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Creation Salutes Sci-Fi Television

Nov 12-13, 2005

Wyndham Hotel, San Jose, California


by Michelle

Please do not reproduce this article in whole or in part without permission from the author. Images are for personal use only. Feel free to link to this article.

Contents

Photo Gallery
Photo Gallery: 36 Photos for Your Enjoyment
Event Reports
Gigi Edgley
Don S. Davis
Sunday Charity Breakfast
Michael Shanks

Events

This was a small convention, the first Creation has held in San Jose in several years. It was not announced until near the end of the SG-1 tour for this year, so many 'regular' con goers were unable to attend. On the first day, for Gigi and Don, there were perhaps 100 people. On Sunday, for Michael, there were more, nearly 200 by rough count. This made for an intimate, relaxed con. The audience members asked questions from their seats and the guests were able to interact casually with them. All in all it was a great experience. Lots of people had a chance for their one-on-one moments with the actors, either in the Q&A's or other events.

Gigi Edgley
Gigi Edgley and her alter ego

Gigi Edgley portrayed Chiana on Farscape. She of course looks far different from her white-skinned, black-eyed alter ego, and I certainly would never have recognized her anywhere else. She's a very attractive, bubbly Australian with seemingly limitless energy. She is clearly a spiritual person and mentioned that she's into Yoga.

Gigi has been relocating from Australia to Los Angeles to pursue her acting career. She had offers to do series work in Australia but is looking for more challenging work.

She loved Farscape but did not agree with all of the character developments of Chiana. In particular she didn't want Chiana to have an affair with D'Argo's son, Jothee. She objected to it because she didn't want Chiana to do anything so far beyond of being a loyal, heroic character, but she was overruled. When doing the scenes, she had to act for herself as if she loved D'Argo so much that she had to push him away. She loved how brave Chiana was, and the character has helped her be a stronger person as well.

She went through seven rounds of auditions for the part of Chiana; the third time, she met Ben, and he started improvising with her. She didn't really know who he was but played along with him well; that helped her get the part. She had to undergo over three hours of make-up every day. She's now best friends with the make-up artist who worked on her all those years.

She seemed a bit disappointed in how Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars turned out. The original script was so big, it was wonderful and unshootable. With real-world funding limitations, it had to be scaled back quite a bit. She didn't like the new spinning contact lenses she wore as Chiana. The make-up artist had to set them spinning before every take, and it just added to the stress of the shoot. As much as she liked it in any case, she was only able to watch the finished product once because she can't really take herself back to that time mentally. She mentioned that during filming she suffered a serious burn on her leg from an exploding squib on another actor's leg. In spite of all that, the scene between Chiana and D'Argo as D'Argo is dying is one of her favorite from the whole show. Clearly she is very fond of Farscape and relishes her memories of it.

She is actively pursuing work in Los Angeles but still keeps in touch with directors she worked with in Australia, so she does go back there to film at times. She showed us her 'show reel' that she provides to casting directors. It was quite impressive in the range of what she's done already.

Gigi was on her way to do the Farscape convention in Burbank the next weekend, and I'm sure those fans are going to be very happy to see her and listen to her lovely accent as well.

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Don S. Davis
Don S. Davis

Don did his usual lovely job spinning yarns and sharing anecdotes about his life and work. He also read several poems and stories from famous writers and friends of his.

He is currently filming a pilot for a possible new television show called "Psych," about a guy who is so observant that he appears to be psychic, and helps a local sheriff solve crimes. Don plays a guest character, so this won't be a long-term role.

He talked about his health problems, which started with a heart attack at age 36, when he was a heavy-lifting body builder and fond of whiskey to relieve his aches and pains. Three years ago he had to have much of his aorta removed and replaced, so he feels he's living on borrowed time now. His efforts to retire to painting and poetry haven't worked out the way he'd planned. He continues to be called up for a lot of acting roles, and he loves that, too. He shares his time between Vancouver and Los Angeles.

He talked about how bizarre his life has been, for example when he toured the Arctic with a USO tour performing the musical South Pacific. He then read "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost, which was quite appropriate.

He read several prose pieces by friends which were amusing and relaxing. He said he's just an old hillbilly and unfortunately most of his jokes from home have to do with inbreeding.

He then read "The Last Thing I Needed the First Thing This Morning" by Willie Nelson, song lyrics about a man whose lady has walked out on him. Don got very teary-eyed reading it, since he is so in love with his wife, Ruby, that the mere thought of her leaving him is devastating to him.

He talked about all the ways he has fallen off horses as a stuntman and as an actor. Over their heads, sideways, every direction. He's amazed to still be alive after all the physical risks he's taken in his work. He's also been in real fights where people have pulled a weapon on him. He's a quick healer, and was only out of work for 19 days after his major heart surgery, when the doctors had predicted he'd be out for months.

He told a story about working with Peter DeLuise on "21 Jump Street," when Peter was playing a high school student and Don the principal. In their first take of one scene together, Don was supposed to be chewing out Peter, but Peter leaned over and kissed Don on top of his head. Don got so mad, he grabbed Peter and thought about hitting him, but they became close friends. He told a funny story about how when Peter was directing him in an episode, Peter wanted him to crunch down on a blow pop loud enough for the microphones to pick it up. But since he was missing a few teeth in the back, he wasn't able to bite down with matching teeth on the top and bottom to make any noise. So he finally had to tell Peter "God dammit, Peter, I don't have any teeth." So Peter did the biting for him, off camera, and they took three takes to get it right. A unique form of male bonding, certainly.

He talked of his fondness for Richard Dean Anderson and how he made the O'Neill character his own, and made the set a fun place to be. DSD said he spoke to Kurt Russell once about RDA's portrayal of Jack, and Kurt agreed the humor that RDA brought to the role made the character a lot more interesting for the long term.

Don says he's heard unofficially that Season 10 may not be the last one of SG-1. The audience seems happy with the new cast and, since the show is based on mythology, there is no end of the stories that can be told. He would be glad to return as Hammond if they write a story for him. He owes those folks more than he can ever pay back.

Don's artwork will eventually be hosted at www.donsdavisart.com. His nephew is helping him get the site set up but all that is there now is a generic hosting page for the domain name, which confuses Don to no end :-).

Don clarified that Hammond is indeed retired, but working as a contractor for O'Neill in Washington, DC. Apparently this will be clarified in 9.11 "The Fourth Horseman Part 2" spoilers follow with a scene between Hammond and Landry in which Landry asks how Hammond likes DC and Hammond says O'Neill hadn't told him what it would be like. When we told Don we hadn't seen that episode yet he tried to backtrack and un-spoil us but it was too late. :-)

Don feels that Beau Bridges is doing a great job as Landry. He's clearly very fond of Beau and says he's the nicest guy in the world. Beau's house in LA was recently threatened by brush fires, and Don hopes it was undamaged.

Don entertained us a bit more and finished up with an admonition to "keep watching Stargate!"

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Sunday Charity Breakfast
Michael Shanks is not hard to look at

The brunch, with a silent auction to benefit the Make-a-Wish foundation, was in keeping with the small nature of the con. Five tables of ten fans each, a very comfortable crowd. Michael arrived to little fanfare and immediately asked, "is this it?" Then the smaller than usual crowed seemed to relax him, and he smiled and went bounding to the front of the room to pose for pictures. He had his cell phone out and explained that he had downloaded the new Stargate cell phone video game onto it. It costs $5 and is barely worth that according to him. Someone asked if he'd killed Daniel yet and he said there is no Daniel, only Jack, and he's very easy to kill. Michael proceeded to vamp for the audience, dancing a bit to the music coming from the phone (hence the sizzling photo above). I couldn't really hear the music so it was quite cute to see him dancing apparently to his own drummer. After a few minutes we trooped back to our chairs and, following an aborted food fight with frequent con-goer Dana Jeanne at our table, Michael started visiting each table. He spent about 15 minutes at each, which was a very nice length of time compared to all previous events I've been to.

We were the last table Michael visited, which gave us time to chat with each other about fan fic, anime, kids, and all sorts of things. We also had time to tell each other what not to ask, what to ask, and to generally get nervous. Michael arrived with a smile and sat down between my two friends from Sacramento. After some niceties, I asked him about filming CSI: Miami the previous week. He said had one more day of filming to finish. He was enjoying the experience, though there are limits as to what you can do creatively when you're a guest on a show. The cast were very nice to work with. "Even Caruso?" I asked, and he said yes, certainly. A Canadian actress named Michelle Nolden plays his girlfriend, and Phillip Anthony Rodriguez also guests in the episode. Michael refused to say whether he plays the villain, but we can expect to see the episode in early December so we don't have long to wait. He said that the network tradition is to get episodes to air within a month or so after filming and that has to do with the orders they get for episodes: in case they get cancelled, they don't want to have a lot of wasted episodes they've already paid for. They also do it so they can adjust the plots to get better ratings as the season progresses. Since Stargate gets a full 20-episode order, they don't have to consider those elements.

Dana Jeanne gave Michael a written message from some fans who'd been at the UK Wolfcon SG-10 the weekend before, which he'd had to cancel on attending due to the CSI role. It was a gracious message that he seemed to appreciate. On the paper was also a question about what he thinks of the second half of Season 9. He hasn't seen a lot of it yet, but his overall feeling is that he liked the first half a bit better. He refused to give any spoilers though!

I asked if he could tell us if he's coming back next year, and he said he couldn't tell us that, either. He's negotiating right now and doesn't know if anyone's coming back. I told him he's keeping us all on pins and needles; he sympathized but said Sony and SciFi are doing what MGM used to do in previous years. In the past they would sign RDA and then renew the show, and it wouldn't matter who else signed. Now that Atlantis has succeeded and SG-1 has been successful with Ben Browder in the lead, they feel that the franchise is more important that any of the actors are. We rushed to assure him this is really poor reasoning. But Sony's attitude is that they don't need any particular actors to get the shows renewed. That said, Michael would like to come back to the show and would accept a fair offer from Sony.

In the meantime, Michael is doing what out-of-work actors do, which is look for work. He's delving into the Hollywood scene and meeting a lot of casting directors and other people there for the first time. They're often surprised to learn he's been on a show for nine years and they haven't met him before. So it's like starting over, but he's having fun being a fresh face in town. There is a lot more work in LA than Vancouver, but a lot more competition, too. Having CSI on his resume will help, but he doesn't expect it to launch a whole new career or anything like that. He was looking forward to reading for a part in Grey's Anatomy. He's expecting to have to turn down a month-long role in a Beowulf-themed film to be made in Bulgaria. He doesn't want to be away from home for so long right before the holidays.

With that Michael was whisked away to relax for a while before his Q&A session. It was so great chatting with him and hearing his very frank views on what's been going on in terms of Season 10.

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Michael Shanks
Michael Shanks

The convention room was quite full for Michael's talk, but even so it was an intimate setting. I was so happy to be in the front row, which was deliciously close to the stage. Michael was introduced by one of Brihana's videos, "Daniel Jackson - Fashion 101," about Daniel's excellent dress sense. It was very well received, and Michael seemed to enjoy it as well, saying it was interesting. He refused to turn around for the audience, though, saying "Honey, I don't work for Chippendales." You can download the video from Brihana's site.

After realizing that the microphone sound was not good, Michael put it down and demonstrated his ability to project his lovely voice. It was much better than amplified sound. Throughout the talk Michael was very funny and relaxed, and made up for the lack of Chris Judge by doing his own comedy rifs.

Lexa and their daughter Mia are doing fine. Lexa is very upset that Trojan has come up with a female line of condoms called "Alexa". Mia is getting into all kinds of trouble, getting into cupboards, etc.

Michael found the leather pants he wore in 9.05 "The Ties That Bind" very uncomfortable, so he didn't keep them. We can expect to see them on sale sometime. But Ben was quite comfortable in the leather for some reason. :-)

The audience asked for no spoilers for the rest of Season 9 so Michael couldn't say much about it, and he claimed he didn't remember it anyway. He assured a fan who asked that we would see more of Amanda than we did in the first six episodes for sure. He said even after she came back, Amanda was on a four-day work week so her character was used a bit more sparingly than usual. 9.13 "Ripple Effect" is a good one for Carter. One scene took nine hours to shoot spoilers follow because there were about sixteen Carters and Amanda had to be filmed pouring coffee for herself, etc.

He would like to play a celebrity mime on The Family Guy. He gave us a bit of a Stewy impression. One of his favorite lines for Daniel was one that he borrowed from the show. In 9.06 "Beachhead" Daniel says to Vala: "Well, let's just say, a little less talk, a little more shut-the-hell up." That was Michael's homage to The Family Guy. Someone remarked that SG-1 was mean to Vala in that episode and Michael said, all mock offended, "Oh God, we were mean to her?! Oh boy, what show were you watching?!" She never let them talk in the rest of the five episodes, so in his mind she deserved it. This was all tongue-in-cheek of course.

He would like to do more theater, but with a six-day workweek it would be very hard for him to get away on weekends to go to LA to visit his daughter Tatiana, who lives there most of the time. So he'd like to do it but his children come first right now, which earned him a nice round of applause from the audience.

Michael tried to claim that they don't play a lot of practical jokes on the set. Uh, that's not what we've heard! But he did say there is a lot of ribbing, and Ben got the worst of it the past season. There were a lot of puppet jokes, some of which Michael acted out to our amusement.

Regarding the scene between Daniel and Jack at the end of 9.03 "Origin Part 3," Michael said his asking Jack what the hell he was doing there very much mirrored reality because they had filmed four episodes before it was shot. So people watching the dailies got a sense of realism from Daniel's reaction which was really Michael not being used to seeing RDA on set.

A lot of the humor in 4.06 "Window of Opportunity" was Rick's improvisation since the episode was running short. So the pottery scene was his idea and reflected his new hobby, which his girlfriend of the time got him into. And Michael will never tell what Daniel was asking Jack about at the beginning of each loop.

Dana Jeanne told Michael she doesn't like Mitchell calling Daniel "Jackson" and wonders why he doesn't call him "Daniel." Michael said this wasn't scripted. There was an introduction scene in the first episode where they tell each other their first names, but the two actors sort of naturally went with the last names. It's sort of a jockish thing, where you don't call your buddy by his first name. Especially "Cam," which is so not a "bang the headboard" kind of name. Michael imitated "Oh Cam, Oh Cameron" in a throes-of-passion voice to show that it's not a name that rolls off the tongue. The writers did try to script them away from the last names, but actually Michael thinks it's strange that Carter is calling different SGC members including Mitchell by their first names. It seems too personal and informal to him for a military setting. When Dana suggested that Mitchell could call Daniel "Dr. Jackson," Michael said that Daniel has gotten over it and maybe she should, too. It was very funny and showed a bit of Michael's self-described stubborn streak. So I guess we can't blame the writers for the Mitchell-Jackson last name thing anymore!

Michael doesn't know anything about next year's story-lines, partly because no one knows who's going to be in the show. He mentioned that there's a contract negotiation going on, but he hasn't said yes or no to anything yet. He said he wouldn't tell us yes for sure anyway because someone at Sony Business Affairs would read the internet report and… then he bent over his stage chair to give an indication of what would happen to him, in a prison inmate sort of sense.

Michael Shanks and the mini-soldier

The cutest little boy came up on stage to ask a question. He was outfitted in a very authentic SG-0.5 uniform that his dad had put together for him, including hand-making the vest, belt, weapons, shirt, etc. It was great. He asked Michael why he wasn't wearing his glasses and Michael explained he doesn't need them in real life. Michael was very sweet with the four-year-old boy and they exchanged high-fives. Michael was very charmed.

Michael on Daniel/Thor slash Michael on Daniel/Mitchell slash Michael Daniel/Mitchell slash
On Daniel/Thor Slash On Daniel/Mitchell Slash On Daniel/Teal'c Slash

Someone asked innocently if he ever reads fan fiction. "Hell no!" was the response. After hearing what we put out there… no way. He's heard about "Thor/Daniel slash" and finds it not only narcissistic but just wrong. Someone tried to bring up Daniel/Janet but he wasn't buying it. He asked if anyone is writing Mitchell/Daniel. We of course said yes, and he made quite a face. He mentioned Daniel/Teal'c as another fan favorite and made yet another face along with a pained sound. Very funny.

A nice young man asked when the "Men of SciFi" calendar was coming out. Michael gave him a suspicious look but went on to explain the status of the "Women of SciFi" calendar, available here. There are some retail stores interested in selling the calendar (which I gather is a big deal) so they are turning into a 14-month 2007 calendar. It will still be available very soon along with the DVD but will be printed with the calendar of 2007. Michael seems very pleased with the interest of the retail stores. They are starting the preparation process for the "Men of SciFi" calendar and hope to have it ready for 2007 as well. Chris is going to shoot it even though it's guys and everything.

Michael said that his 'flag' scene in 8.18 "Threads" was in response to Amanda's Femme Fatale magazine photo-shoot in which she was wrapped in an American flag. It seemed to be an inside joke rather than making fun of Amanda.

He talked about his CSI:Miami role and how he plays a murder suspect. Jonathan Glassner is writing and directing for the show, and they ran into each other unexpectedly on set. Glassner said he's going to look for something for Michael on CSI: New York.

He has no idea what's going on with the movie "Swarmed" that he filmed; he showed up to do the role but hasn't had time to ask about it. He said, "Imagine SciFi not airing a wasp movie. Every other insect out there but not my wasp movie."

He'd just talked to Chris Judge on the phone. Chris is likely to be shooting an episode of Fox's Killer Instinct very soon. Michael loves working with Peter DeLuise and can't believe the stuff that comes out of his mouth. He would like to see bloopers on the DVD's and they did sort of talk about it this year but he's not sure if anything will come of it. He thinks it would be very funny.

He told the story of how he wore a kilt to his wedding, at Chris Judge's insistence. Michael remembered, "Wow, the 6 foot 2 black man wants to wear a skirt." Then on the morning of the wedding he was simultaneously cleaning a pee pee accident off of his daughter's dress and talking on the phone to Chris, who was having horrible diarrhea. So when Chris went 'traditional' under his kilt, all Michael could think of during the ceremony was the guy standing next to him with no underwear on and diarrhea problems. Remembering a joke from a previous con I asked if Chris hadn't flashed Michael's grandmother or something. Michael said if he had, with his grandmother's poor vision and Chris's lack of, say, significance down there, she wouldn't have seen anything anyway. Hmm, I guess Chris's Teal'c costume is more extensive than we thought! Michael said the ceremony was on Jericho Beach in Vancouver, in fact not far from where 1.13 "Fire and Water" was filmed.

I asked whether he thinks Vala would have to change if she were a regular character on the show. He said he certainly thinks she would have to be toned down, and that the Daniel/Vala interaction would have to be toned down a little bit. Everyone is aware of that. It's fun to play with, but you can't have two people cooperating on the same team who go at each other like that all the time. He also thinks for sure the writers will not pursue any romance between Daniel and Vala. The tension is fun to play with, but it would ruin the relationship to consummate it. Most of Michael and Claudia's interaction was scripted, but they did have some funny ad-libs, such as throwing pillows at each other. He then noted someone in the audience who'd told him she doesn't like Vala. He asked for a show of hands of who likes her and who doesn't. The likes far outnumbered the dislikes, but there were a fair number of people who didn't answer either way.

He talked about how they filmed 9.05 "The Ties That Bind" before 9.03 "Avalon" and how, knowing the dark stuff that was ahead filming-wise, they and the director tried to figure out how they would get back to that bantering place after all they would have been through together. So they tried to address that with their acting by showing bits of humor even in the darkest times of the opening episodes. They enjoyed the comedy aspects but didn't want to ignore the serious stakes that were going on. It was about finding the balance between the two, and it was a big acting challenge. The opening parts of 9.05 "The Powers That Be" were sort of campy, but there were big stakes in the episode, and it got more serious as it went on. He appreciated the reviewers who noted the effortlessness in going from camp comedy to high drama, so that they didn't compromise the story for cheap laughs.

He said it has gotten easier to watch his performances on TV after the fact, even if he is really critical of himself. He uses it to learn and improve. He talked about 7.06 "Lifeboat" and how he began preparing for it the minute he got the script from Brad Wright, several days before shooting, but still wished he'd had more time. The character he was least happy with was the sovereign Martice. He was written pretty much as a two-dimensional villain, but Michael wished he had been able to show Martice's struggle in his position a spoiled leader in order to add more dimension to him.

He was quite dramatic about how hard it was to read the audio book "Local Custom." First, it was spending four eight-hour days listening to no one but himself. It was actor hell. Next, it was a science fiction book so there were all sorts of unfamiliar words to pronounce, from the lead character Err Thom on. While taping, he would swear his head off when he got tongue-twisted. He feels sorry for the editor who had to edit out all his swear words. So he's not planning to do another one anytime soon but is grateful to anyone who bought the audio book.

Michael Shanks and his tonsils

Last year he really questioned Brad Wright about why Daniel wouldn't go to Atlantis, since he's been looking for it all these years. He's not sure what the plan is for that and has no idea about Carter crossing over between the shows. It's just rumors, and he reads about stuff on the internet just like we do.

When he was young, Harrison Ford was his hero as an actor. Now he looks up to actors in whom he can see something of himself.

Playing a very bad man in Suspicious River was very difficult because the director wanted him to go really far with it. Michael wanted to make sure the actress he was 'attacking' in the scene was comfortable with it, but they all knew where the line was and how not to cross it. It wasn't a humorous time on set though. It was good to walk away from the character at the end of the day.

He loves Thor and wishes he'd have his own spin off, like CSI:Valhalla, but we won't be seeing him this year. Instead we have Kvasir, who can be a bit bitchy. At one point in Season 9, Daniel says as an aside, "I miss Thor."

As far as what TV he would like to do, he watches so little he really doesn't know. His agent wants him to do Desperate Housewives because the agent likes the show. He's talked to the casting director for Boston Legal. He saw the infamous Canada 'fishing' episode and thought it was hilarious, and that Spader and Shatner are brilliant together. He would like to do that show. He read for Ghost Whisperer recently. We were all shouting series we'd like to see him in and throwing around ideas with him. He watches no reality TV, but Lexa is addicted to the home improvement shows. He told her, "hey, pick up a brush and knock yourself out," which she didn't appreciate.

He'd very much like to work with Angelina Jolie, but Lexa is going to bitch-slap him for saying it. He'd like to work with Ian McKellan most of all; Ralph Fiennes, Ewan MacGregor. And he thinks Angelina is a really talented actress too in spite of our doubtful noises. Did we see Girl Interrupted or Gia?

And with that Michael thanked the audience and accepted their accolades, and moved on to photos and autographs, which were also relaxed and fun.

And that's it! I hope you enjoyed the report. I sure enjoyed the convention.

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