Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Dragon*Con Panels, part 1: Revelations

Friday Panel "Revelations"

The photos are by Michelle aka Bamberrific. You can find more Dragon*Con photos at the BamberBunnies website, and more of her James photos at the James Callis Appreciation Thread on the Sci Fi forums.

The videos linked to were filmed by MrBamberrific, aka transplant42. Some videos were uploaded before, but these are the best quality ones, not to mention that they show the entire panel. Galactica Sitrep linked to some of the other videos, so I won't go to the trouble of searching for them all again.

Thanks to Bamberrific and MrBamberrific! Also read dianora's writeup of the panel with some nice photos here.

This is the first panel; there were two more on Saturday and Sunday, which I will also post about. Apart from fangirling James, I was much impressed by Aaron Douglas and Michael Hogan, two funny guys who gave good answers. Also? Michael Hogan is friendly, good-humored and just nothing at all like Tigh, and I have a newfound respect for the character, because I really did think he's played by a grumpy old man.

So, the panel. I've only transcribed the James parts, but I'd be willing to do a more complete transcript if there's interest. Let me know.

Part 1 has no James quotes, but it has the introduction of the panelists. James gets thunderous applause from the crowd. Aaron is wearing a "Got chief?" shirt, which cracked me up.

Part 2
Asked about the biggest surprise with their character arcs.

James: I think it's interesting how, everybody from the show... For me, the biggest surprise in my arc is that I stayed alive. [laughter] I'm annoyed that, like, every other week you get something where it's like [dramatic voice] Baltar is mortally wounded! [laughter] Bye! Ciao! [waves his hands] So yeah, it's a big surprise that the writing staff have been magnanimous enough to let me stick around. That's about it.

I love that he said this, because it's so true. In The Hub, Laura Roslin tells him, "I think you're gonna live... as usual." I bet the actors have been joking about this before. Aaron's response was very funny, by the way - the Chief drinks more than he does, and he can beat up Tahmoh's character. But of course, his biggest surprise is really that he's a cylon.

Thinking of it, there haven't been very big surprises with Gaius, other than that he's survived. No big wtf moment like "omg he's a cylon!" - well, OK, two such moments in Downloaded and Taking a Break From All Your Worries, but it's always quickly established that it's just a mindfrak. And even if he were, that wouldn't be particularly surprising as he's been more connected with cylons than any other human on the show. Gaius has had a great arc, but it would be difficult to bring in any surprises.

Part 3
There are no James quotes here, but check out the Tigh cosplayer at 7:40 and on! He's really good, and he has the audience and panelists in stitches. He shows up in eyepatch, BSG style army garb, and a glass in his hand. His "Gaius Frakkin' Baltar" is just perfect. He asks Michael Hogan to yell at him, and Hogan yells in Tigh voice: "Godsdamnit, give me a drink of that godsdamn thing!" Awesome.

Part 4
Question from the moderator: has Gaius really found God, or does he just not want to sleep alone at night?

James: I don't think Gaius ever wanted to sleep alone at night, before after he maybe found God. He is, uh, he is changing, and the season that you're going to see that you haven't seen yet actually has revelations for every character. Um... I was actually talking about this at San Diego. Someone said to me, "Now, what's the difference between being head of the government and being head of your own cult?" And there's no difference. [laughter] The difference is that it seems to me that politicians and being political is a lot of glad-handing and smiling and holding babies and kissing them, but it's all outward, it's very ego-driven. And something about becoming, uh, in inverted commas, a "mystic" or somebody searching for something else, is that the third eye looks inwards, not outwards, and that's the kind of interesting thing that's happening to Gaius, he's starting to find himself. Whether that also is finding God or the Cylon religion is..uh..less important to him, but finding peace with himself is, and obviously to sleep with as many people as possible. [laughter]

He seems a bit apologetic about his word choice at "mystic" - labored, like he's looking for a better word. Of course, it's a stretch to call Gaius that. He seems amused at Gaius' nymphomaniac ways. I thought that he was bugged by that in the Comic Con panel, but maybe it was just Kevin Smith's insistence to foucs on that only. This host was so much better - it really felt like it was about the show, not about him. (And yeah, I realize he mispronounced "Tyrol", but it's not like Kevin Smith knew the names of the episodes, or who Shelly Godfrey was, so I think they're about even).

Thinking of it, I'm not sure how much I agree with him that becoming a "mystic" hasn't been ego-driven for Gaius. Isn't it sort of a desperate attempt to get attention even after he's been shunned by the entire fleet? I'm curious to see if he finds himself more in the coming episodes though.

Moderator: This question is for anyone who's willing to answer it. What is the stupidest thing you've done lately?

[James' head hits the table; laughter]

James: As the characters, or...? Cos Aaron's done some pretty ...

This inspired EJO to tell a story about Aaron "coldcocking" a guy, because he doesn't wear underpants under the Chief jumpsuit. It was by far not the only time EJO talked about penises during the panels. Maybe he's a dirty old man?

James: One of the most stupid things I did recently was... I ordered a taxi from my home, and I was like, "Can I get a taxi to here in London, I'm going to the airport?" And the guy says, "And who is the taxi for?" And I was like, "Well, it's for me, isn't it?" He went, [indignant tone]"Your NAME, please, sir?"

Aaron: And then he said, "Edward James Olmos".

Hee. James is cutely amused at himself here. At least he didn't say, "Don't you know who I am?!" I loved how, as soon as he heard the question, his head just hit the table pretty fast. He's good at the self-deprecating humor.

Part 5
Colin Corrigan, who's obviously a good friend of Aaron's, talks about his role on the show.

Colin next to James. I'm not sure who he plays on the show. It's not a very big part.
The talk turns to Tahmoh's good friend Alex, who also got a role on the show but got killed off almost right away, which Tahmoh apparently feels bad about. Aaron jokes that they told Alex that Tahmoh told the writers to kill him off.

James: I thought genuinely there was a thing about... He was supposed to live and just get a wound on that mountain cliff. What they didn't realize is that they cast a 6'5'' guy opposite Kandyse, and that she was supposed to be bringing him down the mountain. [laughter] It just proved impossible.

Aaron: So this is season 3 on the algae plaent when Dualla and Sergeant Fischer go out looking for Starbuck's downed raptor.

Tahmoh: You guys remember Sergeant Fischer? Remember the boxing episode? He's the guy in the background. Yeah, Alex is one of my best friends. He's a, he's a monster.

Aaron: 6'7'', 290. Like the guy's a truck with legs. [laughter]

Tahmoh: And Kandyse would have a hard time picking up his hand. [laughter]

Aaron: Yeah. Kandyse is about the size of that Starbucks cup. So imagine her picking that.

Cute story, and the idea of Kandyse [McClure, who plays Dualla] carrying the guy is pretty amusing. However, I'm not entirely sure if they should have brought Colin into the panel, because he's not a very important character. There were already many panelists, and he doesn't get to talk that much. It seems to be a problem with most panels that there are just too many people there. But here especially, since rare guests Michael Hogan and Edward James Olmos were there, it seems a bit much.

I don't like to transcribe the questions usually, but this was so good:
Man from the audience: I saw something a little odd few months ago back in April, and I can't help but think that there was some sort of discord or maybe apprehension, on at least some of your parts. I'm talking about your appearance in character in costume on Late Show with David Letterman, [laughter] doing the top ten list. I'm sure David's writers had something to do with it, otherwise I doubt James Callis would have said salted space nuts on that...[laughter, his voice is drowned out here. James seems to crack up as well] Is there any backstory to that, was there any apprehension, can I stop?

James: Yeah, talk about kicking a man when he's down. I'd actually, I got food poisoning in New York, really bad, I had to check into a hospital, I had my stomach pumped out, I... every test known to man... They were like, "Yeah, there's nothing wrong with you, [chuckles] you're just... you got some bad food poisoning." So I arrived at the Letterman thing pretty wrecked anyway. And actually, my thing was that they wanted me to say something else about somebody else being.. being drunk. And I was like, "Uh, but that's not funny. Uh... That's actually just mean." And they were like, [American accent] "Oh, get with the program! This is, like, the Late Show! We've gotta be a bit spicy." I was like, "Well, I don't think I want to do that." - "Well, say spicy space nuts." I'm like, thanks. [laughter ]

I can't say that it was the most wonderful experience... I actually felt.. Yeah, lay this on the line... I felt the show is actually bigger than that, and we were kind of wheleed on to be part of Letterman's creatures rather than asked in our own rights, so it bugged me. I wasn't happy. The sole prospect of acting.. [applause, his voice is drowned out] than, you know, I wanna say five seconds of fame being on Letterman, I'm like keep it. That's my two cents.
[applause from the audience as well as the other panelists]

The others really seem to agree with him; you can read on their faces is that they didn't have a great time at the show either. What amuses me is that no one can remember that lame line right - James says "spicy space nuts", the guy who asks the question says "salty space nuts", but on the show, the caption read "honey-roasted space nuts". I don't think James read it like that, but it's hard to tell because he actually did a very uncharacteristically poor reading (I don't blame him though, given the circumstances).

When he talks about the food poisoning, there are some "awww"s and "ah"s in the audience. Of course, the James fans already knew this story from the Unofficial Website, where James posted in June. The forum seems to resist direct linking, but it's in the thread entitled "Birthday Wishes". A short excerpt:

TPTB wanted me to say something about a star in the states with an alcohol problem - I told them - that I didn't think it was funny - and that I wasn't prepared to slate someone I don't know - over an addiction issue - as personally - I think that's just mean - and I don't believe in making fun of people whose situation is beyond their own control...

Kindly the writers changed my line to some nonsense about space nuts - which after hospital and throwing up for 6 hours solid- I didn't have the energy to combat/change - and at least the line was mildly self deprecating rather than cutting someone- else's head off.

But the whole thing was like - "why are we here?"

David Letterman was too busy to speak to us.

This gets a huge fan squee from me. I doubt most actors would have tried to change a mean line into something else, especially after throwing up all day, and he obviously pissed them off by asking for that. Just goes to show what a kind guy James is. That's some integrity right there. The top ten list was bullshit, and it bugs me that it still comes up as the first search item for BSG on YouTube. Let it die!

Part 6
Female voice: We need a last question.
Man from the audience: James, is there any chance you can sing Spooky for us?
James: No.
[laughter. James looks really amused.]
Aaron: And I think we have time for one more question!

[laughter. James, who's taken a sip of Coke, almost does a spit take laughing. Actually, you can't see that in the above video, but you can in this one.]

I loved that someone brought up Spooky, and I almost wish he had started singing. All in all, James didn't talk all that much in this panel, and there's more of him in the two other ones. A couple more photos just because he looked so good:

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