Did a day trip to the Stargate Convention held in beautiful Secaucus, New Jersey (yes, hint of sarcasm there, sorry) on November 3rd. It ran from Friday to Sunday, but I opted for one day due to a variety of reasons. Next year, since it's so far away, if they get a guest I want, it's a weekend stay.
Anyway, I wrote up the highlights of what I saw, and have added some photos as well. Enjoy! Feel free to link back to this post.
Secaucus, NJ Stargate convention
November 3, 2007
Guests that day were Jay Avacone (the late Kawalsky, SG1) and Paul McGillion (the late but soon to be returning sorta Dr. Beckett).
Despite the dire weather predictions – Hurricane Noel had been knocked down a notch to a nor’easter, and high winds and rain were predicted – the drive-in was pretty smooth. In fact, no bad weather at all, but man, was it cold when we got there. Could have sworn I saw a snowflake or two flutter by in the parking garage.
I can’t help but compare conventions as I’ve done ‘em for decades. I used to attend the Creations when they first started in NYC. They were inexpensive by today’s standards, yet, you still got the actor talks and the autographs, all for that one low price. However, they hadn’t started up the tier seating (which has now escalated into bid-on-ebay to go behind the scenes for $500 or more stuff). But anyway…I found far more to do at the old conventions as the dealers rooms were big.
Dealers room was exactly the same as last year, really, except I think they had one less table, come to think of it, as Avatar Press didn’t have a table. So, you could easily sweep the room in about ten minutes and be done. I was sorta dismayed that when they ran out of stock, they didn’t replenish, and they had one day left to go. Darn. I snatched up a couple 8x10s (grabbing the last ones they had of ones I wanted), the Stargate Atlantis 2008 calendar (much better than last year’s) and a season 2 SGA card set for a very reasonable price. Found a nice Sheppard shot but, gasp, passed on the McKay shot because I hated how they Photoshopped his face. It doesn’t even look like him. Darn shame. Here’s my booty:
8x10s I grabbed at the con. Alas, I probably missed out on some as they sold out on Friday.
SGA mini banner, SGA t-shirt with sterling silver SGA gate necklace and season 2 business cards, and SGA 2008 calendar.
I bought a cheap seat ($30) as friendly fans I met (argh, argh, can’t remember names!) said that’s what they did and got better seats last than in Preferred, and they were correct. I snatched the first aisle seat behind preferred and it was a pretty decent seat except for the few times fans ran up front to take photos and blocked everybody else. Sorta like people who wear hats in theaters ;)
Let’s see, they had a music video which I could swear is online, then they did a Trivia Competition. They did three of them and I tried to get in on the second, but the guy in charge was (and I did count) picking predominantly from the non-cheap seats. Hmm…. Anyway, on the third count, I waved a poster tube I’d brought with me in case there were any posters worth buying (not really), so, I managed to get selected. Maybe next time I’ll bring a glowstick and wave it. Anyway, I figured I’d get knocked out of competition after 1-2 questions but astonishingly was the last one left standing. The last question was one any whumper would know. Jack’s injuries in “Solitudes.” Actually the guy asked. “when Jack and Sam were stranded on the ice planet” and my mind immediately went “ice planet? There was no ice planet. It was Antarctica (the crowd was very picky on the questions, really, and someone else mentioned that to me afterwards that hey there was no ice PLANET<G>) and it was something about Jack and eight broken ribs so I said ‘no’ and the other folk said ‘yes,’ and whoa, I was the last one left standing (well, on stage). And I’m thinking (really, I was, didn’t I look like a stunned deer in the headlights anyway??) that okay, good, I’ll get a poster for the tube. Nope, won a $125 gift certificate! Yes! Alas, found out with the fine print I couldn’t use it for future tickets (no no no, not fair!!) or for the charity auction, which came up next, so, figuring I’d lose the darn certificate within a year, I went back to the dealer’s room and scarfed up one more photo (Teyla), a sterling silver Atlantis gate necklace, which I honestly wouldn’t have bought otherwise as it was $75, an SGA t-shirt, one of those smaller SGA banners (it was slightly marred, but it will be good at MediaWest*Con next year).
Oh wait, wait, before I start blabbering on about the cast. First, it was great meeting the fans – Salty, Knightie, wwlh*, Gate Geek*, Strider6*, and others whose faces I will recognize but I will go, uh, uhm, who are you again? Oh, and my not attending on Friday night was beneficial for a number of fans there as I brought along a DVD with “Tabula Rasa” burned on to it. Since I got no screaming calls last night when I got back, I assume I did finalize the disk and it was watchable ;) [* Gateworld folk]
Jay Avacone was the first guest of the day. I’ve never seen him before on stage but he was quite animated and worked the crowd very well. He wasn’t as up to date on Stargate as the fans, joking with them about “you’re trying to get me” type stuff when they’d ask questions specifically about SG1 and remember, he only did a couple episodes ;) Let’s see from my scribbled notes:
- He does construction work in between acting. And he’s currently working on his own garage.
- It’s far more fun to play the bad guy than the good guy. “You get to kill people. It’s fun!”
- He told a joke about the town he’s from, how it got named (Mahopac, I believe)
- Talked about the ‘magic of scifi’ – you get to come back even if you’re dead.
- He explained how he accidentally knocked out Amanda Tapping in the elevator scene in “Enemy Within.” He thought they should have a stunt double but Amanda said no, and he was supposed to not look at Carter, but just grab her and fling her back – and he did. And then he said he heard a noise, and then the sound of a body hitting the floor but he forced himself not to mess up the shot and continued to look forward until they yelled ‘cut’ and then he was like ‘oh god, I killed her!”
- His friends who have served in the military would give him tips when he got military/police roles. One of them was telling him how to act as a sniper and he was like “too much thought into killing someone at a distance. Just walk up and hit them with a bat.’
- Chris Judge. Jay and Chris are good friends. His favorite person to work with on the SG1 set, and he also enjoyed working with Linda Hamilton in “Beauty and the Beast.” Says Chris is like a “a piece of sunshine” as he’s always so happy and smiling. Chris’ son goes to school in L.A. so when Chris comes down on the weekends to visit, he also visits with Jay and the two men “drink in abundance.” (but don’t drive).
- Back in ’72 or ’73, he saw the Al Pacino movie “Dog Day Afternoon” and said “I could do that,” to which a friend said “What? Rob banks?” Six years later he was starring with Al Pacino in the movie “Cruising,” which recently saw a re-release. He knew this kid in high school (think he said John Miller) who other kids considered a little odd because he just did whatever he wanted to do. And Miller, later on, invited Jay to audition for a play (Jay was working at a gas station then) so he did it, and they had to put something in the program book, so Jay figured, what the heck, and said he was intending to go to an acting school. His mother came to the play, saw that and asked what that was about, and he said they had to stick something in that looked good, but when she said he’d pay for his acting school, he went!
- He told the infamous face cream story. This came about when he was asked ‘if he could Zat anyone, who would it be?’ Apparently he was in France, bought some mucho expensive face cream (he made a humorous remark about being a face cream whore) for $150. Anyway, didn’t get a receipt, he realized too late, when the Customs lady took it out and said he couldn’t take it on the plane. He decided he was not giving up his cream to the smug lady so he scooped it out and slathered it all over his face and body, and went on the plane like that. So THAT woman is who he’d like to Zat.
- Told some stories about his ex-wife. He was going on a plane trip once so she told him to take his Nomex boots (He got them cuz they were cool; racing drivers wear them). She was like, in case the plane crashes, and he was ‘as if the Nomex boots would save his life after a plane plows into the earth?? They were married for 23-1/2 years. “It was fun,” he grinned.
- He couldn’t think of pulling any pranks, but said he’d been “screwed over 15 times on that set” in regards to SG1.
- He’s deathly afraid of horses. Too big and they make noise, he said. However, he did an episode of “Sliders” which involved horses. Unbeknownst to him, he got pranked by the producer and his agent and manager. They gave him new script pages which said he had to do some fancy stuff on the horse, not just climb up on top and walk the horse from one wrangle to another. He was mortified. Called his agent and manger, who said there was nothing they could do. However, he didn’t have to do the stunt.
- Oh, Chris Judge. I guess this is common knowledge (and I’m out of the loop) but Chris has a tendency to fart. “He could drive from New York to L.A. without stopping at a gas station,” said Jay.
- His favorite guest role was on Stargate SG-1 on “Enemy Within” as well as an “NYPD Blue” episode.
- Oh, his last project was four months ago. A scifi movie written by Walter Koenig and the names of his fellow cast members were familiar. “Inalienable” is the flick. You can check it out on IDMB at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1027874/
- The talk was wrapping up and he said at least nobody asked ‘boxers or briefs’ but admitted to wearing the ‘huggie briefs.’
- Said if he could work on any show, he’d love to have done a “Man from UNCLE” or a “Prisoner” (Patrick McGoohan series).
I’m sure there was more, but I’m reading from very scribbled notes. You can check out Jay’s credits at http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0010264/
They showed the 13 minute film Breakdown, which had Amanda Tapping, Gary Chaulk, Winston Rekert (all who have been in SG1). It was an odd little film about people auditioning for the roles in a disaster film and it got silly toward the end. It was a typically derivative scifi disaster plot in which families that have fallen apart are bonded by disaster and they had a mayor, a hooker and a homeless person too. It was okay to watch but it wasn’t anything you’d run out and buy on DVD, y’know?
Let’s see they had a music video then, the auction (which I passed on, as my voucher wasn’t worth anything there, which was like darn, I would have used it there), and then, the reason I schlepped into NJ:
PAUL McGILLION!! His stuff will be detailed in the second post, hopefully tomorrow. Suffice to say he was quite entertaining, a gentleman and wow, I’d pay to see him again. Here’s the highlights of his talk:
- Paul told us what we already knew: Beckett will be back in season four. He thanked the Save Carson Beckett campaign for their aid. He says he comes back toward the end of this season (4). But because it’s scifi, there is the chance for Beckett to come back.
- He told his story about he got his role on Stargate Atlantis. He felt like the character should be Scottish, and the casting director was no-no, “no one will understand you,” to which Paul said “there can be intelligent Scottish people.” And they liked it. The day before he was going to go to a Portugual film festival he got the call to do the character, and halfway through the “Rising” pilot, Martin Wood told him to talk to Damian Kindler, who was penning “Poisoning the Well.”
- He’s one of seven kids, six boys, one girl. He’s number six. He’s got an education (teaching) degree, so could teach, but wanted to act, despite what his father thought. But once Paul told him what acting paid, his father was quite accepting of it. Then told the now famous story of how he told his parents he got the role on Stargate, but his father went “Star Trek.”
- When he watched an episode with his parent, his mother would go “is that you?” and Paul would go “No, that’s Joe Flanigan!” and then he’d do a Joe Flanigan imitation and added “Joe uses more hair product than me, and that’s saying something.”
- When asked about the role of Scotty in “Star Trek,” he said Jimmy Doohan’s son endored him in the role, but it went to Simon Pegg “ a great actor, but a very different choice.” He had to sign a confidentiality clause so can’t talk about it (spoilers and all). He said the response to him was “very favorable” but he was very happy with the fan reaction as he was getting interviews and hadn’t even gotten the part.
- When he was born, his mother said he had a lot of hair, like one of the Beatles, “I think I’ll call him Paul.” In high school, there wasn’t much acting. You played sports, so he got into it when he was in Toronto and taking workshops. Still takes them to stay sharp.
- He said that while he’s mastered learning the Scottish medical lingo, Joe Flanigan is like “can I get a sandwich?” and much less to say. And Jason Momoa would go “ugh” (sort of a caveman grunt). “I call him Chewbacca meets Marmaduke.” Paul added, “Jason’s job is to beat people on the show .. .and for David Hewlett and my character, we have to deliver a lot of dialogue sometimes…” He has a friend help him run lines so he can memorize the dialogue. He studies very hard and “thinks the audience deserves” it. He’d call up his brother Mike (who’s a doctor), ask what the word means, and then ask him how to pronounce it with a Scottish accent. You get an episode a week in advance but you’re still working on the current episode.
- He mentioned it was nice that families came, and got two little girls** to come up on stage, which was cute. He loves meeting the fans.
- He says Jason Momoa is huge and friendly and he’ll pick up Paul in a bear hug and Paul is like “you’re breaking my ribs. Dangerous man,” he joked.
- “A Dog’s Breakfast.” HATED the pantyhose, high heels and bra. “I do not make a good looking woman,” he said, but someone in the audience said he did to which he said “that’s a frightening thought.” He mentioned the second day of shooting, in which David Hewlett was naked on the ground, prone with “soap suds on his butt,” and Paul is there in high heels and it’s been raining, so he’s starting to sink into the mud. And then while the cameraman changed lenses, David and Paul looked at each other and Paul said “This better be funny, because this is horrible.” And he said “You look hideous.”
- Someone asked what it was like to kiss David Hewlett. “I have to clarify something, he kissed me. Okay? And he won’t stop calling me. It’s creepy,” he said in mock seriousness. “Lips like sand paper. Ever heard of halitosis? His sister’s a much better kisser, though.” He said “she’s very sweet, unlike David.” And then told the funny story about how Martin Gero told Paul that David was okay with the kiss, and then did the same thing with David saying Paul said it was okay.
- About Beckett in season four. Here’s a quote: “It’s a very, very smart way to bring the character back, and it’s left very… open for the possibility of bringing him back again.” He said the SCB campaign rally in front of Bridge Studios was “incredible”. He was down in L.A. when he found out about it and was “overwhelmed” by the support. His brother went over and took pictures. He’s “really happy” with the episode.
- He’s working on a script with a friend in L.A. called “Two Brothers.” It’s kind of like “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.”
- He said the crew was spectacular on Atlantis.
- Asked about being killed off by an ‘exploding tumor’ in “Sunday.” He was told that in order to shake things up, they’re going to kill Beckett. “Is there a camera in here?” recalled Paul. “Is this a joke?” But that’s what they decided to do. “And obviously, as an actor, I was sorta shocked, and to be honest, everybody else was, too.” He was upset. “I think in the episode ‘Sunday’ Martin did a good job considering the subject matter you have to deal with. It’s all very difficult when you have to kill off a major character in a show, but yeah, I was disappointed with it but I think the episode- I tried to do my best with the episode. As best you can, under the circumstances.” The crew was sort of walking on eggshells around him but he was okay and things can happen in scifi.
- He was asked about his Lifetime movie and the writer’s guild strike. He hopes the strike ends quickly as he said it’s beginning to show with people being cautious about hiring, etc. and then he mentioned that he’s going back up to Vancouver to do a play called “Reservations for Four” (a few years ago he had done “Reservations for Two”). As for the Lifetime movie, it was formerly called “Just Breathe,” but now, Paul thinks, it’s called “My Father’s Wife.” It’s about a divorce and he plays Ben, the husband. Melora Hardin from “The Office” is also in it. He said it’s a real tear-jerker Lifetime movie.
- He likes both dramatic and light episodes. He likes well-written work. And liked doing the comedy with David Hewlett “it’s a blast.” “Duet” was fun (“as unfortunate as that one part was to work on” [the kiss] and it’s fun to play off him.”) He said “you’ll shed a few tears in the next Beckett episode” (pretty sure I got that down correctly).
- Said David did a “fantastic job” on “A Dog’s Breakfast” considering he wrote, produced, directed and starred in it. He thinks David will do a lot of directing.
- About Jewel Staite. She’s a great friend of his and he said it’s not the same as “she’s a 25 year old girl and I’m a 20 year old guy” (said with a very straight face<G> followed by a grin). He said the characters are different and “we’ll see where it lies in the future.” It’s an awkward situation for her, as they’re good friends, but Jewel’s an actress and was given an opportunity. “I actually got a chance to act with her on Atlantis recently so it was really good. I think you’ll like the chemistry between the two characters.”
- He said when he was at a Glasgow convention, he came out and spoke in his normal accent as he didn’t want to do Scottish off the top. So before the con, he went and bought a Scotland scarf and stuffed it in his jacket. He came out on stage, spoke and saw everybody looked confused and someone’s “like where’s your accent?” so he pulls out the Scotland scarf, holds it up and goes in a Scottish accent “Right bloody here, mate, end of story.” That was fun.
- He talked about practical jokes. In “Phantoms”, Joe Flanigan pulled the infamous joke. (And Paul said he hasn’t gotten back at Joe yet for it.). David Hewlett and Paul had to carry a stretcher with a soldier on it, and they get the stretcher and Joe goes over to one of the extras and says “why don’t you be the guy on the stretcher.” - “Of course the guy’s like 250 pounds!” “And we have to carry him all day.” So they’re both sweating and David is complaining, but, in between takes, Joe is filling up Paul’s backpack with rocks. “I am pouring sweat and he’s like ‘is that guy heavy. Boy, you’re sweating a lot.’ “Oh yeah, Joe, he’s really heavy, thanks for putting him there.” And just as he leaves, he suggests Paul look in his backpack and then he walks off set as he’s done for the day. “I open it up, and there’s probably about 40 pounds of rocks in there. I went after him but he’d already left. He was laughing his head off. I’m going to get him back.”
- Why do the doctors always get killed off? He had no idea “but it was a very good point.”
- He loved acting with everybody on Atlantis and they got along very well. What he found fun was working with guest stars who had never seen the show before, so he’d immediately go into the Scottish accent. He said Robert Davi went “are you going to talk like that?” and “yes, hotshot, let’s go, let’s do the scene.” (this was when Beckett and the team was behind bars in “Irresistible.”)
- I can't be sure, alas, but at one point he said "I'm still in therapy about that" and it was either the kiss in "Duet," or something to do with Dog's Breakfast, but I'm sure it's the former. Anybody with a better memory, let me know!
- By the way, Paul's imitation of Joe Flanigan's voice is hysterical.
Here are a bunch of shots of Paul. Not the best, as hey, I was in the cheap seats and the lighting wasn’t all that great.
Joe Flanigan uses more hair product than me ;)
Spoiler! Ohmygawd, Beckett comes back as a Goa’uld! (just kidding)
and this is how far back I was, so, using a zoom in dim lighting, hence, got a lot of fuzzy shots but better than nothing ;)
They scheduled Paul’s photo op RIGHT AFTER his talk, literally. An advantage to the cheap as while he was signing one of the banners, I quickly took off to the photo op room (as we had to leave after that). Was one of the first in line. I swear, SG actors like black clothes (not that there’s anything bad in that), but he looked even better up close. Now, must recall what happened next as my mind fogged. Okay, shook hands. He has a very nice smile. Then he stared at my chest. In fact, he was reading my T-shirt (below) so out of habit, as others have read it too, I sorta pulled it out so it was flat and he could finish reading. He was rather amused by the shirt. Hallmark really lost out on sales by discontinuing it! ;)
I actually got two photo ops with Paul, figuring one would be the serious type I can show people and the other was a goofy ‘rabbit ears’ shot which I had done with David Hewlett eons ago. So, he happily obliged and then the photographer went “Uh, Paul, your ears are too low” as they weren’t poking out over my head. I picked ‘em up from Salty this morning and am quite happy with them J
After that, bid goodbye to lots of fan folk (next year, a full weekend, no day trip!) and we ended up taking a whole gaggle of group shots on different cameras that probably took another 15 minutes. Alas, Paul must have skedaddled out a side door as he didn’t go by us, otherwise we might have tried to suck him into a group shot.
The view outside the Crowne Plaza hotel as we left
So, let, and someone else will have to fill in Friday and Sunday J And did the elevators function all weekend or not?? Oh yeah, and did I mention the hotel was COLD? The ladies room was nice and toasty though :)
The con is moving to Cherry Hill, NJ next year, which is hours away, instead of 90 minutes, but closer to Philly, so hopefully the new venue has more room for dealers and they get more dealers. Maybe the hotel will have SciFi. Or what Creation oughta do it get permission to air the episode that shows Friday night of the con.
Here are some con picture links from GW
http://forum.gateworld.net/showthread.php?t=38730 is the con thread at GW. Start at the top (most recent) as otherwise you go through a lot of pre-con chatter.
Feel free to add links to the comments section below.
**Oh, I have a photo of Paul and the two little girls on stage, but didn't feel it right to post that as the parents may not want the photo online. If you're the kids, or the parents, and want a JPG (or don't mind it posted), just email me at wraithfodder[at]gmail.com.