September 14, 2010: Actress Jennifer Spence Answers Your Questions! Masked!

I got a sneak peek at the Stargate: Universe season two trailer this afternoon and it’s – well – is “crazysuperfantastic” a word?  Steve has done an incredible job and I can’t wait for you guys to check it out.  I’m still aiming for the week prior to the SGU second season premiere (Tuesday, September 28th at 9:00 p.m. on SyFy).  Trust me, it’ll be well worth the wait.  LOTS to look forward to this year.

Please keep those questions and comments coming for September’s Book of the Month Club, Masked.  We’ve got a slew of special guests lined up to field your queries including: Matthew Sturges (“Cleansed and Set in Gold”), James Maxey (“Where Their Worm Dieth Not”), Paul Cornell (“Secret Identity”), Daryl Gregory (“Message from the Bubblegum Factory”), Gail Simone (“Thug), Mark Chadbourn (“By My Works You Shall Know Me”), Marjorie M. Liu (“Call Her Savage”), Lou Anders (our fearless editor), and yours truly (“Downfall”)!

And now, I’d like to turn this blog over to Destiny’s sassiest scientist, Dr. Lisa Park – a.k.a. Jennifer Spence – who has kindly taken time out of her space-suited forays (Come to think of it, what IS she doing in that space suit?) to spend time with us.  Thanks, Jen.  Now back to work on those shield emitters…

Me writes: “Not really a question for Jennifer Spence, but I loved your delivery as Dr. Park of the line in the SG:U finale to Col. Young — Don’t Yell! It was totally unexpected and spot on. I was laughing out loud on that one. Keep up the good work Jennifer, and I look forward to seeing you in Season Two.”

JS: Aw thank you Me! We’ve got some pretty fan-freaking-tastic writers on the show and that line came from none other than Mr. Joe Mallozzi and Paul Mullie smile

Michael writes: “Questions for Jennifer Spence

1) What do you want to see happen for Dr. Park in season 2, besides surviving?”

JS: Hi Michael. I would love to see her become even stronger and explore more of what makes her human. We know she’s smart and can hold her own with the other scientist boys, we know she likes to get it on with the military lads, now I’d like to see what else she can offer the team. Perhaps an episode where she takes on more of a leadership type of role or one in which she must overcome a fear or issue from her past in order to get the team out of a dire situation. I love the idea of secrets. And of course it would be so much fun to have some scenes where she just loses it on someone, like maybe she develops a temper.

“2) What was your initial reaction to Park’s method of coping with being stranded on Destiny; sex?”

JS: Shock followed by absolutely loving the idea! It just added so much depth to my character in that she now had this secret and it’s always great fun as an actor to come up with a reason for a character’s behavior.

“3) What do you like to do the breaks between scenes-hang out with the other actors or hide in a trailer?”

JS: We’re almost always all hanging out between scenes unless someone’s got a big scene to prep and even then everyone is so awesome about offering to run lines. We goof around a ton and regularly get our wrists slapped for getting out of hand wink I mean you put some of the funniest people I’ve ever worked with in a room together and you get non-stop entertainment. I think I now have about 5 videos I’ve shot on my iPhone of Kelamis doing various impressions and bits that we keep pressuring him to perform for us and the man is so sweet that he always obliges! Actually Patrick posted one of them on youtube the other day http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSE7TOd1ieU&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Lou Zucaro writes: “For Jennifer… 1) You had one of the best lines to date in the series last week (“Don’t yell!”). When you read a line like that when you first get your script, is it always obvious how simply great it is, or is it not until you perform it (or even see it when it’s done) that it hits for you?”

JS: Hi Lou. It’s usually obvious to me when I read it thanks to our stellar team of writers. Whenever I see a line like that I get super excited about saying it and I love that those types of lines are generally of the comic variety which can be a nice little addition to dramatic scenes.

“2) You’ve worked on a fair amount of sci-fi. Are you / have you been a fan of the genre or is it something that’s “just happened”? If you’re a fan, what (other than things you’ve been in) are some of your favorites?”

JS: Honestly I was never really a fan of sci-fi before SGU. A lot of the productions that have been shot in Vancouver over the years have been of the sci-fi variety and I’ve been lucky that those that I’ve worked on have all been high quality but in general, I usually didn’t watch shows or movies of that genre. I do remember loving E.T. though and having all the E.T. paraphernalia: stuffed toy, t-shirt, shoelaces, etc. as well as rushing home from school to watch Dr. Who. I finally saw Galaxy Quest a few months ago and LOVED it!

“3) In “The Core” you were an assistant to Stanley Tucci’s character, Dr. Zimsky, and now in a way on SGU, you’re an assistant to Rush. In a knock down, drag-out, cage match of the minds, which difficult genius would you put your money on?”

JS: Probably Rush just cuz he’s always thinking outside the box. Plus Zimsky didn’t end up making it out alive wink

Tim Lade writes: “Dear Ms. Spence.  What is it like to wear the same clothing over and over and over again? I imagine I would get pretty annoyed with whatever I happened to choose to wear the day Icarus Base was attacked.”

JS: Haha! As an actor it’s not so bad just cuz you always know what to expect and our fabulous wardrobe department keeps like 6 sets of the outfit on hand. As the character though, you’re right, it would be pretty frakking annoying to wear the same outfit day in day out. I mean, there’s only so much B.O. you’d be able to get out what with a limited water supply and steam showers!

Mike writes: “Question for Jennifer, how much are you like Dr. Park, being the optimist and placating presence, in real life?

JS: I try to be an optimist as much as possible in real life and I think that’s who I am at heart but of course I still have my moments where I cross over to the dark side.

“What one item would you want to have with you if you were stuck on Destiny?”

JS: I think if I could have only 1 item on the Destiny, it would be my iPhone much as I don’t want to admit my addiction to that blasted thing!

“Are there any actors on the show that you hang out with when not filming? Thanks for answering, and keep up the good work it is nice to see a beautiful lady as part of the science team.”

JS: Aw thanks Mike- so sweet! I think I’ve hung out with pretty much all the cast off, but I think I’ve probably spent the most time with Gilmore & Kelamis. Patrick and I just recently spent a week in L.A. with Kelamis and his lovely wife in their gorgeous home which they completely re-did THEMSELVES!

PBMom writes: “To Jennifer Spence: 1. We know how Dr. Park copes with stress, but what is your coping mechanism (if you can share)?”

JS: Chocolate cake with LOTS of icing.

“2. What are your similarities to Dr. Park and what are your differences?”

JS: I think we’re similar in that we’re both optimistic, solution-oriented and nerds. I think we’re different in that she got her doctorate whereas I went to theatre school, she uses sex to relieve stress whereas I’ll eat a whole chocolate cake, she works with a couple of male scientists who bicker like a married couple whereas I work with a couple of male actors who… you know what- we’re not that different wink

“3. Dog or cat person (or both?)”

JS: I’m definitely a dog person but I like cats too. Especially the ones that seem like dogs trapped in cats’ bodies.

“4. What was your favorite chocolate at Joe’s party (if you attended)?”

JS: Aw man, how to narrow it down?… It was actually probably the brownie (wish I could remember the company). Twas the creamiest, richest, most perfect-level-of-sweetness brownie I’ve ever devoured in my life!

“5. If you had a say in it (which I know you don’t), who would you like more screen time with as an actor with another actor, or as your character with another character.”

JS: Naw don’t make me choose- it’s too hard! I think it would be interesting though to have more scenes with whatever other character brings out the most conflict when paired with Park.

“6. What would be your SGleeU song to sing? Julia Benson answered “You Give Love a Bad Name” by Bon Jovi if that helps.”

JS: “Laid” by James http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ol-KrTTta4g or

http://www.totallyfuzzy.net/ourtube/james/laid-video_a5e2641d2.html

“7. I read somewhere you own a bookstore in Vancouver?  Thank you for being so kind to answer our questions.”

JS: The bookstore you’ve heard about is called Biz Books which is owned by the talented and outstanding Catherine Lough Haggquist who not only has been my boss but a very close friend and mentor AND she played Mary in the SGU episode Sabotage! She has taught me almost everything I know about the film industry and her belief in me is a lot of the reason I stuck it out with acting. She opened Biz Books 14 years ago and it is the only bookstore based in Western Canada that specializes in film, television and theatre related books. The store has just recently evolved from a bricks and mortar retail space into an online and on-location only bookstore www.bizbooks.net. Very excited for its next chapter!

Sean D. writes: “Question for Jennifer: What’s your favorite episode of season 2 so far?”

JS: Aw man, too hard to choose- they’re seriously all good! One that was especially exciting to shoot was Malice because we traveled to New Mexico and it put Park in an extremely challenging situation which then changed her perspective about Rush.

E. writes: “Yaaay! Lisa Park – again, one of my fav secondary characters! Questions for her: Did you practice a lot for the kino sequence in “Darkness”? ‘But it might be great!’-moment made me fell in love with Park’s character.”

JS: Aw you’re sweet, E smile I actually only ended up having a few hours to practice that one. As I recall, it had originally been scheduled to shoot after a long weekend so my plan had been to take the weekend to memorize it and make sure it stuck. A day or 2 before said weekend, I got a call from production asking if I was available to come in later that very afternoon because they wanted to shoot that scene a few days ahead of schedule! Hello heart palpitations! I was working at the bookstore at the time and was slotted to be working there for the rest of the day but of course Cat (see info about Biz Books above) being the awesome woman she is told me to skedaddle and I spent the following few hours memorizing and practicing with anyone and everyone who made eye contact with me wink

“What exactly is Park’s area of expertise? Is it astrophysics?”

JS: She definitely has a lot of knowledge about astrophysics and I think she also has done a lot of research in the fields of computer science (specifically computational linguistics) and geophysics.

“What do you think – does Park feel guilty for sleeping with various guys on Destiny, while she has a boyfriend on Earth?”

JS: I think she definitely feels guilty about cheating on her boyfriend but manages to adopt an “out of sight, out of mind” attitude wink

Paul Moody writes: “Question for Jennifer: You’re cast as a civilian on Destiny; do you ever wish you could have been cast as part of the military contingent so you could run around shouting ‘hoo-rah!’ a lot?”

JS: Haha! Naw, I think the role of a civvy is a lot more fitting for me. I’m a nerd through and through. That being said, I would love for Park to get the opportunity to shoot a gun or backhand a bad guy in an upcoming episode.

Lisa R. writes: “Questions for Jennifer Spence: Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. 1) How did you get into the acting business?”

JS: Hi Lisa. I’d always loved acting since I had done skits and stuff at summer camp as a little kid but when I did a community theatre production of “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller just before graduating high school I realized I didn’t really have a choice anymore – it was just what my little heart wanted!

“2) What kind of studying do you do to make your lines believable especially when there’s alot of science in the script? (if you’re not already familiar with the science concepts.)”

JS: When there’s tons of science-speak in the script, I usually start with wikipedia. Then when we go to shoot it, I’ll double check with the writer(s). A couple of times, Patrick and I have gone up to Brad with sketches of what we think the science-speak is referring to and then Brad will draw his own little sketch and patiently explain what’s actually going on!

Simon writes: “Questions for Jennifer: 1) First off, congrats on the Leo Award nomination! Will Dr. Park be getting more screen time in Season 2?”

JS: Aw thank you Simon! Twas truly a thrill! And yes the writers have given Dr Park lots of fun and sometimes unexpected stuff for me to play this season. Many times now, I’ve found myself clapping my hands in delight when I get any sort of tidbit of what’s on the horizon!

“2) How many episode will Park be in this time around?”

JS: As I write this, we are about 15 episodes in and I have been in all but one. Of course being a little greedy guts, I’m hoping I’ll be in all the rest of ’em!

Yazid writes: “Q’s for Jennifer Spence : First, thanks for answering our questions, it’s nice of you. Did you cast for Lisa Park first or any other character?”

JS: Hi Yazid. I read for 2 other parts first and then the producers were lovely enough to find me something else to play. The first incarnation of Dr Lisa Park was actually written as a male scientist named Miles Henry!

“How is the atmosphere on set?”

JS: Rindonculously fun. But also super respectful, patient, supportive, focused and generous.

“How funny is it? Who is the most funny? Were you the victim of someone’s joke on set?”

JS: Super funny. My abs get a mean workout any time I’m on set or between scenes. Everybody on this show is pretty funny but of course it’s always a blast when Louis is around. Haig played a brutal joke on me first season. We had just gotten the script for an upcoming episode so we hurried into our trailers to flip through and see if we were in it or not and if so, if we made it out alive. I think I had just turned to page 1 when I hear Haig (whose room was right next to mine) say “Oh no!” and I yell, “What?!” through the wall and he says, “You die.” Blink blink. “Huh?” I squeak and he shouts, “Yeah Brody says ‘what happened to Park?’ and Riley says ‘she died'”. So at this point I leap to my feet, fly out my trailer door, clamber up the steps to Haig’s door and he opens it laughing his ass off. I think I manage to mumble “I hate you” as I retreat down the stairs backwards never breaking eye contact with him. This is not a set on which one should be gullible. And I am. Oh how I am.

“What is your favorite scene/episode of SGU and why?”

JS: Really really hard to narrow it down to just one. They all have special moments and I can honestly say that I have gotten goosebumps at some point during every single episode. I think “Life” was one of my favorites because we learned so much intimate stuff about the characters.

“Did you know Stargate before playing in SGU?”

JS: I had heard of it and knew how popular it was but I hadn’t actually seen it tsk tsk!

“When are you gonna do a “Chevron/Symbol locked sequence”?”

JS: Haha! Joe?

“Are Rush/Brody/Volker and Park a kind of control room gang? ^^

JS: I think we are! It’s a good dynamic because we’re all so different. What could our gang be called? Maybe Brush-polker? Or Volkush-bark?

“What was the hardest/funniest scene to shoot?”

JS: I think the hardest as well as funniest scenes to shoot were my “reading” scenes in the episode Life. I had never done love scenes like those before so I was kinda nervous but both Zak and Jamil were perfect gentleman and super professional. Because they’re both awesome guys, it ended up being a lot of fun and because both scenes took place in the same location with similar lighting, we shot them back to back so Zak got wrapped and then it was like, “Next!”

“What would you do if you were really stuck on an old rusty ship, billions light years away from home?”

JS: Find out where they kept the chocolate cake.

“Few words in french maybe?  Thank you Jennifer =)”

JS: Merci d’avoir poser ces questions!

Lis writes: “For Jennifer – 1. Do you have any particular science background? You seem to do a lot of tech talk, that must be intimidating.”

JS: I don’t have a science background so it certainly can be intimidating to do the tech talk but once you know what you’re really saying and you run it a bunch of times it’s a lot of fun!

“2. Not really a question I guess, but the reason I find Dr Park so endearing is that she’s obviously an extremely intelligent person but also an extremely normal person. That scene way back at the beginning where she is expressing concern about visiting a planet – melted me a little.”

JS: Aw thanks Lis! I’m glad you feel that way because that’s one of the things I like most about her too is that at the end of the day, she’s just human like all the rest of em.

“3. Why don’t you tweet more often?”

JS: I will try to! No excuses wink

Yazid also writes: “Oopsy, I forgot a question: Thanks. What would you bring on Destiny to make life better?”

JS: Earlier I answered ‘my iPhone’ but now I’m thinking a massage chair.

Myhelix writes: “First of all, you are doing a great job as Dr. Park, hope we´ll see more of you!

JS: Aw thanks Myhelix! And you will definitely see more of me second season!

“1) How is it to work with Louis Ferreira and Robert Carlyle in the same scene together? I have heard Louis is a prankster.”

JS: Being in scenes with those two rocks my world! When I first started on SGU, I didn’t know what to expect – I just had memories of Bobby as Begbie the psycho in Trainspotting and Louis as the psycho serial killer in Durham County. But Bobby is the truest definition of a gentleman. He’s a real sweetheart, completely open and one of the most gracious people I’ve ever met. Louis is totally a prankster and a super funny guy but he also has one of the biggest most generous hearts ever and looks out for us all. I think it was Elyse who dubbed him Papa Smurf. Perfect. One time we were rehearsing a scene and Bobby and Louis switched roles with each other just for the rehearsal and they did it complete with accent reversal and imitation of each other’s physicality! Wish someone had filmed it wink

“2) Is it just my imagination or is Dr. Park a bit afraid of Dr. Rush. Or let´s say, quite uneasy around Rush. Why do you think is that the case?”

JS: I think as much as she wouldn’t want to admit it, Park is a little intimidated by Rush mostly because of how he interacts with the scientists that work with him but also because of his vast knowledge and experience.

Nuno Barreto writes: “For Jennifer Spence… Playing a recurring character, does your time on set differ much from the actors who are playing main characters?”

JS: I think us recurring characters generally get fewer shooting days per episode than the main characters but sometimes we have had just as many depending on the episode.

“Also your “Don’t yell” line is going to be a classic, it was delivered spot on!”

JS: Thanks Nuno! It was a lot of fun to say!

BoltBait writes: “Questions for Jennifer Spence: 1. Do you enjoy working on the Kino videos? Which was your favorite?”

JS: The Kino videos are always fun to work on! I’ve enjoyed watching all of them for different reasons. I think my favorite was probably the one where Volker is helping Riley and Brody into their spacesuits. Riley tells Volker he has to pee and the ensuing interaction is hilarious. Brody then finishes donning his spacesuit, tries to take a step forward and proceeds to tumble face down. Anytime those 3 get together, I end up peeing my pants wink

“2. Have you ever said to Joe (or any of the other writers), “My character would never say this! She’d say it like this…”?”

JS: Not yet but now you’ve got me curious to know how they’d react! (Just jokes, Joe.)

“3. How many “takes” do typical scenes take to finish on SGU?”

JS: For each ‘set-up’ within a scene, I’d say we do an average of 2 or 3 takes.

“4. Have you ever said to the director, “Let me do that again, I can do better.”?”

JS: Yes I said that to Peter DeLuise once cuz I knew I could appeal to the actor part of him and he let me!

“5. Your character has a Doctorate. What is it in?”

JS: My interpretation is that Park got her doctorate in Planetary Science from MIT and through her studies has also acquired a vast amount of knowledge in computational linguistics and geophysics.

“6. Your profile page on imdb.com doesn’t say much about you. You (or your agent) needs to update that page!”

JS: You’re right! We’re working on it!

“7. Does your character believe that one day she will return home?”

JS: I think she does. Because she’s an optimist I think she believes it’s possible but at the same time, the longer this adventure continues, the more attached she grows to the whole experience and the people she’s sharing it with.

“8. If you were really aboard Destiny, what would you need to preserve your sanity?”

JS: A journal.

Randomness writes: “I have 1 question for Jennifer Spence 1. First of all, let just say you do an amazing job on SGU, you really show a lot of spirit with your character, my question to you is, do you see Lisa Park being around till the end? And with the many years she will of spent aboard Destiny, how do you think she will be, like growth wise? Can you see her becoming stronger, a different person? In a deep romantic relationship with someone?

I know thats a long question, well several questions in one Joe, but it was me asking her if she thinks her character will survive till the end, and if she does, how does she think her character will be.”

JS: Thanks Randomness! I do see Park being around til the end and I hope that’s the case. I think after all those years she will be a much stronger, tougher person, wiser person who probably will be in a deep romantic relationship with one person and will have given up most of her casual ‘reading’.

Tanie writes: “Questions for Jen: Thanx kindly! 1. How did you get into acting?”

JS: See above.

“2. What’s the best part about working on SGU? The people, the scripts, BTS stuff?”

JS: All of the above. It’s got everything going for it! I hope it goes on for many years to come!

“3. Ice-cream or custard?”

JS: Ice-cream.

SG7 writes: “Hi Jennifer! My Questions: 1. If you could go anywhere in the world or have been anywhere in the world and want to return where would you go?”

JS: Right now, I’d really love to go to Hawaii. I’ve never been and I’m dying to see those incredible volcanoes and that beautiful water and attend a luau!

“2. Where would be your favorite place to shop & or Eat & or Drink (ie coffee etc)?”

JS: Probably Italy. I LOVE Italian food, love drinking coffee (even though I’m a wuss and only drink decaf) and damn those Italian ladies sure know how to dress, don’t they?

“Just wanted to say a HUGE congrats on your awesome work on SGU! And I hope TPTB give you lots more screen time in season 2 as you truely add sooo much to the show! And thanx for taking the time to answer our questions! You rock! Cheerz, Heather”

JS: Aw thanks Heather- that means a lot! And uh… feel free to let TPTB in on your wishes there wink Or put it out there to the “universe”, as it were.

Feanor writes: “Questions for Jennifer Spence: I: What is the background for your character’s constant optimism?”

JS: Hi Feanor. My take on it is that she grew up with 2 brothers and always felt underappreciated by her divorced parents especially her father so she had to build herself up in her own mind in order to feel good enough. I think she then started getting so practiced at it that she was able to do the same for her friends when they were feeling inadequate and soon, she’d adapted the “habit of hope” for life.

“II: Do you feel a similarity do the character you are playing?”

JS: I think the biggest similarity between the 2 of us is that we’re both nerds (except I don’t have a friggin clue when it comes to technology). That and we look alike wink

“III: How many times your charachter has approximately done ”reading” during season 1 and will that continue or will your charachter find a new hobby?”

JS: She has “read” with at least 4 guys (that we know of): Greer, Rivers, Marsden and Dunning and I’m wondering if she will next move on to the scientists after she’s run out of military wink

“IV: Is it fun to play in SGU? Good luck and good night!”

JS: Aw man, it’s da best!

“V: What episode do you like in season 2 most from the ones that are already made?”

JS: I think I’ll have to watch the completed versions of all the episodes before I can say J

Nekomajin writes: “I’ve got a question for Jennifer Spence. Lisa Park is one of my favourite character aboard the Destiny. She is pretty, funny and clever. A true geek. Do you think that Lisa can be the female Eli in the future? Thanks for answering.”

JS: A true geek – well said! I think Park is really smart like Eli but nobody can else can be Eli like Eli.

Thank you so much for all your wonderful questions and support! And a very big hug and special thanks to Joe for hosting the q & a and for managing to find the time to write a blog that never fails to entertain and put a smile on our faces.

Jen

Mailbag:

avabird writes: “…I attended Dragon Con. (…) What I remember is that one or two people did ask rather rudely-toned questions about SGU. Usually, the actors representing a particular branch of a franchise fields those questions. When the questions were asked, the majority of the audience “oooo”ed in a way that should have tipped off the one asking that it was rather rude.”

Answer: Yes, that’s in line with what I heard from other sources, that the crowd oooh’d, leading someone to speak up in the actress’s defense, something along the lines of “keep it up and she’ll end up scared of you.” – to which some classy individual resplied “With good reason.”.

Mel writes: “So instead of apologizing to the innocent SGA fans at the Dragon Con, you misdirect people towards an incident, which has nothing to do with the Dragon Con.”

Answer: First of all, I never referred to the “innocent SGA fans at the Dragon Con”, only the rude ones.  So, if you were rude and you were offended by what I have to say, tough. If you were innocent and offended by what I had to say, I wasn’t talking about you.  Second, if you check out the comment above, someone who attended one of the panels pretty much confirmed the story I heard.

Mel also writes: “And finally blackmail! SG1 and SGA movies will be made on its OWN merits. The ratings were great, the DVDs of them sold MUCH BETTER than SGU. The SG1 movies were a huge success. It doesn’t matter how good or bad SGU is doing.”

Answer: If you want to believe that, then by all means knock yourself out.  But the reality is that should SGU end prematurely, it would be bad for the franchise and have an adverse impact on the SGA movie.

Mel also writes: “Watch this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55CRBpqVgdg It starts at 8:50. The fan ask politely the WHOLE panel and NOT specifically Alaina Huffman.”

Answer: What does this fan have to do with what we’ve been talking about?  You’re assuming that this is the incident I was referring to.  It’s not.

Mel also writes: “The simple answer is, because he likes to stir trouble and put fuel to the flames of the “fandom war”, which is going on.”

Answer: Yes, Yes, I know there are many out there who assume I put in a lot of time and effort into hatching these diabolical plots designed to target them specifically but the truth is – and I hate to break it to you – outside of this blog, online fandom is an insignificant part of my life.

Sean D. writes: “Person X enters a stargate a long, long time ago, and finally, present day, the destination stargate is made available, and (poof!) out pops Person X, who should be about 46,000,000 years old now but is still young. :-o

Definitely intriguing.

I’m curious though…

What would initiate finally making that connection once the second stargate is made available?”

Answer: Hmmm, now that I think of it, we’ve dealt with a similar scenario back on SG-1 in an episode titled 48 Hours.  I believe we said that the gate buffer stores the traveler but that degradation occurs over time.  Say, 48 Hours.  I still prefer the original working title: Teal’c Interrupted.

crayonbaby writes: “How did the truffles turn out? Were they gone by the time the game ended? Does the alcohol evaporate in the cooking process? You will have to tell us which one is your favorite so far.”

Answer: I brought the leftovers to work and they were a hit.  All three flavors went over well, but the Guinness Dark Chocolate Truffles – surprise, surprise – were the clear winners.

Abbas Karimjee writes: “1. Are you concerned about the fate of the movies, given the ongoing delay. Essentially, are you concerned that ecen if the films are ultimately given the greenlight, it may not be possible to have the required main cast for both films?”

Answer: Not especially, no.

Abbas Karimjee also writes: “2. As far as the second season of Stargate Universe is concerned, will we have the chance to touch on the issue of Colonel Young’s relationship with his wife, Emily especially given TJ’s pregnancy?”

Answer: Yes, we will.

June 15, 2010: Remi Aubuchon Answers Your Questions!

Today, it gives me great pleasure to turn this blog over to Stargate: Universe Executive Consultant and Resident Deputy Fire Marshal Remi Aubuchon.  Remi joined the writing staff for the show’s second season, the happy result of a snafu with the Rauschepfeifes and Rebecs for Ragamuffins program that saw him land on our office doorstep instead of the underpriviledged youth originally scheduled to study the fine art of minstreling under my tutelage.  Instead of seven year old Achille Zogbo, we got a guy who created the critically acclaimed Lyon’s Den, co-created the Battestar Galactica spin-off Caprica, executive produced Summerland, Wildfire, the aforementioned Lyon’s Den, and Persons Unknown (airing Monday nights at 10:00 p.m. on NBC), co-executive produced on 24, and wrote the Caprica pilot in addition to innumerable scripts for shows like Providence, Chicago Hope, and the Tom Hanks-produced HBO series From Earth to the Moon.  And he also plays a mean hirtenschalmei!

Well, things worked out for everyone.  I’m thrilled to have Remi on board and, last I heard, young Achille had landed a staff job on CBS’s The Good Wife.

So enjoy Remi’s Q&A, and then stick around (a.k.a. “keep reading”) for yet another special guest blogger announcement…

DP writes: “Q’s for Remi: Are yo a freelancer or on staff?”

RA: I am on staff — my title is Executive Consultant.  I have no idea what that title means, but sounds fancy doesn’t it?

“What rules did you have to follow in writing your spec scripts that you get to relax on while writing SGU for pay?”

RA: What’s great about working on an established show, where the characters are defined is that you don’t have to worry about that work and just concentrate on the story.  Working on pilots is hard work because you are creating the whole world, the rules, the dynamics, etc., etc.  out of whole cloth — that work has already been done by the likes of Joe Mallozzi.

“What scriptwriting rules did you have to tighten up on while writing SGU for pay vs. spec scripts? Vs. scripts written for Ronald Moore projects?”

RA: Ron and I worked as partners on Caprica and really, we created the rules together and shared our stuff back and forth sort of like jazz musicians.  It was a great working experience.  SGU not too dissimilar but getting up to speed on a mythology that has been over ten years in the making is daunting.

“Space dolphins – what’s so bad about that?”

RA: Personally, I love space dolphins and was shocked and horrified to realize they were just kidding.

“What sea creature would you like to see in space?”

RA: Giant squid.  First of all, the Destiny crew’s food troubles would be over: calimari for at least a year.

“Do you play any mmog’s (massively multiplayer online games)?”

RA: I do not because I suck at it.  My daughter and I play Age of Empires via game ranger, I love doodle jump on my iPhone, and the occasional RockBand fest, and really that’s the extent of my gaming.  My biggest fear about jumping into mmogs is that I will never return to the world of the living.

“Who puts more actor direction into a script, you or Ronald Moore? What’s up with that?”

RA: I try not to put any actor direction into the script.  There are times when I will put it in, but it’s usually for the studio or network that doesn’t always understand the intention of the line.  Actors always do.

“What science fiction element from literature do you think should be seen onscreen more?”

RA: STEAMPUNK!!!!  I am working on a TV pitch for this.  And alternative world lit.  Why hasn’t “The Man in the High Tower” been done?  “A Canticle For Liebowitz?”  “Jesus On Mars?”

“Where does Joe keep the good chocolate?”

RA: Some place where the rest of us can’t get to it.

“How often does Joe bring the dogs to the office?”

RA: Not enough.

Ponytail writes: “Question for Remi Aubuchon: You always look like your fix’in to crack Joe’s camera over his head. Do you mind him taking your picture or are you just showing lots of patience with him?”

RA: I love Joe.  He always says to me “look like you’re pissed” before he snaps the camera.

Bloomgate writes: “For Remi : How about one (or however many you need) word(s) to describe each of the other writers on SGU?”

RA: This one’s too scary for me.

Gilder writes: “@Remi: Congrats on premiere of “Persons Unknown”. Even Husband, who prefers historical documentaries, was intrigued.  Filmed in central Mexico, ¿si? Are you dubbing in Spanish and/or Italian? If so, are any of the English-speaking cast performing in a second language?”

RA: While we did cast some actors from Mexico, most were from elsewhere.  I will tell you the Daisy Betts is Australian, Gerald Kyd is British, and the little girl who plays Megan is Mexican.  So we kinda have an international cast.

“My academic credentials and best skills are in Spanish; I may start graduate courses in translation this fall. If Ps Unk goes to second season, I would be tempted to offer my services…!”

RA: I’m open, if there’s a second season!  Start the good vibes out into the universe now!

Gilder also writes: “@remi again : I’m particularly impressed with the hotel set…reminscent of the historic older hotels in Austin and San Antonio, TX. Did the Ps Unk set designer draw inspiation from the Fairmont, Menger and Gunter in SA, or the Driskill in AUS?”

RA: Ken Hardy, who designed the sets for The West Wing, Studio 60,Journeyman, etc. is a certified genius.  He drew from all sorts of places, including a couple buildings from Pasadena, California.  We wanted it to look like a town that normally you would drive through on a road trip, and not give it a thought.

Gilder also writes: “One more for Remi: I will be out of USA the next two Mondays. Will I miss a lot of exposition in Ps Unk? Or will I be able to catch up with the fourth episode?”

RA: You will be fine.  No guarantees after the fourth.  You can, however, catch up on iTunes.

PG15 writes: “1. First of all, thank you for entertaining our unimaginably Awesome questions. Looking over your IMDB profile, you have amassed an impressive array of drama credits, with Caprica being your first Scifi show. Now that you have added another scifi show to your credentials, how are you liking the Scifi genre? Does the added fantastical elements make it harder or easier to write stories?”

RA: I have been an SF fan since I hid under my covers with a flashlight reading comic books, late at night.  I have seen the original Star Wars almost a hundred times.  Don’t forget I also worked on From The Earth To The Moon, which isn’t the same genre, but I got to meet with real astronauts, and spend a lot of time at the Kennedy Space Center.  I also wrote a couple of genre pilots and screenplays that just were never made.  So, short answer, I’m thrilled to be getting a chance write on something I love.  I consider Persons Unknown to be in the same ballpark, though there’s no SF involved.

“2. I’ve read from a freelancer who wrote a story for Season 1 of SGU that being in the series’ writer’s room is intimidating due to how quickly the others toss around ideas thanks to their familiarity with each other. Did you feel the same?”

RA: Yes, it is an intense environment.  Definitely not for the faint-hearted.  Part of the dynamic of the room is that these guys have been working together for a long time and they have a sort of shorthand that is maddenly difficult to decipher, and they have little patience if you can’t keep up.  They also know the lore, mythology and rules about the Stargate world by heart and that’s hard to get up to speed on.  I think I’m close to there now, but it’s taken months.  That said, it’s also incredibly stimulating and their passion is infectious.
.
“Bonus question: are there special and/or weird initiation rituals that the other writers put you and Linda through? Any gritty/disturbing/blackmail-able details would be welcomed.”

RA: Other than Joe telling me that I was scheduled for the night watch duty, and that I was required to show up at 4:30 in the morning for Destiny systems orientation (I showed up twice before I figured out it was a prank), no.

“3. Any hints on your first SGU episode, “Visitation”?”

RA: It involves a visitation from some unexpected guests.

“4. How did you get involved with SGU in the first place?”

RA: I’m still trying to figure it out — but because Persons Unknown overlapped the Caprica schedule, I wasn’t able to work with Ron and David on it.  So I put it out to my agent that I really wanted to work on an SF show, and SGU came up.  I met with Brad, Rob, Joe, Paul and Carl and they didn’t hate me too much, so here I am.

“And finally… 6. What’s Joe Mallozzi really like? Again, any gritty/disturbing/blackmail-able details would be welcomed.”

RA: Nothing but good things to say about Joe.  He has been a gracious host, taking me out to dinner, taking time to explain details in the mythology of SG, restaurant tips, etc.  Always a smile, always a good word in the morning.  Scary, huh?
.
E writes: “How quickly did you adjust to SGU’s writing style?”
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RA: I haven’t yet.
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“Is this series very different from what you’ve done in the past?”
.
RA: Very.
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“Do you have a favourite character?”
.
RA: Very difficult to answer.  I relate most to Scott and Young — flawed guys who trying to rise above their own weaknesses.  Nicolas Rush because he’s so complicated, so smart and yet so much in his own way.  That said, my favorite character is actually TJ — she is someone who I would want to be stranded on a ship with; resourceful and enterprising.  Compassionate yet forceful when she needs to be.  Camile Wray is interesting in that she’s a smart person, a capable person, who believes she should be in charge but doesn’t know how to assert herself.
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“What’s the best part of writing a script? Constructing acts, tweaking dialogue or seeing how actors bring it to life?”
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RA: The best thing about writing a script is finishing it.
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Tammy Dixon writes: “Question for Remi: How much research goes into an episode? Do you have friends in different fields that you can ping about details for stories?”
.
RA: I love research — maybe my second favorite thing about writing other than finishing it.  The internet is an incredible tool for research.  Prior to that, I hung out at libraries (still do) pouring through microfiche and periodicals.  SGU is a little different because some stuff is not researchable but rather is speculative and, well, not real — I know it’s a shock.  So we get to talk to futurists and guys that think of crazy things that could be possible.  We try to stay within the laws of physics, but sometimes, it’s just fun to bend the rules a little.  Ultimately, though, SGU is a story about ordinary people trying to survive under extraordinary circumstances.  No one individual is capable of solving the problem, but together, than might just be able to make it.  That story interests me and while the hardware and the SF of it all is exciting, fun and just plain cool, we never lose sight of the human drama.
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BoltBait writes: “Questions for Remi: OK, so what specifically does an Executive Producer do on SGU?”
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RA: Well, I’m actually a consulting producer, which is to say, I mostly write and throw in my two cents when asked.
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“Do you like to have your hand in everything? Or, do you like to delegate a lot?”
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RA: I was the showrunner for Persons Unknown which was exhausting, so I am happy to just be a worker and not in charge of anything.
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“How delightful Joe is to work with?”
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RA: Beyond delightful.
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Randomness writes: “Oh I noticed you asked for Remi questions. Okay I’ll join in too.  1. What Stargate series is currently your favourite?”
.
RA: SGU, of course. — Though I was a fan of SG1 for years.
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“2. How did you feel when you were given the chance to work on Stargate Universe?”
.
RA: Flabbergasted, actually.  Like being shocked that a beautiful woman shows an interest in you.
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“3. What are some of your favourite moments thus far working with everyone, cast, crew, writers alike?”
.
RA: Joe’s chocolate party was beyond fun.  It was a great way to meet and get to know everyone.
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“5. Are there any episodes in Season 2 that you feel people will absolutely love?”
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RA: So many good ones, it’s hard to pick.
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“6. Any favourite books, authors?”
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RA: Huge eclectic collection.  From Dickens to Duane Swierczynski, John Irving to Raymond Carver.
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“7. What made you decide to leave Caprica and move onwards to the good ship Destiny?”
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RA: See above, but short answer, I was a victim of circumstance and timing.
.
“8. Do you feel Caprica can stand the test of time, and perhaps go on for a few more seasons?”
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RA: Certainly when Ron and I created Caprica we roughed out what five years would look like, so yes I believe so.
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ytimynona writes: “QUESTIONS FOR REMI: Do you blog? Tweet? Use Facebook?”
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RA: I blogged during the Writer’s Strike and had a blast.  I sporadically check into Facebook.  Tweet makes me too nervous.
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“Do you prefer writing/producing procedurals or serials? Comedy, drama, or dramedy?”
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RA: Not a procedural guy, though I love to watch them.  I’ve always been fascinated with human interaction; people struggling to make sense of their lives. I believe humor is part of human nature, even in the most dramatic of circumstances.
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“Can (and do) you watch episodes you have written/produced as they air live, or is seeing the episode a couple dozen times before it airs enough for you?”
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RA: I don’t feel like an episode is done until I see it on the air.
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“There is no number six. There was, but PG15 totally stole it. So I’ll use the space to say a huge THANK YOU for coming to Joe’s blog and letting us give you the third degree!  In all honesty, we truly appreciate it!”
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RA: Thanks and more thanks.  It was cool of Joe to ask me, and I have become a fan of his blog and his fans.
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Eric.Stewart writes: “Hi Remi!  I saw the trailer and like the idea put forward by you tv series. In spite of the fact that the trailer give us a fair good idea of what the show will be about, can you elaborate a bit more on the tone that you plan to give to the series ? Will it lean toward a psychological thriller with a lot of blood, a suspense /action type or do you plan to give it at one point a paranormal/science fiction aspect?”
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RA: The one thing I can tell you is that there is nothing paranormal or science fiction going on in Persons Unknown.  Everything is based in the real world.  Sometimes there is cutting edge technology involved, that may appear SF-ish, but it was all carefully researched.  We also made sure that we figured out everything that was going on in advance of writing even one script, and then figured out how much and when we would reveal.  The tone is edgy and tense; we tried to capture what it would feel like if you never knew what could happen next or what the people behind the camera are expecting.  We wanted a sense of feeling like you are watched all the time.
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“How do you feel your series will differentiate itself among the multitude of new tv shows that we have at the moment?”
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RA: Well, that is the big question and almost impossible to answer.  It is difficult (maybe even dangerous) to try to predict what how an audience will react to any one show.  But we tried really hard to make our show fun and exciting yet still edgy and weird.  We will just have to see.
.
“As an executive producer are you involved a lot in the writing of the episodes or do you use the same formula utilized in SGU i.e multiple writers ?”
.
RA: We had a great group of five writers on PU.  As the Executive Producer, I gave notes, sometimes rewrote and often guided the story-telling, but I considered it a group effort.  I perceived my job being in charge of the big picture — to see how a particular episode fit into the big story we were trying to tell in the season and beyond.  It is pretty much the same at SGU: Brad Wright and Rob Cooper guide the ship.
A huge thanks to Remi for taking the time to come by.
And a future thanks to…
…actress Jennifer Spence, SGU’s Lisa Park, who is next up on the Q&A block.
If you’ve got questions for Jen, start posting.
And if you have questions for author Ellen Kushner, post them as well.  I’ll be collecting them over the next few days, then sending them along this weekend!

October 22, 2009: Julia Benson! Jennifer Spence! Birthday Swag! The Weird Food Purchase of the Day!

Well, hey!  Look whose IMDB starmeter has skyrocketed 360% this week!  None other than SGU’s Second Lieutenant Vanessa James, Julia Benson (formerly Anderson).  Yes, she’s gorgeous – in addition to being a total sweetheart.   AND a wonderful actress, which you’ll find out for yourself in the coming weeks.

Julia Benson (Second Lieutenant Vanessa James)
Julia Benson (Second Lieutenant Vanessa James)

Anyway, in addition to joining the ever-growing SGU twitterati (http://twitter.com/julia_benson), Julia has also started a blog.  Check it out: http://www.juliabensononline.com/

Also, actress Jennifer Spence (SGU’s Lisa “Earthquake Girl” Park) joins twitter (http://twitter.com/SpenceJen).

Two of my favorite Jen Spence picks – and not just because I’m in them…

IMG_1961

IMG_1962

Hey, another big thanks to all those who posted or emailed birthday wishes.  Special thanks to Shirt’n’Tie, Anais33, Polly, For the Love of Beckett, Sara Nice, and Quade for the cards and gifts.  “What gifts?”many of you may ask.  Well, check out my birthday swag…

Birthday cards.  The one on the very left, sent by Anais33, sports a pic of my three pugs (Bubba, Jelly, and Maximus).
Birthday cards. The one on the very left, sent by Anais33, sports a pic of my three pugs (Bubba, Jelly, and Maximus).

Big paw magnet.
Big paw magnet.
Chocolate rocks and framed pic of two of my faves (Carl and Jelly).
Chocolate rocks and framed pic of two of my faves (Carl and Jelly).
Carl claims possession of my gift.  It now sits atop HIS desk.
Carl claims possession of my gift. It now sits atop HIS desk.
Bacon gumballs, a picture/frame, and hot sauce.
Bacon gumballs, a picture/frame, and hot sauce.

By the way, the Dragon’s Blood hot sauce is made from Naga Bhut Jolokia Peppers, purported to be the hottest in the world.  How hot?  Well, Quade helpfully provided the following Scoville scale breakdown (offering comparable ratings for other, less fiery peppers):

0 = Bell Pepper

5,000 = Jalapeno Pepper

200,000 = Habanero Pepper

1,000,000 = Naga Bhut Jolokia Pepper

Was it really THAT hot?  In a word: YES!  Check out the video of Carl and I sampling the goods (Camera work by Lawren Bancroft-Wilson)…

Bacon-Chocolate chip cookies.
Bacon-Chocolate chip cookies.
Taaaaaaasty!
Taaaaaaasty!

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 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!

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.

June 12, 2009: My Four Dads, Cracking Casting, Star Runners, and Mailbag.

 

Kerry and Kerry
Kerry and Kerry

 

Qu'est ce que c'est ce prop?  Good question.
Qu’est ce que c’est ce prop? Good question.
Military presence.
Military presence.
Sharing the spotlight with the delightfully delightful Jennifer Spence.  Rock on!
Sharing the spotlight with the delightfully delightful Jennifer Spence. Rock on!

We were standing in the hallway, making plans for that night’s outing, when I threw a glance to Ashleigh and asked whether she’d be joining us. No, she explained, she was meeting a friend for dinner.

“Hey, maybe you can bring her along,”I suggested.

“Yeah,”she replied as though I’d suggested she should compete in the Olympic decathlon. “Me and my four dads.”

Dads?

“Wait a minute!”Lawren piped up, looking back and forth between me and Carl, then back to Ashleigh. “Who’s the fourth?”

“The other guy,”she replied, motioning back down the hall.

“Uh, you mean Paul?”I asked. The guy you’ve been working with for the past few months?

“Yeah,”she said, all smiles.

“But I’m younger than you!”protested Lawren. “I’m, at best, an older step-brother!”

For his part, Carl seemed to find this hilarious. In all fairness, however, he’s used to fielding gags about his age. I mean seriously. Last time he told someone how old he was, they assumed he was talking in “dog years“. My response, however, was less than amused. I believe it was something along the lines of “Hunh.” as I turned and headed back to my office.

Now I’ve never considered myself as old.  Until now of course.  Generally, I’ve dealt with people as personalities rather than age groups although I realize that that isn’t the norm.  And I usually wouldn’t give the ageistic realities of our society a second thought – except that, now that the subject has been broached, I’m forced to admit that it’s only a matter of time before I’m headed into that twilight territory where “fun” gives way to “charming” and the best one can score is the inoffensively neuteral (sic) “distinguished”.  All at once, the inter-office hilarity becomes somewhat less so because, in the back of your mind, you imagine the person you’re sharing a laugh with heading back home, stepping through their front door, and loudly proclaiming: “You’ll never guess what that adorable old coot said today!”.   Suddenly, you’re the crazy uncle, ole so-and-so whose antics liven up the workplace much to the delight of your fellow employees who can’t quite tell whether you’ve been gifted with a wonderful sense of humor or simply surendered to the eccentricity that, years down the line, will see you leaping through the aisles of your local supermarket wrapped in toilet paper screaming “Squeeze the Charmin!  Squeeze the Charmin!”         

Anyway – the next morning, when I rolled in, I was asked what I’d done the previous night. “After dinner, I stopped by to watch some commercial construction for an hour,”I answered. “Then I got home, had a glass of Metamucil, soaked my feet in Epson salts, and fell asleep in front of the t.v. watching some nature show.” Yep, it’s all downhill from here.

Yesterday, we watched the latest cut of Life. A brilliant episode (written by Carl Binder, directed by Alex Chapple) with some great performances – and here I must make mention of two guest starts in particular: Sarah Smyth, who delivers a wonderfully nuanced performance as the struggling Annie Balic, and Reiko Aylesworth (Hey, eagle-eyed Lost fans!) whose touching turn as Sharon proves alternately uplifting and heart-rending. Great casting.

Speaking of which – actress Jennifer Spence plays the role of Dr. Lisa Park in Stargate Universe, a character who has developed quite nicely since the pilot. Here’s a classic case of a supporting player who, over the course of several episodes, catches the attention of the writer/producers on the basis of an impressive initial performance. Based on that initial performance, the actor is given more to do – and hits it out of the park, which gives rise to more interest and meatier scenes. Jennifer‘s growing role on SG:U is just one example of the many such instances I‘m seeing develop as we make our way past the season one midway mark.

Received an email from writer-producer Rafael Jordan who tells me his latest SciFi original movie, Star Runners, premieres tomorrow night. All you Connor Trinneer fans may want to check out (http://www.youtube.com/user/rafael607).

Mailbag:

Belouchi writes: “I have a quick question regarding the Stargate Universe upcoming series: you mentioned on an earlier blog entry that you were waiting for the opportune time to release to us fans some cool concept arts of the Destiny and other tech related props. Any idea when that time will be, if you can post them that will be great.”

Answer: Alas, still waiting for the okay from the studio with regard to much of the behind-the-scenes pics I’ve taken. I’m hoping things will relax after Comic Con.

Louis writes: “Joe I was just wondering if you have ever read any books by Stephen Baxter?”

Answer: Not yet. I have The Time Ships sitting on my to-read pile.

Nadine writes: “Loved the pic of Lulu today.. Will she actually chase the ball, or does she prefer tug-of-war type games?”

Answer: Oh, she’ll chase it, chew it, then nudge it into some inaccessible spot (ie under the couch) and bark until I rescue it for her. Then she’ll repeat the process.

Nadine also writes: “ I seem to recall reading that the pictures on the sidebar are randomly generated, but have you read them all? I swear I saw a pic of Mary Doria Russell’s “The Sparrow”.

If so, have you read it? Did you enjoy it? Was there ever a BotM discussion for it?”

Answer: It wasn’t a book of the month club selection, but I did read and enjoy it.

Major D. Davis writes: “Almost one year ago, Brad had an interview in which he said the Atlantis movie would be made in the near future(Also, he already knew you guys were doing Universe, so I am assuming he had that in mind during the interview). Almost 10 months later the actors haven’t even been contacted yet. I mean how can this not be considered a delay?”

Answer: Ah, if only it were as simple as simply picking a date and making a movie. Unfortunately, it’s a process complicated by deal aspects I’ve already enumerated in a previous entry (look it up, ed.) in addition to the stark realities of a suffering DVD market (the victim of a perfect storm of circumstances – the evolution of alternate media platforms, the recession, and – my #1 suspect – Blu-ray). In order to set an official date for the commencement of principal photography, the studio – which is taking the lion’s share of the risk by bankrolling the production – must first sort out a number of issues. Still, as I’ve been saying all along, we all want to make this movie (me most of all as, from a purely mercenary standpoint, I’ll be producing it – and not for free), and we now have a first draft script in place.

ZeroPointBatteries writes: “How does the filming of sgu work while Lou is on a supposedly ‘live’ television show at the moment?”

Answer: No differently than when we have to shoot around the commitments of other actors. Happens all the time.

Nicole writes: “ I’ll be driving out to the east coast (Canada) this summer with stops in Ottawa, Montreal, and Quebec City – a day or two per city. Could you recommend some must try restaurants – and maybe chocolate shops?”

Answer: Sorry, I know nothing about the Ottawa and Quebec City dining scene and, quite frankly, very little about the Montreal dining scene. If you like foie gras, I definitely recommend Au Pied de Cochon (I go for dinner every time I’m in town). As for some Montreal chocolate shops, I’d suggest checking out Les Chocolats de Chloe located, conveniently, practically right across the street from Au Pied de Cochon.

May 22, 2009: Welcome to the Jungle…But Maybe You Might Want To Come Back Later When We’re Actually Rolling

And me without my boots.
And me without my boots.
Carl second-guesses Rob's directorial decision.
Carl second-guesses Rob’s directorial decision.
Everyone laughs off Carl's suggestion.
Everyone laughs off Carl’s suggestion.
Chadwick, the birthday boy.
Chadwick, the birthday boy.
Chadwick's birthday cake.
Chadwick’s birthday cake.

Director Robert Cooper - prepared for any eventuality.
Director Robert Cooper – prepared for any eventuality.
Peter Kelamis (Adam Brody) and Patrick Gilmore (Dale Volker)
Peter Kelamis (Adam Brody) and Patrick Gilmore (Dale Volker)
Mark Burgess (Franklin)
Mark Burgess (Franklin)
Jennifer Spence (Lisa Park)
Jennifer Spence (Lisa Park)
Nancy Ha (Costumes) all decked out for the inclement weather.
Nancy Ha (Costumes) all decked out for the inclement weather.
Camo rain gear
Camo rain gear
Goodies
Goodies
Josh Blacker (Sgt. Spencer)
Josh Blacker (Sgt. Spencer)
My pal Fix (Costumes)
My pal Fix (Costumes)
Waiting around for the fun to start.
Waiting around for the fun to start.

Well, it was beautiful, sunny and warm outdoors today, but overcast, dark, and rainy indoors. Specifically, I refer to the indoors of Stage 1 where Writer/Executive Producer/Series Creator/Master Chef Robert C. Cooper was directing Mayhem Day on the latest Stargate: Universe episode – Time.

Carl and I visited set after lunch, arriving just in time for the most important part of the production = the crucial standing around waiting to set up the next shot portion of the process. I acquitted myself nicely, standing around with the best of them (I feel the need to point out, however, that Carl did a lot of sitting). Eventually, Carl and I grew weary and headed back up to the offices, determined to return for the big action sequence.

Back up in the office, I wished Chad in the Production Offices a happy birthday. He insists that Chad isn‘t short for anything, but I find that hard to believe. Anyway, Chad (or Chadwick as I’m going to start calling him because I have a hard time believing Chad isn’t short for something and suspect Chadwick is more probable than Carl’s suggestion: Chaddington) celebrated his special day with some boozy cake and a spirited rendition of Happy Birthday from the gang (in particular the gals from accounting who are never far whenever cake is involved). He looked genuinely embarrassed by all the fuss, so I yelled “Speech! Speech!”, lending immeasurably to the awkwardness of the moment.

Carl and I headed back down and I ended up spending the rest of the afternoon in the jungles of Stage 1, snapping TONS of pics – which, of course, I can’t show you. You’ll just have to take my word for it: they’re very cool. Or contact the studio and the network and ask them: What’s the hold up?

I eventually made my way back up to the offices and where I chatted with Brad about episodes 18, 19, and 20. He and Rob have some fantastic notions for the stretch run that promise to cap off SGU’s first season with a bang!  And plenty of surprises.

Today’s blog entry is dedicated to belated birthday gal Sheryl.