Well, having gone to bed fairly early Friday night, we got up absurdly early to get the virtual queueing tickets. Angie, Elena and I were outta the room at 6.30 and found plenty of people already queueing – while Beanie didn't need to queue being a steward and hopped off to McDonalds to get breakfast for everyone. Haven't had an egg McMuffin for years, and it's decidedly more rubbery than I remembered but hey, food... Also had a cuppa and Tim Tams to wake me up. Went along just before 10, with video presentation scheduled at 9.15 only to find pretty much all the tickets had been called and virtual ticket was only useful if you got there fair bit early to get in the rows closer to the front, still there were empty seats dotted around and we got decent enough ones even coming in that late.
The stage set was really cool, Atlantian panels with Ancient writing on and a big Pegasus galaxy gate in the centre for guests to walk in through – and it lit up too! I think Bryan said it cost £200 to make when he came on and said hello and welcome to everyone, it was certainly impressive and real pretty when they turned the lights down but really difficult to get a picture of it like that.
At the top right of the stage they had a big screen hung up which guest talks were also displayed on for anyone who couldn't see well, and for the intro sequences and vids. Each talk had a vid for the character and an Ancient system logon for another character with their password, all pretty funny or just kinda cool at least. I didn't see all of them but the ones I remember were Sheppard – cl0wnsrbad, Ronon – I1oveguns, McKay – sam4me & Iamagenius, Radek – Ihatekids, Ford – Imn0tnuts (or something really like that...) Grodin – savethebrit. There must have been more considering it was one per talk and there were eight guests who did two each, but it's hard to remember. I tried and failed to take pics of the screen with them on, but you get the idea. I don't know who made the intros, they looked quite a lot like the jumper HUD as you see on the DVD's basically and hence pretty cool and very blue – kudos to whoever was responsible.
Plus Aaron Douglas was an “Unrecognized traveller” or the like, because he hasn't been on SGA (for anyone still wonder who he is, he had bit parts in 2 SG-1 episodes- Maternal Instinct as Moac and a Jaffa in Redemption Part 2 but is better known for his role of Chief Petty Officer Galen Tryol in the new BSG series)
Ellie Harvie, lovely lady, very funny. Introduced with a very kickass Novak vid, song had the line “She blinded me with science” which had a cool hiccup bit that was edited with Novak hiccuping in time to the music. LOL (if anyone knows who made that vid I'd love to be able to download it to rewatch). She talked about knowing Gary Jones and Paul McGillion (pre-Atlantis I might add – and I kind of missed the fact that she was talking about how she shared a flat/house with Paul which makes the next story make more sense probably..). Particularly funny was her impression of this thing Paul did when he saw her where he put on a Scottish accent and would say “I'll have ye” and “Nurse, I have a wee problem I need your help with” - which when she saw Atlantis and Beckett she thought “Hey! It's Paul's creepy Scottish guy character”. :D
She also mentioned she loved working with the puppet guys, who are actors too basically, doing all the facial expressions. They'd happily play along flirting in between scenes and how she'd love for them to catch some of that for the bloopers sometime. She also didn't sound adverse to on-screen romance with Hermiod or with Walter (Gary Jones being someone she knows well), if the writers would just add in a mention of “So, pick me up at eight *hiccup*”.
Then there was her talking about being mistaken for Celine Dione at US-Canada border, where the patrolman was convinced she was Celine (which didn't impress her much since she doesn't think Celine looks that great) and she went along with it and said yeah sure, Ellie Harvie is the name I travel under, plus doing an impression of Celine for him which she did for our benefit too!
Hmm, what else. She didn't really have any pranks to share, but she did tell the story of her worst auditions. One was where she was all positive and go getting for an audition and went to get a healthy smoothie and got them to double up the wheat germ, not even clicking with that being bad when the guy asked “Really? Double.” and then just had to throw up in the bathroom later one, and came out to everyone staring at her and so totally not believing her when she said “I'm not bulimic!”.
The other was an audition where she was showing off her characters and she'd gone through them all and the interviewer asked what else have you got so she said there was this sad stripper character (who she'd only just thought up on the drive to the audition) and got asked to play them. So she stood there thinking OMG and sort of swaying morosely not sure what the hell she was going to do and why she'd said she could do it, and then she came and sat on the woman's lap and said “You want a lap dance? Please, my child is sick.” and somehow got through it, but described the whole thing as terrifying and embarrassing, I suppose like please let the ground swallow me now moment.
Craig Veroni was such a lovely guy, quite fun, very gracious. I'm not sure he realises how many people liked his character, despite the fact that there were many people there who had little clue who he was or had played. Save the Brit campaign were there in full force, with there blue tshirts on, and he held up the little Grodin? Save the Brit bear they'd given him at the meet and greet and said that he thought the tshirt might fit his son (who was born two weeks ago) for at least a while until he'd outgrow it of course. He seemed very touched by it and at prompting he promised to take pictures for the Save the Brit people so they could have them on the website.
Anyway, he talked about his family for a little while. His son's name is William Shaun McKay Veroni, which caused a bit of a blank there with the crowd whilst people gaped a little, but no, McKay is his wifes name, a little bit of trivia IMDB has up so I wasn't so surprised there, but still it took a second before my mind comprehended why. Apparently it was the first night in two weeks he's had decent sleep, given he's a new parent. People asked a few Grodin related questions like how he felt at his characters death, what his idea of back story was for Grodin, plus what he thought Grodin's personal item would be. He joked when he found out he cried, and went into therapy - with Tony Sopranos therapist so you know he's playing around, hard to tell exactly how he felt but it can't of been too great to find out you character is dying but he generally seemed understanding that sometimes characters do get killed off and it's all part of TV (or film).
He didn't have elaborate back story for Grodin, but he had come up with some since the producers had said similar to what was done with Paul to come up with an accent because they wanted the character to have one. The original envisioning of Grodin was British Indian if I understand correctly, someone born in South Asia (he specifically mentioned India) who then came to England (no clue how early in life he meant exactly) and hence had a blend of accents, refined English but also South Asian flavouring it. Sadly the producers weren't up for that and so what we get is the purely British accent on the show. Next time I'm hoping to ask him to do a little demo of that originally conceived accent, if he will and if I actually manage to get up and ask a question...
He also mentioned he'd auditioned for the role of Dr Ingram (later changed to McKay) but was happy David got it because he thought he does the character wonderfully. Other Grodin tidbits were him saying he saw Peter as having a big family, but no wife or children, and very adventurous and thrilled to go to Atlantis. The answer to the personal item was a journal because he thought Peter would want there to be a record of everything happening on the other side. Someone asked if he'd personally go through a Stargate if one was discovered, to which he said yes, sure he'd take his family along because him and his wife were both quite adventurous themselves – but amended the answer to being less sure when the question asker pointed out what if you could potentially die by going through.
One of the other recurringly asked questions was the one about pranks. To which he described how his brother and he fought a lot, he pointed to a scar on his arm that he'd gotten on one occasion, I believe it was the story he told about when he'd locked his brother outside (I think when he lived in South Africa still but I wasn't too clear on that or when his family moved to Canada) and his brother freaked out about starving to death even though there was no real danger a simply being outside and then his brother had punched through the window next to the door, and somehow Craig had got cut on that, but I'm having hard time remembering that one exactly.
I certainly remember the best prank he'd played, on his brother, it was rather mean but then he admitted he was fairly mean to his brother back then, and it was pretty amusing anyhow. He tied up his brother in this bag and hung him out the balcony (they lived seven floor up) and threatened to drop him – and did, only of course he'd brought his brother back in onto the balcony before that, leaving just a few inches between his brother and the floor but his brother howled so loud when he dropped him, thinking he'd been seriously injured, not realising it was only a few inches! That's a pretty insane prank to play on someone, but I swear Rainbows was pretty extreme too, more recent and just hilarious to listen to as well, but that'll come later. ;)
Other stuff, talk of his heritage, how he's got a little Dutch, French?, German, Italian and more in him, and despite his Italian ancestry (and surname) he's never been cast as one. He mentioned he'd been cast as Cuban, I think Indian too, Middle Eastern and a whole variety of nationalities but not Italian at all oddly enough. Plus he was asked what his favourite Canadian film was (or so I'm hoping it was Craig, I could recall exactly who, and strivaria thought it was him so...) and he said David [Hewlett] would owe for this, but it was in fact Treed Murray [Get Down to US audiences?]. Then someone pointed out gate guy Chuck had sort of taken over Grodin's role and he was a little surprised, though it was quickly pointed out he was a nameless Sergeant played by Chuck Campbell (DH's stand in) and he was like “Oh, really.” I don't think he knew that had another gate guy, but every one was reasoning the only reason Chuck's character is still alive is he's not important enough to get a name and you only get a name if they might kill you off. ;)
Joe came on to lots of cheering, but hadn't got anything planned and was relying on questions. He got to talking about Rachels parents and the kiss since someone asked if he got permission from her parents for it given it has been mentioned in a recent interview her parents came on set for the scene in Conversion. He was describing her parents, a short? friendly cuddly looking white guy and a warm large friendly black woman, who look an odd couple but are really nice and were lovely about coming on set and about the scene generally. It sounded like Rachel was far more nervous than him about them being there and he found it a little amusing rather than intimidating, because it's one of those moments that bothers the person related to those watching much more than anyone else, but the scene went well apparently.
He also mentioned about his shyness in college that's been in an interview before, how he'd drop out of a class if he had to do any public speaking/reading and to overcome it he took acting classes, plus he had a fear of heights which he remedied with rock climbing. Is quite inspirational really, how he was able to get over the fears by throwing himself into what he was scared of. Obviously now he's quite the fan of extreme sports, he hurt his knee helicopter skiing recently too (even though he shouldn't be doing that under contract, but what will Sony do? :D).
There were quite a few slashy questions (McShep ones anyway) with people asking about what if situations and if McKay had kissed Shep in Duet and how Shep would have felt when he saw Rodney kiss Beckett and even discussion on the different expressions from cast members in that scene – with him clarifying Shep's one was sort of disgust I think (and someone shouting out 'Or jealousy?). Anyway Duet got the mileage on questions, though he didn't answer in much detail to any of them, being perhaps a little snarky in there subtly... because people only really wanted to hear one answer to those kind of questions, kind of fishing there, ey.
I think there is need for a steward wearing a shirt saying “Leave the relationship questions at the door, please”. I dunno, I just got the impression slash was the last thing you're meant to mention to any actors. Ship is more amibigious, especially if it's a canon ship, but still either one can make them uncomfortable – and if you don't know if that person will react okay then it's better to keep it either to a subtle minimum or not say anything at all. I mean Jason had a few questions relating to ship and slash and seemed okay, brought some stuff up himself but then Joe didn't seem comfortable in the slightest about the relentless relationship focused stuff. Need to make a point to compile a big list of character questions next time, and things that will hopefully be fun and interesting to be answered, if I have the courage to ask more next time.
He also pointed out he was trying to get away from romance, as he prefers action/adventure and that for a scifi show romance shouldn't over power the other elements. Of course he later mentioned how action stuff costs a lot usually so they get thrown a bone every so often but it really eats up the budget a lot, but he enjoys doing that. I'm not entirely sure but I think Joe talked about the T-Rex thing here, how the marvellous scene had gotten written by Martin Gero with them fighting dinosaur creatures but it would have costed several million bucks – or the same as a feature movie- for a small inconsequential scene. There was something about how it got cut down to them firing and running backward to the gate, to give the effect of shooting at the creatures but without seeing them and having to comment on them instead, but it didn't work so we didn't get the cool action originally planned, which is a real shame. It's science fiction and you can do anything, but there are the limits in what you can do due to money, so they have to make the best of what they have to show what they want.
And after stuff about him and action and fun with guns he felt the need to point out Americans are not all gun nuts – though he did say he had one but it was safely stored away, because he worries about his kids getting hold of one, and that in retrospect he felt his own parents didn't seem much concerned about it as he is now, as he remembers they had one fitted to the top of the car ceiling or something. Now he has his own kids he's much more aware of the dangers. Plus he pointed out that for most Americans there's so much paperwork to get a gun that it's not the law abiding people that should be worried about, as criminals are the ones who want them most and aren't going to bother with all the paperwork anyway.
There was also the butt question, posed by Beanie, basically asking how he felt that there are pictures of things, like for example his naked butt from an early film he did “A Reason to Believe”, on the internet. He didn't have much to say about that apart from looking really surprised at getting the question and a bit blank at where and why he bared his arse in the film. He said he really didn't remember much about shooting it and hadn't seen the finished film, which it seems he hasn't for a few things he's been in. Not a great film of his anyway from all accounts.
Someone asked about his role in Tru Calling, which he didn't have much nice to say about, didn't think the show was very good (and the person asking was a fan of it) – seemed annoyed to have been duped into guest spotting as he doesn't like doing the one-off's and said quite often they'll promise more, a nice enticing multi-ep spot with a character arc, and then drop it as they did there. His main memory of the episode was lying on a real mortuary slab pretending to be dead, which was really cold and he mentioned it still had blood stains (which does seem odd...). He got asked about the fight/gun scene in the episode where his character died and didn't recall that at all, another thing he never watched the episode and has just forgotten most of the stuff about it all.
He had a similar thing, on the multi-ep arc promise, happen with Dawson's Creek - but only because the guy who wanted him back got fired after the episode he was in, otherwise he probably would have had a nice arc in that one. He also talked about how he got stuck where the show was filmed for a week as it was hurricane season down there. Said Katie Holmes was very nice and same about Joshua Jackson, was a cool bloke, so it sounded like the week wasn't too bad despite nothing much to do, just sitting around chatting and stuff, getting to know people on the cast and crew but didn't get the arc he was hoping for.
Johnny Cash fans where around, someone mentioned their son had noticed the poster in Shep's room, asked if they might see him playing that guitar too and he said he'd have to learn how first. Shep has a surfboard, a skateboard – both which Joe can ride, but so far no pitches for working them into a story have been good enough, writers probably won't go there – and then there's the Cash poster, a guitar and also a picture by the bed (which is of young Joe with Evil Knievel). Basically he said he wasn't likely to get aboard for singing as he didn't sign up for a musical and not so much into performing in the way of singing - so I'd say nobody should hold their breath about Shep doing the already much fanonised Shep plays and sings Cash songs with the aid of his guitar.
Farewell to Harry was brought up as well, was an independent project, all young guys working on it – because he was saying how he favours independent films, though often they aren't really like that at all and just a studio saying we want to make an indie film and throwing some money at a subsidiary of the company – and interesting, but the end product was nothing like the original script. It suffered from directors uncertainty which caused changes all the time, and he didn't recommend the film because of it's lack of direction (though I've had people recommend it to me and will probably check it out sometime). Think the Farewell to Harry discussion was brought on by question about bad directing but can't recall if there was a direct answer to that, if there was unfortunately I've forgotten. He also made a comment about how he didn't realise Farewell to Harry had come out on Dvd, and was asking, because he hadn't gotten any DVD sales reimbursements. It's on NTSC Region 1 on Amazon.co.uk, with the problem that everyone I know who's seen it has got a version where they bleep the swearing, which must be pretty jarring. The Amazon.com listing is here too.
Thought Crimes came up too, as the intro video had the Scooby Dooby Doo clip from that near the end (I really want to see this film now!) It was a pilot for a tv show hat never got made, and Medium is according to Joe more or less the same kind of thing and probably why it never got made as the company who made that had bought/come into Throught Crimes and never picked it up (because who needs two similar shows?). Anyway, in it Joe's characters partner (as in the police kind) can read minds and there's a scene where she's reading his mind which was originally scripted as serious and insightful, but Joe got to thinking that whenever his wife asked him what he was thinking, as she sometimes does, that he was practically never doing any real thinking; always something random or nothing much. So, Joe mentioned it to the producer, saying that he could be thinking of Scooby Doo tune or something and the director stuck with exactly that. It got added into the film because the guy liked the idea and went with it as he tended to with little changes that he felt were good. Of course then after they'd done all that work on recording it etc, they discovered they'd have to pay for the rights to use the song, but it's there in the film.
Overall so many of the questions were either McShep or how Shep's kirking, and felt sorry for Joe because there weren't so many questions focusing on the character, and he obviously isn't keen on romance given he said he shot a few more down, otherwise the writers might have put quite a number more in. And the main character based question was about Epiphany and the he did try to make it clear he only did the story outline, which changed significantly in the script so the finished episode has rather little to do with him despite having his name on it. Seemed like a subtle “Please, don't blame me if you don't like Epiphany.” I really hope he gets more character stuff in Season 3 for Shep, because he's a great guy and it'd be nice if there was more for people to focus on other than all the romance stuff, about slash or het. Was great to get discussion on his other roles in there at least. I was almost tempted on Sunday to go up and ask him if he'd ever consider James Bond or Indiana Jones as roles if they were offered...
More to come tomorrow.