June 12, 2011: Bubba update! Ivon Bartok hits Banff! Woofstock! Pugs eating ice cream! Mailbag!

Bubba update!  We took him back to the vet’s for a second visit, this time getting him checked out by a second doctor.  We explained that he’d been quite lethargic of late and, every so often, was given to brief trembling bouts.  The vet informed us that this was a sign he was in pain and proceeded to test his range of motion: pushing, pulling, tapping, and tweaking.  Ultimately, he discovered that Bubba was displaying discomfort along his upper spine and shoulder area, suggesting he may have twisted or pulled something at daycare.  So now, he joins Jelly on the metacam train.  Hopefully he’ll be back to his old high-strung self in a couple of weeks.

My friend (and former Stargate Special Features Producer) Ivon Bartok is on his way to Banff.  And what will he be doing in Banff?  This! =  http://www.banffmediafestival.com/deal-makers-live-with-jonathan-torrens.php#contestants  Ivon is one of the eight lucky finalists in Deal Makers Live competition that will see him present a 30 second on-stage pitch of an original show idea.  Ivon and his seven co-contestants will “go head-to-head in a high-profile, high-tech battle for the hearts and minds of both our expert panel and the live BANFF audience”.  You can follow my buddy’s progress here:  http://twitter.com/ivonbartok  Wish him luck!

Damn!  Visited a couple of the local comic book shops yesterday to discover the exclusive Randy Bowen Modok statue has sold out.  One less villain to add to the office decor. 🙁

Today, we took in Toronto’s annual Woofstock festival with two of my four dogs.  Since Jelly has a hard time getting around due to her bad hips, and because Bubba is generally high-strung and anti-social in crowds, we elected to take Lulu and Maximus out for the day…

Akemi rarin' to go.

Lulu wonders "Where's the party at?"

Maximus. Totemo hansamu!

Dogs in silly outfits…


Dogs in strollers…

Pitbulls doing their best Hannibal Lecter…

And various sights…

Maximus - ten minutes in and he's already tired.

Cooling off on a hot day.

Lulu tests out the custom dog furniture on display.



Maximus helps.

Lulu sucks up for attention.

Check out that tongue! I think this pug is half frog.

Lulu cools off.

Akemi makes a new friend.

The St. Ignatius Pug Choir

Maximus wonders: "How much longer?".



Meet 'n Greet!

Maximus is DONE!

Today’s blog entry is dedicated to blog regular Lisa R.’s husband.  Well, she’s the regular.  Anyway.  Good luck!



squishy writes: ”

In Ripple Effect (one of my favorite episodes!) when the ‘bad’ SG1 team is leaving, the bad Mitchell turns around before the Stargate puddle and says to the ‘good’ Mitchell: ‘When the time comes, cut the green one’. Enlighten me please?”

Answer: Among the notes I received on the script’s first draft from my fellow writer-producers was a suggestion from Damian Kindler that alt. Mitchell should throw out a cryptic line like: “When the times comes, cut the green one.”.  I loved the idea and put it in the script.  It wasn’t a set-up to any specific pay-off but, having said that, it was something we certainly could have touched on had the show gone another season.

dasndanger writes: “I’ve been meaning to ask how your mom and sister are these days. Are they glad to have you closer to home?”

Answer: They’re all fine.  I’ll be seeing them this Christmas, provided they don’t come up to visit me earlier.

fsmn36 writes: “I wondered about your thoughts on Marvel as a great comic book connoisseur. What were your favorite issues of X-Men (I figure you must have read some at one point)? Did you read the ones written by Joss Whedon? And ultimately…DC or Marvel?”

Answer: My passion for comic books ebbs and flows.  I’ll pick up every title out there, then start dropping them as I lose interest.  Eventually, I’ll drop the last one and go months without buying anything – then go out one day, pick up every title out there, and start over again.  My favorite X-Men were the new incarnation introduced in Uncanny X-Men #94/Giant Size X-Men #1 (well, “new” back then).  My favorite issues = #132-137, the end of the Hellfire Club storyline and the Dark Phoenix saga.  Haven’t checked out Astonishing X-Men yet but have eyed the omnibus.  Recommended?  DC or Marvel?  Depends on who’s writing.  TPB I’m reading now: Chew (Image), The Walking Dead (Image), Scalped (Vertigo), DMZ (Vertigo), Sweet Tooth (Vertigo), Secret Six (DC).

@iom666 writes: “How about cats ? Did you ever have a cat ? What do you think of ‘them’ ? ;)

Answer: I’ve had cats and love ’em as well.

Patricia-Stewart Bertrand writes: “My sister’s dogs are terrified of rain, and thunder and spiders and cats. They are two very large and friendly Border Collies. Any suggestions to help them conquer their fears?”

Answer: Just sit with them, pet them, reassure them.  Having the t.v. on helps as well.

Sebastian Meyer writes: “So you write /block the chase and stunt sequences yourself as the episode’s writer? Not all shows do that. How detailed do you get and did you do the same on Stargate?”

Answer: When writing a script, we do try to craft creative action sequences that will serve as a launch point for our stunt coordinators.  Realistically, they’re only guidelines because, when the time comes, what can or can’t be done will be entirely location dependent.  On Transporter: The Series, for instance, fight coordinator Cyril Raffaelli and car stunt coordinator Michel Julienne will no doubt use the scripted sequences as inspiration, but won’t be beholden to what’s on the page.  So why do we write them into the script?  Well, they do offer some insight into what we are expecting in terms of action.  Also, some people who read scripts have a hard time imagining “the good version”.  If I was to simply write “a car chase ensues and Frank gets away” the response I would no doubt receive would be something alone the lines of: “BOOOORING!  Can’t we come up with something better?”.

Randomness writes: “Have you had a chance to watch Spice and Wolf yet?”

Answer: Not yet.  Season one is sitting in my DVD room back in Vancouver.

Randomness also writes: “Also how are your Japanese skills coming along?”

Answer: Last night, Akemi and I went out to eat.  Over the course of our meal, we conversed in Japanese.  Our waiter marveled at my command of the language. I told him I only sounded proficient because he didn’t understand Japanese.  I possess the verbal skills of a very polite four year old Japanese boy.

Randomness also writes: “Code Geass has 2 movies in Japan on DVD/Blu Ray, they basically cover Season 1 and 2, and have some new footage here and there, they’re Japanese only with no subtitles, but if you want to watch Code Geass abridged, its something you might want to pick up from Japan next to you go Joe.”

Answer: One of Akemi’s favorites.  Already watched!

Randomness also writes: “And lastly any plans to get Chris Vance to do a blog appearance?”

Answer: Would love to have him come by and do a Q&A but, realistically, I don’t think he’ll have the time.  He’s going to be VERY busy.

chupeto writes: “Are the people who made the Ascension (like Alterans, or like the people of Abydos) called : “The Others” or “The Ancients” ?”

Answer: Sorry, I don’t understand the question.  If you’re asking whether all Ascended beings are Ancients, the answer is no.

paloosa writes: “So starting Monday, I’m headed to the Death Valley of the Valley…Woodland Hills. No studios nor even production companies. Despite the name, the Warner Center is just a bunch of boring corporate industrial buildings. I’m happy to still have a job, but it’s three times the mileage, cost and time. And over 100 degrees most of the summer.”

Answer: We’re following parallel paths!  Good luck!

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 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.


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.


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.


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.

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.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?



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.


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

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.


"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 –


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…


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.


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…







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 16, 2009: The Joys of Scriptwriting, Production Update, and Oodles of Pics.

Spoiler Alert!  Brad's diagram explains the science behind an upcoming episode!  Oh, and Carl.
Spoiler Alert! Brad’s diagram explains the science behind an upcoming episode! Oh, and Carl.
Special Features Producer Ivon Bartok loves to drop by the offices and just hang out - much to Paul's delight.
Special Features Producer Ivon Bartok loves to drop by the offices and just hang out – much to Paul’s delight.
Ivon shows off his People's Choice Award for Best DVD Extras.  Coincidentally, MY People's Choice Award went missing today.
Ivon shows off his People’s Choice Award for Best DVD Extras. Coincidentally, MY People’s Choice Award went missing today.
Visual Effects Supervisor Mark Savela presides over Space's green screen mayhem.  Now with 50% more dinosaurs!
Visual Effects Supervisor Mark Savela presides over Space’s green screen mayhem. Now with 50% more dinosaurs!
1st AD Alex Pappas and actor Patrick Gilmore (Volker) strike.  Later, the visual effects depatment will magically transform the green screen backdrop into a scene from The Hogan Family reunion movie.  Because they can.
1st AD Alex Pappas and actor Patrick Gilmore (Volker) strike a pose. Later, the visual effects depatment will magically transform the green screen backdrop into a scene from The Hogan Family reunion movie. Because they can.
Actress Jennifer Spence (Lisa Park) and fan who was later escorted off the lot.
Actress Jennifer Spence (Lisa Park) and fan who was later escorted off the lot.
Director Andy Mikita calls the shots on Space, episode #11.
Director Andy Mikita calls the shots on Space, episode #11.
Andy is shocked by Carl's improvised shower scene.  Save that one for the director's cut.
Andy is shocked by Carl’s improvised shower scene. Save that one for the director’s cut.
Ashleigh blocks my path with this pose for five full minutes until I finally relented and snapped her picture.
Ashleigh blocks my path with this pose for five full minutes until I finally relented and snapped her picture.
Today’s lunch room conversation centered on the frustrating, lonely, arduous, dispiriting, painful, occasionally lucrative job of the professional scriptwriter. How to best describe the scripting process? Well, have you ever spent a night in a feverish haze, tossing and turning, falling in and out of sleep, endlessly repeating variations of the same weird, maddening dream? It’s like that except that you’re not confined to your bedroom. No, so long as that script sits unfinished, it’ll weigh on your 24/7 – at the office, in the shower, while you’re having that long distance conversation with your mother about that celebrity dance show. We compared and contrasted our various writing processes. My writing partner Paul, for instance, has to work an entire scene out in his head before sitting down to write it. Brad and Robert, on the other hand, write at their laptops. I’m a pacer, generally running dialogue anywhere but in my office, nailing down a run before getting it down. And, like Carl, when I sit down at the my laptop, I review and rewrite what I’ve got before moving on, advancing a few pages and retiring for the day, then repeating the process the following day. By the time the script is complete, I can recite that first scene line for line. Yes, it can be extremely demanding and incredibly taxing but, at the end of the day, it’s the constructive fan criticism that make it all worthwhile.


I headed down to Stage 4 today where Director Andy Mikita was overseeing one of the big green screen sequences in Space, episode #11. On the observation deck this afternoon: Patrick Gilmore (Volker), Julia Anderson (James), Jennifer Spence (Park), and various others taking in the pyrotechnic display. During a break in the action, Patrick regaled us with the tale of his first memorable Chris Judge experience way back on a little SG-1 episode called Morpheus in which he played the role of the sleepily ill-fated Bernie Ackerman. In addition to being a terrific actor (yet another instant of someone whose small initial role continues to grow as a result of some impressive performances), he’s a really good guy. And funny. You can check out his twitter here: http://twitter.com/PatrickGilmore

Today’s blog entry is dedicated to Das and her hubby who are mourning the loss of Cowboy. Also, belated condolences to Maggiemayday on the loss of her buddy Cricket.

April 2, 2009: Waiting for the Other Vengeful Shoe to Drop, Peter DeLuise Wants to Hear From You

Carl and Ashleigh

Carl and Ashleigh


Alan McCullough, formerly of Stargate, presently of Sanctuary.

Alan McCullough, formerly of Stargate, presently of Sanctuary.

Lawren.  Or is it Alfie?

Lawren. Or is it Alfie?

I walked into work today, fully expecting some sort of payback for my April Fools coup (see last issue, editor). To my surprise, things were quiet. Too quiet. I just knew my co-workers are scheming. Apparently, after I left the office last night, the wheels had begun to turn.

“How can I get Joe back?”Brad asked aloud.

“Fire him!”Carl helpfully suggested.

Thankfully, Brad decided to file that one away as Plan B. As for Plan A…

“Boy,”I said today at lunch, “I can’t imagine how you’re going to exact your revenge on April Fools Day next year.”

Ashleigh threw me a pointed look and assured me: “Oh, you won’t have to wait that long.”

“Are you sure?” I felt the need to point out the bad sportsmanship in pulling an April Fool’s prank, revenge-motivated or otherwise, on a day other than April 1st. Ashleigh made it perfectly clear that she had no problem whatsoever being labeled a poor sport.

Hmmm. It’s possible that she’ll eventually forget.

Nope. I don’t think so either.

Today, we screened Ivon Bartok’s directorial debut. The first batch of kino scenes were a lot fun, featuring Eli and Chloe, Spencer and Brody, Scott, Young, and a peeved James (played by the lovely Julia Anderson. What a sweetheart!).

As for the actual episodes: Ernest Dickerson continues to do a bang-up job directing Earth, Peter DeLuise is in the editing room working on Fire, and Andy Mikita is putting the finishing touches on Air I, II, and III, promising us a cut by late tomorrow.

Oh, speaking of Peter DeLuise – if you have questions for the walking Stargate omnipedia, start posting. He’s agreed to come by and do a Q&A. Once he’s completed his director’s cut of course.

Today’s pics: Last night’s dinner at Modern Burger. They had to kick us out.

July 30, 2008: With Special Guest Blogger = Stargate Special Features Producer Ivon Bartok

Ivon shooting the special features YOU want to see.

Ivon shooting the special features YOU want to see.

All business at work.

All business at work.

All business at poker night.

All business at poker night.

Ivon hanging out at Chris Judge's place

Ivon hanging out at Chris Judge's place

Today, it gives me great pleasure to turn this blog over to a my good friend Ivon Bartok, a shining example for all you prospective go-getters out there. He’s a guy who started from humble beginnings here at Stargate and then through hard work, determination, and the timely and highly suspicious deaths of the next three people in line for the position, eventually took on the role as our Special Feature Producer. Love/hate those DVD extras that appear on the box sets? Thank/curse Ivon because he’s the one who comes up with the ideas for them, shoots, and produces them.

Before I turn things over to Ivon, I’d just like to dedicate today’s entry to NASA. Happy 50th, gang! You don’t look a day over 35!

Well, hello! I must say, when Joe asked me to be a guest blogger and answer a few questions, I was quite thrilled. Plus, Joe is the guy around here, and I would never say no to one of our fearless leaders. Except that time he asked me to do that thing, and I was like “wha”, and he was like “do it!”… anyway, that story is for another time.

Before I get to all the fabulous questions, I must say that season five has been going quite well so far, and I think it may be the best year yet for special features. Each season we try to cover new aspects of the production, introduce the fans to new cast members, and try to amp up the production value of the pieces as best as we can on the budget we are given, and in my humble opinion, I think we are doing just that.

For season five, I have changed up the format a little bit, which actually means I have added five more DVD special features. That takes us from the previous 10 features, to fifteen, for those of you doing the math. Also, they will be formatted in such a way that each volume (if you’re from Europe) will have three feature on each disc: one “Mission Directive” and two other features that will take you behind the scenes of a particular aspect of the production. (For the most part they will all relate to the episodes on that particular DVD.)

Technically, this year I have changed cameras and am shooting everything in HD (Although the DVD’s are not released in HD, you will get the 16:9 aspect ration instead of the previous 4:3) which I am very happy about. For you techies, I have moved to the JVC GY-HD110 camera, and I’m loving it.

So with that brief introduction, I think we should move onto the questions. I will try and answer as many questions as possible, but depending on the acceptable length of said blog, that may not happen. Also, there seems to be a number of duplicates….

Let’s get to the questions, shall we:

Caitlyanna writes: “What got you interested and started in doing the special features for Atlantis?”

Hey, Caityanna… Well, I started working on Stargate SG-1 nine long years ago at the beginning of season four. I was Richard Dean Anderson, and Michael Greenburg’s assistant. Being a fan of DVD special features in general, I saw that Stargate needed to amp up their VAM (Value added material.) As luck would have it, a wonderful woman from MGM Home Entertainment, Allison Rosenzweig, was up in Vancouver trying to figure out what more could be done. I remember she was sitting in the publicity office with a colleague when I walked in and introduced myself. We got to talking, and I said that I could do a few things for her. She asked me who I was again, I said “Ivon.” She asked me to leave… ok, that’s not true, but we got to talking and it led to me creating a few small pieces with a tiny budget on a trial basis, and that’s how it all got started. I credit Allison for where I am now. She really took a chance on me and gave me the opportunity to work on my craft and get better every year. She has moved on from MGM, but we still talk every now and then. I still owe her big time. (On a side note: I started the same year as Joe and Paul.)

Enzo Aquarius writes: When conducting interviews with cast/production members, how does one choose what to discuss about? Is it purely up to the interviewee or are other processes involved?

What’s shakin’ Enzo? As the producer, and director of the features, it is completely up to me to figure out what to ask. You make sure to do some research and watch all the episodes. I also shoot all the behind the scenes footage, so I’m on set and see all that happens firsthand. I’m often thinking up questions as I shoot. I find that the best interviews are those that just end up being a conversation.

Lynn writes: “I’ve really love all the great extra features and behind the scenes specials, they’re very professionally done and entertaining to watch, I always wish there was room for even more as they’re the best part of the DVDs. Anyway, I was wondering how you come up with the subject matter or who you pick to interview, or which episode to feature on the featurette, or just what features to include. Is it a request from the studio, suggestions from the producers or input from you or a mix of all three?   Keep up the great work!”

Hey Lynn, thanks for the kind words (we have 5 more for you this year). For the most part, it’s up to me to come up with the content, but all three have an important say as to what ends up on the DVD’s. Also, I could have the greatest feature planned, but if a person chooses not to take part, well, then that feature is scrapped. I certainly make sure that the producers take a look at the features after I have cut them together, but they leave me alone for the most part. Plus, they always have great suggestions as to how to make the features better. When you have that kind of brainpower at your disposal, you would be a fool not to use it.

As for which episodes and subject matter to cover: It’s a mix between making sure they fit into the right place on the DVD, both volumes and box sets, and also what I consider ‘cool.’ When deciding on an episode for a Mission Directive, I try to pick one that may have things that the fans haven’t seen before. If we are doing a new and exciting stunt for example, I’ll try to cover that episode. Variety is the spice of the special feature, especially if the franchise in on season 15.

Syble writes: “First and foremost, Thank You for all the wonderful extras so far! They have been awesome and I am very thankful we get them on the DVDS. Most, but not all, of the main cast has had a special feature done on them. Will we be getting one for Joe Flanigan/John Sheppard on the season 5 discs?”

Hey, Syble, that’s what I’m here for. Sadly, no. Due to time constraints, it is tough to get Joe to sit down. He flies home on weekends, and is out as soon as he is done. Also, not everyone loves the camera around, so you roll with the punches.

Davidd writes: “Hey Ivan! If you don’t mind, I have a few questions for you…

Don’t mind at all.

What is the hardest part of your job and why?

Overall organization of time. Because I shoot everything, the toughest part is making sure I have time to get everything done. It’s a little easier this year with only one show.

When there are interviews with cast and crew on DVD extras, did they volunteer to do them or did you request that they do it?

It’s always by request. For the most part everyone is pretty good around here.About how long does it take to complete a featurette for the DVDs?

It’s so spread out, but if you compressed time, I’d say a few weeks per feature, depending on length. Give or take.

Is there a cameraman who specifically captures footage for DVD extras, or do you use a combination of clips from all over the place?

I shoot it all except when I do interviews. Then, I bring in the amazing Jordan Willox. (who is also my crack editor)

Patricia Lee writes: “Thanks for taking the time to address some of my Questions: Is there any chance we can get more deleted scenes than last time? Couldn’t you put all the deleted scenes on the DVD for each episode?

 I hope so. I am definitely going to include deleted scenes this years, but you don’t know what is there until the shows are finished. However, I do know there are some cool ones up to this point in the season. Also, not every episode has deleted scenes. In fact, sometimes the writers are forced to add scenes.

Could you also petition TPTB to put out takes on the DVD’s?

I’ll be completely honest with you…. doing that in season 4 was a huge hassle for reasons that I won’t bore you with. Also, lots of funny things happen on set, but it doesn’t mean the cameras are rolling. I can’t see it happening in season 5.

What was your major in college and how did that prepare you for your current job?

I studied International Relations, then went to film school for a year… and it didn’t prepare me at all for my current job. Nothing prepares you like being on set everyday. Spending time with RDA and Greenburg is what really prepared me for what I do now. Those guys were good to me.

Keep up the great work! IMHO the Extra’s are the best part of the DVD’s!”

Thanks so much… the episodes aren’t bad either…lol

Ganymede writes: “For Ivon: Many of us really want to see that rumoured deleted scene of Ronon cutting his hair!!! PULLEEEZZZE!!!  AND, all of the BROKEN TIES ’sword fight’ — it’s been hinted that there’s a lot more footage to it…”

Hmmm, you have a credible source my friend. I actually went into the trailer as they cut off Jason’s dreads (with camera in tow). It’s really 20 minutes of Jason in pain… How about this, I will find a place to put some of that footage in the DVD special features. And with regard to the sword fight… I am hoping to find a place for that as well.

 Smileyface06 writes: “Question for Ivon: How do you decide which episodes get a Director Series featurette?”

Well, I try to make sure all the directors get featured, as well as spreading them out so that each DVD volume gets covered. This years “Mission Directives” have both the Director and writer/producer. Watch out for Joe in the “Whispers MD.” Also, I read the script, and talk to the writers to see if we are in store for anything new and exciting in the upcoming episodes…. Funny, they always say yes. Often the writers will fill me in on what they are up to. For example when Joe was writing “Whispers,” he let me in on what his plans for the episode were. I new I couldn’t miss that one.

Chevron7 writes: “Thanks Joe for inviting Ivon – I’ve kinda got a crush on him :-D.

Yeah, Joe… thanks. Wow, I have a secret crush…

Is there an award for best Special Features? I watch a lot of box set Special Features and without a doubt, not even a contest, Stargate SG1 & Atlantis would win hands down.

I have no idea, but that is really nice of you to say. I’ll take that as my award. (Please send trophy)

Who’s the toughest person on set to interview and why?

Bam Bam… he’s great, but that boy can talk, and talk, and talk… next thing you know we are deep into his childhood. It took me three season to realize that it’s therapy for him.

How’s the hockey going?

Great, thanks. Just finishing up my summer league, and looking forward to the start of the long winter season. Man, I love hockey. Go Leafs! (My life will be complete when they win the cup)Jenny Robin writes:

What have been some of the high points in your career thus far?

Without a doubt, going to the Arctic to film Continuum. Just being there, living on the ice for a week was magic. Also, getting see a US nuclear submarine come crashing up through the ice, live and in person was unforgettable. Oh, and going to Joe’s chocolate parties.

And finally, because truly, we’re all wondering about this one…How on earth are you able to work with the nefarious evil-no-good-doer Joe Mallozzi?

Ah, I see… you have fallen for his act. Joe’s actually a real life superhero. By night he runs around in a spandex outfit saving people from harm’s way. (Although there is no confirmation of the ‘saving people from harms way’ thing.)

LindaGagne writes: “Also to Ivon: I am with all the others who’d like to see Joe Flanigan featured. Is that your decision or his?”

His. Some people are into special feature; some are not.

2Cats writes: “Great job thus far on all the special features. I always look forward to them with much anticipation. Their addition to the DVDs just adds to the magic as I build a lasting archive of my favorite program.

Thanks very much, 2Cats… let me guess, you have two cats?

Do you write/script the features yourself?

Yes, for the most part, but certain features like “Road to a Dream” are ad-libbed. I told Martin about a general idea I had, and he ran with it. Comedy falls out of that guy’s pockets. It’s crazy.

Do you complete the editing yourself or does the crack editing team on SGA lend a hand?

The crack team at Stargate are too busy to even think special features. I have a great editor named, Jordan Willox working for me. He kicks ass. I think this is his best year yet.

Do you read/follow the various fan outlets for ideas to include on future features? I guess I’d like to know if the fan base has helped?”

I look every now and then. I know what the fans want, but what people want, and what can be done are often two very different things. I would be crazy not to pay attention to those who buy the DVD’s. I try to make everyone happy, but that’s impossible.

Sherwood Forest Maiden writes: Could you do a special features on the wardrobe dept, esp how the designers come up with the great ideas for costumes for the different human tribes and of course the Wraith. Oh, also a special on Connor Trinneer?

Sherwood Forest Maiden…. ah, I remember spending time in Sherwood Forest as a kid. I have lots of relatives in Nottingham. I have to get back there soon. Little known fact: I am also a British citizen. But back to your questions, my fair maiden… I am in talks right now with our fantastic costume designer, Val Halverson, about spending some time in her world. And as for, Connor – well I might have just sat him down last week… but that’s all I’ll say.

Alipeeps writes: What’s your favourite of the special features you have produced to date and why?”

Without a doubt, “Road to a Dream with Martin Gero.” I laughed so much when we made that feature. He is honestly the funniest guy I have ever met. Martin had no fear of doing anything, or looking like an idiot. The day he put on that Atlantis costume and walked on set, I had to put down the camera so many times due to uncontrollable laughter. Also, that extra long hug with Joe Flannigan = priceless. I still laugh at that piece. None of that was set up, it was all gorilla style where Martin and I would just walk to people and start filming… cast included.

AmyFo writes: Do find most actors and crew members want to be a part of the special features or do they get camera shy?

You would be surprised how camera shy they can get, but for the most part, they are great. I also have to realize that they need downtime when they are on set, and sticking a camera up their nose between each take is not conducive to making sure they are ready for the next take. I have to be a fly on the wall and know when to go in for the close up. To be honest, the SG-1 cast was a lot more into special features… different strokes, different folks.

Jason writes: “Ever thought about doing a day in the life of an extra? I think it would interesting to see what some of the background players go thru or ever the stand-ins.”

Funny you should ask that. I have been wanting to do that forever, but I am not sure if anyone would really want to see it. I mean sure, if it was Ricky Gervais, we all would… but it might take a while to find one that we would be interesting enough to do a piece on. I’m keeping my eye out.

PG15 writes: Have you had any ideas for special features that couldn’t be made for whatever reason?

Yes, and it is the one that you all want.

I always like to see how a story is created, so is there any chance we can have a special feature covering how the writers spin out a story? Maybe even footage from a writers spin session?

I did some of that in an SG-1 feature, but I plan on doing it again in the future. The only thing is that the writing process is hard enough, and it might be a little intrusive to shoot the guys in the early stages of a story. But… stay tuned.

That’s it for now. Thank you for giving us your time and entertaining our questions! I love the DVD special features, especially recently. You do great work!”

Thanks for watching them, it really means a lot that people actually like the work that I do. I really mean that.

Thanks, Joe for letting me be a part of you blog, and thanks to all of you who sent in questions.

Peace out… and wonder bread!