Under Fire.  Edgerton on Numb3rs…Holy shit, I’ve had some great roles!

E writes: “Did you know from the start that Telford’s been brainwashed? How did you portray the character in the beginning – as someone who’s an ass because of brainwash, or a tough military guy who’s disliked by others?  What do you think – is Telford better commander than Young? Why?”

LDP: You know, oddly enough, I didn’t know Telford was brainwashed when I started the role!  I mean, when I look back now it all makes perfect sense but I’m not even sure the brainwashing was a part of the writer’s plan when we started the season ( although I must say, those guys have a great way of layering in storylines over multiple eps and they don’t always tell you what’s in store!).  I also think that, as they get to know this cast better, it sparks character traits and personality touches when developing the character’s story-lines.  As far as playing Telford as an ass in the beginning, that’s really a matter of opinion.  Whenever I take on a character, I try to adopt his world view and not judge his actions.  You can’t play the character honestly if you’re holding him at arm’s length and apologizing for who he is.  I’ve known hard-asses like Telford.  My dad did two tours of Viet Nam and many of his friends are hard-core military types.  I also played Col. Jessup in the stage play “A Few Good Men” and his big speech resonates with a lot of truths when you’re dealing with how to keep a country safe or why the military does what it does.  So, I chose to play Telford as a man with a mission, even a noble one – to save these people any way he could – and without apology or regard for people’s feelings.  In truth, I think a true leader has to have compassion and understand when compromise or even retreat are a smarter option, so, in that respect, I think both Young and Telford have great leadership qualities and could learn a thing or two from each other.

Steph writes: “Questions:
-Ian Edgerton was one of my favorite Numb3rs characters and I was sad to see the show end, even though it ended well. What are the differences between playing an FBI Agent and a military officers?
-How do you think Telford’s presence will affect the dynamics and power balance on board the Destiny?
Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions!”

LDP: I’ll refer to the two characters I’ve played, Edgerton and Telford, to illustrate the point about FBI versus Military because I think to generalize would be a disservice.  The one thing that was fun and freeing about Edgerton is that he seemed to be such a free agent.  He most definitely was a Black Ops guy and probably had very few people to answer to, a real Lone Wolf.  He just had to get the job done in any way he saw fit.  That allowed me to play him with a great deal of self-confidence, independence and even a bit of a devil-may-care twinkle in his eye.  He had very little to prove because he knew he was one of the best.  Telford, on the other hand, as a military man of rank has to answer to a chain of command and be respectful of other people’s authority.  This is (or was) his frustration because, like Edgerton, Telford feels he’s one of the best and certainly better suited to have led this mission.  He does not have the carte blanche Edgerton does and so must attempt to realize his goals with one hand tied behind his back.  We’ll see how this plays out and how Telford responds to his “place” in the microcosm of Destiny’s society.

Simon writes: “Questions for Lou Diamond Philips:

1) What’s been your faviorute episode of SGU so far?

2) Is there a specific scene that you’ve enjoyed doing on thw show?

3) Who’s been the most fun to work with on the show?

4) Is your character in Season 2? Doubt you’ll be able to answer this, but hey.”

LDP: Kinda covered question 1-4 in previous answers but I will say I’m really looking forward to an ep where I was able to do a lot of work with Mark Savela and his VFX team.  I think those guys do amazing things on the show and the fun (and the fear) for the actors is putting your complete trust in something that you can’t see and hoping that it will turn out looking awesome.  So, obviously, without being too much of a tease, Telford gets to interact with some pretty cool CGI in the future.  I’m looking forward to seeing it as much as anyone!  Beyond that, I don’t have a fave actor to work with on the show.  They are all amazing talents and wonderful people. The bulk of my dramatic work has been with Louis and Robert and I’m always grateful for the dynamics the writers give us and how those two make it pop.  Alaina and I have had a few moments that I dig but I noticed that I haven’t had as much interaction with Blue or Elyse lately.  Hope that changes.  Jamil, Brian and I get to play a bit since we’re all soldiers and I’ve really appreciated getting more contact with Gilmore, Kelamis and Spence because the collision of science and military is always fun (not to mention, those guys are goof-balls!).  It seems Ming and I are becoming confidantes in upcoming eps and I appreciate that because we’ve known each other for quite a while and we have a very easy chemistry together.  (By the way, that inadvertently answered question 4 so wink, wink, nudge, nudge, eh, mate?)

“5) You’ve worked with Kiefer Sutherland, you guys still buds? Keep in touch etc?”

LDP: I absolutely adore Kiefer. Not only a great actor but one of the coolest people you’ll ever meet with an absolute heart of gold.  Having said that, I saw him two months ago and he mooned me through a lobby window at the Chateau Marmont.  Given our history together, I had no choice but to moon him back.  Drinks ensued.  This is the nature of our relationship.  I’d crawl through broken glass to work with him again.

Rob writes: “What was it like to work with Kiefer Sutherland again on season 1 of 24 after doing the Young Guns movies? Would you like the opportunity to work with him again?”

LDP: Little bit of an overlap from the last question but I’ll elaborate by pointing out that Kiefer and I have worked on five projects together – Young Guns 1 & 2, Renegades, Picking Up the Pieces (With Woody Allen & Sharon Stone.  I hear it’s terrible. I’ve never seen it.) and of course those two eps of 24 in Season 1.  I got a call from my agent who informed me they were offering me the role but the script wasn’t written yet.  I was told it would be me, Kiefer and Dennis Hopper in a bunker.  Sounded like a party to me so I told them I needed to make one call.  I called Kiefer on set (he was unaware of the offer) and he told me to say yes immediately.  Obviously, I did.  He mentioned a project to me in passing the last time I saw him so I have hopes that we’ll be back in the saddle again.  He is still one of my favorite people in the biz.  Also, just as an added note, don’t remember the season or the ep but Kiefer/Jack Bauer saved my daughter Grace from nerve gas in a mall not too long ago.  It was her first professional gig.

Bryan M. White writes: “Hello Mr. Phillips – Quick question, way back when, in 1990, when you contributed your vocals to the intro on Bon Jovi’s “Justice in the Barrel” off the Blaze of Glory record, did you record that in the studio with the band, or was that recorded separately? Several films have featured your vocals, do you sing or play any instruments during breaks on set for SGU?”

LDP:  “Justice in the Barrel” had been completely recorded when Jon Bon Jovi asked me to come in and add the Native chant.  He had heard me doing that piece as a part of a scene where Chavez mourns Balthazar Getty’s character so he wanted it on the soundtrack.  By the way, that is not an actual Navajo chant but one made up to approximate a chant since using the real thing would be disrespectful to the Navajo religion.  Another cool fact, I was part of a small group including Kiefer, Emilio, John Fusco the writer/producer and a few other producers who got to hear Jon sing “Blaze of Glory” for the first time ever.  He played it on an acoustic in Emilio’s trailer at about two in the morning of a night shoot.  He had just finished writing it.  As far as my own musicianship, I don’t even call myself a musician.  I learned all the guitar notes for La Bamba but I don’t really play.  Yes, I sing, yes, I write lyrics but I know too many people who do it really well to put myself in their category.  I just like dipping my finger in that pie every once in a while!  That said, people break out in song on the SGU set constantly, myself included!

MatthewRD writes: “Questions for Lou Diamond Phillips, Hi!

1) What do you like most about being Telford?

2) What was the hardest part of being Telford?

3) You probably won’t say anyway for spoilers and all, but does he survive the shooting?”

LDP: I’ve kinda covered the things I like about Telford but I’ll reiterate the fact that he is still evolving and I keep discovering new things about him.  It’s also cool to see who he really is without the brainwashing and layer that with a history that is slowly revealing itself.  I also love the fact that a wry sense of humor is creeping into his persona but I think that’s just a result of me rubbing off on the writers!  The hardest part of a character like Telford is a trap that I see a lot of actors fall into when they are playing characters in procedurals – ie your cops, doctors lawyers etc. who have what I call esoteric dialogue.  The words can sometimes become mundane and meaningless and the actors just spit them out without developing a character behind all that information.  Yes, the technical jargon is very necessary when creating these worlds but if the actor hasn’t created someone interesting and three dimensional then they become bland and interchangeable with anyone else in a uniform or suit.  Truthfully, that’s one of the reasons I never minded that people didn’t like Telford at first!  At least his presence elicited a response and he served a purpose in the story rather than just being a talking head.

cat4444 writes: “1. During Season 1, Telford was kind of a jerk – okay, no kind of about it, he was very much a jerk. Was his behaviour due to the brainwashing or is he really that big of a jerk?”

LDP: Kind of touched on it before but I will add that, in my opinion, the brainwashing gave a very sharp focus to an agenda that Telford had already and that was to reclaim his rightful spot as mission leader and bring those people home.  It just goes to show, though, that when someone becomes that narrow minded and has that much of a singularity of purpose, they can become insensitive, abrasive and hard to deal with.  However, once again, when dealing with the military and questions of commitment and mission, you want someone who is decisive and willing to commit to a course of action so I can’t fault Telford entirely.

“2. In Earth, how do you think Telford, while he was under the influence of the brainwashing, reconciled the fact that he was likely to blow up Destiny with the desire of the Lucian Alliance to obtain Destiny? Was it more important to ensure the SGC didn’t have control of Destiny?”

LDP: Interesting question because I truly believe that Telford never believed for a second that he was going to be responsible for blowing up Destiny.  It was not something that entered his mind until Rush “put on a show” and made Telford and the visiting scientists believe they were in jeopardy.  Remember, at that point I’m fairly certain Rush had no interest in going home and was willing to make that decision for the other people on board the ship.  For all we know, even at this point, that rescue mission might have worked if Rush hadn’t sabotaged it.

“3. It’s obvious Telford and Rush don’t get along, particularly given that Telford tried to have Rush removed from the Icarus project. How likely is that to change now that they’re both stuck on Destiny? Was Telford’s attempt to have Rush removed more of an attempt to get him into a position where the Alliance could “obtain” his services?”

LDP: One of the things I love about the Rush/Telford dynamic is that there is a history with these two that continues to unfold and certain predispositions that seem to prevent even the kind of moderate truce that Rush and Young occasionally agree upon.  I don’t think, even given the brainwashing element, that Telford’s animosity for Rush is born of strategy.  I think Telford is mistrustful of Rush because he knows that he can never control him, that he is unpredictable, mercurial and with total disregard for authority. So, not only does Telford know that Rush is like dealing with a highly volatile explosive, useful but not without risks in handling it, he also knows about Rush’s disdain for the military and that rubs Telford entirely the wrong way because, in many ways, Telford is more of a by-the-book soldier than Young.  Additionally, I think there is a grudging respect for Rush’s intellect but an irritation that he isn’t willing to be more forthcoming with it in service of what Telford deems to be the greater good, brainwashing or not.

“4. Telford or Young? Who’s going to be in control now? Young, who has been since the arrival on Destiny? Or Telford, who was supposed to have the command from the start? I suspect there would be some serious trust issues regarding Telford, given the whole brainwashing thing, so I’m going to say Young. Your take on it?”

LDP: Touched on this a bit and would steer you toward a chat I read not too long ago that efficiently charted the discussion from a military standpoint.  Shouldn’t be too hard to find.  Of course the human element leads me to believe that Young and Telford have greater issues of friendship and the needs of their soldiers and civilians to deal with so, I’m thinking, their dynamic won’t be a cut-and-dried matter of seniority.

“5. I understand you’re quite the cook. Do you plan to challenge Joe to a cook off since Rob Cooper has left and the Ice Cream Throwdown is likely no more? How did you get into cooking?”

LDP: I don’t know about a challenge (because I understand Joe is quite the foodie) but I will 100% cook for him one night and hope that he will return the favor!  Or, at the very least, make some wonderful reservations!  I’ve had the pleasure of cooking for John G. Lenic, our producer and also a foodie, so now I need to start working my way through the writer’s room.  (Maybe it’ll finally result in a love interest for Telford! He hates to eat alone!)  Many of my earlier jobs in Corpus Christi, TX were in the kitchen like cook’s asst. on the Navy base, breakfast cook on Padre Island and flipping burgers at Whataburger.  I started cooking heavily in college when I had four roommates and my love of it continued as I got older and had kids.  It is highly satisfying to me to have friends and family gathered around a table eating a meal I made for them.  That’s life and that’s love.

“6. Actor, foodie, twitterer, and occasional Iron Chef judge Is there anything you don’t do? Handstands maybe?”

LDP: You’re absolutely right.  I can’t do a handstand!  Other than that, I will not reveal my weaknesses…poker player, doncha know!

“7. Do you participate in the pranks that apparently take place on set? If so, what’s the best one you’ve pulled? Been pulled on you? Or do you simply give the patented LDP Glare and send any potential pranksters – yes, I am referring primarily to Louis Ferreira – running for cover?  Thanks for taking the time to do the Q&A. Very much looking forward to next season.”

LDP: I have to say, the SGU set is one of the most joyful sets I’ve ever been on.  Everyone has a sense of humor and everyone is funny!  We laugh a lot which is ironic for such an intense and sometimes dark show.  Most of the levity comes from jokes or the outrageous bits from Kelamis or Gilmore or Spence but, tuthfully, the big surprise is Louis Ferreira who is downright hilarious.  As far as pranks go, there haven’t been any of the order that I’ve pulled in the past (Young Guns was the prankiest, most ingenious, evil mastermind shows I’ve ever been on) but that’s probably a function of the fact that we’re on such a busy TV schedule.  Not a lot of time to hatch elaborate plots.  And, truthfully, I’ve never been on set long enough to get bored.  Blue is always coming up with fun games and Ming, Alaina, Elyse and our lovely Jeffrey bring love and light wherever they go in addition to some wicked moves and a surprisingly raunchy sense of humor!  As for the patented LDP glare…it’s all an act but it comes in handy when I have to discipline my four girls!

Tammy Dixon writes: “Mr. Phillips, so nice of you to put up with the Q & A. I’ve been a fan of yours since Young Guns! How did you get started in acting?  I hope to see more of your character on SGU!
Thanks!!!!”

LDP: Thanks so much for writing in and for your support of the show.  I always wanted to be an actor and that journey is fairly well documented in a number of other interviews.  For a very nice over-view, our publicist, Carol Marks-George, recently updated my bio and it can be found on the official SGU web site.  Check it out.

Shawn Cassidy writes: “Lou – First off, thanks for taking the time to engage the fans. I’ve been a big fan of yours since way back when (Young Guns series are my favorite westerns of all time!) In a huge part due to your character Chavez.

1). Being a seasoned “Big Time”veteran, what was it like coming into a long time Sci-Fi TV franchise? Did you have any preconceptions of what Stargate was all about? (i.e. Wow, it’s cool to be part of the whole Sc-Fi convention scene, to …. What the hell is a Stargate?) Were you even aware of the long rich history?”

LDP: You know when I started in the 80s, you were either a TV actor or a Film actor and seldom did people cross that line.  That is no longer the case.  Very, very few actors get by on just features any more and many choose to do TV for the steady gig and, quite honestly, the fact that TV paychecks have gotten much bigger.  My buddies Kiefer and Charlie sure can’t complain. Not to mention the fact that the writing, directing and overall production values on a hit show have gotten very competitive with anything you’re seeing on the big screen. So, having said all that, (and with a big nod to Richard Dean Anderson and all those who made SG a long running franchise) I was very open to coming on to a successful show.  Any preconceptions I might have had were immediately tempered by the fact that Robert Carlyle was attached when they came to me.  I sensed right away that, given the type of actor they were seeking, that this was going to be a different direction for the SG saga.  That was intriguing to me and made me feel like I could be a part of the show’s evolution as opposed to just being another cog in the wheel.  And, just as an after-thought, I’m a big sci-fi fan so it’s been a blast to become a fixture in this universe, not only on set but in cyberspace and at conventions.  It certainly makes you feel like there’s a legion of people out there taking the journey with you.

“2). I always read how you are one of the “Classy” ones, one of the true gentlemen in Hollywood. What’s it like playing someone who is so opposite your nature in Col. Telford who has been at times a real SOB?”

LDP: The really cool thing about acting in general is playing something that you are not.  Many times in my career I’ve been blessed to represent different communities and cultures like the Navajo or the Inuit and my research becomes a great opportunity to learn.  With that in mind, if you keep your eyes and mind open, you will never stop learning from this craft and new revelations will pop up as you continue to grow as a person & artist.  That applies to who you are as a person as well.  While I certainly try to NOT be an asshole in life, I firmly believe that everyone has the potential within themselves just like they have the potential to be saintly or heroic.  One of the jobs of an actor is to be honest with yourself and be self-analytical.  You have to know what makes you tick, what you’re putting out and how to access it honestly.  Besides, channeling your inner jerk can be fun and you can leave it on the set without forcing your friends and family to deal with it.  It’s a cheap form of therapy actually!

“3). It seems that there may be redemption for Col. Telford (I’m assuming he survived since you’re at the studios while deep into season II production). Are you happy with this direction, or do you enjoy paying the bad guy?

Thanks again for your valuable time. I can’t wait to see what transpires onscreen this fall! And for the many years to come!”

LDP: Obviously, I can’t talk too much about the direction Telford may or may not take (I mean, jeez, last time we saw him he was bleeding and unconscious!) but I will say that our writers are incredible and they never take the easy, predictable or boring path.  Given a character like Telford, who still hasn’t revealed much of his past, I’m confident that no matter what side of the good guy/bad guy fence he falls on, he will be interesting and complex and that his dynamic with the rest of Destiny will be entertaining.

Daniel fleming writes: “Hi Lou, I’m Daniel Fleming from the UK, and I’m 16, I would like to become an actor when I’m older, I would really appreciate if you were to answer these few questions please:  1, How long do you get to learn a full script?”

LDP: I always say this to young actors when they say they want to become an actor.  You already are, you’re just waiting to get paid for it!

The time an actor gets to learn a script is always tied to the schedule and the type of project you’re working on.  In theatre, you often have at least a month or so to learn and rehearse.  This is totally necessary because you have to perform the entire script from top to bottom without (hopefully) any mistakes.  In feature films, even though there are not always rehearsals, you usually get the script a few weeks or months ahead of time and it’s up to the individual to judge how much of it they want to get down before filming.  I tend to learn everything but other actors like to wait until the last minute to keep it spontaneous.  To each his own.  Also, on features, you usually have the luxury of filming only 3 or 4 pages a day so you can spend all day (@ 12 hours) on the same scene and make it perfect.  Not so in TV.  Our writers are great on SGU and we usually receive our scripts in a timely fashion that allows us to ask questions and absorb what it is we will have to perform.  Even so, we’re usually working on the previous script when a new script comes in so it is a constant process of learning and working.  I’ve heard of other shows where the scripts don’t get delivered until the night before they are supposed to shoot so everyone, directors and crew included, have to scramble to be prepared.  All that said, we average 6 or 7 pages a day  and you might have a lot of lines or you might have very little.  I usually read a script a few times and then work on the specific scenes the night before, leaving room to tweak it when I see what the director and other actors bring to the party.

“2, Is that really cool accent really or is it put on?”

LDP: Being an American I wasn’t entirely aware of an accent, that’s just the way I talk, but I can certainly see how it might seem a bit exotic if you’re watching in the UK!  I have to say, Hugh Laurie and Linus Roach have impeccable American accents and do a great job on their respective shows.  I will say, though, that I love doing accents which probably comes from my theatre training.  I’ve done a few different regional touches in films (like Texan or Brooklyn) and I truly loved doing an English accent when I did the National Tour of Camelot playing King Arthur and a Thai accent when I played King in The King and I on Broadway.

“3, Is it hard acting infront of a green screen?”

LDP: Acting in front of the green screen is probably one of the most difficult and frightening propositions there is.  Obviously, there’s nothing really there and you have to imagine what it is you’re looking at, be it a spaceship an exploding star or a bunch of aliens.  It requires a lot of focus, consistency and a huge amount of trust because you have to commit to it fully to help create the illusion.  It can make you feel pretty stupid but you have to let go and put your self-consciousness aside.  It’s an old saying but, if you believe it, the audience will believe it.  All that said, our VFX team on SGU, led by wizard Mark Savela, are brilliant and always make us look good.  I’m blown away by what they accomplish on a weekly basis and it gives the cast a lot of confidence when we have to deal with otherworldly stuff.  In addition, they usually provide us with renderings that help us imagine what we are seeing and can adjust the timbre of our performances.  I really think they are the finest team working on television effects today! (As evidenced by their recent Emmy nomination!)

Michael writes: “1) I’ll start off with a compliment. I managed to convince many, many women I know to watch SGU simply because I told them Lou Diamond Phillip was on it.

2) Did you know from day one of SGU that Telford was being brainwashed and if so, how did you adjust in the later half of the season?

3) Do you have plans to continue playing in the World Series of Poker?

4) When does your autobiography come out, last I heard, early 2010, any updates?”

LDP: 1.  God luv ya, Michael.  Every guy needs a good wing man!

2.  Covered that one.  See above.

3.  Did not get a chance to play in the WSOP 2010 this year.  Had a gig!  Cannot wait until next year and have high hopes that I’ll be there for the Main Event.  Would also like to play some of the smaller buy-ins.  Coming up soon, I may be playing in a large invitational for PokerStars in the fall and perhaps the BC Championship while I’m here in Vancouver.

4.  Now, see, here’s the thing.  The term ‘autobiography’ would imply that I’m writing it, right?  I am writing NO such book.  This rumor started on the internet somehow and many, many people believe it to be true.  The funny thing is it keeps getting repeated and therefore validated in some circles.  I have no immediate plans to write an autobiography and, if that were to ever happen, I would probably wait until I’m much older so I could get all the stories into one volume.  Believe me, I sincerely hope the most interesting years aren’t behind me!

Michael A. Burstein writes: “Given all the work you’ve done recently on Numb3rs and Stargate Universe, my wife and I were surprised to see that you took the time to appear on “I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!” How did that come about? How did you find the time to do it?”

LDP: First of all, thanks so much for following Numb3rs & SGU.  Both great shows and I’m very proud of my association with them.  What’s interesting is that my time commitment to either of them might seem a little misleading.  I only ever popped up on Numb3rs once or twice a season, believe it or not.  Each episode, like on SGU, only takes eight days to film and very often not every actor works the entire schedule.  Similarly, I actually appear in only eight episodes of the twenty in Season 1 of SGU.  Add to that the fact that SGU was on hiatus during June and July and I found myself with a lot of time on my hands last summer.  Now, I never intended, nor do I intend now, to become a reality star.  However, I was pitching a few reality show ideas with my wife, Yvonne, where we would serve as creators and producers when the opportunity for ‘I’m a Celebrity…’ came up.  I had jokingly told an exec that I wouldn’t mind doing something like Celeb Survivor and…well, watch what you ask for.  NBC jumped all over it.  I actually said no a few times but the reasons for doing it started to make sense.  Ultimately, I was able to raise quite a bit of money for my friend, southwest artist Amado Maurillo Pena, and his charity Art Has Heart/Legacy Art in Albuquerque, New Mexico and I had an open door to bring my reality ideas to NBC (none of which panned out.)  And, I have to be honest, I was really intrigued by the challenge and adventure of it all.  I figured it was a one-shot deal to test myself like that and see if I could not only pull it off physically and mentally but maintain a sense of integrity and perhaps show the viewing public a side of myself that they may not know.  Happy to say it all worked out just fine but, NO, I won’t be doing anything like that again.

Boltbait writes: “1) You’ve worked on many TV shows and movies. Which do you prefer? Why? How are they different?”

LDP: Yup, just looking at my resume on IMDB makes me tired.  So, I guess it’s safe to say that I love both film and television…and theatre.  Hell, I just like being employed!  Seriously, to this day I’m grateful that I get paid to do something I love.  Having said that, the major difference between film and TV is usually time and money.  You have incredibly talented actors, writers and directors in both it’s just that an hour of television takes eight days to shoot and that same hour in movies could take months.  Even so, made-for-TV movies have recently become much cheaper and faster to shoot.  I’m amazed how quickly some feature length projects are put together, some in as little as thirteen days.  I would also hazard to say that a few I’ve worked on lately don’t even have the budget of one episode of SGU.  (Yet another reason I’m consistently impressed with every episode of SGU.)  Ultimately, I will add that you have to be on top of your game if you’re working in the TV biz.  Audiences expect more on a weekly basis so, for a show to be a hit, you have to deliver quality in the writing, directing, production and, of course, the acting for a show to stick around.  That said, the bar has been raised not only for TV but for films as well.  It’s harder to be viewed a success and so fewer risks are being taken and fewer projects actually get off the ground.  Like I said before, it’s just nice to be employed in this environment.

“2) Of all the actors you’ve worked with in the past, who would you most like to work with again? Anyone you haven’t worked with yet, that you’d really like to?”

LDP: I have had the immense pleasure and honor of working with some great actors who are also great people.  I am truly enjoying the ensemble of SGU but some of the heavy-hitters I’m proud to have shared screen time with include – Edward James Olmos, Denzel Washington, Meg Ryan, Matt Damon, Harrison Ford, Benicio Del Toro, Andy Garcia, Ernest Borgnine, Woody Allen, Mark Wahlberg, Christina Applegate and obviously all my boys from Young Guns.  I’d show up to do anything with any of them again in a heartbeat.  There are many, many more who are not as well known and even more like Fred Gwynne, Toshiro Mifune and Jack Warden who are no longer with us but who I loved dearly.  Of the people I still have yet to work with, the list is long because I am truly a fan of film and actors myself.  Meryl Streep, DeNiro, Pacino and that group from the 70s inspired me to hone and respect my craft as an actor.  Some of my peers who I’ve known forever but never worked with also come to mind – Clooney, Pitt, Sean Penn, Robert Downey Jr. and the like. And, strangely enough I’ve appeared in films with Kevin Spacey, Robert Duvall and Sam Neill but didn’t have any scenes with them!  It all reminds me, even though I’ve already received a few lifetime achievement awards, that I truly think the best lies ahead and I’m not done by half!

“3) My favorite of your performances would probably be Angel Guzman of Stand and Deliver (1988). What can you tell me about that movie–any favorite memories?”

LDP: Stand and Deliver was and is one of my favorite films of mine, for the performance, for the memories and for the difference it made in a lot of people’s lives.  It actually came about because I did a guest spot on ‘Miami Vice’ before ‘La Bamba’ came out. (By the way, Viggo Mortensen and Annette Bening were also in that episode!) Eddie Olmos had worked with Luis and Danny Valdez on their play and film “Zoot Suit” so he was aware of ‘La Bamba.’ He was actually supposed to have a cameo in the film as Esai’s father. At any rate, we had one scene together and afterward he asked what I was doing in the next month. At the time, since ‘La Bamba’ had not yet come out, I was having a hard time getting a job in LA so I informed him that I was completely available for lunch or whatever.  He gave me a phone number to Ramon Menendez the writer/director of ‘Stand and Deliver.’  We had one meeting and suddenly I found myself in the movie.  The funny thing is, you often don’t know how good something is going to be while you’re in the middle of making it.  S&D was a tiny little film made for under a million bucks and would go on to win seven Independent Spirit Awards (both Eddie and I won) and get Golden Globe noms for me and Eddie and, obviously, an Oscar Nom for Eddie.  It will always be one of the highlights of my career.

“4) You’ve been an actor, a writer, a producer, a director… which do you prefer?”

LDP: When I think of all the hats I’ve worn on film sets – actor, writer, director – I’m often reminded of my theatre training at The University of Texas at Arlington.  The beauty of actually studying this craft and art form is that you come to respect all aspects of it and as a theatre student, I did it all, from painting flats and sewing costumes to writing and directing my own productions.  I’ve always ben grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to extend that into the film and television world.  I certainly think the writing and directing enhance my understanding of my acting and definitely help me embrace the process of making films.  I can understand the problems that production face and be part of the solution and not part of the problem.  Conversely, I often encourage writers and directors to take acting classes not so much that they can become actors but so that they will have a better understanding of our process and what we have to go through to deliver a good performance.  At the very least, it helps them to speak our language.  Ultimately, I look at my place in the film industry as a communicator or story teller.  All of the different positions are in service to the story and one should complement the other.  All that said, if I could only do one I’d have to go with my first love – acting.

“5) On the set of SGU, who do you “hang out” with?”

LDP: The SGU ensemble is very tight and, fortunately, we’re all very fond of each other.  I’ve thrown large dinners a few times and have also had the chance to grab beers one on one with some of the guys.  Was out not long ago with Louis Ferreira and surprised a fan who must have assumed that, since our characters are confrontational we’d have the same dynamic in real life.  Had to assure him that, no, we’re just acting!

“6) Other than spending time with your family, what do you enjoy doing during your down time?”

LDP: I’ve done quite a bit of writing in the past year and, when I can get motivated again, I’ve got another project in mind that I would like to start.  Hopefully, we’ll see one of my screenplays get some traction in the coming year.  When I really want to turn off and not think about anything else, I like to sit down at the poker table for hours at a time.  Not always relaxing but certainly fun.

“7) Imagine you’re really on the Destiny, how would you keep from going crazy?

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions!”

LDP: I’d probably do what a lot of the characters are already doing.  Working out, trying to figure out how to get home.  Although it seems that every week there’s some new jeopardy so nobody ever runs the risk of getting bored.  I think Rush has finished carving his chess set by now so I’d certainly sign up for that.  And, like I said before, I might have to fashion some hand drawn playing cards.

Wraithfodder writes: “Hi Lou,

1 – You have been fantastic tweeting with the fans but am curious, what’s been the weirdest thing you’ve ever had anyone tweet to you?”

LDP: And speaking of Twitter…I actually love that I can communicate with fans and just share random thoughts.  I often am amused by the wit and wisdom out there. (Yeah, I know, there’s a lot of mundane stuff, too, but hey, you just zip past that stuff.)  I don’t go into chat rooms or anything like that and I understand that there are sites that can get personal and mean spirited but my experience on Twitter has been very positive.  The weirdest tweet happened when I first started on the network.  Some guy went on a surprisingly long rant basically telling me the many ways I could fornicate with myself.  I’m sure it amused him and his friends and, even though I found some entertainment value in it myself, I chose to just block his ass!

“2 – I envy your cooking skills, but wonder, if there any kitchen/cooking disaster stories you’d like to share with us fans? We promise not to tell anyone.”

LDP: Fortunately, there haven’t been too many absolute disasters in the kitchen.  (Although, there was the time when a home-made apple pie started a fire in the oven.  I thought it was hilarious but it freaked out my daughters.  Must say, though, it was a good lesson in not panicking.  Oh, and the pie turned out just fine.)  The biggest faux-pas would probably be my timing when I invite friends over for dinner.  As my good friends @EdwardsRellas (yes, they’re on Twitter) would tell you, my meals are never on time so they tend to have a light snack before they come over.  That would totally be my downfall if I ever appeared on Celebrity Chopped!

“3 – Do your children have any favorite movies that you’ve done?”

LDP: Indy is still too young to even care about Daddy’s work but the older girls are pretty familiar with a lot of the flicks and TV.  (Gotta say, though, there’s a lot of shows that I’ve done that they’re not allowed to see until later.  They’re going to need therapy just from having watched me die umpteen times.)   Of the ones that they do know, La Bamba is obviously a favorite and they tend to like watching me fight creatures like in Bats or Red Water.  I’d have to say that Love Takes Wing probably takes the prize simply because I directed it and ALL my girls are in it.  Indy was still a baby but Yvonne held her in a couple of scenes and she was great.  Grace, Isabella and Lili all had speaking roles and I was proud and frightened at how good and talented they were.  They obviously have the gene and the bug!

“4 – How much input did you have into Telford?

Thanks very much!”

LDP: I think the input any of the cast has into their characters is purely circumstantial and indirect.  The staff of writers are so creative and have an overview of each season so it’s actually quite fun to wait and see what surprises they have in store for us.  Obviously, our personal approach to our roles color the dialogue and add personality to the characters but that’s mostly a function of having cast the show very well.  But, certainly, as the writers get to know us personally and see our individual quirks and idiosyncracies they begin to get our voices in their heads and it helps to infuse the roles with real specific touches.

Thijs writes: “A few questions for Lou Diamond Phillips:

-.Will you be back for season 2 of SGU?.

-.Will you become a main cast member?.

-.How many episodes will you be in in season 2?.

-.Can you tell me a little about things i can expect in season 2 of SGU?”

LDP: Wow, sorry to say that I can’t answer a single one of your questions directly!  All I can tell you is that you can probably glean a lot of the information you seek by reading between the lines in some of my other answers!  Sorry to be obtuse but I’m afraid the producer’s would communication stone Telford’s consciousness into a chimp if I talked too much!

jojo writes: “Questions for LDP:
1. I really enjoyed your work and your commentaries on Numbers. What did you enjoy most about your time on that series? You did a lot of location work. What location did you enjoy most? Any fun things you got to do on that show? (like riding in a helicopter?)”

LDP: Numb3rs was one of those shows that I said yes to before I’d even read a script.  The cast alone was incentive enough for me.  I’ve gotten to the point in my career where I look for a life experience almost as much as a good role and working with actors that I respect only enriches my work.  In addition, the character of Ian Edgerton was created by Ken Sanzel, an old buddy and the writer/director of a film I had done called Lone Hero.  I really thought Edgerton was only going to make the one appearance since his field of expertise seemed narrow but Ken, Nick & Cheryl found ways to keep bringing him back.  I used to joke that they only called me when somebody needed killing.  That said, one of the more fun aspects of the role was learning SWAT/sniper techniques and picking up a few tracker tricks.

“2. Do you think Col Telford was just friends with Col Young’s wife or did it go beyond that? Was his “friendship” with her to spite Col Young or just to be a friend to her?”

LDP: I think I mentioned it before but I’ll repeat it just in case.  When I queried the writers, they were of the opinion that Telford had not crossed that line.  I think the decent side of his character respected her situation and actually became fond of her.  I also think his restraint made him feel superior to Young in a moral sense. Given his brainwashing and his agenda for wanting the command back, I think he was also willing to use that relationship to get under Young’s skin and get an even greater insight into his weaknesses.

“3. Was Col Telford planning on being in charge of the group to go through the gate and the attack and Rush spoiled that plan? Do you think Col Telford had any advance warning that LA was planning on attacking Icarus Base?”

LDP: It’s always interesting to go back and dissect the motivations and what-ifs with the benefit of hindsight.  Knowing about Telford’s brainwashing and the amount of contact he had with Kiva and the LA, it’s hard not to believe that he wouldn’t have been aware of the attack on Icarus. It’s also implied that Telford may have supplied information to make the attack successful.  Obviously, it wasn’t entirely effective since I think the LA’s goal was to go through the gate themselves.  That said, in both cases, I don’t think Telford would have led the Alliance through since that would have blown his cover.  If he were to remain an asset to them, I think he would’ve kept his status as a spy secret.

“4. What future roles do you have in mind? What are some of your favorite roles you have done over the years? Are there any actors you really desire to work with in the future?

Thanks for answering my questions! I really enjoy your work on SGU.”

LDP: The only future roles I could actually plan would be the ones I would eventually hope to do on stage.  The film roles always come out of the blue.  As far as theatre is concerned, I’ve never done the Scottish play, I hope to play Don Quixote one day and I would love to get a play of mine that I wrote finally produced.  There are a number of others  I’m sure but that’s half the fun of having roles come your way.  They’re often unexpected and always welcome.  Kinda covered the fave roles and actors in a previous question.

PBMom writes: “Questions for LDP (a lot of good ones already asked so my attempt at asking different ones):

1. Any word about a release date on your movie, “Transparency? To JM’s posters, it is a must-see movie.”

LDP: (First off, great to hear from you! Thanks for all the kind mentions of ‘Transparency.’ Hope your son is doing well.)

1.  Speaking of ‘Transparency,’ the latest is that it will screen at the Oldenburg festival in Germany in September. Presently, I don’t know if I can attend.  Hoping so but will have to wait to see if the SGU shooting schedule will accomodate.  Deborah Kara Unger will be there and is serving as the festival’s jury chairperson.  Ultimately, I truly hope fans of mine will see the film because I’m very proud of it.  These little films, without built-in distribution and advertising dollars, often have a difficult time getting out there in a mainstream way.  Every once in a while, they break through and the festivals can be instrumental in making that happen.

Eventually, I know it will be available on DVD but I hope that it might have an art-house release or appear on one of the cable outlets so that it might reach a larger audience.  Keep your ears open.  I’ll certainly be promoting it.

“2. I know you were talking about creating a cooking show. Is it being shopped to networks yet, or is it still in a developmental phase?”

LDP: The cooking show idea was the brainchild of my wife, Yvonne, and a friend of hers who is also in our business.  They ran it by me and I was able to develop it a bit more.  It’s actually out there in the world in the hands of a few different producers and, hopefully, we’ll see it gain some traction in the coming year.  It’s a great idea that we would produce in a very hands-on way.  Wish I could tell you more about it but it is actively being pitched to networks presently so it’s best to stay mum about the details.  I love the project simply because it would be a fun way to join together a few things that I love – food, cooking shows and, of course, my wife, partner and creative muse, Yvonne!

“3. Are you shocked that Heidi and Spencer are separated? LOL.”

LDP: Nothing that Heidi and Spencer do shocks or surprises me any more.  What I find amazing is that, perhaps, no aspect of their lives may actually be real.  We all have to wonder if anything they do is designed to be a publicity stunt.  Tough way to live and, in my opinion, a really misguided way to stay in the public eye.  Depends on what you want to be famous for, I guess.

“4. I was really touched how deeply Sanjaya became attached to you and looked up to you on I’m A Celebrity. Have you kept in touch?”

LDP: Sanjaya and I have definitely stayed in touch.  He and his sister, Shamale (sp?) stayed with Yvonne and I recently.  It was certainly like having a teenage son and daughter in the house for a few days!  The two of them were in LA to make an appearance on Hell’s Kitchen so be looking for them this season.  The two of them were also very sweet to go and have lunch with my older girls, Grace, Isabella and Lili.  I will certainly be staying in touch with my illegitimate son and keeping an eye on his career and well-being.

“5. I have to ask, since I’ve asked everyone — what song would Telford sing on an SGleeU episode and to whom?”

LDP: Well, we’re constantly singing on the SGU set but I’ve never really thought about musical selections based on character motivations.  Looking at Telford’s history (not necessarily what he might have coming up in the future) I’d probably have to go with songs like – Billy Idol’s “Dancing With Myself,” or The Who’s “No one knows what it’s like to be the bad man…” or maybe The Cars “Best Friend’s Girl.”  Always open to suggestion so feel free to compile the Telford Play List!

“Thank you for being so kind and sending words of encouragement. It was so fantastic to meet you at the Dallas International Film Festival. To all JM’s blog posters, LDP has been on the board of directors for an autism charity called ACT Today http://www.act-today.org/ since 2005 and has been an amazing supporter of the autism community. It’s a great website and you should all check it out. You rock! I’m looking forward to a lot more Telford in the episodes to come.”

Nick Danger writes: “Question for LDP: Since you’re a foodie, I’m going to ask you the Bourdain Question: It’s your last day alive, what will you have for your final meal?”

LDP: Since I do consider myself a foodie and have a great affinity for many different kinds of foods, that’s always a tough question since one wouldn’t want to limit their choices.  As they say, variety is the spice of life!  But if it’s the final meal, I’d probably have to go with a very basic choice, certainly one of my all time faves – A bone-in ribeye, medium rare, Alaskan King crab legs, sauteed mushrooms and grilled vegetables with maybe a little wild rice and a Shiner Bock or Newcastle to wash it down.  Now, that’s eating.

Shirt ‘n Tie writes: “For Lou: Given the diversity of roles and productions with which you have been involved, which do you feel has been the most demanding (both mentally and physically)? Has that role also been the most fulfilling? And… given the choice of any role, past, present or future…what would be your dream gig? Many thanks for all the tweets!!!
Paul aka Shirt’n’Tie!”

LDP: (Hey, great chatting with you on twitter! Regards to the Emerald Isle.)

Certainly the theatre roles are some of the most demanding because of the amount of preparation, the size of the roles and the pressure to do it live in front of a few thousand people a night.  I certainly felt the scrutiny in my Broadway debut in The King and I!  Fear is a huge motivator.  Not only was there the text to learn, there was the singing and dancing (which people did not necessarily expect of me) and the large shadow of Yul Brynner that was much more prevailant than I had first imagined.  A number of patrons and critics had seen his final tour and I had some very big shoes to fill.  Fortunately, I was able to make the role my own and felt validated by the Broadway community when the production won four Tonys (including Best Revival) and I was nominated for Best Actor.  I would also have to include playing King Arthur in the National Tour of Camelot for all the same reasons but with the added hardship of moving to a different city every single week for seven months.  As far as film roles go, none has been more difficult and pressure laden than Ritchie in La Bamba and certainly none has been as gratifying since it was certainly my Cinderella story.  I felt a huge responsibility to get it right since Ritchie had been so well loved and his entire family was on set almost every day.  Plus, I didn’t play guitar (still don’t) and, at the time, I wasn’t much of a singer.  I lived in fear every single day that I would be fired, especially after Exec Producer Taylor Hackford said, “Get it right, kid, or we’ll send you back to Texas!”  I haven’t felt that way in a long time but recently I managed to get a bit nervous when I played a small role in ‘Che’ opposite Benicio Del Toro.  Not only is Benicio very imposing (especially in character) but the entire film is in Spanish.  Contrary to popular belief, I don’t speak Spanish!  I had to learn the whole role by rote and was constantly aware that it would have been very easy to simply replace me with a Spanish speaking actor.  Fortunately for me, Benicio and Stephen Soderbergh wanted me in the film.

As far as a dream gig goes, I’ll refer to an old Journeyman Actor’s philosophy when asked what their favorite role is…My next one!

January 28, 2009: Actor Mike Dopud Answers Your Questions

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Today, I’d like to turn this blog over to a familiar face – stuntman and actor Mike Dopud who has made three memorable appearances in the Stargate franchise (Full Alert’s Colonel Chernovshev, Bounty’s Odaii Ventrell, and Tracker’s Kiryk). So far. He’s incredibly talented, a helluva nice guy and, should my SF pilot ever get off the ground, I’ve already got a part for him. Over to Mike…

Thank you Joseph and everyone at SG1 and SGA for bringing me onto your show over the years. Thanks Joe for getting me on your blog. What great questions. Thanks to all the SG fans out there that take the time to watch the shows and for all those nice compliments. Unbelievable. As an actor, there is no greater feeling than to have people respect and enjoy watching your performance. So thanks to everyone out there and I hope to do this again some time.

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

I am waving back frantically. Favorite book. Hmmmm, lately it seems like the only books I read are either dinosaur books and/or dinosaur encyclopedias – lol (My 4 year old son Dane is obsessed with dinos). If I were to choose a book it would probably be by the author Ed McBain. He has written many books about the 87th Precinct, which is a fictitious Police precinct in Chicago. Two of his novels that stand out to me are “Big Bad City” and “Fat Ollie’s Book”, both of which are great. They are well-written, gritty, police mysteries. I would love to play the character Det. Steve Carella. They have made some TV movies based on these novels in the past but I think they could make for an awesome feature or a great series.

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

Thanks Mellow Yellow, I don’t hear the words “HOT” too often so I am flattered. I’m so glad you enjoyed Kiryk. I did as well. I was hoping that he would come back but shortly after we finished shooting “Tracker”, they announced Atlantis wasn’t coming back for season 6. Thanks again, it’s nice to hear.

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

Thank you very much.

“Now for questions ….

1) I understand that you have quite a range of talent in the acting world, doing stage, television/movie acting, stunt acting, and voice-overs — what aspect did you get your acting start in – “

I started acting and doing stunts about 15 years ago. I would have to say that I started working more as a stuntman early on in my career. I can’t explain why really, but I guess it was due to my sports and fighting background that made me more employable, for lack of a better term. I was very fortunate. I thoroughly enjoy acting for both film and television. As I get older I realize how lucky I am to be a working actor.

I enjoy the freedom and pacing you get with doing a feature film sometimes. In most cases you can really try and figure out the scenes, try them different ways, etc. I also like the challenge of television to get it “right” in a couple of takes. Unfortunately you don’t always have time to be as creative as one would like but it can still be done. I don’t really have a preference at this stage of my career. I LOVE to work. As my wife says: when I am working regularly, I am a happy person.

The first professional play I did was 6 years ago. It was an original play called “Of Diners and Buses” Let me tell you what a thrill that was. I was excited, nervous, scared out of my wits and completely thrilled to work on stage. Working in front of a live audience was such an incredible experience. Now I try to do a play every couple of years if I get the chance to.“and how did you get into those other areas?” All of my work has come from acting and stunt work either directly or indirectly. I met an actor on set years ago that ran a voice-over studio in Toronto, Canada and he brought me in a couple of days later to re-voice some characters on a series he was producing and that was my introduction to voice work.

“Do you have a preference?”

If I had to choose only one aspect of the film industry it would be acting in film and television. Is that only one??

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

I WAS an athlete; I sure don’t feel as athletic as I did 10 years ago – hahaha. I played football at Southern Illinois University and had brief stints professionally with the Saskatchewan Rough Riders in The Canadian Football League and with Birmingham Fire of the World League of American Football.

Hockey was the other sport. I played for the Hull Olympics in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and after my football career was done I played in the East Coast Hockey League with the Columbus Chill. “3) Which actors and directors would you most like to work with, given a chance?”I would love to work with …that is tough…. Mel Gibson, Anthony Hopkins, Cate Blanchet, Cate Winslet. Denzel Washington, Daniel Craig. That’s a pretty good list if you ask me.

As far as directors go, I would have to say a dream of mine would be to work with Clint Eastwood. Ron Howard would be another one.

“4) What’s been your most and least favorite roles so far?”

I loved playing Don Lawson on the MTV Series “Kaya”, the complex and morally challenged Det. Glen Stuckey on the ION network show “Durham County”, and of course I had such a blast playing Kiryk on Atlantis.

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

One of my all time favorite movies is “Mad Max”. That would be very fun. Again, playing Kiryk was great. Doing that on a regular basis or in a feature format would be everything I could ask for. I just watched the movie “The Wrestler” and I would definitely love to play that kind of role.

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

I had fun wearing my costume as General Backler in “IN THE NAME OF THE KING”. I wore armor and a long wig and this crazy beard. Kiryk’s costume was very cool as well (that post apocalyptic look) and my wardrobe as Don on “KAYA” was fun as well because I got to dress in the hippest high end suits and got to drive nice cars.

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

I really like the play THE SEA HORSE by Edward J. Moore. BETRAYAL by Harold Pinter. TV shows…I am hooked on GREY’S ANATOMY believe it or not. I like 24, THE WIRE was very good too. Movies: Just saw THE WRESTLER (great) BLADE RUNNER, CITY OF GOD and many, many more.

“If you pitted the three Stargate characters you’ve played against each other in a fight, who would win?”

Off the top I would have to say Kiryk, but Odaii Ventrell was very slick and smart and didn’t really have a conscience so I think it would be close fight – but I have to believe Kiryk would win out in the end. Col. Chernovshev wouldn’t really stand a chance. Against those two that is.

Ponytail writes: “Some questions for Mr. Mike Dopud: How did you like working with Jewel, David, and Jason in Tracker?”

I loved working with them, they treated me as if I was a regular on the show. Jewel and I hit it off immediately which made starting on a new show much easier. She’s very nice. I remember on the first day, Jewel and I had already done some scenes together and then David and Jason showed up and I couldn’t believe how funny they were. There were a couple of takes that I thought I would not be able to contain my laughter. They made me feel right at home.

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

I was about to say no but actually I have worked with Paul McGillion before on a movie called SEE GRACE FLY – which Paul was excellent in might I add.

“Did you do all your own stunts in Tracker?”

Yes, I have experience as a stunt performer which makes it easier for producers and directors to let me do my own action.

“What was your favorite scene in Tracker and why?”

My favorite scene in TRACKER is probably the scene in the cave when I bring Dr. Keller to see Celise (the little girl that I am trying to save). I just think that it is a critical scene in the show because the audience gets to see the real reason why Kiryk kidnapped Dr.Keller. I believe this is a moment in which the audience starts to empathize with him and you get to see that this hardnosed, intense tough guy is actually a noble and caring person. Hopefully that’s what came across. The fight scenes with Jason were fun too. I trained and rehearsed for quite a while to make the them work so I was anxious to shoot them as well. I think they came together quite well.

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

I think they are very similar in some ways, both having gone through terrible things such as being on the run from the WRAITH, watching people and family they care for destroyed. I think a difference might be that Kiryk hasn’t found a home yet and is probably at the end of his line so to speak whereas Ronon has been with ATLANTIS for some time and is not on the run from the Wraith anymore.

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

I would love to think Kiryk survived. Because the tracking system was fried, I believe it gave him a renewed hope and a chance to make it through. The fact that the Wraith can no longer track him is a huge bonus for Kiryk.

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

Playing Ventrell in Bounty on SG1 was really fun but I would have to say Kiryk was my favorite because although he was a tough guy, he was more vulnerable as a person. More complex.

“Any upcoming projects you’d like to mention?”

As a matter of fact I have been very fortunate this past year. I am a series regular on a show called DURHAM COUNTY which will air this summer on the ION network. I play Det. Glenn Stuckey. As well, I am back on SMALLVILLE this week Jan.29th and they brought my character back on BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (Specialist Gage) which airs this week and next week Friday at 10pm on SCI FI channel. I just finished shooting a small part on the feature WOLVERINE this week. I play an American Officer. Oh, and I will be Guest Starring on SUPERNATURAL in the month of Feb.

Tamijib writes: “To Mike Dopud: I just wanted to say that I enjoyed your work on SG1 and SGA. I would have to say that I enjoyed you as Kiryk the most. I love characters like him that pretend they are tough but really have a soft side. You really brought that in his character. Thanks. Questions: Out of all the characters on Stargate franchise which one did you like the most/least to play?”

As I said before Kiryk was just the best character for me to portray. I liked all of them. Col. Chernovshev was fun to play as well. He’s so different than the others.

“If asked would you come back to the Stargate franchise on SGA as Kiryk or even SGU as another character? Thanks for the Q&A.”

Of course, I would be absolutely thrilled if they asked me to come back as Kiryk or even as a new character on SGU. I have always been treated well by the Stargate Clan.

Charlie MacKenna writes: “Question for Mr. Mike: So, on a scale of 1-10 (10 being completely awesome) how awesome is it being a stunt man?”

Hahaha good question. I would give it a 10. I love it but I have to be honest. As you get older the falls and the physical abuse your body talks aren’t as fun as they used to be.

Thornyrose writes: “Questions for Mr. Dopud. First, what inspired you to make the shift from stuntman to acting?”

I think it was just something that evolved over time. I always loved doing both stunt work and acting but I guess over the years the challenges that acting brings is something that really drives me. I relish the challenge of bringing a character to life to enhance the story. Hopefully I have been able to do that.

“What is your favorite form of acting, theater, TV, movies? Which genres are you most eager to do, or enjoy most? Sci-fi, comedy, romance?”

In my career I have worked on a number of Sci -Fi projects (SG1, Atlantis, BSG, Rollerball, Riddick,etc..) I love the fantasy worlds. It allows you a lot of freedom when trying to create a character. As well, I love working on dramas. I am most eager to work on a romantic comedy, believe it or not. I don’t get many opportunities to work on them but it would definitely be a change of pace and something I look forward to doing one day.

Airelle writes: “Mr. Dopud, great work on Tracker, enjoyed that episode. Did you get many injuries from the work on SGA?”

Thanks so much. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Fortunately I didn’t get hurt at all on Tracker. Everything in the fight scene was choreographed and rehearsed by Jason, myself and the stunt guys with James Bamford’s supervision.

PoorOldEdgarDerby writes: “Questions for Mr. Dopud:

1. Did you ever tell somebody that you were a stuntman and they asked if it’d be all right to sock you?”

Yes and please don’t ever do that to a stunt man. At least they ask first and some of the time I would say “Sure, but can I hit you back??”. That always gets a laugh.

“2. I’ve perused a couple sites listing your acting credits. Do you mostly enjoy film work or does the stage at all strike your fancy?”

I thoroughly love working on television and film but I really enjoy being on the stage. In my perfect world, I would work on a series, then do a feature film and or a play every year. The only ‘problem’ with working on stage is the time commitment which keeps you away from film and TV work.

Ava writes: “For Mike Dopud: First I would love to say, that I admire you for having the courage to break the barrier between worlds of stuntmen and actors. It’s impressive how convincing you can be in your roles and how different every role is!”

Thanks so much for saying that. I love the challenge a bringing to life these different characters.

“I loved Kiryk and loved to hate Torko.”

I agree. Torko had absolutely no redeeming qualities. It was fun playing a bad guy that was such a jerk.

“Okay… 1. Any possibility we could see you in the new SGU?”

I really don’t know if that is possible but if they (the producers) want me back, I would do it in a heartbeat. The Stargate franchise has always treated me well.

“2. How difficult was the transition from stuntman to actor? Did you encounter some.mm.. resistance?”

I would say that the transition was a hard one. Especially early on. I had resistance from many people. Some casting directors didn’t want to give me a chance but, eventually, I was able to win them over I guess. It did take some time though. Stunt coordinators would also be apprehensive when it came to hiring me because they wanted to know if I was committed to doing stunts or not. I just never understood why people had a hard time with me doing both, but I think as the years have gone on, I have made some inroads and hopefully it will keep on going.

“3. If you could not do THIS job, what would you do?”

Honestly I have never thought of what I would do if I weren’t acting…. Maybe I would be involved in coaching sports or something like that.

“4. Which role you consider to be your biggest ‘breakthrough’ so far?”

My biggest breakthrough so far would have to be landing a lead role on a series called KAYA, which aired on MTV last year and is currently airing in Canada and in Europe I believe. The main reason was that they didn’t want me to audition for it. I happened to audition for it in LA at the last minute, they brought me back for a network test the next day and I got it.Tracker was also very important because as much as I enjoyed playing Kiryk, the feedback has been fantastic.

“5. Do you have any official fanmail address?”

You can send it to my agent: Peter Strain and Associates

5455 Wilshire blvd. Suite #1812

Los Angeles, CA

90036

“6. What qualities do you value the most in people?”

Simply put, honesty and loyalty.

“Well, thank you for your time and wishing you the very best “

I appreciate that Ava.

Shiningwit writes: “I don’t have any questions for Mike Dopud apart from how do you pronounce your surname?”

That’s funny; I have never been asked that question…kidding. I pronounce it DO as in Dough, pud (as in pudding) if that makes any sense. No worries though. My own family and I say it differently. It’s a Serbian name that dropped and added letters when my parents defected from the former Yugoslavia in the early sixties.

KellyK writes: “Hi, Mike. Thanks for taking our questions.

1) What was the most challenging aspect of shooting Tracker?”

I would say it was a great episode to work on for me. I could totally relate to Carl Binder’s writing. Will Waring and I had a great meeting before we started shooting and I told him why and what I thought Kiryk was. He gave me some notes and some freedom in creating the character. The challenge for me was to somehow make Kiryk a character that you can understand or at some level empathize with despite his quiet demeanor and harsh appearance.

“2) How did working on Atlantis compare to working on SG-1?”

I would have to say it was very similar in the fact that both sets were extremely friendly and accommodating.

“3) Since the fate of your character was left open at the end of the episode, what do YOU think happened to Kiryk?”

As I mentioned earlier, since Dr. Keller fried his tracking device, I believe that gave Kiryk a newfound will to survive and that little edge to keep going. I believe his skills as a warrior would beat out the WRAITH, thus I think he survived and is ready to make a comeback in the ATLANTIS movie…..Joe, Brad, Robert…..what do you say???? Ok, ok it was worth a shot. LOL.

November 15, 2008: The Remnants Write-up

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The original idea for this episode came out of a desire to do a Woolsey story. It’s no secret that, in the short time he has become a regular, Woolsey has become a favorite of mine and I wanted to continue the rehabilitation of the character we’d started as far back as SG-1’s 7th season episode Inauguration. To that end, I wanted to humanize him a little more by focusing on his vulnerabilities and the fact that, despite his officious nature and occasional abrasiveness, he is at heart a lonely individual.

I wanted to do an episode not unlike the play Harvey (later a movie starring Jimmy Stewart) which tells the tale of a softspoken, socially awkward individual with an imaginary(?) friend = a tall, upright-walking rabbit. In the Stargate: Atlantis version, a discussion on Woolsey’s apparent loneliness would segue into his encounter with a new addition to the Atlantis expedition, a female scientist who he ends up hitting off with. Over the course of the episode, pressured by the strains of his ongoing probationary review, he finds comfort and, inevitably, romance in Dr. Conrad. At episode’s end, however, the truth is discovered and the individual known as Dr. Conrad must leave him. It is a bittersweet moment and, with her departure, Woolsey returns to his lonely existence.

Needless to say, this original version with a lot more melancholy. And a huge challenge because, as I sat down tried to beat out an outline, I realized that the core of the story lacked any real conflict (Woolsey’s review aside) and, quite frankly, the idea couldn’t really support an entire episode. So I thought about it some more and remembered an idea we had pitched out and shelved seasons ago involving Sheppard on the mainland hallucinating an encounter with Kolya. Finally, I needed certain backstory elements that could be delivered piecemeal over the course of the episode – which was where the McKay-Zelenka story came in.

In the end, the episode wound up focusing on three seemingly dissimilar storylines that eventually turn out to be linked by common themes – the fundamental loneliness of these three characters and their deep-seated vulnerabilities which are exploited by the A.I.

THE TEASE

THE CAFETERIA:

The original version of this scene was a little longer and hinted/paralleled McKay’s own apparent loneliness:

TEYLA: He seems so lonely.

MCKAY: He does?

TEYLA: He never takes part in any of the city’s social activities.

MCKAY: Movie nights, mini-golf and yahtzee. Please.

TEYLA: He’s always eating alone in his office or back in his quarters.

McKay glances down at his own lunch tray and quickly takes a seat.

MCKAY: Maybe he’s got work to do. We’re busy people here.

TEYLA: I can’t remember the last time he took personal leave.

MCKAY: Like I said, we’re busy. And quite frankly, those two and half weeks on the Daedalus aren’t exactly a picnic –

TEYLA: I don’t even think he has anyone back on Earth.

MCKAY: Uh Jeannie.

RONON: We’re talking about Woolsey, right?

MCKAY: Uh, right. Look, he’s probably just a private person.

But I ended up losing the suggestion in the next draft because it was felt that, with the developments on the Keller-McKay front, this no longer applied.

ON THE MAINLAND

Also, in the original draft, Parrish was actually Dr. Lieberman, but Robert bumped on Lieberman’s enthusiastic botanical discovery, pointing out he had done a similar beat in Doppelganger. So I ended up changing Lieberman to Parrish and put added the “Lorne warned me about this.” line to make it a call back.

This episode was directed by Will Waring who has done some spectacular work over the course of the franchise run but particularly this season with enormously challenging episodes like Whispers and Tracker. As some of you may remember from reading Will’s Q&A with us, he has a signature prop that he puts in every episode: a pineapple. In this episode, eagle-eyed viewers may catch sight of a, uh, tropical-looking growth amongst the plants Parrish is enthusing over.

ACT I

SHEPPARD DISCOVERS THE JUMPER HAS BEEN SABOTAGED

In the script, Sheppard comes back to the jumper to find it “trashed”. The only problem is that there isn’t that much to trash in a jumper given its sleek design. Enter the gang at SPFX and their one-of-a-kind magic. Nothing says damage like major spark age!

WOOLSEY MEETS DR. CONRAD

Actress Anna Galvin was recommended by my fellow producer Alan McCullough who had had her come in to audition for another role. I thought she was great in the audition and fantastic in this episode. By the way, some of your more dedicated fans may have noticed that this isn’t Anna’s first appearance on Stargate. Back in SG-1’s ninth season, she played the doomed Dr. Reya Varrick in Collateral Damage.

In tightening up an episode that wound up timing in at a little over 9.30 long, I had to do a fair amount of dialogue editing. In this scene, there is a call-back to the opening scene in which McKay mentions Yahtzee. Since I’d lost the McKay reference, I had no problems losing this one as well:

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WOOLSEY: I’ve been here a little over nine months and I’m still getting lost. Well, I’m sure the gang at orientation will help you settle in. And, if you’re interested, Atlantis does offer a host of nightly social activities. Yahtzee tournaments, movie screenings, organized sports…

DR. CONRAD: You had me at yahtzee.

As we sat down to prep this episode, it was pointed out that we had never been inside a transporter when it actually transported someone. After much discussion, it was decided that the effect inside the chamber would conform to what we’d seen from the outside: a bright flash that quickly subsumes…

A brilliant bit of improvisation here from Bob Picardo who has really done a great job of coming up with some hilarious extras. In the script, Woolsey steps out of the elevator and, as the doors are closing, informs Conrad: “You can call me…Richard.” Too late as the doors have already closed. Bob, of course, changed “Richard” to “Dick” and gave it a truly memorable delivery.

ZELENKA PITCHES MCKAY HIS IDEA

There was a little more to this exchange that ended up being cut for time:

ZELENKA: We head through the gate every day, exploring distant worlds, and yet we’ve barely scratched the surface of the very planet we occupy.

MCKAY: That’s because there’s nothing here.

ZELENKA: We assumed as much on Lantea and then, three years later, ended up discovering a crashed wraith ship lying beneath the ocean’s surface.

MCKAY: The fact that the planet was ground zero of the Ancients’ war against the wraith ten thousand years ago probably had something to do with it.

ZELENKA: True, but we have no way of knowing who or what inhabited this world prior to our arrival. My points is it wouldn’t hurt be thorough.

MCKAY: My point is your point is pointless. And a giant waste of time.

SHEN INFORMS WOOLSEY HE’S BEING SENT HOME

Early in the season, we were contacted by the network and told that, as part of NBC Universal’s Green Week, they’d be asking all of their shows to produce a “green-themed episode” for the #16 slot. Since I was writing Remnants, that slot fell to me. Those who know me were barely able to contain their mirth at the thought of me, of all people, writing the green-themed episode. But I gave it some thought and pitched out the idea that the Sekkari (the alien race in this episode) had poisoned their own planet and this is what led to the inevitable destruction of their race. It was a backstory element that would serve the story but serve a power, POWERFUL LESSON on the capricious yet ultimately devastating effects of those who continue to use electricity or don’t recycle their own feces (shame on you). As it turned out, however, Marty G.’s story, Brain Storm, which we were spinning at the time I was working on Remnants already had an environmental angle – so we switched off and he took the #16 slot. Out of respect for my lost after school special message, I included a reference to it in Shen’s dialogue:

SHEN: In reognition of the great job you’ve done here, the I.O.A. is appointing you to chair their new environmental initiative. (beat)Congratulations, Richard. You’re coming home.

Egads! Not only is he being relieved of his command but, to add insult to injury, he’s been given the chair of the I.O.A.’s new environmental initiative!

SHEPPARD ENCOUTERS KOLYA

This episode is full of great act-outs. And the return of Kolya is definitely one.

ACT II

THE DEVICE IS WHEELED INTO THE LAB

Hmmm. So, since Zelenka is really only a manifestation of McKay’s mind, he shouldn’t be noticed by anyone else except Rodney. I have to laugh every time I watch this scene because the tech wheeling in the device goes to great lengths to make this point VERY clear.

CONRAD PAYS WOOLSEY A VISIT

Ah, humor is so subjective and if there’s one thing we’ll disagree on in the room more than any other thing, it’s the gags. In this case, it’s the movie gag.

DR. CONRAD: Well – this may be wholly inappropriate but I was wondering whether you’d like to catch a movie?

WOOLSEY: A movie?

DR. CONRAD: They’re screening two of my favorites tonight: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

WOOLSEY: Well…the truth is, I’m having a horrible day and I’m not in much of a laughing mood.

DR. CONRAD: In that case, we can wait until tomorrow when they’ll be screening Mad Money and Kangaroo Jack.

Paul hated the gag. Marty G., on the other hand, loved it. Faced with two very different opinions, I deferred to Marty G. only because, as a former stand-up, he had professional training in the field of comedy and was thus capable of making a much more informed opinion. Also, I thought it was funny too.

KOLYA TORTURES SHEPPARD

The first draft of the script was so detailed in its description of the beating Sheppard takes at Kolya’s hands that a number of the writers felt I’d gone too far. In response to the note, I simply took out the more elaborate description, banking on director Will (God bless him!) to really put Sheppard through the ringer. Then, when actor Robert Davi dropped by my office to offer me his script notes, most of his suggestions were requests to add punches. I was more than happy to give him the green light. “Go to town!”

Another request from Robert David was that he call Sheppard “Johnny Boy”. At first, I hesitated because it seemed so out of character for Kolya and really an Earth colloquialism but, as Robert pointed out, it’s all a manifestation originating from Sheppard’s mind. True enough. By the way, I again must mention what a great job Robert Davi did in this episode. It was great having him back.

Also, Sheppard’s response in this exchange –

KOLYA: You can tolerate more than any man I’ve ever known. Now why is that?

SHEPPARD: I was married once.

– compliments of Carl Binder.

Finally, because this episode was nine and half minutes over, I had to trim a significant amount of dialogue. Like this line delivered by Kolya as he is working over Sheppard:

KOLYA: #Dr. Weir was just one in a long line wasn’t she, Sheppard? Just another one that…slipped through your fingers.

ZELENKA PAYS MCKAY A VISIT TO SEE HOW THINGS ARE COMING ALONG

In the first draft of this scene, Zelenka brings McKay a cup of tea, explaining that he had a professor at the Czech Academy of Sciences who always drank black tea because he maintained it helped promote lateral thinking. I thought it was a nice touch. Don’t remember why we lost it.

SHEPPARD GIVES KOLYA A HAND

Ah, my favorite act-out ever. A number of the writers thought that this episode was too brutal and that cutting off Sheppard’s hand was going too far. I fiercely disagreed and Carl was the most vocal in support of losing the hand. So this element stayed. By the way, love the sound effect of the machete cleaving flesh and bone.

ACT III

The challenge of editing down an episode that has run long is in finding bits and pieces to lose from the various scenes that won’t compromise the integrity of the episode. In a best (and easiest) case scenario, you’d be able to excise an entire scene. But if you were able to do that, that would mean the scene didn’t really belong there in the first place. Which was the case with this scene that originally started the third act:

WOOLSEY UNDER REVIEW

INT. WOOLSEY’S OFFICE — DAY

Woolsey is seated across from Shen, all business. Shen flips through her notebook.

SHEN: You really want to go through the motions on this?

WOOLSEY: Every last one.

SHEN: Fine.

She glances down at her notebook, then fixes Woolsey with a look.

SHEN: In your very first crisis situation, you demonstrated a shocking disregard for procedure by refusing to deal directly and decisively with a threat to this city.

WOOLSEY: You mean I refused to kill Dr. Keller when she was infected by an alien contagion. True. Instead, I adopted an alternate course of action that ultimately allowed me to eliminate the threat and save the life of my Chief Medical Officer. I believe the I.O.A. cleared me of any misconduct.

SHEN: Yes, but what concerns us is that the incident was the beginning in a pattern of behavior; not an aberration, but the first in a series of suspect decisions.

She glances down at her notebook.

SHEN: Ronon Dex was permitted free reign of the city only days after swearing allegiance to the wraith.

WOOLSEY: There were extenuating circumstances. They were detailed in my report if you’d bothered to read it –

SHEN: You allowed the replicators to establish a corporeal presence here on Atlantis –

WOOLSEY: And, in so doing, dealt with them directly and decisively.

SHEN: The fact that it all worked out for you in the end is beside the point. You of all people should know that. You certainly used to.

WOOLSEY: That was before I took this job. But it didn’t take me long to realize that the solutions to the problems this city faces on a daily basis aren’t to be found in some official manual of conduct. They’re to be found in the people who risk their lives to be here.

SHEN: A noble yet wholly impractical sentiment that will, sooner or later, come back to bite you in the ass.

WOOLSEY: Well, until then, Xiao, I urge you to back off.

Off Shen –

DR. CONRAD POACHES WOOLSEY’S PRIVATE SPOT

Another Bob Picardo extra – not so much an alternate line reading as an inspired delivery: “This is where I COME…to be alone with my thoughts!”

There was also a little more to this scene that played to an element Carl suggested at the outline stage – that Woolsey’s ideal woman is based on someone he once knew, “the one that got away”:

Woolsey considers, then –

WOOLSEY: You know, when I first laid eyes on you in the transporter this morning, you reminded me of someone.

DR. CONRAD: Who?

WOOLSEY: Emma Reese, a fellow law student back in the day. She was smart, sincere, beautiful…

DR. CONRAD: And, let me guess – she broke your heart?

WOOLSEY: Never got the chance to.

WOOLSEY: There wasn’t a day that went by during my senior year that I didn’t think about asking her out. But of course I never did. We went our separate ways and, well, I still wonder what could have been.

Beat. #

WOOLSEY: Vanessa, would you care to join me for dinner tonight?

MCKAY INFORMS WOOLSEY OF HIS DISCOVERY

Although no one asked, one thing I wanted to make clear is that the information McKay is looking at is not the retrievable data (otherwise there would really be no dilemma if that was the case). Rather, it’s a table of contents of sorts that offers an overview of the data contained within the device.

BANKS INFORMS WOOLSEY THAT THERE IS NO DR. CONRAD ON THE BASE

Whenever we would watch this scene in the writers’ room, and Banks would reveal: “There is no Dr. Conrad on Atlantis.” and then go CLOSE ON a stunned Woolsey, I would allows pipe up with my own Banks ad-lib: “No, wait a minute. She spells her name with a K. Here she is.”

ACT IV

MCKAY CONFIDES IN ZELENKA ABOUT THE DEVICE

 

In the original draft, McKay was a little more earnest and up front about his feelings on retrieving the data. He confided in Zelenka more who drew it out of him:

MCKAY: Just waiting for Woolsey to give the green light so I can start the data retrieval on this thing.

ZELENKA: You think he will?

MCKAY: Of course. This is huge. The chronicled achievements of an alien civilization. Are you kidding me?

ZELENKA: And yet you seem…bothered.

MCKAY: I’m not feeling one hundred percent. I think it was the cherry cobbler I had for lunch.

ZELENKA: I think we both know it isn’t the cherry cobbler.

Rodney and Zelenka exchange meaningful looks.

ZELENKA: If this doesn’t feel right to you, you should say something.

MCKAY: What’s the point? It’s not like I’m making the call. And besides, I should be ecstatic. This is one of the biggest discoveries we’ve made in the Pegasus Galaxy. I’ll be heading the research into a treasure trove of technological marvels.(beat) Why aren’t I ecstatic?

ZELENKA: Because, Rodney, you may be egotistical, arrogant, and incredibly stubborn – but you’re also a good man.(beat) Go. Talk to Mr. Woolsey.

OFF a torn McKay –

THE CLIFF SCENE

Quite a drop, huh? No, not really. The cliff face was, in reality, all of twelve feet high. Extra special thanks to Mark and Krista and the rest of the gang at VFX for the magical transformation.

ACT V

SHEN RECEIVES A MESSAGE FROM THE I.O.A.

Not only is she not receiving the promised Atlantis position, but she’s instead going to be chairing the new environmental initiative. Is there nothing lower?

SAYING GOODBYE TO THE SEKKARI

So it’s clear that John is a tortured soul, that this fact is reinforced not only through his hallucination in this episode but his selfless, often dangerous, drive to protect his fellow members of the Atlantis expedition. We’ve seen glimpses of it in past episodes like Phantoms in which we learn he disobeyed orders to go back and save a friend left behind – only to lose the friend and some other personnel as a result of his decision. But was this incident the impetus for John’s disposition or was it just another symptom stemming from a much bigger problem. For the sake of canon, it remains to be seen but, in my mind, there was another incident that preceded the aforementioned event, a dark and personal loss that changed John Sheppard. And it was hinted at in the first draft of this script when the A.I./Conrad says:

CONRAD: #As for you, John. Stop blaming yourself for what happened to your mother. It’s time to move on.

Alas, it was argued that the line was too pat and the general feeling was that it was a road we shouldn’t go down. So I changed the line but filed the piece of the puzzle away…hopefully for future use.

THE TEAM HAVING LUNCH

I occasionally use a framing sequence in my scripts, parallel scenes that open and end the episode, giving it a nice, self-contained feel. I also thought it was important to conclude with our team together, inviting Woolsey to join them and complete the picture. I think it’s important to suggest that these individuals are friends as well as co-workers, that they enjoy each other’s company and hang around when they’re not off-world. It’s something I loved doing in SG-1 and included here in my final episode of Stargate: Atlantis.

Octobe 13, 2008: Ratings and Travel Plans

Fondy makes (unstolen) turkey
On the menu tonight: Fondy makes (unstolen) turkey

Well, aint this a kick in the head. Just got the early numbers for last Friday’s episode, The Lost Tribe. We did a 1.5, our best rating in recent memory. I think that says a lot about the quality of the show as well as its legion of loyal fans. I mean, if you think about it, it’s a pretty incredible achievement. A series typically sheds viewers the longer it stays on the air but here we are, completing work on our fifth (and final) season, and we’re pulling in better numbers than ever. So a big thanks and congratulations to everyone who worked so hard to make this season the most successful season of Stargate: Atlantis in years. May pride and a wonderful sense of accomplishment be the reward you bring with you to your next job.

I’m pleased to report I’m finally making headway on my super, secret project. After an excruciating week and a half of writing, rewriting, and re-rewriting, I completed a first pass of the opening, a whopping two pages! Geez. At this rate, I may just make the June 2009 deadline.

Today, I delivered my big horror movie pitch to the gang at the agency. They seem genuinely enthusiastic about the idea (which is always a good time) and strongly suggested we head down for three days of meetings. We’ll probably make the trip between now and November 10th when we’re scheduled to be back in the office, spinning ideas for SGU’s inaugural season. Brad forwarded me the first six story springboards and I have to say that the show is looking very exciting. It’ll be firmly entrenched in the established Stargate mythology but very unique in its premise and story-telling.

Looks like I’ll be Vegas-bound the weekend of November 15th. I’ll be meeting up with an old friend, my buddy Nige who is always up for a good time. Back when I knew him in Montreal, he’d go to work, have dinner, relax, head out for a night of clubbing, follow up with some early morning after-parties, then repeat the process the next day. I don’t think he’s ever slept in the 10+ years I’ve known him. Supa, as he’s affectionate known by his friends, was a member of The Hong Kong Movie Crew, a group of guys (mostly of Jamaican descent) who’d gather every Wednesday night to watch the likes of Chow Yun Fat, Jackie Chan, and Jet Li punch, kick, and shoot their way out of trouble. Since making the move to Vancouver, I’ve lost touch with Supa, Big Daddy, Flipski, Taj, SushiMan, Champion, and Clive. I look forward to catching up.

Then, of course, at the end of November I’m Tokyo -bound for some much-needed R&R.

Finally, late December, I’ll be celebrating Christmas in Montreal.

And, oh yeah, there’s also that SGA script that needs to be written…

Mailbag:

Haina writes: “I look forward to your posts from the Far East. Got a time frame or itinerary in mind yet?”

Answer: I’m planning to head over to Tokyo for 8-10 days at the end of November. I’ll probably stay in Ginza, The Imperial Hotel or The Hotel Seiyo, and pretty much wing it. I’ll sign up for a few tours but mostly head out on my own. There are a number of places I visited on my trip that I definitely want to head back to including: Tsukiji, Tableaux, the Jiyugaoka Sweets Forest, and Odaiba.

Laura writes: “Will this trip see the return of “weird food purchase of the day”?”

Answer: No doubt.

Laura also writes: “All the Keller haters are really starting to get on my nerves (along with the other negavtive people). Why can’t people just enjoy the show?”

Answer: Well, fans are perfectly within their rights to voice their criticisms about the show. Again, I don’t have a problem with negative comments so long as they’re polite.

Tim Gaffney writes: “A great point brought up by Narelle in yesterday’s post…a big deal was made in season 1 that the only way Atlantis could dial Earth was with a certain control crystal. Now that the gate and half the control room has gone boom, did the crystal survive or in the recent years did they find an extra crystal?”

Answer: The crystal certainly survived. It’s certainly sturdier than it looks.

Christin writes: “Speaking of food…what did that stolen chicken taste like?”

Answer: Like the tears of the children who didn’t eat last night because Fondy took their dinner. In other words: delicious!

Arctic Goddess writes: “How many words per minute do you think you type and are you the hunt and peck type or do you actually have a key for each finger?”

Answer: I took a typing course way back in high school and have had occasion to get in plenty of practice since. Last time I checked, I believe I was timing in at approximlatey 65-70 words/minute.

DasNdanger writes: “Ronon seemed to show more maturity and growth in S4, but since Broken Ties, he’s seems to have reverted back into caveman mode. Banging on the control panel in Daedalus Variations, blindly shooting up crystals without consideration to what it might mean for the rest of the crew…”

Answer: In my mind, Ronon has certainly come a long way since coming to Atlantis but he’s still prone to fall back on old ways, especially in the heat of battle. Even though he has grown over the years, he’s not the type to fall into line and maintains a fierce individuality that may cause him to act rashly at times. In the case of his shooting up the crystals in TLT, for instance, he was solving the problem the best way he knew how: quickly and decisively. Yes, he could have taken his time and removed a crystal here or there in the hopes that it would prove as effective, but there would have been no guarantee that this alternate approach would have worked.

Wolfenm writes: “And as far as the Keller screentime goes, the complaint was specifically in regards to her time versus Teyla’s screentime, particlarly *recently*….”

Answer: Well, if you really want to get into an episode breakdown…

Wolfenm writes: “Search and Rescue: despite the ep focus being her disappearance, Teyla had only a little more time than Keller.”

Answer: I’m at a bit of a loss. Some critics (not you) will point to the amount of time the actors appear onscreen while others will say that the amount of time isn’t as important as the importance of the character in that given episode. While you may be inclined to call S&R a draw, I couldn’t disagree more. Keller’s contribution was minimal while Teyla’s scenes were crucial to the episode – from her scenes with Michael and Kanaan, through her reunion with the team, to the delivery of her baby and return to Atlantis.

Wolfenm writes: “The Seed: Keller’s the focal point, Teyla inexplicably disappears completely from the story about fifteen minutes from the end.”

Answer: Keller’s the focal point? Had Teyla been the victim here, fans would have surely complained because she did nothing but lie there through the entire episode. In spite of the fact that she is source point of the contagion, this one had little to do with the Keller character.
Wolfenm writes: Broken Ties: Yes, Teyla had some good participation, even if ot wasn’t her ep — but she wasn’t the focus.”

Answer: Agreed.

Wolfenm writes: “Daedalus Variations: This one was good, Teyla-wise, too, but again, not Teyla-centric. (Not saying they all *should* be, just making a point)”

Answer: Agreed.

Wolfenm writes: “Ghost in the Machine: just that one scene with Elizabeth, really, otherwise she’s there but not really *doing* much”

Answer: This one I’d consider a team episode in that they are all touched by Elizabeth’s return. In terms of “doing much”, the same argument could apply to the rest of the team as well. It’s the replicators who build themselves their own bodies and are the architects of their own demise.
Wolfenm writes: “Teyla was mostly in the background while Keller had a lot to do. (Understandable, yes — although if it were Carson, would he have been as prominent, I wonder?)”

Answer: Given the medical nature of the episode, it stood to reason that Keller would play an active role in the proceedings.

Wolfenm writes: “Whispers: None of either”

Answer: Right.

Wolfenm writes: “Queen: Obviously this one was Teyla-centric. but Keller did have multiple scenes in which she *did* stuff, rather than just being around.”

Answer: This one was practically all Teyla. Keller’s contributions were significant in that they set up the scenario (her surgical skills and the fact that she has been working on a means of “curing” the wraith of their need to feed. This was a significant storyline that we wanted to pursue this season and it so happened that the Keller character was in the logical position to contribute to this particular arc.
Wolfenm writes: “Tracker: No Teyla, Keller-*centric*”

Answer: Sure.

Wolfenm writes: “First Contact: Keller has the scene with Ronon, the scene with Todd (well, two, technically), the scene with Woolsey, and another bit with Ronon: Teyla runs around with Sheppard, but doesn’t have a lot to do that isn’t done by others as well, like she’s just a tagalong and it could have been anyone. Lost Tribe: Keller and Ronon have the backup story – she has the scene where she basically instigates Ronon to take another couole of shots in retaliation to her comments (if Ronon’s going to do something that proves detrimental, I’d have rather it had been without an outside influence) and confronts Todd, then confronts Ronon later. Teyla, after helping to find Sheppard, had to stay behind while Sheppard got to go on the mission. (Granted, I understand why she had to, it’s just unfortunate that she got left behind again).”

Answer: Some episodes service the characters (Broken Ties, The Shrine, Brain Storm) while others service the story (Whispers, First Contact, The Lost Tribe). Last year, Teyla was front and center in the bigger arc that concluded the season. This year, the focus of the mid-season two-parter is on arc elements (the wraith treatment, the attero device, the love triangle) in which she plays a lesser role. Next week’s episode sees a return to a more team-centered storyline and then, two episode’s later, Teyla gets to step up.

Kfsone writes: “I noticed “Inversions” on your reading list; is this your first Banks’ book?”

Answer: Nope. Do a search for “Iain M. Banks” on this blog and you’ll find my thoughts on some of his other works.

Jessica writes: “On a different topic, will there be more bloopers as part of the season five boxset?”

Answer: Deleted scenes, yes. Bloopers, no.

KayD writes: “Come on Joe, you just acknowledged that you felt it was perfectly appropriate to integrate SG-1 elements into SGA, and then you turn around and mock my comments by suggesting the only similarities are spaceships and stargates?”

Answer: My point is the shows share a common backstory, mythology, and world (in the figurative sense).

Joesmom writes: “Its no wonder ratings are down!”

Answer: Actually, quite the opposite.

Dignan50yp writes: “I know Keller isn’t in every scene Joe but darn it, that’s the way it appears lately.”

Answer: Well, of course. That’s because she happened to play a significant role in the past three episodes (Tracker, First Contact, and The Lost Tribe).

MellowYellow writes: “Are you saying he will? Will we see it or know it? Or are you just messing with me!!! Don’t tease me like this.”
Answer: I never tease.

Shawna writes: “I don’t remember if you’ve already mentioned it, but could you tell me if we’ll get any more Michael? I’m just curious if I can look forward to seeing him at all, now that it’s canceled.”

Answer: Oh, chances are he’ll turn up sometime between now and the end of the season.

Camy writes: “I understand that Keller had to let him down. I get that. But why must it have been so cold and ruthless.”

Anwer: If you had been in Keller’s position, how would you have approached him?

 

 

 

October 4, 2008: September’s Top Reads, Following Through on Your Recommendations, and The Return of the Mailbag

My September Picks
My September Picks
And some of your recommendations
And some of your recommendations

With the month of September behind us, it’s time for me to look back over my recent reads and pick my favorite titles of the past month. It was a pretty good crop but, of the bunch I did read (and not including the book of the month club selections) the, following were my favorites:

Fast Forward 2, edited by Lou Anders

Long-time visitors to this blog are no doubt familiar with editor Lou Anders through his (all-too) infrequent visits here, and his previous SF collection, Fast Forward: Future Fiction From the Cutting Edge, which was a past book of the month club selection. Well, in Fast Forward 2, Lou has assembled a nice group of stories form the likes of Jack McDevitt, Nancy Kress, and Dr. Who’s Paul Cornell. As is the case with most anthologies, I didn’t like everything. But most of what I did like, I liked a lot. Stand-outs for me included Paolo Bacigalupi’s powerfully dead-on commentary on the challenges of maintaining journalistic integrity in a market increasingly driven by hits and eyeballs (“The Gambler”), Ian McDonald’s delightful tale of a young man in future India who relies on an Hindu A.I. to give him game (“An Eligible Boy“), Mike Resnick and Pat Cadigan’s trippy account of a world in which the borders between dream and reality blur (“Not Quite Alone in the Dream Quarter“), and Jack McDevitt’s amusing and ultimately heartfelt tale of a reluctant A.I. named George.  Special mention should also be made of the book’s cover compliments of our pal John Picacio.

The Shadow Year, by Jeffrey Ford

Jeffrey Ford is another familiar name to blog regulars, particularly those of you who read his superlative collection The Empire of Ice Cream back when it was a fantasy book of the month club selection. Since then, I’ve read a number of his other works and I can honestly say I’ve yet to be disappointed. The Shadow Year follows a young boy, growing up in 1960’s Long Island, through a particularly memorable summer marked by adolescent intrigue, hilarious familial interactions, and the mysterious disappearance of a fellow classmate. Ford is particularly effective in in his ability to spin a tale that perfectly captures the reminiscences of childhood – the sights, smells, and sounds of a bygone time when even the most innocent-looking details seemed to belie dark tidings: a missing neighbor, the new school janitor, Mr. Softee the neighborhood ice cream man. This novel was based on an earlier novella by the same name and, I have to admit that, at the end of the day, as much as I enjoyed this more substantive version, I preferred the original and its ability to walk that fine line between juvenile imaginings and the supernatural without committing to either. A great book nevertheless.

Inversions, by Iain. M. Banks

Hey, speaking of authors who have yet to disappointment, I’m sure most of you are familiar with Iain M. Banks. He is, without a doubt, one of the most imaginative and engaging SF writers out there and his Culture novels rank as some of the very best of the genre. His Consider Phlebas and The Player of Games make my SciFi Top 10. Make it a Top 25 and you can include Use of Weapons as well. Despite appearances, Inversions is another Culture novel that alternates between two seemingly unrelated stories. The first focuses on Vosil, a female physician from a distant land, whose appointment as personal physician to the king of Haspide, is met with suspicion and derision from the rest of the royal court. The story is told from the point of view of Oelph, Vosill’s assistant, who is under secret orders to spy on his mistress. As the novel progresses, despite his increasing suspicions, Oelph falls in love with the good doctor who may well be much more than she appears. The second story focuses on DeWar, bodyguard to General UrLeyn, the Prime Protector of the Tassasen Protectorate, and his endeavor to safeguard the life of an increasingly unpopular ruler. Is there a connection between the two stories? You bet, but you’ll have to pay close attention in order to piece together the clues. What at first seems a departure for Banks turns into a delightfully subtle addition to the Culture canon.

Rendezvous with Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke

There’s not finer example of the Golden Age of SF than this novel by the great Arthur C. Clarke. No raging space battles, predatory aliens, or genetically engineered space marines. This is a story of science and discovery. When a thirty mile long space ship enters our solar system, Earth dispatches a team of explorers to investigate. They gain entrance to the enormous cylindrical vessel and, over the course of their scientific survey, encounter surprises from both within and without their object of study. A masterpiece of Hard SF.

Hey, look at what I picked up the other days. More books! And not just more books. More books that you guys have recommended. I’ve taken your names down and, in the coming months, I’ll either be thanking you or requesting you reimburse me for the cost of my various purchases.

Hey, whatever happened to the mailbag?

Ykickamoocow writes: “Your idea for the season 6 episode “Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow” sounds brilliant to me. Is there any chance of that idea being turned into a Atlantis movie?”

Answer: Highly unlikely. Truth be told, the story was originally pitched as an SG-1 episode. If you’re interested (and nice) I might even post the original color-coded outline for you.

Narelle from Aus writes: “It was strange seeing Christopher Heyerdahl in his original non-Wraithy role. How tall is he?!! “

Answer: Very.

Narelle from Aus also writes: “He has such a great screen presence, especially when he is Todd. And where do they get all of their leather for those coats? Space cows?”

Answer: Let’s just say that no part of the human is wasted.

Jenny R. writes: “I’ve been wondering this for awhile now… do you have a stage 1?”

Answer: We used to, but gave it up once we scaled back to only one production.

Jean writes: “Out of curiosity, I’ve checked out the previews AFTER I’ve watched the episodes, and I have to say that in general the ones from MGM are not terrible, but the ones from SciFi are either downright misleading (Tracker – “One will live, one will die”??!!?)…”

Answer: Yeah, Carl came into my office and showed me the SciFi promo for Tracker. “One will live, one will die!”. Carl threw me a puzzled look: “Who dies?” “Maybe they’re referring to the wraith,”I suggested. Probably, that’s it.

Paul William Tenny writes: “In Beachhead, objects forming the Ori supergate come out of a normal sized stargate making them roughly the size of Puddle Jumpers. A few shots later you see they are perhaps 1.5 times as long as Vala’s cargo ship and definitely wider meaning they’d have never fit through the gate unless those elements were actually made up of even smaller parts, but that was never shown and isn’t consistent visually with what came later.”

Answer: Great question. File it away for now because Brad Wright (coincidentally the writer/producer of Beachhead) has promised to do a guest Q&A on this blog in the very near future…

Jenny Robin writes: “I just posted Part I of my Texas State Fair Food Foray to my blog. Anyone who wishes to view fried fair food in all its glory, feel free to forage there.”

Answer: I share your disappointment in the chicken fried bacon.

Pl writes: “How is the Physics of Superheroes so far? I’ve considered buying it before, but it costs money.”

Answer: Informative and entertaining. And the author is an admitted comic book fan which makes the book all that more enjoyable. Recommended!

Delynn writes: “So are you writing pilots for new shows you are pitching now that SGA’s run is done???”

Answer: I’m banking pilots so that when the time comes, I can go out and pitch some new shows. As things stands, however, we’re in the midst of SGU discussions, so it’s too early to tell how things will play out next year.

Shirt ‘n Tie writes: “I’m curious, I remember this time last year you said that you had a few ideas for pilots if there hadn’t been a SGA Season 5 pick-up, I am assuming they are the 4 pilots you have written…Are they Sci Fi based or drama or what?”

Answer: One scifi, one horror, one drama, and one blue comedy.

AussieSGFan writes: “And another question (though I’n not sure if you’re the right person to ask), about the Wraith. They have a sould right? So if they weren’t so aggressive by nature and all, would it be possible for them to ascend too?”

Answer: Like dogs and other adorable family pets, wraith do have souls. Whether they can ascend is debatable however.

Terry writes: “How did you get the four dogs to sit for that picture?”

Answer: I didn’t. They naturally congregate in the sunny spots.

September 23, 2008: Carl Binder Up Close and Personal, Further Discussion on The Black Company, the Mailbag, and a Behind the Scenes Snippet

The Many Faces of Carl Binder...
The Many Faces of Carl Binder...

After speaking with Paul on Sunday, it was decided that we would head back into the office Tuesday morning so that we could, at the very least, start spinning the SGA movie. I rolled in at around 10:00 a.m. to find Carl, Martin, and Alan conferencing in Martin’s office. We got up to speed on one another’s lives (amazingly, no major developments since Saturday’s wrap party), then moved on to our individual business. Carl got to work on his beat sheet, Alan made some calls, Martin cleaned up his office, while I responded to some emails, approved some promo pics/footage, and cleared up my desk. Rob was already at post, working on an unfinished director’s cut of Vegas. Brad arrived soon after and retired to his office to deal with SGU matters. Paul – well, my writing partner never showed. When we called him up to find out whether he was, in fact, coming in, he seemed genuinely surprised. “Did we say we were going in today?”he asked.

“Yes.” I reminded him: “You were the one who suggested it.”

“Really?“he asked as though I‘d just informed him I‘d seen a flying mongoose perch itself atop the hood of my car. Yes. Really. After some discussion, it was decided that we would reconvene on Thursday to spin AND watch a Day 1 mix of The Prodigal.

Well, while all may be quiet on the office front, things are decided busy on the blog front. In addition to some behind the scenes pics and vids I’ve been saving, we have upcoming visits from various guest authors, SGA personnel, Baron Destructo, and Cookie Monster. There’s also that “list of episodes that never made it to your living room” I’ve been meaning to get around to. Which reminds me – if you have any questions for actor Tyler McClendon, the newest wraith on the block, or any more questions for author Glen Cook (The Black Company) start posting. And, finally, check out the bottom of this entry for some further discussion on The Black Company, the mailbag, and a behind-the-scenes video snippet from the last day of shooting.

And now, it gives me great pleasure to turn this blog over to one of my top 5 favorite Stargate Atlantis writer-producers: Carl “the truth” Binder. As many of you online stalkers already know, Carl’s professional background is both interesting and varied. Well, varied anyway. He got his start in the biz as an NBC page (imagine a geekier version of Kenneth from 30 Rock) where he made the acquaintance of such show business luminaries as James Stewart, Cybil Sheppard, and Markie Post. He also once shared a limo with Gallagher. He served as a Production Assistant on Punky Brewster, a show for which he received his first writing credit on an episode titled “Loved Thy Neighbor” (formerly titled “Neighborhood Witch”). From then on, there was no holding him back. He wrote for Adderly, Friday the 13th, War of the Worlds, The Black Stallion, Neon Rider, and then wrote the screenplay for a little movie called Pocahontas. You may have seen it? (I didn’t, but I have a problem with singing raccoons). After being touched by that Disney magic (I can assure you, not inappropriately), he blazed a trail for former production assistants everywhere by assuming the reins of Executive Producer on Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, followed by Little Men, Mysterious Ways and, finally, Stargate Atlantis. Carl continues to frequent The Bridge Studios where he can still be found to this day – writing, producing, reading scripts penned by friends and family members, and eating take-out Italian. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, the distinguished Carl Binder…

q-ball-er writes: “What was the most difficult scene to shoot during the filming of Tracker? And will you be working on Universe?”

1) That’s more a question for Will Waring (the director), seeing as during the filming of Tracker I was holed up in my comfortable office writing episode 14, The Prodigal. 2) Yes, I hope to be a part of Stargate Universe.

Linda Gagne writes: “The device you had gerrick use for dissappearing was similar to the sodan warrior’s device, was that intentional?”

No, Linda, any similarity wasn’t intentional. The Sodan device was for cloaking. Kiryk’s device was for teleportation.

Patricia Lee writes: “What was your favorite scene in Tracker and why?

I’m partial to the swinging log gag. I just love it when McKay starts to get back up and Ronon shoves him back down. Also the final scene of the episode. David and Jason were perfect in that scene. Oh yeah, and the doll scene between Keller and Celise (“He’s not mean. Just pretends to be.”).

It looked like it was very cooled in the forest on the day you shot the scene when Rodney was first confronted by the wraith… were you on location when they filmed this part and was it really cool or did they CG the breath effect? Was there anything interesting that happened when you were on location?

Yes, it was very cold on location that day. The breath was not CG. It was real. It was also raining the day we shot the scenes at the Stargate. But no, I was not on location that day. I was back at the office (wimp!).

This is my favorite Keller episode to date! She deserves an Emmy nod for this one too!

Mine too.

Sulien writes: “I don’t watch episodes with the active intent of reading subtext into a given story, but I can’t help but notice that the subtext between McKay and Sheppard most definitely exists, especially when the subtext just reaches out and grabs me. I noticed that John seemed to be quite put out that Rodney was using his day off to go off world with Keller in the first scene of “Trackers” and there have been numerous other instances where the subtext was pretty obvious. Do you, or any of the other writers that you know of, intentionally write the scenes to include subtext?

While it is true we very often try to put subtext into scenes, this particular scene is not one of them. I was going more for Sheppard finding it odd that Rodney was volunteering to work on his day off rather than him being put out by it.

Squeakiep writes: “I so enjoy your episodes. I find them quite character driven and I gain so much insite into the lives of the people I have come to love on Firday night. When you sit down to write an episode, how do you decide how much of the character to reveal? Or does that just happen as the script falls into place? Do you specifically “grab” the character episodes, or do they just happen to fall into your lap by rotation?”

Thanks for the kind words, Squeakiep. Quite often these types of episodes fall into my lap by rotation. But I also tend to gravitate toward them as well. When the guys first told me about this story (from a pitch by writer David Schmidt), I jumped at the opportunity to write it for two reasons: 1) After last year’s Missing, I really wanted to do a follow-up Keller-facing-adversity story, to show how she’s changed and grown during the last year; and 2) Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to put McKay and Ronon together tracking in the woods?

flygirl writes: “Keller states that the tracking implant in Kiryk is more complex than Ronan’s. Would this mean that Kiryk was made a “runner” later than Ronan, using better technology?

The use of the defibulator to create an eletrical malfunction in Kiryk’s tracking device was very innovative. Did you research this to determine if it could really happen?”

1) Yes, that was our intention. 2) My friend, an I.C.U. nurse, assured me that a defibrillator dialed to 360 joules would definitely disable most implanted electrical devices, including a Wraith tracking device.

MyNameIsNada writes: “1) It feels like when John walks into Rodney’s room (great shot with the mirror, by the way) that there is a missing scene-as if John had the same interaction with Ronan earlier. I kind of feel that John would be more curious that both are volunteering to go with Keller as opposed to Rodney going on his day off. Am I right about this one? 2) Read in an interview that Jason feels that Keller is wrong for Ronan, but I’m more curious to see how Ronan would grow within a relationship than Rodney. If Keller chooses Ronan, how do you see his character changing? 3) How come we haven’t seen any of the sparring sessions? 4) Was it wrong of me to feel that Ronan and Rodney jump to the conclusion (albeit correct) that Keller is missing too quickly? Finally, and this question has nothing to do with Tracker, rather with a comment that Joe made at comic con (just watched the video on the website). Ok, maybe this itself is more like a comment. Anyway, the question was thrown at Joe as to how he’s seen his character grow over the course of the series. He commented that that has been one of the larger arcs, but I have to disagree. I feel as if there is one character that resembles themselves the most from the first season it would be John. However, I see this as a good thing. I feel that his character provides a foil for the others-he enables them to change and grow through their interactions with him.”

1) There was no missing scene. In my mind, Sheppard wasn’t aware that Ronon was also going off-world with Keller. Sheppard merely finds it odd that McKay has volunteered to work on his day off, nothing more. 2) I’m curious to see it, too. 3) We wanted the surprise of seeing Keller actually fight. Seeing the sparring sessions beforehand would have diminished (in my opinion, anyway) that surprise. 4) In my mind, as soon as McKay radios Keller and gets no response, they would realize something is wrong. 5) I agree with you, MyNameIsNada.

Michelle writes: “Is Ronon really interested in Keller, or is he pulling Rodney’s chain?”

Or perhaps he thinks this won’t be much of a competition.

Wraithfodder writes: “1) Where was the sunset filmed? It was gorgeous!

2) Oh, not Tracker but just general: What will you be doing now that SGA is done? Do you think you’ll move on to SGU or another series? I have enjoyed the episodes you’ve penned.”

1) That sunset is actually re-used from the episode Harmony. It was shot in Widgen Park, B.C.

2) Thanks, Wraithfodder! Yes, I hope to be part of the SGU team.Stclare writes: “Who’s decision was it to have Rodney be unable to load his gun properly and why? as I found this aspect beyond annoying and can not figure out why this was done.

Well, since I wrote the script, I guess I’m to blame. But I can assure you that was not my intention. McKay had emptied his clip and needed to reload. Quickly. I just felt that sometimes, when we have to perform a task while someone dear to us is about to be fed upon by a Wraith, we might not be able to do said task as smoothly nor as quickly as we’d like.

Ive never felt that Ronon was great friends with Rodney but felt there was a great deal of respect there. However I did find some of the banter harsh and unnecessary towards Rodney and wondered where the respect had gone. Was there a concious decision to portray there banter this way or am i missing something here?”

There is respect between them. But they are two completely different personalities. Ronon has an abrupt, in your face quality. So if someone is slowing him down while he’s pursuing the man who’s kidnapped someone dear to him, he’s going to let him know. I did not intend for it to be unnecessarily harsh, just Ronon being Ronon.

DasNdanger writes: “1. So, in your mind, why do they hunt – for sport? For training? And do ALL Wraith hunt in this fashion, or just the elite? Or, is it reserved for those who have a more sadistic taste for the kill, who savor human suffering more than those who simply feed in order to survive (in other words, are the hunters Mallozzi-Wraith )?

2. Since when did the Wraith become the Keystone Cops? Seriously, these guys are predators – hunters by nature – and yet an entire army of them is taken down by Mad Max McKay, Ronon, Rambo Keller, dude that just had a heart ‘attack’, and an unconscious kid. Really, now.

3. Would the Wraith have fed upon an ailing child? After what happened to Steve, I doubt any Wraith would opt to feed on someone so ill, unless it was absolutely starving. So, was it your intention to suggest that the Wraith was about to feed on the child, or just kill her outright? If so, is this (attempted killing of a child) your way of turning them back into monsters in viewers’ minds, perhaps to counter the enlightening episode last week?

4. Since I thought he’d be stunning as a Wraith, I asked Alan M. if he’s ever considered shaving off his eyebrows, slapping on some green face paint and plopping a cotton mop on his head, and he said no, because he’d look like you. Do you take that as a compliment? “

Thanks for the kind words DasNdanger.

1) I think only a few Wraith partake in this activity, for training as well as sport. 2) Several Wraith were killed, but I would not call what we saw an “entire army.” And nowhere near all of them were taken down. Some were killed by Ronon and Kiryk (both Runners experienced in the art of killing Wraith). A few were killed by McKay, who needed to fire many shots to bring them down. As for Keller, she fought with a Wraith for a few seconds (more or less distracting it while McKay reloaded his gun), but if McKay didn’t then immediately shoot that Wraith several times, she would have been fed upon as well. 3) Yes, a Wraith would feed on a child. 4) Yes. Looking like a Wraith would be a huge improvement in my appearance.

Scary writes: “What inspired to have Rodney make mention of Fort MacMurray and Whitehorse? Should we assume that Rodney spent a portion of his childhood up north?”

Yes, but not as far north as Whitehorse. In Miller’s Crossing it was mentioned that, as a child, McKay got lost in the Edmonton mall. So I needed a Canadian city near Edmonton for McKay to mention. As luck would have it, we have a staff filled with Canadian writers to assist with such research.

Quade writes: “Are you optimistic about SG: Universe and how was your last day on Atlantis?”

The last main-unit shooting day on Atlantis was sad. It’s never easy saying good-bye, especially to characters you’ve become quite fond of. I will miss them, and the incredibly gifted actors who gave them life. As for Universe — I’m very optimistic. From what Brad and Robert have pitched to us, it sounds great.

Fred writes: “When writing “Tracker” (fantastic episode, by the way), how did you differentiate between all the various forest locations in the script?”

Thanks, Fred. To be honest, we don’t have a huge selection of available forests up here in which to shoot (and getting smaller), so there isn’t a whole lot of differentiation other than specific places within the forests (i.e. the stump McKay hides behind, or the clearing where the Stargate is located). For the cliff scene, we had to travel further out. And that cliff needed some help from VFX to make it higher.

Rose writes: “Have you ever been given a “note” from the studio that required you to take a story in a direction that you didn’t agree with? Can you give us any examples, if so? Thanks again.”

Not on this show. The stories are pitched to the network beforehand, so when they get to the script stage, the notes they give don’t send the story veering in a completely different direction. They do, however, often give notes that help make the story we’re telling better. For instance, with Tracker, Keller trying to escape from Kiryk by making a run for it, as well as McKay and Ronon coming upon the Wraith caught in one of Kiryk’s traps, were network suggestions.

Riley writes: “Did feel, though, that the Runner’s traps were a little too intricate to be whipped up so fast… can you explain the reasoning?”

You’re not the only one who thought so. I just figured, hell, this guy is really good. And if the Extreme Makeover guys can build a house in seven days… But yes, I know, I was pushing the limits of credibility with this.

(Note from Joe: I’d like to weigh in on this one. When we broke the story and talked about these traps, in our minds Kiryk was not building this traps along the way. He had heard of Keller’s visits to this village and planned her abduction. Part of his plan involved creating traps well beforehand to help him stay one step ahead of any pursuit).

Trish writes: “My question for Carl Binder: How are you so awesome? I totally loved Tracker! I’m such a sucker for the self-sacrifice stories. Thank you for a great epi.”

Thanks Trish! I’m also a sucker for the self-sacrifice stories.

Antisocialbutterflie writes: “A lot of your scripts seem to focus on individual character growth or one-on-one interpersonal growth. Do you prefer writing these sorts of scripts over the action-centered team-based episodes?”

Yes, I do like the smaller, “character” episodes. Preferably ones with a moral dilemma. But a good shoot-em-up like Midway, or a monster movie like Vengeance are a lot of fun too.

Thornyrose writes: “What is your all time favorite episode to have worked on?”

Wow. That’s like asking which child is your favorite. So I’ll pick four — one from each season (2-5) I’ve been on staff: Michael, Phantoms, Missing and The Prodigal.

Sherwood Forest Maiden writes: “My question for Carl Binder is, how difficult is it to work on personal writing projects when working for a franchise that requires weekly input??”

Very difficult. Especially for me. I don’t multitask well. So it’s all Stargate, all the time.

Perragrin writes: “a. What initially inspired you to want to write stories? And is there a specific genre that you prefer to delve into above all others?

b. If you were given the opportunity to travel back in time and meet one significant person, who would it be?”

A) I’ve always had an overactive imagination. And a deep-seated fear of things that go bump in the night. Writing is a kind of therapy. Difficult to get through, but I sure feel better afterward. As for a specific genre — I do love the supernatural. I’m mocked mercilessly by the other writers about it.

B) I would travel back in time to meet Joe Mallozzi’s parents. To warn them.

Uh. Yeah. Thanks to Carl for that.

The Black Company Discussion:

KaziWren writes: “I was sufficiently terrified of The Lady, Limper, Whisper and the rest of the Taken. Come on, who in their right mind would want to work side by side with The Taken?!”

Answer: Not I, although I was greatly reminded of a story editor I once worked with when I read Cook’s description of The Hanged Man: “He was improbably tall and lean. His head was twisted away over to one side. His neck was swollen and purpled from the bite of a noose. His face was frozen into the bloated expression of one who has been strangled.” Yep, takes me back.

Thornyrose writes: “I also love the sense of decay, of loss, morally and physically the permiates the book. This could be a pessimist’s bible, with each chapter demonstrating more strongly than the last bringing on a stronger sense of increasing entropy.”

Answer: Well said. In fact, I found the book so unrelentingly grim that I was actually depressed after reading it. The visceral description of the climactic battle is particularly unsettling.

Thornyrose also writes: “ My biggest disappointment was probably in the character of Raven. He almost felt like a character visiting from another novel, though he was certainly dark enough a creature through most of the book. Perhaps it was his stereotypical aptitude with his knives, and his too-close-to perfect combat skills. I don’t think the removal of Raven would have skewed the outcome of the plot significantly.”

Answering: I found Raven an interesting contrast to Croaker. Croaker was a healer; Raven a killer. Croaker was well-loved and respected by his fellow mercenaries; Raven a distrusted outsider. Croaker, as the Black Company’s historian, embodied the past and future; Raven lived for the present. So it was fascinating to see how things developed for them – Croaker becoming the favorite of the dark and merciless Lady while Raven risks all for the love of the sweet and innocent Darling.

Terry writes: “ JM said: (I thought the story would have really benefited from some insight into the cultural, socio-political or economic backdrop of the land they were fighting over)” Do you think this would have made the current situation more understandable or the characters more sympathetic?”

Answer: While I don’t think it would have made the characters more sympathetic, it certainly would have helped ground me in the world of The Black Company. Although the accounts of the various battles are disturbing, I believe that the story could have been served by a little more depth in the background of the various factions and the lands they were warring over.

Terry also writes: “Did you find anything sympathetic or redeemable or engaging about any of the characters in this book?”

Answer: I’ve always been a big fan of darker characters and, as a reader, have always gravitated toward stories with morally flawed players. Often, beneath their dark exterior, these characters possess hidden traits that are often appealing, sometimes even worthy of respect. A great example is the character of Glokta from Joe Abercrombie’s First Law series, a frightening, seemingly reprehensible torturer who, despite his many flaws, still manages to redeem himself over the course of the three books. In The Black Company, it was a lot harder to connect with the characters on this level because we were never really offered any insight into their inner workings. Even Croaker, our narrator, was in most respects unfathomable.

The mailbag:

Tina writes: “how are your canine sidekicks????”

Answer: Great!!!! Maximus and Lulu have taken to hanging around the garden so that they can pluck cherry tomatoes off the vine and eat them when no one is looking.

Maggiemayday writes: “The good wishes must be helping, my brother is now making his own white blood cells, which means the stem cell transplant took. Yay! Progress. I am doing cautious happy dances.”

Answer: We’re all wishing the best for him. Please keep us posted on his progress.

Alicia writes: “Joe would you rather do a couple episodes instead of the movie?”

Answer: Yeah, a bunch of episodes would be preferable. Say, 20.

Abbas Karimjee writes: “ Will the Atlantis movie wrap up the wraith storyline?When will the members of the production who were at Vegas be finished with their filming?”

Answers: 1) No comment. 2) The Vegas shoot starts and wraps next week.

Luis writes: “When SGU goes into production will all the SG1 AND SGA crew members be there or will it be a much smaller crew?”

Answer: It’s a safe bet that most of the SGA crew will find their way over to SGU.

September 19, 2008: Last Call

Production on Stargate Atlantis wrapped today for most of our cast and crew. As the sets go dark here at The Bridge Studios, the scene shifts to Vegas for a few more days of filming after which work on the series is finally complete. Well, almost complete because work continues for post, viz, the producers, and Joel Goldsmith who still have weeks to go before they can sail off into the sunset.

Yesterday, Bob Picardo came by the office after he wrapped and, as promised, took the time to sit down and answer some of your questions. Rather than do a video interview, we opted for a written Q&A which I’ll be posting next week as part of a special Bob Picardo guest blog. Speaking of guest blogs – Executive Producer/Writer Carl Binder has kindly agreed to field your questions and comments on Tracker. So, if you happen to catch tonight’s episode of Atlantis and feel like raking Carl over the coals on this one, let’s hear from you.

Amanda Tapping also swung by the office this morning to say goodbye. She’s been working very hard these past few months but still found the time to put in an appearance in our final episode. And it was a pleasure having her back. Colin Cunningham also wrapped his guess stint and made it a point to pop his head into the writers’ room and thank us.

With regard to the ongoing discussion on the forthcoming Stargate: Universe – At the end of the day, it is, of course, up to you whether you give the show a chance or not but I feel the need to point out that, at present, those characters are simply names on a page and a long way from being fully realized. It’s easy to imagine the worst case scenario. As for the relative value of my opinion – well, that’s also something for you to decide on. However given the fact that I’ve been privy to details beyond the official casting breakdown and public statements made, I am speaking from a informed position. I’ve always followed the maxim “If you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all.” so you can be damn sure that if I didn’t think SGU had potential, you wouldn’t be reading my opinions on the subject.

Well, I’m off to – think about the Atlantis movie, clean up in preparation for Fondy‘s return, and pick out my office for tomorrow night’s wrap party. “So what are you doing?”Amanda asked me today on her way out. “Cocktail or full dress?” I told her I’d definitely be going full dress on this one.

Final scene as per today’s call sheet:

INT. F-302 COCKPIT 1: Sheppard

Push in on the screen, word ARMED flashes

September 12, 2008: With Special Guest Star Director Will Waring, and the FX Stage Tour Part V

Will gives this blog two thumbs up.
Will gives this blog two thumbs up.
Fun in the sun.
Fun in the sun.
Will lets Evil Kenny have it.
Will lets Evil Kenny have it.

Hey, look at who dropped by with the answers to all of your burning questions. None other than fab Stargate Atlantis director Will Waring! Initially reluctant to guest here and lay bare his inner soul, Will finally came around after a little coaxing, a dash of needling, and some good old-fashioned sleep-deprivation.

Check out Will’s Q&A, then scroll down to the bottom of this entry for Part 5 of our stroll through the FX Stage. And, in the coming days: the fan protest, my dinner with Bob Picardo, Atlantis physics consultant Mika McKinnon, pics from the set, and a video tour of Stage 3.

First a big thanks to Joe for finally letting me onto his blog , and a thanks to Joe and Paul for another great SGA year. Ok here goes. 
Shirt ‘n Tie writes: “(i) Can I ask you the pineapple question? Including both SG1 and SGA, how many episodes have had pineapples appear in the background as an innocent prop? I think the story is that you had to drive a car through a scene at the start of your career and a pineapple rolled around the back windscreen and since then you have tried to incorporate a pineapple in every epiosde you direct…Is this true? Anyway, curious to know if you have kept count of the pineapples.

(ii) What for you as a director is the most fun part of your job? and also the reverse…what is the least fun part of the job?

Thank you for taking the time to read (and answer) the questions…. I too also love the audio commentaries you take part in for the DVD box sets…. Your insights into what happened on set really bring the episode to a real context..Many thanks for this and (as always) please keep up the good work!”

1) What pineapple? I have no idea what you’re talking about.
2) The most fun is seeing a plan come together, watching a great performance in a scene, and seeing a cut come together better than imagined, or reading a script and laughing out loud going holy shit can we do that? It’s fun to watch the great crew and cast work together to pull off what we do every day. The least fun is running out of time and sometimes being the mean school bus driver.
Alexandria writes: “Will – You did a truly amazing job bringing the story to life. Is is more difficult to direct a horror style episode than the normal Atlantis episodes? I definitely think Alfred Hitchcock would be proud especially given how the suspense built up beautifully.
You are too kind. There are actually hundreds of hardworking people that bring this (and every episode) to life. From James’s amazing production design that includes the creatures design drawings before Todd Masters and his crew work their art to the plastic model of the creature doll, Set dressing has to make all those crazy busted market kiosks, rigging crews have to pre-light and pre-rig all the rock and roll trusses for the flyaway tents, Michael Blundell gets to do all the scary low level lighting. (He actually really mostly only used flashlights in the tunnels). Hordes of special make-up people have to come in at ungodly hours to make the creatures look, well you know. Costumes have to be designed and made and torn and fitted, special effects runs around with foggers and bullet hits and water sprayers and huge exhaust fans to de-fog the stage after each take, dead grass and trees have to be gathered and bolted to stands, visual effects people painstakingly fix things frame by frame painting out wires adding fog and muzzle flashes, editors and music composers and a stellar cast and shooting crew. And it all starts with Joes’ story. Was this episode more difficult? Oh hell yeah. 
Thornyrose writes: “What inspired you to make the jump from camera operator to director, and how did you go about convincing people to give you the opportunity? Was there any particular aspect of Whispers that you found especially challenging? What would be a “dream project” for you to work on in the future, in or outside of the Stargate franchise? With the changing technology, such as HD, do you feel that they provide more opportunities, or more challenges or difficulties than the older technology you first began working with? And finally, how hard was it to film Whispers with Mr. Mallozzi prowling about the sets? Thank you very much for guest appearing on Mr. Mallozzi’s blog, and thanks Mr. M. for lining up yet another great guest.”
Jim Menard covered my jump to directing in his earlier,whoops the cats outta the bag, blog entry. I thought I’d get some second units to cut my teeth on or a clip show (the kind where the cast plays poker and remembers when), but no such easy start.… I got to direct Meridian! As to HD and ‘older’ tech, if by older you mean 35mm film cameras well I’m still a fan of the plain old 35mm Panaflex, nuff said.
Joe’s prowling the set kept us all on our toes, “Look sharp people, the boss is here!” Actually having the executive producer/show runner, who also wrote the episode, and as a bonus is a super nice guy, on set every day is a real boost. Plus he kept us hopped up on his fancy chocolates.
Chevron7 writes: “1. One of my fave Atlantis eps was Common Ground. How difficult was it shooting in the cells when Sheppard was talking to the wraith (now Todd)? Was there much of a choice of angles etc without giving away the identity of the neighbouring cellmate? What was the location night shoot like?

2. You also directed the very huge Meridian. No pressure, just Daniel’s farewell Do you ever find yourself being swept up by the emotional performances like everyone’s individual farewells to Daniel in the isolation room or are you too busy looking at all of the technical things?

3. Does everyone hand you the video camera at family events?

4. What are some of your favourite films to watch?

5. I was going to stop at 4 but it suddenly occurred to me that you get all of the death episodes. Why is that? Do the actors worry when they hear you’re attached to an episode?”

Thanks, one of mine also! Great script written by Ken Cuperus and Brad Wright. Shooting in the cells was actually a lot of fun because the walls were wild and the ceiling was shootable. Bruno (our Gaffer) lit those scenes on a second unit day. Removing all the light from ‘Todd” before the reveal worked out really good keeping him in the shadows. Night locations are not my faves because of the time crunch and everybody is knackered on the first night out. Brenton, our DP taught me just how far you can cheat a reverse shot in the woods at night and now I do that on almost every exterior, day or night.
2) Meridian, In the farewell scenes I like to keep things simple so there are no distractions, and when you have those performances, yeah I get caught up. You just let go of anything technical and just watch the scene. In Sunday when the bagpipes start playing in the funeral scene? Did all the wide shots without the pipes then had him play for real in the close ups, yeah that works, you can’t help it.
3) No
4) Action, Comedy, Suspense, Horror, Romantic Period Costume Dramas (really!)

5) Luck of the draw, and I’m sure they do but it has nothing to do with the script.

DasNdanger writes: “First, Common Ground is my favorite episode ever, it’s what got me hooked on SGA. Several things I loved about it, especially the handling of the cell scenes and the cut away from Sheppard coming face-to-face with his cellmate for the first time, to Ladon saying something like, “Of course, you would see him only as the monster who tried to take your city away from you.” The two-fold meaning behind that statment was just so perfectly placed, it’s one of my favorite nuances of the episode.

So, a couple of questions:

1. In your mind, how long had Todd been held captive?

2. After the last feeding in the prision, Todd leers at Kolya as he’s taken away. I found this very effective in suggesting his readiness to turn on his master. Who’s idea was this – the writer’s, Chris’, or yours?

3. In the scene where Todd is looking down through the bars at Sheppard, I swear he’s positively purring under his breath as Sheppard says “I could’a sworn I was gonna wake up dead today.” Again, a little detail that caught my attention and made me think more deeply about the scene. Was Todd’s ‘purring’ vocalization here your idea, and if so, what was your thinking behind it?

4. Funniest moment in the episode was when Todd ‘pointed’ the gun at Shep as he examined it – hilarious, without one word being said. Was this scene done as scripted, or did the actors ad lib at all?

I could go on for hours about this episode, but will stop there. I just thank you so very much for being a part of its creation.”

Thanks see above, doesn’t Todd reference how long he’s been there?
2) 3) and 4) These are all straight from Chris whom I didn’t get to see out of make up till the episode was almost over! It was real interesting carrying on all these heart to hearts with 6’3” of imposing wraith, But with really smiley eyes!
Monica writes: “For Will Waring: Thank you for this Q&A session. I really enjoyed Common Ground and Sunday and I hope you’ll continue on with the Stargate franchise. For Whispers… (1) rehersals were emphasized before the fog was brought in but were there still accidents filming those scenes? (2) How much can the actors see through their creature masks? (3) Were the stasis pod chambers a 100%practical set, or was the ‘extended length’ look of them CG’d in? (4) The forest location scenes…from what I read before, filming on location is not usually done for small scenes alone because of the cost factor. Were other scenes from other episode(s) filmed together at this location then? or is this so close to the studio that it doesn’t matter? (5) the P90 flashlights malfunctioning…how was that done on set? did the actors turn it off without showing the camera or did the props person rig a remote control for them? (6) are you a fan of horror or have you filmed horror before? you’ve captured the tone of it for Whispers! Thank you!”

Muddypiddypop writes: “Question for Mr. Waring. When you shoot an episode like Whispers, how do you choreograph movement with limited visibility? It seemed that scenes with running or lots of actors had less fog, but ones with walking had more fog.”

Monica/Muddypiddypop combo!
We rehearsed everything without fog to be safe and keep ourselves sane, then down would come the tent, which measured about 20 by 30 feet and 20 feet high, and we would fill it for shooting. Fog is so tough to shoot in, too much and you can’t see shit and the lights wont penetrate, too little and you see the edges of the tent and what’s beyond, if you are too close to the actor the fog looks thin and too far, you get the idea. Even with all the tests we shot it was a learning process every step of the way.
The tent idea itself was a genius idea from James; cause after that first fog test where we filled stage six there were a lot of long faces. So we broke down the fog scenes and figured on 4 tents, one around the house, one for the alley that Porter hides in, one around the tunnel were Becket meets his buddy, and the large one that could hold the well, the market and what ever else was needed, this let us only fog the entire stage on a limited basis.
The stunt performers could not see too much at the best of times then add heavy fog and low lighting and a bunch of dead trees with eyeball pokey branches.

Half the room is practical half is CG.

We had only a half-day of Whispers exteriors so we piggybacked it with a Tracker day, you will see that where the two teams met takes place in the same location as the where the villagers leave in Tracker.

The p-90 flashlights were a model shop creation on wireless remote control so that the actors could react to the situation and not be thinking about timing cues.

Yes, no, and thanks.

Jumperpilot writes: “Questions for Will: When directing an episode do you tend to be more picky with the camera operators because of your background, or do you give them more leeway, or does it depend on the person? Also, do the pineapples you put in your episodes always make it to the final cut, or are they sometimes in scenes that don’t make it through editing? Thank you for your work in the Stargate franchise so far and I hope it continues into Universe. By the way, “Whispers” was a fun episode. Everything fit together nicely. Great job!”

I can’t help myself, But lately I’m learning to let that go, maybe it’s because they‘re great operators!
Many many times they don’t make it through editing, and glad you had fun.
Jedi43 writes: “Where was the pineapple hidden in Whispers?”
It’s the bookmark in Dusty’s novel. 
Linda Gagne writes: “Which episode would you say was the most difficult to do and why?

Do you like directing more action episodes or emotional episodes?

Which episode was the most fun for you?

Which character do you look forward to directing?”

Whispers for difficulty and read all answers for the why. Uh, actiony/emotional episodes? If I had to pick I’d lean to the emotional, nothing better than two actors and a great scene. For fun, Tracker, there is this one scene where I’ll burst out laughing every time I see it. Ohhh can’t pick only one character. 
Ellen writes: “Thanks for directing a classic Atlantis episode! I noticed a lot of possible homages to some of my favourite horror movies in the course of the episode, including the Descent (always great to see well-drawn, well-acted female characters in horror), the Mist and Evil Dead. Were these deliberate? What are your favourite horror movies?”
Thanks Ellen happy to oblige and glad you enjoyed it, Joe wrote a very cool script. At the beginning of prep Joe gave me a pile of films to view for creepiness, atmosphere, horror, and cool shots. Ringu, The Descent, Shutter, Session 9, I am Legend, Silent Hill, and Dead Birds. We’d sit and watch sections and discuss what we liked or not, so yeah lots of deliberate nods . My faves? Maybe a little off beat but, Polanski’s The Tenant, Herzogs Nosferatu, and anything with zombies.
AMZ writes: “You’ve done a lot of work as a camera operator and I’m just wondering which you were more interested in at the start of your career – camera operation or directing?

Also, in a similar vein, do you think the knowledge you gained from working as a camera operator has influenced the way you approach things as a director? If so, could you give an example (or two)?

“Whispers” seems quite different in style to a lot of the other episodes you’ve directed for the Stargate series’. Was there a conscious decision to try something new for this episode?

How did you approach it, considering the scare factor is quite high?

And finally, thanks for agreeing to do a q&a with us! It’s been great getting to know your work on Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis, and I’ll definitely keep an eye on other projects your involved in down the track. Like most people who’ve worked on Stargate Atlantis, you’re incredibly talented, and it’s great to get the opportunity to ask you questions first-hand (well, sort of first-hand anyway, thanks Joe!). “

Early on operating for sure, just like that guy on the crane in the Marlboro cigarette ads. And I think I might stage things differently due to my background. But every script and scene is different so uh maybe yes. See above for approach taken on Whispers.
Squeakiep writes: “What was the creepiest thing about filming “Whispers” for you? Was it tough to keep a “creeped out” attitude going for the actors, or were they there from the start? It was a wickedly scarry episode and one that will leave me scared for life!”
It was really creepy having all these eyeless creatures shuffling about set constantly inching closer and closer gnashing their teeth and then there was this one guy in the gas mask who kept asking for his mom. The cast could go from cutups to creeped out in a split second. 
PolarWonder writes: “Hey I have a question for Will, what was your favorite episode to direct and why? Also who was your favorite character from SG-1?”
Couldn’t possibly pick one. But Meridian stands out. I guess you always remember your first. Really dug Whispers, Tracker, Collateral damage, Common Ground. 
Aboleyn24 writes: “Did anyone put on the gas mask and run around set asking “Are you my mummy?” during the shoot and if not what a lost opportunity.

Also you are responsible (because I refuse to take the blame) for scaring the crap out of my eight year old son. As a special treat, he wanted to stay up and watch so I let him. I think I had to peel him off the ceiling when the creature jumped on Sheppard. The boy screamed and was literally airborne off the couch. I was thinking its SGA how scary could it be, I was wrong.”

OK… I do not know that reference. And for scaring your son? Sweeet! 
Ellie writes: “To Will Waring: thanks for the commentaries on the DVDs. Always interesting!

Do you think that the 43 minutes constraint on TV episodes makes for better quality storytelling (No time for self indulgence from the director or writer!)? Or is it just too creatively frustrating (Do you end up cutting so many corners that you wish you were filming movies instead?)

So many movies seem to be about quantity rather than quality these days. 45 mins of plot padded to fill 3 hours. On the other hand, SGA leaves me feeling like I’ve watched a whole movie every time! I love every single episode. Very satisfying they’re so crammed full of good stuff!

Will, thanks for taking the time to answer my – very crammed! – question!”

Thanks Ellie, 43 minutes does fly by pretty quick. By indulgence do you mean like hiding things in the shot? As for corner cutting, well that‘ll happen when the sun starts to drop or the clock is really kicking your ass. And if you feel you’ve watched a mini movie every episode then that’s all in the stories the writers tell. 
Ytimyona writes: “What is your favorite film to shoot with??? (HD, 35mm, et cetera…)
What has been your favorite non-Stargate project to work on???”
I’m a big fan of 35mm cuase that’s how I started and everyone knows its language , its fast and light and works every time , that said, nothing can keep you shooting into the darkening evening longer than HD. My fave non Gate project? Operating on Elf. 
Perragrin writes: “Will, firstly thanks ever so for popping by and putting up with the Inquisition. You’ve directed some of my favourite episodes in the past and I appreciate the added bonus of listening to your audio commentaries on the DVD’s. A week or so ago, I was watching/listening to the audio commentary fo ‘Travelers’ and was amused to hear you talking about the complications involved in building the set depicting the inside of Larin’s ship. Quite a few of your directed episodes seem to involve either complicated or intricate sets and it begs a couple of inherently nosy questions:

1. Do you choose to direct an episode that will involve a fair amount of complicated – and often cramped – set work, or are you ‘pinpointed’ for the job?

2. It must have been fairly difficult at times, directing for ‘The Seed’, simply due to the jungle-like nature of the set. Do you ever get to the point where you think something just isn’t going to work because of it’s complexity.. and if so, how do you go about compromising without actually dragging one of the Writers onto the set by the scuff of their necks?”

Glad you enjoyed it; Jim Menard and I had a blast in that set. Too bad we only got to see it that once. Director’s slots are scheduled early on, before all the scripts are written. The Seed was complex and not everything worked out like we tested. In prep Jim and I shot all these tests with the ‘vines’ like dragging over a body and playing back in reverse, whipping sticky vines around wrists, they all worked perfectly in the test day…not so much on shoot day. In fact I had to shoot inserts at a later date because the vines just were not co-operating on set. Ivon has some good rants from me on that one.
I’d never go for the scruffs of their necks, they lift weights! And speed dial on the cell works just fine.
LyraLori writes: “Questions for Will Waring-Do you have a favorite film director or director of photography or someone whose style or work you really admire? And I don’t mean on SG-1 or Atlantis. Is there a particular style of filming that you’ve wanted to try that you haven’t gotten the chance-like black and white? Or another genre? And last, did you get a degree in film and if so, where? Thanks Will! I love your stuff! Good luck in your post-Atlantis future.”
Good question but I’ve learnt the most from our Directors and DP’s.
And I’ll watch anything if the trailer grabs me, which is how I lost 2 hours and 12 bucks on Bangkok Dangerous. Ever since film school (out at UBC where I did an MFA in film) I’ve wanted to try a noirish b+w, that would be a hoot. As to a Post Atlantis future? Taking a dog shiatsu course for Fondy’s shop!
Thanks to Joe for having me out and thanks for the questions!

May 1, 2008: Leaving the cold darkness for a whole other kind of cold darkness

Will cogitates.

The ladies

Leela wheels and deals.

Nicole enjoys some down time.

Awwww.  She\'s so cute. And cold.

I was really looking forward to today’s Lynn Valley location shoot. Finally, we‘d be out of the dark environs of the FX Stage and basking in the sun‘s warmth. Well, not exactly. It was overcast for most of the day and, yeah, damn cold to boot. I spent most of the morning huddled up to the heater. “Just trying to warm up my green tea latte,”I told anyone who happened by, smiling amiably and giving the empty cup a little shake. I think they bought it. I did venture out on occasion to field dialogue queries, address script concerns, and chase down the mobile snack station dispensing grilled reubens and chicken soup. Fortunately, it was only a half day for me as, by early afternoon, the three Whispers scenes were completed and the focus shifted to Tracker. While I would have loved to stick around for this one, I thought it would be presumptuous of me to be making producorial decisions on Carl’s episode. Also, I couldn’t feel my feet. Special Features Producer Ivon Bartok and I caught a lift with one of the transport guys who ferried us out of the forest, down the road, over to the crew park, past the parking lot, up the road, into the forest and back to our departure point before realizing we were still in the van with him.

Well, I finally did make it back to the production offices in time to watch the producer’s cut of The Shrine of Talus (Some really nice moments in this one. And it’s nice to see Jeannie back.) and give Carl notes on his beat sheet (formerly The Red Shirt Diaries then First Day and now ???).

An early night tonight and an even earlier start to the day tomorrow (a 6:30 a.m. call!) for our last day on Whispers. On tap for Friday: Searching, a gunfirely interruption, the mist rolls in, and shadows and fog.

Mailbag –

Charles Schneider writes: “Everybody’s had snow days when they can’t get to school or work because it’s so bad, but have you or anyone at Stargate been snowed in at the studio?”

Answer: Nope. In spite of the fact that we Vancouver is a Canadian city, it doesn’t get all that much snow.

Patricia Lee writes: “how is Lulu and the other pups doing?”

Answer: Great. The dogs have been spending quality time with mom while I’ve been on set.

Thornyrose writes: “Are those figures who we think they are?”

Answer: Uh, I don’t know. Who do we think they are?

Thornyrose also writes: “ Has the use of standing sets been a cost saving measure? Is it ever more expensive to modify the interior sets than it is to do an outdoors shoot?”

Answer: The expense of modifying an interior set are well worth it since it saves us the cost of packing up and moving everyone/everything to a location for however many days are required to shoot there.

Kellie writes: ““Walkers in Darkness” just won me a $100 scholarship in a contest. “

Answer: Congratulations. Great story.

Janet writes: “Just wondering, is it just the one episode for Amanda Tapping at the moment or are there going to be more later in the season.”

Answer: There should be more than one Amanda appearance in season 5 – but, as I’ve said from the start, it all depends on her schedule.

Travis writes: “Would it be possible for Dr. McKay to acquire the schematics to create a ZPM from a single, human form replicator?”

Answer: Not unless the replicator specifically gave him the information.

wraithbones writes: “Have you ever read Markus Zusak “The Book Thief”?”

Answer: I haven’t.

Amy Lynn writes: “With on-location shooting, how much do you guys think you will be doing this?”

Answer: We have no way of knowing until we get the script.

AMZ writes: “Wish me luck with the wind!”

Answer: Good luck with the wind!

Cathie writes: “Have you ever tried kangaroo meat!”

Answer: Sometimes last year (or it may have been the year before), the writers ordered from a place called Stormin’ Norman’s that offered a variety of exotic burgers including: elk, deer, ostrich, and, yes, even kangaroo. We weren’t wild about the taste. And, as Carl eloquently put it after we’d sampled the selection: “I feel as though there’s a wildebeast stampede in my stomach.”

Shirt ’n Tie writes: “ Have just heard that SGA will return earlier, (in July)…Is this true or just speculation? If true, any ideas on the UK/Ireland Sky One pick up date?”

Answer: I haven’t heard anything official yet – but it sounds about right. As for when the show will air in the UK/Ireland – no idea.

OctoberMoon writes: “Do you have any production plans in place to finish most/all of the season if a strike does occur?”

Answer: Yep. Fans will fall in love with an all new team of daring adventurers/writer-producers.

Tba writes: “Are there any new true ‘alien’ races in s5, like the Asgard?”

Answer: Yep.

Stargategeek writes: “You said you speak 3.5 languages. What are they?”

Answer: English, Italian, French and some Japanese.

Syble4 writes: “I’d ask for a pic of Joe Flanigan for my birthday tomorrow, but something tells me that’s not really a possibility.”

Answer: Alas, it isn’t. But happy birthday anyway!

Caro writes: “Just wondering, we have heard a lot about Whispers, but could we have some pics/video from some of the other episodes being filmed please?”

Answer: We’ve heard a lot about Whispers because it’s my episode and I have been on set for most of the production. Time permitting, I will drop by set and snap some pics of other episodes (ie. I’ve already posted pics from Search and Rescue and Ghost in the Machine).

GoSpikey writes: “Any chance of us seeing Mr Coolidge again this season?”

Answer: Nope. Sorry.

Ahem writes: “But despite your assurances that Joe F., is/was on the set, we have yet to see even one photo of him. Is there some reason you will not post his photos despite the many pleas from readers?”

Answer: Yep. The reason I haven’t posted any photos is because I haven’t taken any.

MrsB108 writes: “Do any of the characters stand out this year in regards to substantial emotional moments?”

Answer: All of them have some nice, meaty, emotional scenes.

April 9, 2008: What Scares You?

So what scares you?

I asked this question about a year ago after reading two Dan Simmons books: The Song of Kali, and The Terror. One is grounded in the real world and deals with a menace firmly rooted in the every day. The other is more fantastical, focusing on a villain supernatural in nature. Although my wife is more apt to be creeped out by the latter, I’ve always found the former far more frightening. To me, the more outlandish or removed from this reality the threat, the easier it is to dismiss it as mere fanciful entertainment when you set that book aside or turn off that dvd player. But the more grounded in reality the threat, the harder it is to dismiss that nagging undercurrent of dread when you reach that last page or the credits start to roll. There’s something about the possible that adds to the sense of unease. Is your creepy neighbor an alien from another planet come to feast on human life forms? Of course not. Is your creepy neighbor a serial killer who picks up transients, slaughter them in his basement, and buries the bodies in his backyard? Probably not. But then again, you never know…

When it comes to the visuals of horror, I tend to think along the same lines. Even the best of monster movies with their big budget computer generated images and geysers of blood fall far shorter on the terror scale than the chilling subtlety of a victim’s horrified reaction. Yes, I’ve seen the Nightmare on Elm Street movies and, while one can argue their entertainment value, it’s tough to argue their shock value. These movies, with their over-unearthly antagonist exacting gruesome acts of terror feel closer to cartoons than entries in the horror genre. On the other hand, take a movie like Takashi Miike’s Audition. It tells a fairly simple tale, progressing at a leisurely pace until its third act when the audience is sucker-punched by one of the most horrifying sequences ever committed to film. What makes this shocking sequence so terrifying is the set-up, a narrative slow burn that lulls the audience into a false sense of comfort before springing it’s nasty turn. It’s like having someone sing you a lullaby and then, just as you’re about to doze off, step in an slap you awake. Repeatedly.

The “unseen” is far more frightening than the “revealed” because Hollywood’s best visceral creations have got nothing on what the imagination can conjure up. And, when it comes to the revealed (because, let’s face it, there’s nothing more dissatisfying than being teased and not rewarded by even the briefest of glimpses behind the dark curtain) the familiar is scarier than the unfamiliar. But I’d argue that what is far more horrifying than either is the…not-quite familiar…

Which brings us to Whispers…

Today’s blog entry is dedicated to birthday girl Erika.

Mailbag:

IamJohn writes: “Was economics part of the decision not to have Sam on for the next season, or was it purely because of her new show?”

 

Answer: We had every intention of bringing Amanda back for the show’s fifth season but, with Sanctuary going, she couldn’t commit to both and ultimately decided to work on the latter. So, no, economics were not part of the decision.

Cat4444 writes: “Which resurrects my question to you of March 12, 2008, regarding the paradox that was created when Sheppard returned to Atlantis 12 days after he disappeared, despite having been sent 48,000 years into the future.

Did he return to the Atlantis he left?”

Answer: I (and I’m sure I speak for the rest of the writers) would like to think of it as a closed loop in which past and future are part of the same continuum. However, given the theories we discussed and the undeniable presence of paradoxes in each circumstance, it would seem that Stargate’s treatment of time travel would fall within the multiverse school of thought.

Kdvb1 writes: “Why is it more expensive the longer a show runs? I thought the initial set up of a show would be the most expensive. And, then once you had your main sets built, actors hired, etc(I know there’s a lot in that etc)and got the show running smoothly, the costs would start to go down.”

Answer: Except salaries. And then there’s the drastic fall of the American dollar.

C. writes: “Regarding the time travel theories, Theory 1 reminds me a lot of The Time Traveler’s Wife.”

Answer: Yes, one could make that assumption based on the fact that there really is no grounding point in time for the time-hopping. Events seem to play out as they would have because we are viewing them as a large tableau comprised of past, present, and future, rather than setting off from a point in the present to glimpse an unknown future or shape an established past. One could also argue that The Time Traveler’s Wife adheres to Theory #2, the Inifinite Loop theory, in that there is no impetus for the time-jumping (which always creates a paradox – ie. If we travel to the past to change a problem and succeed in changing the problem then there would be no problem in the present and we would have no need to travel back to the past).

C. also writes: “Oh, and as a Jayhawk (well, technically former as of May 2007) can I just say ROCK CHALK JAYHAWKS!”

Answer: In my multiverse reality, Memphis won.

Tiger’s Eye writes: “The impression I got from the book and the afterword (IIRC re. the afterword) was that altering the past didn’t create a separate and distinct timeline, but created a blank slate in place of everything that happened after JFK died.”

Answer: Possibly, but the fact that the timeline is clearly changed and yet we are offered a glimpse at how the grim future plays out suggests two different timelines.

Chevron7 writes: “I’ve just finished Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Have you read that?”

Answer: I have and, while I did like it, I found it far too reminiscent of Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Talents and Parable of the Sower which are two of my favorite works of dystopian fiction.

Chev writes: “Suggestion – add the titles for the current BOTM to the sidebar.”

Answer: I tried but, for some reason, my neat, single line entries become a jumbled paragraph when published.

Blin writes: “Will there be a Woolsey-centric episode?”

Answer: Possibly.

Ytimyona writes: “In fact, any time you are moving, (like in a car, bus, train, walking, airplane, etc…) you are technically traveling through time (albeit in infinitesimally small, unnoticeable amounts) because time passes more slowly for you when you are in motion. This becomes much more noticeable when you get closer to the speed of light…”

Answer: Which is what happened to the crew of the Aurora! Joe Haldeman offers up a wonderful treatment of this idea in The Forever War.

RisenValkyrie writes: “If Marty does succeed in putting an Irish person put on the Atlantis team, can you promise me you will do everything in your power to not let him make it as painful to watch as ‘Heroes’ was when they had so-called “Irish” characters in it?”

Answer: Fear not. Martin has already created the character – a frolicsome leprechaun named Paddy O’Shamrock.

Jon K. writes: “ Additionally, in creating an alternate universe Benford took away the need to send the smaller less informative messages.”

Answer: True. Although, at the time they were sending the messages back, they had no way of knowing they would be creating a separate timeline.

Teknikal writes: “at the end on the Continum screening did you get to nab some of the fans that were lucky enough to see it?? what did they think??”

Answer: I don’t know. Any thoughts from the lucky fans?

Shirt ‘n Tie writes: “Off to Don Francesco’s tonight, my last night here.”

Answer: Did you try the lamb popsicles at Vij’s? By the way, it was a pleasure meeting you. Safe journey back and hopefully our paths will cross again in the not too distant future.

McWraith writes: “Are you a fan of the Shaun and Hot Fuzz movies?”

Answer: I enjoyed Shaun of the Dead up until its sudden serious turn late in the movie.

Thornyrose writes: “Still trying to work out the f/x for Whispers?”

Answer: Yep. We’re looking at creative alternatives to smoking up an entire stage.

Shawna writes: “Just because God (someone who can see the whole of time) knows what choices we’re going to make, that doesn’t mean we don’t have the free will to make them.”

Answer: Yes, there is the notion that if you can see “out of time”, the two can co-exist. But what happens if you use your knowledge of the future to change it? Or are we saying that being “out of time” puts you in the position of observer which necessarily precludes your ability to change events?

Anna writes: “How many dogs do you have and what are their names? And are they siblings? Did you adopt them from a shelter?”

Answer: Jelly, fawn pug, is the 9 year old bossy one. Maximus, black pug, is the 8 year old easy-going one. Bubba, fawn pug, is the 6 year old attention-seeker. Lulu, black French bulldog, is the 9 month old troublemaker. None are related. And they weren’t adopted.

Jean writes: “Just wondering what prompted you taking C restaurant off your recommended list?”

Answer: Two of my last three visits proved unremarkable. The third was downright disappointing.

Kieran writes: “Is there I can sent you a private comment?”

Answer: moorsyum@yahoo.com

Watcher652 writes: “Do you eat the type of food found in such restaurants like seitan?

Answer: Never tried it.

Dreams-of-Skies writes: “I know I have been absent from bugging you for a while now – “

Answer: Yeah. What gives?!

Dreams-of-Skies also writes: “What would YOU have recommended?”

Answer: The deep-fried crispy duck. I’m going to put it on the menu for the chocolate party.

Chev writes: “How did Teal’c know which direction/path to travel to Celestus? Did he know beforehand or was “you know who” guiding him?”

Answer: That’s a great question for writer/director/producer Robert Cooper when he does his Ark of Truth guest blog here.

Babancat writes: “So, mention of pink pages made me wonder, do you have an all time favourite episode that you have written of SG1 and/or SGA or is your most recent creative masterpiece always your favourite?”

Answer: Speaking of multiverses – I love Ripple Effect

Teyla Roxs writes: “Is there any titbits you can divulge about Teyla?”

Answer: That would be highly inappropriate.

Narelle from Aus writes: “It may have been answered before, but what was involved in getting Dan Castellaneta on the show?”

Answer: Besides providing the voice of Homer, Dan Castellaneta is a pretty accomplished actor. When we were casting Citizen Joe, we watched his reel and thought he’d be perfect. We made the offer, he accepted, came over and did the show, and struck up a friendship with Richard Dean Anderson. Some time later, Dan co-wrote an episode of The Simpsons with plenty of shout-outs to Stargate – and a special guest star appearance for Rick.

Keller’s Patient writes: “What’s Jason on about a Ronon/Keller/Mckay scramble? Is this just an episode or a season long plotline, Joe??”

Answer: Tracker.

March 26, 2008: Thank you’s all around

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Today, a round of thank-you’s are in order.

Thank you to Joe Abercrombie who has kindly agreed to do a guest blog for us in May when we discuss The Blade Itself, the first installment in his First Law series. I see that many of you have already started reading/already read the book based on one of my past recommendations. Great! I expect Joe to be thoroughly inundated with questions and comments when the time comes. Show him now mercy! In addition to a special Stargate-related give-away contest open to all BOTM club participants, those taking part in this particular discussion will also have a shot at winning a copy of Before They Are Hanged, the second book in the series.

Thank you to Stargate-fave John Scalzi, an incredibly prolific blogger himself, who was equally kind in agreeing to guest blog for us when we discuss The Android’s Dream, the scifi BOTM club selection for May. By the way, David Hewlett couldn’t stop talking about this book after reading it last year. Read it yourself and impress D.H. with your Scalzi knowledge at the next convention.

Thank you to Dylan who sent us a kick-ass Vosges chocolate shipment that included, truffles, mini bars, and four Mo’s Bacon Bars (milk chocolate, Alder wood smoked salt, and apple wood smoked bacon). I think I overdid it.

Thank you to James Robbins who has been going all out on the designs and concept drawings for Whispers – and clearly having a hell of a time doing it. This morning, we took a stroll through the village set, the entrance to the cave network, the catacombs, the chamber, and the well. Creeptastic. We’ve done a number of “monster” episodes, but we have yet to do an out and out “horror” eppy. You know, the kind that has you sleeping with the lights on for nights to come. That’s what I’m going for.

Thank you to Marty G. who had us spinning in the writers’ room for about twenty minutes over lunch today, trying to come up with a title for the mid-season two-parter. I kind of liked A Smattering of Scenes – but no one else did. So – still nothing. But that didn’t stop him from putting out a first draft of part one.

Thank you to Carl for his continuing patience. We didn’t get around to giving him notes on Tracker today either. Maybe tomorrow. In the meantime – here, have some chocolate.

Thank to you to the fine folks at Amazon.com who finally sent me the balance of my outstanding order: Paolo Bacigalupi’s Pump Six and Other Stories, and Steven Erikson’s Gardens of the Moon. I recently finished Fred Saberhagen’s The Berserker Wars and have been making my way through the Nebula Award Short Fiction Nominees. I really enjoyed Nancy Kress’s novelette “Safeguard” (available for online reading here: http://www.asimovs.com/_issue_0801/PBSafeguard.shtml), and loved Ted Chiang’s “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate” (available for online reading here: http://www.sfsite.com/fsf/fiction/tc01.htm). Check ‘em out if you get the chance. I’m moving on to the novelettes after which I have Poul Anderson’s Tau Zero on deck.

And, most of all, thanks to all of you blog regulars and sometime readers who continually land my daily entries in the WordPress Top 20 (#17 of 100 094 last I checked) and this blog in the WordPress Top 50 (presently #35 of 2 742 121 blogs), beating out blogs dedicated to root beer, Emily Dickinson, and a British pre-school animated series called Pocono – but lagging far behind blogs dedicated to Malaysian politics, funny maps, and cute puppy pictures.

Today’s pics: Books, chocolate, Ivon Bartok, Alex Levine, and Tobias Slezak, Whispers construction.

I’ve got some time before the wife gets home.  Quick!  Let’s squeeze in some mailbag –

 mom2398 writes: “Any sign of Jeannie Miller in Season 5?”

Answer: The Shrine of Talus.

cool writes: “Are we going to see more of Todd the Wraith in Season 5? He always seems to be working on his own, which is interesting since the Wraith seem so hive-oriented. Does he have a Wraith Queen he answers to?”

Answer: Your last question will be answered this season.  So far, we have Todd slated for three appearances.

AscendedTauri writes: ” Though you said Louisville and Tenn. are in your Elite 8, but they can’t be because they play head to head in the Sweet 16… I’m assuming you meant Kansas as the other team.”

Answer: Yep.  I was writing from memory.  I did mean Kansas.

aries1470 writes: ” On another note, if someone wanted to visit the studio’s, how will that be organised? ”

Answer: Sorry, outside of the whatsitcon, we don’t provide set tours.

Heather writes: “Since this will be the first time I have participated in one of your book discussions…do you only want questions or comments the day before F. Paul Wilson joins your blog?”

Answer: I’ll gather the posted questions and comments over the first two days of discussions, send them Paul’s way, and then post his entry and responses whenever he gets back to me.

RW writes: “If you get notes from the network that suggest reworking a script – do you have to follow what they say or could you simply say that you are going to leave it exactly as is. ”

Answer: Well, I like to consider any script a team effort.  It would be silly to dismiss any input out of hand.  We have received some great notes in the past that have made the scripts better.  That said, if implementing the notes will improve the script, I will do so.  If I feel they will hurt the script, then I’ll dig my heels in and fight.  But it rarely comes down to a fight- more an involved discussion. 

March 4, 2008: Lowlifes, scripts, and those infernal colored pages!

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The email message said: “Please check out the following lowlifes at…” and provided me with the appropriate link. At first I thought I’d been put on one of those silly group emails. Then I realized it was from Corinne, our local casting director. Oh, right. The low life! So I headed over and checked out the online auditions. Yep, all in all some pretty wretched lowlifes but, in my opinion, only one stood out as the lowliest of them all. So we’re going to cast this guy and, years from now, some producer will be scanning his credits and note: “Hey, you were the lowlife in that episode of Atlantis. I remember it. You were really pathetic.” “Thanks.”

I received notes on Whispers, worked on the rewrite, and took a tour of some of the new construction on the FX stage. Jason came by the office about a half dozen times today, each time popping up to discuss Broken Ties for all of two minutes before being called back down to set. Then, I rounded out my afternoon by skimming past scripts for appropriate flashback sequences. Alan is off and running on the new episode #9, The Queen, while Paul does a pass on Ghost in the Machine, Carl works on Tracker, and Marty G. gets a head start on the mid-season two-parter. Looking way ahead, I’ve talked myself into the #16 spot with “a very special Stargate Atlantis” (apologies to James Stewart), while we’ve got some other potential stories floating about in search of definitive slot.

Oh, I notice David H. has commented to my comment on a recent special script request, threatening to drop off Baz in the writer’s office while he collates his double-salmon pages. Well, David obviously misunderstood what I wrote because, on principle, I have absolutely no problem with someone collating scripts for the actors. After all, collating is a long and arduous process that demands an inhumanly inordinate amount of time and concentration, not to mention extreme physical exertion. Several years ago, my uncle Lamont put his back out collating a third draft of Diagnosis Murder and, to this day, still complains about a persistent stiffness in his lower spinal column whenever it rains. In fact, I was only responding to the very specific request that scripts be solely distributed on white pages as opposed to the offensive multi-colored sheets that apparently plague the more ocularly sensitive among us. Some of you will accuse me of heartless sarcasm but, truth be told, I can empathize with anyone who has experienced the stomach-churning nausea that comes from skimming a tan page, or the eye-stinging hell that is goldenrod. No, all I want to do is make a couple of things clear –

For starters, as long time readers of this blog well know, the human child is my favorite sub-species of the animal kingdom (followed closely by lemurs, platypuses, and the bob-tailed weaver – in that order) and I would, of course, be delighted to provide babysitting services for any precocious little loose-stooled imp. Time permitting of course.

Secondly, unlike actors, we lowly writers often don’t get it right the first time. It usually takes two, three, or more drafts to bring a script to perfection. With each successive attempt, different colored pages are distributed (blues for the first round of changes, pink for the second, green for the third, and so on). These, of course, serve as a harsh reminder of the writer’s mortal failings and, only incidentally, also serve to apprise the rest of the production of the changes made to the draft they happen to be working off of.

Thirdly, in addition to having them collate their own scripts, members of the production are contractually obligated to amputate their own gangrenous limbs should the need ever arise. These are sad holdovers from the days of vaudeville that I would love to see changed.

A big thank you to Paula for the Mexican candies that gave all of the writers a buzz – and had Alex Levine wandering the halls in a sugar-induced daze.

And good luck to tm on those mid-terms!