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Creation Stargate Convention, 2007

November 16-18, 2007

Burbank, California


by Michelle

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Actor Appearance Highlights

Friday

Carmen Argenziano
Corin Nemec

Saturday

Steve Bacic
Cliff Simon
Michael Shanks

Sunday

Joe Flanigan
Jay Acavone
Carmen Argenziano

I won't say Carmen was tipsy, but he did seem very lighthearted, perhaps even a bit silly, as he walked the stage answering questions while holding a small glass of white wine. Carmen talked about how great Stargate has been for his career, and that it has brought him more recognition than any other role. When he was first cast for the role, Jacob was going to die of cancer, but they rewrote the episode for him to become a Tok'ra, and of course Carmen is very glad they did. He especially loved working with Amanda, and they had great moments working on that first two-parter.

He spoke about doing three episodes of House and how much he enjoyed that. The hours were very long and star Hugh Laurie is in so many scenes, the workload for him is just huge. 15-17 hours a day for eight days to make one episode. He said Hugh is a gentleman, cares about what he does, is there for you on camera, and is involved creatively. Carmen was very happy to work with him. For his own performance, he was disappointed they used so little coverage of him considering all the different angles they shot of him for every take, but he understands it's about the stars, not the guest actors. He and the other "try-out" doctors were each hired for a certain number of episodes, but they all thought there was room there to make it something more. In the end, for the most part the actors played in the number of episodes they were contracted for, and it was planned for it to get down to the two women fighting it out. He doesn't seem to expect more work to come out of it for him.

Carmen just did a play at the Actor's Studio, of which he's a member. It was a two-character play but not publicized, with free admission. He goes out for a lot of auditions but typically an actor tends to get something like one role for every ten auditions, so there's a lot of work that doesn't result in a paying job. He acts all the time to keep his edge and be ready. He joked that he's happy to be approaching retirement age and ready to take a pension.

He was expecting Jacob not to last forever, but it was still a surprise to read the script for "Threads" and see it on paper. As he read it, he thought Jacob's death scene was nice and saw it would be with Amanda, so he told himself it was time to go. Monetarily it was an impact, but he was okay with it.

He would definitely like to work on a series if he could get a role. Clearly it's a challenge monetarily to only work sporadically. He prefers contemporary drama, but really he cares most about who the character is. As far as Jacob vs. Selmak, he never got completely comfortable with that transition in terms of nuances he would have liked to work on. He would have liked to explore that more. It was always a work in progress.

His favorite director on Stargate was Peter DeLuise due to his amazing enthusiasm and energy. He hasn't spoken to Peter for a long time and doesn't know why he's not working on Stargate anymore. He said we all disappear, even symbiotes. Then he joked that maybe his symbiote could come back as bait for fishing in Jack's pond. It was very funny. His favorite bad guy was Anubis, and he was very apprehensive about wearing that Super Soldier costume. He'd love to work on the spin-off if asked, but he hasn't been, and he imagines they will look for the younger guys for a new show.

He enjoyed the character he played on CSI: NY. He played an assertive character that was outside what he usually plays and loved being in New York again. He thinks Gary Sinise is a great actor. He'd love to go back and do some more of that show.

Beyond these highlights, Carmen had many nice ruminations about his career and the people he's worked with. It seems it hasn't been the easiest life in terms of financial security, but he certainly seems to love his craft. In the spirit of "The Actor's Studio" his favorite sound is the noise his sons made when they were young.

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Corin Nemec

Corin was very upbeat and friendly. In terms of work, he's quite busy with various independent film projects. He has one coming out in the next year called Robodoc. He's currently working on one called Marlo, about a boy who tries to solve the riddle of his father's murder. He's formed a production company with his friend David Faustino. They have several projects in development, three with National Lampoon.

Corin told some fans he is recently divorced. His girlfriend was in the audience and he referred to her at one point.

Regarding Stargate, he really enjoyed playing Jonas' newness to Earth. It helped him develop Jonas as a three-dimensional character to have that transition. He talked about dipping the onion rings in the chocolate shake in "Nightwalkers". The onion rings were cold and the shake melted, so it was actually revolting to taste.

He described getting the role in the mini-series The Stand and how he didn't match the big-guy physical characteristics they were looking for. The director had seen him audition before and thought he could do it, so he sold the idea to Stephen King. After his audition everyone was convinced. During filming he isolated himself a lot to get into the dark place of Harold Lauder. Also the wardrobe helped him get into character. The iridescent slacks with snakeskin boots, etc. It was awful but got him mentally into the role. The Stand led to him being cast as bad guys in other shows and broadened his horizons.

They're currently shooting a pilot presentation of a scripted TV reality show where he and David play themselves. They're breaking a lot of taboos and rules about TV shows, and their guest stars are having fun breaking them, being able to cuss and do real-life things, with a hilarious script. They're hopeful the show will go forward and they'll be able to approach bigger actors to guest on the show.

His father was a Hollywood production designer for such films as Goonies. One of his favorite Stargate episodes was "Descent", partly because the production qualities of the ship were of the level one would see on a feature film such as his dad worked on. The Stargate crew built the ship set to be submersible. They put it on a crane at a location with a huge water tank. They would lower the whole assembly into the water to make it look like the water was rising up, when in reality the set and cameras were lowering into the water. That set was a lot of fun to play in.

As for how he was able to hold his breath so long (1:48) in that one long scene... when he was a kid his friends and he would have contests at the pool in their apartment complex as to who could swim underwater across the pool the most times. He would win and in doing so developed a true skill at holding his breath. His technique is to hyperventilate first to get extra oxygen into his blood system, so the body doesn't use what's in the lungs as quickly. He was very happy to be able to use that skill on Stargate.

He talked about how he would pitch stories to the Stargate writers hoping they would take one. He pitched five or six that they said "no" to; he joked that he'd write it all out and show it to them, and they would promptly say no. But he had better luck with "Fallout". He originally envisioned that plot happening on Earth, but the producers suggested Kelowna, so that's how that happened.

He talked about how much he enjoyed working with Michael Shanks as an actor and how he would have liked to do more episodes with him.

He studied with acting teacher Mono Tuplo for eleven years. He was taught that it is important to use props and keep up movement in a scene. He believes many actors won't take a drink from a coffee cup during a scene, because continuity becomes an issue and the actor has to remember when he took the drink in every take. He thinks it's important to try to add those elements (hence Jonas and the bananas, perhaps?).

In "Changeling", the monkey on Jonas's apron is Evil Kenny the prop-master's monkey. Corin bought the outfit for the monkey himself.

He explained that when he took the job on Stargate, Season 6 was supposed to be the last year of SG-1, and Atlantis was supposed to follow the next year. The Jonas Quinn character was planned to transition to Atlantis. That wasn't in his written contract, but it was discussed verbally. Then, he said, SG-1 got renewed, Atlantis got pushed out, and Michael Shanks came back to restore the original group as Sci Fi wanted, so those plans didn't come to pass. Atlantis didn't start for two years and by then the original idea about Jonas had been scrapped. In any case, the time he spent on the show was fantastic and he wouldn't give it back for the world. He's been all over the world to conventions because of the show, and it really broadened his fan base. He noted in no other genre are there opportunities for such two-way communications with fans. It's a great, eye-opening experience to meet fans at conventions.

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Steve Bacic

Steve started by throwing breath mints and chewing gum onto the stage. Something about Creation host Brian, push-ups, and halitosis. Steve has a very easy-going manner, as evidenced by the relaxed posture in his chair and the sunglasses as well. He seems to be someone who doesn't do anything he doesn't want to do, nor does he take any bull from anyone. He also seems very busy with acting jobs.

Steve is starring in a new series called "Search and Rescue," more recently named "The Guard," about the Canadian Coast Guard. It's filmed on the British Columbia coast. He plays the captain of four-man team. It's mostly about dysfunctional people doing this job, along the lines of Rescue Me. It's about 10% action, the rest drama and comedy about a group of dysfunctional people. His role provides some of the comic relief. He would have brought a clip, but there is interest in the show in LA, so he's not allowed to show it. It may get a US distribution. It will air in Canada in March. They are up to filming episode 6 or 7 of 13. David James Elliott of JAG fame will also star on the show, at least for some episodes (IMDB lists 2 so far). Teryl Rothery will be in it, playing one of his love interests. Don S. Davis will guest star as well. So, lots of Stargate alumni will be on screen.

He enjoyed doing his recent guest stint on Flash Gordon. He did four appearances, and they wanted him for one more, but the writers' strike prevented them from finishing or shooting that script.

Someone asked why his roles seem to involve him not wearing much clothing, for example in SG-1 and Flash Gordon. He joked that for SG-1 it was because Chris Judge requested that Camulus not wear much. But really he has no idea, yet it seems to be happening in the new series too. He was hoping he'd get to wear clothes and be a human being, but because Canadian television is less restrictive than American, he'll be wearing less than ever. He joked that he wishes it would be more about what he can do as an actor.

He talked about playing a practical joke on Kevin Sorbo on Andromeda, where they replaced a sword that Kevin was supposed to draw with a 24-inch "member". Kevin later got them back by pulling out a particular sword that ended up on screen, although I'm not sure to what he was referring to.

He said his guest role on ER last year (he played the injured and illiterate husband of a dying woman) was one of his most challenging roles. It's a very busy set, with three cameras and 20 actors going at the same time. And they mess around a lot. With having to give all the technical jargon, the actors need to let loose between takes. For his role, he had to do this dramatic scene where he would cry, with a guy doing hip-hop dancing down by the foot of his bed. He said, "C'mon!"

He also has a role in the upcoming 2-hour Battlestar Galactica: Razor movie. He appears in the first hour. It's a good role. When he was walking down the corridor he thought it looked very familiar to the Andromeda sets, and he jokingly wondered if they'd been borrowed.

Martin Wood played a practical joke on Steve on his last day of filming an episode of Andromeda that Martin directed. Martin had Steve and Kevin dress up wearing only tape over their nipples and crotch, and asked them to walk down a corridor. After a few takes they said to each other, "You know, I don't think they're going to do anything with this." They felt a bit slow to catch on.

Steve is married, by the way. He lives in Vancouver. His first choice is to keep working there, and he's turned down work that would require him to move away, since he had choices that would keep him in Vancouver.

He recently filmed Odysseus and the Isle of the Mists, a movie for Sci Fi Channel. He's glad that even with the horror orientation of the film, they managed to find some comedy in it. He seemed pretty happy with the outcome.

He is friends with Chris Judge, who was in town this weekend. He planned to get together with Chris that night. Not sure if that happened, but he was hoping Shanks would bail them out of jail if necessary.

On SG-1, Richard Dean Anderson was the actor he worked with a lot that he had the most fun with. RDA was constantly joking and trying to mess him up off-camera. Eventually Steve asked for a piece of tape to be placed where Jack's face should be so he could act to that instead of to RDA's antics. But Steve loves RDA and thinks his ability not to take things seriously was a big part of the success of the show.

He spoke about the Acura commercial he did. He decided to do it because it was interesting and lucrative, and from friends he learned it wouldn't necessarily hurt his acting career, and could even help. The commercial was directed by a British director who brought a whole crew over to film. He said in commercials the actor is a prop. Everyone will speak around you, from executive to producer to director to assistant director, who will finally talk to the actor. Since he had other jobs, he told them, "Guys, I'm not your prop today. If you have something to say, say it to me." They micromanaged every detail. It took three days to shoot the 30 second spot. It took four shopping trips to get a black shirt for him to wear. He thought surely someone could find a better use for all that money.

He can tell that a movie production is on the wrong track when the producers don't want to take any creative input from the director or actors, or if the only concern is to complete the film on time and on budget. He's seen good scripts butchered when the only concern is finishing under budget. On the other side, he's seen average scripts come out really well because the director has a vision and put a focus on the characters.

As an actor watching how things work behind the scenes, he does have the ambition to work on the production side as well, especially when he sees a lack of leadership on a set. On "Search and Rescue" he has a lot of input because it's a small production and Canadians are push-overs (he was joking!).

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Cliff Simon

Cliff was looking fit and extremely tan, as usual. The first thing he did was auction off Steve Bacic's used coffee cup, which Steve had signed. Steve came on stage to oversee the bidding, for the Make-a-Wish foundation. Steve threw in a Stargate toque (knit cap). A kind woman finally bid $100 for it and won it hands down. Steve gave her a nice hug as a bonus.

The next thing Cliff did was play a Chipmunks-like version of the South African National Anthem on his cell phone. Apparently there are so many official languages in South Africa that no one understands the lyrics to the song. Or at least, so the joke goes.

Cliff doesn't have any projects coming out other than the Stargate Continuum movie. He thinks it's going to be great. It was very interesting to shoot. In his first day of filming, he shot the last scene of the movie, so it took a while to get oriented. He gave some spoilers for the movie: Spoilers — highlight to read: there are three or four Ba'als in the story, and some or all of them meet an untimely end. One of the ways he dies is very fitting for the character. We will get to see the "real" Ba'al in the movie. Ba'al interacts with O'Neill in the movie, and O'Neill has not seen him since he became a general. So their initial dialog with each other is very similar to the actors seeing each other again, as well. Ba'al greets him as "General Jack O'Neill" as if he is impressed. There are funny and violent scenes between them. He believes the movie sets up another series, in fact, although he didn't elaborate on that.

His favorite scene with the other actors in SG-1 didn't make the final cut. In "The Quest" Ba'al ate a power bar, and that was included in the episode. But what they didn't show was him stuffing his pockets with more power bars in the cave. He thought it was very funny. In general he loved doing "The Quest" the most because he was there with all of the cast for two weeks. He got to know them very well. They're all really good to work with, and he doesn't really have a favorite except for Rick when he's torturing him.

Asked about how it felt to be cloned so often, he said he's wondered whether the symbiote is cloned along with the host. He's never really settled it one way or the other in his mind. For example, if the Goa'uld was cloned, then how could the original Ba'al control the cloned host/symbiote pairs? If they were exactly like him, then why would they take orders from him? He's also spent a lot of time thinking about the backstory of the host and what he would be like as a person. He imagines the host isn't such a nice guy either. He said he didn't want to talk about the backstory too much in case something comes of it, which he hopes it does.

Cliff loves playing villains because one has so much more freedom as an actor. When playing Ba'al, he's really playing a lot of himself, in a situation where there are no consequences to breaking the rules, where no one is enforcing any laws. It musts be working because in all his years on Stargate, the directors told him to do whatever he wanted to do. He would ask them for notes, but they would always say "you're doing great, just keep doing what you're doing." He thinks the humor that came to his portrayal of Ba'al when filming Summit/Last Stand was the key to his longevity on the show. He didn't want to play it like the other actors were playing their System Lords, all stiff and formal. So he slouched in his chair and gave Osiris an up-an-down leer. Also when acting with Carter, he would play Ba'al as attracted to her, and the same for Vala.

The first time he read that Ba'al died, he was really sad. But then it became clear he wasn't really dead and over time would die many more times. Eventually the number of deaths became ridiculous and funny, to the point that in "Dominion" he ad-libbed the line "Not again!" just before Mitchell shot him. That line didn't make it to the screen either.

He spoke in detail about playing the scenes with many copies of Ba'al in a room. The production used motion control cameras that moved precisely the same way each time, and for each shot he had to play a Ba'al with no others in the room, remembering where he had been for the other shots so that his arms wouldn't end up overlapping themselves in some impossible way. It was always him in the scenes, not stand-ins. He kiddingly asked if he would get a paycheck for each Ba'al he played in an episode, but the answer was "um, no".

The most exciting thing about playing Ba'al is simply that he got to create the character himself over 5 years. He studied the mythology of Ba'al (aka Beelzebub) and found it very interesting. And then there is the whole issue of whether symbiotes are genderless. He thinks Ba'al is a male, because in mythology he is the god of fertility. He once suggested they should film a scene of symbiotes making love, but the writers didn't quite agree to it (ewww). In Continuum there are hints of the question as to who the host is as a human being? He's 2000 years old, after all. He has a lot of knowledge, but we don't know who he is. He hopes that will be explored further.

Cliff has been approached by the creators of the video game "Stargate Worlds" to have Ba'al in the game and to voice the character. This is unlike the main actors, who say they haven't been approached because their exact characters won't be used, so it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Cliff said his ability to get roles has been limited by his South African accent. His American accent isn't very good, so he gets cast as Australian or even British at times, but not as Americans. He recent was up for a part as a 45-year-old South African, which is exactly what he is, and he didn't get the role! He's interested to see who did get it and how their accent is, since he was the only South African at the call-back. The way he has come to look at it is that he doesn't need to compete with a hundred thousand American actors for the same roles. He goes out for roles where his uniqueness is a strength. So when he gets a role, it's a good fit for him.

In each of the 25 episodes he's done for Stargate, Cliff's never known at the end if he would be back. He doesn't have an ongoing contract, and they don't ever tell him if they'll be writing for Ba'al again. As far as influence, he doesn't have any on the writers, but he does speak up if a line doesn't seem right to him; he knows the character the best. At the beginning he was frustrated that because of the costumes, he wasn't able to move during scenes. He had to stand in one place while O'Neill ranged all over the set. But the early costumes weighed as much as 60 lbs, and there was no way he could walk down the ramp without tripping over them. He really wanted to get physical and fight, which he got to do a bit of in "Ex Deus Machina". And he thought having Carter hit Ba'al was brilliant. He loved it when Ba'al went from being a false god to just a bad, egotistical guy.

He's sure "they" want to do another series, and of course he hopes to be involved, but for now he doesn't know anything. He pointed out that Stargate is bigger than Star Trek ever was, and that fans might not even be aware of how popular it is. He loves the sci fi genre because it's the only one that comes with conventions where he gets to meet fans and see first hand how much they love the show and his work.

And that was the end for Cliff, another entertaining talk from the tanned villain!

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Michael Shanks

Michael arrived at the con with his lovely nine-year old daughter Tatiana. She watched his appearance from the front row and even interacted with him a couple of times. She stayed by his side as he did autographs and photos, and she watched some of the costume contest. Hopefully she wasn't too bored or overwhelmed by all her dad's fans, but I think we were pretty well behaved.

Michael hopped up on stage to the usual applause and yelling he seems to engender, even if he was wearing the dreaded hair-obscuring cap. He first remarked on the odd-shaped room, which was very wide and shallow. He likened it to when he played Hamlet to a wide room and had to move back and forth so different parts of the audience could see him. He asked people not to think he was ignoring them if he had to face away from them.

He next assured the audience that the writers' strike would not affect Stargate Atlantis very much (aside from the loss of writer Carl Binder). He knows this because Joe Mallozzi had called him a couple of weeks before to ask him to be on Atlantis. The crowd erupted in raucous cheers at the prospect. He joked that he replied to Joe, "playing what?" Joe's call was to check to see if they should write an Atlantis story for Daniel, and Michael said yes. But, he said, if he reads the script and Daniel gets killed off in it, he will run right upstairs and kick Joe in the-- . He left it at that.

His favorite scenes with Claudia Black were when they got to make out or when she was kicking his butt. With Torri, he really enjoyed working with her on "Pegasus Project". He spent many enjoyable hours with Torri, Claudia and the actress who played Morgan (Sarah Strange). He said those ladies can really talk.

Michael surveyed the audience to see how many watch Atlantis. A pretty significant majority raised their hands "yes".

A woman asked why he's growing his hair out. He replied, "laziness," and she offered him $20 to get it cut. He said his mother recently asked the same question. He hasn't worked for over three months since filming Eureka, and he usually saves his haircuts for when he works, because then it's free. He said that shows how cheap he is. But now it's gotten kind of silly, and he even had a beard that morphed into ridiculous sideburns. Someone thanked him for shaving at least. Someone else asked if he would take off the hat, and he said no, and that if he is wearing a hat, it's for a reason! He explained that he took it off for his daughter earlier in the day, and she said "Oh my god!" After Michael told the audience this, Tatiana called out an admonishing "Oh, dad!" from the audience. It was so cute.

Someone asked him how it feels to be the hottest geek around. He asked, "is that a good thing?" Then he said he thought we were all there for Cliff Simon.

Someone asked him what he was thinking when he made "that snake movie". He said "C'mon, seriously, when a script called Megasnake rolls across the table, how can you not take it?" It was like when he saw the script for Sumuru. He honestly thought when he saw that script that they were kidding. He thought someone would call to tell him they were kidding about the movie. But as for Megasnake, he said "yes" to it without reading the script, for business reasons having to do with getting a permit to work in the U.S. And believe it or not because they filmed it in cheaper Bulgaria, the production values were actually better than they would have been if it had been filmed in Canada or the U.S.

He remembers wondering how they were going to pull things off for the Sci Fi movie Swarmed as well. For example, when they went into the bicycle shop and found the grease they were going to spray at the wasps. He remembers co-star Carol Alt running around with a spray can and with the ten extras they could afford, and whom they re-used over and over to simulate a real crowd. And his character had to spray at things too. It's a true test of acting to keep a straight face when doing those scenes. But he believes that mediocre material can be transformed by the production and effects.

Claudia Black had her second son two weeks before the con, so their plans for a sit-com are on hold. Her first son is named Odin and her new son is named Viggo. He said, in reference to those names, "I think she's breeding barbarians!" But the last time he spoke to her, she asked him not to forget about their sit-com project, and he won't forget it.

Michael described his role as Lucifer in Rage of Angels as important to the series but not major in terms of screen time. He agreed with a fan that it would be a significant recurring role. He thinks that's a good thing because it will leave him time to take on other projects. He confirmed that the show will be filmed in Canada (Vancouver) and that since writer Chris Judge is a member only of the Writers Guild of Canada, the show will not be affected by the writers' strike. Still, the start of filming is unclear because their production company, Slacktwaddle Productions, is in negotiations for the series with MGM. Of course there is the question of the actor's strike that may start in June! One good effect of the writers' strike is that director Brad Turner is now freed up from the suspended season of 24. Brad is attached to Rage of Angels so this might work out well for the timing of filming.

A woman thanked him for his portrayal of Daniel. Someone mentioned Spader. He said after 200 or so episodes, if he's still not cutting the mustard...? Some people say to him, "I liked James Spader." His thought is, "He did one 2-hour movie. Up yours!" The audience cheered wildly. He thinks there's a few people out there he's just not going to please.

A man made a vague criticism of the writing and how it seemed to be repetitive or derivative, and that the season enders sometimes weren't good. Michael talked about the late renewals that made them keep writing the end of the show and then having to write themselves out of it the next season. He described how they were finally surprised by the cancellation, since the actors and show had option years for Season 11, and the new cast was being well received critically. He heard about the cancellation a couple of days before the 200th episode party, but most of the crew heard at the party. "We're cancelled; the bar's closed!" He felt the timing from the network "blew". But at the same time it was a wonderful run, and they had a good idea they would go on to do the movies, so they weren't too sad about it. They'd done just about all they'd set out to do, and accomplished so much. As far as the writing, he sympathized with the writers trying to write for 2 series and therefore not having time to gather life experiences from which they could draw for new stories. So they wrote what they knew, and he didn't have a problem with that.

Someone asked why he supports the M.S. Society. Lexa's dad David has had M.S. since Lexa was eight years old, so it's obviously an important issue to her. They support the charity whenever they can, especially via the Michael Shanks On-line site. Michael gave a lovely shout-out to the site by noting the site runners were in the audience and what a fantastic job they do on their annual charity auction, having raised over $46,000 so far for the MS Society of Canada. This got a nice round of applause. Fortunately David has lived since contracting the disease for 26 years; he's in a chair but still alive and hanging in there. Note: the MSOL ladies are preparing for another auction of cool stuff, so keep an eye out.

When the production learned S10 would be the last, they knew they would not try to wrap up all the storylines in one final hour. They wanted the last episode to be another adventure. Michael really appreciated Rob having the last scene be the team going through the gate on another mission. That was how Michael had always envisioned the show ending, with the team walking up the ramp. And the best thing Rob did was to schedule that scene as the last thing they shot. Everyone from the office and crew were there to say goodbye and cry and take pictures. So to him, that was the best way the show could have ended. He's not sure "Unending" was his ideal final episode overall, but he doesn't know what he would have done instead, either.

A woman brought along the script she had won on the MSOL auction, Michael's own marked up copy from "The First Ones". She asked him what the process was that led to him writing all over the pages with annotations, underlines, highlights, and stars (see gallery for a picture of one page). Michael took the script from her and held it up for the audience, then looked at it as he spoke. He recalled how during "Camelot" Ben accidentally took Michael's script home because Michael had left it in Ben's chair pocket. The next day, Ben came in, handed it to him, saying only, "Dude" very sadly. He was referring to all the mark-up on it. Ben then complimented Michael for doing that much legwork ten years into playing the same character.

He attributes his process to his theater background where you break down everything. Looking at the script, he read the line, "At the moment my main concern is my new friend appears to be an aboriginal Unas in its un-goa'ulded state." On the page the words "new friend" is quoted and circled. He probably put the quotations the first time he reads the script, then circled them the next time. Then maybe he'll add some squiggles and some highlighter and after a while, he joked, he doesn't understand what he's done. All the marking up is partly to help him memorize the dialog, which he has to work at, unlike Lexa who can look at something for five minutes and memorize it.

He then told the story of filming the long monologue at the beginning of the Season 8 episode "Sacrifices" and how he had so much trouble getting through the page and a half of exposition to O'Neill as they walked and talked in an SGC corridor. He'd had only 2 days to memorize it and knew it was going to be a challenge, which he stubbornly took on. He was up until 3 am the night before trying to memorize it. Then on set he learned director Andy Mikita wanted to film it as one long take, and have someone welding in the hallway with loud pops besides. They started doing takes, and he went into a spiral of shame of being unable to get through the whole speech. It was to the point that even RDA stopped goofing around and walked very meekly beside him, so as not to distract him. He finally got through it okay, but director Andy Mikita asked him to do it one more time. Michael declined, telling him very meekly that he didn't think he could do it again. Michael has told this story before, but it's a great one and clearly many in the audience had not heard it. He came close to self-destructing because a writer believed he could memorize all of that.

As far as why Daniel went off on Vala in "Unending", Michael talked about how Rob Cooper had originally written the scene as them having already slept together and Daniel asking Vala if they were in a real relationship, and Vala strongly denying it. But Michael and Claudia didn't get where Rob was coming from, or who those people were on the page. So they went to Rob with a different suggestion of how it would unfold, and Rob rewrote it. The filmed scene reflected their ideas, that there was a lot of angst and anger to the relationship, and frustration and intimacy issues for both of them. Daniel was feeling defensive and not wanting to be hurt again, so he was lashing out by pushing Vala away.

His favorite scene with Vala was the fight scene in "Prometheus Unbound" because there was such a process of discovery behind it, including him learning how much fun she is to work with.

His favorite scenes in "200" were the "Wizard of Oz" and the "Farscape" ones, "Wizard of Oz" partly because he'd played the Cowardly Lion in a grade 12 production many years before. It was great to put on that (type of) costume again.

He wasn't apprehensive about taking the role of Daniel at all. After two years at Stratford, he was sleeping on friends' couches and needed a job. He did wonder if the concept would have legs for the initial two-year contract. He admits how wrong he was about that!

A woman gave Michael an electronic whoopie cushion, which he happily played for the audience. He said he'd use it on Chris Judge that night, but that it might not work because Chris would believe it was himself.

He said he didn't know anything about the third movie except that Brad had pitched it to MGM. But Brad can't write it as long as the WGA strike is going on, because he's a member of the American guild based on work he did years ago. So there's no news to report on the 3rd movie.

Michael confirmed he hasn't been contacted for voicing the Stargate Worlds video game, because it will be more like World of Warcraft. So he doesn't expect it to feature his likeness. It's strange that Cliff has been approached!

He then mentioned he was recently in London and met up with Stargate magazine and novel editor, Sharon Gosling. They are now producing audio books based on new SG-1 novels. So while he was there he voiced two audiobooks. He thinks it's about time and a fantastic idea, to keep the further adventures alive, and he's happy to be involved. The books haven't been published yet in paper form. One is called, "Gift of the Gods," and he couldn't remember the title of the other one. No doubt these will be announced as products at stargatenovels.com.

One of his most memorable moments on the show relates to someone in the audience that day, when in "Secrets" Vatiare Bandera, who played Sha're, was pregnant with Tatiana. They had to pretend that she was having the baby, and Tati started kicking and moving. So they had to calm her down and tell her everything was okay. But really what he misses most is the people in that environment. That's why he's looking forward to going back for Atlantis.

Tatiana then asked her own question of her dad: when he first started Stargate, how did he feel? He said, "Employed. I felt really good, honey, because Daddy was no longer sleeping on his friends' couch and he could afford to have a kid or two." It was very sweet.

As far as what other roles he'd like to play from Shakespeare, he'd like to play Henry V. He also just saw Patrick Stewart play the Scottish King in London and was amazed by the production. Eventually Richard III, Lear, but maybe not Shylock. He's not sure when he'll get back to theater.

He feels really weird having three months off and not going to work every day. His routine for ten years was set so strongly, from weekdays to weekends, it was almost like he was institutionalized. Now he's rested and wakes up in the morning and asks himself what he's going to do for the day. And usually the answer is "I don't know!" with a hint of panic. The other day he drove to downtown Vancouver and noticed it had really changed. He hadn't been there for years! He feels both anxious to find a job and happy to be relaxing. Eventually he has to start doing something or his wife will want to kick him out of the house. In fact she's been hinting that she's getting to that point.

The worst costume he ever wore was in "Summit/Last Stand" when he played the undercover Goa'uld assistant. He was relentlessly mocked as pajama boy on set, and it was so unflattering. But it wasn't the original outfit they had in mind for him. They'd wanted him to wear the costume another actor ended up wearing, with just a leather strap across his chest. He told them, "you've got to be kidding me!". He didn't want to wear bondage gear for a two-parter. So they switched him to pajamas.

In "The Ties That Bind" when he and Ben wore the leather pants, what was funny was how Claudia made fun of his discomfort. After what she'd been through for years on Farscape she couldn't believe he was complaining about wearing a bit of leather. Ben played it like it was his second home, while Michael tugged at it. He didn't know if it was riding up or riding down or just riding. And it chafed in places he didn't know it could.

He loved wearing the flag in "Threads" because it was that or nothing. Originally it was going to be the American flag, but the Air Force didn't like that too much. He thought it was an odd coincidence that the flag scene was written right after Amanda did the "Femme Fatale" magazine photo spread draped in an American flag. He doesn't know if the two events were connected, but he found it quite suspicious.

With that Michael finished up his fun and generously long talk!

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Joe Flanigan

Joe bounded on stage wearing what fans now call his "con shirt," since he wore it in Australia and New Zealand. That was okay with me, as it was was a nice red color and revealed his cool beaded necklace and bracelet. My impression of Joe is of someone who has a point of view and doesn't sugar coat it for anyone. And he looks very good doing so. He also seems much more at ease and prepared with the funny stories than he did in 2005, when he was just starting to do conventions. Clearly he's got it down now, and it was cool to see that progression.

Joe started by telling everyone of his support for the breast cancer charity started by his good friend Billy Baldwin, whose mother is a breast cancer survivor. The charity is auctioning off a set visit to Atlantis, including a walk-on role and lunch with Joe and Amanda Tapping as well. You may bid for the prize here until December 10 or so. He asked fans to get the word out, then announced it was time to get ridiculous.

Joe was more concerned with the q&a process than the other actors, starting with wanting to know if people should go to the mics or ask from their seats. The room was shallow enough that seats were okay, but eventually Joe asked for the con folks to walk around with a mic so everyone could hear the questions. I found his concern and willingness to ask for some extra effort an interesting insight.

Someone asked him about working with Ben Browder, and he said Ben is such a nice guy, you could probably hit him and he would say "excuse me." He misses Ben because they would commute from Vancouver to LA often on the same flights. He misses Ben's company on the flights.

He's seen A Dog's Breakfast and thought it was great and very funny. He thought the funniest part was the science fiction show within the movie, Starcrossed. "Very funny, very close to home." When Atlantis first started he invited the cast over to the apartment he'd rented in downtown Vancouver and showed them Galaxy Quest in his screening room there. They were all watching it and laughing, but he looked over and Torri wasn't laughing. She told him, "I don't know if I should laugh or I should cry." And that's pretty much where it falls.

Someone asked him why he kissed Torri at Comic Con 2006. The person explained she had seen the video on the internet. He honestly didn't know what she was talking about, wondering if it was a gag reel or something. She finally got him to understand it was on the panel itself, but he didn't seem to remember it. What inspired him to do it was... lack of sanity. He thinks Comic Con is something everyone should experience only once in their lives.

He is definitely coming back for Season 5...provided Canada doesn't go on strike. He explained how the show won't be greatly affected by the strike. He's been told they want to start filming Atlantis earlier this year, but he's not sure why.

He then talked about his new role on Women's Murder Club a new police drama featuring four women detectives and airing on ABC on Friday nights in the US. Joe is playing a detective, and the show is trying to get him to film as many episodes as he can before going back to work on Atlantis. He said the girl he's working with is very attractive (spoken in his trademark drawl), and there is supposed to be a big relationship developing. (Apparently he was referring to Angie Harmon, the star of the show). But sadly the strike started before the script was written in which he would finally get to kiss her, so he is bummed about that. He was expecting to work on the show until he returns to Vancouver. No word on when his first episode will air; as of this date it's not listed in his IMDB profile.

In any case, Women's Murder Club is shut down now, and the crew is all out of work. The studio is invoking force majeure which means they don't have to pay anyone. They have no financial obligation or penalty. He said it's about to get very ugly, which means there is only one thing for him to do: go surfing. During the Malibu fires in October, the world was crashing down and his boys' school burned down, leaving them at home driving their parents crazy. So he went surfing. It was that or save his house and family, he joked. He found it amazing because no one else was out there, and it was apocalyptic up on the shore.

As to whether he'd like to write for Atlantis, he explained he has. He did his second one this year, "Outcast". He came up with the idea and Alan McCullough wrote the script. He thought it came out really well, and he got the "story by" credit for it. But then the Writers Guild of Canada called the production studios and expressed concern that Joe Flanigan, whoever he is, might not be getting the proper credit for the story. So they announced they were going to arbitrate the credits. Joe apologized to the producers. He knew nothing about it and didn't want the studio to have to deal with arbitration. The guild asked to see all of the story boards and outlines for the episode, to judge Joe's contribution. And then they called back to say they'd investigated the issue, and decided that Joe didn't even deserve a story credit! So the union actually tried to take away the story credit from him. But the episode turned out really well in any case.

"Doppelganger" was the first episode they shot last year. Joe really enjoyed working with Rob Cooper, but the episode was challenging because he had to fight himself. There was lots of physical stuff, swinging and punching and he had to turn around and do it again back at himself. He got quite sore. It's hard to beat the crap out of yourself.

Someone asked about the Travelers as a new race, and he asked the audience if they liked it. There were shouted "yes's" in response. He liked the episode and he liked Jill. He finds her sexy. He says they're trying to get something going in the way of romance on the show. It's not something they do very much, and they don't want to obsess over it, but he thinks they have to create the possibility of a love interest somewhere in the galaxy for John Sheppard. Larrin returns in the season finale. They get together to fight evil people. Jill is great to work with.

He doesn't know why, in "Doppelganger" they shocked his stomach instead of his heart. It's a great question, and he assured us that he plans to raise hell about it when he goes back to Vancouver. Note: Rob Cooper on Joe M's blog said it was because Joe didn't want to take his shirt off, although it's impossible to know if Rob was kidding. In any case Joe didn't seem to remember it!

Joe reenacted walking through a wormhole by walking across the stage very slowly and saying, "Can you move out of frame, Joe?" He said they don't want the actors to be in front of the green screen for a second longer than necessary, because every second means dollars of visual effects time. He sees the producers' blood pressure go up by the second of green screen time.

Someone asked him about the read-throughs that the cast had requested for Season 4. He said on every TV show he's worked on, they've always done read-throughs to allow the cast time to ask for small changes and to let everyone hear the dialog to see if it all works. You can also find jokes and drama you didn't know were there. Joe asked for read-throughs for a while and they said no, until Season 4. So they started doing the read-throughs, and there would be about ten writers and five actors present around the table. The writers started feeling it was a waste of time with so few actors showing up, so they cancelled them. Joe pointed out that in fact on the show there are more writers than actors. A lot more. In fact there are only five regulars. Very funny. So the writers cancelled the read-throughs. Also, he always reads the scripts right away and tries to give back "notes" on them as early as possible, sometimes only minutes after he gets the script. But he joked the writers always tell him, "too late".

He has lots of favorites to work with on set. He said he has a tremendous cast and crew and they all get along. He spends a lot of time with Jason because they both travel back and forth to LA. Joe lives in a hotel in Vancouver, and Jason has an apartment down the road. They both don't know how to cook. So they are chums. In the past when Joe's family was up there Jason would come over as the crazy uncle. But now Jason is going to bring up his girlfriend and new daughter, so Joe will be the lone guy coming over to visit Jason and his family. He joked they won't answer the door when he comes over.

If he weren't acting, he doesn't know what he'd be doing, but it would be creative. He's worked in finance, and he was an advance man in Washington, DC for George H.W. Bush. He thought he'd end up in politics since his parents were involved in it and he grew up with it. But he found he didn't like the people he worked with; not Bush, he was fine, but some of the other people. He came to realize he wanted to be involved in something creative. So if he weren't an actor, he would maybe be writing, directing or painting. But he needs to make money now that he has a family. He mimicked bringing home a bison for his wife, like an ancient hunter, saying "Here's a bison, honey!". But then his wife would say, "we need five!" I guess life in Malibu is costly.

Then a young man asked how he gets his hair to stick up like that. And he said, ah, the most important question of the day! And he launched into a very funny discourse on his hair and its absolute refusal to lie flat. Creation has provided video of his answer here, and it's also up here on YouTube. Go and watch if you can! But if you can't... he thinks the hair thing started in the womb. He has four cowlicks and they won't be tamed. In Women's Murder Club they have him all clean cut, and on set his hair started to pop up. They called "hair" people in to poke at his head and try to settle it down. He'd told them that if they wanted his hair flat, it was going to be labor intensive, but somehow they hadn't realized. When he did Providence years ago, the special effects people volunteered to paste his hair down with Gafquat, an industrial strength polymer. It was like a layer of plastic on his hair. But sure enough, after an hour, it was "boing boing boing" with the hair popping up. On Women's Murder Club the hair department at first said, "He seems really uncooperative!" as if it was his fault.

He did his scary monster Wraith imitation, ending it with straw sucking sounds that were very funny, especially when the straw started to stutter on empty.

Someone told him about "Sheplantis" fan fiction, in which Sheppard interacts with the city. She said fans would like to see more of that on the show. He replied that he's in total agreement, and we should "write to Joe Mallozzi on that blog thing. My god, that man spends a lot of time on that thing. You never see him, and then he's on set taking pictures, and sure enough he posts them!" But he agrees they should explore the city; there is a destiny to the city that will only be revealed as they explore it.

Unlike Sheppard, he doesn't personally love turkey sandwiches. This is because he grew up on a ranch, loving the animals, and when he was about seven or eight his dad came in early to wake him up (calling him Jose) and tell him it was time for him to slaughter all of the ten or so turkeys. The turkeys were bigger than he was. He had to chase them around the pen and get them up onto a chopping block to do the grisly deed. He couldn't get the smell of them out of his head for five or six years after that. So that's the story of why he doesn't love turkey. He has a lot of stories like that, and they leave people speechless at times.

His favorite part of the show is the stunts and the guns, to be honest. It's just cool. He also believes life is short, and he's very grateful that the cast and crew are so great to work with. So to him the process is as important as the result.

He talked about how time is money and the production has a very efficient operation. This year for the first time ever in his career, he got so sick he wasn't able to come to work. It was a big deal to shut down shooting for a day. They had to call the insurance company, and he believes it cost $150k. When he returned to set, he expected everyone to be annoyed, but the crew was really happy to have had the day off. (Joe Mallozzi mentioned this in his blog, when shooting on location for "Harmony" was postponed for a day because Joe had food poisoning.)

Someone mentioned Shep Whumping, and he admitted he had to learn what that meant. He likes those episodes too, which maybe indicates there is something wrong with him. But we'll see a lot of it, because it's always the back-up plan to hurt the actors when all else fails story-wise.

The weirdest question he ever got was when a fan in Australia said he didn't really watch the show, but does Joe like Big Macs or Quarter Pounders? He told the guy it was the weirdest question, but it did make him realize he prefers Big Macs.

An acting student asked for advice. He started with, "Get out. Put your dreams aside and get out!" His real advice is to be realistic about what you're offering. Less than 5000 members of the SAG make more than $10k a year. He thinks maybe only eleven or twelve hundred actors in Hollywood make enough money to live just from acting. He sees people who are very talented but aren't realistic about their looks or style versus the types of roles they want. One has to face that reality. For example, Jason is not going to play McKay-type characters. David Hewlett won't play a Dustin Hoffman leading man role even if he is probably the most talented actor in the cast. So as an actor, be ready for lots of work, and show up prepared and knowing your stuff. You have to learn to deconstruct the material and rebuild it so you know all the beats. He never sees acting schools teach their students to do that, but it's really important.

When David and Paul were kissing for "Duet", Joe was behind the camera and kept encouraging the director not to yell cut, just to prolong the agony. A director had done that to him on Murphy Brown.

Someone asked if Torri would be coming back, or going the way of Ford. Joe said "they" made an executive decision that they were going to have Amanda come and replace Torri. Don't ask him why. Fans should raise hell and write letters. He said, "The unfortunate thing is I don't think they got enough feedback from the fans on that one. Because they hear people are really disappointed, but it didn't materialize for them in terms of emails and all the other things. So they felt, 'oh, we made the right decision.' They thought that Amanda would bring all these fans over to our show. But the truth is that didn't happen because it's the same people who watch her show that watch our show. So it was kind of a lateral move for the most part." Joe has loyalty issues over it. He loves his actors and the people he works with. When things like that happen, he hates it.

He thinks the producers don't share stuff like that with him anymore because they know he's on the side of the actors. When they told him about Paul, he blew a gasket. He told them it was the dumbest thing they could do, to one of the greatest actors. (He was interrupted by massive applause for that!) He asked them to rethink it, but they said that they'd already told Paul. The truth is the producers are running the show, with input from a few people at the network and studio. He's not clear on who approved the decision to kill Carson, as the producers blamed the network, the network said it was the studio, etc. The point is, they now realize they shouldn't have gotten rid of him, they're going to bring him back in various episodes, and they're going to reincorporate him. (Note: of course this is Joe's impression, and hasn't been confirmed by the production. Only time will tell what comes of Carson.)

As far as greatest prank ever played, he can't repeat that to this audience. Joe and Jason did something to David Hewlett, but he can't explain it. It involves publications of a certain type of material that they happened to tape all over David's trailer. David was very nervous about having a baby, so they thought they'd help him with some very graphic pictures. Judging by David's pallor, they were effective.

A fan asked how to provide fan feedback and what is the best way to do that. He pointed out how Jericho came back due to fan pressure, and the great nut campaign. If Atlantis gets cancelled, we should send crates of water until they can't move and give in. He thinks the site most commonly used by the producers to gauge things is Gateworld. They definitely check it out as the de-facto source for fan information. So his suggestion is to form a group and focus on Gateworld (forum). But there is conflicting information there from fans, and producers sometimes take what they want while ignoring the rest, saying "See, the fans hated that, and I told you they were going to hate it!"

Unprompted, he said the Save Carson Beckett campaign was labor intensive to say the least, but also largely effective. He said it requires a lot of loyalty to sleep outside the studio (okay, we didn't go that far!). He knows Paul was awfully grateful for the support.

He really doesn't like acting inside the Puddle Jumper. It's like driving a Winnebago. It just hums along. What makes it harder is he only sees black in front of him. He can't turn to look at the others to act against because he's supposed to be driving the ship, not chatting. He thinks they would build them differently if they did it again. He enjoys flying the F-302 and the Darts more.

Until recently he couldn't afford to do any stage work, but now he could. He told his agent to find some plays, but after a few months they told him plays were a waste of time. So, he fired them! He would love to do some stage work, and his wife and kids would love to go to New York for a while to do that. So it might happen. He would love to do any Eugene O'Neill plays.

Someone asked what influence his parents had on him. He said his mother is full of energy and is very tough. She's a tough Scot. Once three ostriches escaped from the ranch to a neighbor's house, and three ranch hands couldn't wrestle them under control, but she did all by herself. She's very entertaining and used to throw a lot of parties. His dad is 85, and his mom is 64, and she's full of vim and vigor. His dad was until the last 3 or 4 years. So his mom gave him incredible tenacity, and she's a great grandmother. His father has a great sense of humor and is tough as nails. He comes from a generation that doesn't complain. Joe feels lucky. In fact his dad is his step-dad, since his parents were divorced when he was an infant. His original name was Joseph Dunagan III. His step-dad adopted him and changed his name when he was four or five, and no one really noticed the change from one Irish name to another. His parents are great, and he thinks that's important. He's tired of people his age blaming their parents for what is going wrong for them. He thinks we foster this culture of blaming our parents for everything, when what's done is done and we need to move on. That got a bit of applause.

He really does love Johnny Cash, and thinks he's a national treasure. Joe was in Washington DC the previous weekend doing some charity work for war vets (story here). He and his family were walking around the Washington Monument really enjoying it. And he thought, there are so many other treasures in the US of other types. He thinks in 200 years people will look back and say the US produced some of the greatest artists of all time. And he believes they could only be American because our culture isn't suffocating. He's a big fan of American music and literature and everything else. When he goes overseas, he gets questions about America. He said he loves America and you're not going to catch him bad-mouthing it.

He finished by saying he hoped he didn't wig anyone out about the turkeys, but he has a whole other story about rabbits that he calls Watership Down. Then he went to sign his banner and nearly fell off the back of the stage trying to reach his picture to sign. But luckily disaster was averted and it was a lovely end to a very entertaining talk by Joe.

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Jay Acavone

For reasons only they understand, Creation held off Jay's talk until 5 pm on Sunday, so I wasn't able to stay for all of it before heading to the airport. I'll present the highlights of what I did hear, though.

Jay talked about filming the SG-1 pilot and how he missed his mark while running during a very important explosion sequence. He ended up with a mouthful of peat moss from the mortar that had blown up in his face. He tried to say his lines but dirt was coming out of his mouth. It was expensive to reload everything for a new take, and the director Mario Azopardi was so angry with him he wanted to kill him. It was a do-over.

He wasn't asked to be in either Stargate movie. He'd love to be, but so far nada!

Jay knew his role on SG-1 was going to be short, because he was a last-minute replacement for the original actor, who only wanted to be in a couple of episodes. He tried to get the writers to change it, but it was too short. He didn't have a problem with his very dramatic scenes. The hard part of sci fi is you have to commit to it no matter how silly or unbelievable it is. But he's had much harder scenes. The hardest thing you can do as an actor is act against someone who doesn't know what they're doing. So this wasn't hard at all.

Jay was in a film that shot four months ago called "Inalienable." It was written by Walter Koenig of Star Trek fame, and stars in addition to Jay, Eric Avari, Cory Feldman, Richard Hatch, Marina Sirtis, and others. Walter is in it too. It's fine, it's good, he said. Go see it. In spite of the bad name. It's a sci-fi movie. It should be coming out soon, perhaps on DVD only, or also on the internet. Learn more at Walter's Official Site.

His favorite actor to work with on SG-1 was Chris Judge but only because he's so funny and keeps everyone laughing. He confirmed he should have a role in Rage of Angels, as a detective Wright, who chases the immortals. It would be a regular role; he's clearly very excited at the prospect of a regular job. And he'd like to go motocross riding up in Vancouver, and ride more than he does now.

He talked a lot about going hunting with Marshall Teague, who played Jack's former buddy Cromwell in "A Matter of Time". Jay was a reluctant and not very expert hunter, refusing to shoot, and prone to scare the birds away. He also once fell out of a tree and hit his head. Very funny story, and then I had to go!

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Wrapping Up

All in all, another great time. My only strong suggestion would be for Creation to have more guests. There were so many hours of, sorry, boring filler between the actor talks. And please, please get Paul McGillion next time! Thanks to friends Kristie and Lucky and their families for all the great company, and thanks to the couple in C22 and C23 for letting me sit in front of them to take pictures. It made all the difference!

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