May 19, 2009: Victoria Day, Developments on the SGU Front, Michael and Lexa Drop By But Don’t Stick Around For the Spring Cleaning!

Well, we were all back at work today following the Victoria Day long weekend – Victoria Day, of course, being a recently adopted Canadian holiday commemorating one of history’s most remarkable pioneering female Brits. Yes, I refer to none other than Ms. Victoria Beckham. Looking back, I suspect the vote to bestow the honor on the former Posh Spice may have had more to do with a desire to have an extra holiday in May than anything else. All the same, this is the third year the country has marked the occasion with songs, dance, and goat kebobs in a vast nation-wide celebration that brings together peoples of all races and religions. Except, of course, for the Irish who are prohibited from participating and have to go to work instead. It was a great three-day break and now, Canadians have to wait a whole month for their next big holiday when the Emeril Legasse Day long weekend rolls around in late June.

Today, the SGA movie script, Stargate: Extinction, went out to the writing department. No one has gotten around to reading it yet but I imagine it’s just a matter of time before the accolades start rolling in. Carl, however, did read my short story over the weekend and, to my delight, enjoyed it. So 3 down and 2 356 689 to go!

Before lunch, Carl, Paul, and I headed down to Stage 1 where work is ongoing on the jungle set for Time. It’s looking mighty damn impressive. I took plenty of snaps, including a couple of shots of Carl posing beside a giant alien fern. From there, we headed over to the Destiny set where Peter DeLuise was directing Bobby, Louis, and David in scenes for Darkness and Light.

After lunch, we sat down to watch the director’s cut of Life. I can’t say enough good things about this episode, from Carl Binder’s script to the individual performances to Alex Chapple’s direction. Some incredibly poignant moments delivered by Brian J. Smith, Ming Na, and a couple of wonderful guest stars. I LOVED this episode.

Later, I was sitting in my office when I heard a familiar voice ask: “Is Mallozzi here?” I glanced up and, sure enough, it was Michael Shanks – with his lovely wife Lexa. I was mortified. Had I known he’d be bringing her by, I’d have cleaned the place up. My desk is a drop-zone. They stopped in and we spent a good half hour talking about exorcists, chiropractors, and exorcist-chiropractors. On their own, they’re very funny people but together, these two are absolutely hilarious. A terrific couple – who, conveniently enough, had to rush off to buy some roast chicken after I suggested my office would be clean in no time if we all pitched in.

I Remember the Future discussion:

Michael A. Burstein writes: ““Like “I Remember the Future”, this one resonated with me on a personal level, reminding me of the day I came across the webpage of Thomas M. Disch only days after his passing.”

Wow. You probably had the same thoughts I had when I came across Charles Sheffield’s webpage after he died (which, as I noted in the afterword, was the genesis of the story).”

Answer: Camp Concentration is one of my favorite SF novels. In fact, just the other day Paul returned a whack of books I’d lent him over the past year and he singled CC out (alongside Frederik Pohl’s Gateway) as his favorites. I considered making the book a Book of the Month Club selection and inviting Disch to take part in a Q&A but, sadly, never got the chance. While surfing for news about his sudden passing, I came across his website and was surprised to see that he kept a fairly active online presence. Sadder still to learn that, late in life, he suffered depression for his failure to gain recognition for his work. Too late to post a comment and let him know his work was appreciated by this reader at least.

Sylvia writes: “Re the old ending and the new ending. I loved the new ending as it gave Sarah the choice and the rite of decision – to take action – to get the tattoo. She did not have to prove her love and devotion. She chose to take a stand to make progress in the struggle that we learn from the lessons of the past. I rather liked that posture of doing the right thing and because one wanted to do the right thing.”

Answer: Yes, it’s a tough call because both endings offer up two very different but very positive elements. In the end, I think Michael’s editor (and his wife) echoed your sentiments – which is why he decided to go with that particular ending.

Sylvia also writes: “Was a bit surprised but gladdened to discover that Miss Ellis also resorted to changing appearance.”

Answer: I kind of suspected the surprise but loved it nevertheless. It cemented her relationship with Tony and offered up the most touching beat in the ensuing story, TelePresence, in which we learn of her dedication and eventual passing.

Thornyrose writes: “TeleAbsence was the best of the stories in combining emotion and sci fi elements. “

Answer: I would agree. All of these elements were nicely balanced and despite the future setting, the depth of the characters grounded the story in the here and now.

Thornyrose also writes: “It’s all too easy to look at technology as the solution to all social ills, but Mr. Burnstein rightly points out that economics and human nature will prevent an even distribution of such technologies.”

Answer: Which is something the author goes on to discuss in the afterword, making reference to someone who predicted that everyone would have a computer by the years 2001 (I believe it was). Well, not quite. While the technology is there, the means to acquire said technology remains problematic for many.

Thornyrose also writes: “With Spaceships, we’re given a slightly melencholy view of immortality. ( Can one say Ascension?). It seems even in the far future, eccentricity is frowned upon, and Kel is victimized by those who are not actually harmed by his peculiar obsession. I did have a minor quibble here; how did Kel get possession of the actual originals?”

Answer: I assumed that, in time, as humanity shed their corporeal forms, they gave up on what they considered physical affectations – like spaceships. Kel collected the abandoned ships, amassing them into a personal collection.

Thornyrose also writes: “While I found it a bit suprising that the Church would rule aliens as soulless, and thus ineligable to become members, the device works well enough here.”

Answer: That was curious – but not altogether surprising. By the way, if you’re looking for a terrific novel that explores the issues of faith and alien visitation, I strongly urge you to pick up Michael Flynn’s Eifelheim. From Booklist: “In the fourteenth century, the Black Death ravaged Europe. Most towns decimated by it were eventually resettled, except for Eifelheim, despite its ideal location. Mathematical historian Tom discovers this anomaly and an unexpected connection to his domestic partner Sharon’s research in theoretical physics, which seems to be leading to a method of interdimensional travel. In fact, as Eifelheim’s priest back then, Father Dietrich, relates, before the plague’s arrival, an interstellar ship crashed nearby. The encounters between its passengers and the people of Oberhochwald, as Eifelheim was first called, reflect the panoply of attitudes of the time, from fear of the foreign to love and charity for one’s neighbors to the ideas of nascent natural philosophy (science), and the aliens’ reactions are equally fascinating.”

Thornyrose also writes: “ Decisions was a story that had me waiting for Rod Serling’s voice to speak out of the ether.”

Answer: It had a definite The Outer Limits feel for me.

Thornyrose also writes: “As soon as Reverend Haas mentioned a steamboat excursion, I recognised that the tale was centered on the tragedy of the General Slocum. […]. But the “instant romance” of Schmidt and Adele just didn’t ring true.”

Answer: Agreed. This was the one element in the story that felt awkward and forced. I could see Adele being smitten with Schmidt, but to have the two of them suddenly profess their love for one another, in spite of the circumstances, seemed all to quick.

Thornyrose also writes: “Of all the stories, Absent Friends is definitely my least least favorite. Levinson’s obsession over his dead friend goes beyond any sane level of grief. There is something more than a little creepy about his insistance at seeking out his friend’s alternate self.”

Answer: This is something I agree with as well. It seemed a single-minded obsession one would reserve for the love of one’s life rather than a friend, no matter how close.

Sparrow_hawk writes: “ Many of the stories just felt flat to me. When I tried to analyze what was missing (for me) in the stories I realized that although the premises of many of the stories were interesting, the settings were weak or non-existent. I’m a very visual person, and just couldn’t “see” where the story was taking place.”

Answer: Are you saying that you would have benefited from a more descriptive narrative?

Mailbag:

Morticae writes: “You know, there was an episode of SG-1 with a guy that used toothpicks and whatnot to booby trap his doors. Something like that!”

Answer: I know. Paul and I wrote it. Point of No Return.

DasNdanger writes: “1. We know that the Iratus bug that attacked Sheppard was in a sort of web, and in The Defiant One the Wraith webbed up his victim, suggesting that – perhaps – he produced the web/silk from his own body. So, in your mind (or had it ever been discussed), do Wraith have the ability to produce ’silk’ from their bodies, and if so…from where?

2. Since a Wraith – by definition – is a doppelganger, has this ever been taken into consideration in how Sheppard and Todd deal with each other? Todd, the ‘harbinger of bad luck’, ‘haunting’ his double – Sheppard – always present, reminding John of his darker side? Or am I just thinking too hard about this…lol.”

Answers: 1. In my mind, the webbing/cocoon is a byproduct of the ship, itself an organic construct.

2. While the wraith warrior class are clones, queens and the other males are not. They are unique.

O6untouchable writes: “1. In “Misbegotten”, Weir and Woolsey travelled to Atlantis on an Asgard ship, and got there nearly two weeks faster. That’s in roughly the same ballpark as the Daedalus’ 4-day trip from “The Siege”. Since the Asgard designed the Daedalus’ hyperdrive anyway, are their ships faster only because they’ve got a better power source?

2. If it is an issue of the power source, do the Daedalus, Apollo, et al now have better generators (to power the Asgard beam weapons and what-not)? Are they capable of making the trip to Atlantis faster?

3. After “The Return”, the ZPMs that the Asurans put in Atlantis were split up; one of them went to the Drone Chair. When the chair was moved to Area 51, was it still powered by that ZPM, or by some Asgard Core-inspired alternative? If the former, what happened to that ZPM?

4. The other ZPM from “The Return” went to the Odyssey. Between the Asgard Core and the fact that the Ori aren’t a threat anymore, did the ZPM get removed at some point? Was it depleted during “The Ark of Truth”, or is it still alive and kicking somewhere?”

Answers: 1. That’s a safe assumption to make.

2. No. Again, it comes down to the power source not the engine design.

3. Yes, the ZPM went with the chair.

4. More on exactly what is up with the Odyssey upcoming.

Scifan writes: “When it comes to guest actors, do you know who you want for the roles while your doing the script or do they have to ask? I remember someone told me that Goran Visnjic aka Dr. Luca Kovac from E.R. is a big fan of SGA. Do you look for those types of actors?”

Answer: We generally write the script and then look to cast. There have been occasions when we have sought out actors who have turned out to be fans of the show – Isaac Hayes for one, Wayne Brady for another. Goran Visnjic was a big fan of SG-1 and actually visited the set while in town working on Elektra. He and the cast really hit it off. We even offered him a guest spot but, unfortunately, he was unable to make it work schedule-wise.

Jim from WVa writes: “Will Stargate Universe employ shaky camera techniques like the movie Cloverfield?”

Answer: The camera work will certainly be more dynamic, but not to a jumpy, nausea-inducing extent.

T’loc writes: “I have a question, I am watching the Shrine from this past season, what would happen if the team had flown to that planet instead of walking could they have dialed a space-gate to escape? Would the water flown out into space? Would love to know the answer.”

Answer: The planet was only accessible via the planet gate. However, had they traveled their through a space gate, then escape would have been much easier – yes, them along with an enormous amount of water.

SebiMeyer writes: “what software is this? I either use Final Draft or Celtx for scripts, but this is new to me.”

Answer: Movie Magic Screenwriter.

O6untouchable also writes: “On a Movie-related note… you’ve already hinted that an Earth Battlecruiser might crop up in Universe somewhere, but what about the Atlantis and SG-1 movies? Are we going to find out what happened to the Sun Tzu, or see the Apollo and/or Daedalus again? (My girlfriend is particularly eager for more Caldwell!) And what about the Odyssey – will we ever find out what that secret mission was, or was that just an excuse to write her out so that she didn’t kick Hive Ship ass before Atlantis got there?”

Answer: Several of these ships will be making future appearances in the, uh, Stargate franchise.

Major D. Davis writes: “1. Would you like to edit my 5 page script (a script for the FBI files part 2?

2. Can I please send you a link to my best video I made(the script I was telling you about is part two of the FBI files. The link I want to send you is part for part 1)?

3. So there are a few stargate suprises for MGM’s 85th b-day. So what day is MGM’s 85th?

4. How is time going? Almost done?

5. Do you guys have a email address I can email(Instead of physically mailing something)?

6. How is the music and visual effects coming for Air?”

Answers: 1. Thanks but no.

2. Sure.

3. Not sure. Carl knows as he’s ordered the cake.

4. Stage 1 is looking awesome ahead of production. The episode is still in prep.

5. Trust me, you’re better off posting a comment here.

6. Great. Brad and Rob had a spotting session with Joel late last week.

Dovil writes: “I’m bitterly disappointed that Stargate Altantis: Glitter Ponies of Hope didn’t jump the last hurdle to be selected, though a two hour movie on SGA-1’s attempts to save the Spotted Owl from the brink of extinction does somewhat make up for it.”

Answer: Glitter Ponies of Hope was our first choice, but it was already taken for the SG-1 movie.

Georgia writes: “I came across ostrich eggs ($29.99 ea) and Vosges bacon chocolate. Ever try either?”

Answer: Haven’t tried ostrich eggs but have tried the Vosges applewood smoked bacon truffles (which, in my opinion, are better than the bars).

Chevron7 writes: “Joe, can you please give us a hint whether you’ve finished judging the Fans Choice bluray DVD cover contest?”

Answer: Sorry, I don’t even know what that is.

Davidd writes: “So, now that you have joined the Twitter masses, do you think you will ever get a Facebook account again?”

Answer: Correction. My dogs joined the twitter masses. They have no plans to get on Facebook however.

David Blue writes: “You know, in my defense:

I ran into Rob at work and told him about the party. He said he couldn’t go because he was having you over for dinner. So I decided not to tempt you to stand him up because you were so interested in coming to my tiny, small apartment instead.”

Answer: Well I feel doubly bad because I returned your apartment-warming gift on Sunday = a home theater system complete with reclining chairs and big screen. And before you complain that it wouldn’t have fit in your small apartment, you should know that it was the second part of your gift. The first part was an all-expenses paid rental of a mansion in Shaugnessy for the show’s entire run. Oh well.

Ytimyona writes: “Wow, Rob Cooper is truly a man of many talents… writer, director, cook! Is there anything RC can’t do?”

Answer: Brain surgery. At least not yet. We’ll find out for sure tomorrow when he removes Lawren’s basal ganglia.

Quade1 writes: “I heard that SGU Pilot was to air during summer followed by the rest of the season in the fall. Is this still the plan?”

Answer: Sorry, no. That was never the plan.

 

Recycled Funk writes: “I found this very enlightening blog post by Neil Gaiman, writer of the brilliant Sandman comics, where he discusses the relationship of blogging writers and their fans and the entitlement issues that sometimes develop (http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2009/05/entitlement-issues.html). I’m not sure if you had come across it as well but I was wondering what your thoughts were on the subject. Since you are so visible on the web, do you think that sometimes fans can feel a little too entitled to your time and the next project, especially when it’s Stargate related?”Answer: I don’t think any fan is going to be pestering me for a release date on that short story – or any non Stargate-related project – anytime soon. Realistically, most of my blog regulars come for the Stargate, but stay for the snark, dog pics, and videos of me sampling strange food products. That said, I certainly do notice a sense of entitlement from certain fans who feel that online interaction should translate into some sort of working relationship. They bitterly complain when their hopes or desires regarding character or story aren’t realized, or adopt the attitude of a petulant child (Hello, Gate world’s Falcon Horus and G.O.D.) sulkily hating on anything and everything because they feel they’ve been personally sleighted by some creative decision made. Maintaining an internet presence has its rewards (as evidenced by the many, many wonderful people who frequent this blog) but it also makes you a convenient target for those terminal grumps seeking an outlet for their pent up aggression. And what better place than the arena of anonymity offered by the worldwide web.

 

Rachael writes: “ With the changes in the writer’s room in the past few months, I was wondering a) which writers were in the room for spinning the story for the movie, and b) if there were writers there at the time who are no longer on the SG writing team, would their departure affect the storyline at all (eg can’t use their ideas any more)?”

Answer: Back in November, Paul and I spun a general idea of what we wanted the SGA movie to be with Brad and Robert. Then, Paul and I went off and worked on the outline, pitching it back and forth between us until we had a pretty solid template. Paul wrote the first sixty pages and I wrote the last forty, although we did tweak one another’s passes.

April 15, 2009: Kerry Fires the Opening Salvo, Smooth Sailing on the Atlantis Script, and the Mailbag

As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog entry, my fellow co-worker, Kerry McDowall, and I have a little wager heading into the NHL playoffs. She, being the Canucks-obsessed fanatic that she is – has the Vancouver Canucks while I’m going with my hometown Habs, the Montreal Canadians. Whoever’s team advances furthest into the playoffs will be declared the winner (For those asking, if both teams are eliminated in the same round, then we’ll go with number of games won. If both teams win an equal number of games, we’ll go to point differential followed by points scored, points allowed, and, finally, the much-loved pro sports tie-breaker of last resort – the dreaded coin toss. But let’s hope it doesn’t come to that and Montreal cruises by those pesky Bruins while Vancouver fans sing the Blues). The stakes are high. If I win, she’ll be making me dinner – which I will, of course, review for this blog – after which we’ll sit down to watch an anime of my choosing. If she wins, I’ll have to accompany her to a musical production of her choosing.

So, last night, I received the following email from Kerry:

“Joe,
Not to get cocky this early in the playoffs, but I was happy to see the Arts Club theatre is putting on a nice local performance of Altar Boyz between June and August this summer. The timing couldn’t be more perfect.

“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.”

Haha… why yes, Joe, I do think we have a winner here. I can’t wait until my soul is washed clean with laughter, can you?”

Today, I responded:

“By the way, don’t bother adding salt to any of the dishes you’ll be preparing.  I’m sure they’ll be well-seasoned by your tears.”

Already, the trash-talking has begun!

Some terrific progress on the Atlantis movie script today as I hit the fast and furious climax. A LOT going on here with all of our characters in play and events going down in seven different locations. I approach the scene that’ll some thinking “They wouldn’t dare!”. Yep, we would. And will.

New director Alex Chapple is deep into prep on Life. Brian (aka our Lieutenant Scott) worked with him on Law & Order and had nothing but great things to say about him in the lead up to his arrival. Alex, meanwhile, had some equally great things to say about Brian. Looking forward to their collaboration on this episode which will offer some significant insight into our various players including a little surprise or two. Or three.

Look what I got in the mail today. A French Bulldog t-shirt compliments of Deni B. Thanks, Deni. I plan to work into my summer rotation.

Hey, congratulations to Fuel Restaurant’s Rob Belcham who was named Chef of the Year at the 20th Annual Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards.

The Mailbag:

JJ writes: “Is this mean that Syfy plan to take a long break in the mid-season?”

Answer: I’m not sure what the network has planned.

Madwelshboy writes: “The Hollywood Reporter is saying that Amanda Tapping will guest star in SGU, is that true??”

Answer: That The Hollywood Reporter said this? By all indications, yes. Ha ha. Though, seriously. Several weeks ago when I mentioned having a wonderful time catching up with an old friend, she’s who I was referring to.

Major D. Davis writes: “1. Do you think the Atlantis movie will be released before or after the SG-1 movie is released?

2. If i wanted to write to one of the actors what address should i send it to?

3. What episode are you currently filming and how is it going?

4. Is that a group picture of the Atlantis, SG-1, and Universe cast and crew to the left of the picture of Kerry?

5. Are the uniforms in the second SGU trailer the Icarus Base Uniforms you said looked really cool, cause they look like the US army digital pattern uniform?

6. There is a rumor circulating that the Icarus Base is on a moon(not earth’s, just another planets moon). Is that true?”

Answers: 1. No idea.

2. If you want to ensure your letter arrives in a timely manner, I’d suggest finding out who their representation is and send it their way. They’ll see to it that their fan mail is forwarded to them. If it’s a member of the SGU cast, send it to the production offices as we see them most every day.

3. Water. It’s going very well.

4. Nope. We have yet to take the crew photo for SGU.

5. Those are the Icarus Base Uniforms.

6. No comment.

Shirt ‘n Tie writes: “Any sign of the PDL or Joel Goldsmith Q and A?”

Answer: Still no sign of the Joel Goldsmith Q&A, but I received the PDL Q&A today and it is fantastic. One response almost had me on the floor, laughing. Will have to hold off on posting it until early next week to coincide with a little something in the works…

Joshua writes: “ What’s the difference between IOA and… IOC i think?? The one they reference in Outcast. The guys Bates works for.”

Answer: The International Olympic Committee? Bates is in charge of greasing down the bobsled run.

Lauren writes: “Hey Joe, I was wondering if you’ve ever read any of the Harry Dresden books?”

Answer: Not yet.

Phil writes: “I saw that Janelle Monae is appearing in an ep of Universe. Do you know which one it will be?”

Answer: The talented Ms. Monae will make an appearance in Earth.