July 14, 2010: My summer reading pile! Jelly’s return! Persons Unknown alert! And the mailbag!

My summer reading pile.

Since snapping this pic the other day, I’ve already made some headway, finishing The Strain and Bitter Angels and moving on to The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.  Of course I also picked up three more books today –

So I’m right back where I started.

My eldest pug Jelly was away all yesterday and this morning as she was at the animal clinic recovering from minor surgery (see last issue, editor).  How did the other dogs react to her absence.  Well, in the couple of hours it took me to drop Jelly off and run some errands, this is what they got up to:

Of course I can’t be certain exactly which one of them was responsible…

Suspect #1 – Nabbed at the crime scene, but her presence could suggest she was merely an accomplice after the fact.

Suspect #2 – The first one to run, suggesting guilt, but a lack of his traditional tell (a.k.a. explosive diarrhea) suggests innocence.

Suspect #3 – Appeared unfazed by the allegations.  Cool as a cucumber.

Anyway, I picked up Jelly today.  She was in fine spirits…

Raring to go – home, that is.

A reflective moment enroute.

The ordeal of the past 24 hours has been forgotten. But will no doubt be quickly remembered tomorrow morning when she returns for her injections.

The homecoming…

Persons Unknown, formerly of Monday at 8:00 p.m. (and formerly of Monday at 10:00 p.m. before that) is moving to Saturday at 8:00 p.m. starting July 17th (that’s this weekend, folks!).  Please take note.  And if you spot it, do not approach it or make any sudden movements.  The last thing we need is for you to spook it and send it bolting into another time slot.

Tune in tomorrow for another big guest blogger announcement!

And you’ve got one more day to get your questions in for author Alastair Reynolds!

Today’s entry is dedicated to blog regular Debra.

Mailbag:

majorsal writes: “how about putting the movies on the syfy channel first? maybe do them as a mini series? (and then maybe put them on dvds?)”

Answer: Even if that were the case, the studio would need to recoup its production costs either through sales, dvd or otherwise.  Back when the first movies were produced, that return on investment was a little more assured than it is now.

Narelle from Aus writes: “Have you heard much from Brie and Stewie lately?”

Answer: Heard yesterday that Brie is still bossing her little brother around, using him as her personal chew toy.

Kymm writes: “I think you may be doomed to a lifetime of links to really scary food!! Whenever someone hears of a weird/unusual food, they think of you (I know that I do) and will let you know about it. Here’s another one for you, whale vomit.”

Answer: I suppose it depends on what the whale just ate.  I’m in no hurry to try it.

dasNdanger writes: “They were simple – chocolate, lemon and strawberry – and sweet. Are all the macarons you get like that?”

Answer: Yes, most are sweet although I’ve had some savory versions – and, best of all, some sweet and savory versions like the Pierre Herme seasonal foie gras.

annie from Freemantle writes: “ewww @ Metacam.. I had some for my rats. That stuff stinks. How do you get Jelly to take it?”

Answer: Mix it in with her food of course!

Jenks writes: “Joe, do you ever feel like the show has lost something in it’s link to Earth mythologies, or would you consider that more of an SG-1 theme than a franchise one?”

Answer: I do consider it an SG-1 theme when it relates to specific Earth mythologies (ie. Egyptian), but SGU, like Atlantis before it, is steeped in the mythology of the Ancients.

Tim Lade writes: “Why are you not a fan of ascended visits?”

Answer: To be honest, I find them too esoteric, their existence more fantasy than science fiction.

J. Chris Tucker writes: “Lotta questions about a 4th season seem to be popping up, and you keep saying there’s been no discussion about one. When were SGA and SGU thought up and then actually developed?”

Answer: The topic of discussion was a fourth series, not a fourth season of the show.  In the case of Atlantis, it was developed as a replacement for SG-1 – except that SG-1 kept getting picked up.  As for SGU, it was a very general pitch late in Atlantis’s run.  To be honest, the assumption was that Atlantis was going to get a sixth season pick-up so Brad and Robert were looking to develop it for 2010 only to be told there was immediate interest.  As a result, they fast-tracked development on SGU and, while doing so, we received word that Atlantis would, in fact, not be returning for a sixth season.

Nicholas T. writes: “In preparation for SGU, did you ask the recurring cast members to watch/study SG1/SGA to prepare for their roles?”

Answer: Nope.  Some were already familiar with the other shows (or VERY familiar in the case of David Blue, SF fan extraordinaire).

Nicolas T. also writes: “From this point forth, can we impose a moratorium on your website on the usage of the neologism “frak” and any of its permutations.”

Answer: Personally have never been a fan of the term when used in contemporary (non television) conversation.  It’s uh – what’s the opposite of cool?

Nicholas T. also writes: “What are your feelings about China? Other than Hong Kong, have you been to mainland China?”

Answer: Almost made it to Shanghai two years ago.  Would love to check out China some day.

wraithfodder writes: “Out of curiosity, just how old are all your pugs? And how many do you have now? I seem to have lost count, and would you ever get a cat?”

Answer: Love cats as well, but there’s no room on the bed.  The gang is made up Jelly (11), Maximus (10), Bubba (8), and Lulu (3).

Luis writes: “As big a comic fan as I am what are my chances of getting the very first issue of your Comic Book Series autographed to me by yourself and Paul?”

Answer: Chances are excellent if you come find us at next year’s Comic Con.

Daniel writes: “I’ve a little confused – Paul has done uncredited rewrites on some scripts – so you share credit on them – doesn’t that mean he is credited? – do you mean to say he wouldn’t be credited if it was only your name in the written by credit?”

Answer: By uncredited rewrites, I’m talking about scripts written by other writers.  Even though Paul will do a pass on them (at times, a fairly extensive rewrite), the original writer retains sole credit for the script.  Because these rewrites fall under his purview as Exec. Producer, he does not receive an extra script fee for his efforts – as opposed to writing original scripts for which he receives a) payment and b) credit.

June 28, 2010: The Soccer Report! Production Update! Mailbag!

An early blog entry today as Remi has asked me to put the word out to you Persons Unknown fans – NBC has moved the show to 8:00 p.m., so if you’re tuning in tonight (or setting your PVR), take note!

Well, with both Italy and England eliminated from Wold Cup contention, my prospects of winning the office pool have greatly diminished.  In a way, it’s a relief since I’m now free to root for whoever I like (Japan!) and, more importantly, against the teams I hate (Brazil and Germany!).  Carl’s standing also took a hit with USA’s loss to Ghana, but he seems to have taken it well.  This was him this morning –

Several people in the office commended him on his loyalty to his homeland and sympathized with his team’s loss.

“What do you mean?”he asked.  “My team didn’t lose.  They won!”

Indeed.  That jersey, upon closer scrutiny –

Admittedly, the German squad does look strong.  But what do you expect given they’ve got Dolph Lundgren playing for them –

"I must break you!"

A couple of weeks into the World Cup and you know what I’ve noticed?  World Cup referees are, by far, the shittiest refs in all of sports.  They make NBA officials seem downright competent in comparison.  I’m not referring to occasional oversights or tiny mistakes.  I’m talking MAJOR blown calls: phantom off-sides, disallowed goals, the awarding of game-changing red cards like high school science fair ribbons.  And you know what else I’ve noticed?  Soccer players are the biggest pussies in all of sport, dropping as if shot at the slightest provocation, writing on the ground, clutching their shins in the desperate hopes that their cry-baby performances will be rewarded with the bestowing of a yellow a card (and, sadly, they usually are).  I mean, really.  These delicate flowers could learn a thing or two from tougher, more macho athletes like, say, that female gymnast who competed in the Olympics with a sprained ankle or little leaguers who get ouchies sliding into second but still manage to play through the pain.  Oh, and one final thing I couldn’t help but notice: soccer is only slightly less interesting than watching your wife try on new shoes.

On the SGU front, Director Peter DeLuise started shooting episode #11, Deliverance, in the darkened confines of Stage 5…

While, over on Stage 4, Director Will Waring finished up on episode #10, Resurgence…

Today’s entry is dedicated to blog regular Das and her dearly departed tooth.

Mailbag:

Becky writes: “Hey Joe … has anyone asked you if we will be seeing the folks who were left back on that paradise planet again?”

Answer: Boy, wouldn’t that be weird?

elliev writes: “Sorry, but that doesn’t make much sense, Joe. Earlier in the episode, we see all five communication stones in the case.”

Answer: That’s assuming there are no extra stones to provide for loss or damage to any of the originals.

SG7 writes: “And will we be seeing more of “Brody’s” Bar in season 2?”

Answer: We will.

Jovanna writes: “Ever tried a purple icecream that tasted like old Arrowroot biscuits?”

Answer: I’ve tried purple ice cream that tasted like ube (purple yam).

Kymm writes: “Joe – I meant to say that picture of you yesterday, where you were demonstrating the shirt tuck to Carl. You look like you are about 5 years old and are waiting for your Mom to finish talking so that you can tell her something.”

Answer: I burst out laughing at your description.  Spot on.

Thornyrose writes: “So, is the Richmond Night Market a 7 day a week thing, or something seasonal?”

Answer: I believe it runs Thurs. – Sun., from mid-June to late August.

dasNdanger writes: “1. With Rob gone, will there be any additions/adjustments to Team Stargate? Like…will you get a bigger office, or anything?

2. Have you ever wanted/owned a big dog, or do you prefer the little ones?

3. What’s your least favorite chore around the house (that you actually do)?

4. You’re watching a movie at home and eating popcorn topped with fresh shredded cheese. What kind of cheese is it?

5. Any opinions on the ever-increasing negativity towards the use of salt in our diets?”

Answers: 1. Nope, no changes to the roster since most of season two has already been mapped out.  Paul and I will continue as co-show runners alongside Brad.  Carl, Remi, and Linda round out the room.  Carl is still eyeing Rob’s vacant office however.

2. I prefer the smaller dogs because it means I can fit more into a car for those long summer road trips.

3. Anything involving a screwdriver.  I did fix the front fence yesterday!

4. A most unlikely scenario.  Popcorn tops my Three Things I Won’t Eat list alongside candied fruit and Shepherd’s Pie.

5. Nope.  I rarely add salt to anything so I’m ambivalent on the controversy.

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.
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“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?
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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?”
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RA: Very.
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“Do you have a favourite character?”
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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?”
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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?”
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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?”
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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?”
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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.
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“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.
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“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 ?”
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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!

June 7, 2010: Production Update! Persons Unknown Premieres Tonight! Remi Aubuchon wants to hear from you!

Prep week for episode #10, Resurgence, kicked off today with a 9:00 a.m. concept meeting.  Those in attendance included all department heads, Director Will Waring (yes, apparently he IS directing this one), my writing partner Paul (who sat in to get a sense of who will be where on that new set), and yours truly.  Assistant Director Alex Pappas ran the meeting, guiding us through the script, stopping only to direct questions my way or regale us with tales of his youth spent as the Entertainment Director of a local Buddhist community center.  As Paul predicted, we ended up mired in the “Who’s where?” logistics of the new set and, after much discussion and dialogue tweaking, it was decided I would have to offer detailed positioning of each player in my next draft.  I actually ended up sketching out a handy diagram in the margin of each scene to keep it all straight!.  It looked something like this:

X     X     X

xx

X      X

And it’s various brevpy variations.

After a ten minute break, we sat down for a very brief Art Department meeting – very brief because we’d had a pre-concept meeting meeting last week in which we’d brought in Wray and Scott from SPFX to discuss how we planned to shoot one of episode’s more interesting sequences.  There was talk of ramps, rigs, cranes, and parallelograms until we finally decided on our game plan.  More talk of relative speed and vectors of intertia, this time initiated by Paul rather than our Creative Consultant John Scalzi.

Next up was the props meeting – which proved equally brief.  Talk of backpacks, pelican cases, weapons, shovels, crowbars, and big-ass flashlights.

After which we rolled right into another short meeting: Costumes.

Since we’d already had our preliminary discussion with the Special Effects team, the Stunts and Special Effects meeting went quickly.  A couple of stunts, atmosphere that shouldn’t look like atmosphere, and sound and fury.

Given the brevity of the meetings so far, you’d think this episode would be relatively inexpensive.  Think again because, tomorrow, we’re looking at THE meeting – Visual Effects – which is scheduled to run for an hour and a half, but could go longer.  The 8:30 a.m. Playback meeting that precedes it is also going to be busy.  Also on deck tomorrow: Extras and Hair & Make-Up.

Well, tonight’s the night!  10:00 p.m.  NBC.  The premiere of Persons Unknown…

It has an intriguing premise and, most important of all, was Exec Produced by none other than SGU’s Remi Aubuchon.

Speaking of Remi, I think it’s high time he got the official Stargate fan welcome – and no better way for the fans to officially welcome him than with a trial by fire, coal-raking, fan Q&A.  So, if you’ve got questions for Remi, start posting them.  Ask him about SGU!  Persons Unknown!  How delightful Joe is to work with!

Remi says: "Give it your best shot."

And make sure to check out his show tonight.  It’s common courteous, after all.

Mailbag:

Rex Carter writes: “One question though if the sgc should find another a 3rd icarus planet with enough naquadria desposits in it to gate to Destiny can they only use it once one shot per icarus planet and of course one-way travel to destiny.”

Answer: Theoretically, yes, they would be able to make multiple one-way trips to Destiny.

Ytimynona writes: “By “juicer” do you mean blender?”

Answer: Nope.  I use the blender to make smoothies, and the juicer (that extracts the juice and discards the fiber) for juice.

SG7 writes: “With ScyFy moving SGU to Tuesdays, do you think that SPACE will do the same? And have you done any Q&A’s with Louis Ferreira or BrianJSmith? And if you haven’t are you planning on any with either of them?”

Answer: I don’t know what SPACE has planned for season two.  As for Louis and Brian – I haven’t asked Louis yet, but Brian did a Q&A prior to the show’s premiere – http://josephmallozzi.com/2009/09/29/september-28-2009-actor-brian-j-smith-answers-your-questions-only-three-days-to-the-stargate-universe-premiere/

dasNdanger writes: “Joe…you stopped reading Wolverine Origins and Dark Wolverine, right?”

Answer: I stopped reading everything, but am still picking up trade paperbacks of The Walking Dead and Scalped.  I’ll certainly pick up both of your recommendations and check them out.

JulieAloha writes: “Are you thin crust or pan pizza man? Tomato, white, pesto sauce or other? Wild toppings or standard?”

Answer: Depends on my mood, but I tend to prefer the New York style thin over the Chicago deep dish.  While I’m more than happy to experiment with exotic ingredients, I like to keep the toppings minimal.

Louis answers: “On the topic of SGU though Joe I was wondering if I could ask u a small question, will we by any chance be introduced to any other LGBT characters onboard the Destiny in the future?”

Answer: It’s possible, yes.

Mix-Martes writes: “Hey Joe, just read the other day’s post about that World Cup pool and I was wondering… why no-one bet on Spain to win it?”

Answer: I think it could be because they’re a perennial underachiever.

Fiorenzo writes: “I have a question that you might not be able to answer but giving it a try anyway (note: I’m also a Lost fan) … do Brad and Robert already know how the series is going to end?”

Answer: As a matter of fact, yes, they do.

JeffW writes: “You could try making your own Pizza, or am I missing the point?”

Answer: I know, I know.  My mother makes her own pizza and I really should make the effort but, well, it’s so much effort.

Chevron7 writes: “Btw, how are Brie and Stewie doing?”

Answer: They’re doing well.  Apparently, very needy.

Tammy Dixon writes: “Sorry, Mr. M., I’ll try to keep the post down after this but do you know when/where Brian J. Smith’s film “Murder on the Orient Express” is going to be shown?”

Answer: Alas, I don’t.  I’d suggest posting the question to Brian on twitter.

Salmo writes: “Way back when I used to live in Kits and Sympatico on Fourth Ave. was was the place for pizza. Is it still there?”

Answer: Doesn’t ring a bell.

steph writes: “1) Are there any rules/standards as to what you are allowed to do when using another person’s body (i.e. having sex with someone)?
2) Will we be meeting Dr. or military officer Cassandra any time soon? I know an episode of SG1 showed her in the future talking to the team, which implies she has access to the base.
3) Is there any chance of meeting some of the cool peoples we met previously (i.e. Asgard, Tollan, Nox, the old man whose wife died in Babylonia)?
4) Do you believe commanders of ships out all alone in space become alike or is it happenstance that there are many similarities between Col. Young and Admiral Adama of BSG?”

Answers: 1) Common sense dictates behavior although participants are required to sign a waiver.

2) No plans to revisit the Cassandra character.

3) Again, no plans to introduce alien elements from either of the previous shows.

4) Didn’t see BSG, but I imagine most commanders would need to demonstrate both unwavering strength and compassion.  A tricky combination.

April 23, 2010: Persons Unknown! Startled NOT Scared! And office happenings!

Check it out.  It’s an advance trailer for Persons Unknown, a delightfully creepy-looking mini-series that premieres on NBC June 7th.  And its Executive Produced by SGU’s very own Remi Aubuchon!  In addition to his show running duties, Remi also wrote a bunch of scripts for the series – as did SGU’s Linda McGibney – so I’m more than a little eager to check it out.  The premise is intriguing and, quite frankly, it looks pretty damn cool.  Circle the date on your calendars!

Slow progress on the script.  Hit the 37 page mark of Resurgence (episode #10) and I still feel like I’m running in water.  Complicating matters is the fact that I have two more production days on Awakening and will be entertaining my friend Cynthia (in from London) for the week.  And I hear that both Remi and Brad will be putting out their scripts early next week, episodes #9 and #13.  I really think there should be a rule that prevents a writer from putting out a script until all of the preceding scripts in air order have been released.  I’m going to try to regain my writing mojo tonight by having a couple of drinks and forcing the issue.

Ashleigh is getting sneaky sneakier.  Today, while I was in her office, she helpfully pointed out that I had a stain on my shirt.  Fortunately, she keeps one of those Tide, stain-removing sticks by her computer and was more than happy to allow me to make liberal use of the stuff.  Except that THIS –

Is NOT a Tide stick.

THIS –

Is a Tide stick.

While THIS –

Is a highlighter that would have marked my shirt a permanent day-glo yellow if I hadn’t noticed in time.  She, of course, feigned ignorance.

And this comes only hours after she tried to kill me by attempting to induce a heart attack.  I was sitting at my desk, innocently doing a google search for anecdotal evidence that would prove my point that the cutesy local weather girl is, in fact, a real bitch when – suddenly – Ashleigh kicked kicked my chair from behind.  “You were scared!”she cackled triumphantly.  I wasn’t scared, I pointed out, merely startled – but I can see how it would be easy to confuse the two.  Children and 19th C governesses of delicate disposition get “scared”.  Guys get “startled”.  I was startled.

About an hour later, I stopped by Lawren’s office to remind him to print something up – when Ashleigh suddenly leaped out from around the corner and startled me again (although this time, to the uninitiated, I may have appeared scared – but I can assure you I wasn’t).

Anyway, the aforementioned incidents apparently made her day.  For the rest of the afternoon, she was all gloaty, blusteresque, and swaggersome.

Ashleigh points out it's 2-0 for her.

Well, far be it for me to vow revenge.  So rather than vow, I’ll just go ahead and do.  Some ideas I’m entertaining include: placing a mummified head (on loan from the Vancouver Museum of Anthropology) in her next take-out order, filling her car with live crows, or sneaking into her apartment and hiding in her bedroom closet until 3:00 a.m. before sauntering out dressed like this –

I’m taking suggestions.

Ooooh, scary! I mean startly!

Other office happenings today included this –

This –

And this –