September 30, 2009: Only Two Days to the Stargate: Universe Premiere! Robert Carlyle! An On (and Off) Set Photo Journal Entry!

The finish line is within sight!  In two mere days, we premiere and you, the fans, will finally be able to see what all the buzz is about.  Until then,  keep telling anyone and everyone, peruse those online reviews (like this one  http://scifi.about.com/b/2009/09/30/the-new-season-so-far.htm or this one  http://www.tvovermind.com/stargate-universe/review-stargate-universe-a-stargate-for-the-rest-of-us/10400), and check out today’s chock full o’ pics entry:

Hey, look who it is!  It's the ever-affable Carl Binder having a blast on Stage 2.
Hey, look who it is! It's the ever-affable Carl Binder having a blast on Stage 2.
Carl is on hand to lend Special Features Producer - and, on this day, kino sequence Director Ivon Bartok some much-appreciated support.
Carl is on hand to lend Special Features Producer - and, on this day, kino sequence Director Ivon Bartok some much-appreciated support.
Best of buddies!
Best of buddies!
Greg Fox all strapped in and ready to go!
Greg Fox all strapped in and ready to go!
Director of Photography Jim Menard's illuminating presence.
Director of Photography Jim Menard's illuminating presence.
Okay, down to business.  They pretend to watch the scene being shot but are actually checking out last week's episode of Vampire Diaries.
Okay, down to business. They pretend to watch the scene being shot but are actually checking out last week's episode of Vampire Diaries.
A break in the on-set action.
A break in the on-set action.
David Blue snaps me snapping him.
David Blue snaps me snapping him.

They're having way too much fun.  This is a place of work, people!
They're having way too much fun. This is a place of work, people!

Ivon shows up to give them a firm talking to.
Ivon shows up to give them a firm talking to.
Brian J. Smith thinking about all the wonderful fans who took the time to check out his Q&A (see last issue, ed.)
Brian J. Smith thinking about all the wonderful fans who took the time to check out his Q&A (see last issue, ed.)
Jennifer Spence (SGU's Lisa Park) and Peter Kelamis (SGU's Adam Brody).
Jennifer Spence (SGU's Lisa Park) and Peter Kelamis (SGU's Adam Brody).
The new James Bond?  I think so.  The dashing Patrick Gilmore (SGU's Dale Volker).
The new James Bond? I think so. The dashing Patrick Gilmore (SGU's Dale Volker).
Brian J. Smith (SGU's Lieutenant Matthew Scott) shows off his crossfit form.
Brian J. Smith (SGU's Lieutenant Matthew Scott) shows off his crossfit form.
Seriously, what did I just say about having too much fun?!
Seriously, what did I just say about having too much fun?!
Back to work.  They shoot the scene.
Back to work. They shoot the scene.
Carl loves it!
Carl loves it!
Every 16 hours or so, the actors are permitted to leave the soundstage and take in some of the marvelous Vancouver weather.  Five minutes of freedom - then back to work.  This next scene aint gonna shoot itself!
Every 16 hours or so, the actors are permitted to leave the soundstage and take in some of the marvelous Vancouver weather. Five minutes of freedom - then back to work. This next scene aint gonna shoot itself!

Rounding out my salute to the cast of Stargate: Universe, I’d like to make special mention of screen veteran and all-around class act Robert Carlyle.  When I first heard he was going to be playing the part of Dr. Rush, I was, of course, thrilled…and very curious.  What would it be like working with such a well-established and accomplished actor?  Well, eight months in, I can honestly say that it’s been an utter joy.  I needn’t tell you how incredibly talented he is – but I’ll tell you anyway.  He IS incredibly talented, time and again blowing the doors out with his consistently dynamic, wholly engaging performances.   Simply put, the guy is immense fun to watch!  And for those of you wondering what he’s like when he’s not acting his heart out, allow me to break it down for you: humble, gracious, genial, soft-spoken, and VERY charming.  About as un-Hollywood as you can get.

Lieutenant Scott (Brian J. Smith), Dr. Rush (Robert Carlyle), and Eli Wallace (David Blue).  Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television.
Lieutenant Scott (Brian J. Smith), Dr. Rush (Robert Carlyle), and Eli Wallace (David Blue). Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television.

Yes, we’re extremely fortunate to have assembled a truly stellar cast, all of them not only great performers, but great people as well.

September 29, 2009: Actor Brian J. Smith Answers Your Questions! Only Three Days to the Stargate: Universe Premiere!

SGU's Lieutenant Matthew Scott (Brian J. Smith) - photo courtesy and copyright MGM Televison.
SGU's Lieutenant Matthew Scott (Brian J. Smith) - photo courtesy and copyright MGM Televison.

What’s the best thing about working on Stargate? Whenever I’m asking this question, the first answer that comes to mind is: my co-workers (followed closely by the catering, the end-of-season crew gift, and the chocolate fountain at the SG-1 200th episode party).   The truth is, at the end of the day, no matter how much you get paid or how personally satisfying you may find your job, if you don’t like the people you work with, your workplace will be a miserable place.  Fortunately for me, I’m on a show with some truly wonderful people, from the girl in post-production with the notebook made out of recycled elephant dung to our illustrous cast – all of them a pleasure to work with.  And, when it comes to “truly wonderful”, you’d be hardpressed a better example than actor Brian J. Smith, both on camera and off.  Not only is he incredibly talented, but his friendly, down-to-earth attitude never ceases to amaze.   And I’m sure you’ll agree once you get to know him as well.

Enjoy Brian’s Q&A, check out his twitter page for his latest updates (http://twitter.com/BrianJacobSmith) and, of course, be sure to tune in for the world premiere of Strgate: Universe this Friday night, 9:00 p.m., on SyFy (Space in Canada) for your first glimpse of Lieutenant Matthew Scott in action.

BJS: Hey ya’ll! Thanks for all the great questions. I tried not to repeat myself so just picked “new” questions as I went down the list. I’m very excited for SGU to premiere – it’ll be great to finally get to share our “baby” with the world. Ok, question time…

Cherluvya writes: “Brian: You were in theatre…did you have hopes of TV or movies while there? Do you find yourself missing it? Loved the poster, did you know you had been chosen for the center, or did it come as a surprise?”

BJS: It’s hard to make a living purely as a stage actor, so financially I was hoping to get involved in TV, mainly doing guest spots or multi-episode characters. I never thought I’d get to be a regular on a TV show. But it’s awesome that I’m doing a TV show that I find so creatively fulfilling and challenging – I honestly think I’m going to walk away from this season a better actor than when I first got involved. Funny story about the posters: we weren’t actually running when they took the pictures, we were striking this crazy looking pose and then sort of falling forward. But I was surprised I was in the center – so are my friends in NY who see me running on their bus-stops!

CatholicDenise writes: “Have you decided on a Cavalier King Charles or is that still an open question?”

BJS: I think I could love a dog no matter what the breed. Just depends on the pooch, I guess. But I must say I’ve fallen in love with Cavaliers – they’re very affectionate and they bond very quickly with whoever is willing to show a little love.  Well, that and whoever is willing to feed them!

Sherry Harris writes: “I’ve got a Question for Brian: Where the hell is my poster?”

BJS: Mooommmmm! Jeeze, okay! smile

A pensive moment (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television).
A pensive moment (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television).

Ytimyona writes: “Questions for Brian Jacob Smith:
 I have heard you are a classically trained stage actor (at Juilliard!). What is your favorite part of being on stage/performing before a live audience?”

BJS: All that freedom.  You can be incredibly spontaneous moment to moment – whereas in TV and film you have to constantly watch what you’re doing so that it matches in every angle. But film allows you  to be incredibly intimate and real – you don’t have to bump up your voice or your physical life in order to reach people hundreds of feet away. You can relax and be true to the situation, as if it’s really happening for the first time.

“I’ve heard of your exploits with Crossfit (differently fun, but effectively painful). Do you workout because Lt. Scott is a buff person, or for your own reasons, or both?”

BJS: I wanted Matt to have a very specific look – he doesn’t spend hours at the gym, but his military training has made him very fit and his military fitness scores are probably exemplary. So I was looking for a program that was calisthenics based and crossfit fits the bill. In fact, Matt would love all the rope climbing, push-ups, pull-ups and running that we do. I’m actually not that great at crossfit. I’d love to make the leader board before we finish this year, but crossfit’ers are usually part-time athletes or just naturally fit so I’m constantly humbled. Which is a good thing, right?

“Have you had any adventures in Vancouver you can regale us with?”

BJS: Well, I’m working on this CRAZY show where we travel through wormholes . . .  smile Actually I’m a home-body and my Vancouver adventures usually just involve a bike ride around Stanley Park or a good hike in the mountains – OR a really great meal. Vancouver has amazing restaurants, and my favorites are Market, Quattro, Viji’s, and La Quercia.

“How do you get into the mindset of your character? How much research did that require?”

BJS: I’ve always been interested in the military, so all the military research was (and is) a blast to do. I read a ton of books. A few that have helped me are “One Bullet Away” by Nathaniel Fick, “Joker One” by Donnovan Campbell, and “The Last True Story I’ll Ever Tell” by John Crawford. For some reason I started getting into Vietnam while doing the show, so I read the classic Vietnam books “Dispatches”, “The Cat From Hue”, and Philip Caputo’s “Rumor of War”. I also got a lot out of a documentary called ‘Carrier’ – really helped me understand how military minds work in long deployment situations, especially on tight-quarter ships.

“What is your favorite kind of cookie? How about your favorite kind of candy?”

BJS: Any kind that my grandma makes.

Brian also seems to enjoy the desserts at Quattro.
Brian also seems to enjoy the desserts at Quattro.

“Have you had any experiences where you overhear people talking about Stargate and they have no clue you’re an actor in it?”

BJS: No, not yet!

“Which do you prefer: Star Wars or Star Trek?”

BJS: Star Trek from start to finish!

“You and the rest of the cast all seem like best friends. Did you know any of the cast members before you got the SGU gig?”

BJS: No – but now I feel like I’ve known them for years, hahaha.

“Does Cassie come to work with you every day? Does she hang out in your trailer or come to the set with you too?”

BJS: Yeah, Cassie hangs out in the trailer (where she makes life quite difficult for the AD’s who come calling me to set) and I take her on walks in between set-ups when I can. She’s getting pretty spoiled this month.

“Having puppysat Cassie, do you now think you will be getting a dog?”

BJS: Definitely thinking about it. I think the beginning of season two would be the best time to get one, though.

“Just out of curiosity: are you single? ;-D”

BJS: I think so. smile

Relaxing on set while filming the pilot.
Relaxing on set while filming the pilot.

Lisa writes: “Q’s For Brian: Who has emerged as the biggest prankster on the set thus far?”

BJS: Actually, our hair, makeup and wardrobe folks have pulled some BRILLIANT pranks. And I’m talking about some incredibly intricate stuff here. Bobby got a great one a few weeks back.

“What has been your favourite episode to work on and if you can answer, why?”

BJS: Oooo that’s tough one.  They’ve all been a blast, especially Air and all the stuff we did in New Mexico. But Life really meant a lot to me – I love what Matt went through in that episode and the stuff I got to do as an actor. It’s a real heartbreaker.  We recently wrapped an episode called Faith and I thought it played very well, and the location we worked at was breathtaking.

I love our directors, and I want to say a bit about them – Andy, Peter, Will, Alex, Felix, Ernest, Rohn, Rob. They all bring something unique to the show, and I think you’ll soon realize how important a good director is, especially considering the shooting style. Our directors have been incredibly collaborative and always find a way to set up their shots based on what happens in rehearsals, which isn’t easy and requires a lot of on the spot creativity. I’ve learned something special from all of them.

Chevron7 writes: “Questions for Brian: OK, let me get the awkward one in first….why are you blocking me (@imwebgurl) on Twitter? Is it an accident or on purpose?”

BJS: Hmmm…not sure. Don’t think I’ve blocked anyone – are you sure you’re blocked?

“What was your first job ever?”

BJS: I worked at Winn-Dixie as a grocery bagger.

“What’s more nerve-wracking, the audition process or the first day on set of a new role?”

BJS: Auditions are terrible, and I’d say the screen-test was by far one of the most fearful moments of my life. The first day on set for this one was great. Yeah, you always have those first day jitters but we had time to bond as a cast before-hand so that helped a bunch. Plus our characters are in a scary situation throughout the pilot, so I got to use whatever nerves I was experiencing in the moment.

At Icarus Base (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)
At Icarus Base (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)

“What kind of research did you do for the role? I can highly recommend Jetstream (just for fun), a Discovery Canada doco following a group of rookies through Fighter pilot training in the Hornet. With Kavan Smith narrating.”

BJS: Like I said before, lots of reading and documentaries. Also checked out some episodes of SG-1 that were pertinent to the mythos or technology we deal with on SGU. Will check out Jetstream – sounds like a good one!

“Is your character tested more emotionally or physically during the first season?”

BJS: Both. I think you’ll find that Matt really gets thrown around a lot and has no problem sacrificing himself. He wants desperately for everyone to get back to their families and he’d rather die than fail.

“Who do you go for in the NFL, Cowboys? What do you think their chances are this year? Personally I’m a 49er fan and I’m looking for a better season.”

BJS: I’ll always have a soft-spot for the Cowboys. I grew up during their “golden age”, when they were America’s Team. I’d love to see a come-back.

Otros Ojos writes: “Questions for Brian Smith: I know there are limits as to what you guys can say about SGU at this point, but can you tell us a little about what you and Lt. Scott have in common, and where you’re different?”

BJS: I think we’re both emotional people, for better or worse. Sometimes we both do things out of passion without thinking through the consequences first. We both have a need to prove ourselves and to undo past mistakes. We’re also both pretty earnest and maybe a little bit lost.. I also relate to his unlocked potential – we both have a lot on the ball and yet we’re struggling to unlock that energy. It ain’t easy being a rookie! But he’s definitely been through a lot more than I have, and I don’t know anyone who can relate to being trapped on a run-away space ship several billion light years away from home.

“What are you currently reading?”

BJS: Shelby Foote’s narrative on the American Civil War, Women in Love by DH Lawrence, a great biography on Tchaikovsky and an awesome episode of SGU called Incursion.

Ready for action (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Televison).
Ready for action (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Televison).

“Was this role the first time you’ve gotten a military “buzz cut”? If so, what did you think when you looked in the mirror?”

BJS: No, actually, and I wish I could have my hair that short all the time! I had to get it buzzed for my role in a film called The War Boys. Oddly enough I found myself getting more jobs when my hair was buzzed. Matt’s hair is starting to grow out and I’m missing getting to jump out of bed and not worry about it.

Anais33 a ecrit: “Etes vous un grand fan de SF? Si oui qu’elle film ou serie aimez vous?”

BJS: (I don’t speak French, but I’m gonna TRY to answer these…….)

Well, I’m not sure I was a “grand” fan of Sci-Fi, but I certainly have enjoyed Star Trek, especially when I was younger. I’m now a big fan of Battlestar Galactica after having finished the full series on DVD. Grace Park? Oy vey.

“Aimez vous le sport? Lequels appréciez vous?”

BJS: I played soccer as a kid, and was also in gymnastics for a while. I appreciate football and watch it whenever I have the time.

“Que pensez vous de Joseph Mallozzi?”

BJS: I think Joseph Mallozzi is the bomb! Although I’ve never seen him wear pince-nez, sorry.

Delynn writes: “Questions for Brian Jacob Smith:
What inspired you to pick acting as a career?”

BJS: I needed something to keep me occupied in High School. But then I realized I could work out a lot of crap in my life through the characters I played. So it was like, “I get PAID for therapy? Awesome, yo, sign me up!”

“Do you have any advice you’d give to a young aspiring actor?”

BJS: Find out about the actors that intrigue you – if you can, study with their teachers or people that are like-minded. I really admired the work I saw coming from some young actors out of Juilliard (Michael Urie of ‘Ugly Betty’ being one of them), and I knew I wanted to be that good. Also forget about a “career”. Don’t go to audition classes or any of that crap unless you really feel bad about your auditions. Do your work to satisfy your own good opinion and a career will happen organically.

cats writes: “Q’s for Brian: Are you happily anticipating a Lt. Matthew Scott action figure? Would you faithfully play with “you”? Welcome to the Stargate family!
I understand Rachel Luttrell’s son and David Hewlett’s son each enjoy playing with their respective parents’ dollies.”

BJS: I think it’d make a great chew-toy for Cassie! Honestly, I think SGU action figures would be a little odd. None of the characters are action heroes, you know? They’re recognizable people in a tragic situation, stranded and missing their families. I can’t imagine some kid at Wal-Mart being like “Hey mom, can I get the Lt. Scott doll? When I pull the string he cries!

“Will you dine with Joe M again and partake of more gourmet entrees?”

BJS: You betcha! Except next time Joe needs to let ME pick up the bill.

Sweating it out in New Mexico (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television).
Sweating it out in New Mexico (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television).

Artdogspot writes: “Really looking forward to seeing you -very soon- in SGU.  What was your experience like moving to and living in NYC? Which neighborhood(s) did you hang out in? And, how was the whole Julliard experience?”

BJS: Uh, culture shock!!! Although Julliard was such an insulated community that we didn’t get overwhelmed by the city at first.

Juilliard. I’m still processing that whole experience. I don’t think anyone goes to Juilliard in order to feel good, you know? It’s a tough environment and they still hold to that old-European Conservatory style teaching so it’s not based on the kind of considerate teaching methods we grow up with in the states. It’s like boot-camp for artists. They break you down, strip you of your bad habits and then try to rebuild you starting in year three. Sometimes that rebuilding process never gets completed and I’ve seen wonderfully talented young actors get destroyed.  Which should never be allowed to happen, in my opinion. Still, I owe everything to that place even though I still get shivers when I walk by the building. It gave me a life-long need to keep improving, keep pushing myself and to never settle for crap work. I learned what I’m capable of there – in both a positive and a negative way.

“If you go back to do stage work in the future, will it be Broadway or off-Broadway?”

BJS: Either one is fine – the venue doesn’t matter. I’ve seen genius performances in garage spaces. I’d do regional theatre work if I felt I needed to play the role.

“How does it feel to be in Vancouver now and working with the Stargate team?”

BJS: It’s been the best year of my life.

Lahockey11 writes: “ Question for Brian: As you researched your role for SGU, what aspect of the character did you think would be the hardest to portray? And after filming a few episodes did it end up being as hard as you thought?”

BJS: Well, I had never done this much work in front of a camera before and I was worried about adjusting to the demands of film-acting. But I was surprised to find that I like it as much if not better than stage acting.

Caitylanna writes: “I do have a few questions for Brian – What was your initial reaction to the crowd at Comic Con?

BJS: “Awkward – they have no idea who we are!”

“What is your favorite thing to do while not acting?”

BJS: Play XBox and read.

“If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?”

BJS: The mountains of North Carolina.

Aboard Destiny - a long way from the mountains of North Carolina (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television).
Aboard Destiny - a long way from the mountains of North Carolina (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television).

Caitlyanna writes: “I thought of one more question for Brian – I’m attempting to gain enough courage for stage acting, what is some good advice you would give to an aspiring actor?”

BJS: Well if you’re starting out, find a place to study. And choose that place carefully because there are a lot of hacks and egomaniacs out there who will do you more harm than good. Make a list of actors whose work you admire and then find out how THEY went about it.

Coronach writes: “I asked this question of David Blue, but I’m curious to see what your answer will be. So, question to Brian: What is the funniest/weirdest/most memorable thing to happen on the set of SGU so far?
Thanks, and looking forward to SGU!”

BJS: I think Jamil Walker Smith is the funniest/weirdest/most memorable thing to happen on the set of ANY Stargate show, hahaha. But seriously, getting to ride in the Huey Chopper while we were in NM was awesome. We also hung out for a bit at the Officer’s Club at Holoman AFB and had a few beers with some German fighter pilots.

Aboleyn24 writes: “First off welcome and thanks for wanting to do a Q & A with us. I enjoy following your tweets. I am really looking forward to SGU. I am a TV addict, do you watch much television and if so which shows are your favorites either currently airing or shows no longer on?”

BJS: Friday Night Lights, The Shield, Battlestar Galactica, True Blood, Generation Kill, Intervention, and Dog the Bounty Hunter.

Shirt ‘n Tie writes: “Hi (again) Brian. Thank you so much for taking the time to do the Q and A. With SGU being your first Sci Fi gig…what has been the most unexpected aspect to the process (as against rom-com / drama / feature etc)? Keep up the tweets! Best from Ireland.”

BJS: Well people always ask about working in front of a green screen, but really the most unexpected and the hardest sci-fi part of the job is looking at something three feet in front of you that isn’t there now but will be added digitally later. You feel like you’re just crossing your eyes for no reason and you know the crew is like “what the hell is he doing??” Thank god for Mark Savela!

AscendedTauri writes: “I am a student at the Manhattan School of Music, which in many ways is a copy to Juilliard w/out the drama and dance programs… I was wondering if and how often you would attend any of the music performances at Juilliard? How much interacting did you do w/ that part of the student population?”

BJS: Great question, so glad you asked! I actually fell in love with classical music at Juilliard because many of my friends were pianists, composers, violinists, etc. And I spent hours in practice rooms listening to them rehearse their pieces. I realized that the things they grapple with are really no different from the things I deal with as an actor! How do you communicate the writer’s intention? How do you phrase this melody (or line) so that it rings true? How do you find the style of the piece? Do I need to “feel” the music in order to play it well? I mean, it was a HUGE revelation – musicians talk about music the same way actors talk about acting: intention, truth, emotion, technique, phrasing, style. Sorry for the long winded answer, but it’s something that really gets me rolling!

Jennie writes: “Hi Brian,
First off welcome to the Stargate world. My question is an easy one. What is your favorite part about working in the world of Stargate? Good luck with this season.”

BJS: The Stargate family. The crew, the actors, the producers are all in this together and there’s no ego about it. We all realize how blessed we are to get to do this. Plus I think Brad and Rob are good at building this family and maintaining it.

Juralas writes: “Have you been hurt during a stunt yet?”

BJS: No, but there are some very intense episodes coming up and you never know. That being said, Bam Bam is the best stunt coordinator in the industry and I trust him completely.

“As an American working in Canada, what do you think of the whole health care debate?”

BJS: I’m hoping this is the last time we need to HAVE a health care debate.

Fsmn36 writes: “Questions for Brian: Were you a sci-fi geek/afficionado/watcher before your SGU role? If so, give a short list of what you like! If not, do you enjoy the sci-fi setting now?”

BJS: Well, frankly I like where sci-fi is GOING. There’s an attempt to mix in a more realistic  and grounded sensibility to sci-fi programming and I find it exciting. Sci-Fi explores the big questions – why not ask them in a way that engages and provokes and isn’t afraid of taking itself seriously?  That being said, I always considered Star Trek to be a guilty pleasure – I never took the show seriously. It was sort of like reading a comic book. I guess as I get older (well, not THAT old but still . . . ) I’m much more into shows that challenge me to look deeper, and might allow me to relate to the characters I’m watching, foibles and all. If I just want to be entertained I’ll play XBox.

“You’ve obviously just started your career (based on IMDB): what is life like right now that’s different from college, from how you grew up, etc. Are you taking to it well (the fame, the fans, you know), or is it a bit of an adjustment?”

BJS: Well, the fact that I’m working is a blessing. Besides that my life hasn’t changed, and honestly I don’t think it’ll be that different in November or beyond. I’m not interested in THAT kind of a career. Plus we haven’t even aired yet and frankly we have no idea how people will respond to the show or to the characters. We’re too busy working for our own good opinion at this point.

In the Icarus Base gate room (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television).
In the Icarus Base gate room (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television).

“In that line, how do you like having a more prominent role on TV? Do you enjoy the TV schedule/style as opposed to the stage/movie format?”

BJS: It has it’s challenges – sometimes you’ve got a number of days off and you can get lazy or loose your “fire”, and you find yourself warming up during the first few scenes when you’re back, which is never good. Sometimes you’re shooting sooo many scenes in a day, one day after another, that you can get burnt out, especially if they’re intense. You have to find a way to pace yourself while staying disciplined when you have a day off.  Sometimes you NEED to just do nothing and go on a hike or play XBox or whatever, to get relaxed. When you’re doing a play, your whole day revolves around that 8:00 curtain – so you gear everything towards that. Working stage actors have to live like monks.

“You graduated from Julliard, which is awesome. Way back when I considered dance as a career, that was a school I was interested in. Share some insights on the type of learning, your favorite prof, or some kind of funny story for those of us who didn’t end up majoring in the arts.
And I just have to pass this on (because actors always need more ego-boosting, right?), I think you’re absolutely adorable, Brian! I’m excited to follow your role on SGU.”

BJS: Haha, thanks!  One of my favorites at Juilliard was a movement teacher named Moni Yakim. He came up with a movement regimen that combined yoga and Israeli Army boot-camp techniques! God, we were sore after that first week of classes with him. One of the movement sequences was called The Spanish Inquisition! We would have to hold certain impossible poses for like thirty seconds AND HE WOULD COUNT OUT THE TIME IN HEBREW!! He wanted us to put emotion into our workouts. He said, “you must never make a movement without an emotion behind it.” And if you were faking it or half-assing it, he’d sniff it out and pounce.

PG15 writes: “What do you think of Stargate fan conventions (i.e. Creation Con in Vancouver), and do you see yourself participating in them?”

BJS: I think they’re awesome and, if invited, would love to participate. I love talking to fans.

Simon_SGU_Supporter writes: Also, who, from work do you interact with the most?”

BJS: I’ve spent quite a lot of time with David and Elyse. Also John Lenic, who introduced me to crossfit. We spend most of our time telling crossfit war stories.

E writes: “Have you ever heard of thunkers…. or worse… whumpers?! *evil grin*”

BJS: Someone on twitter explained thunking to me, but not whumping. Is that like the inverse of thunking? I have a feeling I don’t want to get whumped.

Major D. Davis writes: “First off I just want to say thank you Brian for doing this Q&A. What is the hardest part of playing you character(especially considering he is in the military)?”

BJS: Trying to make him come alive in three or four takes.

“What episode would you say is going to be a fan favorite(besides air)?”

BJS: I’m predicting Time and Space to be the big fan favorites. Water, Light and Human will be high up there too. Action packed, fast-paced, surprising, full of some crazy twists. I also predict a few kino scenes will be played over and over again.

“Whats your favorite episode of SG-1 and Atlantis(or some your favorites)?”

BJS: I loved the 200th episode of SG1!

“Once SGU is over(hopefully 5-7 years down the road), do you think you will go back to theater, or continue in television and movies?  Thanks again Brian and Joe for doing this Q&A!!!!!”

BJS: I’ll be doing all three. At least that’s the plan. smile

Gilder writes: “Q for Brian J Smith: same as for David B–favorite means for memorizing lines?”

BJS: I use a tape-recorder – I record the whole scene and listen to it over and over again while speaking whatever random thoughts come to mind. It’s kinda strange, but it works really well.

Cherluvya writes: “Brian Questions: Matthew is military. Does he wear the same thing everyday? I know, not for the *cough cough* scene.”

BJS: Hahaha. You’ll see variations – the people aboard Destiny slowly start to build a routine for themselves, and this routine includes new habits. Scott knows a lot of eyes are on him as the de facto second in command, so he does wear his uniform all the time – but sometimes he’ll opt for just the t-shirt when he’s off duty.

Standing by to shoot a kino scene.
Standing by to shoot a kino scene.

“An article mentioned how “young” the SGU actors are (after seeing the first three episodes). Thought it was intentional to speak to the “wrong people” angle. How do you feel about the key roles of a young cast? They compared you to 90210.”

BJS: Yes, that inexperience  is vital to creating a lot of the predicaments in SGU. Sorry guys, but it’s not a marketing ploy to get teenagers to watch the show. It’s an attempt to create dramatic tension in a way that’s not possible when a certifiable genius can solve a problem with the push of a button and a joke. I find the 90210 comment flattering – I actually auditioned for that show and didn’t even get a call-back. sad Hey, maybe they can call the casting directors at 90210 and get me a guest spot!

Joflyaway writes: “questions for Brian Smith: 1. What attracted you to the SGU show and the role in particular?”

BJS: The writing in the pilot and a phone conversation I had with Rob Cooper where he outlined the new approach to shooting the show. He basically said, “We’ll be expecting a lot from you guys (the actors). You’ll have to come in incredibly prepared because we’ll be shooting rehearsals, you’ll be coming up with your own blocking, and you won’t know where the cameras are.” What actor can say no to THAT?

“Are you aware of the passionate and loyal Stargate fan base and are you ready to be a part of its world?”

BJS: Bring it on, Gaters!

“What do you enjoy most about Vancouver?”

BJS: The weather and the food. The people are also very chill.

duneknight writes: “question for Brian J. Smith: do you see yourself as a ladies man?”

BJS: No, I’m a goofball, actually.

“yeah sue me lol, i dont know what else to ask him now. oh and that pic should be very helpful to the folks at gateworld who are trying to find out how many made it to destiny.”

BJS: It’s a very small number – around 80, I believe. I like it that way – we’ve tried to keep continuity with the background actors and it’s helped create a sense of small town intimacy aboard Destiny.

“wait another question for Brian J. Smith: what do you think about the negative fan reaction?”

BJS: I don’t think about it. I’ve got a job to do.

DP writes: “Are you from Ky.? If so, how Kentucky are you?”

BJS: No I’m actually from TX, although my mom lives in Kentucky. It’s beautiful there.  I have some fond memories of the mountains in that area from when I was a kid.

Cherluvya writes: “Brian: After a long day working, do you turn on music, TV or computer…or maybe all three? Oh, games..almost forgot that. What is your favorite of each? That’s a big one huh?”

BJS: All of the above! Right now my favorite game is Battlefield: Bad Company.

Cherluvya writes: “Brian Question: I guess all actors have usually had a tough road to get to where they are. Have any stories you would like to share?”

BJS: Oh, I’ve got tons of them! I almost joined the military – – – twice! Not as a last resort, but because I wanted to do something meaningful with my life, and auditioning and bartending just wasn’t cutting it. But each time I was about to join I ended up getting a job, so I guess I’m getting the message loud and clear.

Madwelshboy writes: “Questions for Brian J. Smith: What was your first reaction to the character of Matthew Scott and how has it changed as the season’s gone on?”

BJS: His backstory moved me, first off.  And I was impressed to see a young man in his twenties portrayed this way. The writers didn’t shy away from creating a guy with a good heart, and most of the crap I had been reading for in other TV shows portrayed guys my age as egotistical, mindless, sex-craved players. For whatever reason it’s very “in” to be cynical about human beings, and I don’t think Brad and Rob have a cynical outlook on human nature. Can I get an amen?

“The MGM site recently updated the character bio’s, with some pretty interesting stuff about Matthew Scott. How much of that back-story was in place when you were first cast?”

BJS: Most of it, although it has continued to evolve over the season.

“Out of the episodes you’ve read and/or shot so far, which do you think shows Matthew Scott at his best and at his worst?”

BJS: Water shows him at his best. Pain shows him at his worst.

“Who do you get to work with the most and least on set? Who would you like to work with more?”

BJS: Lately it’s been the quartet of “youngin’s” – Eli, Chloe, Greer and Scott. In the beginning I did lots with Young. I would love to have a HUGE blowout scene with Rush.

“Your Mom has said that she’s speechless after seeing the huge SGU poster on the side of a building. How dose it make you feel knowing that your face is literally everywhere?”

BJS: I mean, it’s definitely neat – but it doesn’t help me figure out the scene we’re shooting tomorrow! smile

“What effect has the fan reaction (if any) via Twitter had on you? What was your reaction to having your first very own fansite?”

BJS: It’s bizarre. I look at where I was this time last year and really can’t believe it.

“What’s it like working with Robert Carlyle, Ming-Na and Lou Diamond Phillips, who have had successfully long careers? Have you learnt anything from them?”

BJS: They’re the best. They’ve been very kind and patient with me. They’re great role models. These are talented, successful people who work their butts off and treat people right. Do you know how rare that is?

“What one word would you use to describe each of your cast mates?”

BJS: Bobby – chameleon. Louis – brilliant. David – hilarious. Elyse – vulnerable. Alaina – goddess. Jamil – free. Ming Na – moving. Lou – classy.

Fun in the sun - Air III (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Televison).
Fun in the sun - Air III (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Televison).

“You’ve played a few gay characters, both on stage in “Three Changes” and in film in “Hate Crime” and “The War Boys”. Some actors have spoken about the difficulties in playing gay characters, in particularly when it comes to intimate scenes with male co-stars. How did you approach these parts and did you experience difficulty with them? Did you have any fear of maybe becoming type cast?”

BJS: Hey you forgot one – I also played a closeted gay character in Good Boys And True, at Second Stage in NY!  I fell in love with those characters and their predicaments. It’s very rich territory, playing a young man who can’t be himself. And very sad. Again, I don’t like how a lot of writers portray young men my age, but those characters actually experienced life in a deep way as opposed to going out and making things miserable for other people. Well, maybe with the exception of ‘Three Changes’, but that was too much fun to pass up. smile I hope I continue to get type-cast if the roles are this interesting.

Iamza writes: “Questions for Brian: You mentioned on Twitter how much you were enjoying BSG. What aspect of the show was it that most appealed to you? There has been some comparisons drawn between SGU and BSG, based in part on some of the early trailers — if it’s possible to do without giving too much away, may I ask what you think most distinguishes SGU from BSG?”

BJS: Great, great question. BSG was a very baroque show. It was nasty and dark and humorless and I loved every minute of it. SGU is about the “better angels of our nature”, even though the characters go through some dark stuff. They never give up. They’re survivors.  I don’t know how many times a character in SGU says “okay this sucks, but we’re gonna get through this – and we’re gonna get through it together.” That’s the difference – SGU is about the inexplicable ability of human beings to sacrifice themselves for a stranger and to find hope in impossible circumstances, and BSG was about whether or not the human species deserves to survive. I don’t think you’ll ever doubt the answer to that question after watching SGU.

“SGU has drawn a fair amount of flack over the past year. What do you think is the biggest misconception about the show that you’d like to set straight?”

BJS: Scott is NOT a Cylon, folks. Besides that, all the misconceptions are true.

“What’s the best thing you’ve found so far about being Scott?Do you find it hard to shake the character when you’re done shooting for the day? If you had to pick one thing about Scott that you most admire, what would it be?”

BJS: He’s a great character to play because he doesn’t leave a bad taste in my mouth at the end of the day. I like the kid a lot and I’d like to hang out with him if he were a real person. I admire his courage but am moved by his ability to care for other people more than himself.

“favourite last book that was read purely for pleasure (rather than research)? Many thanks for your time. I look forward to watching you in action on SGU in October!”

BJS: A Light in August by William Faulkner.

PBMom writes: “Question for Brian: Not so much a question as a comment of thank you for being accessible to fans especially via Twitter. I believe the Twittering by the cast and people behind the scenes has helped fuel the excitement for the show.”

BJS: Am glad to hear it. Thanks!

Crazymom1 writes: “Brian, my son Brian wants to know if your mother has ever embarrassed you in public on purpose. I can’t imagine what made him ask that.”

BJS: No, but god knows she’s got plenty of material!!

September 26, 2009: Six Days to the Stargate: Universe Premiere! A Sneak Peek for the Cast and Crew!

Yep, only six days until the world premiere of Stargate: Universe!  Have you told everyone?  And I mean EVERYONE?  Your pharmacist?  That ex-girlfriend you dumped in college?  The Hungarian woman in Accounts Receivable from your last job?  No?!!!  Well, what‘re you waiting for!

We’re not waiting.  For October 2nd that is.  Today, we held a special matinee screening of SGU’s first three episodes – Air I, II, and III – for the cast and crew.  I’ve gotta say, there’s nothing like seeing it on the big screen.  The performances were spectacular, the visuals stunning, and the last ten minutes of Air III had me on the edge of my seat (despite the fact that I’ve already watched it about a half dozen times).

IMG_4737x

Lawren, Ashleigh's guy, and Ashleigh.  Before leaving the office on Friday, I asked Ashleigh to text me a reminder about the matinee.  About an hour before the matinee, having received no reminder text, I texted her: "Hey, am I supposed to be somewhere today?"  A moment later, I received her response: "No.  It's Saturday.  You're free."  Later, I received a follow-up text: "Oh shoot.  The premiere is today.  I hope you can make it in time."  I got it about five minutes after I'd taken my seat beside her in the theater.
Lawren, Ashleigh's guy, and Ashleigh. Before leaving the office on Friday, I asked Ashleigh to text me a reminder about the matinee. About an hour before the matinee, having received no reminder text, I texted her: "Hey, am I supposed to be somewhere today?" A moment later, I received her response: "No. It's Saturday. You're free." Later, I received a follow-up text: "Oh shoot. The premiere is today. I hope you can make it in time." I got it about five minutes after I'd taken my seat beside her in the theater.

The eccentric Carl Binder and my writing partner Paul Mullie.
Producers Carl Binder and Paul Mullie grow increasingly anxious for the movie to start.
Actor David Blue (SGU's Eli Wallace) scopes the crowd prior to the screening.
Actor David Blue (SGU's Eli Wallace) scopes the crowd prior to the screening.
I look like one of those eccentric European fashion designers.  Zis seazun zebra iz in!
I look like one of those eccentric European fashion designers. Zis seazun zebra moccassins are een!
A candid shot of David Blue enjoying a little popcorn.
A candid shot of David Blue enjoying a little popcorn.
Show Creators/Executive Producers Robert Cooper and Brad Wright give a speech before the screening.  "The blue honda hatchback, license number 987 DFJ - you are parked in a fire lane.  You WILL be towed!"
Show Creators/Executive Producers Robert Cooper and Brad Wright give a speech before the screening. "The blue honda hatchback, license number 987 DFJ - you are parked in a fire lane. You WILL be towed!"
SGU Director Will Waring strikes a pose.  Then remembers too late he is camera shy.
SGU Director Will Waring strikes a pose. Then remembers too late he is camera shy.
Actor Brian J. Smith (SGU's Lieutenant Matthew Scott) intermissing at intermission.
Actor Brian J. Smith (SGU's Lieutenant Matthew Scott) intermissin' at intermission.
The lovely Kerry McDowall shows off her Irish beau Alan.  Do I sense a little magic in the air?  Oh, no, sorry.  I think that's flare from the black light.
The lovely Kerry McDowall shows off her Irish beau Alan. Do I sense a little magic in the air? Oh, no, sorry. I think that's flare from the black light.
Actor Jamil Walker Smith (SGU's Sgt. Ronald Greer) wonders whether I'm going to keep the camera after I'm done.
Actor Jamil Walker Smith (SGU's Sgt. Ronald Greer) wonders whether I'm going to keep the camera after I'm done.
The ever pleasant Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman (SGU's Airman Darren Becker) shows off his stylin' headwear.
The ever pleasant Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman (SGU's Airman Darren Becker) shows off his stylin' headwear.
VFX Supervisor Mark Savela supervises the crowd at intermission.
VFX Supervisor Mark Savela supervises the crowd at intermission.
Yowza!  Actress Elyse Levesque (SGU's Chloe Armstrong) reminds me of those beautiful starlets from the 30's and 40's.
Yowza! Actress Elyse Levesque (SGU's Chloe Armstrong) reminds me of those beautiful starlets from the 30's and 40's.
Director Andy Mikita and his better half, wife Candace.
Director Andy Mikita and his better half, wife Candace.

Actress Julia Benson (SGU's Lieutenant Vanessa James) and actor Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman (Airman Darren Becker)
Actress Julia Benson (SGU's Lieutenant Vanessa James) and actor Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman (Airman Darren Becker)
Actress Julia Benson (Lieutenant Vanessa James) with husband and fellow actor Peter Benson (playing himself).
Actress Julia Benson (Lieutenant Vanessa James) with husband and fellow actor Peter Benson (playing himself).
Exec. Producer Robert Cooper snacking it up before Air III.
Exec. Producer Robert Cooper snacking it up before Air III.
Actor Peter Kelamis (SGU's Adam Brody).  And rumored french bulldog owner.
Actor Peter Kelamis (SGU's Adam Brody). And rumored french bulldog owner.
The beautiful Ming-Na (SGU's Camile Wray) with hubby.
The beautiful Ming-Na (SGU's Camile Wray) with hubby.
Special Features Producer Ivon Bartok.  Hey, where's his camera?  Shouldn't he be getting all this for the DVD extras?
Special Features Producer Ivon Bartok. Hey, where's his camera? Shouldn't he be getting all this for the DVD extras?
Check out the hot couple!  Actress Alaina Huffman (SGU's Lieutenant Tamara Johansen) and husband John.
Check out the hot couple! Actress Alaina Huffman (SGU's Lieutenant Tamara Johansen) and husband John.
The lovely Jennifer Spence (SGU's Lisa Park).
The lovely Jennifer Spence (SGU's Lisa Park).
Actor David Blue let me post the first two goofy pics so long as I posted at least one good photo.  This one's going to be my desktop wallpaper.
Actor David Blue let me post the first two goofy pics so long as I posted at least one good photo. This one's going to be my desktop wallpaper.

Finally, as I was driving today, listening to the radio, I heard a radio advertisement for the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra in which they mentioned some upcoming performances,  among them Itzhak Perlman and Lang Lang.  Seriously!  Lang Lang!  Who wouldn’t pay to see a panda play the cello?  I can’t wait!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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)

September 8, 2009: Back in the office but not for long! Tech Troubles II! And some Heroes Die discussion!

Protecting Icarus Base (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)
Protecting Icarus Base (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)

Back in the office today after the Labor Day long weekend. Another three full days of production on Pain and prep on Lost before we head off for yet another long weekend. That’s right. No sooner do I return to the friendly confines of my workplace than I am pulled away, like a child caught in a custody dispute, fraught with anxiety at the very thought of being separated from his loving co-workers and comfy office chair. I consoled myself with a lengthy morning-long conversation that touched on all the key issues: Vegas, casting for upcoming episodes, that hilarious article from FARKxcom, recent DVD viewings, and the sudden consensus realization that our buddy Marty G. has truly horrendous taste in movies. We also watched the Day 1 Mix of Light. Once all is said and done, it’s going to be a gorgeous episode. We capped off the day’s festivities with the Vosges chocolates Rob Cooper brought back from Vegas, along with the box of Peanut Butter Bon Bons he gave Carl as a belated birthday gift.

Director Peter DeLuise works his magic (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Televison)
Director Peter DeLuise works his magic (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Televison)

So last year I purchased a Garmin portable GPS navigator that I intended to use in Tokyo – which I never did get around to using because it turned out to be thoroughly useless. Apparently, you can purchase all sorts of maps at the Garmin website. Maps of the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Singapore, Malaysia, China, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Portugal, U.K, Ireland, France, Greece, Italy, the Alps, Russia… What am I missing? Oh, yeah. Japan. And so is Garmin. I contacted them last year about the omission and they assured me they were working on it. One year later, and they still haven’t gotten around to making a Japan map available. What gives? Is the region really that complex that it defies proper cartography? Or is it altogether too much trouble? Well, as my buddy Bruce is fond of saying: “F ’em.”. I’ll rely on Google Maps instead.

I’ve penciled Garmin onto my shit list, just below Internet Explorer and shampoo that smells like oatmeal and cookies in the bottle but not in your hair after you‘ve washed it. Precariously close to making said list as well is my home theater projector that has taken to powering down at random, playing without audio, and displaying images upside-down or in garish purple and green hues. Like the last time something like this happened, I suspect mischievous gremlins or, more logically, the ghost of mischievous gremlins.

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

Well, people warned me that blogging would get me in trouble. I refused to believe it and now I have paid the price. After posting pics of my dinner with Ivon and Brian, I received not one but two miffed responses from co-workers who shall remain nameless (let’s call them Carl Folder and David Green), complaining about the fact that they hadn’t been invited – despite the fact that they weren’t even in town last weekend. I’ve extended fresh dinner invitations but have yet to hear back from either.

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

Reminder #1: Get those questions in for actor Brian J. Smith (SGU’s Lieutenant Matthew Scott). I’ll be sending the bunch his way at week’s end.

Brian J. Smith (Lt. Matthew Scott) patiently awaits your questions.
Brian J. Smith (Lt. Matthew Scott) patiently awaits your questions.

Reminder #2: Also, get those questions in for author Matthew Woodring Stover who’ll be by later in the week in support of his novel – and September’s Book of the Month Club selection – Heroes Die.

Reminder #3: My birthday is October 16th. You should start planning now.

Speaking of which, let’s turn things over to some book club discussion –

Thornyrose writes: “There’s nothing like full immersion to pull the reader into the story.”

Answer: Agreed. This one hits the ground running and never lets up. It’s the kind of opening I often identify with short fiction in which the author has a limited amount of time to hook the reader. In the case of Heroes Die, however, the author wastes no time, throwing us headlong into the action, allowing us to catch a breather (and an explanation of exactly what the heck is going on) before plunging us right back into the action. It’s done repeatedly throughout the narrative, jumping back between the two worlds, and to great effect.

Thornyrose also writes: “Even though Hari comes from one of the lowest castes, I was a bit suprised we didn’t see a bit more of that part of this world.”

Answer: True. I thought what was essential to the story came out in Hari’s relationship with his father. Also, since the prime focus was on Otherland, it didn’t bother me as much. Perhaps something that warrants further exploration in the sequels?

Thornyrose also writes: “Kollberg in particular is a villian we love to hate.”

Answer: How interesting that the book’s biggest villain wasn’t the megalomaniacal tyrant or his ruthless guard, but a studio executive. Loved it.

Thornyrose also writes: “I find it interesting that such a society would allow a dissident as Hari’s father to live, even in a maximum level security prison.”

Answer: True, but I wonder if this had something to do with the fact that he was Hari’s father. After all, they want to ensure he stays happy.

Thornyrose also writes: “I also found it a stretch that a person subjected to that level of confinement would manage to hold on to any sanity at all.”

Answer: Yes, it’s also interesting to note that this guy who has been kept locked up for so long is possibly the sanest of the lot. Perhaps another commentary on our out-of-control society?

Thornyrose also writes: “Ma’elKoth is an enigma for much of the book, though I have to admit to being slightly disappointed to his origins/identity.”

Answer: I found his rags to riches backstory quite interesting, his rise from relative obscurity to despotic rule. Sort of a dark side American Dream come true. Good for him!

Thornyrose also writes: “In the parts involving demonstrations of his and Pallas’ powers, I got the feeling I had picked up the fifth or sixth book of the lensman series after glancing at the chapters of the first one. The sheer jump in magnitude of powers by Pallas smelled somewhat of a deux ex machina.”

Answer: I liked the surprising manifestation of her powers but I too felt their development felt a little too quick and convenient.

Thornyrose also writes: “The biggest letdown of the whole book is in how many loose threads were still hanging. On the other hand, those loose threads open the way to the sequels you mentioned, so the author followed the classical advice of always leave your audience wanting more. And I am definitely looking forward to reading those sequels.”

Answer: I thought Stover did a pretty good job of tying up the story specific loose ends while leaving the door open for future adventures. I curious as to what facets of the dual worlds introduced in this novel are explored in subsequent books.

Sylvia writes: “One thing that was a little off balance was what appeared to be Hari/Caine’s sudden “change” where prior to the first emergency transfer back he was much like a soldier of fortune who did not plot, plan, strategize in minute detail. He was someone who appeared to be an accomplished fighter, but very basic otherwise. In fact, one statement was that “…he’d always been a better tactician than he was a strategist.” When he was returned to the Overworld, he was a brilliant strategist – a very accomplished chess player in positioning people and situations to achieve a desired outcome.”

Answer: I saw him as more a injure/kill first, ask questions later type. However, when presented with a scenario that couldn’t be dealt with by mere brute force, he opted for an alternate approach – and succeeded, much to Kollenberg’s surprise.

RebeccaH writes: “In fact, the story was intriguing because I found myself wondering if real-life actors would view it as an allegory for their own careers in the entertainment industry. Certainly actors feel exploited sometimes, not only by the people above them in the hierarchy of entertainment (the money men, the Big Wigs and Cheeses, and their minions), but possibly by the voracious appetites of the audience (fandom). Shanks/Lamorak’s conclusion that his second-rate status is due to lack of marketing in particular, could be the lament of any struggling real-life actor. It was also intriguing to think what any Big Wigs and Cheeses, or minions would think of this book.”

Answer: I’m sure it was no accident, especially given that author Matt Stover is no newbie to the entertainment field. And as pathetic as he was, I counted Lamorak among my favorite of characters.

RebeccaH writes: “The undying, apparently unrequited, love of Hari/Caine for Shanna/Pallas seemed excessive to the point of unhealthy obsession, but maybe I’ve just become cynical in my old age.”

Answer: You coldhearted thing you. I found the romantic through line (Hari’s love for Shanna) worked quite well, going a long way toward humanizing Hari/Caine while adding significant depth to an otherwise quite violent, action-driven story.

Silver_Comet writes: “For me, the pace of the storytelling was too slow. 100 pages and we still weren’t in the main story, just at the beginning.”

Answer: Wow. Just the opposite for me. I was caught up in the action from page one.

Silver_Comet also writes: “I never cared for the main character(s) Hari/Caine. Somehow, I couldn’t believe that he is really able to have true feelings. I couldn’t picture him as someone who starts that adventure because he loves his wife. Not as the main reason anyway.”

Answer: As the novel progresses, we learn more about Hari and his relationship with Shanna so initial surface impressions inevitably give way to a deeper understanding of both his motivation and his character.

Silver_Comet also writes: “I didn’t like the detailed storytelling in certain scenes. For example, it’s enough for me to read that person A cuts off the head from person B. I don’t need further details apart from that.”

Answer: I suspected that some readers would take issue with the visceral bloodletting and, while I’m not a fan of violence for violence’s sake, I thought Stover’s detailed description of the various battle sequences made them seem all the more real. In fact, I’d dare these passages were among the best-written in the book, and this is in no way intended to disparage the quality of the rest of the narrative. He is simply that good at writing “combat prose“.

Sparrow_hawk writes: “And I never really liked any of the main characters: Hari/Caine was too much of a thug and Shanna just never seemed “real” enough for me to care about.”

Answer: Hari felt quite real to me, but it was Shanna who never quite came alive for me.

Sparrow_hawk also writes: “The second tier characters: Toa-Sytell, Kierendal, Ta-lann and even the King of Cant, were more sympathetic. But for the most part, I just felt sorry for most of the characters and that is not something that makes me want to read more about them.”

Answer: Some wonderful supporting character. Toa-Sytell, in particular, was nicely drawn – a dangerous man but honorable, unlike his rival Berne.

Guy writes: “There’s this rule somewhere, it goes show don’t tell. Well, that’s a load of crap; show it if it would be interesting to see, tell it if it isn’t. This is something Matthew Stover seems to understand very well.”

Answer: Yes, Stover maintains a nice balance throughout, showing for the most part but telling when necessary. And, yes, I agree. Showing everything and telling nothing can often be just as boring as telling everything.

September 6, 2009: Brian J. Smith Wants To Hear From YOU! Smells Like Burning! Sick Sick Sick! And The Return of the Weird Food Purchase of the Day!

Okay, let’s make it official. Actor Brian J. Smith – SGU’s Lieutenant Matthew Scott – is eager to take part in his very first fan Q&A, so if you have any questions for the Julliard grad, start posting them. One thing that was fairly evident from my chat with him on Friday night – Brian has been touched and overwhelmed by the fan response to both his character and the show as a whole. So let’s give him a big fandom welcome here on this blog…by being extremely nosey.

Brian J. Smith researching his role.
Brian J. Smith researching his role.

Hey, you ever have that sudden anxiety kick in, sort of that panicked sensation you’d feel if, say, you realized you’d forgotten the steel cut Irish oatmeal on the stove that was by now undoubtedly burnt beyond recognition and on its way to triggering the smoke alarm? Well, I had that happen to me this morning – after I realized I’d forgotten the steel cut Irish oatmeal on the stove that was burnt beyond recognition and very close to triggering the smoke alarm. Needless to say the oatmeal was D.O.A. It’s touch and go for the pot. I opened all the doors and windows to air out the place and thought I’d done a pretty good job, until I returned from a trip to Granville Island to discover the house still smelled like burnt oatmeal which, strangely enough, possesses an odor akin to lingering fish. I’d light one of those scented candles but for fear that I’d probably burn the house down.

As it turns out, it’s great fire weather here in Vancouver. Yep, the rainy season is upon us and, for those who don’t know, it goes from now until about a month from now next year. To be honest, I don’t really mind the rain as it stirs distant memories of my youth. But, then again, so does the smell of skunk.

More pics from the MGM Atlantis vault: Sick sick sick…

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)
Ol' Blue Eyes checks out an ailing Dr. Z - Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5, The Seed (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)
Ol’ Blue Eyes checks out an ailing Dr. Z – Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5, The Seed (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)

Finally, I conclude today’s entry with the return of the Food Purchase of the Day video installment. Enjoy. I know I didn’t.

September 5, 2009: Dinner with Ivon and Brian! Julia Benson! Braving the Tokyo subway system!

Ivon considers his menu options.
Ivon considers his menu options.

Last night, I went to dinner with Special Features Producer Ivon Bartok and actor Brian J. Smith (SGU’s Lt. Matthew Scott). We ended up at Quattro (now Q4) on West Fourth for an Italian extravaganza. We ordered and were immediately presented with a wonderful little amuse-bouche of bacon-wrapped sablefish (?) served with a sundried tomato pesto.

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Then, we moved on to our first course – the house antipasto platter that included, among many other things, a heavenly grilled radicchio-wrapped mozzarella and proscuitto in cherry vinaigrette.

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Then, we moved onto a second course served family style – a double pasta portion – the house special Spaghetti Quattro (black beans and lots of garlic!) and the not-on-the-menu-but-you-should-ask for it-anyway Fettuccine Tartufati (Portobello mushrooms and truffle cream). The latter, by the way, has the Carl Binder seal of approval.

Fettuccine Tarufati (left) Spaghetti Quattro (right).
Fettuccine Tarufati (left) Spaghetti Quattro (right).

 Speaking of Carl – the first few times I took him out to dinner, he would ignore my recommendations, much to his regret. Eventually, he got into the habit of actually listening to me when I said “Try the crispy duck!” or “Get the squash agnolotti with black truffle butter!”. Last night, both Ivon and Brian went with my suggestion for their mains – the Galleto al Mattone (marinated de-boned Cornish game hen grilled with Riviera herbs, garlic and pepperoni), another house specialty. Needless to say, no one regretted the choice.

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For dessert, we decided to go with a platter comprised of four selections: house tiramisu, warm chocolate cake with home made ice cream, a vanilla crème brulee, and the sour cherries with phyllo and mascarpone cheese. After seven long sugarless weeks, I finally partook.

Desserts!
Desserts!
Ivon is stunned!
Ivon is stunned!
Brian is overwhelmed!
Brian is overwhelmed!
I'm armed and ready!  Note the crazy eyes.
I’m armed and ready! Note the crazy eyes.

All around, a most satisfying and delicious meal. I believe I counted about a half dozen “Wow!”’s from Brian.

Brian J. Smith is hankering for a fan Q&A.
Brian J. Smith is hankering for a fan Q&A.

Anyway, in addition to food and the wine, we talked – about the show, the franchise, and the future. Yesterday, I mentioned that the people who worked with Zac Efron described him as “very professional, incredibly focused, grounded, courteous and kind”. Well, the exact same words could be used to describe Brian as well. Thoughtful and well-spoken, he’s also surprisingly low-key, not at all interested in the trappings of celebrity. Rather than partying it up, he prefers quiet time spent reading, watching a good movie, or working out. He expressed a desire to do some stage work this winter. I’ll keep you all posted should you find yourselves in the New York area in late 2009 and early 2010.

Brian, by the way, is super keen to do his own fan Q&A on this blog.  So, once I’ve organized and sent off the questions for David Blue, I’m going to start taking questions for SGU’s very own Lieutenant Matthew Scott!  So, what would you like to ask him?

Julia Benson (Lt. Vanessa James) - photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television.
Julia Benson (Lt. Vanessa James) – photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television.

Speaking of our impressive cast, I want to make mention of yet another recurring player who has really stepped up over the course of this first season. Julia Benson (formerly Julia Anderson – She claims the name change was the result of her recent marriage but I suspect it has more to do with that whole fugitive from justice thing. But I digress.) plays the role of Second Lieutenant Vanessa James and, like much of our supporting cast, impressed early and continues to do so with performances that have won her the respect and confidence of the entire writing-producing team. I mention Julia because we were watching the director’s cut of Pain the other day, an episode in which she delivers one stunner of a scene. I’m also looking forward to her nice, meaty moments in an upcoming episode.

Running through a scene with stunt coordinator James Bamford.
Running through a scene with stunt coordinator James Bamford.

Well, with my Tokyo trip a mere two months away, I’m putting the finishing touches on my travel plans. On past visits, I’ve relied on the city’s cab drivers to get me where I want to go – with varying degrees of success. On this visit, however, I’ve decided to be a little more adventurous and hazard the Tokyo subway. Last time I was in town, my friend Jessica took me through the paces (http://josephmallozzi.wordpress.com/2008/12/01/december-1-2008-tokyo-travel-day-9-my-big-subway-adventure-checking-out-the-iron-chefs-dark-digs-and-i-take-the-day-off/) so I sent her an email today requesting her input. I wrote:

“I’m thinking of using the subway and wanted to now about that all-inclusive card you had. Does it allow you to travel everywhere in the system? For how long? What is the cost?

Thanks,

Joe

P.S. Tokyo Times article, February 12, 2010 = “Remains of Tourist Found”: Yesterday, transit officials discovered the desiccated remains of a Canadian tourist almost two months after his mysterious disappearance. It is presumed he got lost on his way to eat some matcha opera cake at the Sadaharu Aoki Patisserie in Roppogni and perished after getting stuck in a turnstile on the Hibiya line. Next of kin have been notified.”

Hey, check it out. Stargate: Universe made the list of TV Guide’s 10 Most Anticipated New Falls Shows: http://www.tvguide.com/News/10-Anticipated-New-1009428.aspx

Pics of Zac Efron with actress Ming Na (SGU’s Camile Wray): http://twitpic.com/gcrz4

Some on set photos from Stargate: Atlantis’s fifth season:

Actress Leela Savasta (Captain Alicia Vega) at gun school with armorer Rob Fournier.
Actress Leela Savasta (Captain Alicia Vega) at gun school with armorer Rob Fournier.

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Today’s entry is dedicated to DemonHunter’s niece Hannah (Happy Birthday!) and Netty (Happy 1st Anniversary!).

September 2, 2009: Always the Last To Know! Brad Takes Over! Best Anime Titles! Worst Anime Titles! Pictures and Mailbag!

Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television
Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television

Hey! Friday and Monday are production holidays! I’m always the last to know. In fact, I suspect that everyone in the office didn’t tell me on purpose in the hopes that I would come in on Friday anyway, realize it was a holiday, head off and enjoy the long weekend, then come in on Monday only to realize we were STILL on holiday. I’m sure Carl spearheaded the campaign as he’s been quite bitter since I informed him that fire regulations necessitate at least one producer be on site at all times during extended weekend holidays and since his last name is first up in alphabetical order, the task falls on him. Sadly, he won’t be able to spend the four days visiting his family. I would have suggested they come to the lot and keep him company but, alas, security regulations prohibit any unauthorized visitors. Still, we’re not completely heartless. As a show of gratitude, the rest of us chipped in and got him a hamster so he can have someone to talk to on those lonely afternoons.

The Destiny Mess (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)
The Destiny Mess (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)

So, Brad will be starting his pass on Incursion I and II this weekend. In retrospect, I reconsidered my earlier critique and told him that, believe it or not, I had no notes and thought the scripts were pretty good as they were. He thanked me and pointed out that I’d written them so he wasn’t really expecting me to have notes. On the other hand, Paul and Carl had a few. And Brad had some terrific ideas that will make the finale one helluva ride. I wish I could watch the reaction of the cast as they read the scripts. NO ONE IS SAFE!

Exploration (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)
Exploration (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)

And a little Atlantis…

The lovely Amanda Tapping (Colonel Samantha Carter) - photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television
The lovely Amanda Tapping (Colonel Samantha Carter) – photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television
Carter and Keller organize a rescue op.  Search and Rescue, Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5 (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)
Carter and Keller organize a rescue op. Search and Rescue, Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5 (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)
Captain Alicia Vega (Leela Savasta)
Captain Alicia Vega (Leela Savasta)

In my bid to improve my Japanese language skills beyond the expertise of a very polite four year old boy, I’ve started to watch more anime (in the original Japanese with subtitles of course). I’m presently watching a fun ninja battle series called Basilisk and a surprisingly creepy little horror series called When They Cry. Truth is, I’m a big anime fan, my library is immense, and I have a heck of a lot to choose from. Given the wide variety, picking a series can be a tough choice. I’ll base my decision on reviews, word of mouth, box art, and, of course, the title. In the case of the latter, some titles are so good they can almost convince you to check out an anime all on their own. Others are so awkward or plain bad that they’ll make you think twice about proceeding. Below are my lists of my very favorites and my not-so-favorites.

THE BEST

Bastard: Okay, I’m instantly intrigued. All the more so when, on reading the back of the box, I realize it’s a reference to the series anti-hero. And, yeah, he turns out to be quite the bastard.

Berserk: Another title that screams “Check me out!”. I did – and this series ranks in my top ten.

Cowboy Bebop: I’m both intrigued and confused. A Jazz Western? Really? Yep. And another one of my top ten favorite anime series. The fact that Keanu Reeves has been pegged to play the lead in the live-action version actually pains me.

Death Note: A title that tells you exactly what the series is about – a deadly notebook. No, really. And it’s a damn good series.

Ghost in the Shell: A brilliant title for a brilliant series.

Grave of the Fireflies: The title instantly evokes imagery both haunting and melancholy – perfectly suited to this grim and poignant story of a young brother and sister struggling to survive the ravages of war.

Infinite Ryvius: What is a Ryvius? Search me, but that doesn’t stop me from loving this title. And, eventually, loving the series as well. P.S. Turns out Ryvius is the name of a ship.

Irresponsible Captain Tylor: Sounds like goofy fun. And it is.

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventures: Haven’t checked it out yet but when I do, those adventures better live up to the hype and be pretty damn bizarre. I have a feeling I’ll be disappointed though.

Last Exile: A cool title for a very cool series. The greatest zeppelin warfare sequences ever seen.

Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi: Wasn’t at all sure about the title – until I saw the series. Now, I love it! It’s perfect!

Neon Genesis Evangelion: A lofty title for one of the headiest and most ambitious anime series ever produced.

Noir: Ah, the beauty of simplicity. An ultra-cool series.

Paranoia Agent: Another title that does a bang-up job of conveying a sense of the series atmosphere.

Read Or Die: Perhaps silly to the average consumer but as a writer and reader, I love it. A great series too.

Star Blazers: One of my very favorite titles for an SF series. Next to Stargate: Universe of course.

The Twelve Kingdoms: Reminiscent of the grandeur and majesty of Chinese mythology. And the series does justice to the title.

Voices Of A Distant Star: Another title that does a pretty good job of evoking the emotion underlying the series. Poignant.

THE WORST

All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku: Wha-wha-what the hell is going on here? Okay, presumably her name is Nuku Nuku and she’s a cat girl. But what the heck is “all purpose” supposed to imply? She’ll clean your room AND do laundry? She’s also, presumably, well-cultured, which is great if you want to take her to one of those fancy parties frequented by moustached men with monocles.

Assemble Insert: While All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku goes to great lengths to tell you exactly what the series is about, the makers of this series apparently picked two random words out of an English dictionary for their title. Despite the fact that I’ve actually seen this anime, I still don’t know what this means.

Baki the Grappler: Seriously? Is that the best you can do? Not Baki the Crippler or Baki the Smasher or Baki the Slammer but Baki the Grappler? Grappler? Grappling went out of style around the same time Randy Macho Man Savage started sporting feather boas. It’s an antiquated move rarely seen outside serious wrestling and the Olympics. Who wants to watch that?

The Big O: Uh, come on now. Surely someone with a command of the English language (say, the North American distributor) should have pointed out the title is, accidentally or not, a euphemism. Alas, nothing of the sort. Just a lot of big robots battling it out in a city suspiciously similar to the animated Batman’s Gotham City.

Burst Angel: Sounds messy. “Hey, it’s raining. Better grab an umbre- Whoa, wait a minute! That’s not rain! It’s BLOOD AND FEATHERS!!!”

Get Backers: A series about two super-powered guys who recover lost or stolen items. See, they GET stuff BACK. Clever, no? Okay, no.

 

Glass Fleet: Okay, let’s hope to God those shields hold! I’m immediately reminded of the running gag in the writers’ room whenever someone mentions SGU’s seeder ship. “So these cedar ships,”says my writing partner Paul, “were they really the best the Ancients could come up with? You’d think they’d have gone with oak or pine maybe…”

Marmalade Boy: No, it isn’t a series about a boy with marmalade-based super powers. Disappointing, no?

Mermaid Forest: It’s like calling a series Horse Pond or Penguin Desert.

Princess Tutu: Okay, the series is obviously not up my alley but, come on. You’d be hardpressed to come up with a more saccharine title.

Pumpkin Scissors: Yeah, no idea.

Trouble Chocolate: As someone who enjoys his chocolate, this one makes me uneasy.

Any anime fans out there? Can you do any better? Or worse?

Mailbag:

Rich S. writes: “You mention the markteting man Grey Munford doing a wonderful job, but I haven’t seen a single thing in the UK, zip , nada, nowt…….”

Answer: Hey, Rich – Grey actually responded to this one himself. He writes ‘Mr. Robert Carlyle is coming to town and an onslaught of SGU promotion is coming with him. If he still feels the same way in a month, then we’ll talkJ

Lisa S. writes: “Joe – What’s your take on the purchase of Marvel Entertainment by Disney?”

Answer: I’m adopting a wait and see attitude. To be honest, I don’t think it will have much impact on the Marvel creative. After all, things like Marvel’s MAX line are what has helped the company solidify its male readership, and said target audience was one of the reasons Disney made the purchase.

Narelle from Aus writes: “Have you thought about the injection substitutes for the Metacam?”

Answer: Injections of what? A fellow fan has helpfully suggested I look into Rimadyl and Devil’s Claw as possible alternatives.

Iamza writes: “Probably a stupid question, but if Destiny is seeding the far side of the universe with Stargates, is there some kind of robotic stargate installer that sets up a platform prior to gate installation? or is Destiny strictly a gate address quality control device?”

Answer: Sorry, I’m not sure I understand the question. The specifics of how the seeder ships actually seed a planet have yet to be revealed. However, it’s safe to assume it’s an automated process that involves the planetary establishment of both the gate and platform.

Sherry Harris writes: “The pics of Brian J Smith are my favorite!”

Answer: Okay, Sherry. Just for you.

Look!  We're feeding him!  (Brian J. Smith relaxing off set).
Look! We’re feeding him! (Brian J. Smith relaxing off set).

Sherry Harris also writes: “Also, I predict the Cowboys are going to suck and the Raiders will finally get to the playoffs!”

Answer: That would make me very happy – and Exec. Producer Robert Cooper miserable.  Just for that, here’s another one.

A smiling Brian J. Smith (Lieutenant Matthew Scott) in the control room at Icarus Base
A smiling Brian J. Smith (Lieutenant Matthew Scott) in the control room at Icarus Base

Alexandria writes: “Actually the main question that I do have is…did I miss Joel Goldsmith’s responses to the Q&A?”

Answer: Nope. He’s still got them. But what with the new show and all, I’m willing to cut him some slack.

Fsmn36 writes: “I think GBP will be back in a desperate attempt to show they can win without Favre.”

Answer: So does Carl. He selected the Packers as his Dark Horse pick.

Bailey writes: “ Many of us have been feeling left behind/left out of this entire SGU experience. (Ex: not a single SGA character so far in SGU but quite a few SG1 folk)”

Answer: Given the circumstances of where the characters from SG-1, Atlantis, and Universe are situated at the time of the SGU premiere, it makes sense for some of the SG-1 crew to be involved. On the other hand, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to include characters from Atlantis given that they’ll have their hands full with “more pressing concerns” from the of Enemy at the Gate, through Stargate: Extinction, and on.

DasNDanger writes: “New Avengers is okay, but rather stuck in sorcery stuff right now, and never been a huge fan of that element…”

Answer: I share your anti-magic stance. If there’s one element that keeps me from fully embracing the fantasy genre, it’s that. Also, re: New Avengers – is that the Bendis title? Couldn’t get into it. Too many team members for me and I just don’t buy Wolverine as an Avenger.

DasNdanger also writes: “I see you’re reading 1985 – I loved that story! It was just something a bit different, and I was satisfied with it from start to finish.”

Answer: Agree again. (Weird). It’s definitely my favorite of the stack I went through last month. It resonates with every kid (at heart) who has imagined manifesting the same situation.

DasNdanger also writes: “Mutant abilities first manifest themselves at puberty, so he’d just be a normal kid until that moment when stress or anxiety or his first pimple (ya know, anything traumatic for a teenager) would cause his mutation to manifest itself.”

Answer: Right, but his mutant abilities first manifest themselves when he hits puberty – yet his growth rate continues the same as any human (ie. Rose and he are roughly the same age) until he reaches adulthood and then, for some reason, stops. I suppose you could simply say that’s the way his particular mutation works, but I just found it an odd and convenient way to explain the fact that he is over a hundred years old. Which brings me back to my initial point – I don’t know what his lengthy life-span adds to the character. I’d argue that by demystifying the character, you undermine many of the elements that made him so appealing.

DasNdanger also writes: “Not really sure what you mean by “copping the identity”. Do you mean him taking (well, being given by Rose) the name ‘Logan’? I thought that was an interesting twist, since the story strongly insinuates that he’s Thomas Logan’s son, not John Howlett’s.”

Answer: Yes, that’s what I’m referring to. I’m not saying it wasn’t a cool twist, just that it was very reminiscent of a very similar twist writer Joe Kelly used to cap off his run on Deadpool.

Otros Ojos writes: “I know a lot of us pick favorite teams based on things other than geographical ties, but what led to your connecting with Oakland in a “my Raiders” sense?”

Answer: My affinity for villains made the Raiders a natural fit, especially back in the days when Lester Hayes and Mike Haynes used to run the corners.

Otros Ojos writes: “Is surgery a possible option for Jelly?”

Answer: It is, but she’s almost 11 and from what I understand it’s major surgery that will result in a painful and difficult recovery. If she was younger, I’d certainly lean toward the surgery but, given her age, I’m not sure it’s the best option.

Cherluvya writes: “Are any of your pups related?”

Answer: Nope.

Silver_comet writes: “I don’t like SGU. Period.”

Answer: Impossible. You can’t like something you haven’t seen yet. Maybe you don’t like the snippets or trailers you’ve seen to date, but you can’t “not like” a show that hasn’t even aired yet.

Meils writes: “So have you guys come up with any interesting prizes/ forfeits for the picker of the best/ worst teams?”

Answer: We’ve put our entire annual paychecks in a big pot. Winner take all. Losers get jobs at Target.

Meils also writes: “Any chance of some wraithy/ Michael picks?”

Answer: Possibly. Alas, not from Search and Rescue but maybe from Prodigal.

StClare writes: “Joe M im confused thats the first time ive seen a definate “atlantis wouldnt have continued anyway wether SGU was made or not”

Answer: Actually, that’s not what I said. I said that SGU would have gone forward regardless of Atlantis’s fate. In other words, it may have been picked up, it may have been cancelled, but the decision would not have impacted or been impacted by Stargate: Universe.

St.Clare also writes: “As for the promotion MGM & SCIFI seem to be hitting it harder than they ever did for SG1 or Atlantis.”

Answer: I disagree. There was a huge amount of promotion in the lead up to the Atlantis premiere.

Idylioness writes: “Is it known yet if SGU will also be available on Hulu, like the wonderful Warehouse 13, and if so, will it be closed captioned (again like W13, but not like the SG-1 eps, which makes me sad)?”

Answer: Sorry. No idea.

AJT1982 writes: “1. How far behind the Seeder ship is the Destiny? Are we talking a few decades/ centuries/ millenias?

2. Are we to assume that the Seeder ship lands on each planet?

3. We know it manufactures the gates, but does it also manufactur the ramps that lead up to the gate?

4. Where does the Seeder ship get the resources from to manufacture all of these gates?”

Answer: These are all questions that will eventually be answered on the show.

gemgem writes: “Is it wrong of me to think that SGU is trying too hard to be completely different to what we all know and love about stargate???”

Answer: That’s the assumption of some fans but as someone who has been privy to everything we’ve shot to date, I can honestly say that much of what fans have loved about Stargate will be present in Stargate: Universe.

Major D. Davis writes: “1. Is Andy Mikita directing Lost?

2. Is Alex Chapple directing Subversion?”

Answers: 1. No.

2. Yes.

Abren writes: “When Dr. Weir comes back home to Simon,
Simon says that when Weir said she has to go somewhere and she won’t tell him where, he said his first guess was Israel. Why did he think that Weir would move to Israel?
Because of her job in the U.N or Is Weir Jewish?”

Answer: His assumption was that her work would take her to Israel.

Shanise writes: “PS: the pic of Joe in the cockpit of the dart ship holding the baby, which is the sweetest thing, but who’s baby was it??”

Answer: It was a very young actor. Actually, actress. Baby Torren was actually a girl. As the character grew older, however, we switched to an actual boy.

JoJoB writes: “Also, the Atlantis pics don’t build up anticipation for SGU, they just piss me off even more that they’ll be no more eps to see.”

 

Answer: Well then avert your eyes from this blog for the next little while as I make my way through the Atlantis picture archive.

Gracey writes: “How did it change from a spec script to the version shot?”

Answer: I don’t really remember. However, one element that was in the original script that didn’t make the final cut was a moment of reconciliation between Jack and Daniel. It was scripted but for whatever reason wasn’t shot. As a result, the tension between the two characters remained unresolved.

Gracey also writes: “I can’t tell, who the heck is being shot out of the gate at high speed in the promos…”

Answer: That was Exec. Producer Carl Binder. The guy really knows how to make an entrance.

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.

August 27, 2009: A Reconciliation! A Special Guest! And Another Random Set Pic!

Random set pic.  Brian J. Smith IS Lieutenant Matthew Scott.
Random set pic. Brian J. Smith IS Lieutenant Matthew Scott.

I’m pleased to report that after a brief falling out, my rewrite and I have reconciled and we are on much better terms. I admit that I was a little frustrated yesterday, and said some things I now regret. However today, things are much brighter and progress has been made, thanks in large part to the wise counsel, unconditional support, and rough explanatory sketch provided by Mika McKinnon, the show’s science consultant. Thanks, Mika. And to those of you wondering what, exactly, Mika does on the show (beside field panicked astronomy-related questions from yours truly) and how she landed the dream gig that made her the envy of geekdom, check out her past Q&A here: http://josephmallozzi.wordpress.com/2008/09/14/september-14-2008-atlantis-physics-consultant-mika-mckinnon-schools-us-touring-stage-3-part-1/ 

Much excitement at the production offices today generated by the impromptu appearance of a very special guest. No, not Richard Dean Anderson. Or that guy who plays PC in those Mac commercials. I’m talking about Jelly who spent the day lounging about my office, strolling the halls, joining us for lunch, partaking in some cajun chicken, sitting in on a notes session, and generally enjoying the attention lavished upon her by, among others, A.D. Bill Mizel, Carl, and Ashleigh. Attention of another sort tomorrow, however, as she heads off to the vet’s for that dreaded ultrasound.

Jelly and Bill just hanging out.
Jelly and Bill just hanging out.
Jelly laughing at Bill's hilarious joke.
Jelly laughing at Bill’s hilarious joke.
Carl staring into Jelly's soulful eyes.
Carl staring into Jelly’s soulful eyes.
Okay.  Clearly, now, he's trying to hypnotize her.
Okay. Clearly, now, he’s trying to hypnotize her.

Well, I was hoping to hit the mailbag today but since it’s already ticking past 10:00 p.m. and some of you get cranky when I’m late posting, I’ll save my stellar responses for tomorrow’s post.

You know where to find me.

One more random set pic.  Brian J. Smith IS Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robot!
One more random set pic. Brian J. Smith IS Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robot!

July 1, 2009: Oh, Stuff and Such.

 

I haven’t been getting much sleep of late.  I blame my dogs who, for reasons unknown, have taken to waking up a full hour before my alarm.  And if they’re awake, you can be damn sure they want me awake.  Rather than barking or biting however (Maximus is particularly adept at locating that fleshy area just behind the elbow for gnawing purposes), they’ve adopted more subtle means – walking around, wrestling with each other (La dee da.  Just minding our own business.  Oh, sorry.  Did we wake you?).  I ignored them.  Until Bubba took a stroll across my forehead this morning.  Annoyed but determined, I shoved him aside and rolled over to face Jelly.  Who sneezed in my face.  That did it!  I was up!  Hopefully, I’ll have better luck tomorrow. 

Director Ivon R. Bartok
Director Ivon R. Bartok
Patrick Gilmore as the pondering Dale Volker.
Patrick Gilmore as the pondering Dale Volker.
Johnny Z. keeps an eye on Ivon.
Johnny Z. keeps an eye on Ivon.
Director Ivon Bartok and Brian J. Smith (Lt. Matthew Scott).
Director Ivon Bartok and Brian J. Smith (Lt. Matthew Scott).

 

 As I was snapping pics of a suited-up Peter and Haig, Lawren and Ashleigh abandoned the darkened confines of the production offices to take in the action on Stage 4. Lawren snapped some pics of his own while Ashleigh sat back and offered Ivon unsolicited advice on his shot selection.

IMG_3019x

"Uh, you sure you want to stay wide on this one?"
“Uh, you sure you want to stay wide on this one?”

When they were setting up for the next shot, I told Lawren and Ashleigh about my close call the other day. As I was heading back to the car after a return visit to Greek Fest, I tripped on the curb and almost stumbled into oncoming traffic, catching myself in the nick of time. As you can imagine, it was a terrifying ordeal and I was sure my good friends at work would empathize. Well, this was Ashleigh’s reaction –

IMG_3034x

Then, reading my disaproving look, she tried to cover by claiming that sometimes, in moments of extreme anxiety or sorrow, people break into laughter as a coping mechanism.  I almost bought it until she suggested that, to avoid future accidents, I might want to invest in a walker – then proceeded to do an imitation of me using said walker…

IMG_3037x 

As they finished shooting the Scott/Brody/Riley/Volker scene, David Blue arrived on set for his first scene.  He too came armed with a camera and, as he was snapping pics, I asked him about the photos I recently posted of him.  He said he didn’t like them, but I was sure he signed off on them.  As it turned out, yes, he signed off on them, but he generally hates pics of himself – especially the kind you can click on and enlarge.  So, I snapped a pic of him, got him to sign off, and am posting it here in all its unclickable and unenlargable glory.

IMG_3045x

Kerry dropped by from post and it was a downright party atmosphere – until Lawren started to complain about how hungry he was and, hey, is that Greek Festival still going on?  Well, even though it was a little after 11:00 a.m., we decided to head out for an early lunch – and brought Brian along for the ride, promising to return him in time for his ADR session.

Kerry watches them shoot while Ashleigh wonders how she keeps her hair so sheeny and bodiful.
Kerry watches them shoot while Ashleigh wonders how she keeps her hair so sheeny and bodiful.

We got to the festival only to be told that they wouldn’t start serving food until noon – but Kerry managed to sweet talk her way through official channels and, in no time at all, we were enjoying the sunshine and chowing down on gyros for Brian, pork souvlaki for Kerry, lamb dinners for Lawren and I, the vegeterian platter for Ashleigh which, I believe, was made up of the various sides served with the real meals, and double loukoumaes and baklava for everyone!

An anxious Brian wonders where the hell we've whisked him away to.  Poised to dial 911.  And pick up his gryo.
An anxious Brian wonders where the hell we’ve whisked him away to. Poised to dial 911. And pick up his gryo.
Ashleigh suffers the disgrace of "the vegetarian section".
Ashleigh suffers the disgrace of “the vegetarian section”.
Kerry chows down on loukoumades.
Kerry chows down on loukoumades.
"Finish your salad or no baklava!"
“Finish your salad or no baklava!”
Lawren tackles his lamb dinner.
Lawren tackles his lamb dinner.

We OD’d on Loukoumades.  Brian had four and insisted he couldn’t have another in spite of my insistence that he wasn’t getting enough sugar in his diet.  Lawren imagined he’d be so wired that he’d be speeding through his dialogue at first and then, once the sugar crash hit, snoozing through the rest of his session.  Kerry and Brian headed off, leaving Lawren to polish off the baklava and Ashleigh to enlighten me on the subtle nuances of the Joey character from Full House, evidently a show she watched a lot of…

Cut...
Cut...

 

...It....
…It….

 

Out!
Out!

It now supplants “DY-NO-MIIIITE!” as my catchphrase.

So, we went back to the Bridge and said our goodbyes.  I ran into my writing partner Paul and chatted with him.  “See you Friday!”he said as he headed off toward his motorcycle, referring to the fact that we would be catching the same flight to Montreal later in the week.  But Friday?  I thought we were flying out Saturday.  Well, good thing I ran into him because, it turns out, I AM flying out Friday.

Headed home and then Fondy and I went downtown where enjoyed some JapaDog (Vancouver’s premiere Japanese hot dog stand) 

JapaDog is hopping!
JapaDog is hopping!

– and then purchased tickets to UP!  Yes, that’s right.  For the first time in recent memory, I actually went to a movie theater.  Normally, I’d just wait for the DVD to come out but I made an exception for this movie because: a) Carl can’t stop talking about it and b) I wanted the whole kooky 3D experience.  Anyway, loved the movie and certainly hope it gets a Best Picture nomination when the time comes.  If it doesn’t, expect a tirade from either Baron Destructo or Cookie Monster.

I’d said my goodbyes at work and was walking around downtown when who do I see walking toward us but Ashleigh.  Of course she has spotted me and is doing one of those “I’m going to make like I don’t see him by pretending I’m texting” but sees me smiling and standing in wait and so, realizing she won’t be able to avoid me, looks up and smiles: “Oh, hi!”.  I introduce her as “Ashleigh who works with me.” and for some bizarre reason she hears “Ashleigh who worships me.”.  Well, after getting that cleared up, I wished her all the best for her trip.  She and her beau will be trekking across Europe.  Since they’ll be hitting the Czech Republic, I strongly urged her to watch Hostel before going but she has steadfastly refused to follow my advice.  I, of course, was just trying to be helpful.  Anyway, I said goodbye for the second time that day and insisted she not bring me back anything…unless she saw something that screamed “Joe”.  She promised she wouldn’t and headed off.

I wonder what she’ll bring me back?

 

Today, it was Ivon Bartok’s turn to step into the director’s chair and call the shots on a full slate of kino scenes. When I rolled in this morning, he was overseeing a funny sequence involving Scott (Brian J. Smith), Sgt. Riley (Haig Sutherland), Brody (Peter Kelamis), and Volker (Patrick Gilmore). 

June 26, 2009: 20 Down And 0 To Go! Brian J. Smith!

 

Brian J. Smith (Lt. Matthew Scott) relaxes on the Icarus set.
Brian J. Smith (Lt. Matthew Scott) relaxes on the Icarus set.

 

Brian takes a break between set-ups.
Brian takes a break between set-ups.

Breaking a story can go either way. It can be a fast-paced and entertaining exchange of ideas in which all participants contribute to fashion a gripping, tightly plotted, detailed episode breakdown. Or, it can be a frustrating exercise in futility spent arguing story points and running into creative dead-ends resulting in little, if any, progress Usually, it falls somewhere in between.

Earlier in the week, we had an example of the former when we all got together (along with the visiting Martin Gero) to break episode 19. Inside of two and a half hours, we were done: The tease and all five acts . Well, with time ticking down toward the beginning of our summer hiatus, we all gathered again the other day to discuss episode 20. We took an hour to discuss the story, throw out some notions and then, with time running out, put the potential act breaks up on the whiteboard (You know, those tun-tun-TAAA moments right before you cut to commercial – ie. the villain gets the upper hand, our team is trapped, our hero loses his lucky sock.). The plan was for everyone to re-gather today and actually break the story – the tease and all five acts, 4-5 beats per act.

Well, that was the plan anyway but, unfortunately, Rob Cooper had some post-production issues to deal with. And he’d be unavailable next week which meant we had to proceed without him. Normally, the absence of a single individual wouldn’t be that big a deal but, in this case, it was. For a number of reasons. First and foremost is the fact that Rob is the master spinner, ever capable of coming up with a solution to any creative roadblock no matter how wild or wacky the idea. Secondly – and this applies to co-creator and series show runner Brad Wright as well – this is the season finale and if there’s an episode you DON”T want to break without him, it would be this one. At the end of the day, Brad and Rob have the final say and there’s nothing more dispiriting than spending a day outlining an episode, presenting it, and having one of them find fault or creatively disagree with a crucial story element. It happens, of course, but it could be avoided – and would save a whole lot of time and effort – if we were all on the same page from the get-go.

But that wasn’t going to happen today. Paul and Carl were kind enough to offer to spend the morning breaking the episode with me, but I elected to set aside an hour to review what I had and beat out the story myself. Given the choice, more often than not I prefer to work alone.

Sometimes, you can spend days stumped, staring at those varying narrative elements as if they were pieces to completely different puzzles – the corner of a building, a tuft of cloud, the rear hindquarters of a rhinoceros – willing them to magically come together to no avail. Other times, you’ll be struck by a moment of clarity in which the disparate pieces coalesce and crystallize to form a coherent creative vision. You never know how it’s going to go. But, this morning, I was fortunate. I broke down the story, jotting the beats up on the whiteboard, then invited Paul, Carl, and Brad into the room and pitched it to them. They had some great suggestions that I incorporated into the narrative and, half an hour later, I was done. Now all I have to do is put out the beat sheet, get some feedback (hopefully Rob will like what we‘ve got), and I’m done.

Well, practically done. There’s that whole “writing of the script” thing, but that’s the easy part.

It came down to a mad scramble today because we took yesterday off to watch the Day 1 Mix of Air I and II. Composer Joel Goldsmith did a wonderful job with the score (my favorite cue comes near the very end of the second part) and the show itself looks fantastic (and, once the color timing is complete, fantasticker(?)). Even with temp visual effects, you get a sense of the scope of the story and it’s truly awesome. Director Andy Mikita should be very proud. The performances were terrific and I can’t think of a better way to show our appreciation than to invite the entire cast and crew to a private screening of the premiere. The actors are dying to see some of the cuts, but I keep telling them to hold off and wait for the finished version. It’ll blow them away. At this point, I feel like I’ve chipped in and bought them all the most incredible gift and simply can’t wait to see their reactions when they open it.

Hey, speaking of actors, Brian J. Smith (Lt. Matthew Scott) popped by the production offices yesterday on his way to his cross-fit work-out. Whenever he comes by, he’s always a pleasure to talk to – bright, upbeat, and amazingly down to earth. In some ways, he reminds me of a young Ben Browder in that, like Ben, Brian quickly won the crew and his fellow castmates over with his down-home disposition and good-hearted outlook on all things. And, like Ben, he’s been known to stick around even after he’s wrapped, sitting by to watch the process and lend a hand whenever possible. We’re all excited about working with Brian because he’s young, extremely talented, and is no doubt has a very promising future ahead of him. And, oh yeah, we got him on our show first!

Since he was upstairs, I grabbed my laptop and went through all of the photos I’ve taken of him to date, hoping he could sign off on a few for the blog. Well, he signed off on all of them. Unfortunately, most of them have him on the Destiny set – and the studio wants to hold back on the ship reveal. So, for today, I give you (and especially Brian’s mom who follows this blog) two pics: Brian relaxing on the Icarus set, and Brian taking a break between set-ups.

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 21, 2009: Advice and Observation Cookies, In Life We Are All Winners (Although Some Of Us Are Clearly Bigger Winners Than Others), More Scripts On Deck, Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots on Hoth.

“I have no future!”cried my wife perhaps a little too loudly.

Our mortified waiter mumbled some sort of apology and scurried off, returning seconds later with another two fortune cookies. Fondy actually felt bad for the guy. She’d been kidding of course but appreciated the fact that the second cookie contained an actual message, something about her needing to concentrate more in order to succeed. Exactly the type of fortune cookie note that would set my writing partner Paul off on a thunderous tirade, bitterly arguing that “advice” and “observations” do not, in fact, constitute “a fortune“. For my part, I was fairly content given that I ended up with two credible prophecies – one letting me know that my hard work was about to pay off, the other informing me that I was about to go on a trip. In the case of the latter, I‘m assuming the drive home didn‘t count and that I will soon be on my way to some exotic locale like Tokyo or Hong Kong or that area of town with all the Italian deli’s. As for the former – well, my “hard work” could be a reference to a number of things – the Atlantis script, my Universe script, that short story I’m endlessly writing, this blog, all the laundry I did last weekend – so there’s no telling how I’m going to be rewarded, but I’m expecting something truly awesome…

Perhaps to compliment the meal I’m going to win from Kerry once my Montreal Canadians advance further than her Vancouver Canucks in the NHL playoffs. Okay, okay, I admit I may have underestimated the Canucks (who swept the Blues tonight) and somewhat overestimated my hometown Habs (who are looking to scramble out of an 0 and 3 hole) but in my defense, I am occasionally delusional and susceptible to bouts of extreme denial so bear with me. To be honest, I’m actually happy my team faces the almost insurmountable task of having to win four straight games in order to advance to the next round. It’ll make their victories all the sweeter. And even still, I won’t stoop to gloating. Unlike a certain someone (who shall remain nameless) that sent me the following email yesterday morning:

“ So….. 5-1 loss, eh? ugh…. after a 4-2 clobbering on Thursday…. yikes, that must hurt. Does it hurt, Joe? I mean, I don’t want to say your team is terrible, but I’m sure you’re sweating a little here. Wait… what’s that I hear in the distance? Sounds like someone is choking over in the east coast…. can’t quite make it out…. I’m sure it’ll get louder by 7pm tonight…

In case you weren’t aware, my Canucks put on a very good show both Friday and Sunday. And we might just sweep this round, just a little fyi… you know, in case you weren’t up to speed with where my team is sitting currently… Not that I would want to rub it in or anything…

Three and O, friend, three and O.”

A little harsh, no? Now were the roles reversed, I would have been very sensitive to her feelings and shown good sportsmanship by, say, declaring us both winners because, in life (and youth sports designed to boost self-confidence and thereby imbue youngsters with wholly unrealistic expectations that will be mercilessly crushed when they inevitably enter the work force), there are no losers.

Except for the St. Louis Blues.

And maybe the Montreal Canadians.

Hey, I read the first draft of Time yesterday (Rob apparently wrote it during his free time driving to and from work every day) and it is brilliant. Now “brilliant” is a word I tend to reserve for works of supreme magnificence like Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus” or my Aunt Fannie’s Russian Teacakes, but it applies here to a script that is, without a doubt, the very best of its kind. It’s delightfully intricate and thoroughly engaging, full of surprising twists and heart-rending character moments.

And speaking of character moments – today, I read Brad’s finished version of Darkness and Light. This one has got me very excited as well, particularly for the remained climactic sequence.

After lunch, Carl, Paul, Lawren, and I headed over to the set in Stage 2 or what I’m referring to as Hoth. Brian and Justin regaled us with their interpretation of Rock ’Em Sock ’Em Robots after which we chatted until the airborne particulates threatened to choke off my airway, forcing me back out – but not before marveling over Brian’s commitment to learning everything he can about the production process. Not only does he hang around set to watch them shoot scenes he isn’t even in but, the other day, he actually accompanied Carl and co. on a location survey! Not only does this kid have a terrific attitude – polite, humble, hardworking – but he’s a fantastic actor as well. Since nobody’s perfect, I fully expect to eventually find out he’s a robot or an alien doing an all-too-good impersonation of a human life form – but hopefully that won’t happen until the end of season one at the earliest.