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White Collar Articles – Hanging with the Cast at Comic Con 2010 November 14, 2010

Posted by gollysunshine in Comic Con, Entertainment, Jeff Eastin, Jeff King, Marsha Thomason, Matt Bomer, Prime time TV, Sharif Atkins, Tim Dekay, TV production, Uncategorized, USA Network, White Collar.
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Photo by C.A. Taylor

Tim Dekay at San Diego Comic Con 2010

My articles on White Collar from the press conference I attended in July 2010 at the San Diego Comic Con have been up for quite some time at Suite 101.com.  I apologize for not getting the notice for WordPress people up sooner.  I’ve just been incredibly busy.

As always, there is more information than one can ever use, so I thought I’d put a few tidbits from Sharif Atkins and Marsha Thomason up here.  Also, the photos here are from my private collection — ones I took on the red carpet. Unfortunately, my photos of the lovely Marsha Thomason did not come out well.

Those on the official Suite101.com site are publicity releases through the kindness of USA Network.

Matt Bomer at San Diego Comic Con 2010

On the question of if the cast gets any input into the scripts…

Sharif: The cast does it really well.  We all get a chance to talk to Tim and Matt.  They do it really well.  We get a lot of rewrites.  We get like about eight—so sometimes what’s happening is they rewrite a scene and the scene itself is okay, but then it doesn’t quite link up with two scenes that you’ve done a couple of days before.  So they’re so on it that they are able to say, we’ve said this twice already. For us to say it a third time is absolutely ridiculous and it’s going to get very redundant.  So they’re really good at making sure that the logic of the show stay intact.

Matt Bomer and Tim Dekay at San Diego Comic Con

Marsha:  Again, I’m really learning about Diana’s backstory as we go.  No, I don’t. Jeff gave me a heads up before we shot episode 2… she’s the daughter of a diplomat, she grew up in hotels, her parents – this is something I didn’t say – but her parents aren’t thrilled about her working for the FBI.  That was not supposed to be her path.

To learn more, check out my articles at Suite 101.com:

White Collar: At the Core It’s About the Relationship of Two Men

White Collar: Neal and Peter’s Other Partners

White Collar: It’s Not Just Neal & Peter, There’s a FBI Team, Too

White Collar: Conman May Be Old School But the Showrunner Tweets

Whit Collar Cast at San Diego Comic Con

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Men of a Certain Age: PaleyFest2010 Salutes a Unique Show April 12, 2010

Posted by gollysunshine in Andre Braugher, Blogroll, Entertainment, Men of a Certain Age, Mike Royce, Paley Fest, Scott Bakula, TV production, Uncategorized.
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Photo courtesy of Paley Center press release

On March 12, 2010, I attended my third and last for this year PaleyFest2010 tribute. But it was for a unique show on the air, so it was quite worth it. Men of a Certain Age is not the kind of show I would normally tune in for, but it speaks truth not only for mature men, but women as well.

I wrote up an article about it, which you can find here: http://prime-time-dramas.suite101.com/article.cfm/men-of-a-certain-age-reaches-beyond-sex–age

Due to space limitations for the article set by the website, I couldn’t write up all the fascinating bits on the panel.  So here are some deleted tidbits:

Andre Braugher was asked about his underwear scenes.  Not only did he say that he would do anything in a script as long as it was right for the show, but he described Owen as a ‘tighty whities’ kind of guy.

Asked about why they liked working in TV, Andre said that it was all about the writing.  But he also added that every show he’d worked on had struggled to find an audience (Homicide, Gideon’s Crossing and Thief.)  It was nice to finally have a show he didn’t have to beg people to watch.

Scott admitted that the lure was that this show was on cable and had a totally different feel to it.  And he loved TV because it was so immediate.

The party store apparently was Ray Romano’s idea.  Mike Royce described it as “both a funny place and a sad place” and as a great metaphor.  “Everyone’s coming in to celebrate something and he is going through all this stuff in his life.”

Mike Royce said that they actually went to a Norm’s in Sherman Oaks to shoot for the pilot but they have now built a Norm’s set in their shooting stage.  I actually drove by the Norm’s by accident the other day… and I have to admit, I would have never noticed it but for this show.

For other deleted tidbits, check out my CAT Scratchings blog at:  http://dannygirlpaceyjack.blogspot.com/

For the actual article I wrote, check it out here at Suite101: “Men of a Certain Age Reaches Beyond Sex & Age: PaleyFest2010 Salutes Ray Romano’s New Series” at

http://prime-time-dramas.suite101.com/article.cfm/men-of-a-certain-age-reaches-beyond-sex–age#ixzz0kg3Ygxph

Attending NCIS Panel at PaleyFest 2010 Was Great Fun March 30, 2010

Posted by gollysunshine in Brian Dietzen, Chas. Floyd Johnson, Cote de Pablo, David McCallum, Entertainment, Mark Horowitz, Michael Weatherly, NCIS, Paley Fest, Sean Murray, TV production, Uncategorized.
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photo courtesy of C.A. Taylor

David McCallum told the PaleyFest2010 audience at the March 1, 2010 tribute to NCIS that he is grateful that he is still working at his age — that many of the actors he started with some 40 odd years ago were not so lucky.  This is one of the many little tidbits I didn’t have space to include in my article on the fun-filled event.  To read what I did have space to include, please check it out here:  http://prime-time-dramas.suite101.com/article.cfm/paleyfest2010-investigates-the-appeal-of-ncis.

I really enjoyed the evening and it is obvious that the cast are very fond of each other.

In Print and Available to You: CAT’s Contribution to Thrilling Wonder Stories Hits the Stands April 2, 2009

Posted by gollysunshine in George Takei, Internet Films, Star Trek, Thrilling Wonder Stories, TV production, Uncategorized, World Enough and Time episode.
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tws2cover4tws-back-cover-cropped1

So many days it feels like you are beating your head against a brick wall or jumping at an impenetrable glass ceiling. So when something you do actually sees the light of day, it’s cause for celebration.

The other day I got an exciting package in the mail — my author copies for the article I wrote in THRILLING WONDER STORIES, volume 2. I was commissioned to write a behind the scenes history of the making of the “World Enough and Time” Internet Star Trek episode we made for Star Trek: New Voyages, which is now called Star Trek: Phase II.

On this blog, you have seen individual interviews I did of the actors after we finished filming this episode with a crew of half Hollywood professionals and half Star Trek fans from around the world. I still have the promised interviews with Christine Moses and Lia Johnson to put up (alas, real life took precedence and more time than I expected).

This book’s article is based on different interviews than the ones I put up on the Net when I was doing publicity for the Premiere of the streaming event. In this book is a perspective of the entire creation of the episode, so I interviewed a variety of participants, including GEORGE TAKEI.

It was great fun to do these interviews and great fun to write the article and I think you’ll have great fun reading it if you choose to go on the journey with me.

And to make it even better, I’m here in the company of accomplished and prestigious Science Fiction and Star Trek writers — many of whom I’ve read when I was younger. You can see me listed among them here on the back page, with a description of what I’ve written. For instance, Diane Duane… I loved reading her first original novel, Door into Fire, an entertaining book I’ve never forgotten — how neat is it to be in the company of someone who gave me hours of pleasure many years ago.

This is not the first thing I’ve had published, but it is a milestone for me anyway, because this is the first time, I’ve had something like this published. And how cool is it that it is available on Amazon where I buy so many of my own books and DVDs.  Hmm, I wonder if I could do a search on my name there and come up with this book — probably not, since I’m just a contributor, not the editor, who is WINSTON ENGLE.

Restoring the fifties pulp fiction magazine to its former glory was Winston’s dream and he has succeeded admirably. This is his second volume and they are both books to be proud of. He did a great job with them and we should all applaud him for it.

If you want to take the journey behind the scenes of making this award-winning, Hugo-and-Nebula-nominated Star Trek episode with me, you can find it here at Amazon or here at Barnes and Noble. You can even find my name mentioned in the product descriptions at both sites. You can also visit the Official Website Winston has set up for his book. I haven’t had the opportunity to read the other contributions yet, but considering the heavy-hitters of science fiction that they are, I’m sure their stories are well worth reading. I know I look forward to delving into them.

If you do read my article, please come back and share your thoughts about it as well.

 

A Fifth Reposting from “Fireside Chats from Hollywood” blog at TVGuide.com January 16, 2009

Posted by gollysunshine in Entertainment, Star Trek, TV production.
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It kills me that TVGuide.com eliminated their Community section without regard to what we posted there.  With the help of a friend, I’ve recovered some of mine that was posted in my Fireside Chats from Hollywood blog:

NO STUDIO, NO NETWORK, NO PROBLEM: Star Trek Fans & Hollywood Work Together
A full Hollywood-type premiere is being planned for a new Star Trek Internet episode at the Fine Arts Theater in Beverly Hills on August 23, 2007.

“World Enough and Time,” which stars well-loved Star Trek actor, George Takei, is the fourth episode created by a group of fans for http://www.startreknewvoyages.com, a site dedicated by actor James Cawley (Kirk) to fulfilling the 5-year mission of the original Star Trek series, and showcasing new actors in the beloved roles of Kirk, Spock and McCoy.

Nevertheless, “World Enough and Time” stands out as a unique episode in that Cawley’s team has been joined by many Hollywood TV and Film professionals, like me, who were brought aboard by our friend and colleague, Marc Scott Zicree, who co-wrote, directed and executive-produced the episode. With all of our talents combined, we’ve created a spectacular product for the Internet, the likes of which have never been seen before.

Most of us professionals who got involved in making “World Enough and Time” have been Star Trek fans for a long time. Some in our group were fortunate enough to work on some of the Paramount-made series but for many of us, original Trek was long gone before we got into the business. For me, in particular, I grew up on Star Trek, but back then, all we could do was watch reruns, write fan-fic, draw artwork, and make models. With the explosion of new technology today, fans are able to make their own live-action episodes and show them to audiences around the world on the Internet without needing studio or network backing. Supported in a large part by James Cawley’s successful career as an Elvis impersonator and the generosity of participants, http://www.startreknewvoyages.com is an impressive endeavor.

Participation in the creation of “World Enough and Time” episode became a must for me when Marc showed us a clip of the episode made prior to ours. I was blown away by how good the special effects were – they were as good as any I had ever seen on my television screen. “That’s because the effects on New Voyages were done by Doug Drexler who did the effects for Enterprise and then went on to do the effects for Battlestar Galactica,” Marc Scott Zicree informed me when I sat down to talk to him about the upcoming premiere. “He’s one of the top guys, if not the top guy in the industry. He’s an Oscar winner. In fact, he was working on Enterprise while he was doing the earlier episodes of New Voyages, so he had to work under a pseudonym — the pseudonym was Max Rem on the previous episodes. I assume he chose the name Max Rem because he wasn’t getting much REM sleep. I should ask him about that, but I’m sure that’s the reason.”

With this premiere being essentially the first of its kind, I asked Marc what fans can expect to happen on August 23rd at the Fine Arts Theater in Beverly Hills. “There is going to be a 3pm screening for cast and crew, a 7pm screening for cast and crew and VIPs, showrunners, celebrities, etc.,” he explained, “and possibly a 9:30 pm screening for the public but we don’t know that yet, that’s not been confirmed. Then it’s going to be followed by a three-day Star Trek festival showing all ten movies in order. That’s a paid event. The screening of the Star Trek New Voyages episode isn’t. In addition, anyone anywhere in the world can go online at http://www.startreknewvoyages.com and register in advance and be able to watch not only the episode streaming August 23rd when it premieres, but in real time, the real event with George getting out of the limo and walking the red carpet, all the celebrities, the interviews with the celebrities, the panel after the screening. So it will be literally like they have a front row seat at the premiere.”

If that’s not enough, fans can go online at http://www.startreknewvoyages.com and register for a contest, where on Aug. 15th there will be drawing and one lucky winner will be flown to LA, put up in a hotel and have dinner with Marc and George before going to the premiere.

With all this going on, I wanted to know what Marc thought made this a ‘must see’ episode for anybody who loves the original characters. “For those who know the original series, there are only 79 episodes,” he explained. “But the people who have been seeing it who are fans of the original show have been calling it the 80th episode, which I consider high praise. In fact, that’s what we were trying to do, because if you loved the original show, this not only captures the feel, the look, the style, the energy and the emotion of the original show, it also brings the modern, cutting-edge special effects plus a level of acting, I think, beyond anything you ever saw in the original Star Trek. George Takei is just brilliant in this. It features him and focuses on him, plus we introduce a new character, his daughter Alana, played by Christina Moses.”

The daughter whom Sulu gains when he’s marooned for thirty years on an alien planet is such a tour-de-force for Christina Moses that the Oscar-winning producer of “Ordinary People” and showrunner on Medium, Ron Schwary, said upon seeing her performance, “That’s a star. She’s a star right there.” Marc testified further that, “It’s an amazing performance, a phenomenal performance, and the audience is moved to tears every time we show it. And I am, too.”

I told Marc that his co-writer, Michael Reaves had described this episode as a “City on the Edge of Forever” for Sulu. “Yes, I think that is very accurate,” Marc agreed. “That is certainly the high watermark we were aiming for. “City on the Edge of Forever” is my favorite Star Trek episode. It’s the only episode where you believe Kirk is actually in love with someone. It’s an episode where the stakes are very real and very high. It isn’t just a hook to save the day and go merrily on our way. It has an emotional cost and I think all good drama should. And so yes, I think that is exactly right and when we were crafting it, Michael and I were looking for ways to really find an emotional truth and really have it be powerfully moving to an audience. And it was. And it is. And I think we succeeded in our aim.”

For a veteran writer/producer with hundreds of television credits (including Sliders, Deep Space Nine, ST:TNG, and Babylon 5) to get involved in a project like this is unusual, so I asked him how it came about – and why, since there were other Internet projects — why this one? “I’ve never worked on a fan project of any kind in any medium because I’m a professional and my goal is to reach hundreds of thousands or millions of people with my work and have it be of as high a level as possible. So normally I’d never consider doing what would be considered a fan project, but in this case, Walter Koenig told me that he was about to star in an episode and DC Fontana, who had written and story-edited the original Star Trek, was about to write it.” This prompted him, he said, to go online and watch the second episode of New Voyages, which was a sequel to an original Star Trek episode called “Doomsday Machine.”

“I was thrilled,” Marc said about seeing “In Harm’s Way”. “I thought the sets were great, the costumes were great, the effects were great, the writing was very fun. I really liked the enthusiasm and the vigor and the intelligence of what they were doing and I saw ways to bring the level of production up in every department so it would be on a par with a network show. And that’s what I set about doing.”

Realizing that Star Trek: New Voyages had an audience of millions, Marc also knew that the timing was good. “I had always wanted to work with George Takei and had never found a role that was right for him in anything I had written on the various shows I’ve been on. And thirty years ago, my friend, Michael Reaves, had pitched a story to Star Trek Phase II, which was a series that Paramount spent a year developing that actually never got made. It was going to be a new Star Trek series with all the original cast except for Leonard Nimoy. This was around 1976-77, and they ended up making the movies instead. But back then, Michael Reaves went on to be an Emmy winner and sold 400 scripts and write for Star Trek: The Next Generation.”

The idea Michael pitched was one where Sulu gets marooned for thirty years all in the wink of an eye on the Enterprise and has a family on this alien planet. “It never got made, but now it’s thirty years later and it seems like this would be a great way to do this terrific story and save on makeup because George would be thirty years older and we wouldn’t have to age him.”

Though Paramount had pulled the plug on the series before Michael’s story had gone to outline, let alone script, Marc knew it to be a terrific story to introduce to the millions tuning in to New Voyages. “I knew I’d be working with a brilliant actor in George Takei and it would give me an opportunity, for the first time, to direct an hour television episode, which I had wanted to do, because I had written and produced many hundreds of hours of television, but never directed.”

So how did he manage to fulfill his desires and get George aboard this project, which our co-producer Winston Engle had aptly dubbed, “no studio, no network, no problem”? Once Marc was convinced of New Voyages’s quality and the possibilities inherent in what they were doing, he asked Michael if he wanted to collaborate. “The moment I saw Star Trek New Voyages, I realized that the world of fan films and world of network television had totally merged and you could reach an audience equivalent or superior to a network show without a studio or network being involved.”

With Michael in agreement, Marc approached the New Voyages producers and James Cawley, who plays Kirk as well as executive produces New Voyages. With their blessing, he typed up a three-page synopsis. “I reworked the story somewhat because subsequently, Star Trek Next Generation had done an episode called “The Inner Light” which had Picard marooned and raising a family. It wasn’t the same story, but there were similarities where I had to restructure it to keep it entirely on the Enterprise so it wouldn’t be the same story.” Once Michael Reaves signed off on the changes, he took the storyline to George Takei’s house.

“I arranged a meeting and I sat down with George and I said, ‘I’ve seen you act in Star Trek and all these other things you’ve done and you’re a brilliant actor, but you never got to do the Sulu episode you deserved.’ Because they only gave him little bits of business here and there. I gave him the synopsis and said, ‘I need you to read this now and tell me if you’ll do it.’ He read it right there and he said yes. And we were good to go.”

Good to go meant spending the better part of the next year building a production machine, to augment what was already on New Voyages. Marc brought in his friends from television shows like Battlestar Galactica, Lost, and Heroes, and movies like Spiderman III and the Star Wars films — basically going after “the A-team of people I would want to work with as a director, in terms of special effects, in terms of storyboard, in terms of actors, in terms of every department.” But these weren’t the only people Marc tapped for his vision. “I run a roundtable in LA of writers, directors, actors, producers, composers, editors, novelists. My wife and I have run that for 15 years, building a community of 500 people. There was a lot of good will stored up from all those years of mentoring people and helping people and all of us helping each other and so, a lot of those people rose to the occasion. Also, James Cawley had made three episodes of New Voyages up to that point, so there were a number of people who had worked on that side of the equation.”

With all that talent behind the scenes and a great script (when I read it, I couldn’t believe how moving it was and how much they nailed the voices), it was fitting to work with a consummate actor like George Takei. “He was wonderful, he was absolutely wonderful,” Marc enthused. “He was beyond my wildest hopes and dreams of how terrific he’d be. First of all, he spent months losing… he lost 15 lbs. He lifted weights for months to get in shape for this role because there’s a big swordfight and he’s in leather. He looks spectacular. You’d never guess his age, given how he comes across in this episode. He looks fabulous. My god, I look older than George Takei does.”

But more than how good he looked, Marc said George was spectacular to work with. “He was a dream. We had these incredibly long, grueling, harrowing days of shooting, because again, I knew that as a novice director, I would have a very hard time getting the pace up. I also knew that with half of our crew being nonprofessionals that again would slow us down. And it did. I was there a week and a half early for prep, just to make sure stuff would be ready, and there were still snafus, of course. But he (George) never had temper, never pulled any attitude. He was always part of the team. He was always looking to make it better. He was never part of the problem. He was always part of the solution.”

Shot in a small town in upstate New York, on a small budget that didn’t allow for anything beyond the necessities, the project faced conditions that were less than ideal. Nevertheless, Marc has nothing but admiration for George’s contributions. “He turned in a brilliant performance, I mean, the last take of the last day we shot in New York, he’s on the transporter, it’s the climatic scene, the climatic moment in the entire episode for his character, and he has this one take and this tear rolls down his cheek and it’s absolutely perfect. And it was after… we had started that day with a table read at 10 in the morning, and we were finished that day at 5:30 am and he was perfect. I’d never see anything like that.”

Nevertheless, the episode did not rest entirely on the shoulders of George Takei. The rest of the cast were playing iconic characters, which not only had to be a weighty challenge for them, but for the director as well. “In terms of the standing cast,” Marc told me, “we worked with them for many months to get their acting chops up as high as we possibly could. And they knew they were going to be working with George Takei and they were going to be working with really polished actors. No one was sloughing it off, no one was just trying to phone it in. Everyone was doing their best possible job. My wife, fortunately, having been an actor and having been a director off Broadway, she was constantly working with the actors between takes to get them into the moment.”

Marc went on to explain that he did two things going in to help the New Voyages regular cast. “I wrote the strongest acting demands on Sulu and Sulu’s daughter, Alana, because they were professional actors and I knew that I could get those performances from them. I demanded less of the other actors and I wrote to their strengths as much as I possibly could. Now, Jeff Quinn, who plays Spock, is a pretty terrific actor. Very subtle. Very very good and so I’m just enormously pleased with his performance. James Cawley, I think, does a very good job (as Kirk). John Kelly who plays Dr. McCoy, his day job is as an actual doctor. He’s a urologist. So we worked with him to draw upon his emotional responses in his real life and so ironically, as McCoy, I think he has a bedside manner and a kind of gentleness… he’s not as irascible as DeForest Kelly, but I think he brings his own strength to the role. Charles Root who plays Scotty is a lot of fun. And Uhura, Julienne (Irons), is a wonderful actress. We had Improv and scene study first, and discovered she’s a terrific actress. So I actually wrote a scene between her and George Takei, as Uhura, just to show what she could do as an actor. And she was wonderful.”

Marc can enthuse about “World Enough and Time” for hours, but I think he best summed it up thus. “I think all of us who made World Enough and Time – we’ve created a story that is, I think, one of those powerful Star Trek stories ever done in any medium. I think people will see it and be blown away. I think we’ve changed how television is made, how television is delivered, how television is perceived.”

Not only that, but it is my belief that Paramount is doing this new prequel movie with a new, younger cast, partially because Star Trek New Voyages has taught them that there is a significant audience out there who is hungry for good original Star Trek episodes, and they are willing to accept other actors in these iconic roles. After all, many different actors do Shakespeare.

So mark your calendar for August 23rd and make a date to see “World Enough and Time,” either in person in LA or on the Internet in streaming video. Spread the word to all your friends and become part of the history you’ve help make. I promise that you won’t be disappointed. This was a labor of love on our part and I’d love to reach every Trek fan that ever was and ever will be.

Torchwood’s Captain Jack and Ianto to Sign Autographs at Comic Con 2008 booth July 14, 2008

Posted by gollysunshine in Comic Con, Entertainment, Gareth David-Lloyd, John Barrowman, Torchwood, TV production, Uncategorized.
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For Torchwood and Doctor Who fans attending this year’s San Diego Comic Con, I’m sure you know about the two panels on Thursday.

But what I haven’t seen announced anywhere is that Holzheimer’s Distribution, which you see selling photos and other TV collectibles at various cons, has brought over from the UK John Barrowman (Captain Jack) and Gareth David-Lloyd (Ianto) to Comic Con so that fans can meet and get autographs from them. They will be signing at the Holzheimer’s booth #3845. Both will be signing on Thursday and Friday. Gareth should be there the whole con.

Since it is Mary Lee Holzheimer who is bringing the boys over and not the BBC, she has arranged the schedule so John and Gareth can participate in the Torchwood panel.

Mary Lee regrets that she cannot offer the autographs for free, but she has made them as inexpensive as possible so hopefully all fans who want autographs can afford to get them. Having brought actors over from the UK for conventions years ago, I can testify that it isn’t cheap to do so.

If you want to get the autograph, you have to go to booth #3845 and purchase a basic ticket for $26 (gives you photograph to get autographed, although I’m going to substitute his autobiography Anything Goes and get that signed instead of the photo – can’t wait.)

This ticket will give you the time and place to come back for the signing. The latter is for crowd control because there will be over 100,000 at the convention and sometimes the dealer’s room feels like sardines packed in a can. Prices will vary from $26 for the basic photo and autograph to $60 for limited edition art work.

Just writing this is getting me excited.

The bad news is that if you don’t already have your membership to the Con itself, most likely you won’t be able to attend. Four day passes are already sold out, so is Friday and Saturday. I thought Thursday (when the DW and TW panels are) was sold out too, but apparently there are a few tickets left.

However, be aware that if you aren’t local, there is also the housing problem (and parking). With over 100,000 people coming these last few years, hotel rooms book out in February and March, so make sure you have a place to stay before you come.

For those fans who can’t attend Comic Con and want to participate in this rare opportunity to get an autograph picture from John or Gareth or both (there’s a great picture of their steamy kiss available on the website to buy), Mary Lee has made pre-orders available through the Holzheimer website. Check out the direct link:

http://marketplaceadvisor.channeladvisor.com/storefrontprofiles/deluxeSFshop.aspx?sid=1&sfid=100514&c=862610

Which is for people who can’t attend or don’t want to wait in line. (But I can’t imagine anybody attending the con and not wanting to meet the guys as they sign for you.)

Anyway, I just wanted to alert those who are interested to this happening. I’m not affiliated in any way with Holzheimer’s Distribution, except as one of those fans who is going to be in line for autographs. I just know that I would appreciate somebody sharing info like this with me, because otherwise, I wouldn’t probably know about it until I stumbled onto the booth to say hi to my friends who’d be working there.

And if you do see me wandering around the con, be sure to come up and say hi.

I Can’t Believe Elvis Recreated Star Trek April 3, 2008

Posted by gollysunshine in Entertainment, Internet Films, Star Trek, TV production, Uncategorized, Walter Koenig.
Tags: , ,
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These words were uttered by Bob Nuchow, SSG Screening Series producer for the Fine Arts Theater, as he introduced the cast and crew of Star Trek New Voyages: “To Serve All My Days” for the Q and A portion of the LA red-carpet premiere of the Walter Koenig-starring episode’s “Special Edition” on Saturday, March 29, 2008. Several cast and crew from the original Star Trek series were in the audience, but the only ones whose names I can remember now are Walter Koenig, DC Fontana and Barbara Luna, who is in the picture below with Walter and his wife, Judy, and James Cawley.

Cawley and Original TrekThe house was packed with Star Trek fans from the general public and the entertainment industry for this episode which Walter Koenig starred in. This also was the episode where the special effects looked so good to yours truly that it was one of the reasons I participated in the next episode, “World Enough and Time” with George Takei. (WEAT, by the way, has been nominated for both the Nebula and Hugo awards, up against episodes from Doctor Who, Torchwood, and BSG.)

Jimmy Doohan’s Son, Chris joins the Cast in Photo SessionIt might seem a bit odd to have a red-carpet premiere of an episode which was introduced online over a year ago and prior to the premiere of its subsequent episode, WEAT, but James Cawley, whose successful Elvis impersonator career funds much of this online series and who plays Kirk, had three strong reasons to give this episode another moment of glory.

First, when the episode was originally streamed, time restraints had prevented them from making the episode all it could be. While the special effects of the original effort by Joel Belluccii, Ben Alpi and Max Rem (aka Doug Drexler, Battlestar Galactica) were awesome, James had wanted to do so much more and felt this episode deserved another shot. Following in the footsteps of major studios releasing ‘Special Editions’, James and staff authorized a re-imagining of this episode with new VFX by Daren R. Docherman (Poseidon, X-Men 3, Monster House).

But more than that, James said he wanted to show appreciation to Walter Koenig, not only for his decades of wonderful entertainment, but also for his generous support of STNV. As James explained it, before Walter, STNV was ‘just fans playing Star Trek.’ Walter’s generous participation took STNV to a new level.

Like for every actor, Walter’s participation was contingent on a worthy script, but Koenig went one better than most actors and helped make that happen by phoning up his friend D.C. Fontana (one of my all-time favorite Trek writers) and asking her to write the script. And Dorothy came through with a marvelous script which gave closure to the Chekov character, something Walter felt was missing from TOS (The Original Series). This closure was so definitive that Dorothy insists that the Chekov you see in subsequent episodes is not Pavel, but his cousin, Sergei.^O

And if you’ve read my interviews (and when you read my upcoming article in Thrilling Wonder Stories), you know that George Takei also attributes his initial involvement in WEAT to Walter’s seal of approval and encouragement. It seems like Walter, whether directly or indirectly, is responsible for bringing a lot of industry people into this venture — both those who worked on the original series and those who wished they could have.

The third reason was because there’s an effort afoot to get Walter Koenig a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and STNV wanted to help showcase that effort. Unbelievably, he’s the only actor of the original main cast to not have a star. James admitted that Walter did not want him to make a big deal of it, but Cawley is determined to get Koenig what he deserves and to get it while Walter is still young and healthy enough to enjoy treading over it. And I heartily concur.

The main Bridge crew minus SpockBecause of this desire to showcase so much more than just the premier of a special edition of an already-streamed episode, it was billed as “A Night in 1969” and James got up on stage and promised to take us back there. And he delivered in spades.

Mind you, I should point out that STNV is not done by Cawley alone. Many fans have donated their time, expertise, and even money to create these episodes. Many people donated their time, energy, and funding to make this event happen as well. And people like me were beneficiaries of this hard work and effort as I came out to join in the fun and support of my friends.

Jimmy Doohan’s Son, ChrisOne delightful encounter was meeting Chris Doohan, Jimmy Doohan’s son. He’s surprisingly handsome, although why that should surprise me, I don’t know, but maybe because I met Jimmy when he was older and that’s how I think of him, while Scotty will always be as he appeared in TOS to me. In talking to Chris, I mentioned it was a shame he couldn’t play his father and he assured me he was too old.

He started to tell me about how good Simon Pegg was and I kinda cut him off, telling him that I had wanted to see Paul McGillion do the role. I started my typical spiel of how good an actor Paul McGillion is and Chris immediately cut me off saying that he agreed. He stressed that he had wanted Paul to play his dad.

In fact, Chris was quite keen on me understanding how much he had supported Paul McGillion in the role, and I assured him that I was well aware of his support. He then went on to say that Simon was very good in the role and I would like the performance.

Walter introduced me to his lovely actress wife, Judy Levitt, and after the show, I met his children Andrew and Danielle. Danielle had written, directed and acted in this wonderfully hilarious short about her Dad, called “Walter Koenig, Exposed,” which she shared with us. It was edited by her brother Andrew who also acted in it and purported to tell us the ‘true story of who Walter Koenig was.’

In the short, narrator and family friend, Alex Hunt, ‘revealed’ that Walter was a Russian spy planted in the US and even infiltrated the military. Danielle cleverly interspersed footage from her Dad’s films to prove these points.

One funny sequence was Danielle and Andrew saying how their Dad lied to them about going to Star Trek cons when he would sneak out to do his spying. He would bring home all these strange home-made items for them that he claimed fans had given him. Years later, they learned that he had made all these items himself at night in his various hotel rooms.

I can not do justice to how funny and clever this piece was, but the Koenigs were sitting behind me and I just had to turn around and tell Danielle what a great job she did.

Come to think of it, I was like in a Chekov sandwich — I had Walter Koenig, the original Chekov, behind me and Andy Bray who plays the young Chekov in front of me. Obviously a great place to be.

But this wasn’t the only delightful introductory piece. The Koenigs contributed the trailer to the upcoming movie, Inalienable, which Walter produced, wrote, and acted in. JJ Abrams also generously sent the trailer to his upcoming Star Trek film to help celebrate New Voyages and Walter’s night.

I’m not going to describe the episode in detail here, except to say, that an accidental explosion causes the virus from “The Deadly Years” (I’m not up on my ST trivia) to revive and age Chekov prematurely. Chekov must face his mortality and decide whether the life he has chosen has been worth it.

But what was really cool about this episode presentation here was that they truly took us back to experiencing it as we would have in 1969. WITH COMMERCIALS. Yes, I know, I don’t watch commercials much — if I can, I tape most programs and fast forward through the commercials as much as possible. Back then I did my school homework, ran to the bathroom, or to the refrigerator. But it was still cool to see those old commercials and remember that for the most part we did have to watch them.

Ralph Miller had located and edited in authentic commercials from the time period, and while I don’t know if I ever saw the particular commercials he used, they were so reminiscent of commercials I had seen, that they were delightful.

So too was a groan from a guy in the audience when an act came to an end and he moaned, “Not another commercial.” We all laughed because, even though we were loving these commercial breaks, we all have gone through similar reactions in front of our TV at home.

The roadrunner Plymouth commercial was great fun, but the highlight for me was seeing again the wonderful original environmental PSA commercial– the Native American who paddles his canoe through the polluted waters and stumbles through the garbage left on the ground in the forest AND CRIES FOR WHAT WE’VE DONE TO THE LAND. That tear rolling down his cheek always affected me growing up and even here, it choked me up.

When I first came to town and attended my first AFI Film Festival, I was fortunate enough to meet the Native American actor and tell him how much his performance had meant to me.

The sad thing is that I can’t recall any environmental public service clips of that caliber today. In fact, I can’t recall seeing any at all. If they are out there, they certainly aren’t memorable like this one.

Seeing the Crying Indian made me miss another favorite PSA — that of Smokey the Bear who taught kids not to start forest fires. Something we really need to see again out here in California where so many fires are arson caused.

The final remarkable and spectacular gift was a surprise tag at the end. One of the jarring things to me was that “To Serve All My Days” gives a resolution to Pavel Chekov that is inconsistent with the young Pavel Chekov appearing in our “WEAT” episode, which is the very next episode. Watching one after the other without an explanation of how Chekov could reappear young in “WEAT” after he died old in “TOAMD” prompted DC Fontana to insist that future episodes starred Pavel’s cousin, Sergei. I won’t spoil it for you, but this remarkable and fun tag scene bridges those two episodes nicely and I praised Andy for giving it to us.

After the showing of the episode, the theater’s Bob Nuchow introduced the participants in the Q&A panel: James Cawley, Andy Bray, John Carrigan who plays the Klingon Kargh, D.C. Fontana who wrote the episode, Walter Koenig, and Daren Docherman. Originally, Koenig was supposed to sit between Cawley and Fontana, but when Walter took the stage, he went to the end and sat in Nuchow’s chair.

Nuchow had his staff bring out another chair so he could sit at the end and see all the participant. This left an open spot next to Cawley. James then asked Jeff Quinn who played Spock to come up from the audience, making a nice introduction for his friend. I have to admit it was nice to see Kirk and Spock sitting together. It felt… right.

My favorite part of the Q and A panel which ended the show was when someone asked DC Fontana how she got involved and she said, “Walter called and played a dirty trick on me. He asked, how would you like to write another original Trek episode? What could you say to that?”

After much picture-taking, handshaking, and kudos to the various actors and creative people, many of us gathered at Cantor’s Deli to celebrate further.

It was a great night — a fun trip into the past and a delightful evening spent with truly talented and wonderful people.

Now, if you agree that Walter should also have his star on Hollywood Walk of Fame and while he’s still young enough to tread over it (the late Jimmy Doohan was sick by the time he was awarded his), you can write your support here:

Walk of Fame Commitee
c/ Hollywood Chamber of Commerce
7018 Hollywood Blvd, 2nd floor
Hollywood, CA 90028

That’s right, the old-fashion way… with pen and paper.

You can also get more information at Walter Koenig’s official site: http://www.walterkoenigsite.com/waltersstar

Addendum: “To Serve All My Days” and “World Enough and Time” are episodes of the online Star Trek New Voyages which were honored with a TVGuide.com Video Series Award in 2007.”

“World Enough and Time” has been nominated for both the Hugo and the Nebula awards and we are waiting to see how the vote goes.

Hugo and Nebula Nominations for Star Trek New Voyages: “World Enough and Time” March 22, 2008

Posted by gollysunshine in Internet Films, Star Trek, TV production, Uncategorized.
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I’ve learned that our Star Trek New Voyages episode starring George Takei: “World Enough and Time” got nominated for the Hugo Award from the World Science Fiction Society:

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

Battlestar Galactica “Razor” written by Michael Taylor, directed by Félix Enríquez Alcalá and Wayne Rose (Sci Fi Channel) (televised version, not DVD)

Dr. Who “Blink” written by Stephen Moffat, directed by Hettie Macdonald (BBC)

Dr. Who “Human Nature” / “Family of Blood” written by Paul Cornell, directed by Charles Palmer (BBC)

Star Trek New Voyages “World Enough and Time” written by Michael Reaves & Marc Scott Zicree, directed by Marc Scott Zicree (Cawley Entertainment Co. and The Magic Time Co.)

Torchwood “Captain Jack Harkness” written by Catherine Tregenna, directed by Ashley Way (BBC Wales)

We are very excited and would love to see it win. However, my loyalties are a bit torn — I support the project I worked on, but it’s up against Torchwood’s “Captain Jack Harkness” which was a great episode in a series I love.

The script for WEAT has already been nominated for the Nebula Award, given by the Science Fiction Writers of America:

Scripts

Children of Men, by Alfonso Cuaron, Timothy J. Sexton, David Arata, Mark Fergus, and Hawk Ostby
(Universal Studios, Dec06)

Pan’s Labyrinth, by Guillermo del Toro
(Time/Warner, Jan07)

Blink, by Steven Moffat (script on Private Edition)
(Doctor Who, BBC/The Sci-Fi Channel, Sep07 (Aired on SciFi Channel 14 Sep07))

The Prestige, by Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan
(Newmarket Films, Oct06 (Oct 20, 2006 — based on the novel by Christopher Priest))

V for Vendetta, by Larry Wachowski and Andy Wachowski
(Warner Films, Mar06 (released 3/17/2006 — Written by the Wachowski Brothers, based on the graphic novel illustrated by David Lloyd and published by Vertigo/DC Comics))

World Enough and Time, by Marc Scott Zicree and Michael Reaves (script on Private Edition)
(Star Trek: New Voyages, http://www.startreknewvoyages.com, Aug07 (Aired 8/23/07))

This Nebula nomination has sparked a controversy over the script’s eligibility because the script category has a rule that none of the other categories have: that the script must be professionally produced. What has been called into question is what is meant here by professionally produced. It was written by two professional TV writers who got paid for their script, but it was produced as a fan film by both fans and entertainment industry professionals.

The committee ruling in favor of allowing the nomination to remain apparently rests on the facts that the writers were professional and paid, Paramount had known about and given tacit approval for the project, and the spirit of the criteria was with WEAT, for none of the other categories had such a restriction on its selection policy.

I can see both sides of the argument, so perhaps the Nebula committee needs to think about and clarify what they want their award to mean and what exactly they are honoring. Perhaps the spirit of what they are honoring is the most valuable consideration.

I’ll give an example. A few years ago, I wanted to become a member of the TV Academy. As a writer just starting out in TV writing, I felt that being a member of the TV Academy would give me access to valuable seminars by the pros which would help me further my craft and career, but although I was on my way, I didn’t have quite the credits to qualify for their stringent thresholds for the writers category.

What annoyed me was that the Animation people had less stringent thresholds for their category and hence almost anyone in animation qualified — thus a PA (production assistant) in animation could get access to the resources I couldn’t because my category’s threshold was so much higher. Since I had worked in television with writers for years and had gotten my first WGA credit which demonstrated I could write, I thought I’d mount an appeal to them why they should consider bending the rules a bit to help the fledgling who had demonstrated intention, ability, and seriousness to being a writer.

You needed three recommendations, only one of which had to be in your category. But since I had worked with so many writers, I figured it would be a no-brainer to get all three recommendations from working writers, to strengthen my case for membership. I didn’t have any trouble coming up with writers who judged my writing worthy of being considered. But I did have trouble coming up with writers who were members of the TV Academy. Usually the response was something along the line of, ‘oh yeah, I should join that myself one of these days.’

And then it hit me. When they needed to learn the ins and outs and could benefit from hearing the pros talk, they, like me, didn’t qualify. By the time they qualified, they were too busy to care — they no longer needed the Academy’s programs to have them learn their craft and no longer had the time to spare, so they didn’t bother. And tucked it away in that magical space we all promise to get to, someday when we have time.

I ended up giving up and getting two writers and one exec producer (producers category) to vouch for me, but ultimately the TV Academy failed to be impressed by the level of references I had and decided to adhere to the rules. By doing so, I wonder if they didn’t violate the very spirit of what they were protecting and looking for when they made the thresholds. Because when I reach the point of being qualified to join, like many of my friends, I will face whether I have any reason to join.

Rules are important, but sometimes you have to remember what the reasons are for which you created the rules.

In any case, we are excited about the nominations. And I have a really cool , behind-the-scenes article, which traces the WEAT project from its inception to the premiere, coming out in a book called, Thrilling Wonder Stories. It should be available in August at Amazon.com. Right now, the first issue is available, containing stories by such science fiction gurus as Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov. So I’m looking forward to whomever I will be sharing the volume with.

I’ll post the details as soon as I know myself.

Join Us For XENA day on the WGA Strike Line January 23, 2008

Posted by gollysunshine in Entertainment, Liz Friedman, Renee O'Connor, Steve L. Sears, Tim Omundson, TV production, Uncategorized, WGA Strike - 2007, Xena, Xena - Warrior Princess.
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Sign courtesy of Wendy Gamble and Caprice NussFrom Day 1, fans have been supportive of their favorite striking writers and striking writers in general. Moonlight fans brought pizza to picketers at the Warner Brothers gates when I was there and today, Battlestar Galactica fans fed us Krispy Kreme donuts at NBC Studios where we were picketing Jay Leno. While for many people, today was a holiday celebrating Martin Luther King, Jay Leno had a show and an audience and writers were out front protesting that he was doing it without a signed contract with the WGA.Apparently, Xena fans have been bringing water and snacks to the writers picketing Disney studios.I’ve never been to the picket lines at Disney, despite the fact that I hear Carl Binder walks the line there and I’d love to say, “Hey, I met you during a story meeting on Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman which (showrunner) Beth Sullivan was kind enough to let me attend.” So I haven’t had the opportunity to meet any of the Xenaverse fans.This will change on Thursday, January 24, 2008 from 11am – 2pm, when Xena fans have been invited to join the writers, producers and actors of Xena, Warrior Princess on the picket line at NBC Studios, Alameda gate.It is uncertain who all will show up, because, like everything else, it depends on availability, but so far these actors and writers are planning to be there: Renee O’Connor, Claire Stansfield, Rob Trebor, Adrienne Wilkinson, Rob Tapert, RJ Stewart, Katherine Fugate, Liz Friedman, Steven L. Sears, Tim Omundson, Vicki Pratt, TJ Scott, Paul Robert Coyle, and I believe Bob Orci as well. Possibly others, so don’t stay away just because your favorite might not be listed.

And if those people aren’t attraction enough, yours truly will be there. I didn’t work on Xena, but I did work on her big brother, Hercules, so I suspect they’ll welcome me with open arms and not chakram me off the sidewalk.

If you can come, it will be a delight to meet you. Like always, I’ll be the one with the Hercules ball cap on, with the miniature Writers Strike sign sticking out of it.

If you see a miniature Writers Strike sign sticking out of a hat band of a tan hat, covering a full reddish brown beard, with cameras hanging hither and yon, that’s NOT ME. That’s Steve Sears.

For those who are heeding the call, Steve Sears drew up guidelines for how to act on the picket line. You can find them here:

http://www.pondalee.com/picketrules.htm

These are very important to abide by, not only so we can have fun, but because picketing is serious business. So far, the police and the guards have shown sympathy for us and been decent to us, but that’s because we do not make their jobs harder and we are all well-behaved.

And while we’ve had the odd finger and nasty yell to contend with from a few angry motorists, nobody has tried to run us over as has happened at other studios (close calls, nobody hurt). We need to keep it that way.

For more information, see:

http://www.ausxip.com/wgastrike.html

Hope to see you there.

Picketing Leno in the Rain January 5, 2008

Posted by gollysunshine in Entertainment, TV production, Uncategorized, WGA Strike - 2007.
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No photos today. Not because my camera is on the fritz or I forgot to buy batteries. But because I only have two hands and even so, it’s hard to juggle a picket sign and an umbrella, let alone anything else. But there I was, outside in the rain at NBC Burbank, walking back and forth in the rain, showing solidarity with other writers. It could have been worse – it could have been snow, if say, I were in New York.

But juggling isn’t the only problem I encountered. If the umbrella covered my head, then the sign jutted out at an angle and made it difficult for people to get around me. And if I tried to hold the sign upright, then the umbrella angled off and I got wet and still whacked people. Also, it made it difficult to talk to anybody on the line if you were a living danger of smacking him or her.

And I wanted to talk to people. Despite being wet, everybody was very upbeat. I managed to talk to some sitcom writers from Two and a Half Men.

 

Some kind soul brought hot coffee, and I gratefully went over to get some. As I stared at the pot, the awful truth struck me… I had no free hand to hold the cup, with one around the sign and the other on the umbrella. So I mournfully said goodbye to the caffeine lift and told myself it was better for my health that way.

Soon though, I gave up on the umbrella, and elected to just get wet – while Jay Leno sat warm and toasty and dry in his offices. Let’s hope that my next post isn’t reporting a raging cold.

 

My friend and colleague, STEVEN L. SEARS, (Xena: Warrior Princess, Sheena, Riptide), had the right idea. He had a 6×6 miniature strike sign sticking out of the band on his hat, miniature signs he said he made a bunch of for children’s day. If any of you have seen Steve, he’s almost never without his signature hat, and having the sign on the hat gives him two free hands… to take loads of photos. I should have taken a photo of him so you could see what I mean. Oh, darn, right, no free hands. Anyway, Steve takes great photos. And he’s taken many on the different strike lines he’s been on. I urge you to visit his website: http://www.pondalee.com/

Not only can you see his hat and his nifty photos, but also you can gain wisdom on the strike from a truly gifted writer, such as:

“Unfortunately, as of November 5, 2007, The Writers Guild of America has gone on strike.

The reasons are complicated in form, but simple to understand. Writers (and the other Guilds) are seeking fair contracts. The AMPTP (representing studios and networks) are seeking profits.

“Fair” and “Profit” don’t have to conflict except when the latter comes at the expense of the former.

So we strike.”

Simplistic answer, but so true. A gifted writer who knows how to pitch stories for episodes knows how to boil it all down to the nitty gritty. Or what we in the business call the ‘logline.’

And for those of you supporting the writers, he has a link where fans can download their own little placards (for their websites, dashboards of cars, windows or even desks if you are daring). That way, you can show your support for your favorite shows or writers.

Now Steve didn’t create these… a wonderfully talented Whedonesque.com fan, lexigeek, did. Perhaps you guys are already ahead of me and already know all about them, but I was delighted to see signs made up for almost every show there are fans of, including some of my favorite shows that are no longer on the air, like Sports Night, West Wing, Xena and Buffy. I could take issue with her for not including Hercules, but what the hey…

The important thing is that I’m sure you all can find some of your favorite show and writer placards among them to display.

Let me know which ones you choose to download. I’d love to know which shows have the most fans supporting those who write the shows they love.

I may even download some myself.

I spoke to one of the strike captains about how angry people are with the concept of giving Leno a pass for being a scab. He said that he’s been hearing that from a lot of picketers. He assured me they were not giving Leno a pass, that Leno understands he did wrong (apparently he’s been on the phone at least a couple of times today alone) and that the Guild will take appropriate measures against him. The strike captain also told me that NBC wants this to turn into a war and that the WGA doesn’t want to engage in war because that would only distract from the real business at hand.

I can understand how detrimental such a distraction would be. It’s like spinning one’s wheels with the shills who have popped up all over the Internet, trashing the writers, the WGA and individual supporters. If you play their game, you waste your time on people who aren’t going to change their povs because they don’t really believe in those povs anyway, they are only spouting them to waste your time and keep you from engaging in the important stuff. So it’s best to leave it in the hands of those with the knowledge of what’s going on and what needs to be done.

And as I leave you here, it is still pouring down rain. The streets are flooded and I hear there are traffic accidents everywhere. But it’s something to be happy about, because we were already on water rationing in places, afraid we were heading back into another drought.

Post script:  In my inbox was an email from Care2.  If you aren’t familiar with them, they sponsor petitions for various worthy causes, like saving whales, wolves, etc.  And they have a great line of free e-cards to send.  Anyway, they have set up a petition to send to the moguls in support of the striking writers.  So if you are interested in signing it, here is the link:

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/180755144?z00m=12499986

I have and I didn’t have to get wet to do it.

By the way, for Xena fans who live local,  Steve told me there’s going to be a Xena fan day on the picket line on January 24th at Disney.  More information as it becomes available.  But it will be a way to meet the writers and some of the actors… whoever is available to show up.