Archive for June, 2009

Ghost Hunters International Returns To The Sci Fi Channel

June 30, 2009
The Ghost Hunters International team (clockwise l-r) - Robb Demarest, Brandy Green, Barry FitzGerald, Joe Chin and Dustin Pari. Photo by Barbara Nitke and copyright of the Sci Fi Channel

The Ghost Hunters International team (clockwise from l to r) - Robb Demarest, Brandy Green, Barry FitzGerald, Joe Chin and Dustin Pari. Photo by Barbara Nitke and copyright of the Sci Fi Channel

THE Sci Fi Channel comtinues the summer with its ratings driver hit reality series Ghost Hunters International (GHI) wih the premiere of season two on Wednesday, July 8th @ 9 p.m. EST/PST. The first episode of the hour-long series ventures deep into the countryside of Wicklow, Ireland for an investigation of an old 18th century prison. As these “real life” ghost hunters try to uncover truth or fiction, they’ll face their closest supernatural encounter yet! The new six-part episode season will have the team trekking around the globe with upcoming haunted haunts in countries include Chile, Ireland, the Czech Republic, Austria, Italy and Argentina.

Like their U.S. counterparts, TAPS (The Atlantis Paranormal Society), GHI is a squad made up of everyday ordinary citizens who investigate and attempt to debunk claims of otherwordly activity. The new team of skeptical paranormal investigators includes four returning members and two new colleagues. They are:

Robb Demarest A native of Albany, New York, Robb joined the Ghost Hunters International team after three years with Florida Ghost Team, an affiliate of TAPS (founded by Ghost Hunters‘ Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson). Robb’s responsibilities on the team have ranged from research, technology management and client relations, to his current position as assistant director. As the lead investigator of the Ghost Hunters International team, Robb hopes to push the boundaries of current knowledge in the field and approach these enigmas with the open-minded skepticism for which his TAPS counterparts are known.

Dustin Pari – Cranston, Rhode Island native Dustin Pari is a familiar face to regular viewers of the Ghost Hunters franchise. Long harboring an interest in the paranormal, he began his career in his teen years investigating local hot-spots in Rhode Island. He was later invited to join TAPS by Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson, and began appearing regularly on Ghost Hunters as an investigator. TAPS’ trip to Ireland in 2006 was a turning point for Dustin – during the investigation of Leap Castle, he had the most intense paranormal experience of his life when he was attacked by an unseen force in the tunnels beneath the castle. The Leap Castle investigation was his first outside of the United States and it would not be his last. Since joining the GHI team, Dustin’s role has been one of both investigator and historical researcher, uncovering the truth behind centuries-old myths and legends.

Barry FitzGerald – A veteran ghost hunter with 17 years of experience in paranormal investigating, Barry is memorable to Ghost Hunters fans for his work on TAPS’ investigations in Europe during the show’s third season. Now, as a member of the new GHI team, Barry supplies his expertise in both ghost hunting as well as his knowledge of the historical locations of each new investigation. Haunted by supernatural events he experienced as a child growing up in Ireland, Barry developed an interest in paranormal research and went on to work for two different paranormal groups based in Northern Ireland. He now dedicates much of his time to the development of new investigative techniques and research methods.

Brandy Green A native of Farmington, Minnesota, it was Brandy’s childhood experiences with the paranormal that led her to spend much of her life exploring the possibilities of life after death. Brandy’s first ghost hunting endeavor began when she founded her own paranormal investigation group in the Twin Cities. Now she begins her latest feat as the Case Manager of the GHI team. After studying the psychology of death and dying, Brandy began to expand her understanding of the psychological, social and historical aspects of loss and the afterlife. She has worked to apply that knowledge towards clients and cases that her home team has worked on, as well as those that she encounters with GHI.

Joe Chin A native of North Providence, Rhode Island, Joe’s interests in the paranormal dates back to his teenage years. Growing up, he remembers that the third floor of his apartment house was always lively with instances of unexplained paranormal activity. And although he experienced the supernatural as a youngster, he had no idea that people looked for the paranormal until he met Jason Hawes. Months after meeting Jason, he was asked to join the group and several cases later he is still a part of the thriving team. Since joining the team, Joe has cultivated what he refers to as a “skeptical curious side” that spurs him to want to get to the bottom of things. He also relates this innate curiosity to being a computer technician, a trade he delves into in his spare time. When working with computers, he always has to figure out what the problem is and how to resolve it as quickly as possible – similar to the work that he and the other ghost hunters do.

Ashley Godwin A native of Winter Haven, Florida, Ashley is driven by the logical, the methodical and the scientific. Her recent years have been spent studying atmospheric science and experimental psychology. She is also a member of Robb Demarest’s local paranormal group, Florida Ghost Team (FGT). After proving to be a fearless and thorough investigator, Robb asked her to join the GHI team. Having never left the country before, Ashley thought the show would offer her an amazing chance to travel the world and explore the unknown. Though Ashley is the youngest in GHI, her expertise and insight into her field have proven to be of endless value.

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Torchwood – We-Are-Coming

June 29, 2009
John Barrowman, Eve Myles and Gareth David-Lloyd star in Torchwood: Children of Earth. Photo courtesy of and copyright of

John Barrowman, Eve Myles and Gareth David-Lloyd star in Torchwood: Children of Earth. Photo courtesy of and copyright of the BBC

KICKING off the first of BBC America’s HD offerings in July is Torchwood: Children Of Earth premiering over five consecutive nights. The series re-joins Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman), Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles) and Ianto Jones (Gareth David-Lloyd) as they are still coming to terms with the death of two of their closest friends. Despite their pain, they know they have a job to do. This time they are faced with their fiercest threat to date – one which throws the future of Torchwood and the entire human race spiraling into danger. Battling against the odds, do they stand a chance of saving mankind?

Series creator, lead writer and executive producer Russell T. Davies on the concept of Torchwood: Children Of Earth – “I wanted to tell a story in which civilization snaps, in which we turn on ourselves, in which nothing is safe. Plenty of people live like that, on this planet. In this story, it’s Britain’s turn.”

An ordinary day becomes a world of terror as every child around the globe stops – stops playing, laughing, stops doing anything. Then, as one, they begin to speak with the same voice, announcing to the governments of Earth, “We are coming.” As Torchwood investigates, a trap closes around Captain Jack and sins of the past return as long-forgotten events from 1965 threaten to reveal an awful truth. Torchwood is forced underground, as the government takes swift and brutal action. With members of the team being hunted down, Britain risks becoming a rogue state, with the mysterious and powerful 456 drawing ever-closer. Jack, Gwen and Ianto are helpless as events escalate, with humankind ultimately facing the end of civilization itself.

Special guest-stars in Torchwood: Children Of Earth are Peter Capaldi (In The Loop, The Thick Of It, Skins) as Mr. Frobisher, a government official hiding a terrible secret, Paul Copley (Coronation Street, The Bill) as Clem, a survivor still haunted by his past, and Liz May Brice (Bad Girls, The Bill) as Johnson, the cynical government agent determined to expose Torchwood. The new season promises to be Torchwood’s most disturbing and intense adventure to date.

The first episode of Torchwood: Children Of Earth airs on Monday, July 20th @ 9 p.m. EST/PST, with a new episode premiering each subsequent night from Monday, July 2oth through Friday, July 24th @ 9 p.m. EST/PST.

Prior to the premiere of Torchwood: Children Of Earth, BBC America takes a behind-the-scenes look at the series as a whole with Torchwood: Inside The Hub. This original premiere features everything there is to know about Captain Jack and the rest of the Torchwood team. Using exclusive interview footage and clips from earlier seasons, revisit the history of this top-secret group, relive some of their greatest victories and get a sneak peak at what Torchwood: Children Of Earth holds in store for our heroes. Torchwood: Inside The Hub premieres Monday, July 20th @ 8 p.m. EST/PST.

About Torchwood

Torchwood is separate from the government, outside the police, beyond the United Nations, more secret than MI5 or MI6. Not even the government is supposed to know about them.

The Torchwood hub is situated deep beneath the Cardiff Millennium Centre.

Torchwood was formed in 1879 by the Royal decree of Queen Victoria as a result of her experiences in the season two Doctor Who episode Tooth and Claw.

Torchwood is an anagram of Doctor Who. When the first season of the new Doctor Who (2005) was being made, TV pirates were desperate to acquire the preview tapes. one of the people in the office had the idea of labeling the tapes with the anagram Torchwood rather than Doctor Who as a security measure to disguise the tapes when they were delivered from Cardiff to London. Writer Russell T. Davies liked the idea so much that it later inspired him to use it as a title when creating this spin-off series.

John Barrowman first appeared as Captain Jack Harkness in Episode Nine (The Empty Child) of the first season of Doctor Who. He also appeared in The Doctor Dances, Boom Town, Bad Wolf and The Parting of the Ways in the same season, and again, in the season two stories Army of Ghosts and Doomsday.

The part of Gwen in Torchwood was written specially for Eve Myles. She first appeared as Gwyneth in Episode Three (The Unquiet Dead) of the first season of Doctor Who.

Gareth David-Lloyd’s character of Ianto Jones began as the team’s assistant who always sports a finely-tailored suite while ensuring the rest of the team has everything it needs, including a fresh pot of coffee. Ianto has since come to be an integral part of the team, especially after the loss of Tosh (Naoko Mori) and Owen (Burn Gorman) in season two.

Torchwood fans can get an additional fix of their favorite program with a special Torchwood weekend. Captain Jack, Gwen Cooper, Ianto, Tosh and Owen Harper are all back on BBC America with a marathon leading up to the premiere event of Torchwood: Children Of Earth. Enjoy an action-packed, adrenalin-fueled weekend with every single episode of the Sci-Fi smash hit from seasons one and two. The Torchwood weekend starts with Season one on Saturday, July 18th beginning @ 7 a.m. EST/4 a.m. PST, and season two on Sunday, July 19th beginning @ 7 a.m. EST/4 a.m. PST.

Last but not least, if you miss installment of Torchwood: Children Of Earth, you can watch the entire five-episode run again in yet another special marathon on Sunday, July 26th starting @ 1 p.m. EST/10 a.m. PST.

As noted above, photo courtesy of and copyright of the BBC, so please no unauthorized copying or duplicating of any form. Thanks!

This Week On Primeval – 06 – 27 – 09

June 26, 2009

SPOILER ALERT!! – An anomaly opens in the middle of a huge junkyard and a dinosaur from the Cretaceous era comes through. The Dracorex is wounded, which only makes it more aggressive. The team is trying to force it back when, suddenly, a medieval knight on horseback gallops through the anomaly, chasing what he thinks is a dragon. The knight decides the modern world must be hell and his only chance to make it to heaven is by slaying the creature – this is his quest. The team finds itself in the unusual position of dealing with not only a dinosaur on the loose, but also a deranged medieval knight who is convinced that he is a latter-day St. George. Episode seven of season three airs Saturday, June 27th @ 8 p.m. EST/PST on BBC America.

St. George and the Dragon - Primeval style! Photo copyright of Impossible Pictures

St. George and the Dragon - Primeval style! Photo copyright of Impossible Pictures

Sarah (Laila Rouass) goes all Medieval! Photo copyright of Impossible Pictures

Sarah (Laila Rouass) goes all Medieval! Photo copyright of Impossible Pictures

THE CREATURES OF PRIMEVAL – Dracorex is a dinosaur from the late Cretaceous era of North America. Only a skull and a few vertebrae have ever been found and named Dracorex hogwartsia, meaning “dragon king of Hogwarts.” They were discovered in the Hell Creek Formation in South Dakota. It belongs to the larger group of herbivorous or omnivorous Pachycephalosauridae, which are known for their thickened, domed skulls. There is much debate about why they had ornate skulls; one theory is that they used them to head-butt each other during mating rituals.

As noted above, all photos copyright of Impossible Pictures, so please no unauthorized copying or duplicating of any form. Thanks!

Sienna Guillory & Clea DuVall – Virtually Speaking

June 26, 2009

THIS Friday, June 26th (8 p.m. – 1o p.m. EST/PST),  Fox will broadcast Virtuality. Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek: The Next Generation) wrote and executive produced with Michael Taylor (Battlestar GalacticaStar Trek: Voyager)  this two-hour movie (and backdoor pilot) in which a space crew sets out on a 10-year journey through outer space in order to save an unsustainable Earth, their actions being telecast to a worldwide audience as part of a reality TV show. To help pass the time on their long journey, their ship is equipped with virtual reality modules, but tensions soon mount as a glitch in the system unleashes a virus onto the ship.

Earlier this week, myself and several other journalists spoke via a conference call with actresses Sienna Guillory and Clea DuVall, who play exo-biologist Rika Goddard and ship’s pilot Sue Parsons, respectively, in Virtuality, about their work in the movie. The following is an edited version of that Q & A session.

Clea, you’ve been in so many different genre projects and played a variety of characters; what type of preparation do you do in order to get into the various roles. And how do you approach each of these different types of characters, where you always seem to be able to put it all together and knock it [your performance] out of the ball park?

CLEA DuVALL – That’s very sweet of you to say, thank you. I approach each role differently. On Virtuality, for me, it was about getting to know the people that I was working with and becoming comfortable with improv, which is something I’d never done before. However, [director] Peter Berg likes to work that way; he just sort of lets scenes run and watches what happens. So it was a lot of on-the-job training with this one, and any preparation I did had to be thrown out the window if you will, and it was a matter of putting my trust in Peter and my fellow actors.

Sienna, I know that a lot of the work that you guys did, especially when your characters were in the virtual environments, was green screen-type work. What were some of the challenges of that?

SIENNA GUILLORY – I think in a way, when you’re working with green screen, it’s hugely enabling. In this case, it was the whole thing that Ron Moore came up with. By that I mean in Virtuality, he gives our characters lives with no limitations, so you have to use that green screen as a plus. The fact that there’s nothing there to limit your imagination or where you see yourself or how you see the scene unfolding can be a helpful thing. So you just imagine it exactly the way you want it to be, rather than kind of being held back by the physical limitations of a set.

Each of the crew on the ship has his or her own virtual reality – what was each of yours?

CD – My character was very much into outdoor sports, so bike-riding, surfing, etc.

SG – My character is actually an exo-biologist, which is kind of extreme gardening on a molecular level. But she’s trapped in this passionless marriage to the ship’s psychologist, so she uses her virtual module to fantasize about sex and intimacy.

Given that our world seems to be increasingly moving towards one that is dominated by virtual reality, how do you think that will impact our emotional and psychological well-being as reflected in your characters in the movie?

SG – In terms of how it worked in the show, we’re geeks, but we’re still people, we’re still humans. So anything that happens to us in our own personal movies happens to all of us, because we’re stuck together. Again, the whole point of it is that Ron Moore is providing these characters with a life without limitations, so I think it’s tremendously healthy to be able to explore your inner cravings and all the things that you dream of and be able to realize your fantasies without necessarily hurting other people. At the same time, you also need to realize that when you do experience something emotionally, it does affect who you are, and I think that’s the backbone of what we’re doing. What happens in our virtual modules affects everyone around us, even though we think our experiences are private.

Given that this story was meant to be an ongoing one, were there any details that you were given or that you asked for going forward about your characters?

CD – There were little bits and pieces that we were given because I think we all had the hopes that it would continue. But they, Michael and Ron, didn’t really give away much. I think that we were all under such pressure to just do what we were doing, that thinking into the future was overwhelming at the time. However, there is definitely a lot more to the story that, fingers crossed, we may be able to tell.

SG – We had times where we’d all gather around and discuss these kinds of “mad” notions that maybe our characters aren’t actually on the ship. Maybe they’re in these little pods being fed these ideas. That the whole thing is a virtual simulation and one day they’ll all wake up and find that they’re actually not where they think they are.

Going back to the improvisation mentioned earlier, having done genre, effect-heavy type work before, what difference does the improvisation make in that [type of] environment?

CD – I think for me, whenever I’m doing any kind of genre, it’s all improvisation, because you don’t know. I don’t know what’s going to happen until I get there, so in that way I guess it [Virtuality] was similar to other things I’ve done. But with this, I’ve never had so much freedom with the script. I mean, of course I said everything that was in the script, but being able to then build on it and create more and find things that I didn’t even know were there until we were doing it was very exciting. Everyone was so good at that, and it really shows onscreen.

SG– I agree. The creative imaginative geniuses that are Ron Moore and Mike Taylor are so infectiously enthusiastic as well as  so brave. They assumed that the audience was intelligent and demanding, which made us as an ensemble want to rise up and meet the challenge. So when we were actually filming, they lent us that bravery and allowed us to inhabit these roles and just let rip with whatever crazy idea came into our minds, with the safety net of knowing that they were going to take out the bad bits. So that was the freedom and the great thing about working on this.

CD – And also them trusting us so much and being people that we, in turn, respected and trusted. I think that also gave us the confidence to trust ourselves and sort of go with whatever our instincts were telling us.

Can you tell us how you first became involved in this project and about the audition process for your role?

SG – I read the script and thought it was one of the best things I’d ever read. I put myself on tape – I was in London at the time – and then they said they liked it. So I flew over to the U.S., did the studio test that night, and then the next morning I did the network test and that was it.

CD – I received the script and thought it was one of the best scripts I’d ever read as well. I had to go on the audition the very next day and it was terrible. I couldn’t remember my lines, I was stuttering. It wasn’t cute. However,  they asked me to come back the next day and try again, which I did. This time I went in with a little more focus, and then they had me test for the role. I ended up getting the job and I was very excited.

BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION:

Sienna Guillory – Named one of the “100 Sexiest Women” by Maxium Magazine, Sienna Guillory transcends physical beauty as a British-born actress of broad range and nuance. She is beginning production on Gunless, which is slated for release in March 2010. Guillory plays Jane opposite Paul Gross and Dustin Milligan. Her latest film is Inkheart starring Helen Mirren, Brendan Fraser and Paul Bettany. In 2006, the actress starred in the Fox 2000 film Eragon as Princess Arya opposite Jeremy Irons and John Malkovich. Also recognized for her role in the romantic comedy Love Actually starring Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Liam Neeson and Emma Thompson, Guillory first grabbed the attention of audiences with her breakout role in the 2002 Science Fiction film The Time Machine opposite Guy Pearce. On the small screen, the actress was recently seen on Criminal Minds. She also made an impression on critics and audiences as the star of the 2003 miniseries Helen of Troy. Originally from Kettering, a small town outside London, Guillory began her career as a model, landing campaigns for brands such as Hugo Boss, before making the transition to acting.

Clea DuVall In a relatively short span of time, Clea DuVall has burst onto the scene and quickly become one of Hollywood’s most sought-after talents. One of the few actors working successfully and simultaneously in film and TV, her resume is both extensive and versatile. DuVall first gained recognition in the independent feature How to Make the Cruelest Month, which was one of 16 films in dramatic competition at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival. Later that same year, her starring role as the rebellious loner Stokely in The Faculty garnered her Blockbuster and Teen Choice Award nominations for Breakout Performance. DuVall was most recently seen in Jonathan Liebesman’s The Killing Room, which premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. Prior to that, she could be seen in Passengers, directed by Rodrigo Garcia with Anne Hathaway and Patrick Wilson. Her additional film credits include Zodiac, the American remake of The Grudge, Girl Interrupted and The Astronaut’s Wife. On TV, DuVall’s credits include Grey’s Anatomy, Heroes, Carnivale, ER and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she first became interested in acting while attending the Los Angeles High School of the Arts. During her time there, the actress performed in the theater and also took acting classes outside of school. Upon graduating, she quickly landed an agent as well as a manager and has been working nonstop ever since.

Season’s Greetings

June 25, 2009
Miss Hartigan (Dervla Kirwan) and her Cybernetic allies cross paths with The Doctor (David Morrissey) AND The Doctor (David Tennant) in Doctor Who: The Next Doctor. Photo courtesy of and copyright of the BBC

Miss Hartigan (Dervla Kirwan) and her Cybernetic allies cross paths with The Doctor (David Morrissey) AND The Doctor (David Tennant) in Doctor Who: The Next Doctor. Photo courtesy of and copyright of the BBC

THERE is no denying that two Time Lords are better than one, especially where the Cybermen are concerned. In Doctor Who: The Next Doctor, the first of five Doctor Who specials to air on BBC America throughout 2009 and into early 2010, The Doctor (David Tennant) arrives in a snow-covered Victorian London on Christmas Eve, 1851. It is no ordinary holiday, however, as the Cybermen, one of The Doctor’s oldest and deadliest enemies are also in town.

The Doctor (David Tennant) gets into the holiday spirit when the TARDIS arrives back on Earth just in time for Christmas in Merry Ole England, 1851. Photo courtesy of and copyright of the BBC

The Doctor (David Tennant) gets into the holiday spirit when the TARDIS arrives back on Earth just in time for Christmas in Merry Ole England, 1851. Photo courtesy of and copyright of the BBC

When The Doctor begins to investigate a spate of mysterious deaths, he is surprised to meet another Doctor (David Morrissey), complete with his own sonic screwdriver and companion, Rosita (Velile Tshabalala). How could this be possible? Could this Doctor be a future regeneration? If so, where are his memories?

The Doctor (David Morrissey), Rosita (Velile Tshabalala) and The Doctor (David Tennant) discuss their next move. Photo courtesy of and copyright of the BBC

The Doctor (David Morrissey), Rosita (Velile Tshabalala) and The Doctor (David Tennant) discuss their next move. Photo courtesy of and copyright of the BBC

The two must combine forces to defeat the ruthless Miss Hartigan (Dervla Kirwan), who is the Cyberman’s human ally, but are two Doctors enough to stop the rise of the CyberKing?

Walking in a Winter Wonderland! Photo courtesy of and copyright of the BBC

Walking in a Winter Wonderland! Photo courtesy of and copyright of the BBC

Doctor Who: The Next Doctor  makes its BBC America premiere on Saturday, June 27th @ 9 p.m. EST/PST.

As noted above, all photos courtesy of and copyright of the BBC, so please no unauthorized copying or duplicating of any form. Thanks!

Ron Moore – Virtual Vision

June 24, 2009

ABOARD Earth’s first starship, the Phaeton, a crew of 12 astronauts is on the verge of embarking on an epic 10-year mission crucial to the survival of life on Earth. They have reached the “go” or “no go” point, the critical part of the journey where the crew must commit to traveling to a distant solar system millions of miles away. If they “go,” they cannot turn back.

Executive producers Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek: The Next Generation), Michael Taylor (Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek: Voyager) and director Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights, Hancock) present Virtuality, a breakthrough Science Fiction thriller set in two very different universes: outer space and the seemingly limitless virtual reality.

To give the crew a measure of privacy as well as a vital recreational outlet on the long journey, the ship has been equipped with revolutionary virtual reality modules. Each crew member can assume adventurous, avatar-like identities as they explore self-created worlds and scenarios, or simply spend quality downtime as themselves in the ultra-life-like simulators From a war hero to a rock star to secret lovers on an island, these are their psychological lifelines, and each module’s unique setting was chosen by the crew member before departing Earth.

But there is a bug in the system.

As crew members go in and out of reality, they realize that a virus has entered their private world. Questions are raised, and suspicions fanned; is someone on the crew responsible? When the interloper’s intrusions cross a violent and disturbing line, the ship’s commander makes a difficult decision to shut down the modules. But before he can, a tragic even threatens the mission. Is it an accident or a crime? Real or virtual? Whatever the case, it’s too late to turn back, so the group ventures forth into space, fearing that they may be harboring a person or presence determined to derail their vital mission. Meanwhile, tensions are further heightened as surveillance cameras capture their every move for a reality series back on Earth.

From executive producers Ronald D. Moore, Michael Taylor, Gail Berman, Lloyd Braun, Peter Berg and Sarah Aubrey, this captivating original feature invites viewers to join the crew of the Phaeton on a journey into a near-future, one that is a heightened version of our own Internet- and entertainment-mediated reality. A journey that will become even more surprising with each new revelation.

The cast of Virtuality, which airs Friday, June 26th from 8 p.m. - 10 p.m. EST/PST on the Fox Network. L-R: Kerry Bishe (as Billie Kashmiri); Ritchie Coster (as Dr. Jimmy Johnson); Eric Jensen (as Dr. Jules Braun); Nelson Lee (as Kenji Yamamoto); Joy Bryant (as Alice Thibadeau); Clea Duvall (as Sue Parsons); Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (as Commander Frank Pike); Sienna Guillory (as Rika Goddard); James D'Arcy (as Dr. Roger Fallon); Jose Pablo Cantillo (as Manny Rodriguez); Gene Farber (as Val Orlovsky); Omar Metwally (as Dr. Adin Meyer) and Jimmi Simpson (as Virtual Man). Photo credit: Kharen Hill/Fox and copyright of Fox Broadcasting

The cast of Virtuality, which airs Friday, June 26th from 8 p.m. - 10 p.m. EST/PST on the Fox Network. L-R: Kerry Bishe (as Billie Kashmiri); Ritchie Coster (as Dr. Jimmy Johnson); Eric Jensen (as Dr. Jules Braun); Nelson Lee (as Kenji Yamamoto); Joy Bryant (as Alice Thibadeau); Clea DuVall (as Sue Parsons); Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (as Commander Frank Pike); Sienna Guillory (as Rika Goddard); James D'Arcy (as Dr. Roger Fallon); Jose Pablo Cantillo (as Manny Rodriguez); Gene Farber (as Val Orlovsky); Omar Metwally (as Dr. Adin Meyer) and Jimmi Simpson (as Virtual Man). Photo credit: Kharen Hill/Fox and copyright of Fox Broadcasting

Earlier this month, myself and several other journalists participated in a Q & A conference call with Virtuality writer/executive producer Ron Moore. Here is an edited version of that conversation.

How is this [Virtuality] different from Star Trek where you would have the holodeck and people would get lost in that artificial environment?

RON MOORE – Well, it’s a different concept. The holodeck was an actual space that you would go into and three dimensional forms were physically created in front of you, which you were then able to feel, touch, interact with, etc. The computer would generate them as long as you were in there. This, however, is truly a virtual space, which is much more akin to putting on contemporary, sort of virtual headsets, but then taking that to the next level where you do have an experiential ability to touch, sense, taste and smell things in your mind, so it’s on a different mechanical level.

In terms of story, we’re not playing the idea that if you die in the virtual space, you then die in real space. It’s more like gaming is now. You go on-line, play a game and if you get killed, then you’re kicked out of the program, but you’re not dead in real life. We’re using these [virtual reality modules] much more psychologically as well. Essentially, the virtual experiences that the astronauts have aboard the Phaeton are the types of things that are psychologically motivated. They go in there and do things for entertainment and to pass the time of day while they’re on this very, very long-range mission. In the process, you’re also learning things about them personally as well as where they choose to spend their time, and when things go wrong inside that space how does that then influence them in the real world. That was the thing I was most interested in; how virtual space impacted the real story that was going on aboard the spacecraft and vice versa.

Given the nature of Battlestar Galactica, you had to be very serious dealing with the spaceship and everything. Does Virtuality allow you to have a little bit more fun with the concept of people in space?

RM – Oh, yes. It’s a much less serious situation than Battlestar dealt with. Battlestar was literally a post-apocalyptic show where the future of humanity rode on their every decision, and death was stalking them continuously. This [Virtuality] is not set up in the same way. The crew on-board the Phaeton signed up for what just seemed like a very straightforward mission of exploration and they were chosen with that in mind. They were also chosen to participate in this sort of reality show that is being broadcast back on Earth.

So there was a conscious attempt on the part of the people who put the crew together to have  an interesting mix of people. There are debates amongst the crew itself when it comes to who was chosen just for their demographic content as opposed to who is legitimately supposed to be there. Now you’ve got a group of 12 people stuck in a metal tube going in a straight line for a decade or so, and that’s going to result in a lot of tension, friction and manipulation, and cause problems between the characters. It has a strong element of fun and suspense and interesting plot twists in terms of what characters will do with one another. Battlestar, on the other hand, was very much driven by the internal pressures of the huge weight that was on all of their shoulders from the beginning of the miniseries. So there’s definitely more humor. Let’s just say that in the first 10 minutes of Virtuality there is probably more humor than there was in the [entire] run of Battlestar.

When did you come up with the idea of blending a Sci-Fi thriller with a reality show element to it?

RM – It was sort of in stages. When we first started talking about the concept it was about a long-range space mission, which I was intrigued with. Like I said before, I was interested in the idea of what do you do with 12 people in a metal tube for that long. I thought there were interesting dramatic possibilities right there and, OK, what would they realistically need to do. What would NASA or the space confederation do at that point to keep them from going crazy? They would probably have a really advanced virtual reality program to help them pass the time, and there’s interaction between those two worlds.

Somewhere in those discussions, we began talking about when they would be broadcasting pieces back to Earth, like astronauts do today, and, hey, what if they made a reality show out of that? Then it all kind of started to come together. You had these three layers of storytelling going on in the show where you had what was happening in the real world on the ship, what was happening in the virtual space, and then what was the reality show that was seen back on Earth. Were the needs of the reality show starting to impact what was happening on the spacecraft? Were people being manipulated in order to make better drama for the reality show? So it evolved into this really interesting psychological crucible that our characters would all be put in.

When you were writing this were there any major hurdles or blind alleys? Did it get confusing?

RM – Yes. I mean, it was a tough thing to juggle. It’s a very ambitious piece, and I think that was the reaction on the part of Fox when they saw it. It’s a very challenging, complicated piece of work and there are a number of moving parts. We knew that going in and writing the script wasn’t easy. There was a lot of trying to decide how much time to spend in any one of these three categories, and at what point do you shift from the audience’s point of view to the other. What’s the language for that? Where are we going to introduce certain characters? How often do you go to the first person confessionals and the reality show, etc. So there were several complicated questions, all of which were still there in the editing process. When do you switch to which piece of material? I found it all a fascinating challenge.

In the virtual world are there avatar-style characters or are there real people?

RM – The actors play themselves in the virtual space. What we did during the production was shoot all of the virtual reality scenes using green screen. So for instance, the story opens with an extended piece that involves the lead character within a Civil War virtual space. None of that was shot on-location, and we didn’t build a set, either. It was all done on a green screen stage using a computer. We kept that language for all the virtual pieces to give them all a sense of continuity so that you always felt that you were in a virtual space.

This was originally supposed to be a pilot for a TV series, right?

RM – It is a pilot. Fox is going to broadcast it as a two-hour movie, but in my mind it’s a pilot and it always has been.

So it can still become a series?

RM – I think you never say never. It hasn’t been picked up yet. The network’s attitude is, I think, to kind of wait and see what the reaction is going to be. What are the critics going to say? Is it going to get word of mouth. Are fans going to gravitate to it or is the Science Fiction community really going to turn up for it? Is there going to be a certain buzz and excitement? Right now it doesn’t look like it’s going to series, but I think if enough people watched and got excited about it, then anything is possible. It [the story] certainly does not resolve itself in two hours. Some pretty heavy things go down in it, and by the end of it you’re kind of left thinking, “Whoa! Where is that going?”

Why do you think people have become so obsessed with reality TV? What is the attraction to it? What made you want to include it in this particular story?

RM – The first two questions are kind of complicated and I’m not sure what the answers are. At first, I think I was one of those skeptics who doubted that reality TV was going to be with us for any great length of time. Certainly that has been proven wrong. There seems to be a fundamental interest of real people watching other real people, or at least what they perceive to be real people, as opposed to watching fictional programming. There’s a powerful draw there of us wanting to look in on other peoples’ lives and seeing them pretty much exist as they actually do.

As for why we’ve included it in Virtuality,  we just felt like it’s become such a staple of pop culture at this point in time. It seemed interesting to then incorporate it into a Science Fiction setting, which was something that we had never seen before or heard of. We’ve all seen video that’s been broadcast back by the astronauts from the Apollo missions to the Space Shuttle, but we’ve never seen it done in a format where it’s trying to be a reality show. I thought it was kind of a different hook for the audience and might be a cool angle for our story.

What do you think of the network climate right now, especially in light of Terminator being cancelled and Dollhouse having been on the cusp? It seems like anything complex aimed at a younger audience has a really hard time staying on.

RM – Well, I think it’s a difficult time for the networks in general, and scheduling kind of reflects that. Everybody in this business has a sense that television is changing right underneath our feet, and while we all say, “Yes, we’re going to be ahead of the curve and we know that TV is changing,” no one has an idea of what it’s changing into. It’s that sort of anxiety and lack of knowledge about where TV is headed that contributes to the overall atmosphere of fear and panic where networks are saying, “Oh, my God, this didn’t work. We can’t afford the time to stick with this show. We gave it four episodes and that’s it.”

And that’s unfortunate because many of the most successful shows on TV had rocky starts and really required networks that believed in the process and were willing to stick by them. For example, they really had to believe in Seinfeld, and it turned out to be not only a critical hit and one of the great comedies of all time, but also incredibly lucrative. So there’s certainly a strong argument for having patience along with faith and really trusting your audience as well as your instincts and going with programming.

And here are some closing remarks from Ron Moore.

There is a series of webisodes that were created for Virtuality. These webisodes, however, are not just your traditional here’s an extra piece of story that you didn’t see on the show, and here’s another little segment to tease you. These webisodes for Virtuality are actually segments of the reality show within the show itself, so in theory, when you logged onto the website, what you would see when you clicked on webisodes would be pieces of the reality show as it was broadcast back to Earth. That was in our original pitch to the network. We said, “Everyone is always looking for this sort of interaction between the broadcast show and driving people to the website.” It’s always been sort of an uncomfortable marriage and they never quite seem to marry up in an interesting way for the audience. Ours had this sort of organic way of doing that where you could go to the website and experience Edge of Never, which is the name of the reality show.

The concept and the plan would have been if the pilot went to series, that every week you could log onto the website and see pieces of the reality show. And buried within those pieces would be actual information and clues that would not be accessible to the people watching the broadcast of the show. There was going to be a deliberate effort to sort of say, “Really, if you want to get all of what’s going on and to even crack some of the underlying mysteries to what this series is about, then you have to go and watch these pieces of Edge of Never.” There is, in fact, a Facebook page for Edge of Never, and I would encourage people to go take a look at it because I think it’s a unique bit of Virtuality.

As noted above, the Virtuality cast photo is copyright of the Fox Network, so please no unauthorized copying or duplicating of any form. Thanks!

Who Is The New Host

June 23, 2009
David Tennant takes over the reins this fall as the new host of the PBS series Masterpiece Contemporary. Photo copyright of the BBC

David Tennant takes over the reins this fall as the new host of the PBS series Masterpiece Contemporary. Photo copyright of the BBC

ONE of Britian’s most popular actors has been named the new host of Masterpiece Contemporary on PBS. David Tennant, well-known to fans of British television for his acclaimed star turns as Doctor Who and Casanova, will make his hosting debut when Masterpiece Contemporary returns in October 2009 with Endgame, a drama about the last days of apartheid.

“How many actors can nail the characters of Casanova and the Doctor?” says Masterpiece executive producer Rebecca Eaton. “David’s talent, versatility and unique appeal make him the perfect match for Masterpiece Contemporary.

“I’m honored to be hosting the series that introduced American audiences to programming such as Casanova and He Knew He Was Right,” says Tennant. “And it’s a thrill to join the Masterpiece family of hosts: Masterpiece Mystery!‘s Alan Cumming and Masterpiece Classic‘s Laura Linney.”

Tennant’s award-winning run [2005-present] in the classic British Sci-Fi series Doctor Who has gained him worldwide recognition. His other iconic television roles include the flirtatious vicar Reverand Gibson in Masterpiece‘s He Knew He Was Right; the infamous 18th-century lothario Casanova in Masterpiece‘s rollicking miniseries, playing the youthful counterpart to Peter O’Toole; and the down-at-the-heel Inspector Peter Carlisle in the cult hit Blackpool.

His career, launched in his native Scotland, extends to film and stage. Millions of moviegoers know him as Barty Crouch Junior in the blockbuster Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Ginger Littlejohn in Stephen Fry’s Bright Young Things. He recently worked with Bill Nighy, Romola Garai and Julie Christie in the Stephen Poliakoff film 1939, which will be released later this year.

A graduate of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD), Tennant developed his stage career at the Royal Shakespeare Company. He recently completed a successful run as Hamlet with the RSC.

Masterpiece Contemporary will return in October 2009 with Endgame, a gripping new drama about the final days of apartheid in South Africa. Starring William Hurt (Damages), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Dirty Pretty Things, American Gangster, Serenity) and Jonny Lee Miller (Eli Stone, Trainspotting), Endgame premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

As noted above, photo of David Tennant is the copyright of the BBC, so please no unauthorized copying or duplicating of any form. Thanks!

The British Are Coming!

June 20, 2009
Guess who's coming to San Diego??? David Tennant as The Doctor in Doctor Who. Photo copyright of the BBC

Guess who's coming to San Diego??? David Tennant as The Doctor in Doctor Who. Photo copyright of the BBC

IN support of BBC America’s U.S. premiere of four Doctor Who specials, The Doctor himself, David Tennant, will appear alongside writer/executive producer Russell T. Davies at this year’s Comic-Con in San Diego. They will take part in a Doctor Who panel along with executive producer Julie Gardner and director Euros Lyn on Sunday, July 26th from 10 a.m – 11 a.m. PST in Ballroom 20.

David will travel to Comic-Con fresh from the Doctor Who set, having shot his final scenes at the 10th Time Lord. He and fellow panelists will discuss the latest incarnation of television’s longest running Science Fiction series and take questions from the floor. There will also be exclusive sneak peeks from the upcoming specials.

Fans can visit the BBC America booth (#3629) to capture their own photograph alongside part of the Doctor Who set, as well as purchase exclusive merchandise including David Tennant figures.

Fans of BBC America’s highest rated show ever, Torchwood, which will have just completed the five-part special Children of Earth, will get to chat first-hand with the stars and makers of the show. Just 48 hours after the last episode, the series makes a return visit to Comic-Con with a panel featuring star John Barrowman (Captain Jack Harkness), writer/executive producer Russell T. Davies, executive producer Julie Gardner and director Euros Lyn on Sunday, July 26th from 2:15 p.m. – 3:45 p.m. PST in Room 6BCF.

As part of the Torchwood panel, catch the talent from BBC America’s most buzzed about new Science Fiction drama, Being Human. Creator and writer Toby Whithouse, plus lead actors Russell Tovey, Lenora Crichlow and Aiden Turner, talk about the inspiration for the show and what it’s like to play three twenty-somethings with secret double-lives – as a werewolf, a vampire and a ghost. All four panelists will be signing exclusively at the BBC America booth on Saturday, July 25th from 3 p.m. – 4 p.m. PST.

Cult comedy favorite and BAFTA-nominated The Mighty Boosh comes to Comic-Con for the first time to celebrate the airing of all three seasons on Adult Swim and the BBC’s DVD release, just two days before the convention begins. Inspired by the Perrier Comedy Award-winning live comedy show, creators/stars Julian Barratt and Noel Fielding along with actors Michael Fielding, Rich Fulcher and Dave Brown will be onstage to discuss the magical, bizarre and exciting world of The Boosh on Friday, July 24th from 4:45 p.m. – 5:45 p.m PST in Room 6A. The hit UK comedy series follows crazy zookeepers Howard Moon and Vince Noir and was described by The San Jose Mercury News as “an acid trip fantasy-comedy [that] is seriously deranged and seriously funny.”  This panel will be preceeded by a Mighty Boosh signing in the Autograph Area from 3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m PST.

Fans can also catch exclusive BBC America screenings during the convention with back-to-back episodes of Doctor Who and Torchwood. On Saturday, July 25th from 7:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. PST in Room 6A, key talent from Torchwood and Doctor Who introduce the last episode of the five-part series Torchwood: Children of Earth, and an advance viewing of Doctor Who: Planet of the Dead, the first of four specials starring David Tennant.

Underground Toys (Booth #3949) will be selling its entire Doctor Who and Torchwood lines of toys and novelty items as well as once again introduce new limited-edition Comic-Con action figures that have never been seen before.

As noted above, the photo of David Tennant is copyright of the BBC, so please no unauthorized copying or duplicating of any form. Thanks!

This Week On Primeval – 06 – 20 – 09

June 19, 2009

SPOILER ALERT!! – When the military invades the A.R.C. in search of a mysterious artifact, the team escapes to a mysterious old hut in the woods. They think they’re safe, until an anomaly opens nearby and 10-foot killer birds from the Pliocene era attack them. Phorusrhacids may look like armored ostriches, but they are infinitely more dangerous. The team has to use all its ingenuity to keep the rapacious birds at bay – especially since, for once, they have no technology at their disposal. They have to rely on nothing more than their bare hands and whatever they can find in the hut in the woods, which has not been used until the 1930s. Episode six of season three airs Saturday, June 20th @ 9 p.m. EST/PST on BBC America

Sir James Lester (Ben Miller) and Christine Johnson (Belinda Stewart-Wilson) exchange more barbs. Photo copyright of Impossible Pictures

Sir James Lester (Ben Miller) and Christine Johnson (Belinda Stewart-Wilson) exchange more barbs. Photo copyright of Impossible Pictures

 

Always at the ready - Captain Becker (Ben Mansfield). Photo copyright of Impossible Pictures

Always at the ready - Captain Becker (Ben Mansfield). Photo copyright of Impossible Pictures

Connor (Andrew-Lee Potts) and Sarah Page (Laila Rouass) try to decipher the meaning behind the mysterious "artifact." Photo copyright of Impossible Pictures

Connor (Andrew-Lee Potts) and Sarah Page (Laila Rouass) try to decipher the meaning behind the mysterious "artifact." Photo copyright of Impossible Pictures

All dressed up and walking into danger - Abby (Hannah Spearritt) and Sarah (Laila Rouass). Photo copyright of Impossible Pictures

All dressed up and walking into danger - Abby (Hannah Spearritt) and Sarah (Laila Rouass). Photo copyright of Impossible Pictures

Danny Quinn (Jason Flemyng) tries to fight off the unwanted advances of a pair of Phorusrhacids. Photo copyright of Impossible Pictures

Danny Quinn (Jason Flemyng) tries to fight off the unwanted advances of a pair of Phorusrhacids. Photo copyright of Impossible Pictures

THE CREATURES OF PRIMEVAL – Terror birds (Phorusrhacids) – The creature is a fairly accurate representation of an extraordinary group of animals that took over as top predators in South America after the dinosaurs died out. Titanis walleri , one of the largest species, has been found in North America, making it one of the comparatively rare examples of animals that evolved in South America but which managed to spread North after the Isthmus of Panama land-bridge formed. Their wings had evolved into meat hook-like structures that likely could be outstretched like arms to perform a hacking motion, which theoretically was helpful in bringing down prey. Most of the smaller and some of the larger species are believed to have been fast runners.

As noted above, all photos copyright of Impossible Pictures, so please no unauthorized copying or duplicating of any form. Thanks!

Jody Thompson – Role Play

June 18, 2009
Actress/writer/director and filmmaker Jody Thompson. Photo courtesy of The Promotion People

Actress, writer, director and filmmaker Jody Thompson. Photo courtesy of The Promotion People

When I was younger I used to look forward to Saturday afternoons when certain local TV stations would run those sometimes cheesy but always entertaining black-and-white Horror and Science Fiction B-movies from the 50s. The recently released feature film Alien Trespass, which made its debut at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, pays homage to those classic movies that many of us grew up with. One of the film’s heroines is Lana Lewis, played by Canadian actress and Leo Award nominee Jody Thompson. Having previously appeared in a number of Sci-Fi/Fantasy-based TV shows, she was already familiar with what the genre called for insofar as performance. However, the actress needed to tweak some of her acting muscles in order to step into Lana’s shoes.

“During the audition I had the chance to meet [one of the film’s producers and its director] Bob Goodwin of X-Files fame, which was really exciting,” recalls Thompson, “and in our first read-through he knew precisely what he wanted to do with each of our characters. Bob is a legend when it comes to the genre and he knows what he’s talking about. He was really specific about wanting me to watch movies such as War of the Worlds, It Came From Outer Space and a bunch of others. The thing is, you don’t often get to do a sort of ‘period piece’ like Alien Trespass. I consider my acting in the film to be a heightened form of realism. It’s not your regular, more contemporary way of communicating that you and I would use, but rather a more elevated approach, if you know what I mean.

“So Bob gave me these DVDs, I went home and watched them and the next time we met, I figured when he said it [her character rendition] was right, it was right, and I went from there. Again, because Bob knows what he’s talking about and is really specific with his direction, I felt very much at ease exploring the range of something that was somewhat out of my comfort zone at the time. I guess all us actors are afraid of being what we call over-the-top, and yet this role called for a bit of over-the-top acting. That’s why Bob was so incredible; he made us feel totally safe in the [acting] choices we made. Looking back now I think, my goodness, I was really gutsy taking this [role] on because it could have really backfired, but happily that wasn’t the case at all.”

Jody Thompson. Photo courtesy of The Promotion People

Jody Thompson. Photo courtesy of The Promotion People

In Alien Trespass, noted astronomer Ted Lewis (Eric McCormack) is preparing for a special wedding anniversary dinner with his beautiful wife Lana (Thompson). Unfortunately, their plans are interrupted when a spaceship crash-lands across town and a dangerous creature known as the Ghota emerges. It is intent on destroying the entire human race unless a benevolent alien called Urp can stop it. In order to do so, however, he must temporarily commandeer Ted’s body. With the help of Tammi (Jenni Baird), a local waitress, Urp sets out on his self-appointed task. When asked about her favorite scene in the film, Thompson is hard-pressed to choose between two.

“I loved working with Dan Lauria [Chief Dawson],” she says. “As an actor, he genuinely surprised me every time we did the scene. My character of Lana is supposed to act surprised, and sometimes a scene can get a little tired after you’ve done it a dozen times, but Dan always responded in such a way that kept it interesting, so it was wonderful to work with him.

“At the same time, there’s the scene in the kitchen where Eric’s character of Ted is taken over by Urp, and Eric was just so funny to play off of. It’s too bad you haven’t seen the outtakes, but the improv stuff he did was hilarious. The film is a serious one in a lot of respects, but when we were filming it, it was hard not to laugh. The chemistry with Eric was just effortless. Besides being super cute in real life, he’s also very easy-going and so friendly. Eric doesn’t have any Hollywood airs at all. The dialogue felt, not clunky, but, again, elevated, so I was worried about how it was going to come across because you usually play off the other actor. I needn’t have worried, though, because Eric has the best timing. He just delivers the line like it’s no big deal and you listen and respond and it comes out just right.

Jody Thompson (as Lana Lewis) and Eric McCormack (as Ted Lewis) in Alien Trespass. Photo courtesy of The Promotion People

Jody Thompson (as Lana Lewis) and Eric McCormack (as Ted Lewis) in Alien Trespass. Photo courtesy of The Promotion People

“And Bob Goodwin was there was our guide to bring us back if we got too big or if we were playing it too melodramatic. We were supposed to be earnest but not parodying the work of the period. This wasn’t a Naked Gun 33 1/3-type thing. We were trying to do an accurate re-creation of something that would have been done in the 50s. So Eric and I just did our thing and, on occasion, it was way too much and other times it was far too contemporary, and Bob did a terrific job of keeping our performances on the straight and narrow as well as flowing from scene to scene.

“Sometimes when you’re on TV and not the star of a show, you end up sort of directing yourself in a sense because the director doesn’t always have time to worry about every day player every day. So it was nice to have a director who was really dedicated to his actors and focused on keeping our performances in line so we didn’t have to worry about them. That’s a big part of what made our time on Alien Trespass so enjoyable and fun.”

An avid horse loved, Thompson originally thought she was going to be a veterinarian and planned to study veterinary medicine in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. However, she ran out of money just before finishing her Bachelor of Science degree, so someone suggested that she try booking some TV commercial work in order to raise the necessary funds. Instead, Thompson ended up booking the lead in a made-for-TV movie.

To help pay for her schooling, Jody Thompson tried her hand at acting, and then never looked back. Photo courtesy of The Promotion People

To help pay for her schooling, Jody Thompson tried her hand at acting, and then never looked back. Photo courtesy of The Promotion People

“That’s when I thought, ‘OK, I’d better take some acting classes,” notes the actress, “and wow, there was just something so cool about using your mind and body in such a way and I was bitten by the acting bug. After that, there was no going back for me. Much to my surprise, my parents weren’t even that disappointed when I decided to become an actor instead of a vet. Now I get to play dress-up for a living. How can you beat that? I have my very scientific, linear side and my creative side, and I guess the latter won out.”

Having played a variety of characters in a wide range of  TV and film projects, the actress is especially well-known to TV Sci-Fi audiences. Perhaps her most recognizable role is that of Devon Moore, an employee at the 4400 center and one of Jordan Collier’s (Billy Campbell) lovers in The 4400.

“Devon was actually never intended to be a recurring character,” says Thompson. “After my first appearance, I got a call from the producers asking if I would like to bring her back for another small bit in the next episode, and I said, ‘Yes, I’d love it.’ A few episodes later I had some discussions with the writers as far as her back-story and what could possibly be motivating Devon. She always secretly had a thing for Shawn [Patrick Flueger], even though she worshipped Jordan. My character originally went to the 4400 center because she was looking for a father figure. As the series went on, I feel like Devon came into her own in that she developed a bit more confidence in her own decisions. They weren’t necessarily the right ones – injecting yourself with a strange toxin is probably not a good idea – but she became more confident and went from being a vulnerable child to a naive teenager, I guess you could say.

Jody Thompson's character of Devon Moore on The 4400 was, sadly, looking for love in all the wrong places. Photo courtesy of The Promotion People

Jody Thompson's character of Devon Moore on The 4400 was, sadly, looking for love in all the wrong places. Photo courtesy of The Promotion People

“Having this character become a recurring one on The 4400 was one of the nicest surprises I’ve had so far in my career,” continues the actress. “A lot of times when you know a part is going to be recurring you have big expectations, which are not always met. Here, however, the writers never told me what was going to happen with Devon, so I was always surprised to read from script to script what was happening to her. The scene where she has the aneurysm [after injecting herself with promicin in the hopes of acquiring a 4400 ability] was challenging as well as memorable for me. Had that scene gone into Devon’s life flashing before her eyes, that’s the moment when she would have realized that she was looking for a father figure in Jordan and trying to find acceptance by gaining a power rather than trusting in herself. Had Devon just followed her true gut instinct, she would have known that she was OK as she was and that she actually cared for Shawn. So it was an unexpected joy to find out that a small character like this was going to be reinvented and taken along on a journey for a few seasons.”

Thompson’s other Sci-Fi credits include the warrior queen Azura in Flash Gordon, a sexy and toothy vampire named Glynnis in Blade: The Series and a bounty hunter in Stargate SG-1. “In Flash Gordon I was blue, really blue,” she says with a laugh. “I was painted blue with an airbrush from head to toe, while the top of my outfit was a pair of coconuts and some string, and my character wore a small dog’s skull on her head. The make-up artist and I had a good relationship by the end of the filming because I’d spend about four hours in make-up every day before filming began. All that really helped me get into that creepy witch mindset, which I think it would have for most people. I had fun with the role and it was a blast to have a whole bunch of extras cheer every time you said something.

Blade was awesome because I got to do all my own stunts. I was on wires, hanging from the ceiling and flipping off the walls. They had a stunt person there as well as we spent two days learning the fight. It was a lot like a dance routine in the way they taught it to us, and then we got to rehearse with the wires before putting it all together on the set. In the final cut they used my stunt-person a couple of times, but otherwise it’s me, even for the roundhouse kick. I was like, ‘Hey, look at me, I’m a bad-ass vampire.’ The teeth were a lot of fun, too. I still have them and I wear them on Halloween and scare the kids when the come to the door,” chuckles Thompson. “They’re not the cheesy plastic ones either, but beautiful porcelain. So I got a nice pair of fangs out of the deal as well.

The beautiful Jody Thompson gives us a striking pose. Photo courtesy of The Promotion People

The beautiful Jody Thompson gives us a striking pose. Photo courtesy of The Promotion People

“With Stargate SG-1 I especially enjoyed working with Michael Shanks [Dr. Daniel Jackson]. I’d known him for a while but had never gotten to act with him. The scene where my character is hit by a bus was interesting to do. They had a stunt coordinator there, and when I finished my line, he would push me and I’d fall onto a crash pad. The bus was then [digitally] put in later [during post-production]. The first time we did it I wasn’t ready and landed on my face. Fortunately, there were no broken bones thanks to a nice squishy pillow.”

Along with her acting credentials, Thompson is also an accomplished filmmaker and president of The International Filmmakers Institute, a production company dedicated to the creation of movie and video artworks that endeavor to relieve social injustice and promote a message of hope, mercy and reconciliation. She made her debut as a documentary filmmaker with the 40-minute Montana de Luz, which is the heartfelt story about an Honduran orphanage that cares for children living with the HIV virus.

“Working on that film really put things in perspective, and I can’t begin to describe the wisdom of those seven and nine year olds,” says the actress. “I’m really proud of that particular piece and it’s done quite well in the festival circuit. At the moment, I’m working as a writer/director on a series of webisodes that deal with how cancer affects the entire family unit and not just the person who is struggling with the disease. The project has been commissioned by the International Psycho-Oncology Society [IPOS] and it’s basically for doctors to log in, watch these webisodes and then discuss the various ways that they should be taking cancer patients’ and cancer survivors’ families into consideration as well in the treatment process. Festival circuits are terrific, but if you can also find a practical application for your project that’s a bonus, and it fits the mandate of our company, too, so it’s all good,” she enthuses.

For more information about Jody please check out her website – www.jodythompson.com

Steve Eramo

As noted above, all photos courtesy of The Promotion People, and while there are no specific copyrights on any of the photos, please refrain from any unauthorized copying or duplicating of any form. Thanks!