Over the days before the Christmas holiday, rumors and ‘news items’ about a possible third Stargate series began to appear on various Stargate related sites. Both Gateworld and Stargate:SG-1 Solutions were posting news stories based on information garnered from anonymous ‘production sources’.
From Gateworld came the announcements that there is to be a third Stargate series added to the franchise and that MGM has officially put an end to plans for a season 11 of Stargate: SG-1. However when contacted about these two things for official comfirmation, MGM could not confirm either a new series in the works or cancellation of plans for a season 11 of Stargate: SG-1.
We’ve had to wait an extra four months for the return of Battlestar Galactica [Sci Fi, Fridays, check local listings], but it was worth the wait. The special, Battlestar Galactica: The Story So Far, this week – and when the third season premieres, next week, it returns the show to its place in the ranks of the very best programs on television. It also begins four months after the Cylons discovered New Caprica and forced the government of the Twelve Colonies to surrender. Where to begin? The Leoben [Callum Keith Rennie] model has returned and taken Kara “Starbuck” Thrace [Katee Sackoff] away to live with him; the Brother Cavil model [Dean Stockwell] is advocating the reduction of the human populace to something more manageable; Lee “Apollo” Adama [Jamie Bamber] has gotten fat, and Gaius Baltar [James Callis] is now head of a puppet government. In short, things are going to hell in a handcart and there doesn’t seem to be anything anyone can do about it. Continue reading Battlestar Galactica: The Insurrection Begins!
Fans of the highly popular scifi series STARGATE SG-1, now in its tenth and TV history making season, and STARGATE: ATLANTIS, now in its third season have a totally new way to access them. Yesterday MGM announced that current episodes of the hit science fiction/adventure series will be made available for purchase and download from the iTunes Music Store (www.itunes.com).
The first five episodes of STARGATE SG1 season ten and the first five episodes of STARGATE ATLANTIS season three are now available for download and subsequent episodes for both series will be available within 24 hours after airing on the SCI FI Channel.
“By making these popular series available through iTunes we’re able to extend the reach of the MGM brand and the STARGATE franchise,
Born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Morena Baccarin was raised in New York and attended the prestigious Juilliard School. Her role as the Companion, Inara, in the short-lived cult science fiction show ‘Firefly’ and its big-screen follow-up ‘Serenity’ has made her recognisable to sci-fi fans around the world. She is now appearing in the tenth season of ‘Stargate SG1’ as Adria, daughter of intergalactic maverick Vala Mal Doran (Claudia Black). And there are hints in the wind that she will soon be taking on the lead role in a new version of ‘Wonderwoman’, a rumour neither confirmed nor denied by Morena Baccarin in this question and answer session with Carole Gordon.
CG: Your mother was an actor. Did you always want to follow her into acting?
MB: I never thought I was going to be an actor. My entire family was in the business in Brazil and I wanted to do something completely different. And look where I ended up?!
CG: What do you consider to be your best work?
MB: Some things here and there. A couple of scenes in ‘Firefly’ I really like. Like the one I tell the Captain I’m leaving. Also some plays I did in school because they are characters I probably won’t get to play for a long time.
CG: How did you get the role of Inara on ‘Firefly’?
MB: I auditioned for the casting directors in LA and then they had me wait around to meet Joss. After that I had to test for the network. It all happened very quickly since they were already a week into shooting.
CG: How would you describe Inara?
MB: She is an incredibly smart and studied woman with a very deep dark secret. She is someone that has seen a lot and carries the weight of her experiences with her. She is compassionate and at the same time resourceful.
CG: Inara’s relationship with Mal seemed at times antagonistic. Was it leading to something else if the show had continued?
MB: They are star-crossed lovers. Too stubborn to see past their own hang-ups. I have no idea what would have happened had the show gone on, but it would have been interesting.
CG: Were the cast shocked that Joss Whedon killed off Book and Wash in ‘Serenity’?
CG: Were the cast and producers happy with how ‘Serenity’ turned out?
CG: Any news on a follow-up series or movie?
CG: If the show were to return, what developments would you wish to see in Inara’s storyline?
MB: I’d like to see more of her past.
CG: What would you feel about continuing on the show without Wash and Book?
MB: I’m sure Joss would find a way to bring them back. It wouldn’t be the same without them.
CG: It’s often reported that the cast of ‘Firefly’ are very close. Do you all still keep in touch?
MB: Yes. We see each other every once in a while. At BBQ’s or lunches. We stay in touch for sure.
MB: I unfairly compare every experience to ‘Firefly’. Nothing quite equals it.
CG: You now have a recurring role on ‘Stargate SG1’ as Adria. Could you say something about this character?
MB: She is truly evil. It is so fun playing her. She is sure that her religion is the way and she won’t take no for an answer.
CG: How do you feel about playing the baddie?
MB: It allows a lot of freedom. I love the powers I got to play with.
CG: How did you approach the role?
MB: I had to do some research on who everybody was and what was my history since my character had already been introduced. ‘Stargate’ is confusing if you haven’t been watching the past few episodes. I had to get the names of all the kinds of people down.
CG: How do you get on with your “mother” (Claudia Black)?
MB: She is amazing. A very sweet person and an incredible actress. She was very welcoming and warm.
CG: How difficult was it stepping into a group like the SG1 cast and crew, many of whom have worked together for several years?
MB: They all made me feel very welcome. They know each other well and have a good rapport with one another, so they just opened the doors for me to step in.
CG: Do you have any anecdotes about filming with the Stargate team?
MB: There were a lot of World Cup soccer arguments going on. Being from Brazil I was sure we were going to win. I may have been a touch obnoxious about it. But it was all in good fun.
CG: Both ‘Firefly’ and ‘Stargate’ have very loyal fanbases. Is it scary to have such dedicated fans?
MB: No. I have certainly appreciated the encouragement. It was the fan base that got ‘Serenity’ going so…
CG: You have done a number of conventions. Have you had any memorable moments at a convention?
MB: There are always a couple of jerks here and there that can make you feel uncomfortable but for the most part people are very nice. It is fun to get a chance to meet face to face the people that are watching you.
CG: Do you think life is getting harder for actors these days? Are reality shows reducing the availability of roles for actors?
MB: Business is tough anywhere. I have experienced a lack of work overall. In TV and films. Hopefully the drought will end soon, with some sort of new media.
CG: Which current TV shows do you particularly admire?
MB: I love ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ and ‘Boston Legal’.
CG: Are there any actors and directors you would particularly love to work with?
MB: The list is very long. Terrence Malick, Ralph Fiennes, Spielberg…. it doesn’t end.
CG: Do you have other projects in the pipeline?
Aaron Douglas, ‘Battlestar Galactica’s’ Chief Petty Officer Galen Tyrol, is not a fan of remakes. If something is really great to begin with, he thinks they should just leave well enough alone. No doubt that sentiment was echoed by many fans of the original version of the 1970s cult science fiction show. But, as Douglas explains to Carole Gordon, ‘Battlestar Galactica’ is different. “I don’t think the original ‘Battlestar’ had the run it deserved,” Douglas says. “I certainly don’t think the writers brought the story to fruition. And combined with that they were going to re-imagine it, I thought ‘Okay, it will be different enough; it will be that in name only’.” Continue reading Hail to the Chief: Interview with Aaron Douglas, Battlestar Galactica’s Chief Tyrol
Gary Jones never stops. When he’s not playing Chief Master Sergeant Harriman in ‘Stargate SG-1’ or ‘Stargate: Atlantis’, he’s busy working in films, on writing scripts, or following a full schedule of convention appearances, entertaining fans in the US, Germany and UK. During an appearance at a Level 3 Convention, he takes time out to chat to Carole Gordon about the continuing success of the ‘Stargate’ franchise, the development of his character and how he’s currently developing a project about a caveboy in Stone Age Britain . . .
Many characters on long-running TV shows start out as unnamed figures and remain nameless throughout the show’s run. Gary Jones’s character on ‘Stargate SG1’, now heading for its tenth year, has the pivotal role of the person who opens the gate and closes the iris. Initially known simply as ‘Technician’, he was affectionately dubbed ‘Chevron Guy’ by fans after his regular refrain, counting off as the Stargate’s chevrons engaged.
Then, as the character and the show gained in popularity, he became Sergeant Walter Davis. That is, until his name suddenly changed in Season 7 to Walter Harriman. Why remains one of the mysteries of the universe, even to the actor playing him. “I have no idea,” says Jones. “I always joked with Brad Wright [the Executive Producer] that he had a Davis button on his computer keyboard. If he ran out of names, he just hit ‘Davis’! Everything’s Davis, right. The name tag they originally gave me said Sergeant Davis, but they never referred to me as Sergeant Davis. It was either ‘Technician’ or ‘Hey you’. Next thing I know, they gave me the name ‘Norman Davis’, then it becomes Walter Davis, then it becomes Norman Walter Davis, then it’s Walter Harriman. Don’t ask me why!”
Jones is brimming with enthusiasm for the up-coming Season 10. “Words can’t describe it,” he says with a grin. “But I’ll try to use as many words as possible! It’s just unbelievable. Somebody just asked me, ‘Did I ever think that it would go for nine years?’ You’d never think that in a million years. I just lucked into this gig that just keeps on going.” Things have definitely changed for his character in nine seasons, particularly over the relationship Walter has with the incumbent General – now Landry, previously O’Neill and before that, with George Hammond. “My feeling is that when I was with General Hammond, I didn’t really have a relationship. They hadn’t written one. It was only when Richard became a General that he was around the base more and he, for his own kind of amusement, just said, ‘Well, I want to have more of a relationship with Walter and make him like a Radar O’Reilly kind of character in that he knows what’s happening at the gate, he knows everything that’s going on.’
So by the time General Landry takes over, Walter is working with his third General. He knows how the SGC runs and is able to advise him. “That,” Jones says, “coupled with the fact that they’ve just given me way more to do with General Landry, I’m around the base more and just doing other stuff, you can just see the progression of the relationship. And it’s funny because it’s just as a result of being there for nine years, for being there for that length of time.”
He suggests, with tongue firmly in cheek, what he would like to see happen to Walter in Season 10. “He’s killed and never brought back – just kidding!” Then he bursts out laughing before continuing with a more serious view of his character’s future.
“All I can say is, I am chuffed with whatever they give me because they always give me great stuff. You have got to remember in Season 9 they spent all this time introducing Ben Browder, introducing Beau Bridges, then you’ve got to work in Teal’c, and Carter and Daniel Jackson and all these other new aliens so they can’t really spend a lot of time on my character.”
Jones would love to see a running story about Walter to flesh him out more, but is pragmatic about it happening.
“It’s not like I’m not ambitious or wouldn’t love that,” he says, “but I’m realistic about what they already have to work with and all the stuff they have to get across.”
But he still harbours a wish for Walter to finally go though that gate!
“Oh, I would love Walter to go, wouldn’t it be great for Walter to go through the gate? Can you imagine being the guy that stares at the gate for nine years and never goes through? It’s kind of like flying in the flight simulator as opposed to actually taking off in the plane!”
With a new set of actors on the show, Jones agrees that there are differences to the show now, following on from what he calls the ‘Richard Dean Anderson years’.
“There’s more jokes, the scripts themselves are actually funnier, that’s what I find anyway. Not to the point where they are slapstick or anything. Richard Dean’s character was kind of droll and sarcastic. It was his show, so he had all the best lines. When Richard Dean left, they took all those lines and they just divvied them up, so everybody now gets funny one-liners or little funny scenes, because it’s like starting fresh.”
And, of course, Richard Dean Anderson was well-known for ad-libbing his lines, which Jones corroborates.
“He ad-libbed tons and, if he thought something was funnier he would just change it. But I find that for any comedy stuff the writers write really funny stuff within the context of the genre, keeping in mind that it’s action adventure sci-fi, drama essentially, but then of course life is not all action adventure – there’s comedy in there. They never overdo it, and it’s written just perfectly. My job, if they give me any funny lines, is to make sure I don’t overplay it, that I don’t chew the scenery, just treat it like my other dialogue.”
Jones is astonished to realise that he had, at that time, appeared in more than 90 episodes, with the hundredth likely to be reached in the new season. With so many episodes under Walter’s belt, how did he keep the character interesting for himself and for the viewers?
“Again, it’s the writers, it’s not really me. I have my own way of delivering a line or putting a spin on something but it’s so kind of concentrated, the amount of time that Walter is in an episode that I just try to give each little thing its own little moment. But most of my relationship is with the General. I have just kind of taken what they have mentioned, like the Radar O’Reilly thing, and tried not to overdo it, not tried to imitate Radar, but just have fun with it.”
Fans have picked up on similarities between Walter and Radar O’Reilly, a character in the long-running series ‘MASH’, who always managed to predict what the officers needed before they issued an order. Jones confirms that this was a deliberate connection.
“Yeah, everyone has picked that up and the writers just kind of ran with it. It’s not blatant but everybody gets enough of it that they go, ‘Oh he’s so much like Radar.’ Especially due to the way they would shoot it where I would suddenly appear at a doorway, ‘Where did he come from?’ In other words, I knew what was going to happen before it even happened so I just showed up. Richard Dean again was very much responsible for that kind of thing. I think he just wanted the chance to do some funny stuff, some comedy.”
These scenes also gave Jones the chance to show the producers, and particularly Richard Dean Anderson, what he could bring to the table in terms of playing comedy.
“My background is comedy for fifteen to twenty years. I’ve been in Vancouver almost twenty years; for nine of those years, I’ve been on ‘Stargate’ but that’s like once every couple of weeks. For the most part, I’m known in Vancouver as a comedian or a comedic actor so he [RDA] kind of played to those strengths.”
Walter has also shown up in the ‘Stargate SG-1’ spin-off, ‘Stargate: Atlantis’, in the episode ‘Critical Mass’. Was this a different experience to working on the SG-1 set? There is, Jones says, a welcoming and totally comfortable environment because many of the crew have also worked on ‘SG-1’.
“When you work on the set you are either working with Martin Wood, Andy Mikita or Peter deLuise so you are already comfortable working with the director – you know the guys. So whenever you go on ‘Atlantis’, it’s like, ‘Oh I know these guys!’ And I know the crew.”
Not only that, but Paul McGillion (who plays Carson Beckett on ‘Stargate: Atlantis’ and who earlier played the young Ernest Littlefield in the ‘SG-1’ episode ‘Torment of Tantalus’) is an old Vancouver buddy.
“He’s hilarious,” Jones grins. “Such a funny, funny guy. I love hanging out with him.”
Gary is enthusiastic about the idea of crossovers between the two shows and thinks they add an extra layer of believability to the ‘Stargate’ universe.
“It’s so cool doing crossovers, because you are trying to create a believable world and the minute you cross over somebody that’s so established into another world that you are trying to get people to believe in, they can’t help but go, ‘Well, Walter is there’, so it lends to the credibility of the world and that’s what I think crossovers are fantastic for.”
Behind the scenes, Jones has also contributed to the DVD commentaries. But, he says, he doesn’t prepare for these in advance, for a very good reason – he has no idea ahead of time which episodes he will be seeing and discussing!
“Absolutely, zero preparation! The deal is, I go in, I don’t know what episodes are going to be shown. About a week ago, I did three commentaries with Peter deLuise, one ‘Stargate SG-1’ and two ‘Atlantis’. I said to Peter, ‘Why are you getting me down, are you <b>sure</b>? Two ‘Atlantis’ – I’m not even in them!’ He goes, ‘Oh it doesn’t matter, just come down and have a laugh.’ I feel that my strength in being part of a commentary is to throw in ad-libs, take it somewhere that Peter might not take it and that’s what he appreciates too.”
Jones says he gets great feedback from fans who have enjoyed the commentaries that he and Peter deLuise have done together.
“We are very comfortable with each other,” Jones says, “and have a certain style of doing them. It’s just great.”
In addition to working on ‘Stargate’, doing DVD commentaries and travelling the world for public appearances, Jones is also working on other projects, including a recent movie by Vancouver-based independent film-maker, Ann Marie Fleming, called ‘French Guy’.
“That was about this woman who has a brain operation, she has cancer of the brain, and they let her out of the hospital too early, before she is fully recovered. She kind of goes a bit nutty and she ends up accidentally mutilating a young guy that she picks up on the beach. There’s a lot of blood in it, a lot of blood.”
When Jones auditioned for the movie, he didn’t know of Ann Marie Fleming or how well-known she was, until friends put him straight.
“I said to people, ‘I’ve got this part in this film with this Ann Marie er.. .’ And they go, ‘Ann Marie Fleming? You’re in an Ann Marie Fleming film?’ ‘Yeah!’ and they’re like ‘Oh my god!’ She’s a very cool film-maker.”
The film is deceptive, looking initially as though it will be a standard rom-com until, Jones says, it “just goes off the rails”.
“I’m her best friend that she’s in love with, she’s living in my apartment. I come back from holidays; I started out as a heterosexual man, I come back with a boyfriend. I’m like this uptight stockbroker and I meet a man, I come back, suddenly I’m gay! And through the course of the film I discover what she’s done with this other young guy, and she ends up killing me. I get brutally stabbed, blood everywhere!”
With his writing partner, Richard Side, Jones is also developing a cartoon book by Raymond Briggs (author of ‘The Snowman’) into an animated series. Called ‘Ug, Caveboy Genius of the Stone Age: In Search of Soft Trousers’, the story revolves around a cave-boy inventor.
“As soon as I saw ‘In Search of Soft Trousers’, I was like, ‘I have to work on this!’ All he [Ug] wants to do is make his Stone Age life nicer, softer, warmer. He’s trying to invent things just to make it so it’s not so hellishly stone-ridden. And it drives his mum nuts because she just wants him to be a Stone Age kid and throw rocks at things and run and chase. But he comes up with all these concepts that we would understand as incredibly modern concepts, like the wheel, but they don’t go quite the way he thinks they are going to go.”
Back on the subject of ‘Stargate‘, Jones is delighted with the addition of Claudia Black and her character, Vala Mal Doran, to several Season 9 episodes.
“She’s fantastic, great,” Jones says with enthusiasm. “She’s a really good actor, she’s gorgeous and funny and just – what can you say? The relationship between her and Daniel is just so funny. She’s great!”
At that time, Jones had not heard the news that Claudia Black would be returning in Season 10 and that she would be joining the regular cast.
“As a regular? Really?” he asks, with surprise and obvious pleasure. “Wow, see, I didn’t even know that!” He pauses for a moment, before asking with a broad grin, “Hey, am <b>I</b> back?!”
Fans of ‘”Stargate SG-1’ and the no-longer-nameless Chevron Guy will be hoping that the answer to that is a resounding “Yes!”
Biography: Gary Jones was born in Swansea on 4 January 1958. He moved to Canada in 1972, settling in Vancouver in 1986. He is married and has three children.
Further information at: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0428104/
Level 3 Conventions: Information about Level 3 Conventions can be found at: http://www.l3conventions.co.uk/
© Carole Gordon
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