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Posts Tagged ‘Brian J. Smith’

The finish line is within sight!  In two mere days, we premiere and you, the fans, will finally be able to see what all the buzz is about.  Until then,  keep telling anyone and everyone, peruse those online reviews (like this one  http://scifi.about.com/b/2009/09/30/the-new-season-so-far.htm or this one  http://www.tvovermind.com/stargate-universe/review-stargate-universe-a-stargate-for-the-rest-of-us/10400), and check out today’s chock full o’ pics entry:

Hey, look who it is!  It's the ever-affable Carl Binder having a blast on Stage 2.

Hey, look who it is! It's the ever-affable Carl Binder having a blast on Stage 2.

Carl is on hand to lend Special Features Producer - and, on this day, kino sequence Director Ivon Bartok some much-appreciated support.

Carl is on hand to lend Special Features Producer - and, on this day, kino sequence Director Ivon Bartok some much-appreciated support.

Best of buddies!

Best of buddies!

Greg Fox all strapped in and ready to go!

Greg Fox all strapped in and ready to go!

Director of Photography Jim Menard's illuminating presence.

Director of Photography Jim Menard's illuminating presence.

Okay, down to business.  They pretend to watch the scene being shot but are actually checking out last week's episode of Vampire Diaries.

Okay, down to business. They pretend to watch the scene being shot but are actually checking out last week's episode of Vampire Diaries.

A break in the on-set action.

A break in the on-set action.

David Blue snaps me snapping him.

David Blue snaps me snapping him.

They're having way too much fun.  This is a place of work, people!

They're having way too much fun. This is a place of work, people!

Ivon shows up to give them a firm talking to.

Ivon shows up to give them a firm talking to.

Brian J. Smith thinking about all the wonderful fans who took the time to check out his Q&A (see last issue, ed.)

Brian J. Smith thinking about all the wonderful fans who took the time to check out his Q&A (see last issue, ed.)

Jennifer Spence (SGU's Lisa Park) and Peter Kelamis (SGU's Adam Brody).

Jennifer Spence (SGU's Lisa Park) and Peter Kelamis (SGU's Adam Brody).

The new James Bond?  I think so.  The dashing Patrick Gilmore (SGU's Dale Volker).

The new James Bond? I think so. The dashing Patrick Gilmore (SGU's Dale Volker).

Brian J. Smith (SGU's Lieutenant Matthew Scott) shows off his crossfit form.

Brian J. Smith (SGU's Lieutenant Matthew Scott) shows off his crossfit form.

Seriously, what did I just say about having too much fun?!

Seriously, what did I just say about having too much fun?!

Back to work.  They shoot the scene.

Back to work. They shoot the scene.

Carl loves it!

Carl loves it!

Every 16 hours or so, the actors are permitted to leave the soundstage and take in some of the marvelous Vancouver weather.  Five minutes of freedom - then back to work.  This next scene aint gonna shoot itself!

Every 16 hours or so, the actors are permitted to leave the soundstage and take in some of the marvelous Vancouver weather. Five minutes of freedom - then back to work. This next scene aint gonna shoot itself!

Rounding out my salute to the cast of Stargate: Universe, I’d like to make special mention of screen veteran and all-around class act Robert Carlyle.  When I first heard he was going to be playing the part of Dr. Rush, I was, of course, thrilled…and very curious.  What would it be like working with such a well-established and accomplished actor?  Well, eight months in, I can honestly say that it’s been an utter joy.  I needn’t tell you how incredibly talented he is – but I’ll tell you anyway.  He IS incredibly talented, time and again blowing the doors out with his consistently dynamic, wholly engaging performances.   Simply put, the guy is immense fun to watch!  And for those of you wondering what he’s like when he’s not acting his heart out, allow me to break it down for you: humble, gracious, genial, soft-spoken, and VERY charming.  About as un-Hollywood as you can get.

Lieutenant Scott (Brian J. Smith), Dr. Rush (Robert Carlyle), and Eli Wallace (David Blue).  Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television.

Lieutenant Scott (Brian J. Smith), Dr. Rush (Robert Carlyle), and Eli Wallace (David Blue). Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television.

Yes, we’re extremely fortunate to have assembled a truly stellar cast, all of them not only great performers, but great people as well.

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SGU's Lieutenant Matthew Scott (Brian J. Smith) - photo courtesy and copyright MGM Televison.

SGU's Lieutenant Matthew Scott (Brian J. Smith) - photo courtesy and copyright MGM Televison.

What’s the best thing about working on Stargate? Whenever I’m asking this question, the first answer that comes to mind is: my co-workers (followed closely by the catering, the end-of-season crew gift, and the chocolate fountain at the SG-1 200th episode party).   The truth is, at the end of the day, no matter how much you get paid or how personally satisfying you may find your job, if you don’t like the people you work with, your workplace will be a miserable place.  Fortunately for me, I’m on a show with some truly wonderful people, from the girl in post-production with the notebook made out of recycled elephant dung to our illustrous cast – all of them a pleasure to work with.  And, when it comes to “truly wonderful”, you’d be hardpressed a better example than actor Brian J. Smith, both on camera and off.  Not only is he incredibly talented, but his friendly, down-to-earth attitude never ceases to amaze.   And I’m sure you’ll agree once you get to know him as well.

Enjoy Brian’s Q&A, check out his twitter page for his latest updates (http://twitter.com/BrianJacobSmith) and, of course, be sure to tune in for the world premiere of Strgate: Universe this Friday night, 9:00 p.m., on SyFy (Space in Canada) for your first glimpse of Lieutenant Matthew Scott in action.

BJS: Hey ya’ll! Thanks for all the great questions. I tried not to repeat myself so just picked “new” questions as I went down the list. I’m very excited for SGU to premiere – it’ll be great to finally get to share our “baby” with the world. Ok, question time…

Cherluvya writes: “Brian: You were in theatre…did you have hopes of TV or movies while there? Do you find yourself missing it? Loved the poster, did you know you had been chosen for the center, or did it come as a surprise?”

BJS: It’s hard to make a living purely as a stage actor, so financially I was hoping to get involved in TV, mainly doing guest spots or multi-episode characters. I never thought I’d get to be a regular on a TV show. But it’s awesome that I’m doing a TV show that I find so creatively fulfilling and challenging – I honestly think I’m going to walk away from this season a better actor than when I first got involved. Funny story about the posters: we weren’t actually running when they took the pictures, we were striking this crazy looking pose and then sort of falling forward. But I was surprised I was in the center – so are my friends in NY who see me running on their bus-stops!

CatholicDenise writes: “Have you decided on a Cavalier King Charles or is that still an open question?”

BJS: I think I could love a dog no matter what the breed. Just depends on the pooch, I guess. But I must say I’ve fallen in love with Cavaliers – they’re very affectionate and they bond very quickly with whoever is willing to show a little love.  Well, that and whoever is willing to feed them!

Sherry Harris writes: “I’ve got a Question for Brian: Where the hell is my poster?”

BJS: Mooommmmm! Jeeze, okay! 🙂

A pensive moment (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television).

A pensive moment (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television).

Ytimyona writes: “Questions for Brian Jacob Smith:
 I have heard you are a classically trained stage actor (at Juilliard!). What is your favorite part of being on stage/performing before a live audience?”

BJS: All that freedom.  You can be incredibly spontaneous moment to moment – whereas in TV and film you have to constantly watch what you’re doing so that it matches in every angle. But film allows you  to be incredibly intimate and real – you don’t have to bump up your voice or your physical life in order to reach people hundreds of feet away. You can relax and be true to the situation, as if it’s really happening for the first time.

“I’ve heard of your exploits with Crossfit (differently fun, but effectively painful). Do you workout because Lt. Scott is a buff person, or for your own reasons, or both?”

BJS: I wanted Matt to have a very specific look – he doesn’t spend hours at the gym, but his military training has made him very fit and his military fitness scores are probably exemplary. So I was looking for a program that was calisthenics based and crossfit fits the bill. In fact, Matt would love all the rope climbing, push-ups, pull-ups and running that we do. I’m actually not that great at crossfit. I’d love to make the leader board before we finish this year, but crossfit’ers are usually part-time athletes or just naturally fit so I’m constantly humbled. Which is a good thing, right?

“Have you had any adventures in Vancouver you can regale us with?”

BJS: Well, I’m working on this CRAZY show where we travel through wormholes . . .  🙂 Actually I’m a home-body and my Vancouver adventures usually just involve a bike ride around Stanley Park or a good hike in the mountains – OR a really great meal. Vancouver has amazing restaurants, and my favorites are Market, Quattro, Viji’s, and La Quercia.

“How do you get into the mindset of your character? How much research did that require?”

BJS: I’ve always been interested in the military, so all the military research was (and is) a blast to do. I read a ton of books. A few that have helped me are “One Bullet Away” by Nathaniel Fick, “Joker One” by Donnovan Campbell, and “The Last True Story I’ll Ever Tell” by John Crawford. For some reason I started getting into Vietnam while doing the show, so I read the classic Vietnam books “Dispatches”, “The Cat From Hue”, and Philip Caputo’s “Rumor of War”. I also got a lot out of a documentary called ‘Carrier’ – really helped me understand how military minds work in long deployment situations, especially on tight-quarter ships.

“What is your favorite kind of cookie? How about your favorite kind of candy?”

BJS: Any kind that my grandma makes.

Brian also seems to enjoy the desserts at Quattro.

Brian also seems to enjoy the desserts at Quattro.

“Have you had any experiences where you overhear people talking about Stargate and they have no clue you’re an actor in it?”

BJS: No, not yet!

“Which do you prefer: Star Wars or Star Trek?”

BJS: Star Trek from start to finish!

“You and the rest of the cast all seem like best friends. Did you know any of the cast members before you got the SGU gig?”

BJS: No – but now I feel like I’ve known them for years, hahaha.

“Does Cassie come to work with you every day? Does she hang out in your trailer or come to the set with you too?”

BJS: Yeah, Cassie hangs out in the trailer (where she makes life quite difficult for the AD’s who come calling me to set) and I take her on walks in between set-ups when I can. She’s getting pretty spoiled this month.

“Having puppysat Cassie, do you now think you will be getting a dog?”

BJS: Definitely thinking about it. I think the beginning of season two would be the best time to get one, though.

“Just out of curiosity: are you single? ;-D”

BJS: I think so. 🙂

Relaxing on set while filming the pilot.

Relaxing on set while filming the pilot.

Lisa writes: “Q’s For Brian: Who has emerged as the biggest prankster on the set thus far?”

BJS: Actually, our hair, makeup and wardrobe folks have pulled some BRILLIANT pranks. And I’m talking about some incredibly intricate stuff here. Bobby got a great one a few weeks back.

“What has been your favourite episode to work on and if you can answer, why?”

BJS: Oooo that’s tough one.  They’ve all been a blast, especially Air and all the stuff we did in New Mexico. But Life really meant a lot to me – I love what Matt went through in that episode and the stuff I got to do as an actor. It’s a real heartbreaker.  We recently wrapped an episode called Faith and I thought it played very well, and the location we worked at was breathtaking.

I love our directors, and I want to say a bit about them – Andy, Peter, Will, Alex, Felix, Ernest, Rohn, Rob. They all bring something unique to the show, and I think you’ll soon realize how important a good director is, especially considering the shooting style. Our directors have been incredibly collaborative and always find a way to set up their shots based on what happens in rehearsals, which isn’t easy and requires a lot of on the spot creativity. I’ve learned something special from all of them.

Chevron7 writes: “Questions for Brian: OK, let me get the awkward one in first….why are you blocking me (@imwebgurl) on Twitter? Is it an accident or on purpose?”

BJS: Hmmm…not sure. Don’t think I’ve blocked anyone – are you sure you’re blocked?

“What was your first job ever?”

BJS: I worked at Winn-Dixie as a grocery bagger.

“What’s more nerve-wracking, the audition process or the first day on set of a new role?”

BJS: Auditions are terrible, and I’d say the screen-test was by far one of the most fearful moments of my life. The first day on set for this one was great. Yeah, you always have those first day jitters but we had time to bond as a cast before-hand so that helped a bunch. Plus our characters are in a scary situation throughout the pilot, so I got to use whatever nerves I was experiencing in the moment.

At Icarus Base (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)

At Icarus Base (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)

“What kind of research did you do for the role? I can highly recommend Jetstream (just for fun), a Discovery Canada doco following a group of rookies through Fighter pilot training in the Hornet. With Kavan Smith narrating.”

BJS: Like I said before, lots of reading and documentaries. Also checked out some episodes of SG-1 that were pertinent to the mythos or technology we deal with on SGU. Will check out Jetstream – sounds like a good one!

“Is your character tested more emotionally or physically during the first season?”

BJS: Both. I think you’ll find that Matt really gets thrown around a lot and has no problem sacrificing himself. He wants desperately for everyone to get back to their families and he’d rather die than fail.

“Who do you go for in the NFL, Cowboys? What do you think their chances are this year? Personally I’m a 49er fan and I’m looking for a better season.”

BJS: I’ll always have a soft-spot for the Cowboys. I grew up during their “golden age”, when they were America’s Team. I’d love to see a come-back.

Otros Ojos writes: “Questions for Brian Smith: I know there are limits as to what you guys can say about SGU at this point, but can you tell us a little about what you and Lt. Scott have in common, and where you’re different?”

BJS: I think we’re both emotional people, for better or worse. Sometimes we both do things out of passion without thinking through the consequences first. We both have a need to prove ourselves and to undo past mistakes. We’re also both pretty earnest and maybe a little bit lost.. I also relate to his unlocked potential – we both have a lot on the ball and yet we’re struggling to unlock that energy. It ain’t easy being a rookie! But he’s definitely been through a lot more than I have, and I don’t know anyone who can relate to being trapped on a run-away space ship several billion light years away from home.

“What are you currently reading?”

BJS: Shelby Foote’s narrative on the American Civil War, Women in Love by DH Lawrence, a great biography on Tchaikovsky and an awesome episode of SGU called Incursion.

Ready for action (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Televison).

Ready for action (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Televison).

“Was this role the first time you’ve gotten a military “buzz cut”? If so, what did you think when you looked in the mirror?”

BJS: No, actually, and I wish I could have my hair that short all the time! I had to get it buzzed for my role in a film called The War Boys. Oddly enough I found myself getting more jobs when my hair was buzzed. Matt’s hair is starting to grow out and I’m missing getting to jump out of bed and not worry about it.

Anais33 a ecrit: “Etes vous un grand fan de SF? Si oui qu’elle film ou serie aimez vous?”

BJS: (I don’t speak French, but I’m gonna TRY to answer these…….)

Well, I’m not sure I was a “grand” fan of Sci-Fi, but I certainly have enjoyed Star Trek, especially when I was younger. I’m now a big fan of Battlestar Galactica after having finished the full series on DVD. Grace Park? Oy vey.

“Aimez vous le sport? Lequels appréciez vous?”

BJS: I played soccer as a kid, and was also in gymnastics for a while. I appreciate football and watch it whenever I have the time.

“Que pensez vous de Joseph Mallozzi?”

BJS: I think Joseph Mallozzi is the bomb! Although I’ve never seen him wear pince-nez, sorry.

Delynn writes: “Questions for Brian Jacob Smith:
What inspired you to pick acting as a career?”

BJS: I needed something to keep me occupied in High School. But then I realized I could work out a lot of crap in my life through the characters I played. So it was like, “I get PAID for therapy? Awesome, yo, sign me up!”

“Do you have any advice you’d give to a young aspiring actor?”

BJS: Find out about the actors that intrigue you – if you can, study with their teachers or people that are like-minded. I really admired the work I saw coming from some young actors out of Juilliard (Michael Urie of ‘Ugly Betty’ being one of them), and I knew I wanted to be that good. Also forget about a “career”. Don’t go to audition classes or any of that crap unless you really feel bad about your auditions. Do your work to satisfy your own good opinion and a career will happen organically.

cats writes: “Q’s for Brian: Are you happily anticipating a Lt. Matthew Scott action figure? Would you faithfully play with “you”? Welcome to the Stargate family!
I understand Rachel Luttrell’s son and David Hewlett’s son each enjoy playing with their respective parents’ dollies.”

BJS: I think it’d make a great chew-toy for Cassie! Honestly, I think SGU action figures would be a little odd. None of the characters are action heroes, you know? They’re recognizable people in a tragic situation, stranded and missing their families. I can’t imagine some kid at Wal-Mart being like “Hey mom, can I get the Lt. Scott doll? When I pull the string he cries!

“Will you dine with Joe M again and partake of more gourmet entrees?”

BJS: You betcha! Except next time Joe needs to let ME pick up the bill.

Sweating it out in New Mexico (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television).

Sweating it out in New Mexico (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television).

Artdogspot writes: “Really looking forward to seeing you -very soon- in SGU.  What was your experience like moving to and living in NYC? Which neighborhood(s) did you hang out in? And, how was the whole Julliard experience?”

BJS: Uh, culture shock!!! Although Julliard was such an insulated community that we didn’t get overwhelmed by the city at first.

Juilliard. I’m still processing that whole experience. I don’t think anyone goes to Juilliard in order to feel good, you know? It’s a tough environment and they still hold to that old-European Conservatory style teaching so it’s not based on the kind of considerate teaching methods we grow up with in the states. It’s like boot-camp for artists. They break you down, strip you of your bad habits and then try to rebuild you starting in year three. Sometimes that rebuilding process never gets completed and I’ve seen wonderfully talented young actors get destroyed.  Which should never be allowed to happen, in my opinion. Still, I owe everything to that place even though I still get shivers when I walk by the building. It gave me a life-long need to keep improving, keep pushing myself and to never settle for crap work. I learned what I’m capable of there – in both a positive and a negative way.

“If you go back to do stage work in the future, will it be Broadway or off-Broadway?”

BJS: Either one is fine – the venue doesn’t matter. I’ve seen genius performances in garage spaces. I’d do regional theatre work if I felt I needed to play the role.

“How does it feel to be in Vancouver now and working with the Stargate team?”

BJS: It’s been the best year of my life.

Lahockey11 writes: “ Question for Brian: As you researched your role for SGU, what aspect of the character did you think would be the hardest to portray? And after filming a few episodes did it end up being as hard as you thought?”

BJS: Well, I had never done this much work in front of a camera before and I was worried about adjusting to the demands of film-acting. But I was surprised to find that I like it as much if not better than stage acting.

Caitylanna writes: “I do have a few questions for Brian – What was your initial reaction to the crowd at Comic Con?

BJS: “Awkward – they have no idea who we are!”

“What is your favorite thing to do while not acting?”

BJS: Play XBox and read.

“If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?”

BJS: The mountains of North Carolina.

Aboard Destiny - a long way from the mountains of North Carolina (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television).

Aboard Destiny - a long way from the mountains of North Carolina (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television).

Caitlyanna writes: “I thought of one more question for Brian – I’m attempting to gain enough courage for stage acting, what is some good advice you would give to an aspiring actor?”

BJS: Well if you’re starting out, find a place to study. And choose that place carefully because there are a lot of hacks and egomaniacs out there who will do you more harm than good. Make a list of actors whose work you admire and then find out how THEY went about it.

Coronach writes: “I asked this question of David Blue, but I’m curious to see what your answer will be. So, question to Brian: What is the funniest/weirdest/most memorable thing to happen on the set of SGU so far?
Thanks, and looking forward to SGU!”

BJS: I think Jamil Walker Smith is the funniest/weirdest/most memorable thing to happen on the set of ANY Stargate show, hahaha. But seriously, getting to ride in the Huey Chopper while we were in NM was awesome. We also hung out for a bit at the Officer’s Club at Holoman AFB and had a few beers with some German fighter pilots.

Aboleyn24 writes: “First off welcome and thanks for wanting to do a Q & A with us. I enjoy following your tweets. I am really looking forward to SGU. I am a TV addict, do you watch much television and if so which shows are your favorites either currently airing or shows no longer on?”

BJS: Friday Night Lights, The Shield, Battlestar Galactica, True Blood, Generation Kill, Intervention, and Dog the Bounty Hunter.

Shirt ‘n Tie writes: “Hi (again) Brian. Thank you so much for taking the time to do the Q and A. With SGU being your first Sci Fi gig…what has been the most unexpected aspect to the process (as against rom-com / drama / feature etc)? Keep up the tweets! Best from Ireland.”

BJS: Well people always ask about working in front of a green screen, but really the most unexpected and the hardest sci-fi part of the job is looking at something three feet in front of you that isn’t there now but will be added digitally later. You feel like you’re just crossing your eyes for no reason and you know the crew is like “what the hell is he doing??” Thank god for Mark Savela!

AscendedTauri writes: “I am a student at the Manhattan School of Music, which in many ways is a copy to Juilliard w/out the drama and dance programs… I was wondering if and how often you would attend any of the music performances at Juilliard? How much interacting did you do w/ that part of the student population?”

BJS: Great question, so glad you asked! I actually fell in love with classical music at Juilliard because many of my friends were pianists, composers, violinists, etc. And I spent hours in practice rooms listening to them rehearse their pieces. I realized that the things they grapple with are really no different from the things I deal with as an actor! How do you communicate the writer’s intention? How do you phrase this melody (or line) so that it rings true? How do you find the style of the piece? Do I need to “feel” the music in order to play it well? I mean, it was a HUGE revelation – musicians talk about music the same way actors talk about acting: intention, truth, emotion, technique, phrasing, style. Sorry for the long winded answer, but it’s something that really gets me rolling!

Jennie writes: “Hi Brian,
First off welcome to the Stargate world. My question is an easy one. What is your favorite part about working in the world of Stargate? Good luck with this season.”

BJS: The Stargate family. The crew, the actors, the producers are all in this together and there’s no ego about it. We all realize how blessed we are to get to do this. Plus I think Brad and Rob are good at building this family and maintaining it.

Juralas writes: “Have you been hurt during a stunt yet?”

BJS: No, but there are some very intense episodes coming up and you never know. That being said, Bam Bam is the best stunt coordinator in the industry and I trust him completely.

“As an American working in Canada, what do you think of the whole health care debate?”

BJS: I’m hoping this is the last time we need to HAVE a health care debate.

Fsmn36 writes: “Questions for Brian: Were you a sci-fi geek/afficionado/watcher before your SGU role? If so, give a short list of what you like! If not, do you enjoy the sci-fi setting now?”

BJS: Well, frankly I like where sci-fi is GOING. There’s an attempt to mix in a more realistic  and grounded sensibility to sci-fi programming and I find it exciting. Sci-Fi explores the big questions – why not ask them in a way that engages and provokes and isn’t afraid of taking itself seriously?  That being said, I always considered Star Trek to be a guilty pleasure – I never took the show seriously. It was sort of like reading a comic book. I guess as I get older (well, not THAT old but still . . . ) I’m much more into shows that challenge me to look deeper, and might allow me to relate to the characters I’m watching, foibles and all. If I just want to be entertained I’ll play XBox.

“You’ve obviously just started your career (based on IMDB): what is life like right now that’s different from college, from how you grew up, etc. Are you taking to it well (the fame, the fans, you know), or is it a bit of an adjustment?”

BJS: Well, the fact that I’m working is a blessing. Besides that my life hasn’t changed, and honestly I don’t think it’ll be that different in November or beyond. I’m not interested in THAT kind of a career. Plus we haven’t even aired yet and frankly we have no idea how people will respond to the show or to the characters. We’re too busy working for our own good opinion at this point.

In the Icarus Base gate room (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television).

In the Icarus Base gate room (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television).

“In that line, how do you like having a more prominent role on TV? Do you enjoy the TV schedule/style as opposed to the stage/movie format?”

BJS: It has it’s challenges – sometimes you’ve got a number of days off and you can get lazy or loose your “fire”, and you find yourself warming up during the first few scenes when you’re back, which is never good. Sometimes you’re shooting sooo many scenes in a day, one day after another, that you can get burnt out, especially if they’re intense. You have to find a way to pace yourself while staying disciplined when you have a day off.  Sometimes you NEED to just do nothing and go on a hike or play XBox or whatever, to get relaxed. When you’re doing a play, your whole day revolves around that 8:00 curtain – so you gear everything towards that. Working stage actors have to live like monks.

“You graduated from Julliard, which is awesome. Way back when I considered dance as a career, that was a school I was interested in. Share some insights on the type of learning, your favorite prof, or some kind of funny story for those of us who didn’t end up majoring in the arts.
And I just have to pass this on (because actors always need more ego-boosting, right?), I think you’re absolutely adorable, Brian! I’m excited to follow your role on SGU.”

BJS: Haha, thanks!  One of my favorites at Juilliard was a movement teacher named Moni Yakim. He came up with a movement regimen that combined yoga and Israeli Army boot-camp techniques! God, we were sore after that first week of classes with him. One of the movement sequences was called The Spanish Inquisition! We would have to hold certain impossible poses for like thirty seconds AND HE WOULD COUNT OUT THE TIME IN HEBREW!! He wanted us to put emotion into our workouts. He said, “you must never make a movement without an emotion behind it.” And if you were faking it or half-assing it, he’d sniff it out and pounce.

PG15 writes: “What do you think of Stargate fan conventions (i.e. Creation Con in Vancouver), and do you see yourself participating in them?”

BJS: I think they’re awesome and, if invited, would love to participate. I love talking to fans.

Simon_SGU_Supporter writes: Also, who, from work do you interact with the most?”

BJS: I’ve spent quite a lot of time with David and Elyse. Also John Lenic, who introduced me to crossfit. We spend most of our time telling crossfit war stories.

E writes: “Have you ever heard of thunkers…. or worse… whumpers?! *evil grin*”

BJS: Someone on twitter explained thunking to me, but not whumping. Is that like the inverse of thunking? I have a feeling I don’t want to get whumped.

Major D. Davis writes: “First off I just want to say thank you Brian for doing this Q&A. What is the hardest part of playing you character(especially considering he is in the military)?”

BJS: Trying to make him come alive in three or four takes.

“What episode would you say is going to be a fan favorite(besides air)?”

BJS: I’m predicting Time and Space to be the big fan favorites. Water, Light and Human will be high up there too. Action packed, fast-paced, surprising, full of some crazy twists. I also predict a few kino scenes will be played over and over again.

“Whats your favorite episode of SG-1 and Atlantis(or some your favorites)?”

BJS: I loved the 200th episode of SG1!

“Once SGU is over(hopefully 5-7 years down the road), do you think you will go back to theater, or continue in television and movies?  Thanks again Brian and Joe for doing this Q&A!!!!!”

BJS: I’ll be doing all three. At least that’s the plan. 🙂

Gilder writes: “Q for Brian J Smith: same as for David B–favorite means for memorizing lines?”

BJS: I use a tape-recorder – I record the whole scene and listen to it over and over again while speaking whatever random thoughts come to mind. It’s kinda strange, but it works really well.

Cherluvya writes: “Brian Questions: Matthew is military. Does he wear the same thing everyday? I know, not for the *cough cough* scene.”

BJS: Hahaha. You’ll see variations – the people aboard Destiny slowly start to build a routine for themselves, and this routine includes new habits. Scott knows a lot of eyes are on him as the de facto second in command, so he does wear his uniform all the time – but sometimes he’ll opt for just the t-shirt when he’s off duty.

Standing by to shoot a kino scene.

Standing by to shoot a kino scene.

“An article mentioned how “young” the SGU actors are (after seeing the first three episodes). Thought it was intentional to speak to the “wrong people” angle. How do you feel about the key roles of a young cast? They compared you to 90210.”

BJS: Yes, that inexperience  is vital to creating a lot of the predicaments in SGU. Sorry guys, but it’s not a marketing ploy to get teenagers to watch the show. It’s an attempt to create dramatic tension in a way that’s not possible when a certifiable genius can solve a problem with the push of a button and a joke. I find the 90210 comment flattering – I actually auditioned for that show and didn’t even get a call-back. 😦 Hey, maybe they can call the casting directors at 90210 and get me a guest spot!

Joflyaway writes: “questions for Brian Smith: 1. What attracted you to the SGU show and the role in particular?”

BJS: The writing in the pilot and a phone conversation I had with Rob Cooper where he outlined the new approach to shooting the show. He basically said, “We’ll be expecting a lot from you guys (the actors). You’ll have to come in incredibly prepared because we’ll be shooting rehearsals, you’ll be coming up with your own blocking, and you won’t know where the cameras are.” What actor can say no to THAT?

“Are you aware of the passionate and loyal Stargate fan base and are you ready to be a part of its world?”

BJS: Bring it on, Gaters!

“What do you enjoy most about Vancouver?”

BJS: The weather and the food. The people are also very chill.

duneknight writes: “question for Brian J. Smith: do you see yourself as a ladies man?”

BJS: No, I’m a goofball, actually.

“yeah sue me lol, i dont know what else to ask him now. oh and that pic should be very helpful to the folks at gateworld who are trying to find out how many made it to destiny.”

BJS: It’s a very small number – around 80, I believe. I like it that way – we’ve tried to keep continuity with the background actors and it’s helped create a sense of small town intimacy aboard Destiny.

“wait another question for Brian J. Smith: what do you think about the negative fan reaction?”

BJS: I don’t think about it. I’ve got a job to do.

DP writes: “Are you from Ky.? If so, how Kentucky are you?”

BJS: No I’m actually from TX, although my mom lives in Kentucky. It’s beautiful there.  I have some fond memories of the mountains in that area from when I was a kid.

Cherluvya writes: “Brian: After a long day working, do you turn on music, TV or computer…or maybe all three? Oh, games..almost forgot that. What is your favorite of each? That’s a big one huh?”

BJS: All of the above! Right now my favorite game is Battlefield: Bad Company.

Cherluvya writes: “Brian Question: I guess all actors have usually had a tough road to get to where they are. Have any stories you would like to share?”

BJS: Oh, I’ve got tons of them! I almost joined the military – – – twice! Not as a last resort, but because I wanted to do something meaningful with my life, and auditioning and bartending just wasn’t cutting it. But each time I was about to join I ended up getting a job, so I guess I’m getting the message loud and clear.

Madwelshboy writes: “Questions for Brian J. Smith: What was your first reaction to the character of Matthew Scott and how has it changed as the season’s gone on?”

BJS: His backstory moved me, first off.  And I was impressed to see a young man in his twenties portrayed this way. The writers didn’t shy away from creating a guy with a good heart, and most of the crap I had been reading for in other TV shows portrayed guys my age as egotistical, mindless, sex-craved players. For whatever reason it’s very “in” to be cynical about human beings, and I don’t think Brad and Rob have a cynical outlook on human nature. Can I get an amen?

“The MGM site recently updated the character bio’s, with some pretty interesting stuff about Matthew Scott. How much of that back-story was in place when you were first cast?”

BJS: Most of it, although it has continued to evolve over the season.

“Out of the episodes you’ve read and/or shot so far, which do you think shows Matthew Scott at his best and at his worst?”

BJS: Water shows him at his best. Pain shows him at his worst.

“Who do you get to work with the most and least on set? Who would you like to work with more?”

BJS: Lately it’s been the quartet of “youngin’s” – Eli, Chloe, Greer and Scott. In the beginning I did lots with Young. I would love to have a HUGE blowout scene with Rush.

“Your Mom has said that she’s speechless after seeing the huge SGU poster on the side of a building. How dose it make you feel knowing that your face is literally everywhere?”

BJS: I mean, it’s definitely neat – but it doesn’t help me figure out the scene we’re shooting tomorrow! 🙂

“What effect has the fan reaction (if any) via Twitter had on you? What was your reaction to having your first very own fansite?”

BJS: It’s bizarre. I look at where I was this time last year and really can’t believe it.

“What’s it like working with Robert Carlyle, Ming-Na and Lou Diamond Phillips, who have had successfully long careers? Have you learnt anything from them?”

BJS: They’re the best. They’ve been very kind and patient with me. They’re great role models. These are talented, successful people who work their butts off and treat people right. Do you know how rare that is?

“What one word would you use to describe each of your cast mates?”

BJS: Bobby – chameleon. Louis – brilliant. David – hilarious. Elyse – vulnerable. Alaina – goddess. Jamil – free. Ming Na – moving. Lou – classy.

Fun in the sun - Air III (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Televison).

Fun in the sun - Air III (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Televison).

“You’ve played a few gay characters, both on stage in “Three Changes” and in film in “Hate Crime” and “The War Boys”. Some actors have spoken about the difficulties in playing gay characters, in particularly when it comes to intimate scenes with male co-stars. How did you approach these parts and did you experience difficulty with them? Did you have any fear of maybe becoming type cast?”

BJS: Hey you forgot one – I also played a closeted gay character in Good Boys And True, at Second Stage in NY!  I fell in love with those characters and their predicaments. It’s very rich territory, playing a young man who can’t be himself. And very sad. Again, I don’t like how a lot of writers portray young men my age, but those characters actually experienced life in a deep way as opposed to going out and making things miserable for other people. Well, maybe with the exception of ‘Three Changes’, but that was too much fun to pass up. 🙂 I hope I continue to get type-cast if the roles are this interesting.

Iamza writes: “Questions for Brian: You mentioned on Twitter how much you were enjoying BSG. What aspect of the show was it that most appealed to you? There has been some comparisons drawn between SGU and BSG, based in part on some of the early trailers — if it’s possible to do without giving too much away, may I ask what you think most distinguishes SGU from BSG?”

BJS: Great, great question. BSG was a very baroque show. It was nasty and dark and humorless and I loved every minute of it. SGU is about the “better angels of our nature”, even though the characters go through some dark stuff. They never give up. They’re survivors.  I don’t know how many times a character in SGU says “okay this sucks, but we’re gonna get through this – and we’re gonna get through it together.” That’s the difference – SGU is about the inexplicable ability of human beings to sacrifice themselves for a stranger and to find hope in impossible circumstances, and BSG was about whether or not the human species deserves to survive. I don’t think you’ll ever doubt the answer to that question after watching SGU.

“SGU has drawn a fair amount of flack over the past year. What do you think is the biggest misconception about the show that you’d like to set straight?”

BJS: Scott is NOT a Cylon, folks. Besides that, all the misconceptions are true.

“What’s the best thing you’ve found so far about being Scott?Do you find it hard to shake the character when you’re done shooting for the day? If you had to pick one thing about Scott that you most admire, what would it be?”

BJS: He’s a great character to play because he doesn’t leave a bad taste in my mouth at the end of the day. I like the kid a lot and I’d like to hang out with him if he were a real person. I admire his courage but am moved by his ability to care for other people more than himself.

“favourite last book that was read purely for pleasure (rather than research)? Many thanks for your time. I look forward to watching you in action on SGU in October!”

BJS: A Light in August by William Faulkner.

PBMom writes: “Question for Brian: Not so much a question as a comment of thank you for being accessible to fans especially via Twitter. I believe the Twittering by the cast and people behind the scenes has helped fuel the excitement for the show.”

BJS: Am glad to hear it. Thanks!

Crazymom1 writes: “Brian, my son Brian wants to know if your mother has ever embarrassed you in public on purpose. I can’t imagine what made him ask that.”

BJS: No, but god knows she’s got plenty of material!!

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Yep, only six days until the world premiere of Stargate: Universe!  Have you told everyone?  And I mean EVERYONE?  Your pharmacist?  That ex-girlfriend you dumped in college?  The Hungarian woman in Accounts Receivable from your last job?  No?!!!  Well, what‘re you waiting for!

We’re not waiting.  For October 2nd that is.  Today, we held a special matinee screening of SGU’s first three episodes – Air I, II, and III – for the cast and crew.  I’ve gotta say, there’s nothing like seeing it on the big screen.  The performances were spectacular, the visuals stunning, and the last ten minutes of Air III had me on the edge of my seat (despite the fact that I’ve already watched it about a half dozen times).

IMG_4737x

Lawren, Ashleigh's guy, and Ashleigh.  Before leaving the office on Friday, I asked Ashleigh to text me a reminder about the matinee.  About an hour before the matinee, having received no reminder text, I texted her: "Hey, am I supposed to be somewhere today?"  A moment later, I received her response: "No.  It's Saturday.  You're free."  Later, I received a follow-up text: "Oh shoot.  The premiere is today.  I hope you can make it in time."  I got it about five minutes after I'd taken my seat beside her in the theater.

Lawren, Ashleigh's guy, and Ashleigh. Before leaving the office on Friday, I asked Ashleigh to text me a reminder about the matinee. About an hour before the matinee, having received no reminder text, I texted her: "Hey, am I supposed to be somewhere today?" A moment later, I received her response: "No. It's Saturday. You're free." Later, I received a follow-up text: "Oh shoot. The premiere is today. I hope you can make it in time." I got it about five minutes after I'd taken my seat beside her in the theater.

The eccentric Carl Binder and my writing partner Paul Mullie.

Producers Carl Binder and Paul Mullie grow increasingly anxious for the movie to start.

Actor David Blue (SGU's Eli Wallace) scopes the crowd prior to the screening.

Actor David Blue (SGU's Eli Wallace) scopes the crowd prior to the screening.

I look like one of those eccentric European fashion designers.  Zis seazun zebra iz in!

I look like one of those eccentric European fashion designers. Zis seazun zebra moccassins are een!

A candid shot of David Blue enjoying a little popcorn.

A candid shot of David Blue enjoying a little popcorn.

Show Creators/Executive Producers Robert Cooper and Brad Wright give a speech before the screening.  "The blue honda hatchback, license number 987 DFJ - you are parked in a fire lane.  You WILL be towed!"

Show Creators/Executive Producers Robert Cooper and Brad Wright give a speech before the screening. "The blue honda hatchback, license number 987 DFJ - you are parked in a fire lane. You WILL be towed!"

SGU Director Will Waring strikes a pose.  Then remembers too late he is camera shy.

SGU Director Will Waring strikes a pose. Then remembers too late he is camera shy.

Actor Brian J. Smith (SGU's Lieutenant Matthew Scott) intermissing at intermission.

Actor Brian J. Smith (SGU's Lieutenant Matthew Scott) intermissin' at intermission.

The lovely Kerry McDowall shows off her Irish beau Alan.  Do I sense a little magic in the air?  Oh, no, sorry.  I think that's flare from the black light.

The lovely Kerry McDowall shows off her Irish beau Alan. Do I sense a little magic in the air? Oh, no, sorry. I think that's flare from the black light.

Actor Jamil Walker Smith (SGU's Sgt. Ronald Greer) wonders whether I'm going to keep the camera after I'm done.

Actor Jamil Walker Smith (SGU's Sgt. Ronald Greer) wonders whether I'm going to keep the camera after I'm done.

The ever pleasant Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman (SGU's Airman Darren Becker) shows off his stylin' headwear.

The ever pleasant Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman (SGU's Airman Darren Becker) shows off his stylin' headwear.

VFX Supervisor Mark Savela supervises the crowd at intermission.

VFX Supervisor Mark Savela supervises the crowd at intermission.

Yowza!  Actress Elyse Levesque (SGU's Chloe Armstrong) reminds me of those beautiful starlets from the 30's and 40's.

Yowza! Actress Elyse Levesque (SGU's Chloe Armstrong) reminds me of those beautiful starlets from the 30's and 40's.

Director Andy Mikita and his better half, wife Candace.

Director Andy Mikita and his better half, wife Candace.

Actress Julia Benson (SGU's Lieutenant Vanessa James) and actor Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman (Airman Darren Becker)

Actress Julia Benson (SGU's Lieutenant Vanessa James) and actor Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman (Airman Darren Becker)

Actress Julia Benson (Lieutenant Vanessa James) with husband and fellow actor Peter Benson (playing himself).

Actress Julia Benson (Lieutenant Vanessa James) with husband and fellow actor Peter Benson (playing himself).

Exec. Producer Robert Cooper snacking it up before Air III.

Exec. Producer Robert Cooper snacking it up before Air III.

Actor Peter Kelamis (SGU's Adam Brody).  And rumored french bulldog owner.

Actor Peter Kelamis (SGU's Adam Brody). And rumored french bulldog owner.

The beautiful Ming-Na (SGU's Camile Wray) with hubby.

The beautiful Ming-Na (SGU's Camile Wray) with hubby.

Special Features Producer Ivon Bartok.  Hey, where's his camera?  Shouldn't he be getting all this for the DVD extras?

Special Features Producer Ivon Bartok. Hey, where's his camera? Shouldn't he be getting all this for the DVD extras?

Check out the hot couple!  Actress Alaina Huffman (SGU's Lieutenant Tamara Johansen) and husband John.

Check out the hot couple! Actress Alaina Huffman (SGU's Lieutenant Tamara Johansen) and husband John.

The lovely Jennifer Spence (SGU's Lisa Park).

The lovely Jennifer Spence (SGU's Lisa Park).

Actor David Blue let me post the first two goofy pics so long as I posted at least one good photo.  This one's going to be my desktop wallpaper.

Actor David Blue let me post the first two goofy pics so long as I posted at least one good photo. This one's going to be my desktop wallpaper.

Finally, as I was driving today, listening to the radio, I heard a radio advertisement for the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra in which they mentioned some upcoming performances,  among them Itzhak Perlman and Lang Lang.  Seriously!  Lang Lang!  Who wouldn’t pay to see a panda play the cello?  I can’t wait!

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Patrick Gilmore (Dale Volker).  Yeah, he coulda been a reiki master too.  Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television.

Patrick Gilmore (Dale Volker). Yeah, he coulda been a reiki master too. Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television.

Patrick Gilmore (SGU’s Dale Volker) dropped by my office this morning to request permission to use some of the photos I’d taken of him for an upcoming newspaper feature (I suggest going with “Flight of the Volkery“ or “You‘ve Got Dale!”). I was, of course, more than happy to oblige, offering up free use of any of the pics in my archive including a couple of extra shots of yours truly to really round out the article. Eventually, we got to talking about tweeting, blogging, and the lulling effects of internet surfing. I’m sure you all know what I’m talking about. One second you’re logging in to check your email and the next thing you know it’s next Tuesday and you’re the subject of an amber alert. Time flies when you’re having fun, but flies even faster when you’re online. Truly, I can’t even begin to imagine the many, many things I could have been doing instead. Why, I could have taken up golf, learned to play the castanets, understood a half dozen David Lynch movies, produced my first spoken word CD, become a reiki master, or taken up World of Warcraft. Instead, here I am. Anyway, internet addiction is apparently a bigger problem than many realize. It’s a serious subject that requires serious discussion. But, unfortunately, not here because I’m far too busy working on this blog, frequenting the various foodie forums, and surfing YouTube for hilarious videos of bug-eyed woodland creatures.

Hey, you know what’s a pretty damn good show? Besides Stargate:Universe. Glee! And I’m not the only one in the writers’ room who was pleasantly surprised by the show. Carl, Paul, and Brad also give it the big thumbs up. To be honest, I had no interest in the premise, envisioning it as a High School Musical for adults, but after Carl’s strong recommendation, I checked it out – and was mightily impressed with the quick, clever, and very funny writing, direction, and performances. My only quibble is the all-too-slick musical numbers, but it’s a minor one. If you haven’t checked the show out yet, I heartily recommend you do so. And Stargate: Universe.

I poked my head into Carl Binder’s office this afternoon and discovered he was in the process of receiving notes from actor Jamil Walker Smith. It’s always amazing to watch the creative process unfold, the give and take between performer and writer, and I was fortunate enough to be able to snap a few pics of the magic happening. Check it out –

Jamil and Carl discuss Sgt. Greer's character arc in an upcoming episode.

Jamil and Carl discuss Sgt. Greer's character arc in an upcoming episode.

Then offers some helpful suggestions for the rewrite.

Jamil follows up by offering some helpful suggestions for the rewrite.

Last day to get your questions in for actor Brian J. Smith (SGU’s Lieutenant Matthew Scott).

Brian J. Smith, poised to answer your questions (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)

Brian J. Smith, poised to answer your questions (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)

Last day to get your questions in for author Matthew Woodring Stover (Heroes Die).

Finally, I’d like to make mention of yet another member of our terrific cast. Mark Burgess plays the role of SGU’s oft put-upon Jeremy Franklin and, dare I say, he is perfect for the role.

Mark Burgess (Jeremy Franklin).  Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television.

Mark Burgess (Jeremy Franklin). Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television.

Stargate fans will, of course, remember Mark from his appearance in Stargate: Atlantis’s AU episode Vegas which had him puking his guts up in a seedy motel room before a wraith eventually put him out of his misery. Well, he parlayed that sickly guest shot into a much healthier recurring role on Stargate: Universe where he finds himself considerably less nauseous but significantly more harried. His character puts up with so much with such resigned weariness that, every time I see Mark on the lot, I actually feel like apologizing to him.

HUH?!!  WHATWASTHAT?!!  (Mark Burgess as a seriously spooked Jeremy Franklin).  Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television.

HUH?!! WHATWASTHAT?!! (Mark Burgess as a seriously spooked Jeremy Franklin). Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television.

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I knew it!  I AM being terrorized by gremlins and/or the ghosts of gremlins!  Now my laptop battery won’t re-charge!  I plugged in my power cord this morning and had the “Low Battery” warning flash up before my computer shut down.  After attempting several high-tech solutions (plugging my power cord into another outlet, checking to make sure the little green light was on, wiggling the cord, taking out the battery and putting it back in, shaking the laptop, etc.) the laptop powered up but my power meter read 0%.  Five minutes later, I checked again and it was at 100%.  Yeah, sure.  100%. That’s what they want me to think!  To top things off, I still can’t transfer Google Maps onto my Garmin.
On the bright side, our crew gifts came in today – dashing SGU jackets available not only three different colors, but three different sizes!  I, of course, always go with the women’s small, the better to show off my developing delts.  Check out the Stargate models in action…
I’m a big fan of actress Alain Huffman.  And I’m not the only one.  Yes, you can count in the rest of the show’s producers who have been utterly delighted with her portrayal of SGU’s hard-luck Lieutenant Tamara “T.J.” Johansen, but you can also include my wife who, quite frankly, rarely weighs in on the actors I work with.  The cast of SGU is an exception because they all received invites to my annual chocolate party earlier this year, an occasion that allowed Fondy to actually meet them in a relaxed setting.  She had nothing but great things to say about all, but had particular praise for the gregarious Jamil Walker Smith (who walked in, strolled right up to a table full of strangers, and happily introduced  himself with a: “Hi, I’m Jamil!!!”) and Alaina who was seated across from her for most of the evening and proved herself an exceptionally charming dinner guest alongside her equally charming husband John.  Yes, we’re all fans of Alaina’s work, but we’re also huge fans of Alaina the person.  She’s sweet, funny, incredibly down-to-Earth, and possessed of a commendable chocolate appetite.  What more could you ask for?
Maybe a couple of pics from the Stargate: Atlantis vault?  Okay…

Gateroom assembly (courtesy and copyright MGM Television)
Gateroom assembly (courtesy and copyright MGM Television)

I knew it!  I AM being terrorized by gremlins and/or the ghosts of gremlins!  Now my laptop battery won’t re-charge!  I plugged in my power cord this morning and had the “Low Battery” warning flash up before my computer shut down.  After attempting several high-tech solutions (plugging my power cord into another outlet, checking to make sure the little green light was on, wiggling the cord, taking out the battery and putting it back in, shaking the laptop, etc.) the laptop powered up but my power meter read 0%.  Five minutes later, I checked again and it was at 100%.  Yeah, sure.  100%. That’s what they want me to think!  To top things off, I still can’t transfer Google Maps onto my Garmin.  Oh, and I may need a new projector for my home theater.

Get your questions in for actor Brian J. Smith.  Or else! (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)
Get your questions in for actor Brian J. Smith. Or else! (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)

On the bright side, our crew gifts came in today – dashing SGU jackets available in not only three different colors, but three different sizes as well!  I, of course, always go with the women’s extra tiny, the better to show off my developing delts. Anyway, check  ’em out.  Perfect for any mood or occasion –

On the go.

On the go!

Casual
Casual!

Sporty!
Sporty!

Droll

Droll!

Sassy/Thuggy!

Sassy/Thuggy!

I am a big fan of actress Alaina Huffman.  And I’m not the only one.  Yes, you can count in the rest of the show’s producers who have been utterly delighted with her portrayal of SGU’s hard-luck Lieutenant Tamara “T.J.” Johansen, but you can also include my wife who, quite frankly, rarely weighs in on the actors I work with.  The cast of SGU is an exception because they all received invites to my annual chocolate party earlier this year, an occasion that allowed Fondy to actually meet them in a relaxed setting.   She had nothing but great things to say about all,  but had particular praise for the gregarious Jamil Walker Smith (who walked in, right over to a table full of strangers, and happily introduced himself with a “Hi, I’m Jamil!!!”) and Alaina who was seated across from her for most of the evening and proved herself an exceptionally charming dinner guest alongside her equally charming husband John.

Alaina Huffman (Lieutenant Tamara Johansen) - photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television

Alaina Huffman (Lieutenant Tamara Johansen) - photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television

Yes, we’re all fans of Alaina’s work, but we’re also huge fans of Alaina the person.  She sweet, talented, funny, incredibly down-to-Earth, and possessed of a commendable appetite for chocolate.  What more could you ask for?

T.J. leads the ladies (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)

T.J. leads the ladies (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)

What more?  Maybe a couple of pics from the Stargate: Atlantis vault.

Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5, The Seed (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)

Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5, The Seed (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)

Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5, The Seed (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)

Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5, The Seed (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)

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Protecting Icarus Base (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)

Protecting Icarus Base (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)

Back in the office today after the Labor Day long weekend. Another three full days of production on Pain and prep on Lost before we head off for yet another long weekend. That’s right. No sooner do I return to the friendly confines of my workplace than I am pulled away, like a child caught in a custody dispute, fraught with anxiety at the very thought of being separated from his loving co-workers and comfy office chair. I consoled myself with a lengthy morning-long conversation that touched on all the key issues: Vegas, casting for upcoming episodes, that hilarious article from FARKxcom, recent DVD viewings, and the sudden consensus realization that our buddy Marty G. has truly horrendous taste in movies. We also watched the Day 1 Mix of Light. Once all is said and done, it’s going to be a gorgeous episode. We capped off the day’s festivities with the Vosges chocolates Rob Cooper brought back from Vegas, along with the box of Peanut Butter Bon Bons he gave Carl as a belated birthday gift.

Director Peter DeLuise works his magic (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Televison)

Director Peter DeLuise works his magic (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Televison)

So last year I purchased a Garmin portable GPS navigator that I intended to use in Tokyo – which I never did get around to using because it turned out to be thoroughly useless. Apparently, you can purchase all sorts of maps at the Garmin website. Maps of the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Singapore, Malaysia, China, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Portugal, U.K, Ireland, France, Greece, Italy, the Alps, Russia… What am I missing? Oh, yeah. Japan. And so is Garmin. I contacted them last year about the omission and they assured me they were working on it. One year later, and they still haven’t gotten around to making a Japan map available. What gives? Is the region really that complex that it defies proper cartography? Or is it altogether too much trouble? Well, as my buddy Bruce is fond of saying: “F ’em.”. I’ll rely on Google Maps instead.

I’ve penciled Garmin onto my shit list, just below Internet Explorer and shampoo that smells like oatmeal and cookies in the bottle but not in your hair after you‘ve washed it. Precariously close to making said list as well is my home theater projector that has taken to powering down at random, playing without audio, and displaying images upside-down or in garish purple and green hues. Like the last time something like this happened, I suspect mischievous gremlins or, more logically, the ghost of mischievous gremlins.

Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5, The Seed (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)

Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5, The Seed (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)

Well, people warned me that blogging would get me in trouble. I refused to believe it and now I have paid the price. After posting pics of my dinner with Ivon and Brian, I received not one but two miffed responses from co-workers who shall remain nameless (let’s call them Carl Folder and David Green), complaining about the fact that they hadn’t been invited – despite the fact that they weren’t even in town last weekend. I’ve extended fresh dinner invitations but have yet to hear back from either.

Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5, The Seed (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)

Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5, The Seed (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)

Reminder #1: Get those questions in for actor Brian J. Smith (SGU’s Lieutenant Matthew Scott). I’ll be sending the bunch his way at week’s end.

Brian J. Smith (Lt. Matthew Scott) patiently awaits your questions.

Brian J. Smith (Lt. Matthew Scott) patiently awaits your questions.

Reminder #2: Also, get those questions in for author Matthew Woodring Stover who’ll be by later in the week in support of his novel – and September’s Book of the Month Club selection – Heroes Die.

Reminder #3: My birthday is October 16th. You should start planning now.

Speaking of which, let’s turn things over to some book club discussion –

Thornyrose writes: “There’s nothing like full immersion to pull the reader into the story.”

Answer: Agreed. This one hits the ground running and never lets up. It’s the kind of opening I often identify with short fiction in which the author has a limited amount of time to hook the reader. In the case of Heroes Die, however, the author wastes no time, throwing us headlong into the action, allowing us to catch a breather (and an explanation of exactly what the heck is going on) before plunging us right back into the action. It’s done repeatedly throughout the narrative, jumping back between the two worlds, and to great effect.

Thornyrose also writes: “Even though Hari comes from one of the lowest castes, I was a bit suprised we didn’t see a bit more of that part of this world.”

Answer: True. I thought what was essential to the story came out in Hari’s relationship with his father. Also, since the prime focus was on Otherland, it didn’t bother me as much. Perhaps something that warrants further exploration in the sequels?

Thornyrose also writes: “Kollberg in particular is a villian we love to hate.”

Answer: How interesting that the book’s biggest villain wasn’t the megalomaniacal tyrant or his ruthless guard, but a studio executive. Loved it.

Thornyrose also writes: “I find it interesting that such a society would allow a dissident as Hari’s father to live, even in a maximum level security prison.”

Answer: True, but I wonder if this had something to do with the fact that he was Hari’s father. After all, they want to ensure he stays happy.

Thornyrose also writes: “I also found it a stretch that a person subjected to that level of confinement would manage to hold on to any sanity at all.”

Answer: Yes, it’s also interesting to note that this guy who has been kept locked up for so long is possibly the sanest of the lot. Perhaps another commentary on our out-of-control society?

Thornyrose also writes: “Ma’elKoth is an enigma for much of the book, though I have to admit to being slightly disappointed to his origins/identity.”

Answer: I found his rags to riches backstory quite interesting, his rise from relative obscurity to despotic rule. Sort of a dark side American Dream come true. Good for him!

Thornyrose also writes: “In the parts involving demonstrations of his and Pallas’ powers, I got the feeling I had picked up the fifth or sixth book of the lensman series after glancing at the chapters of the first one. The sheer jump in magnitude of powers by Pallas smelled somewhat of a deux ex machina.”

Answer: I liked the surprising manifestation of her powers but I too felt their development felt a little too quick and convenient.

Thornyrose also writes: “The biggest letdown of the whole book is in how many loose threads were still hanging. On the other hand, those loose threads open the way to the sequels you mentioned, so the author followed the classical advice of always leave your audience wanting more. And I am definitely looking forward to reading those sequels.”

Answer: I thought Stover did a pretty good job of tying up the story specific loose ends while leaving the door open for future adventures. I curious as to what facets of the dual worlds introduced in this novel are explored in subsequent books.

Sylvia writes: “One thing that was a little off balance was what appeared to be Hari/Caine’s sudden “change” where prior to the first emergency transfer back he was much like a soldier of fortune who did not plot, plan, strategize in minute detail. He was someone who appeared to be an accomplished fighter, but very basic otherwise. In fact, one statement was that “…he’d always been a better tactician than he was a strategist.” When he was returned to the Overworld, he was a brilliant strategist – a very accomplished chess player in positioning people and situations to achieve a desired outcome.”

Answer: I saw him as more a injure/kill first, ask questions later type. However, when presented with a scenario that couldn’t be dealt with by mere brute force, he opted for an alternate approach – and succeeded, much to Kollenberg’s surprise.

RebeccaH writes: “In fact, the story was intriguing because I found myself wondering if real-life actors would view it as an allegory for their own careers in the entertainment industry. Certainly actors feel exploited sometimes, not only by the people above them in the hierarchy of entertainment (the money men, the Big Wigs and Cheeses, and their minions), but possibly by the voracious appetites of the audience (fandom). Shanks/Lamorak’s conclusion that his second-rate status is due to lack of marketing in particular, could be the lament of any struggling real-life actor. It was also intriguing to think what any Big Wigs and Cheeses, or minions would think of this book.”

Answer: I’m sure it was no accident, especially given that author Matt Stover is no newbie to the entertainment field. And as pathetic as he was, I counted Lamorak among my favorite of characters.

RebeccaH writes: “The undying, apparently unrequited, love of Hari/Caine for Shanna/Pallas seemed excessive to the point of unhealthy obsession, but maybe I’ve just become cynical in my old age.”

Answer: You coldhearted thing you. I found the romantic through line (Hari’s love for Shanna) worked quite well, going a long way toward humanizing Hari/Caine while adding significant depth to an otherwise quite violent, action-driven story.

Silver_Comet writes: “For me, the pace of the storytelling was too slow. 100 pages and we still weren’t in the main story, just at the beginning.”

Answer: Wow. Just the opposite for me. I was caught up in the action from page one.

Silver_Comet also writes: “I never cared for the main character(s) Hari/Caine. Somehow, I couldn’t believe that he is really able to have true feelings. I couldn’t picture him as someone who starts that adventure because he loves his wife. Not as the main reason anyway.”

Answer: As the novel progresses, we learn more about Hari and his relationship with Shanna so initial surface impressions inevitably give way to a deeper understanding of both his motivation and his character.

Silver_Comet also writes: “I didn’t like the detailed storytelling in certain scenes. For example, it’s enough for me to read that person A cuts off the head from person B. I don’t need further details apart from that.”

Answer: I suspected that some readers would take issue with the visceral bloodletting and, while I’m not a fan of violence for violence’s sake, I thought Stover’s detailed description of the various battle sequences made them seem all the more real. In fact, I’d dare these passages were among the best-written in the book, and this is in no way intended to disparage the quality of the rest of the narrative. He is simply that good at writing “combat prose“.

Sparrow_hawk writes: “And I never really liked any of the main characters: Hari/Caine was too much of a thug and Shanna just never seemed “real” enough for me to care about.”

Answer: Hari felt quite real to me, but it was Shanna who never quite came alive for me.

Sparrow_hawk also writes: “The second tier characters: Toa-Sytell, Kierendal, Ta-lann and even the King of Cant, were more sympathetic. But for the most part, I just felt sorry for most of the characters and that is not something that makes me want to read more about them.”

Answer: Some wonderful supporting character. Toa-Sytell, in particular, was nicely drawn – a dangerous man but honorable, unlike his rival Berne.

Guy writes: “There’s this rule somewhere, it goes show don’t tell. Well, that’s a load of crap; show it if it would be interesting to see, tell it if it isn’t. This is something Matthew Stover seems to understand very well.”

Answer: Yes, Stover maintains a nice balance throughout, showing for the most part but telling when necessary. And, yes, I agree. Showing everything and telling nothing can often be just as boring as telling everything.

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Okay, let’s make it official. Actor Brian J. Smith – SGU’s Lieutenant Matthew Scott – is eager to take part in his very first fan Q&A, so if you have any questions for the Julliard grad, start posting them. One thing that was fairly evident from my chat with him on Friday night – Brian has been touched and overwhelmed by the fan response to both his character and the show as a whole. So let’s give him a big fandom welcome here on this blog…by being extremely nosey.

Brian J. Smith researching his role.
Brian J. Smith researching his role.

Hey, you ever have that sudden anxiety kick in, sort of that panicked sensation you’d feel if, say, you realized you’d forgotten the steel cut Irish oatmeal on the stove that was by now undoubtedly burnt beyond recognition and on its way to triggering the smoke alarm? Well, I had that happen to me this morning – after I realized I’d forgotten the steel cut Irish oatmeal on the stove that was burnt beyond recognition and very close to triggering the smoke alarm. Needless to say the oatmeal was D.O.A. It’s touch and go for the pot. I opened all the doors and windows to air out the place and thought I’d done a pretty good job, until I returned from a trip to Granville Island to discover the house still smelled like burnt oatmeal which, strangely enough, possesses an odor akin to lingering fish. I’d light one of those scented candles but for fear that I’d probably burn the house down.

As it turns out, it’s great fire weather here in Vancouver. Yep, the rainy season is upon us and, for those who don’t know, it goes from now until about a month from now next year. To be honest, I don’t really mind the rain as it stirs distant memories of my youth. But, then again, so does the smell of skunk.

More pics from the MGM Atlantis vault: Sick sick sick…

Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5, The Seed (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)

Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5, The Seed (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)

Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5, The Seed (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)

Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5, The Seed (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)

Ol' Blue Eyes checks out an ailing Dr. Z - Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5, The Seed (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)
Ol’ Blue Eyes checks out an ailing Dr. Z – Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5, The Seed (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)

Finally, I conclude today’s entry with the return of the Food Purchase of the Day video installment. Enjoy. I know I didn’t.

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