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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 18, 2010: The Greatest Chocolate Party Ever!

Every April, I hold something called a Chocolate Party, an annual event in which I gathered some fifty of my closest friends, feed them dinner, then try to kill them with massive amounts of chocolate.  Over the years, this event has grown, from a modest get-together at my home to a gastronomic blow-out at Fuel now Refuel) Restaurant.  The evening goes something like this:

The guests gathers.  We chat and drink.

We sit down and enjoy an incredible multi-course meal prepared by Chef Rob, Chef Ted, and the rest of the gang.

Then, we move onto the main event: Chocolate! Chocolate! Chocolate!

It seems fairly straightforward, but even the most dedicated chocoholic would be hard-pressed to sample all that’s an display – the varied master creations of some twenty chocolatiers from all over the world.  This year, I brought in chocolates from Paris, Troyes, Barcelona, Austria, London, Brighton, New York, San Francisco, Kansas City, Fort Myers, Montreal, Vermont, and, of course, Vancouver.  It was quite a night!

I arrived early to help set up the chocolates along the massive bar and counter area, fully covering all available space with chocolates from…

This year marked four straight appearances for New York’s MareBelle. The 100 Piece Blue Box, pictured here, never fails to draw a crowd.

Also from MarieBelle, the hugely popular Croquette au Chocolat: buttery European cookie milk and dark chocolate bars. Each box contains 4 bars. I ordered six boxes – and they were all gone by night’s end.

It was two years in a row for New York’s Jacques Torres (aka Mr. Chocolate). They usually don’t ship to Canada but made an exception last year after I sent them a link to previous chocolate parties. And we’re glad they did. Their champagne truffles – a combination of milk chocolate, fresh cream, and actual Tattinger Brut la Francaise never fails to impress. I ordered two boxes because they proved so popular last year – and they too were all gone by night’s end. In addition to the champagne truffles, the Jacques Torres corner also included a fifty piece assortment of their hand-crafted chocolates and bars.

One of my personal favorites – Jean-Paul Hevin – presents his marvelous creations in an eye-catching “cave a chocolat”. Basically, it’s a briefcase full of chocolate!

Also from Jean-Paul Hevin, a coffret filled with composed of 8 blisters filled with dark, coffee, milk and milk-caramel with refined salt palets. In addition, I also ordered a box of Hevin’s intense truffles and a Cheese Chocolate Appetizer box that included flavors like époisses cheese/ cumin, Pont l’évêque cheese/thyme, goat cheese/hazelnut, and roquefort/walnut. Ashleigh’s favorite! She made off with any leftovers.

Barcelona’s Oriol Balaguer has been described as a gastronomic revolutionary. One bite of his inspired creations and you’ll no doubt agree.

Also from Oriol Balaguer: luscious ganache-filled mini-tubes in a variety of delectable flavors – Passionfruit, Orange, Yuzu, Raspberry, Star Anise, and – Carl’s wife’s favorite – Hazelnut Praline with Pop Rocks.  You can order them from Borne Confections in New York.

Making their first appearance: chocolates from Troyes’ Pascal Caffet. A sampling of the award-winning patissier’s chocolates included Earl Grey Tea and Hazelnut Praliné with Coriander.  Also available from Borne Confections.

Paris’s Debauve & Gallais boast a rich 200 year tradition of chocolate-making as the appointed supplier to Kings Louis XVIII, Charles X and Louis-Philippe. The selection includes a 54 piece assortment, a 36 piece pralines collection, and Les Incroyables (pearls of caramelized roasted Spanish almond coated in dark chocolate) that WERE incredible! These blew away Jamil Walker Smith.

Compliments of my friend Cynthia in London comes Rococo Chocolates’ award-winning salty caramel ravioli. The assortment included dark chocolate with chilli, milk chocolate with sea salt, and white chocolate with cardamom.

Another Parisian heavy hitter, La Maison du Chocolat represents with their Initiation Set of 20 pralines and ganaches. Also, smooth and creamy caramel truffles an Arriba Gift Set of smooth dark chocolate ganaches and…

La Maison du Chocolat’s Habanera Gift Box: dark chocolate perfumed with vine peaches and milk chocolate infused with mirabelle plums. Another annual favorite.

Another little something from Cynthia in the U.K.: Demarquette’s ganache assortment, a signature blend of carefully selected pure single origin and single estate cocoas.

Wow! Some of the evening’s most visually striking offerings came from Norman Love in Fort Myers, Florida. Pictured here: the black single origin chocolate collection.

Another striking offering from Norman Love: the 50 Piece Chocolate Gift Box.

Norman Love chocolate bars: chocolate caramel pecan, peanut caramel, coconut milk chocolate almond, and chocolate hazelnut. Another wow!

A few years ago, a friend brought me back a box of Recchiuti chocolates from San Francisco. They were nothing short of revelatory. For two years, I tried to convince Recchiuti to make an exception to their “no shipping to Canada” policy with no success. Until this year. Pictured here, The Platinum Collection. Marvelous chocolates. I also ordered their Dragee Sampler which comes with with Burnt Caramel Almonds, Burnt Caramel Hazelnuts, Peanut Butter Pearls, Cherries Two Ways.

Also from Recchiuti, Key Lime Pears and Peanut Butter Pucks. Both garnered a lot of fans over the course of the evening.

Barcelona’s Enric Rovira offers up something called The Planetarium – all nine planets and the sun. Mars tastes of Earl Grey tea, the sun of Williams pears and Earth of salt and pepper.

In addition to a truffle selection with flavors ranging from fiery Habanero to peaty Scotch, the Enric Rovira corner also included Bombolas – Covered in intense 70 dark chocolate, flavors include corn, pumpkin seed, pink pepper, lemon, and cocoa nib. The pink pepper and lemon were particularly well-received.  Alegio Chocolate in Berkley carries the Enric Rovira line – and it’s a little closer than Spain.

Missed them last year because they were closed, but Vancouver’s DC Duby made a triumphant chocolate party return with their Arome Collection (praline butter filling is scented with enchanting oil infusions and studded with luscious sun-ripened fruit jellies), Texture Collection (praline butter filling is scented with alluring and exotic spice blends, and studded with honey caramelized nuts or seeds, plump dried fruits or candied citrus peels) and various other imaginative creations.

Requisite dark chocolate fountain.

The requisite milk chocolate fountain.

Representing Kansas City with a stunning assortment – Christopher Elbow.

An assortment from Vancouver’s own Thomas Haas.

And while I was at Thomas Haas picking up chocolate, I spied these delectable-looking chocolate macarons. I sampled one – and ended up buying the tray.

San Francisco’s Jin Patisserie, another chocolate party mainstay, never fails to impress with its delicate creations. This one is Chef Rob’s favorite.

Another U.K. entry compliments of Cynthia – Brighton’s Montezuma’s Chocolates.

Everybody had their personal favorite, and this one way mine – France’s Patrick Roger. Cocoa bean chips, mini-rochers, ganache with hazelnut praline and almond paste, citrus caramels, and a fantastic assortment.

Making a first chocolate party appearance – Montreal’s Gendron Confiseur Chocolatier. I sampled these when I visited Montreal last month and was mightily impressed with their delicate texture and flavors. The ganache assortment included Hawaiian coffee Kaüai, black spruce, mimosa, Matcha, Lapsan Souchong, Tahitian vanilla, Alba truffle, Roquefort, caramel a la fleur de sel, pistachio, cranberry, and grapefruit.

Also from Montreal, Le Maitre Chocolatier delivers a terrific assortment –

– some INTENSE alcohol-spiked chocolates, and –

A double decadent combination of foie gras and chocolate. Everyone who tried them was pleasantly surprised by these truffles.

File this one under “fun”. Austria’s Zotter Chocolates is known for flavors famed and infamous: celery, truffle and port wine, peanuts and ketchup, and lemon polenta to name a few.

A couple of weeks ago, I was watching Throwdown With Bobby Flay and watched him take on The Vermont Brownie Company and their signature chevre brownie. Impressed, I elected to include these delectable treats in the line-up this year.

Speaking of brownies, check out this decadent Callebeaut-chocolate version from Vancouver’s own Linda Meinhardt. David Blue declared them the best brownies he’s ever eaten.

Another great local entry was Chocolaterie de la Nouvelle France. Exquisite ganaches and truffles.

Eventually, the guests started to arrive –

Stuart, Brian, and John

Ashleigh, Lawren, and James

Ivon

Kathy and Will

Teresa and Alan. Oh, and Carl.

Alan and Kerry (with a Y)

Carl, Karen, and Debbie

Peter and Holly

Louis peruses the menu.

And likes what he sees.

Alaina and John

Elyse

Ashleigh and Kerry (with a Y).

David snaps me snapping him.

Jeffrey and Elyse

Al

Me

Carl sports his hungry face.

Jen

Everyone eventually took their seats and dinner got underway…

Amuse bouche of broccoli soup and Welsh rarebit. Not rabbit. Rarebit (coined “cheezy bread” by some). Delicious!

Alan smiles while his wife chokes on her drink.

Ashleigh and James

Remi and Cintia

Alan and Kerry (with a Y).

Lawren

One for Brian’s mom.

Lawren presents the butter lettuce salad with smoked coppa and heirloom beets.  Excellent.  I’m all about the beets.

The partial line-up

The partial line-up.

In the kitchen: Tom, Chef Rob, and Chef Ted.

Black truffles!

Tagliatelle with black truffle and cultured butter. THIS was the dish everyone was talking about all night. Simple yet sublime.

Chef Rob invited me back into the kitchen to watch them finish the prime rib. Cooked sous-vide until rare, then given a crispy coating.

Cirspy Duck Confit and Prime Beef! Two types of awesome!

Denise

Jen and Jamil. And Louis too!

Debbie, Alaina, and Hillary.

Ivon and Elyse

Kathy and Will

I ask the kitchen to include a little something special in Ashleigh’s vegetarian option. Yes, some crispy duck.

Well, look who’s fashionably late. It’s Patrick Gilmore.

My crispy duck confit with mustard spaetzle. Lots of oohing and aahing over this dish.

Brad and Debbie

Kandas and Andy

Steve and Jodi

Alex

Kerry

With a Y.

A Stargate of sorbets!

Chef Rob prepared a special treat: macarons! Vanilla-caramel sea salt here.

And a pile of chocolate macarons here. Best macarons I've had since leaving Tokyo.

With dinner done, we moved onto the main event…

Ashleigh elbows her way to the front and grabs some of the Jean-Paul Hevin Cheese-Chocolate.

Ashleigh steals Jamil's chevre brownie.

Decisions, decisions...

One of these things does NOT belong. Carl plays mix 'n match with the selection.

Patrick and Ivon attempt to re-enact that infamous Superbowl Snickers commercial.

Peter says "Come on!"

The boys

Chef Rob

Chef Ted

Tom

Jen and Lawren

Thanks to the gang at Refuel for an incredible evening!

What a night!

And what  a day – spent uploading all of these pictures!

September 9, 2009: Yep, it’s gremlins alright! Our semi-professional models show off the crew gifts! Actress Alaina Huffman! Stargate pics!

I knew it!  I AM being terrorized by gremlins and/or the ghosts of gremlins!  Now my laptop battery won’t re-charge!  I plugged in my power cord this morning and had the “Low Battery” warning flash up before my computer shut down.  After attempting several high-tech solutions (plugging my power cord into another outlet, checking to make sure the little green light was on, wiggling the cord, taking out the battery and putting it back in, shaking the laptop, etc.) the laptop powered up but my power meter read 0%.  Five minutes later, I checked again and it was at 100%.  Yeah, sure.  100%. That’s what they want me to think!  To top things off, I still can’t transfer Google Maps onto my Garmin.
On the bright side, our crew gifts came in today – dashing SGU jackets available not only three different colors, but three different sizes!  I, of course, always go with the women’s small, the better to show off my developing delts.  Check out the Stargate models in action…
I’m a big fan of actress Alain Huffman.  And I’m not the only one.  Yes, you can count in the rest of the show’s producers who have been utterly delighted with her portrayal of SGU’s hard-luck Lieutenant Tamara “T.J.” Johansen, but you can also include my wife who, quite frankly, rarely weighs in on the actors I work with.  The cast of SGU is an exception because they all received invites to my annual chocolate party earlier this year, an occasion that allowed Fondy to actually meet them in a relaxed setting.  She had nothing but great things to say about all, but had particular praise for the gregarious Jamil Walker Smith (who walked in, strolled right up to a table full of strangers, and happily introduced  himself with a: “Hi, I’m Jamil!!!”) and Alaina who was seated across from her for most of the evening and proved herself an exceptionally charming dinner guest alongside her equally charming husband John.  Yes, we’re all fans of Alaina’s work, but we’re also huge fans of Alaina the person.  She’s sweet, funny, incredibly down-to-Earth, and possessed of a commendable chocolate appetite.  What more could you ask for?
Maybe a couple of pics from the Stargate: Atlantis vault?  Okay…

Gateroom assembly (courtesy and copyright MGM Television)
Gateroom assembly (courtesy and copyright MGM Television)

I knew it!  I AM being terrorized by gremlins and/or the ghosts of gremlins!  Now my laptop battery won’t re-charge!  I plugged in my power cord this morning and had the “Low Battery” warning flash up before my computer shut down.  After attempting several high-tech solutions (plugging my power cord into another outlet, checking to make sure the little green light was on, wiggling the cord, taking out the battery and putting it back in, shaking the laptop, etc.) the laptop powered up but my power meter read 0%.  Five minutes later, I checked again and it was at 100%.  Yeah, sure.  100%. That’s what they want me to think!  To top things off, I still can’t transfer Google Maps onto my Garmin.  Oh, and I may need a new projector for my home theater.

Get your questions in for actor Brian J. Smith.  Or else! (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)
Get your questions in for actor Brian J. Smith. Or else! (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)

On the bright side, our crew gifts came in today – dashing SGU jackets available in not only three different colors, but three different sizes as well!  I, of course, always go with the women’s extra tiny, the better to show off my developing delts. Anyway, check  ’em out.  Perfect for any mood or occasion –

On the go.
On the go!

Casual
Casual!

Sporty!
Sporty!

Droll
Droll!

Sassy/Thuggy!
Sassy/Thuggy!

I am a big fan of actress Alaina Huffman.  And I’m not the only one.  Yes, you can count in the rest of the show’s producers who have been utterly delighted with her portrayal of SGU’s hard-luck Lieutenant Tamara “T.J.” Johansen, but you can also include my wife who, quite frankly, rarely weighs in on the actors I work with.  The cast of SGU is an exception because they all received invites to my annual chocolate party earlier this year, an occasion that allowed Fondy to actually meet them in a relaxed setting.   She had nothing but great things to say about all,  but had particular praise for the gregarious Jamil Walker Smith (who walked in, right over to a table full of strangers, and happily introduced himself with a “Hi, I’m Jamil!!!”) and Alaina who was seated across from her for most of the evening and proved herself an exceptionally charming dinner guest alongside her equally charming husband John.

Alaina Huffman (Lieutenant Tamara Johansen) - photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television
Alaina Huffman (Lieutenant Tamara Johansen) - photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television

Yes, we’re all fans of Alaina’s work, but we’re also huge fans of Alaina the person.  She sweet, talented, funny, incredibly down-to-Earth, and possessed of a commendable appetite for chocolate.  What more could you ask for?

T.J. leads the ladies (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)
T.J. leads the ladies (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)

What more?  Maybe a couple of pics from the Stargate: Atlantis vault.

Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5, The Seed (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)
Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5, The Seed (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)

Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5, The Seed (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)
Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5, The Seed (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)

April 26, 2010: It’s an all mailbag blog entry!

Mailbag:

Belouchi writes: “1. Will we ever encounter the race that built the star system and the obelisk in the future or is it meant to stay a mystery?”

1. It’s possible the Destiny crew will cross paths with these near-omnipotent beings again.

Belouchi also writes: “2. The odysey spaceship was on a secret mission during the events Enemy at the gates, and we know through your blog that it was Stargate universe Orientated type mission; however it was the Hammond that was there in Air. Will the next episodes of Stargate
Universe shed light on this issue or do we have to wait for either sga or sg1 movies to be released in the future? There is no need to divulge anything but just give us a bearing.”

Answer: You may get your answer in the SG-1 movie, Stargate: Revolution.

Belouchi also writes: “3. Seriously, Joe, what does it look like for Sga Extinction. It’s been a year and a half that we have been waiting for any sign of hope that it will see the light. I mean if you guys wait too long than the movie will simply be even harder to do. Just give us some sort of closure.”

Answer: I would love to say one way or the other but, unfortunately, there has been no definitive word on the fate of the Atlantis movie.  As I’ve already mentioned, the hold-up is not from a lack of desire on anyone’s part.

Arctic Goddess writes: “When you wrote your short story, did you find it difficult to switch writing styles from script format to novel format? What was the most difficult part of that switch for you?”

Answer: Writing prose fiction is a whole other animal and I have the utmost respect for those who make a living doing so.  Unlike scriptwriting where you have an immense support system of fellow writers you can bounce ideas off of, spin stories with, or receive input from, writing prose is a lonely business. And incredibly challenging.  Also, the script is just one piece of a much larger puzzle whereas the short story or novel is IT.

Belouchi also writes: “Do you miss anything about StarGate Atlantis?”

Answer: Sure.  There are a lot of things I miss about both SG-1 and Atlantis.  Both shows had a particular sense of humor I always enjoyed writing.

will13 writes: “Why planets in episodes “Time” and “Justice” have the same gate address?!”

Answer: May have been a mix-up in the Art Department packages.

Kymm writes: “1. Have you thought of doing up a Frequently Asked Question section?

2. Do you get a lot of trolls that you have to screen out?

3. How often/long do you work out? What is your routine?”

Answers: 1. Sure, considered it, but information is constantly being updated so last month’s answer to a question may no longer apply.

2. Oh, yeah, the occasional trolls.  It’s reached the point now where I don’t even bother to read their comments.  Just seeing a familiar name pop up is all it takes to hit the trash button.

3. I work out every morning.  Lately, I’ve been doing a variation of the crossfit program: a variety of exercises targeting different muscle groups totaling a little over 1000 reps.

E writes: “In “Human” – holding the gate open by sticking something into the event horizon would’ve given the rescue team only 38 minutes, but why didn’t they even try?”

Answer: In Air III, delaying the jump by having Eli stick his arm through the gate bought Scott and Greer the time they needed to reach the gate.  In the case of the trapped team in Human, it was pretty clear that the time required would have far exceeded the 38 minute window.

Kymm writes: “So why don’t you tell us what your dream girl/women is? If you want us to match you up we need to know what umm floats your boat. No?”

Answer: I hear Japanese adult film star Maria Ozawa is half Canadian.  She seems like she’d be interesting to dine with.  Also, I’d be able to practice my Japanese.  Set me up.

Kymm also writes: “Do you mean to say you only watch one TV show?”

Answer: I was referring to one hour dramas.  I also watch some comedies, animated series, and, yes, a couple of reality shows as well.

Eric.Stewart writes: “How can TJ know that some plants have medicinal properties?”

Answer: The same way people discovered the medicinal properties of plants prior to the creation of lab equipment – through trial and error testing.

Eric.Stewart also writes: “I like the idea of a tracking device implanted in Rush’s chest, but how did he know in the first place he was implanted WITH A DEVICE, and that it was close to his heart.”

Answer: Any number of ways.  Scenario #14: He awakens to find himself in an alien operating theater.  His body is numb yet he is awake and cognizant. He watches in horror as they slice him open and implant the device…

Eric.Stewart also writes: “Why is Young sewing socks?”

Answer: Because he can’t go to the store to buy another pair.

vv0472 writes: “Did the network really make you write out a character?!?”

Answer: No, I was kidding.  Re-read the question and my answer.

Kymm writes: “I am still wondering what happens to a comment if it gets denied by the moderator, does anyone know?”

Answer: I’m the moderator.  I know.  Offending comments get trashed.

Echelon writes: “Quick question, will we be seeing more of Lieutenant James in either the latter half this season or in season two?’

Answer: Yep.

MrsB writes: “1) Will there be any surprising relationships formed on board?

2) Any major deaths before the seasons end?”

Answers: 1) Depends what you consider surprising.

2) Hmmm.  No comment.  We’ll talk soon.

Echelon writes: “Are there any plans to have Louise Lombard return as Rush’s wife in flashbacks/hallucinations in future episodes?”

Answer: Chances are good we’ll be seeing her again.

Michelle writes: “Joe, do you care to comment on how you guys are feeling about MGM’s financial “troubles” and how that might affect SGU’s future?”

Answer: Heh.  I read the article you’re probably referring to – essentially a op-ed that quotes two individuals who clearly know next to nothing about the situation, much less how film and television production actually work.  SGU is in no danger of being delayed or shelved or carried off by a flock of angry hippogriffs.

Yumenoko writes: “Does Carl have a fun club?”

Answer: Yes.  I’ve heard him refer to his “fun club” more times than I’d care to remember.

imadaman writes: “Do you know/have you guys decided if any of the Season 2 episodes take place in 2010?”

Answer: We’re not going to be specific about the time period.

Scarym writes: “Will we see Daniel again this season?”

Answer: Subversion.

Deni writes: “Finally watching Avatar at home. Am I the last to watch? Nobody wanted to go with me to see it in the theater because they’d either already seen it (Sheryl) or weren’t interested (daughter and Mr. Deni). Did you see it? If so, did you like it?”

Answer: Haven’t seen it.  I did have the opportunity to watch it as part of the in-light entertainment on my last trip to Montreal, but figured it probably wouldn’t be as spectacular as it would in a 3D theater.

Hyperion writes: “How come that SciFi shows and actors never get that kind of recognition (Emmy´s, Golden Globes)? Any Idea?”

Answer: Sure.  Because sci fi shows aren’t respected by the industry.

Hyperion also writes: “Will we see a bit of a change in Dr. Rush behaviour towards the rest of the crew and towards Eli?”

Answer: I think these two have a very interesting dynamic.  Stay tuned.

Hyperion also writes: “Up to date, which Season one episode stands out for you and why?”

Answer: Time and Divided were my favorites.

Matthew RD writes: “1) Is your episode still called Awakenings, or is it just Awakening without the “s” now?”

Answer: Awakening.

“2) I notice the jump countdown bears some similarities with that Lost hatch clock, any comment as to whether or not this was intended in anyway?”

Answer: Unintentional.

“3) Off topic, but when I read a script from some DVD special feature recently, I noticed “o.s” being used, example;

JAMES (O.S)
Hello, Dave

Do you know what this means?”

Answer: As a matter of fact, I do: O.S. = Off Screen.

Airelle writes: “OK, Joe, ?..any more words on your comic book?”

Answer: Very close to finalizing the deal.  Will hopefully be able to make an announcement by summer.

Lisa R. writes: “So, will more people find out about TJ’s pregnancy soon?”

Answer: Yep.  Shipboard baby shower scene upcoming.  Riley’s present is the highlight.

Terry writes: “What happened to the body in the second shuttle.”

Answer: Space burial.

Ishak writes: “But I was hoping you could say something to Jamil Walker Smith for me. does he have a blog, or facebook page, or twitter or anything?”

Answer: Not that I know of, but I’ll tell him you said hi!

susiekew writes: “I remember you picked up the book for your recent trip. What did you think of it?”

Answer: It was fine.

Amy writes: “…remember a while ago how I asked you if you knew any ways for me to look for production assistant work in Vancouver and you said you’d look into it? Any news?”

Answer: Producer John G. Lenic, who happened to be sitting beside me as I was answering this question, advises interested parties to join the appropriate union.

Terry writes: “so we now know that the little ship breaking off at the end of air part 3 was the big bad aliens of the first season, is it safe to assume that they had already boarded the ship before the humans arrived and do we know if they are still on board?”

Answer: While the surveillance pod was attached to the ship, it didn’t penetrate the hull, so the aliens never actually accessed Destiny.  As far as we know.

dasdanger writes: ”

1. When watching a movie/show or reading a book, have you ever found yourself rooting for the ‘villain’, like I did with the Wraith or Prince Nuada in Hellboy II?

2. Since you’ve read Elric stories and know the character well and know how much I love his type, are there any books or graphic novels you can suggest where I might find someone similar, albeit probably not nearly as pale?

3. When you were little, what was the worst thing you did and got in trouble for?

4. When you were little, what was the worst thing you did and got away with?

5. Are you planning to watch ABC’s new show, Happy Town?http://abc.go.com/watch/clip/happy-town/SH011580290000/243023/256197

6. Will you ever entertain a male houseguest? Stefan, perhaps?

7. If you were stranded on an island with Carl, Ashleigh, and Lulu, who do you think would kill and eat you first? Hypothetically, of course.”

Answers: 1. I always root for the villain.  Hell, I dress like a James Bond villain.

2. Have your read George R. R. Martin’s Ice and Fire series?  Jamie Lancaster might be right up your alley.

3. Don’t remember every getting in trouble.

4. Drawing stick figures on the wall.  Oh no.  Wait.  My sister got in trouble for that.

5.  Might check it out.

6. Stefan and his girlfriend my be visiting in July.

7. Ashleigh’s pretty resourceful and used to subsisting on shrubs and dirt.  I’d just follow her lead until help arrived.

vvv0472 writes: “Can you please clarify the name of the actor who is BAG. I do not believe he is credited. Do you know if he knows about our campaign? Most importantly, will he return?”

Answer: This topic is presently under discussion in the writers’ room.

Jason1983 writes: “Looking at the titles for season 2…is it fair to say that there will be an up tit in the action?”

Answer: You don’t have to wait for season 2.  Check out the last three episodes of this season.

Squall78 writes: “Any concerns about the ratings? 5 eps now in a row have fallen below what SGA was pulling last season as a whole.

Kinda stinks, some of the best eps have been in the 2nd half.

Do you think the move to Tuesday will be good?”

Answer: Since the fate of a third season will rest on the ratings of those first ten episodes of season two, I’ll save my worrying for the fall.  As for the move to Tuesday night – looking forward to it.

September 1, 2009: Football Picks and Stargate Pics!

 

 

 

Chaos on Destiny (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television).
Chaos on Destiny (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television).

 

 

Up to now, we’ve busied ourselves with spinning, story breaking, scriptwriting, critiquing, prep, post, and watching of the various dailies, cuts, and mixes but yesterday, we got down to the really important business of football. Yes, it was time make our Dark Horse and Reverse Dark Horse picks for the upcoming NFL season. The Dark Horse is the team with a below 500 record last year who you believe will surprise by having the best record this year. My pick: the once lowly 7-9 San Francisco 49ers who I predict, under head coach Mike Singletary, will turn it around this year in impressive fashion. The Reverse Dark Horse is, as the title implies, the team with an above 500 record in 2008 who you believe will disappoint by having the worst record this year. My pick – sorry Atlanta – but I foresee lean times ahead for the once high-flying Falcons.

Sgt. Ronald Greer (Eagles fan Jamil Walker Smith) armed and ready.  Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television.
Sgt. Ronald Greer (Eagles fan Jamil Walker Smith) armed and ready. Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television.

Some interesting picks from my fellow prognosticators. I chose the Browns two years ago as my Dark Horse picks and won. Last year, Carl chose them as his Reverse Dark Horse and won. Paul has decided to ride the streak by choosing the Browns this year to turn it around, win the Dark Horse, and make it three straight money finishes. In another intriguing selection, Paul is counting on Brett Favre to drive the new look Minnesota Vikings (his Reverse Dark Horse pick) into the ground. Brad took the Vick-timized Philadelphia Eagles to crash and burn which should make for an interesting season given that actor Jamil Walker Smith (aka Sgt. Greer) is a die hard fan of the team. Brad also took my Raiders as his Dark Horse pick. Would love to see it happen but, realistically, I don’t hold up much hope.

Lieutenant Matthew Scott (Brian J. Smith).
Lieutenant Matthew Scott (Brian J. Smith).

To those wondering, PG15 informs us that Canadian viewers will be able to watch the premiere of Stargate: Universe on the same day, October 2nd, that it airs south of border on SyFy. We’ve also got the show premiering in Australia on October 9th. Thanks to Chevron 7 for the tip. 

Some discussion on Incursion I and II this afternoon (episodes #19 and #20 – As if you didn’t know!).   Brad will be taking over duties on both scripts as he’ll be producing the episodes.  We discussed, among other things: clarifying who is where doing what (a special request from Paul), the challenges of guest casting, and the workings of alien tech.

Carl was in and out of the office all day.  He claims he was on set to oversee production of his episode, Pain, but I suspect he was really off trying to catch a glimpse of Zac Efron who was rumored to have stopped by the lot.  That guy is  such a fanboy.  

On the Destiny set with Director Andy Mikita, Camera Operator Greg Fox, and Director of Photography Ronn Schmidt (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television).
On the Destiny set with Director Andy Mikita, Camera Operator Greg Fox, and Director of Photography Ronn Schmidt (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television).

Another reminder to get your questions in for actor David Blue (Stargate: Universe’s Eli Wallace). 

And some pics from the past –

Devastation - Search and Rescue, Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5 (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)
Devastation – Search and Rescue, Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5 (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)
A Tight Spot - Search and Rescue, Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5 (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)
A Tight Spot – Search and Rescue, Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5 (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)
For all you Lorne whumpers - Search and Rescue, Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5 (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)
For all you Lorne whumpers – Search and Rescue, Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5 (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)
Rodney in a bit of a pickle - Search and Rescue, Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5 (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)
Rodney in a bit of a pickle – Search and Rescue, Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5 (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)

Mailbag:

DasNdanger writes: “About those trade paperbacks. Well, I might be a bit biased, but I thought Origin was pretty good – had a gothic feel to it (as in Wuthering Heights, not as in melty black eyeliner, spiderweb tats and sweaty leather coats).”

Answer: Just read it last night. While I really enjoyed the script by Paul Jenkins (his Marvel Knights Inhumans series is one of my Top 10 favorite trade paperbacks), I had a few problems with the story. Now, granted, I’ve been out of comic fandom for a while but this story would imply that Logan is – what – about 100 years old? One of the things that always appealed to me about the character was his grounding in the here and now amid the wild galaxy and time-spanning heroes and villains around him. What gives? If it’s a result of his mutant abilities, why did he follow a normal growth period up until the events of the book? Also, the “copping the identity” surprise was too reminiscent for me of Joe Kelly’s brilliant reversal in his last issue of his run on Deadpool (a brilliant series).

DasNdanger also writes: “I don’t read Vertigo and Dark Horse or any of those, and those publications seem more your speed. I’m totally stuck in basic superhero mode – I just enjoy them better than the books that feel like they’re trying to be the next Watchmen. Right now the only books I am really enjoying are Amazing Spider-Man, Invincible Iron Man, Dark Wolverine, Weapon X, Wolverine Origins, X-Force…and that’s about it.”

Answer: Actually, our reading tastes run very similar. My list: Amazing Spider-Man, Invincible Iron Man, Dark Wolverine, Weapon X, Wolverine Origins, Ms. Marvel, Dark Avengers, and Deadpool. I gave X-Force a shot and, while I liked it enough, I had no idea what was going on, even after three issues.

Belouchi writes: “You forgot me buddy.”

Answer: You’ll have to repost your question.

Major D. Davis writes: “So have you shot lost yet, or are you waiting to shoot it after you finish pain?”

Answer: We’re shooting out of sequence. We’re shooting Pain and prepping Lost.

Patricia Lee writes: “I saw on ABC’s Defying Gravity credits that the VFX are done by STARGATE Studios! Is that Mark Savela and his gang???”

Answer: Nope.

Audrey writes: “So when do you start prep on Incursion?”

Answer: Not for weeks.

PG15 writes: “I can bigify the SGA pics just fine (and they are great, by the way; thanks!), so I’m not sure what you mean when you say that they are “down-rezzed versions”; how huge are the originals?!”

Answer: Same size, different quality (resolution and pixel dimension). But if you’re happy with these versions, I may not bother.

Chevron7 writes: “So why is everyone wearing masks on the ice set?”

Answer: To avoid breathing in the particulates of the fake snow.

Trish writes: “How is Jelly doing?”

Answer: Just got the results of her last test today. The doctor says it’s nothing terribly bad. Some benign nodes. Some degeneration that could be the result of the metacam she is taking or indicative of crohn’s disease. However, since I haven’t noticed any marked changes in her eating or drinking habits, we can discount the latter for now. As for the metacam – well, she needs it because of her deteriorated hips, so I’m just going to try dialing back the dosage a little.

Oneill2Ls writes: “From what I’ve seen of the Destiny pics, it looks very Steampunk. Is that the look they are going for?”

Answer: I’m not sure if that was the intention but, yes, definitely Steampunk in design.

Major D. Davis writes: “What’s the difference between a cut and a mix.”

Answer: A cut is an assembly of scenes that tells the story of a particular episode. The editor will put together his cut, then the director will work with the editor and his cut, replacing or making changes to shots, scenes and sequences, to arrive at their Director’s cut. The producers will watch the Director’s cut, then go back to editing and make their own adjustments to the shots, scenes, and sequences, and eventually put out their Producer’s cut. The studio and the network will then weigh in with notes. Further changes will be made and then the cut will be “locked” – the implication being that this will be the final cut and no further changes made. A mix is the locked cut with music and sound effects.

Ahem writes: “Joe: Thanks so much for the SGA photos. However, I’m curious as to why now, when the emphasis is on everything SGU?”

Answer: 1. I didn’t have access to this archive of Atlantis photos until recently and, 2. I’d like Atlantis fans to be welcomed into the Stargate: Universe fold.

Crayonbaby writes: “Why does Jason always have a smile on his face when he’s not filming SGA? Kind of like Chris Judge?”

Answer: Yep. Both very jovial fellows.

Thunder writes: “ Is it Jelly’s birthday today?”

Answer: Nope. Early February.

Major D. Davis writes: “Is Andy Mikita directing Pain?”

Answer: Will Waring is directing Pain.

Liz writes: “Well if they didn’t want the fans to be all negative about it, maybe they shouldn’t have cancelled SGA only to begin with Universe the season directly following it. Just a thought.”

Answer: Universe was in the works and would have gone into production regardless of Atlantis’s fate. It’s kind of silly to have expected us to observe some sort of period of mourning.

Christine: “The desperation to get fans to watch SGU is becoming pathetic.”

Answer: Actually, it’s called promotion. New shows do it all the time. Even established shows do it. Ultimately, those who give the Stargate: Universe a shot and tune in to the premiere are in for a treat. And those who choose not to watch because “their feelings were hurt” will miss out.

January 27, 2010: Which SGU character would you like to see more of in the back half of season one and beyond??

Wow!  160+ comments and counting!  Who knew haggis would prove such a popular topic.  Thanks to everyone who took the time to comment on my first attempt at the Scottish delicacy.

Also, thanks to those who have been weighing in with their thoughts on Stargate: Universe – their likes, dislikes, and hopes for the future.  As I stated in yesterday’s entry, you have the entire back half of season one to look forward to come April and I can assure you that many of your requests will be magically honored when the show returns.  While the first ten episodes established the series, the ship, its characters and their various relationships, the next ten will be more action-oriented, focus more on exploration, and delve deeper into our crew.  Still, this is the perfect time to chime in as we gear up for the show’s second season.

I’ve received a slew of comments (and expect many more), but would like to address each of the topics in term.  So today, let’s discuss the responses to the first questions asked:  1. Which character would you like to see explored more?

Not surprisingly, you weighed in with a wide selection of worthy candidates ranging from main characters to background players.  But leading the pack was SGU’s resident medic, Lieutenant Tamara “T.J.” Johansen.  Many of you cited the character’s potential and the surprising depth of Alaina Huffman’s performance in even the most cursory of scenes or exchanges.  It’s something that struck me as well, especially in later episodes, Alaina’s ability to masterfully convey so much about her character in subtleties like a simple line delivery of a thrown look.  Although most of your diehard fans know where we’re going with the character, but I’ll resist the urge to spill the beans for those who don’t want to be spoiled.  Instead, I’ll simply assure you that T.J. will have a developing story arc through the back half of season one, one that will have major ramifications for her character well into season two.  A lot of wonderful Tamara moments throughout the back half, but Faith, episode 13, is the episode that fans of the character (and fans of actress Alaina Huffman in particular) should really look forward to. And the show’s second season gets off to a very interesting start for her as well.  One of the aspects of the T.J. character we see flashes of in episodes like Water that I truly love and want to explore is her military side.  In short, I want to see her kick ass!

Two more characters who you’re requesting to see more of are the Machiavellian Dr. Rush (Robert Caryle) and SGU’s spirited warrior, Master Sergeant Ronald Greer (Jamil Walker Smith).  While Rush has been front and center to date, many of you are hankering for a peek at Rush’s motivations, his backstory, what potentially dark events from his past shaped him.  Well, fans of the character won’t have to wait long for some answers.  Human, episode 14, will explore the Rush character and, if not answer many of these questions, then at least offer some major hints to a troubled past.  And, of course, Rush will continue to follow his own agenda (which we’ll begin to piece together as time goes on), ultimately taking this game to a whole new level as we head into the show’s second season.

As for Greer, many of you have expressed a desire to find out a little more about his backstory as well, what makes him tick tick tick.  He’s one of the more fascinating members of the Destiny crew, a soldier’s soldier with an explosive volatility simmering just beneath his ice cool exterior.  And, in episode 15, Lost, we finally get a glimpse at Greer’s past, some of the events that shaped him as well, for better and for worse.  In addition to that episode, the back half of season one is sprinkled with plenty of wonderful character beats both dark and humorous, as well as moments that will speak to the bond of friendship between Greer and Scott.

Plenty of other characters made the wish list.  Quite a few of you want to see more of  Eli Wallace (David Blue), find out a little more about how his mother is doing, and see the character mature a little over the course of his incredible adventure aboard Destiny.  Check, check, and check although, admittedly, the latter requires us to walk a fine line between having the character mature over the course of his experiences yet keeping him the grounded, fish-out-of-water the viewer can continue to identify with.  There are many challenges ahead for the young genius, not the least of which being his uncertain positioning in the ongoing tug-o-war between two diametrically opposed father figures: Young and Rush.  Remember that last scene in Justice where Eli goes to visit Young after Rush has been left behind?  You figure he suspects something’s up?

Chloe Armstrong (Elyse Levesque) was another character that received quite a few votes and more than a few requests to see the character developed beyond what we’ve established to date.  Well, things will get very interesting for Chloe almost immediately upon our April return and her harrowing experience will have repercussions not only for her, but for the rest of the crew as well.

Camile Wray (Ming-Na) and Colonel David Telford (Lou Diamond Philips) also received mentions.  Wray is a civilian with a background in Human Resources and while, at first blush, the skills she possesses may seem impractical in a space-faring scenario, Camile will step to the fore later this season, especially when all hell breaks loose in the show’s two-part season finale.  And then there’s that hate-hate relationships she’s got going on with Greer. We’ll be exploring that throughout – and in very interesting fashion later.

Several of you wanted to know more about Telford.  As one poster mentioned: “There has to be more than what we as viewers have seen of him”.  True, true. And we’ll find out plenty more about him later this season.  Also, someone else cited his past with Young and suggested that this was an element that warranted further exploration.  Well, yes, we have hinted at some history between these two and some of these shocking and tragic details will be revealed late in season one.

Also receiving votes: Luis Ferreira’s Colonel Everett Young (big trouble looms for our anguished commander on the heels of his shocking decision in Justice), Brian J. Smith’s Lieutenant Matthew Scott (Faith, episode 13, in particular offers us a better understanding of his selflessness and willingness to self-sacrifice for the greater good), secondary characters (some great moments upcoming for the likes of James, Brody, Volker, Park, Franklin and Riley), and Destiny itself (shipboard exploration and discovery to come).

So plenty of character development headed your way, most of which will hopefully satisfy your numerous requests (while simultaneously stirring further interest in our extended shipboard family).  And if what’s ahead in the back half of season one doesn’t clear your entire wish list, well, there’s season two to look forward to as well.

To JimfromJersey who complained because I didn’t post a pic of my finished haggis.  Sorry.  I forgot.  Here it is.

Sweet potato mash on the left. Haggis with whisky cream on the right.

Viewer mail:

PG15 writes: “I just got accepted into the Calfornia Institute of Technology as a Graduate Student!! Woohoo!!”

Answer: I echo Carl Binder’s congratulations (If you missed it, check the comments.  He posted especially for you!).  Go Beavers! (to quote Cal Tech alum Dr. Alison Porter in Whispers).

Michael A. Burstein writes: “Haggis is one of those foods found in every culture, that people within the culture appreciate and people outside generally can’t understand. (In my background, that food is kishke.)”

Answer: Now kishke I have done, back in Montreal where some of my Jewish friends also introduced me to the joys of chicken liver dumplings.  Yum on both counts.

dasNdanger writes: “Now…how about that 100-year old egg.”

Answer: Also done.  It was a tasty ingredient in the congee Fondy and I would get when we used to go to Richmond for lunch.

Kerry writes: “You should now try Blood Sausage – a traditional Irish breakfast DELIGHT! Black or White pudding are your options, and I have to admit, if you don’t think about what you’re eating (much like Haggis), it’s a pretty great part of a Sunday fry. Alan makes his friends from home stock him up when they come to visit because the good stuff is hard to find in Vancouver.”

Answer: First Carl, now you.  It’s a practically a Stargate reunion in the comments section today.  So, yeah, I gratefully accept your invitation to try blood sausage the next time Alan’s friends come to town and bring the good stuff.  Looking forward to it.

Dasndanger writes: “But I was wondering about the writing team – what’s really better? A team of the same writers, or mixing things up a bit by bringing in new blood? Personally I think having a consistent team of writers is good, since they really get a feel for the characters. Sure, outside writers can bring in new ideas, but what if those ideas are at the expense of the characters? Just wonder what you think of regular writers v guest writers…if you have a sec or two to share.”

Answer: You started your post by referencing Mark Harmon (who I hear nothing but good things about on and off screen) and NCIS and I just wanted to say I LOVE the fact that this show has been pulling in some of its best ratings ever in its 7th season!  Hats off to them on a truly impressive achievement.  As to your question – Which is better, established writers or new blood? – I would answer: Can’t we have both?  On the one hand, established writers know the show and its characters better than anyone and they’ve developed a strong working relationship with the cast and crew; on the other hand, new writers could inject some new ideas and approaches to the stories and characters.  Why not the best of both worlds?

Steve Eramo writes: “Glad to read that your first Haggis experience was such a positive one! I wouldn’t steer you wrong.”

Answer: Hey, Steve.  So what’s next on the menu?

May 20, 2009: GottaMakeThisFast!

 

Carl: "This better be good."
Carl: “This better be good.”

Tuna appetizer
Tuna appetizer
Short ribs
Short ribs
Carl gives the food the thumbs up.
Carl gives the food the thumbs up.
Green tea opera cake
Green tea opera cake

Well damn. Looks like I’m on the clock tonight. I forgot my power cord at work meaning I only have as long as my laptop battery lasts to get this entry out. According to the power meter: 45 minutes. So, today in broad strokes:

Stage 4 = Destiny set = Robert Cooper directing the Day #1 of Time.

Air III = Director’s cut = David Blue = Hilarious!

Dailies = Robert Carlyle = Blistering Performance!

Production office = Chat with Jamil Walker Smith = laid back and intense behind the camera, dark and intense in front of the camera.

Prepping Justice = Brad Wright producing/Will Waring directing.

Stargate Extinction = Still unread.

Dinner tonight = Market = Carl’s treat as a thank you for the chocolate party invitation = Rice Cracker Crusted Tuna with Citrus Sriracha Emulsion = Bacon Wrapped Shrimp with Passion Mustard and Avocado = Soy Glazed Short Ribs with Apple-Jalapeno Puree and Rosemary Crumbs = Green Tea Opera Cake.

And…Time!

Mailbag:

DasNdanger writes: “I was referring to the similarities between Shep and Todd (’you’re more like Wraith than you know’), and whether or not that idea is carried over into how the characters are written… are they considered to be doppelgangers – is Todd Sheppard’s ‘twin’ – and if so, is his presence an omen that something bad is going to happen?”

Answer: There is a definite sense that Sheppard and Todd are two sides of the same coin although I can’t really say whether this is foremost in our minds when writing the characters and their relationship. I’ve often said that I’m less a fun of black and white than I am a fan of grey, characters who fall somewhere off-center between good and evil – the broken anti-hero, the charismatic and admirable adversary. In other words, protagonists with a hint of darkness and antagonists with a touch of honor.

Mackenzie’s Momma writes: “So how is Lulu doing any better? The meds working?”

Answer: Lulu is much better. Thanks for asking. She’s over her touch of pneumonia and ever since I’ve started hand-feeding her, she’s stopped her daily vomiting as well.

PB Mom writes: “I tweeted Lexa, when she tweeted that she visited you today, that your dogs were now tweeting and they were hoping to get 1000 followers by the end of the month. She put a link to them in a message she tweeted so I hope the dogs get a jump in followers. Lexa has a LOT of followers.”

Answer: She’s a sweetheart. I’ve always been a big fan.

Luis writes: “I recently watched the episode “FULL Alert” SG-1 The truck That O’Niell is taking the beer out of is that his personnel or a prop???”

Answer: Don’t recall but safe to say it was probably a prop.

Lexa writes: “Oh, and I’m now officially following your dogs on Twitter – they’re far more erudite than you give them credit for.”

Answer: They thank you for your support. Lulu intends to dedicate her first published collection of poetry to you.

Paloosa writes: “Now that there are several episodes under everyone’s belts, are the actors and their characters nuancing where the stories are going?”

Answer: So far, they’ve been pleasantly surprised by the story and character developments.

Wandering Wolf writes: “Could you please settle an argument between a few friends of mine and let us know what episode number Earth is now in SGU?”

Answer: 7.
Shirt ‘n Tie writes: “Keep meaning to ask…Any Summer hols planned?”

Answer: Maybe Montreal for a week.

Michael A. Burstein writes: “Gateway was amazing, I agree. Believe it or not, I’ve never read Camp Concentration.”

Answer: I highly recommend it. One of my top ten favorites.

Karen writes: “So, when Michael was in your office you asked him to do a
Q & A and he agreed? Right?”

Answer: I have asked him in the past and he was receptive to the idea, but having recently completed a Q&A for his official site, I think it would be best to wait a while before asking him to do another.

Shirt ‘n Tie also writes: “Had a thought recently, would you ever consider putting a “Classic” on the BOTM selection?”

Answer: I’ve considered it, but I like the Q&A aspect of the book of the month club. It allows established authors to shed light on their work and career and also offers a spotlight opportunity for less well-known writers.

Antisocialbutterflie writes: “ How often do you come up with an idea for a script and find out that someone else has already written a slightly different version of the story?”

Answer: A lot. One of the things I look forward to in my retirement is to never again having to hear the words “Star Trek already did it”.

Ruffles writes: “1. The Stargate movies have identified themselves with the franchise (Stargate: Extinction, Stargate: Continuum) instead of with their specific show (SG-1, Atlantis). Is that an attempt to reach a larger audience?

2. In Outcast, Nancy mentioned a man named Grant. Is he her husband? Any plans for her to appear in the movie?

3. If you could chang one episode of season 5, what would it be and why?”

Answers: 1. Nope. I just think that Stargate: Extinction sounds better than Stargate Atlantis: Extinction. Also, it’s in keeping with the titles of the preceding movies.

2. Don’t recall. I believe he was her boyfriend.

3. No sense in second-guessing yourself. Unless you have a time machine. Uh, you don’t have a time machine, do you?

Matt writes: “1. Is SGU being written like most popular tv shows around now such as 24, Prison Break, Lost, Heroes etc, where each episode ends in a cliffhanger giving us all something to think about with it carrying on or tied into the following episode.

2. When can we expect to see some more promotional and behinds the scenes photography and videos for SGU?”

Answers: 1. It won’t be as arc-driven as the shows mentioned. That said, it will certainly be more arc-driven than the previous two Stargate series. We’re trying to strike a nice balance between the two – a show that develops its characters, their relationships, and an overall story while, at the same time, proving accessible to first-time viewers or those who may only join us several episodes into the season.

2. No idea. This one is a studio and network call.

Haina writes: “Will we be privy to your short story perhaps? Will you be getting it published or something? I love sci-fi short stories. (If you are writing a sci-fi one.)”

Answer: Yes, the story will be published (unless my editor was pulling my leg) in a forthcoming 2010 anthology. It possesses certain SF elements…

Dovil writes: “However, there is of course a difference between expressing this on a personal journal and turning up on your doorstep with a list of demands and holding your dogs hostage. There is a difference between wording something to you as “I was disappointed when…” and “You should, you have to, you must do, x” when it comes to storylines. There is a difference between realising that this might just boil down to the fact that the story being told is no longer the one that a viewer wants to hear and the umbilical cord needs to be cut, and hey, this can be difficult when it’s not just about losing a tv show, it’s about losing the community that surrounds it when you’ve gone off the deep end to be an internet fan.”

Answer: Funny you should post as I was going to use you as an example of a someone who has clearly been unhappy with the direction the show took and expressed their opinion in a take-no-prisoners, snarky and amusing, occasionally way waaaaay wrong, but reasoned manner. I disagree with certain of your arguments but I respect them nonetheless. This is in marked contrast to other individuals whose critiques read like nothing more than negativity for negativity’s sake. It’s like someone has forgotten to switch them off auto-pilot.

Dovil also writes: “I think it also can become problematic when fans reactions obviously DO influence the writing of a show: case in point Carson’s return (or at least I believe that because certain fans became organised and protested, it was a major factor of the character coming back). Sometimes being loud and entitled gets you what you want.”

Answer: You can call Carson’s return more of a “perfect storm” of events. Sure, it was great to see he had much support among fans, but that alone would not have been enough to secure his return.

June 2, 2010: Elyse Levesque Answers Your Questions!

It’s finally here!  That long-awaited Elyse Levesque Q&A you’ve all been asking about!  Much thanks to the lovely Elyse for taking time out from her busy schedule (she has a job, y’know!) to answer our questions in very entertaining fashion.  I’m pleased she was able to actually slow down long enough to field our queries. Fact is, for the first few months of production, I didn’t have a single picture of Elyse because she was always on the move – and by move, I mean dancing.  Yep, she’d be boogie-ing so much between takes that my attempts to snap a candid shot of her would end up…well…

Elyse Levesque behind-the-scenes on Time.

Anyway, what can I say about the supremely talented Ms. Levesque? She sings, she dances, she acts, she raps, she scuba dives in alien tanks.  “What’s that?”you say.  She scuba dives in alien tanks?  “No, the other one?” Oh, yeah.  Apparently, she raps.  Check out the NSFW video at the end of the Q&A…

Lisa R. writes: “Questions for Elyse: How did you like being in the water tank?  Was it difficult reacting to what else was going on in the scene when you were in the water?”

EL: It was difficult to see what exactly I was looking at through the tank, so I pretty much had to take my own cues. Other than that, it was actually a very relaxing experience. Our stunt coordinator James Bamford (aka “BamBam”) made sure I felt super comfortable and even gave me a quick scuba lesson beforehand. Overall, a really cool experience!!

Bryan M. White writes: “Quick question for Elyse. I have heard in interviews that many actors struggle with (or become effected by) the stress of emotional scenes.  Now Chloe is in a difficult situation because she just lost her father, she found out that her boyfriend is cheating on her, she is constantly questioning whether she belongs on the ship, and she has been though a lot of trauma in “Space”.  Sorry for the pun. I didn’t realize till after I typed it. But my question is whether those feelings of losing faith have ever had an effect on you while playing this role? How do you deal with that stress at the end of the day?

Thanks for your time. Best wishes,
Bryan”

EL: Emotional scenes definitely take their toll, but I find them to be more therapeutic than anything. As actors it’s part of our job to go into those dark, messy places. I think it’s important to leave “the work” at work and not take it home with you.

Sean D. writes: “Two questions for Elyse: 1. What was one of the most heart-felt moments for you with the rest of the cast and crew during SGU’s first season?

EL: When we all got together to watch the pilot episode. Production rented out a theatre, so it was like we were having our own mini-premier. It was such fun for everyone to watch it together and to finally see the results of our hard work.

“2. What was one of the funniest moments for you and the rest of the cast and crew during SGU’s first season?”

EL: Everyday on set provides plenty of comedy, especially with this cast!! We’re a crazy bunch and once we get started, it’s really hard for us to stop. But I think one of my fondest memories is early last season, during the pilot actually, when Louis got his hands on a fart machine and proceeded to punk people from that day till the very end of shooting.

Shawna writes: “Okay, questions for Elyse:
What are you most hoping for or looking forward to in regards to future character development for Chloe?
Also, if you could choose, what role (if any) would you have her develop on the ship (as far as how the others are scientists, soldiers, etc.)?
What do you think Chloe’s opinion of Eli is? (Is she oblivious to the fact that he has feelings for her, or what?)
If you personally had to choose between Eli or Scott (or any of the other male characters for that matter) who would you choose?”

EL: What’s great about Chloe is that the possibilities as to where her character can go are endless. I would love to see her come into her own and take on a leadership, perhaps in an area that would allow her to exercise her skills as a political science major. As far as the Chloe/Eli relationship is concerned, I do think she’s aware that he has feelings for her, but I think that her feelings don’t go beyond friendship at this point. She cares about him very much, and values his friendship, which is something she would never want to jeopardize. The last thing she would want to do is hurt him. If I were in Chloe’s shoes, I would choose the blue aliens. I’ve always had a weakness for foreigners ;).

Crayonbaby writes: “Of all the actors you work with on SGU, who tells the best jokes? With all the seriousness of the storylines, I’m sure it’s great to have someone who can lighten the mood, if just a little.”

EL: It’s hard to say who tells the best jokes, as Louis Ferraira, David Blue and Peter Kelamis all have quite the arsenal of funnies that they like to bust out between set-ups. Louis tells them as though he were performing a one-act play, so he may just get my vote because of that. But damn, they all know how to make us laugh.

Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television

Abby writes: “Here’s a few questions for Elyse.  First off, thanks soooo much for taking the time to answer fan questions. I really appreciate it! =D  1. Did you always want to be an actress? If not, what other careers were you interested in?”

EL: For as long as I can remember I wanted to be an actress, but I think I toyed with the idea of being a marine biologist or a veterinarian for a hot minute when I was ten. Who knows if I would have gone into either of those fields had I not ended up in this industry. I think I probably would’ve become an art historian or done something in the visual arts.

“2. Are you reading any books right now? Which ones?”

EL: I’ve just started reading Leo Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina”.

“3. How did you get into acting?”

EL: I auditioned for a children’s television series called “The Incredible Story Studio” when I was 11. The first episode I did was called “Hugo and the Haunted Cheese” and I played Candace Wilkes, the snobby teachers pet. As you can imagine, it was the role of a lifetime ;).

Danielle writes: “What would you say was the hardest scene to shoot in the first half of season 1?”

EL: One of the hardest scenes for me, probably would have been in the pilot where my character attacks Rush after her father dies. The emotional and physical demands of that scene were both very challenging. I felt terrible having to beat up poor Bobby, but he was a trooper and insisted I just go for it. Funny part is that I was probably more bruised after that scene than he was!

“What is your favorite episode that you’ve shot so far? And, last one i promise, Do you think that Eli has a shot at being with chloe? I really hope so because I love the Eli/Chloe pairing ^_^

Thanks btw you are awesome”

EL: My favorite episode of the first half is “Time”. I think it stands out. Everyone brought their best game to the table in that episode and it shows. As far as Eli and Chloe are concerned, you never know where the writers may take the relationship, but I think it’s a stronger choice to not have them get together because once you cross that bridge, there’s no turning back. There’s something enticing about not giving the audience what they want and I think the constant desire to see these two together will keep certain fans tuning in!

Cody writes: “Questions for the extraordinarily lovely Elyse Levesque: 1. What is it like doing the DVD commentaries? (I’ve always been curious about that.)

EL: DVD commentaries are a blast! For one, we get to see the episode, which is always a treat, but it’s nice to be able to share with people all the ins and outs of what it took to make what you’re seeing happen.

“2. Would you like your character to have a more specific role on the ship like how Eli’s become integrated into the science team?”

EL: Definitely, but I think that’s something that will come with time. It wouldn’t make sense for Chloe to all of a sudden be manning a shuttle or sorting out the secrets of the ship’s systems. It wouldn’t be believable. But I imagine that she will slowly but surely find her footing and eventually assume a specific role on the ship.

“3. What do you think of the series’ music?  Thanks for taking the time to answer some of our questions.”

EL: I love a lot of the musical choices for the show, even some of the more contemporary songs. Our composer Joel Goldsmith has done a brilliant job giving the show it’s own sound.

Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television.

Anais33 a ecrit: “Alors…mes questions à Elyse!  1. Avant de jouer dans SGU aviez vous déjà vu un épisode de la franchise stargate?”

EL: Non, je n’ai jamais regardé d’épisodes. Mais avoir décroché le rôle de Chloe Armstrong, je me suis intéressée à SG-1.

“2. Vous devez vraiment bien vous amusez sur le tournage, qui est le plus comique dans le cast?”

EL: Il y a plusieurs personnes drôles sur le “set”. Mais je pense que Louis Ferraira est le plus comique.

“3. Quel scéne dans sgu a était la plus difficile a jouer? Pourquoi?”

A: Peut-être la scène où mon père meurt. On a tourné cette scène pendant 4 heures, et j’ai pleuré chaque fois, ce qui m’a beaucoup épuisée, mais avec le “fun” que nous avons sur le plateau, ca en vaut toujours la peine.

“4. Je sais que vous parlez bien français pouvez vous dire un petit message aux french fans?”

EL: J’aimerais dire un très grand merci pour votre support et passion pour notre série. Nous ne pourrions rien faire de tout cela sans vous.

Madwelshboy writes: “For Elyse: 1) What’s you favorite season 1 episode and why?:

EL: Time. ‘Cause it’s kind of badass.

“2) What yous favorite Chloe momment or line, so far?”

EL: My favorite line was from Human, when Chloe shows off her archaeological expertise with this neverending line: “Actually, many advanced alien civilizations found in the Milky Way and Pegasus Galaxies lived in what appeared to be primitive stone architecture that concealed extremely powerful technology…”. Try delivering that without passing out. Phew.

“3) Other than Chloe, which character is your favorite?”

EL: I have a thing for Rush.

“4) If you could use one word to discribe each of your fellow cast mate, what word would you use?”

EL: Robert Carlyle: Powerful

Louis Ferraira: Hafrigginlarious

Brian J. Smith: Classic

David Blue: Smarty-pants (I realize that’s technically two words, but I hyphened it to make it one so that I wasn’t cheating. Although I still kind of am. Whatever. Go with it.)

Alaina Huffman: Inspiring

Jamil Walker Smith:  Oneofakind

Ming Na: Stunning

Lou Diamond Phillips: Charming

“5) I’m sure a lot of people want to know this, Brian J Smith is he a good kisser?”

EL: Yes, the boy has an exceptional set of lips and he certainly knows how to use them.

Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television

Craig writes: “Question for Elyse: If someone really did offer you a chance to go to another planet via a stargate or spaceship would you take it? And if you did go, what would you take with you on the trip (for survival purposes or just as “comfort items”)?”

EL: Oh yeah, I’d be hip to it! And I’d probably take my toothbrush, some deodorant, my slippers……and Chuck Norris.

Tammy Dixon writes: “Questions for Elyse: What is the most physically uncomfortable scene you have had to do in this or any show?
Dog, or cat person?”

EL: The scenes in the water tank in Space and Divided were challenging, but a lotta fun. The harder part was having to hold my breathe for the whole sequence. But, I got a free scuba lesson out of it, so worth it!!! And Dogs all the way :).

Logan writes: “Hey Elyse, 1. There has been a lot of criticism directed towards the under-development of female characters on SGU. What’s your take on that?”

EL: I am curious to know what exactly the fans want to see from these female characters. I see very strong, intelligent, beautiful, interesting women being depicted on this show, who are flawed and vulnerable and who are, in my opinion, far more relatable than what we see in a lot of other sci-fi shows.

2. I have high hopes for the development of your character on the show. What are your hopes for character development? So far through the production of Season 2, are they coming to fruition.”

EL: Actually, I feel like where I saw my character going is far different from where the writers have taken her in the Second Season. But they have in fact, given her a storyline far cooler than anything I could have imagined for her! I’m super excited to see how it all unfolds and hope that the events that happen to her lend themselves to giving Chloe a more purposeful place onboard Destiny.

“3. How has the being on SGU changed your life?”

EL: Life itself is the same in many ways, but what’s wonderful now is that I get to go to a job everyday that I love and get to work with such amazing people. It’s a privilege to enjoy what you do and I feel so fortunate to have become a part of the Stargate family.

“What’s your favourite Chloe-moment in S1?  Could you describe what was it like to be filmed in a water tank (“Space”)? It sure looked scary.”

EL: It looks a lot scarier than it was. Our Stunt Coordinator “BamBam” also known as James Bamford, made sure I felt comfortable in the tank and took such good care of me, that I had nothing to worry about other than just relaxing and having fun. To be honest the tank was so warm, the only bad part was having to get out of it.

“Chloe is starting to grow on me. I feel for her, because she doesn’t think she’s useful. Is Chloe going to find something to do on the ship?”

EL: I think she’ll keep discovering things about herself and how she can be of more help onboard. It wouldn’t have made sense for her to suddenly be manning a shuttle or solving the ship’s systems. So, yes she feels useless at first but eventually she’ll find her footing.

Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television

“How much similarities are between you and the character you play?”

EL: We both have brown hair. We both have blue eyes. And we both like to do yoga. It’s like we were separated at birth. wink

“You’ve said that your favourite character is Rush. What’s it like working with Robert Carlyle?”

EL: Robert (or Bobby as we all lovingly call him) is a rockstar. He’s about as cool as they come. Super grounded, honest and real, and completely, 100% about the work. He sets a good example for the rest of us to follow and I think he can be attributed to the reason why this show is such a pleasure to work on.

Maggiemayday writes: “For Elyse: I rarely have coherent questions which no one else has asked… so incoherent question time: dark or milk chocolate? Do you think bacon is a food group? Thanks for all your hard work on the show!”

EL: Dark chocolate. And no, I don’t think bacon is a food group. However, I have had chocolate covered bacon…so there’s that.

PBMom writes: “FANTASTIC! ELYSE is in the house: My questions: 1. Did you hurt Robert Carlyle when you mowed him over in Air after Chloe’s father died?”

EL: I think I actually walked away with more bumps and bruises than he did! I’m quite fragile turns out.

“2. In the scene with Chloe’s dad dying, did you draw on any particular life event or is it more acting in the moment. Gosh, that scene just ripped my heart out  in sympathy and pain for Chloe. It was so real.”

EL: Thank you very much! It was a tough scene to play, but I got to work a lot of stuff out. I’ve never experienced the loss of a parent, but I have lost other important people in my life, so I definitely drew from that. It’s icky, but you do have to put yourself in that situation, convincing yourself that that really is your father on the other side of the airlock.

“3. Twitter: Blessing or curse or a little bit of both?”

EL: It’s a necessary evil.

“4. Where were you when you heard about season 2 getting picked up?”

EL: I was in my living room and got a phone call from one of our Producers. It was mid December so it was kind of like Christmas came early!

“5. Do you like a particular yoga method over another?”

EL: Am a huge fan of both Bikram’s and Power yoga. Like to balance it out by doing both.

“6. No question, just a thank you for doing so many commentaries. They were fantastic and I hope you loved doing them as much as we have enjoyed them. I have missed the actors of the Stargate franchise doing commentaries for a very long time. I hope we’ll see more during 1.5 and 2.0 and 2.5 and 3.0, etc. And thank you for doing this Q&A. I was just telling Sherry (Brian’s mom) the other day that there is no other TV show where the stars of the show (so many of them, too) are so accessible, gracious and generous to the fans. You rock.”

EL: Wow! Thank you so much for all of that. We know how lucky we are to have such a dedicated fanbase! We appreciate you guys and love to be able to share our passion for this show with you. Cheers!

Terror on the set of Time.

Craseder writes: “To Elyse: What’s it like working with Brian when your characters are in such a close relationship? Do you ever have really akward moments off-camera?”

EL: Brian and I get along great on and off the set. We’re pretty fortunate that everyone in this cast is just so darn neat that all we ever want to do is hang out together! It only gets awkward when somebody farts. Kidding. Farts on our set our practically mandatory. A right of passage, if you will…

Ytimynona writes: “Questions for Elyse Levesque:
1) Have you ever seen the Jolly Roger on Regina’s mighty shores? 
2) On Wikipedia it says you traveled the world modeling between high school and being a full time actress. Can you share with us any awesome world travel experiences/stories?
3) You deliver some lines/beats that could be taken as either serious or comedy in a very subtly comedic fashion, which makes them that much more hilarious. Do you have a background or training in comedy?”

EL: 1) I have not been so fortunate to see the Jolly Roger on Regina’s mighty shores. I have, however, heard that song one time too many.

2) I saw Giorgio Armani walking down a beach in St. Tropez wearing just a speedo and a gold chain that went nicely with his white chest hair.

3) If I ever say or do anything funny, it’s completely by accident. Honestly, I have so much respect for comedic actors because I think it’s one of the hardest skills to develop.

Simon writes: “These are questions for Elyse (hope there not too late!)  1) I’ve heard you had quite a lot to do in the episode Space (UKer here ) was that, in your opinion as an Actress the most fun you’ve had on the set so far?”

EL: Speaking of “Space”, that was one of my favorite episodes to shoot. I felt like an badass action hero getting to do all my own stunts in the tank. I think it’s always fun getting to do that kind of stuff, because it’s not an everyday occurrence. I mean, how often do you get to wear pleather while being submerged underwater because a bunch of scary aliens have kidnapped you and are about to probe your mind…? Am I right?!

“2) I honestly do not see all these comments about your character, how do you take the comments from the fandom?”

EL: It is what it is. I try to look at it from the perspective of, “I don’t like every character on every TV show I see out there, so why should I expect everyone to like my character?”.

“3) Who’s been the most fun to do scenes with on SGU so far?”

EL: I don’t get to work with Louis Ferraira that often, but whenever I do it’s always a memorable experience. He gets me laughing during setups and sometimes even in the middle of a take. A regular prankster that one!

Major D. Davis writes: “1. Do you think Chloe has any feelings for Eli? They seem to be great friends, but i feel like there’s potential for more. I think Eli was right in Time, when he was saying he thought they “Made each other happy when they’re together”. I mean, it seems like Chloe is happier around Eli. Do you think your character feels for Eli in a romantic way?”

EL: I think Chloe genuinely loves Eli, but in a purely platonic way. I think from the start she saw him as the best friend she never had, but always wanted. She knows that his feeling go beyond friendship, but overlooks it for selfish reasons of wanting him to still be a part of her life. I think the last thing she intends to do is hurt him, but that’s just what happens when feelings get in the mix. Who knows where things may lead and one day she might wake up and decide that she’s ready to love him, and it might be too late. I think it’s stronger for the time being that these characters don’t entertain a romantic relationship, but for the possibility of that occurrence to always be there.

“2. What is your favorite prank that has been pulled on an SGU set?”

EL: Louis Ferraira and his infamous fart machine and the endless number of pranks he has pulled with that darn thing.

“3. What SGU character do you admire most and why?”

EL: Rush. He’s so dislikable and yet completely intriguing. You’re almost rooting for him even though you know he’s a selfish little “bleep”.

“4. Do you think the relationship between Matt and Chloe has to do more with the emotional bond or the physical bond? (Or as Lisa Park would put it, the “Reading” bond).”

EL: I think initially it was a physical bond, intensified by the circumstances, but the relationship has taken a more serious turn, which I think is a first for both of these characters. They’ve been through so much together that you can’t help but build an emotional attachment to one another. Will it stand the test of time? We shall see.

Chevron7 writes: “Questions for Elyse: 1. Do you get nervous at auditions? What was your audition for the role of Chloe like?”

EL: Do I ever. Sometimes I work myself up so much I feel like I might faint. But once I’m in the room I usually am able to focus and channel all that nervous energy into the work. My audition for Chloe was a bit of a process. I put it on tape first, here in Vancouver, then flew down to LA for my screen test. Was very nervous, mostly of the unknown as I’d never tested before, but when I walked into the room there were so many happy faces looking back at me that I felt immediately at ease. Before I knew it, it was all over and then came the long, tedious process of waiting to hear back. That’s probably the worst part.

“3. Will we see Chloe play more of a liaison role in dealing with aliens in upcoming episodes? Is this where she finds her purpose on the Destiny?”

EL: We might see some repercussions from her run-in with the aliens. Who knows what sort of effect this will have on her, and Rush for that matter. But it could set up some interesting plot points further on down the line.

Alien fruit-picking in Time. Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television.

“4. Although horrible do you think being trapped on Destiny was actually a good thing to happen to Chloe in the grand scheme of things? The way I see it if she  stayed on Earth she most likely would have married the boyfriend who would likely have cheated on her the whole time and she would work for her father until he retired and never actually found herself.”

EL:  I believe everything happens for a reason. I think it was her destiny (pun intended) to end up onboard that ship.

“5. Are you a cat or dog person?”

EL: Dog.

“6. Do you find emotional or action scenes more challenging? How do you prepare for each?”

EL: Emotional scenes probably. But to be honest, I find comedic scenes to be even more difficult. Being funny isn’t as easy as Tina Fey makes it look.

“7. What sort of films do you like to watch?”

EL: I’m a softy for any epic love story.

“8. What’s your favourite thing about Vancouver?”

EL: The ocean.

Kabra writes: “Hi Elyse – I made up one of those get to know you quizzes, not to worry it’s real short, I know you have a lot of other questions to answer and are really busy, by the way thanks for taking the time to do this, we fans really appreciate it.
ok here it goes.  Chocolate or vanilla?
Diamonds or pearls?
Beer or wine?
Reggae or jazz?
Beach or mountains?
Foie gras croquettes or banana split?
Rodney McKay or Joe Mallozzi?”

EL: Chocolate all the way. Diamond encrusted pearls ;). Vino. Reggae. Beach. Banana Split. For the sake of keeping my job, Joe.

Craseder writes: “One more for Elyse: Is it LEV-esk, or lev-es-KAY?”

EL: Haha. Question of my life. It’s pronounced Le-veck. The “s” and “ue” are silent.

Otros Ojos writes: “Thanks for doing this Q&A, and also for your contributions to the DVD special features. I’ve enjoyed them a lot. Questions: (1) For purposes of really getting into a role, do you like to imagine as much backstory for a character as you can, even if you don’t yet know a lot about what the creators have in mind for the character? Or, would that get in the way of spontaneity when you get your script and react to whatever has been written for your character?”

EL: I think creating a full, vivid backstory for your character is crucial. It feeds you information as to how your character would react to a certain situation, even how they get themselves ready in the morning or how they carry themselves. Of course the tricky thing with television is that you can discover something about your character’s past further down the line which would’ve been useful to know at the beginning, but you kind of just have to roll with it.

“(2) During breaks on set, is there something especially fun you like to do to decompress?”

EL: Crank up the music in Robert Carlyle’s trailer and have a dance-a-thon!

“(3) Do you have a favorite film genre?”

EL: I’m a sucker for a really good love story. Give me an epic romance set against a beautiful backdrop and I’ll buy a ticket.

Duneknight writes: “Questions for Elyse (chloe): Do you play video games? And if you do what kind?
- who do you like more, the military or the scientists?”

EL: I used to be more into video games when I was younger, but just the classics like Mario Brothers or Duck Hunt. I am, however, digging Rockband, which I must give props to David Blue for introducing me to. I slap some serious bass. As far as the military and scientists are concerned, I don’t think I have a favorite. Both are equally as important and valuable to the survival and maintenance of order among the Destiny’s crew.

Okay, Q&A over. Pencils down. Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television.

June 12, 2010: Actress Julia Benson Answers Your Questions!

Exec. Producing Stargate: Universe is not unlike coaching an immensely talented sports franchise.  You go in to each script – or game – confident in the talent you’re working with, solid starters and a deep, deep bench that never lets you down.  And, on many occasions, even though you’re expecting them to excel, they still manage to surprise and delight.  Take Julia Benson (SGU’s Lieutenant Vanessa James) for example, an actress who started off strong in the opener and just keeps getting better, delivering everything from throwaway humor (Space) to  emotional intensity (Pain) with the skill and professionalism of a seasoned performer many years her senior.  It’s not surprising that, between the time I announced this Q&A and today’s entry, Julia picked up the Leo Award for Best Supporting Performance by a Female in a Dramatic Series.

Congratulations to Julia on the win, and a big thank you for taking the time to field our questions.

Over to Julia…

Chevron7 writes: “Questions for Julia:

1. What’s your workout routine? Did that change when getting the role of Lt James?

JB:  I am always changing up my workout routine, otherwise I get bored!  But I have a chocolate lab that I run with almost daily.  That is definitely my favorite form of exercise.  When I got the role of James, I did start working out with a trainer.  I find it helps with the weight training. I did some kickboxing to toughen up physically and just recently I have been taking kickboxing classes with Sharon Taylor from Stargate Atlantis.  She’s amazing!

2. Which cast member would you most like to beat in an arm wrestling contest?

JB: Jamil, just for bragging rights!  He’s not only in incredible shape but we have a fun banter with each other and it would be awesome to bug him about something like that! Lol

3. Some people are surprised at James’ reaction to losing Scott to Chloe. I see it as a normal reaction exacerbated by the fact that she’s in close proximity to them in a stressful situation. How do you see it?

JB:  I agree with you.  Regardless of what the exchange was for Scott, James developed feelings for him.  It would obviously be different if his relationship with Chloe wasn’t in her face constantly.

4. I loved the scene of James looking after Franklin in Sabotage. I sense a backstory there, like she’s been the primary carer for someone in her past. Any clues?

JB:  I love this scene too.  Mark Burgess who plays Franklin was so amazing to act with.  He was so powerful.  I can’t give away too much back story as we have yet to explore that on the show, but I will say that James has had some challenges to face in her life.

5. What was the first job you ever had? – Acting or non-acting.

JB:  First Acting Job was on a show called Tru Calling.  I guest starred in an episode in the first season with SGU’s Patrick Gilmore!

The first Joe job that I had was at a restaurant in West Vancouver called Trolls.  I was a waitress, a terrible waitress at that!  I was 16 and I think people felt sorry for me, because I got amazing pity tips! Lol

6. Do you like to cook? If so what’s your fave dish to make?

JB: I love to cook!  My family is full of amazing chefs and I was the last to jump on board.  My go-to is Chicken Parmesan, with Marscapone pasta.  Both the recipes came from my dad.  He makes the best pasta ever, second only to the pasta I have had in Italy!

7. What are your aspirations for Lt James in Season 2?

JB: I would love to see James put in a position where she really has to step up and be a leader.  And then I would like to see her succeed at that.  Like all of us her confidence goes in and out, but James is a fighter and she has a ton of strength in her.  As an actor I have loved any opportunity to do fight scenes and stunts so I would love her to continue in that direction.

Tanie writes: “So, questions for Julia:

1. What sort of research did you do for this role?

JB:  For me the most important aspect of the research was to find out as much as I could about being in the military.  I have a family member that was in the Canadian Army so that was a great resource for me.  I did a ton of reading about the different ranks and tried to get a good grasp of the mental state and the discipline that I would have in my life to be in this role.

2. How do YOU think James has grown or changed over the course of S1?

JB:  In Season 1 we saw James struggle to find her place on the Destiny.  She definitely started to break down with the loneliness and isolation.  Hopefully in Season 2 she gets to keep developing her strength.

3. Have you had any ludicrously early calls to set as yet?

JB:  Whenever you are shooting a series you will definitely have early calls.  I think I had to set my alarm for 4:30 one day and that was the earliest.  However my sister works in the stock market and is up every day at 5 am so I am cautious to complain!  I always call her on my way to set just to tell her I am up!

MyNameIsNada writes: “Yeah for a Q&A with Julia!
Her are some questions:

1) Do you think Lt. James is as cool as I do?

JB:  Lol- Of course I do!  I love playing James and think that she is a great character.

2) Do you think Lt. James will ever confront Lt. Scott? Speaking of, you can’t expect to go through a Q&A here and not spill some details on those sex scenes. So, feel free to share anything.

JB:  I don’t know what the writers have in store for James and Scott.  Maybe it’s time James moved on and found a new love interest….

3) What are some things we the fans can do to ensure your survival of the series?

JB:  Ahh, that is sweet!  Just keep sending the love for James…you guys have been amazing!  I hope to get to a convention soon, so I can meet some of the fans!

4) Lt. James has yet to really be given a chance to come into the spotlight-what do you think she has best to offer Destiny and the rest of the crew?

JB:  Well, I think that James has had some time to shine in Season 1 :)That being said, she still has a lot more to offer on the show.  She is a fighter with a lot of compassion and that is an interesting balance to explore.  I think James has the potential to step up in combat and get into some fun action!  It would be great to keep exploring her tough side!

5) Finally, pretending you, yourself, are stuck on Destiny. What would you do to preserve your sanity?”

JB: I would find routines in any way that I could.  I would give myself goals to help me feel like I am still growing and moving forward in life.  I always want to be learning new skills so maybe I would organize a group where we all teach each other our skill set.  I would also need to laugh as I think that is so important.  So, games night would be a must and Brody’s still would come in handy!

Mr Anonymous writes: “Question for Julia:

1) Have you ever been on the lonely end of a love triangle (similar to Lt. James?)

JB:  Fortunately I haven’t been in a similar situation.  Not that I haven’t experienced heartache but not like James.

2) You play a military officer convincingly. Have you had military training?”

JB:  Thank you.  I haven’t had any official training but we did a few days at the beginning of our season with our military advisor Ron Blecker and he was incredibly helpful.  He was often on set throughout the season and we have people there to advise us as we go along.

Lou Zucaro writes: “For Julia:

1) As a couple other people have touched on, James has shown an interesting duality, being both tough / strong as well as almost a bit desperate as far as the relationship / romance part of the character goes. Do you relate to any part of James?

JB: Absolutely, I don’t think any one of us is one thing.  People are so complex and have different strengths in different parts of their lives.  As far as relating to James, I actually just answered this question on my blog @ www.juliabensononline.com

I relate to the fact that she is in a situation where she has to live by a certain set of rules.  Part of her wants to lead and prove her worth in the eyes of Young.  I think what I keep learning in my life is that no matter who gives you validation, it only lasts if it comes from within.  So that is something that James is going to have to conquer.

2) Do you think the controversy regarding James’ freakout re: inhabiting Amanda’s body in Sabotage was warranted or not?

JB:  What controversy are you referring to?  I know that there was some controversy about an early draft of Sabotage.  It is tough for writers as they cannot reflect every single person’s outlook on every issue.  Every script I have read from SGU has dealt with delicate matters with class and respect.  When James had a hard time in the body of Amanda it was not meant as any disrespect to anyone in Amanda’s situation.  I saw it as one character’s response to a situation.

3) When James, TJ and Chloe dress up as Charlie’s Angels in the Very Special Halloween Episode™ of SGU, which Angel do you want to be and what are you prepared to do (as James, of course) to keep TJ and Chloe from calling dibs on your favorite? Who should dress up as Bosley?”

JB:  We are a little to young to remember the TV show but if we are talking movie- Alaina for Drew Barrymore’s part, Elyse for Cameran Diaz and I would take Lucy Lui’s character.  I bet Louis would do a great Bill Murray impression so he has to be Bosley!

Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television.

Cat4444 writes: “Q for Julia:

1. What do you think of the criticism that you were only cast for your “chest” rather than your ability to do the job?

JB: To be honest, I really don’t pay much attention to criticism like that.  I am an actor who happens to have a large chest. Period. So I think people can think and say whatever they want.  I can only control what I think.  I know why I was cast, and that’s all that matters!

3. Is there a particular storyline, or type of storyline, you’d like to see for your character?

JB: I would love to see James put in a position where she really has to step up as a leader.  And then I would like to see her succeed.  Like all of us her confidence goes in and out, but James is a fighter and she has a ton of strength in her.  As an actor I have loved any opportunity to do fight scenes and stunts so I would love her to continue in that direction.

4. Lt. James seems to be having a hard time getting over Lt. Scott. Why do you think this is? She appears to be a pretty self-reliant and confident woman and it seems kind of odd that she would moon over him to such an extent.”

JB:  I agree that she is self-reliant and confident, but people are different in love.  James has been burnt by the whole Scott/Chloe situation and to top it off, she has to live in very tight quarters with them.  I think she will get over it, but it may take some time.

CrayonBaby writes: “Questions:

1) Have you ever accidentally hit one of the cast members while filming a fight scene? I know sometimes accidents happen. Or someone ate the last doughnut. Or took you parking space.

JB: Louis, Jamil and I almost accidentally ran somebody over in a golf cart.  It didn’t go over that well. smile

2) Are you hoping for in season two that Lt. James will be happier? Poor gal has been put through the ringer this season so far.

JB:  I think it would be great if James found some happiness in her accomplishments.  If she were successful in some of her missions then it would be great to give her some moments to let that sink in!  I would also like to see James continue to have bonding moments with the girls, particularly TJ.  I think that they could continue to find comfort and friendship in each other.  Maybe out of that would come some happiness smile

3) Who on the set makes you laugh?”

JB:  Everyone!  But off the top of my head-Louis Ferraira and Jamil Walker Smith

Arctic Goddess writes: “Question(s) for Julia:

– Why did you decide to get into acting?

JB: I got bitten by the acting bug at 13 when I did my first play.  I had been competing as a dancer for years and always loved performing, but once I did a play there was no looking back.  It’s all I have ever wanted to do.

– Do you have a Facebook or Twitter page?

JB:  Yes I do!  My facebook fanpage is under Julia Benson and my twitter is Julia_Benson!

Michael Jones writes: “Question for Julia:

I’ve noticed that James has been said to be the only person to be friendly to Spencer (though, it’s described as “tolerating” him, that’s more than anyone else did), and she’s seen to take an active role in caring for the unresponsive Franklin, who was also reasonably unpopular.

Do you think James is starting to take up a position of caring for the crew’s “lost sheep”? Do you think this is a result of how isolated James herself feels, or is a remnant from the abandoned idea of her having a paralyzed brother she cared for?  Also, I just want to say I love where your character is going. James has easily become one of my favorite characters on Destiny.”

JB:  Michael, first thank you for your support and for such a thoughtful question.  Two things, I do think that there was a nice parallel storyline in the original draft of that script that tied in well with James caring for Franklin.   I also think that there are definitely different divisions amongst people on board the ship, beyond the natural divide of the military and the civilians.  James is not always kept in the loop of what is happening and there are times when she bonds with people in a similar situation to her.  James is somewhat of an outsider herself and so she does relate to people as individuals and has compassion for their situation.  This was the case with her and Spencer.

Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television.

Major D. Davis writes: “Questions for Julia….

First off thanks so much for doing this Q&A… been looking forward to this Q&A for a while!!

1. What is your favorite episode in season 1?

JB:  My favorite episode is Space.  I love the balance of action and drama and I think the aliens were incredible!

2. What is you favorite episode in season 2…which one do you think will be a fan favorite(of the ones you’ve read and shot so far)?

JB:  So far in season 2 Malice would be my favorite episode.  It was written and directed by Robert Cooper and we just finished shooting this week.  I think that the fans will love it because there are high stakes and lots of good action.  There is also some great stuff between Rush and Simeon.  When two actors like that get to square off it is explosive.  I also got to do a fun stunt, which I love, so maybe I am biased!

3. Will we get to see you character visit earth in season 2, or at least get to know more of James’ past?

JB:  That is a question for the writers…..Joe? lol

4. What TV shows do you watch beside SGU?

JB:  I have quite a big list of shows that I watch, in no particular order:

Friday Night Lights, Grey’s Anatomy, Glee, Lost, Six Feet Under, Modern Family, The West Wing, True Blood, American Idol, So You Think You Can Dance and Celebrity Apprentice!

5. Who is your favorite character from SGU(or maybe what character do you respect the most or relate to the most)?

JB: I find Colonel Young fascinating.  He carries the weight of the world on his shoulders and is constantly making impossible decisions.

6. What was the hardest episode to film so far… and what episode did you have the most fun filming so far?

JB:  The hardest episode to film so far was “Pain”.  It was incredibly intense and exhausting, but it was also the most rewarding for me as an actor!  I loved getting to play so many different emotions with James in this episode.  Going away to New Mexico with the cast to shoot Air Part 3 was the most fun!

7. What do you do to pass time on set? What are you favorite hobbies(on or off set)?”

JB: Last year I was working on a series that I created with my husband Peter and another colleague.  In the down time, that kept me very busy both on and off set!  When I wasn’t working on that, the rest of the cast and I would hang out in between scenes.  Our set is a ton of fun to be on and there is always someone to catch up with.  Someone usually has music playing, our trailer doors are typically open and we all really enjoy spending time together!

Shawn Cassidy writes: “Question for Julia,

I thought you were absolutely fantastic in “PAIN”. The emotion and pain was obvious in your eyes and on your face when you broke down sitting on your bunk when Col. Young came in. I felt for your character. That’s something only a gifted actor can deliver. What is your process as a actress when prepping that scene? Was it a gut and go kind of thing or did you need to invoke some long lost torment from your past to deliver the goods?

Thanks Joe and Julia, keep up the awesome work!!

JB:  Thank you Shawn!  My process is different depending on the scene.  For something this intense I do as much work at home as I can, trying to get into the mind set of what she is going through.  I always drill my lines so that the last thing I am thinking about is the lines.  Then I trust that if I am present and really listening to my scene partner, the emotion will be there.  Over the years I have learnt that trusting yourself as an actor is half the battle.  In the episode “Pain” I did use music to ground me and keep me focused and then I let it all go and played the scene!

Shiny writes: “My question for Julia Benson is did she do her own stunts in the scene where James rifle butts that Civvie in “Divided”? Cuz it was very satisfying to see one of the more whiny Civvies get a beat down by James. And will Julia get to do more fight choreography in the future? I love BamBam’s work. Great work on James, she’s quickly become one of my all time favorite SGU characters!”

JB:  Yes Shiny that was me and yes BamBam is awesome!!  He has been so instrumental every time we have a fight scene.  He knows when to push me and makes me feel like I can do anything.   I am hoping that James will get to do some more fight choreography and stunts!  Thanks so much for your question and comments!

Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television.

Tammy Dixon writes: “Questions:
Are you a cat or dog person? How does your family like that you became an actress?
Have you always wanted to be an actress?
How did you get interested in playing “James”? What kind of hoops did you go through to try out for “James”?

I really enjoy your work as “James”! “James” has a bigger story to tell. So, I believe the writers should give you more!”

JB:  Hi Tammy, thank you!  I am honored to play James and hope to keep exploring more and more as the episodes go on!  So for your questions:

-Dog person, love cats but my husband is allergic!  We have a 3.5 year old chocolate lab named Bauer.

-My family has always been incredibly supportive of me.  My mom taught me to follow my dreams and spent most of her life driving me between dance lessons, theatre and figure skating!  She is one of the main reasons that I followed my passion.

– To get the role of James I had to go through several rounds of auditions. First I read for the character, Andrea Palmer, then I was in consideration for the role of Riley, and then they asked me to come back and read for James. I knew instantly that this was the role I wanted.  It just felt right!

Amara MacLeod writes: “Julia, you and the SGU cast are fantastic. I am very glad to see your character being given intriguing depths as we go on.

Now for a silly question (meant completely tongue in cheek no insults or evilness attached): Was it fun for you to kill Brian Jacob Smith?

Sorry. Couldn’t resist. *grins* If I am too inappropriate, please, at least pass on the comment.

Thank you for being on SGU!”

JB:  We are lucky to have such a great cast!  Not only is everyone amazing in their roles but they are also fabulous people, which makes going to work so fun!  I have tons of respect for Brian J. Smith.  He is a dream to work with and he plays his role with such conviction.  Fun, terrifying, emotional, adrenalin inducing…these are some of the words I would use to describe that scene.  It was intense.  I know that you were joking when you asked but truly there were so many crazy emotions running through me when we shot that scene!

Randy White writes: “For Julia:

1.) It has been asserted in some comments by women (most notably a GateWorld podcast basically involving two women) that the writers do not let women be complex characters, typically using juvenile male stereotypes for writing the female characters. Would you agree, or would you say that you have been able to display a fairly broad range of your acting ability and the depth of your character on SGU, given the (still) less than one full season that has been aired?

JB:  Given the amount of screen time James has had, I think that we have seen many sides of her character.  In general I think the writers do a great job of exploring the complexity of humanity in both their male and female characters.

2.) Without revealing too much about season two, are you looking forward to showing even more of your (and the other actors) abilities and the depth of your character, going in directions not even contemplated yet?

JB: Absolutely!  The great thing about being on a sci-fi series is that the possibilities are endless.

3.) How do you feel about the decision to cut the scene more fully explaining your inability to transfer consciousness with a person restricted to a wheelchair and on a respirator?

JB: As an actor, you never know how scenes are going to be cut together.  I trust that they edit to tell the best story and in this instance I don’t think we needed to see more of what James was going through.  The episode was truly about Wray’s journey at home and Perry’s journey on the ship so they needed to get to focus on those stories.

Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television.

Bolbait writes: “Here are more serious questions for you:

1) Who do you hang out with on set? Off set (other than your husband)?

JB:  We all spend time together off set.  We like to get together and have Poker nights, which usually end in Rock Band.   Louis Ferreira, John Lenic and I all have dogs so we often go for dog walks together in any one of the amazing trails we have in Vancouver.

2) How much time do you devote to running your lines before filming a scene?

JB:  It depends on the scene, but I always drill my lines until I know them so well that I don’t have to think about it!

3) I really enjoyed watching you “kill” Scott. You showed a great range of emotion, not only in the act, but also later when you were surprised that he was still alive. (This isn’t a question, is it?)

JB:  No but…thank you!

4) Any other characters you want to kill?

JB: No….James didn’t want to kill Scott- I look at it as her fear of what she could be capable of.  Have you ever been so mad or hurt that your mind goes somewhere that scares you?  I think that is what happened for James during that hallucination.

5) Do you think you’re character will ever get together with Eli? It seems that lots of “shippers” would like to see that happen.

JB:  Lol- David Blue and I are always joking about this happening as it seems to be of interest to a lot of the “shippers” as you say.  I think so far Eli and James probably have better chemistry as friends, but who knows….anything is possible on The Destiny!

6) Do you have a lot of input to the writers about what your character would say or do? Or, do you pretty much do what is written down?

JB:  The writers have your storylines mapped out before you get to see all the scripts, so although you have input when you are on set in terms of how the lines are said and what your character is feeling in that moment, I don’t have a ton of input on where my character is going.

7) Do you enjoy the Kino video’s as much as us fans do?”

JB:  I think the Kino’s are great.  It is a great opportunity to show the fans every day life on the ship and for the characters to have fun with each other.  We have such a big ensemble cast that it also is a nice way for you guys to get to know everyone a bit better.

Craig writes: “Question for Julia Benson: are we going to see Lt. James hook up with one of the other men on Destiny (Eli?) now that Scott isn’t available? And are we going to see Lt. James get to kick some ass in “Incursion” or the second season?”

JB:  Good questions!!  Unfortunately I can’t give anything away but James does get some fun stuff to do in Season 2.

Michael writes: “Questions for Julia Benson:

1) What was it like playing one of Lucius Lavin’s six wives in the Stargate Atlantis episode, “Irresistible”?

JB:  Atlantis was great!  I loved working with Richard Kind.  He was hysterical and very down to earth.  I had a wonderful time on that show!

2) On Stargate Universe, what would you rather explore in Vanessa James’ backstory and why: her empathic nature (as she seems to care about others on Destiny like Franklin or tolerating Spencer) or her assignment in Iraq (that she mentioned in “Air” Part 3)?

JB: Both!! Lol, but if I had to choose I would love to explore her life at home.  It would be great to delve into what drew her into the military.

3) What was a bigger challenge to you as an actor and why; the body switch with Dr. Amanda Perry in “Sabotage” or the hallucination sex scene from “Pain”?”

JB:  They were both challenging scenes but the hallucination scene in Pain was emotionally exhausting.  You have to throw yourself in and go to a very dark place, which can be very draining.  It’s interesting though…you don’t realize how tired you are until the end of the night when you get home and all the adrenalin has left your body!

Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television.

E writes: “What do you think of James/Scott relationship?

JB:  I think it is like a lot of relationships….complicated!  On the one hand, James has a lot of respect for Scott and on the other….she has been very hurt by him.  I don’t know if it will happen but it would be great for James and Scott to have a scene together where they get to talk about what happened.

James is easily one of my fav secondary characters. Will we see more of her in the 2nd season?

JB:  Thanks E!  Yes James is around in Season 2!

Where do you see your character in, say, a few years from now?

Most fun experience you’ve had while working on SGU?

JB:  Hmm good question, hopefully James and everyone on board The Destiny are still around in a few years! If so, I hope that James has kicked some serious alien butt!

The most fun days are when everyone is around and the weather in Vancouver is good!  Those days the music is playing and everyone is usually laughing…when they are not working of course!

What’s your fav James moment in SGU S1? Mine was in “Space”, where she talked about Caine without knowing that he could hear her. That was funny, hehe.”

JB:  I love that scene as well! There is always so much intensity on the Destiny that it is great to have a bit of fun with the characters.  I also like the moment between Chloe and James in Water when she tells Chloe about Scott.  I think it was a powerful statement about the kind of character James is.

Freeman writes: “How do you like your character and do you think that the series will have an episode on her past?

JB:  I love the character and I think it would be great if we got to see more of her past.

How do you like working with so many people from some many different backgrounds on the show and behind the scenes?

JB:  It is one of the best things about this business.  You are always meeting and working with tons of different people.  Everyone has their own story and bring such different experiences to the table.

Kabra writes: “Quick get know you questions:

1. Q: Bottled water or tap?

JB: Perrier

2. Q: Beach or Mountains?

JB: We’ve got both in Vancouver, but beach if I had to choose.

3. Reading or watching SGU?

JB: Watching SGU of course!

4. Q: Joe’s homemade ice cream or Ben and Jerry’s.

JB: Ben and Jerry’s!

5. Q: Diamonds or Pearls?

JB: Diamonds!

6. Q: Dogs or Cats?

JB: Dogs.

7. Q: Brothers and sisters?

JB: 4 sisters and 1 brother

8. Q:Hockey or Football?”

JB: Hockey, I am a Canadian Girl thru and thru smile

PBMom writes: “Julia Benson question (since everyone has asked some really good ones, this is the only other one I could come up with):

For a SGleeU episode, what song would you like to sing and why?”

JB: Oh tough one PBMom.  Let’s go with “You Give Love A Bad Name”- Bon Jovi.  It seems appropriate for the situation James is in and who doesn’t love to rock out to Bon Jovi! Lol

Sgugeek writes: Questions for the amazing Julia Benson

1) What would be the ideal gift to get from a fan? What is the coolest thing a fan has ever given you?

JB:  Umm…how about a house, the real estate market in Vancouver is crazy! Lol

A longtime fan of Stargate named Ian made me a website. He continues to work on it with me and has been very generous with his time! He also made me a great poster from a shot in “Darkness”.

2) Do you ever feel like James gets lost in a sea of main characters?

JB: It’s such an ensemble cast and as a supporting character, I think the key is to try and make all of your screen time count.

3) Do you have any convention appearances coming up? Would you like to go to a con, if invited and your schedule permitted it?

JB: I would love to do a convention.  I was supposed to do one at the beginning of the year but scheduling didn’t work out.  So I am working on getting to some soon!

4) When you were little, what were your career aspirations?

JB:  I have always wanted to act or perform in some capacity.  I grew up in competitive dance and always loved being on stage.  As soon as I did a play, there was nothing else that I wanted to do!

Yazid writes: “What is your favorite scene/episode from SGU ?

JB: On the whole, I think that “Space” is my favorite episode, but I also love “Divided”.  There are so many great scenes throughout the season that it is hard to pick one.  That being said the scene between Rush and Young fighting in “Justice” was incredibly intense and will always be a favorite of mine.

You seem to have fun on set, what’s your favorite moment?

JB: Peter Kelamis is a standup comedian and he was doing impressions of the crew one day.  His Peter Deluise is bang on!

What are your similarities/differences with Lt James?

JB: As a lot of people have noted, James has a strong mix of strength and vulnerability.  I am very similar.  Luckily for me the big difference between us is that James hasn’t been very lucky in love!

Did you know Stargate before playing in SGU ?

JB:  Yes I did.  Stargate has always been a huge part of the film and television industry in Vancouver.  I had also done an episode of Stargate Atlantis called “Irresistible”.

Did you cast just for Lt James or any other character ?

JB: To get the role of James I had to go through several rounds of auditions!  First I read for the character, Andrea Palmer, then I was in consideration for the role of Riley, and then they asked me to come back and read for James. I knew instantly that this was the role I wanted.  It just felt right!

In your opinion, how the relation between James and Scott is gonna progress ?

JB:  I think James will have to get over him…not saying that it’s going to be easy but he ends Season 1 very attached to Chloe.  Can’t tell you what happens in Season 2, you will have to wait and see smile

What was the hardest scene to shoot ? The funnier one ?

JB: The hallucination scene in Pain was emotionally exhausting.  You have to throw yourself in and go to a very dark place and that is incredibly challenging but also draining.  It’s interesting though…you don’t realize how tired you are until the end of the night when you get home and all the adrenalin has left you!

Shooting scenes with David Blue in “Darkness” was fun!

Few words in French ?

JB:  Bonjour je m’appelle Julia.  That’s all I’ve got!

August 31, 2009: Stargate: Universe Pics! Stargate: Atlantis Pics! Brought To You By’s And Thank You’s!

Setting up the gate for the New Mexico shoot (Air III)
Setting up the gate for the New Mexico shoot (Air III) Photo compliments and copyright MGM Television.

To those of you who missed yesterday’s blog entry (Seriously, just click on the link below if it’s not too much trouble), I have officially kicked off our No Fan Left Behind campaign aimed at getting Stargate fans and first-timers on board for the launch of Stargate: Universe. If you’re in the U.S,. circle October 2nd on your calendars because that’s the night the series premieres on SyFy with a special double episode: Air I and II. To those Canadian fans who’ve been asking, I’ve been informed that SGU will be premiering around the same time in Canada on SPACE. As for our U.K. contingent, the show premieres four days later, October 6th, in your neck of the woods on Sky 1. I’m well aware that there are many of you out there in other parts of the world looking forward to this latest Stargate incarnation and will do my best to get details on where and when the show will be premiering in your area.

Sgt. Ronald Greer (Jamil Walker Smith) and Dr. Franklin (Mark Burgess) explore Destiny (photo compliments and copyright MGM Television).
Sgt. Ronald Greer (Jamil Walker Smith) and Dr. Franklin (Mark Burgess) explore Destiny (photo compliments and copyright MGM Television).

In the meantime, ask around and if you find out the details for your respective regions, let me know. I’ll keep an updated schedule of Stargate: Universe’s premiere dates around the world. And if your local broadcasters haven’t picked up the show yet – ask them what’s up?!

Ancient telescope on the ship's observation deck.
Ancient telescope on the ship’s observation deck.

We’re counting on your support, so get out there and let everyone know about the show: friends, relatives, co-workers, and those complete strangers sharing the bus ride with you. Get online and spread the word. Get the word out, Stargate Troopers!

Early concept art of Destiny's observation deck.
Early concept art of Destiny’s observation deck.

As promised, I’m going to start treating readers to sneak peeks at the brand new Stargate: Universe series as well as offering up a few of the many behind the scenes never-before-seen snaps from Stargate: Atlantis. In the interest of saving myself time and space, the photos I’ll be posting will be down-rezzed versions of the originals. However, what I’d like to do is post a poll mid-month and have you all vote on your top 3 favorite pics. At month’s end, I’ll repost the top 3 vote getters in their gloriously unwieldy hi-rez versions – perfect for wallpapering your child‘s bedroom or the inside of your car.

Director Andy Mikita and co. (Grizz, Mark, Ryan, and Shannon).  Photo compliments and copyright MGM Television.
Director Andy Mikita and co. (Grizz, Mark, Ryan, and Shannon). Photo compliments and copyright MGM Television.

Before I proceed, a few thank you’s are in order. First and foremost, a huge thank you to a guy I’ve mentioned countless times of late – MGM’s Grey Munford, a marketing machine, whose tireless drive and big picture promotion of Stargate: Universe has impressed not only fans, established and prospective, but some of the most un-impressible individuals in the business. Namely, me and my fellow producers. And thanks to Grey for offering up these terrific photos for the blog. Also on the MGM side, I’d like to thank Kelly Richards (Digital Media, Marketing, Promotions & Publicity), the keeper of the keys to the vast Stargate photo archive. Her continued support has been invaluable in bringing these pictures to you. On the SyFy side, a big thanks to Erika Kennair, the network’s SGU point-person, for her creative contributions to the many brainstorming sessions we’ve had in our search for ways to reach out to you all in advance of the premiere. Erika has some wonderful surprises in the works… And finally, of course, many, many thanks to the photographers whose work is on display: Carole Segal for the Stargate: Universe episodic photos, Gregory E. Peters for the photos from the New Mexico shoot, Art Streiber for the SGU gallery shots, and Eike Shroeter for the Stargate: Atlantis season 5 episodic stills.

DSC04183x

 

In the script's original draft, Sheppard is alone in the cockpit.  SyFy Exec Chris Sanagustin suggested that, rather than stowing the baby away with the others, our hero should have the infant with him instead.  It was a great idea and offered up one of the episode's more touching moments.  Search and Rescue, Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5 (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television).
In the script’s original draft, Sheppard is alone in the cockpit. SyFy Exec Chris Sanagustin suggested that, rather than stowing the baby away with the others, our hero should have the infant with him instead. It was a great idea and offered up one of the episode’s more touching moments. Search and Rescue, Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5 (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television).

A reminder to all. David Blue (aka SGU’s Eli Wallace) is eager to field some fan questions so if you‘d like to ask him something, post away. We’re off to a torrid start, with an impressive six pages full of fan queries in Day 1 alone!

Familiar grounds.  Das, am I making you homesick?  Search and Rescue, Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5.  (Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television).
Familiar grounds. Das, am I making you homesick? Search and Rescue, Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5. (Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television).

While I’m in reminder mode, allow me to remind interested parties to finish up September’s Book of the Month Club selection: Heroes Die. Discussion on the novel begins next week when we’ll be joined by author Matthew Woodring Stover.

Among the many riffs writer-producer Martin Gero used to do was one involving Kanaan's first introduction to his son.  "Kanaan, this is your baby."  Kanaan: "For Kanaan?  Kanaan eat baby?"  "No!  No, Kanaan!  Kanaan NO eat baby!"  Search and Rescue, Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5 (Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television).
Among the many riffs writer-producer Martin Gero used to do was one involving Kanaan’s first introduction to his son. “Kanaan, this is your baby.” Kanaan: “For Kanaan? Kanaan eat?” “No! No, Kanaan! Bad!  Kanaan NO eat baby!” Search and Rescue, Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5 (Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television).

Hey, great news! For me anyway. I finished the rewrite on both my scripts. Well, with episodes #19 and #20 behind me, I can finally set my sights on thinking ahead to some possible second season (fingers crossed) stories, watching the various cuts and mixes, and, most importantly, whiling away the afternoons in Carl’s office talking about my upcoming Tokyo trip while he does his best to pretend he’s fallen asleep in the hopes I’ll leave.

Our intrepid trio.  Search and Rescue, Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5 (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television).
Our intrepid trio. Search and Rescue, Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5 (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television).
Good times.  Search and Rescue, Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5 (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television).
Good times. Search and Rescue, Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5 (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television).

May 17, 2009: Dinner at the Cooper House – My Review

I don’t get invited to many dinner parties. It may be because I do so much fine dining that my friends are too intimidated to cook for me. Or it may be because I grow quickly bored with table conversations and tend to wander about the premises, forcing hosts to put up the kiddy gates to keep me penned in. Or it could be because inviting me over to your place for dinner pretty much guarantees that I’ll be writing up a review for the next day’s blog.

Foie gras with wine plums
Foie gras with wine plums

Robert Cooper, however, knows no such fear – partly because he’s a pretty damn good cook, and partly because he’s trained his dog to attack anyone who wanders into the master bedroom. And last night, as their way of thanking us for the chocolate party, Rob and his lovely wife Hilary had us over for dinner. “Hope you’re hungry,”said Rob as we walked in the door. “I prepared a four course meal.”

“Oh, I’m hungry,”I assured him. “I haven’t eaten since lunch!”

“What’s this?”he asked as I handed him a bag containing three boxes full of pastries.

“I got these for the party I’m going to after dinner,”I joked. “So if you can just put them aside for me.”

“Oh, you’re going to David Blue’s apartment-warming party?”

“Uh, no. These are for us.” And then: “David Blue is having an apartment-warming party?”

“I’m making dessert,”Rob informed me as he took the bag and everyone headed into the kitchen. “Chocolate waffles with home made ice cream.”

Wait. David Blue is having an apartment-warming party?

My biggest pet peeve with dinner parties is the old bait and switch. They tell you to come for a certain time and then don’t end up serving the meal until one, two, sometimes three hours later! Seriously, if I wanted to wait that long to eat, I’d go back to Restaurant Connor Butler. Fortunately, on this night, there was no waiting around and awkward hinting (“When you said 7:00 p.m., was that Hawaii time?”).

Our first course was pan-fried foie gras on mini French toasts served with wine-poached plums and pea sprout garnish. Well, I assumed they were a garnish until I noticed everyone else eating theirs. “These are so rich!”I loudly proclaimed. “I don’t want to fill up too much and not have room for the rest of dinner.” I don’t think they bought it. Speaking of rich – and delicious – the foie gras was cooked to a sweet golden mouth-melting perfection. The not overly-sweet plums provided a nice balance.

Salad with beets, goat cheese, and walnuts
Salad with beets, goat cheese, and walnuts

Next up was the salad course – mixed green with roasted beets, walnuts, dates, and crumbled goat cheese. A good dish made great with the addition of those meaty oven-roasted beets. A pleasing symphony of tastes and textures.

Rotisserie ducks!
Rotisserie ducks!

On to our main course – crispy rotisserie duck with truffled mash potatoes, steamed green beans, and a spicy plum sauce. “It’s really hot!”Rob warned us about the sauce and while it was certainly piquant, it wasn’t off-putting. Still, as enjoyable as it was, it wasn’t really necessary. The duck – crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, was incredibly flavorful.

Crispy duck with truffled mash, grean beans, and spicy thai sauce
Crispy duck with truffled mash, grean beans, and spicy thai sauce
The mash was – positively sublime. The secret, I think, was in the cream. No scratch that. It was probably in the two tablespoons of duck drippings. As for the green beans – they were a nice accompaniment in that plain and steamed, they served as a nice contrast to the richer elements of the dish – sort of like a brush with death makes you appreciate life.
Assorted desserts
Assorted desserts

We finished with multiple desserts. While a couple of the pastries I picked up were very good (Hello, chocolate-banana), I was less-than-impressed with most.

Chocolate waffle with home made ice creams (banana and peanut butter)
Chocolate waffle with home made ice creams (banana and peanut butter)

The chocolate waffles with the homemade ice creams (banana and peanut butter) on the other hand was a winner. I haven’t had ice cream this good since – well, since the last time I made ice cream.

We concluded the night by heading down to the theater room where we watched – not a movie but the editor’s cut of Air III. Wow! Those white sands look amazing. It was Fondy’s first exposure to SGU and she enjoyed the episode immensely. Her favorite character: Sgt. Ronald Greer. My wife is now a confirmed Jamil Walker Smith fan.

The chef
The chef

Overall, an excellent meal. Given the opportunity, I would definitely go back.

Rob and Hilary’s:

Prices: NA

Hours: From the time they invite you over to the moment they kick you out.

Liquor, wine: Full bar.

Noise level: Not too bad.    

Credit cards: N.A.

Reservations: Highly Recommended

Dress: Casual.

Early-bird service or deals: No.

Takeout: Yes.

Parking: No valet but hopefully this will change.  Parking on street.

May 29, 2009: Shifting From Dark and Dangerous to Moody and Mysterious. I Weigh In On The Big News Item. And – Some Mailbag.

 

Lock and load, baby!
Lock and load, baby!

 

Julia Anderson (Vanessa James) takes a break from the action.
Julia Anderson (Vanessa James) takes a break from the action.
Josh Blacker (Sgt. Spencer) tries to blend in.
Josh Blacker (Sgt. Spencer) tries to blend in.
Director of Photography Jim Menard suddenly realizes he's standing in a puddle - much to Director Robert C. Cooper's delight.
Director of Photography Jim Menard suddenly realizes he’s standing in a puddle – much to Director Robert C. Cooper’s delight.

The quiet suspense of today’s shipboard mystery was in marked contrast to the gloomy, dank, heavy ordnance-laced mayhem of the preceding days. And it’s just as well. My teeth are still chattering from the M5 barrage that lit up the shadows of Stage 1 the last time I dropped in. Yes, some delightfully creepy goings-on in Time (a Robert C. Cooper joint that completed shooting yesterday) that will no doubt look all the more delightful and creepy once the episode is finished. By all indications, the cast enjoyed themselves immensely – particularly actor Jamil Walker Smith who was reveling in the cold, wet, and muddy conditions. Now, we shift focus from the dark and dangerous alien environment of Time to the shocking discovery and troubling developments presented in Justice. Will Waring is doing the honors here, directing an episode that promises more than a few surprises in addition to decisions both startling and unsettling that will have far-reaching consequences for the Destiny crew.

Rob will be doing the pass on my script, Space (episode 11), this weekend and informed me of a few character additions he wants to make off the top (which tie in directly to Justice), in addition to a dialogue tweak to the final exchange that had me raising an eyebrow in stunned silence. I love both of these characters, and this little revelation raises the stakes, offering a beautiful segue into the next episode, Divided.

Nothing is quite as it seems? Try – No one is quite as they seem. Furtive moves, shifting alliances, and hidden agendas guarantee a dysfunctional and disquieting galaxy-hopping community.

One of the things I’m really loving about the new series is the colorful cast of characters: Rush, Young, Armstrong, Scott, Telford, Wray, Eli, Chloe, T.J., Greer, James, Brody, Franklin, Volker, Park, Spencer, Kane and Riley. I told Brad that Darkness and Light do a wonderful job of offering the viewer insight into these varied individuals thrown together by circumstance, glimpses of their respective personalities only the kino can capture.

Hey, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the big news item of the past few days. I refer, of course, to the fact that, after 65 years, comic icon Archie Andrews is finally getting off the fence and choosing…drum roll, please…Veronica over Betty. Apparently, he and the dark-haired socialite tie the knot in issue #600. Reaction in the production offices has ranged from my writing partner Paul’s bewildered: “Married?! For sixty-five years he’s a high school student and suddenly he’s old enough to get married?!” to Carl Binder’s dismissive: “Hmph. I’m an Archie-Jughead slasher.” Of course, whenever we start talking Archie, the inevitable question pops up: Who would you pick? Who would I pick? Well, to be perfectly honest, if the gals were cool with the situation (which Betty and Veronica certainly seemed to be), I wouldn’t. But if I HAD to choose – well, it would be tough. On the one hand, Veronica possesses the upscale style and social charms better suited to my wining and dining lifestyle, yet seems somewhat shallow by comparison and, quite frankly, a bit of a bitch. On the other hand, Betty is sweet, genuine, and far more down to earth, but strikes me as somewhat dull. I also think that Betty’s – uh – curvier, but every time I bring that up (Hey, it comes up in conversation more than you‘d expect.) Paul is quick to point out that Betty and Veronica are drawn exactly the same and only differ in hair color and style. He tried to convince us by drawing comparisons between Betty and Veronica as they appear in various comic book covers. I countered, presenting the case for Betty being more statuesque than Veronica by also drawing comparisons between exhibit A and B (or C really, at least, but I digress). Anyway, in the end, we agreed to continue to disagree.

Whatever. For all this talk of looming nuptials, I don’t buy it . My prediction for the upcoming storyline: Archie will ask Veronica to marry him, not because he thinks she’d be a better pick, but because Veronica’s father, Hiram Lodge, is dying (suffering from an inoperable brain tumor located behind his left eye or some similarly hilarious predicament) and wants to see his daughter wed before he leaves this world. But on the day of the wedding, genius Dilton Doyle comes up with a plan to save the filthy rich codger’s life. He shrinks Archie and co. down to size so that they can board the nanite-sub he injects into Mr. Lodge’s bloodstream (which, incidentally, is 33% gin). In a race against time, our heroes travel through the body and up into the head area where they destroy they excise and destroy the tumor from the inside. Mr. Lodge is saved, the marriage is called off but the story ends with a wedding after all – that of Moose and longtime girlfriend Midge. They end up naming their firstborn after the late Reggie who was consumed by belligerent white blood cells while trying to save the rest of the gang, thus redeeming himself after 65 years of dickitude. And our hero Archie returns to his double-teaming status quo. The End.

Today’s entry is dedicated to birthday girl Amy Lynn.

Mailbag:

Nadine writes: “Joe, 2 questions:
1) have you read anything by Neil Stephenson?
2) was there a BotM discussion for Neuropath which I missed, or did you just recommend it?”

Answers: 1) Yep. I’ve read Quicksilver and The Diamond Age.

2) No, Neuropath was one of the many books in my every-growing collection I finally got around to reading last year. Great.

Ken Davenport writes: “As the Producer and Co-Conceiver of Altar Boyz, I can honestly tell you . . . you are not the first person to have thought that you wouldn’t enjoy Altar Boyz! Lots of people think EXACTLY what you think . . .

But talk to me after you see it (and if you can, get to the original Off-Broadway production). I guarantee you’ll enjoy it.

In fact, I’ll make a double or nothing bet with you and your friend Kerry . . .

If you don’t like it . . . I’ll pay for your tickets.

Ken Davenport

http://www.theproducersperspective.com/

Answer: Ken, please don’t make me go in there with an open mind. Fine, alright, I’ll keep an open mind. Is there anything I should know that would prepare me for the experience. But just to be clear: Is it a Christian parody of boy bands, a parody of Christan boy bands, or the second coming of NKOTB?

Major D. Davis writes: “1. Will the midseason 2 parter be between Justice and Space, or Space and Divided?

2. If you get a quick moment, could you ask Carl the exact date of MGM’s 85th B-day please?

3. Will Andy be Directing Space?

4. So what do you think of my video? (We actually did this back in november, so it was like the second video we ever made).

5. Any updates on the N. John Smith Q&A?

6. It has been said that there will be SGU trailers on the SGA season 5 boxset. Will those be new feature length trailers or already aired trailers?”

Answers: 1. Yes.

2. I’m sure Carl would be the last person to ask.

3. Yes.

4. It’s tough to judge an unfinished story.

5. What N. John Smith Q&A?

6. No idea.

Arctic Goddess writes: “Joe, could you please define “jerk blowhard”? What sort of personality type drives you nuts?”

Answer: Self-centered know-it-alls who think nothing of inconveniencing all those around them so long as their needs are met. Come on, we’ve all had to deal with these types over the course of our lives.

Nadine writes: “At Chocoatl do you have any favourite chocolates in particular?”

Answer: I like the Denso, extra-thick drinking chocolate.

August 22, 2009: Grand Prize Annoucement! Carl’s Birthday Dinner! And A Robust Mailbag!

Several weeks ago, this blog hosted its very first Caption This contest. After considering countless inspired entries, contest judge Carl Binder selected the winner: none other than blog regular JES who took home the grand prize. Well, actually, he didn’t take anything home because I hadn’t decided on a prize at the time. But I have know. And so, today, it is with great pride that I make the grand prize announcement!

Congratulations, JES! Check out the pics below to see what you’ve won!

Right down this way.
Right down this way.
And right over there.
And right over there.
Okay, now look down.
Okay, now look down.
Closer.  There you go!
Closer. There you go!

That’s right! It’s your very own alien non-prop rock! And it comes with the following certificate of authenticity:

“This is a one-of-a-kind, limited edition “alien” non-prop rock from the set of Stargate: Universe, Episode #14, Human. Although similar in appearance, texture, and taste to the various other “alien” non-prop rocks that appeared in the episode, this one is special in that it is the one I, Consulting Producer Joseph Mallozzi, picked up off the ground while strolling through a darkened Stage 5 looking for a way out.

Furthermore, this rock may have been trodden upon by any member of the SGU crew from Director Robert Cooper to that guy with the baggy orange shorts that carries the ladder around, in addition to certain actors including, but not limited to: Brian J. Smith, Elyse Levesque, David Blue, and Jamil Walker Smith.

For external use only.”

Congratulations again, JES! Oh, and send me your address.

Last night, birthday dinner with Carl at Fuel. Corn soup, crispy duck, a special rabbit dish, and birthday upside-down plum cake.

Carl's birthday wish fulfilled.  No, not world peace.  Better!  Crispy duck!
Carl’s birthday wish fulfilled. No, not world peace. Better! Crispy duck!
Lookit 'em go!  He not only finished his duck but was eyeing my leftovers I'd set aside for the dogs.
Lookit 'em go! He not only finished his duck but was eyeing my leftovers I'd set aside for the dogs.
Carl's birthday cake.
Carl's birthday cake.

 

Look at him pretending to have fun!
Look at him pretending to have fun!

And now, let’s move on to a robust mailbag –

Terry writes: “I’ll be tuning into season five of Supernatural. Have you ever seen it?”

Answer: Hey, Terry. Welcome back! No, I haven’t watched Supernatural – but I have heard very good things.

DasNdanger writes: “Well, I guess that didn’t include me, BUT I did offer you chocolate sushi!”

Answer: And it was much appreciated. Alas, I get to Toronto – the store’s location – about as often as I get to Albuquerque. But Ivon heads back ever hiatus so maybe I can convince him to run a little errand while he’s there.

Major D. Davis writes: “What do you do for your workout? Is it a program you follow, or just do random stuff. Like do you do it at home or at the gym?”

Answer: I alternate, one day weights, one day cardio, and change my work-out every two weeks. Weight training days are split into upper body (chest, shoulders, back, biceps, and triceps) while lower body days focus on legs and abs – mid to heavy weight to failure. On cardio days I hit the treadmill alternating between a healthy jog to full-out serial-killer-is-chasing-you sprints.

Major D. Davis also writes: “Just out of curiosity, does Mark watch Eureka?”

Answer: I don’t know. You should invite him to a con and ask him.

Sorrykb writes: “OK, so now we’re all wondering if Ashleigh and Lawren are getting married….”

Answer: If they were, I’m sure Ashleigh’s boyfriend would be a very unhappy guy.

Aud writes: “Also, just wondering, but is each character going to get an episode that focuses on themselves this season?”

Answer: Different characters may be spotlighted more in different episodes but, for the most part, the stories will reflects the show’s ensemble nature.

Lee writes: “A few days ago, you mentioned Air would use an “established contemporary tune”. You probably can’t tell us the name of the song, but any hints as to who the performer is?”

Answer: I’m embarrassed to say that, while I remember the song, I don’t remember the title or the artist. Also, even though it was Air I referenced, contemporary songs will feature throughout the show’s first season.

MaggieMayDay writes: “Winter in Japan means yaki-imo carts in the neighborhoods. Is this a treat you’ve had the chance to try?”

Answer: Not the last time I was there but I’ll certainly sample some when I’m there in this winter. I love sweet potatoes.

PG15 writes: “1. Is the title of the episodes, “Incursion”? Plus “part 1″ and “part 2″ where necessary, of course.

2. So is this it then? It’s for sure going to be a 2-parter? I mean, unless something unforeseen happens?”

Answer: 1. Brilliant deductions. Why, yes, it is.

2. And, yes, it will certainly be a two-parter. We are all in agreement.

Nadine writes: “Well, I finally got my MCAT out of the way (it’s the test you have to write for medical school applications) and let me tell you, 5 hour exams are not my idea of a good time. Given that, my brain is feeling a little fried so if bits of this comment don’t make sense, that would be why…”

Answer: When, I first read this, I thought you’d gone in for a CAT Scan (and your brain was fried to boot!) and I was going to wish you the best on those test results. Having re-read your comment, I’m going to wish you good luck on those test results all the same. Pleased to hear you enjoyed Campagnolo.

Quade1 writes: “Happy Birthday to Carl, how old is he now? nevermind that the real question is did he REALLY write Pocahontas?”

Answer: Yes, he did write Pocahontas, and he reminds us of this fact ALL the time. Whenever we’re giving him script notes, it’s always: “Believe you me, this isn’t the way we used to do things on Pocahontas!” or “I don’t have to take this! I wrote freakin’ Pocahantas!” or “I’m sorry, remind me again. What was the last Disney animated feature YOU wrote?”. Oh, and I believe he turned 32.

Kdvb1 writes: “Just finding it a bit humorous Joe that you nailed some fans for “name call(ing) like a bunch of children” which was a valid complaint and in my opinion true. Erm…but then you name called them “raving loon(s)”.”

Answer: I actually said that bad behavior on the part of certain fans helps to reinforce the negative stereotypes of fandom, said behavior crossing the line from spirited to raving loon. I could add alarmingly obsessive as well. You need look no further than many of the ways fandom has been represented in mass media, in everything from SNL skits to movies.

Airelle writes: “Can you ship back chocolates from Japan? Are they known for any good chocolates, bon bons, etc.?”

Answer: Tokyo is foodie heaven. They’re tops in everything, from fish to beef to fresh fruits and vegetables to desserts. I don’t know if they ship (I’d advise against it given how long it would take), but purchasing something while I’m visiting and bringing it back with me is certainly an option.

Luis writes: “Joe where is Brie????…..”

Answer: Brie had surgery last week and is being kept apart from the other dogs until she gets her stitches removed. She is presently sporting the cone of shame.

Elanthra writes: “For me, though, your assurances that the movie will go ahead, eventually, simply because you and Paul have written the script and have been very busy drawing up production plans just won’t wash… it wouldn’t be the first time, in your line of work, that a project has been dropped, even at this stage. And you’d always expressed surprise at the cancellation of the show… i.e you might have been the last to know?”

Answer: True and, not having received definitive word on the fate of the SGA movie from the studio (contrary to rumor) I can only offer my opinion. And my opinion is that the movie will be produced.

Alyjude writes: “Season 1 (figures unk)

Season 2: 62,142 units sold = $2,248,919 (average cost per set @ $35+) – The DVD set didn’t make enough the second week to remain on list

Season 3: 70,763 units sold = $2,299,090 (average cost per set: $32) and again, didn’t maintain enough sales to remain on chart for 2nd week

Season 4: 85,680 units sold = $2,740,903 (average cost per set: $31) but made it to the second week with a 53% drop in sales, but was dropped from the list for week 3

Season 5: 106,161 units sold = $3,297,361 (average cost per set: $31)
For week two, it remained on the list even with a 68% drop in sales – and remained on the list for an unprecedented third week with sales dropping to 38,988 units sold.

So in spite of costs for the sets remaining basically the same – Season 5 outdid all previous seasons and remained on the sales charts for three! weeks. Not even SG1 managed that.”

Answer: Hey, Alyjude, thanks for this! It affirms what I said in my post – that there is no way the studio would scrap the movie and blame the fans for lack of support. It just doesn’t make sense. It also reaffirms my confidence that this movie WILL get made. That said, I’m not privy to all of the variables and considerations the studio weighs in deciding on whether and when to move forward. Still, this is very heartening. Do you have specific source links? (My attempts to search out the data on the site has proven frustrating and futile)? Would love to pass this info along.

Alyjude also writes: “Okay, so with numbers like that – and the movie still not firmed up – no contracts signed – why should anyone be surprised that the fans feel like the movie is being scrapped (even if only temporarily)?”

Answer: I never objected to fans feeling frustrated or making assumptions on the fate of the movie. I objected to a fan claiming to have insider information that the movie WAS scrapped and that the studio pinned the blame on the fans. As I said, your data clearly supports the fact that this wouldn’t be the case.

Alyjude also writes: “But maybe SGU is costing more than expected? *arched eyebrow* No money left for the movie?”

Answer: Alas, it doesn’t work that way. There’s no communal Stargate pot from which the various productions draw from. Each budget is approved on a project by project basis.

Cyn writes: “Honestly, can you blame any fan for being frustrated at this point?”

Answer: I’ve never blamed fans for being frustrated. But I do blame some of them for crossing the line in the way they’ve expressed their frustration.

Mrs.Hamill writes: “Sorry, but I don’t believe it, and will not believe it until/if the movie is airing on TV or is selling on DVD. The ‘rumors’ are far more than that, and have been stated by certain people who are quite close to you, Mr. Mallozzi.”

Answer: Sorry, you’re wrong. There is no way anyone “close” to me would claim the movie had been canceled or, more specifically, had been canceled due to a “lack of fan support”. Furthermore, why the rush to cancel the movie? It’s not as if we had an approved budget, were in the midst of prep, and suddenly had disaster befall us. Even if present economic factors dictate against moving forward at this time, why call the whole thing off when it would be wiser to simply wait until the situation improves? Delaying production is one thing, but outright canceling the movie doesn’t make sense. Perhaps your purported inside source can shed some light on this. I look forward to hearing his/her reasoning.

Riley writes: “I shudder to think of the kinds of comments you’ve received (and, obviously, not approved) that have led to this post.”

Answer: Surprisingly, no offensive comments here. I’ve approved all comments and only had to edit out an offending line in one. So far, both sides in the debate have been well-behaved. On this blog anyway.

Mercury973 writes: “I cannot speak for anyone but myself. I feel angry. After getting good rating and a People’s Choice award, the show is suddenly axed. Then the very next day, we learn that SGU has been greenlit. Then we read that there is a push for a younger viewing demographic, which seems odd since I know that a good chuck of the viewers are women in the 30-40s. Then we read flippant remarks about how we just need to support the new show, but that it won’t be like the other shows. Darker-edger. Right there, that turns me off, since I don’t want a darker Stargate. The humor and tongue in cheekishness (is that a word?) made me fall for the show in the 1st place.”

Answer: Hi, Mercury973. Thanks for dropping by. Some fans seem to forget that I was equally disappointed with the cancellation (you can check out my entries on the subject). And, I agree, the timing of the SGU announcement was – uh – “unfortunate” (something else I’ve commented on several times). The “push for younger views” was not something that either the studio or the production emphasized and a look at the cast should dispel the notion that we were looking to do “Stargate 90210”. Yes, admittedly the show will be darker, but I can assure you that it will still contain the Stargate sense of humor that fans have enjoyed – and that, quite frankly, we enjoy writing.

Unegawaya writes: “How do you write fully formed stories, where do you get your ideas, and what do you do when you hit a wall? I’m an aspiring writer (of anything, really, though I like writing stories and books) and I can’t seem to stay focused on any one story long enough to figure out where I want to go with it.”

Answer: To be honest, discipline comes with a looming deadline.  If I had all the time in the world, I probably wouldn’t get anything done either.  But knowing I HAVE to finish up by a set date is the greatest motivator.

October 9, 2009: An SGU-heavy mailbag!

Air III comin' at ya!
Air III comin' at ya!

To coincide with the North American premiere of Air III – what’s I’m calling Drama in the Desert – today’s entry will be Almost All Mailbag as I field some of your SGU-related questions…

Rednor writes: “I hope they are able to turn on some lights at some point. I hate this trend to do everything in the dark.”

Answer: Keep in mind that when the survivors of the attack on Icarus Base come through the gate for the first time, Destiny has been on reserve power for quite some time.  As the crew moves out to occupy sections of the ship, those area will see more illumination as systems are turned on or awaken. That being said, you’re going to need your sunglasses for tonight’s episode, Air III, s a team heads off-world to explore a desert planet’s searing environment.

Rednor also writes: “Chloe is already bordering on obnoxious. I thought the scene about her father was wayyyy overdone.”

Answer: Really?  Her father just died!  Should she have just sucked it up and moved on to more important matters?

ZeroPointBatteries writes: “One thing is bugging me though, why couldn’t they just use the kino to shut the door instead of having to kill someone?”

Answer: And how exactly were they supposed to do that?  The control to seal the door wasn’t some giant button they could sail the kino into in the hopes that the impact would initiate the seal.  In fact, you can see the senator first press one button on the seat console, then move down to press another.  The kino’s surface area wouldn’t have allowed for pinpoint accuracy.  Yes, Rush had a pencil, and even IF someone happened to have brought the masking tape to fasten it to the kino, you’re making several more assumptions: 1) that in the short time Eli has been working with the kino, he would be capable of controlling it with the accuracy needed to hit those particular buttons, and 2) the kino would possess enough force to trigger the buttons.

Rose writes: “Which, unfortunately, highlighted the poor use of female characters in the premier.”

Answer: The premiere covers a lot of ground – from introducing everyone and Icarus Base to getting us through the attack and onto Destiny – and our cast is fairly sizable.  There are a lot of characters who were only touched upon in these first 2-3 hours that will be highlighted and explored over the course of the ensuing episodes including the likes of T.J., Chloe, and Wray.

Thornyrose writes: “The raid on the planet seems a tad contrived, and the blowing up of the whole planet just seems implausible.”

Answer: How so contrived?  It certainly begs the question “Who attacked and how did they know about Icarus Base?” but I don’t know why one would consider contrived.  As for the planet blowing up – the planet was chosen because of its ability to provide the necessary and massive power requirements to dial the ninth chevron.  An overload of energy transfer triggered by the attack caused a massive chain reaction down to the planet’s naquadria core.

DasNdanger writes: “I was disappointed by the total snub to SGA.”

Answer: Hey, we would have loved to have included many more characters from the franchise but we were limited by time and simple logic.  It made sense for O’Neill to put in an appearance as head of Homeworld Security.  It also made sense for Carter to appear aboard the Hammond.  Daniel’s cameo, while brief, made sense as well.  But, for instance, as much as we would have loved to include the Teal’c character, it didn’t make a whole lot of sense.  The same applies to the SGA crew given that none of them would have been involved in the Icarus project (particularly given the timeline of events for the movie).

DasNdanger also writes: “The sex scene was unneccessary, and off-putting.”

Answer: Whether it was off-putting or not is a matter of opinion.  As for uncessary – I disagree.  It establishes not only a relationship between Scott and James, but goes to character as well.

Sparrow_hawk writes: “Disliked: the cutting back and forth between the ship and the base.”

Answer: Starting with tonight’s episode, Air III, the stories will flow a little more straightforwardly.  For the most part.

TBA writes: “304’s are able to easily destroy Ori battlecruisers, Wraith hives, and Replicator Aurora warships, but the Hammond is forced to retreat for three puny Ha’taks?”

Answer: You’re assuming that while Earth has made progress with its shields and weaponry, the rest of the galaxy has remained stagnant.

Debra writes: “And the nonsense of the leaking air… for crying out loud at least SHOW them trying to simply close off that area or constructing paneling over the ship door.”

Answer: If simply sealing off the entire section had been an option, they would have done it.  As for “constructing paneling over the ship door” – with what?  Again, keep in mind they’ve just scrambled onto this strange ship with whatever they could grab.

Shaggygirl writes: “…and Telford? blink and you missed him. do we see him again?”

Answer: Yep.

Chevron7 writes: “How did you spend premiere night?”

Answer: At home, watching the premiere on Space and continually updating the fan comments to this blog.

Richard Watts writes: “Once Rush contacted SGC using the long-range communication stones, why didn’t SGC just get their spatial coordinates, assemble McKay, Zelenka and some other Scientists, take Atlantis into orbit, then use the “Wormhole Drive” that conveniently allowed Atlantis to get from “just outside the outer edge of the Milky Way Galaxy” to Earth in a few seconds at the end of “Enemy at the Gate” to go to the location of the Destiny and send a few Jumpers over to get the crew?”

Answer: 1. Destiny is much, MUCH farther away than the distance separating Pegasus from The Milky Way. 2. The issue of the wormhole drive is dealt with in the Atlantis movie.

Richard Watts also writes: “I hope that the IOA lady gets killed in some episode, just because I already got a bad vibe from her arrogant character…”

Answer: How is she arrogant?  Given the situation, I would be just as panicked and quick to demand answers.  I love the Wray character and I’m sure that many fans will grow to love her as well as the series progresses.

Jeff O’Connor writes: “I know you probably don’t want to discuss these things quite yet, but I hope the ratings aren’t a problem for you folks. 2.4 million, right?”

Answer: Hey, Jeff.  No, not a problem at all.  In fact, everyone was very pleased not only with the overall viewership but the demos that had SGU leading the night (!).  We’re all very interested to see what kind of a boost we get from the +7 DVR numbers.

David Chapple writes: “But is it true that the SGU dvd’s will be split in two volumes?”

Answer: Sorry, I don’t know anything about this.

PBMom writes: “Or will unprotected sex on Destiny have unexpected consequences?”

Answer: Tune in to find out.

Thornyrose writes: “Col. Carter indicated that the number of MIA was a bit under 100(have to watch again to pick up the exact number, though 92 comes to mind). Have you as writers/producers keeping count of how many people get killed off? More importantly,have you sketched out basic info on those characters we’ve either not seen, or saw only as bodies flying through the Stargate?”

Answer: We have an approximate number for the group of survivors who came through the gate and have maintained episode to episode consistency with character references and background extras.

Diane D. writes: “How did you tackle this as writers? Did one person establish what the new style of storytelling would be like and give the other writers instructions and guidelines of some sort?”

Answer: Series creators Brad Wright and Robert Cooper established everything from the tone of the show and the look of the ship to the individual characters.  Using Air I, II, and III as a template, the rest of the writers simply followed their lead.  Brad and Rob have overseen all aspects of production to ensure it remains true to their original vision for the show, sitting in on all meetings and doing passes on all scripts.

BlueSmartie writes: “Will you be releasing the SGU soundtrack?”

Answer: I don’t know for sure, but I imagine we will.  Joel Goldsmith did an incredible job with the music.

Mary writes: “The basic story was very good, although with some flaws – it’s hard for me to buy the idea that the CO2 scrubbers were all worn out when it was made clear in the dialogue that no one had ever been on the ship before; there didn’t seem to be a good reason why the INTERIOR door to the shuttle was broken when, again, no one was on the ship.”

Answer: Yeah, good questions.  Why would they have this sort of trouble if the ship remained unmanned?  And has Destiny sustained damage – almost as if its fallen victim to an attack of some sort?  Weird.

Mary also writes: “O’Neill putting him in command? Oh, yeah, sure.”

Answer: Well, that’s what Rush said happened and he seems like an honest guy…

Mary also writes: “ I’m disappointed that the decision was made to go with the angry young black man trope with Greer.”

Answer: I’ve mentioned in previous entries that the “angry military character” – Ron “Psycho” Stasiak – was not originally envisioned as a young black man.  But Jamil Walker Smith blew us away with his audition and landed the role.  Like the rest of our main characters, we’ll be learning a lot more about his backstory and the type of person he is over the course of this first season.  Also, it will be interesting to read the response to the Greer character after tonight’s episode.  Months ago, Rob and I sat down to watch a director’s cut of Air III with our wives.  After we were done, I asked them which character they liked best.  They were in agreement – they LOVED Sgt. Greer.  I told Jamil this and now, every time I see him on set, he reminds me to “Say hi to your wife for me!”

Mary also writes: “Ming Na had maybe 5 lines of dialogue.”

Answer: Big cast.  Many episodes to go.

Caitlyanna writes: “When Eli’s playing the game in the beginning and is kicked out of the level, is that the central tower of Atlantis in the game?”

Answer: Sure looks like it.

Caitlyanna also writes: “Did Telford board the Hammond and isn’t aboard Destiny?”

Answer: We will learn that Telford escaped aboard the Hammond.

Tempus13 writes: “What’s with the shuttles being on the outside of the hull? Seems more likely they would be exposed to damage. Shuttles are usually on the inside of a ship for this reason.”

Answer: The shuttle is protected by the ship’s shield which does a better job of protecting it from damage than an exposed hull.

Paddy writes: “I saw in the opening whislt seeing the destiny that she had some pretty big guns on her* Will we see them in action?”

Answer: Oh, we will.

Paddy also writes: “The Destiny was huge, not that many people on board. I saw weve probaly seen 2% of the ship? There going to be some real cool stuff layin around even if broken?”

Answer: Yep, plenty to explore and plenty to discover.

Charlie’s Angel writes: “When you ask for our opinions about the show, why do you want to know? What influence do fans and their expectations and reactions have on the creative process? I imagine that at this point in your production schedule you are already locked in on story lines, shooting style, and character development, so does it really matter what we think?”

Answer: Of course it matters.  Given the lag between the start of production and the airing of the show’s first episode this year, we’re already shooting the finale as the third episode premieres so, no, fan opinion will not change any of the creative decisions made for the show’s first season.  That having been said, it’s always good to know what worked and what didn’t in the opinion of many of our more perceptive viewers (and, generally, those diehard fans who take the time to involve themselves in forums like these tend to be more keyed-in than the average viewers).  While we don’t take dictation, we are reasonable in considering outside opinions as we prepare for a potential second season.

Shawna Buchanan writes: “Will the people on the Destiny use the stones to communicate with Earth on a regular basis?”

Answer: The stones will be the only means by which those aboard Destiny will be able to communicate with Earth.  Eventually, they will want to contact loved ones…

Ekko writes: “…will all characters change their clothing in the show?
Or will you try to make ‘em have same clothes all the time?”

Answer: They will wear whatever they brought with them.  If they didn’t bring a change of clothing (which is highly likely) then they’ll be wearing the same outfit, occasionally borrowing appropriate off-world gear when available.

E writes: “Can you confirm or deny that one season of SGU doesn’t cover an entire year?”

Answer: The way we tracked it, the first season covers less than a year.

Mary writes: “The reason is because he is putting his own needs and desires – his curiosity and obvious burning, all-consuming need to find out where that 9th chevron led – over the needs and lives of everyone else on that base. First, the orders were to dial Earth. Even assuming he was right that the explosion could have transferred through the gate to Earth, there had to be numerous other places they could have gone. HE wanted to find out where the gate dialed if the 9th chevron worked, and that’s all he cared about. They should have gone to the alpha site or some other place that I am sure the military knew to go.”

Answer: True, but anywhere he dialed he would have been putting lives at risk.

Wonderingbrit writes: “One thing that did stand out as an obvious business opportunity for the franchise was the Daniel Jackson training videos – these have so got to be addressed and turned into DVD’s – they’d be hot property to any SGF fan.”

Answer: Yes, they will eventually be finding their way onto either a website or dvd.

NZNeep writes: “I keep meaning to tell you about the pie I made the other day… it was simple as, but fantastic. The base was sweet and crisp, made of almonds, a bit of sugar and an egg white. The filling was a block of good quality 85% cocoa chocolate melted with a bottle of cream and 3 eggs. The sweet crispy base was perfect with the creamy rich texture of the dark chocolate filling. Magic, and quite possibly the best thing I have ever made.”

Answer: And the most delicious-sounding thing I’ve read about it weeks.

HBMC writes: “I thought SGU was trying to avoid alien cultures that spoke perfect modern English or were just humans in prosthetics?”

Answer: Any aliens originating from any of these new galaxies will be very different from the aliens we’ve encountered in either the Milky Way or Pegasus.

Kasper Kvistgaard writes: “Is it somehow possible to get an exact Stargate address to the Destiny ship?”

Answer: And have you dialing us up all the time?  No way!

JB writes: “will we see a dhd on the planet of air part 3?”

Answer: Nope.

Sealurk writes: “Quick question – do you think Air is a good indicator for the rest of SGU’s first season, or is the good stuff yet to come?”

Answer: The best is definitely yet to come in terms of off-world adventure, space battles, alien encounters, shipboard dynamics, and character development.

Jimmy writes: “Did Destiny drop out of FTL because its gate was dialed? Or was it a fortunate coincidence for the evacuees?”

Answer: Yes, Destiny dropped out of FTL because its gate was dialed.  It also drops out of FTL when it detects upcoming gate-accessible planets.

Jimmy also writes: “It wasn’t terribly clear, so: did the Milky Way gate actually need more power, as Rush indicated; or was it only a matter of a coded address and not power, as Eli stated?”

Answer: It was a power requirement.  By tapping into the planet’s aquaria, they were able to harness enough power to dial the ninth chevron.

Nathan Zeppel writes: “ Hey there – was wanting to ask you a few questions about SGU, just finished watching the Premiere down here in good old Australia and just thought I might have a chat to you about what I think of it all.”

Answer: Then post your comments.  I look forward to reading them.

PoorOldEdgarDerby writes: “Speaking of dog food, has anyone else ever seen this Old Yeller brand dog food? And was your first thought that if it goes bad you’ll have to take it out back and shoot it?”

Answer: Love it!

Bookal writes: “Do you know if your traffic reflects all of us who view your blog from the RSS feed?”

Answer: No idea.

Okay, those are all the questions I have time for.  I’m off to load the dishwasher, watch Air III, make dinner, and start approving comments.  Let me know what you thought…

June 23, 2009: A Cracking Spot of Thee-Atah!

Approximately a month after losing a bet to my co-worker Kerry, and following weeks of her incessant badgering and bothering, I finally paid up by accompanying her to a musical theater production of her choice. Her choice? Altar Boyz:

“…Altar Boyz tells the holy inspiring story of 5 small-town boys – Matthew, Mark, Luke, Juan and Abraham – trying to save the world one screaming fan at a time. Their pious pop act, including lyrics like “Girl You Make Me Wanna Wait” and “Jesus Called Me On My Cell Phone,” worked wonders on the Ohio bingo-hall-and-pancake-breakfast circuit. But when fate brings them to New York, will the boyz take a bite out of the forbidden apple? With angelic voices, sinfully spectacular dancing and a touching story, Altar Boyz is destined to rock the masses of all denominations!” (http://www.altarboyz.com/about-the-show.html).

Needless to say, I was dreading the performance for quite some time while Kerry, for her part, had been delighting in my discomfort, even going so far as to purchase the official Altar Boyz soundtrack to prepare me for (torment me prior to) the big night. Which was last night.

Despite my best efforts to duck out (“Hey, Carl, you know what would be a hilarious practical joke? If you went to the show instead of me!”), I met Kerry and Marty G. for dinner at Bin 942 where I had a glass of so-so Gewurztraminer, enjoyed some tasty tapas, and lost my sunglasses. Then, with twenty minutes to spare, it was off to Granville Island, community theatre central.

We had tickets in the fifth row, middle section and, as I settled into my seat, avoiding Kerry’s smirksome glances, I regretted not having brought along something to read. This, I thought, is going to be sheer Hell. I shifted uncomfortably in my seat as the lights dimmed and the unseen announcer introduced The Altar Boyz. Showtime!

Well, I survived the experience, my sanity intact. And, I have to admit, I didn’t hate it. As someone who dislikes musical theater (and downright hates contemporary theater in general), that’s saying a lot. The show is a parody, hit and miss, but amusing enough to keep me entertained throughout. The songs are comically sanitized takes on various musical styles (“Girl You Make Me Want To Wait” was my personal favorite although it would have been downright spectacular had the woman they’d brought up on stage for the audience participation portion of the show been Kerry). Campy fun but certainly not the type of tunes you’ll be humming. And as for the performers – well, I thought they were all excellent, particularly David Hurwitz’s portrayal of the flamboyant Mark. All in all, I can think of worse ways to spend ninety minutes (network note calls immediately come to mind).

What made the evening even more special was that, while I didn’t mind the show, Kerry did. Very much. Throughout the performance, I would cast quick glances over at her cringing and frowning, her hand pressed up against her mouth like a witness to some gruesome accident attempting to stifle a horrified cry. Yep, she hated it. She felt the parody and humor didn’t go far enough, vacillating between satirical and deeply earnest and erring on the side of the latter.

I had a better time than Kerry.
I had a better time than Kerry did.

Kerry’s misery coupled with my surpassed low expectations had me surprisingly upbeat as I exited the auditorium, determined to hold her to her word and have her buy me an inspirational Altar Boyz t-shirt I promised to wear to the office. Alas, there was no merchandise for sale in the lobby and I ended up leaving empty-handed and bitterly disappointed.

Today, I received an email from Kerry in which she reiterates her dissatisfaction with the show and expresses shock and outrage at my positive response. She writes: “You were supposed to hate this more than me! Why didn’t you hate it, Joe!!!!!” and offers up her take: “…I found that it did not push the envelope AT ALL in its satire. So, instead, by playing it safe, they played it straight. And by playing it straight, it made my evening awkward because I felt like I was watching a high school production of a Christian musical that sometimes poke fun at itself.” She concludes with: “ Moral of the story is that this bet completely backfired as I ended up suffering through it more than you did. And let me tell you, that really grinds my gears. Why didn’t I just make you take me to Les Mis…”

Today’s entry is dedicated to blog regular for the love of Beckett.

Mailbag:

Wonderingbrit writes: “But my mate’s daughter went with friends for an Indian meal in Chesterfield (UK) to celebrate leaving college…”

Answer: Congratulations. Used band-aid in the salad was a strong candidate but your story takes the award for Most Disgusting Anecdote.

OHinNJ writes: “One day, shortly after he started the job, he was sweeping up the trash and food scraps that had fallen on the floor. He looked around for a garbage can and saw a very large metal container filled with other food scraps, so he dumped the trash in. A little later he saw the sous chef dumping the contents of the container into a large pot on the stove, adding water and turning on the flame. Turned out that container held the vegetable scraps used to make soup stock. “

Answer: …Although this one came pretty close…

Pastrygirl writes: “Third is an industry story from one of the chefs I know – when he was working in a bakery, he witnessed one of the guys start a mixer and spew flour/other ingredients all over the floor. The guy then went and got the broom and dustpan (that’s right, the same one used to sweep up GARBAGE) and swept it all up and dumped it back into the mixer bowl, continuing to make whatever.”

Answer: As did this one.

Nadine writes: “So Joe, of the animated movies (not anime..) you’ve seen, do you have a favourite?”

Answer: Ratatouille.

Jedi43 writes: “I have also found hair in food that is not mine.”

Answer: The hair or the food?

Luis writes: “Joe you and Paul’s Comic book deal goes through will they be avaliable in the U.S??”

Answer: The company we’re in talks with is an American comic book publisher. So, yes.

Namiko writes: “The funny thing was, we were guests at a wedding and we were all given disposable cameras at the table (so they could have candid pictures of the party, I guess?), so we took pictures of the bug in my salad.”

Answer: Ha! Exactly what I would’ve done.

Tammy Dixon writes: “However, my sister-in-law went to Paris. She found bugs in her fresh oysters…”

Answer: Hey, this reminds me – speaking of odd things found in your food AND Jamil Walker Smith. Apparently, Jamil was out for dinner with the rest of the cast the other week, went to eat his oyster, and discovered a pearl inside! Much better than a bug.

Deni writes: “Bad news with Martok.”

Answer: Hey, Deni, as someone already said, the fact that you adopted the little guy offered him years of comfort and happiness he would not have otherwise enjoyed. Small solace, I know, but at least something to consider as you reflect back on him warmly.

Scary writes: “How would you define wraith Sexuality? Does our antiquated views on Sexual relations not apply to them? Are more open minded?”

Answer: This is something we never discussed in the room. So far, we know that the wraith warriors (the bruisers with the face masks) are clones produced by the Queen in conjunction with the organic hive ship. On the other hand, we have established that the Queens develop more a long the lines of their human female counterparts. As to how they and the keepers (the other males) are produced – that’s something we have yet to explore. In my view, if you want a sense of how the wraith procreate, you should look to the ever-industrious honey bee.

For the love of Beckett writes: “Tell us another story about your Dad?”

Answer: I’ll tell you two of my favorites. 1) Growing up, my sister and I drank a lot of orange juice – the frozen, concentrated kind you mixed with cold water. However, we were both incredibly lazy and hated going through the trouble of making the stuff so, rather than be the one to finish the juice and assume those duties, we’d drink it until there were many a couple of inches worth left at the bottom of the container and play the waiting game. Sometimes, it would go weeks, sitting there, fermenting as my sister and I waited for the other to blink. Then, one hot afternoon, my father walked into the kitchen after an hour’s yard work, poured himself a nice tall glass of what was left, and had a drink. He was so obviously so thirsty that it didn‘t register until, four or five seconds in (maybe three big gulps), he suddenly smelled what he was drinking. Best spit take ever! It covered the entire kitchen table. 2) My father always enjoyed a nice, tall glass of ice water. He’d poured himself a glass, drop in a couple of ice cubes, then head off into the living room to watch t.v. Once his show was over, he’d return to the kitchen, enjoy his cool glass of water, and head off to bed. Well, one night, while he was watching television, I heard a sound coming from the darkened kitchen. I poked my head inside, turned on the light, and caught our housecat, elbow deep in my father’s water glass, attempting to rescue an ice cube from its watery depths. It was incredibly cute and I made a mental note to tell my sister. I thought nothing of it until, an hour later, I walked back into the kitchen and discovered my father sitting there, the empty water glass in front of him. “Did you drink that?!”I asked, alarmed. “Yeah,”he replied, reading the panic in my voice. “Why?!” “Because the cat had his paw in there!”I informed him as if he should’ve known better.

Karen writes: “Do you just stay in your general area when dining out, or have you considered on traveling when you’re not working?”

Answer: This blog actually started as an online journal of my culinary tour of Asia. When I pick a vacation destination, it’s always with a mind to where I’ll be eating. Which is why I enjoy going to Vegas even though I don’t really gamble or enjoy shows, and why I’ll be returning to Tokyo later this year.

PG15 writes: “Is Brad Wright writing episode 17? Is this the episode you refered to today with “Brad’s story”?”

Answer: 16, 17, 18. Whatever. These episodes get bounced around the schedule so often it doesn’t really mean anything until the show airs.

Mary A. Milan writes: “Did you actually reshoot the scene of Jack eating Fruit Loops and Daniel saying “It’s just how I feel” everytime? Or did you reuse the same footage?”

Answer: Whew, that was a while ago. To best of my recollection, those were different takes.

Iamza writes: “Except that volume one is essentially that same fleeting glimpse at post-zombie apocalypse life that we have seen in countless horror films/books/comics…”

Answer: True, but you have to lay the groundwork first.  He starts at the beginning – where most other zombie productions do – with a protagonist coming to terms with the initial onslaught.  Then, where other zombie stories leave off, he keeps on going, getting into the survivors’ interpersonal relationships and their subsequent struggles.

Iamza also writes: “Any chance you could talk some of the cast of SGU into doing a Q&A session after the shows airs? From twitter, they seem like an insanely good-natured bunch.”

Answer: They are a great bunch.  I’ve already floated the idea by several of them and they’ve all been very receptive.  Now it’s all a matter of when the studio gives the okay.