Posts Tagged ‘Erica Cerra’

Sanctuary’s Alan McCullough – The Write Touch

January 24, 2010

Writer/co-executive producer Alan McCullough in his Sanctuary digs. Photo by Jeff Weddell and copyright of Sanctuary 2 Productions

When Stargate Atlantis‘ TV run was brought to an end after five years, series writer/producer Alan McCullough, who had previously served as a writer/story editor on Stargate SG-1, relocated from the Pegasus Galaxy to take on a new creative challenge. He joined Sanctuary as a writer as well as co-executive producer and penned four scripts for the show’s second season. In his first one, Hero, Chris Gauthier, best known as Walter in Eureka, plays an ordinary man who is transformed into an unlikely costumed crusader against crime in the show’s fictional New City.

Hero was a really fun script to write,” says McCullough. “It’s a fast-paced and humorous episode, which I never really had the opportunity to do on Stargate. There was always humor embedded in the dialogue in Stargate, but it was rare that I got to write a comedic script. There were people who were sort of the go-to guys for that; Martin Gero and Brad Wright, in particular, and Rob Cooper also wrote a couple of great comedy scripts and Carl Binder wrote one, too. So when I came on Sanctuary there was a chance for me to do the same.

“In Hero, our people are on a mission to track down an Abnormal when all of a sudden they’re thwarted by a guy in a neoprene suit. He drops out of the sky, grabs the person we’re chasing and flies off, so we’re left wondering where the hell this guy came from and how he can fly. He’s apparently human and appears to be wearing a homemade outfit, but nevertheless seems to possess miraculous powers. Chris Gauthier played the part to a tee. He was hilarious in it and brought so much to the role.

“The actual shooting of this episode was difficult because there were a lot of stunts. We actually brought in a flying rig which, I believe, is one of the most advanced ones you can get. I’m not well-versed in the technology of it, but you sit in front of a giant computer screen and program in all the moves you want to do and draw all the vectors on the screen. The operator then turns the rig on and it flies you around in the exact way that it was programmed to. So they did a full day of shooting just with that rig and came away with some fantastic stuff, including a scene where, at one point, our superhero has to fight a monster.

“Again, it was a fun episode and Chris has a blast and we had a blast working with him. It was a nice break, too, in the season. We had just come off shooting the two-part End of Nights, which is an energetic and tension-filled story where we’re fighting for the survival of the Sanctuary, and if you saw the episodes you know that something big happens to one of our characters at the end of part two. Then in the following story, Eulogy, we’re dealing with the death of a character. It’s a very poignant episode, so it was good to then come in with episode four, which was lighter in tone and a total breath of fresh air. Personally, I think Hero is one of the best scripts I’ve ever written and one that I’m really proud of.”

There was a very specific idea in mind for McCullough’s next Sanctuary script, Veritas, but, as is often the case in the world of TV, it eventually evolved into something quite different. “We started out with marching orders to come up with a background story for Bigfoot [Christopher Heyerdahl],” explains the writer. “We pitched story after story to the Syfy Channel but there was always one thing they didn’t like, so we would go back and try to retool the script. However, by pulling out that one thing, the whole story collapsed.

“So we’d start fresh, and ultimately we came up with a story that the network loved but that had nothing to do with Bigfoot’s back story whatsoever,” chuckles McCullough. “It does, however, involve Bigfoot in a very major and pivotal way. At the very beginning of the episode, Will [Robin Dunne] arrives back from a trip and he’s frantic; he’s been told that Bigfoot has been killed. Will goes to the morgue where he finds Bigfoot lying there with two bullet holes in his chest, and we further learn that Magnus [Amanda Tapping] is the prime suspect.

“From there, it becomes a bit of a murder mystery that takes place within the context of the Sanctuary. They have specific charter rules for how they deal with situations such as this, including summoning what’s called The Triad, which is a group of telepaths that arrive on the scene and start questioning people. Within the Sanctuary network we have individuals with these incredible abilities, so why not use them to solve crimes. Will, of course, sets out to prove that Magnus had nothing to do with this, but the deeper he digs, the more evidence seems to mount that she actually did shoot Bigfoot.

“It’s a real mindbender of an episode where, quite honestly, all is not revealed until the very end. We designed it so that at every single turn you think, ‘Oh, they’re going to tell us who really did it,’ but you get no satisfaction until the story is nearly over. This was another fun episode for me to write and, coming off Hero, much more of a subdued, emotional type of potboiler. We had a great guest-cast, too, including Erica Cerra [Deputy Jo Lupo in Eureka], who did a fantastic job playing one of the telepaths. And Amanda Tapping did an incredible job directing the episode.”

The writer’s third Sanctuary script, Penance, reunites Helen Magnus with an old friend, Jimmy, played by Tapping’s former SG-1 costar Michael Shanks (Dr. Daniel Jackson). Although it would have been tempting to pair them up on the screen, Shanks actually shared the majority of his scenes with the show’s newest castmember, Agam Darshi, who plays Kate Freelander. Writing-wise, this one was a bit of a whirlwind for McCullough.

“We received notes on the outline last Friday night from Syfy,” he recalls, “so I started writing the script on Saturday and Sunday and, hopefully, I’ll finish it up today [Monday, June 1st, 2009]. It’s certainly the fastest that I’ve ever had to turn around a script. This one starts out with a really action-packed teaser where our characters are in Old City to meet an Abnormal who’s a ‘mule.’ By that I mean he has a pocket in his body that can transport hazardous or very sensitive material, and in this case he’s carrying a container for us in his belly.

“So we get there, but, of course, the bad guys are on our tail and all hell breaks loose. Our people get separated and Kate and Jimmy end up trapped in a derelict hotel room. Kate has been shot and the two of them spend a considerable amount of time together getting to know one another. In the process, Kate opens up to Jimmy and we discover a great deal about her past, including how her father was killed. With Kate being a new character this season, we felt this was a good opportunity for audiences to learn more about her. Meanwhile, Magnus and everyone else are out there looking for Kate and Jimmy, and it’s a bit of a chess match to see who’s going to arrive first and save the day.

“The neat thing about this episode is that we’re going to be doing some location shooting. We do almost all our filming downstairs in the studio, much of which is using a green screen, and we also shoot outside on the studio lot or in the nearby streets. We usually don’t have trucks to go out on-location with, but for episode eight [Next Tuesday], we’re packing up all our equipment to go film at a pool. Thanks to some scheduling magic, we have the truck for the rest of the week, so we’re taking advantage of that and going to shoot for two, possibly three days on the old Watchmen set. At least that’s the plan. We went out to look at the set, which is on Marine Way, and we’re going to use that as Old City. It’s perfect because the story has a lot of skulking around as well as gunplay and a bit of a car chase, so I’m really excited about that.”

Despite being a freshman with Sanctuary, it has not taken McCullough long to find the voices of the new characters he is writing for. “Obviously I’d worked with Amanda before, and although this is Helen Magnus and not Sam Carter, I still hear Amanda’s voice in my head, so it’s just a matter of finding the right words,” says the writer. “Ryan Robbins, who plays Henry, has a very distinctive voice, so I seem to be able to hear his voice quite easily, too.

“The character I struggled with the most was Will. I’ve since found his voice a lot more, but with my first script, Hero, I really struggled. Ultimately, I don’t think anyone picked up on that. The episode moves so quickly and there’s so much going on that I don’t think you would have the time to sit there and think, ‘Hmm, that didn’t quite sound like something Will would say.’ I noticed it, though, and when I’d write a line I’d think, ‘That doesn’t sound right,’ so I’d delete it and write another one. So it took me a while to get Will’s dialogue to sound right, but episode seven is wall-to-wall Will and I think I found his voice a little better for that one.

“It helps, too, that Damian Kindler [series creator/executive producer] is always around, and we go through the scripts with a fine-tooth comb. We’ll look at each line and if there’s one that bothers any of us, we’ll find another way to say what it is we’re trying to say.”

The writer’s fourth and final contribution to Sanctuary‘s second season is part one of the show’s two-part season ender, Kali. The germ of the idea for this episode came from a prior one, while the setting was the result of a previously discussed story that never came to be. Catching up again recently with McCullough, he was happy to talk about Kali‘s development.

“Earlier in the season we were breaking a story called Justice,” recalls the writer. “It was set in a small town, which is tough to do on our show as we don’t have suitable sets and didn’t want to go out on-location. So Martin Wood [executive producer/director] proposed setting Justice in a Mumbai slum, as that would be relatively easy to re-create. We loved that idea so much that we decided to save it for the [season] finale. Unfortunately, Justice never got produced, which is too bad because it was a great story.

“The idea for Kali came partly from Veritas, where we introduce an Abnormal called Big Bertha, who is capable of creating earthquakes. I’m pretty sure it was me who suggested that we use Big Bertha in the season finale as well. I proposed that Magnus had lied to the heads of the Sanctuary network about destroying the creature and secretly kept her alive in an enclosure at the bottom of the Indian Ocean. And then later on in the writers’ room, we came up with the idea for the Makri, the small spider that telepathically links to Big Bertha.

“We went back and forth for weeks with this story,” continues the writer. “It’s probably the toughest one I’ve ever had to break. We knew we were on to something and felt like it could be big, but we just could not find the story for the life of us. Eventually, and after numerous rewrites, we shaped the story into Kali, parts one and two. Later in the process I was reviewing part two, which Damian wrote, and went to him with a logic problem. Basically, something Will was doing made no sense. And I distinctly remember what followed next; Damian sat back in his chair, thought about it for a long time, and then said, ‘I think I know what to do – Will has to dance a Bollywood number.’

“I nearly fell off my chair. He was exactly right, of course, but I thought we’d be marched right out of the TV business for good if we tried to do a full-scale Bollywood number in a Sci-Fi show. Luckily, Mark Stern [Syfy’s Executive Vice President for Original Content ] bought into the idea and off we went.

“Also late in the game, Damian, Martin, Amanda and Robin were invited to Tokyo by Syfy Asia and decided to take advantage of the exotic locale to shoot a scene for the show. We brainstormed and felt it belonged in my episode, and it turned out to be a great way to start things off. Shooting the Mumbai sequences took place on our [studio] backlot, which is where we built a massive labyrinthine Mumbai slum, and it looked photo real. To top it off, it was over 40 degrees Celsius, or 104 Farenheit, pretty much the whole week we were filming. Everyone was dying from the heat, but it helped with the authenticity. I’m not sure how we’re going to replicate that in part three, which will likely be shot this coming February or March.”

Having thoroughly enjoyed his first year with Sanctuary, McCullough is eagerly awaiting the start of work on season three. “I’m definitely looking forward to the challenge of us doing 20 episodes and really pushing the boundary with our season [story] arcs,” he says. “And also somehow getting ourselves out of the conundrum we created at the end of Kali, Part 2.”

Steve Eramo

As noted above, photo is by Jeff Weddell and copyright of Sanctuary 2 Productions, so please no unauthorized copying or duplicating of any kind. Thanks!

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Eureka’s Niall Matter – Matter of Fact

August 28, 2009
Niall Matter as Zane Donovan on Eureka. Photo by F. Scott Schafer and copyright of The Syfy Channel

Niall Matter as Zane Donovan on Eureka. Photo by F. Scott Schafer and copyright of The Syfy Channel

In the second season Eureka episode E=MC…? some of the world’s smartest minds try to re-create the “Big Bang” and the first moments that the universe came into being. As is typical in this Pacific Northwest hotbed of brilliance, things go somewhat awry. The town’s geniuses suddenly lose their smarts, and it is up to Sheriff Jack Carter and a young, cocky know-it-all, Zane Donovan, to save the day. It is no accident that Zane came to Eureka, and he has since ended up sticking around, which was a pleasant surprise for the actor who plays him, Niall Matter.

“When I first heard about the audition for the character I was told that it was a guest-star role and a possible recurring one,” recalls Matter. “So I went in to read and the director of the episode, Tim Matheson, seemed to like what I did. He gave me a little bit of direction as did the casting director, then I came in for a callback, ended up booking the role and before I knew it I was on-set working on Eureka.

“My first day on the job I was immediately impressed by Colin Ferguson [Sheriff Jack Carter] and the amount of energy that he has. It carries through the entire day, too, and it doesn’t matter if that day lasts eight hours or sixteen hours. Colin is ‘present’ the entire time and ready to go. With him, I saw what it takes to be the number one on a TV show.

“In this episode I was really able to get into comedy. I hadn’t done much of that before, so I was able to spread my wings. And when it comes to the cast, Joe Morton [Henry Deacon] as well as Ed Quinn [Dr. Nathan Stark] back then, along with Salli Richardson [Dr. Allison Blake], Erica Cerra [Deputy Jo Lupo], all of them, their comic timing is so different.

“So working with each of them, respectively, in whatever scene I had, it was pretty cool figuring my own timing out and where my character was going with each of the others in the story. It was like trying to piece together a puzzle and I wanted to make sure I did my best so that they [the producers] would ask me back,” jokes the actor. “I loved that my character actually got to save the day when he stopped the device from detonating. After all, you don’t get to do that every day.”

Eureka producers were obviously impressed enough with Matter’s debut that they made his character a recurring one. Having been arrested for allegedly crashing that New York Stock Exchange, Zane was originally meant to go to jail. However, rather than waste his intellectual talents, the authorities decided instead to send him to Eureka. After helping avert a disaster in E=MC…? he was offered a job at Global Dynamics. With his character now appearing in more episodes, Matter looked at giving Zane a bit of a makeover.

“I wanted to start opening him up and taking him in other directions,” he says. “As I became more confident about my work on the show, I began talking with Jaime Paglia [Eureka co-creator/executive producer] about the direction of my character as far as where he wanted to take Zane and where I was thinking he could go.

“As a result, I think we’ve shaped him into a pretty cool human being. Zane has shed a great deal of his stubbornness, because initially he was, not cold, but pretty snarky and kind of annoying. We had to tread carefully, though, with that fine line of change in order to make it believable. I mean, how quickly can someone turn that corner. So that’s been a little bit tricky for me, but the writers have been a huge help and we’ve managed to transform Zane into someone who’s much more likable. He’s grown up and matured as well as taken on some responsibility, which is nice.”

Among those Eureka residents who have changed their opinion of Zane since he first arrived in town is Deputy Lupo. Not an easy person to win over, she found herself attracted to Zane in more ways than one, and during the show’s past two seasons, they have become romantically involved.

“The relationship between Jo and Zane was somewhat ambiguous at the beginning and we weren’t really sure what was going on,” notes Matter. “Now, however, this third season it’s heading towards a very realistic and mature level, and it’s a great to see that they share a true connection and have a lot of love for one another.

“One of the neat things with their relationship is that Zane will rib her and Jo will give it right back to him. I’ve seen couples do that in real life and those are the moments that you remember and help also define a relationship, so it’s been fun to re-create those moments with Erica onscreen. There was one episode [From Fear to Eternity] where Jo and Zane were stuck together, and the moment they got unstuck, she said something to me and I said something right back at her. I can’t remember exactly what I said because it wasn’t scripted, I ad-libbed it, but it actually made the final cut [of the episode] and the crew just killed themselves laughing. Jo and Zane did plenty of kibitzing in that episode when they were stuck together and that helped create a stronger bond between them.”

In the third season Eureka story Your Face or Mine, which was directed by Colin Ferguson, Zane almost loses Jo when a scientist (Leela Savasta) uses technology that she has created to steal the deputy’s identity and…life. “That was a challenging one because I had to work with another actress who’s supposedly Jo inside this other person’s body,” says Matter. “Being directed by Colin was incredible because he’s got such a clear vision for the show. He knows exactly what he wants and where he thinks the series should be going. The actual shooting of the episode was both concise and quick, so when it comes to Colin I just think he’s a genius.”

Following Ferguson’s directorial debut on Eureka, Matter and the rest of the show’s cast and crew also had the chance to be directed this season by Joe Morton with the episode Have an Ice Day. “Obviously this story has something to do with ice, and at one point Zane becomes very cold, one could say almost freezing over,” teases the actor.

“Working with Joe Morton in the director’s chair was incredible. I grew up watching him on TV and in the movies, and I’ll never forget coming onto this show and meeting Joe for the first time and being quite intimidated by the fact that I was actually getting to hold my own in a scene opposite him. So when being directed by Joe, everything he said to me, any notes or redirection he gave me, I soaked it in. I wanted to make sure I gave him everything he wanted because I respect him so much as an actor and I really wanted to garner some respect in his eyes as a director.”

Born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Matter was 13 years old when he started writing and directing his own films, and then began acting in them as well. “I’d get in front of the camera with the other actors I was working with to show them the shots I wanted,” he explains. “Then I would go into the editing room and edit all my films on my own. They were only shorts, maybe five or ten minutes long and usually in the horror genre, but that’s how I first got into this.”

Having only been in the business for a few years, the actor has already appeared in a variety of made-for-TV movies as well as recurring roles or guest-spots on such series as The Best Years, Fear Itself, Warehouse 13, Melrose Place and Stargate Atlantis.

“On Stargate Atlantis I played someone called Lt. Kemp and I worked opposite Kavan Smith, who played Major Lorne,” says Matter. “My character was a short-lived one – he was only in two episodes – but working on those sets was incredible. I had no idea how elaborate they were, and I remember just being blown away when I first saw them. I was like a kid in a candy store walking around and checking everything out.”

One of Matter’s most high-profile roles to date has to be Mothman in the big screen superhero flick Watchmen. “That was a dream come true,” he says. “It was a massive blockbuster film directed by Zack Synder, who also did 300, and I couldn’t believe I had the chance to work with him. It was kind of a surreal moment the first time I stood there on-set talking with Zack. Shooting that movie was one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve ever had because he makes the work fun, and I’ve never seen anyone more prepared than Zack. I think when he sleeps, he plans out his shots,” jokes Matter. “I had an amazing time.”

With every job he goes out for, the actor makes sure the character is as different as possible from the last one he played, and with each new role, Matter gets to entertain more and more people, which for him is what acting is all about. “The fact that you can reach so many people in this industry and bring joy into their homes, whether through TV or films, and relating to them life experiences in a truthful way is what I find most rewarding about this job,” muses the actor. “And also leaving [work] at the end of the day knowing that you emotionally connected to your scenes and, hopefully, that will transcend over into someone else’s life. I think acting is a pretty powerful tool that can actually be used to help change the world for the better, and I’m happy to play some small part in that.”

For more information about Niall check out his official website – www.niallmatter.net

As noted above, photo by F. Scott Schafer and copyright of The Sci Fi Channel, so please no unauthorized copying or duplicating of any kind. Thanks!

Eureka’s Erica Cerra And Niall Matter Guest-Star This Week On Warehouse 13

August 25, 2009

EUREKA‘s Erica Cerra (Deputy Jo Lupo) and Niall Matter (Zane Donovan) take a brief field trip from the technologically-advanced Pacific Northwest town when they guest-star this week on Warehouse 13. In Duped, Pete (Eddie McClintock) and Myka (Joanne Kelly) are dispatched to Las Vegas to retrieve an artifact that seems to grant good fortune to a couple of gamblers, Jillian Whitman (Cerra) and Gary Whitman (Matter). But their simple snag it, bag it, tag it mission gets complicated when Myka accidentally gets trapped in Lewis Carroll’s mirror – unleashing the malevolent entity that was trapped inside. Duped airs Tuesday, August 25th @ 9 p.m. EST/8 p.m. CT on The Syfy Channel.

Click the link below for a sneak preview of Duped – http://rcpt.yousendit.com/728091035/18f0355b601c54f6223f008d849ea5bb

Eureka’s Erica Cerra – The Enforcer

August 12, 2009
Erica Cerra as Eureka's Jo Lupo - Photo by F. Scott Schafer and copyright of The Syfy Channel

Erica Cerra as Eureka's Deputy Jo Lupo - Photo by F. Scott Schafer and copyright of The Syfy Channel

Intelligent, beautiful, resourceful and sexy – all these adjectives describe Deputy Jo Lupo. Let’s not forget that, given just cause, she can also incapacitate you and throw you in jail. With her as one half of Eureka’s long arm of the law, the small town has nothing to worry about.

Three years ago, it looked as if Jo would be promoted when her boss, Sheriff William Cobb, was reassigned after almost losing his life to a misguided scientific experiment. Unfortunately for her, the government chose U.S. Marshall Jack Carter as Cobb’s replacement. At first, Jo was disappointed and somewhat prickly towards Jack, but they soon became friends as well as a formidable team. Nowadays, she is still helping him police the town, and Erica Cerra, who plays Jo in Eureka, is thrilled with her character’s growth and development so far over the show’s three seasons.

“Each season, Jo seems to soften up somewhat, which I always think is nice because it allows the audience to get to like her a bit more,” says the actress with a laugh. “Her relationship with [scientist] Zane Donovan [Niall Matter] has also helped give her an opportunity to express her feelings and become emotionally attached to someone else. I’m very happy that the [show’s] writers have allowed Jo and Zane to more or less take their time and haven’t married them off yet and given them children. The two of them bicker a lot, and Niall and I enjoy playing that.

“As individuals, Niall and I get along very well, so that makes our scenes quite easy, and I think that’s why the writers are able to give us so much bizarre relationship stuff to do. Zane has almost been taken away from Jo a couple of times, and those moments have given my character a chance to say to him, ‘No, please don’t go. I really do have a heart.’ The [acting] challenges with this and any character are in the scripts, and I always look forward to taking on the next challenge.”

Deputy Lupo on duty in Eureka. Photo by James Dittiger and copyright of The Syfy Channel

Deputy Lupo on duty in Eureka. Photo by James Dittiger and copyright of The Syfy Channel

Midway through Eureka‘s third season in From Fear to Eternity, Sheriff Carter (Colin Ferguson) must deal with yet another technological crisis when a long-forgotten doomsday weapon discovered in an abandoned military complex threatens to destroy the town. In the process, he ends up trapped inside the facility with Eva Thorne (Francis Fisher), a scientist with a mysterious past and a secret to hide. Above ground, Deputy Lupo and Zane try to help figure out a way to rescue Carter and Eva, but have their own problems when a weird substance literally binds them together.

“The original script for that episode was very different from what ended up on the screen, and it continued to change quite a bit while we were shooting,” recalls Cerra. “Jo and Zane were, I believe, on the brink of breaking up in that story, or they were at least fighting; every other episode they’re on the brink of a break-up, but again that’s fun. It not only gives the characters something to do, but it’s also very real. These are two people who passionately care about each other and are trying to find their groove.

“One thing that immediately comes to mind from that episode is that in the scene in which Jo and Zane finally become unstuck, I walk away and say, ‘If I had been stuck to you any longer I’d have gnawed off my own arm.’ And he yells back at me, ‘Well, your mouth is big enough.’ That was all Niall, and it was really funny,” chuckles the actress. “He just ad-libbed that and they ended up keeping it in, which was great. It’s something that, again, is real. It’s what a boyfriend might say to his girlfriend when he wants to get a jab in at her, so that line always sticks out for me.”

In the third season Eureka story Your Face or Mine – directed by Colin Ferguson – Jo Lupo becomes acting sheriff while Carter takes a Department of Defense (D.O.D.) recertification test. However, her friends being to wonder if the job might be too much for her when she starts behaving strangely. They have no idea that a scientist at Global Dynamics is using her experiment to take over Jo’s physical identity. As is typical in Eureka, things go horribly wrong, and Jo comes face-to-face with herself as she fights for her life.

Carter (Colin Ferguson) and Jo in a scene from "Your Face or Mine." Photo by Marcel Williams and copyright of The Syfy Channel

Carter (Colin Ferguson) and Jo in a scene from "Your Face or Mine." Photo by Marcel Williams and copyright of The Syfy Channel

“I was so excited when I got that script,” enthuses Cerra. “First off, being given that much stuff to do in a single episode, it just felt so nice to know that the producers had faith that I could handle it. As an actress I had tons of challenges, and having Colin directing was such a cool experience. It was the first time that a member of the cast had directed us, and it was important to me that I do everything to the best of my ability and not let him down.

“Colin and I work so much together that he says, ‘I speak Erica,’ which I always find amusing. The thing is, I’m not always the best as far as articulating certain things, but somehow Colin always knows what the hell I’m trying to say,” she says laughing. “I’d be in a very happy place if I could take him with me as a director all the time.

“So this episode was by far my biggest challenge of the season, and as the remaining 13 episodes went on, the writers gave me other scenes where Jo became emotionally attached to something. As an actor, if you’re not emotionally attached to something, there’s nothing to really play, right? A great deal of what I do on the program is standard, so whenever I’m given something a little different to play, I take full advantage of it.”

When Cerra took time out to do this interview (early January 2009), she and the rest of the Eureka cast were shooting one of the final season three episodes, which was directed by castmember Joe Morton (Henry Deacon). “In this episode, Zane comes back to Eureka after being gone for a month, and there is a possible threat to the relationship between him and Jo,” notes the actress. “There’s also a visit from an old love interest.

L-R - Erica Cerra with some of her Eureka castmates at Comic Con 2009 - Joe Morton, Salli Richardson-Whitfield (Dr. Allison Blake), Cerra and Neil Grayston (Douglas Fargo). Photo copyright of The Syfy Channel

L-R - Erica Cerra with some of her Eureka castmates at Comic Con 2009 - Joe Morton, Salli Richardson-Whitfield (Dr. Allison Blake), Cerra and Neil Grayston (Douglas Fargo). Photo copyright of The Syfy Channel

“As far as being directed by Joe, it’s been fantastic. We get a different director with every episode, and with Joe it feels more like we’re all hanging out and playing together, do you know what I mean? It’s not that we ever make any of our directors feel uncomfortable, but when someone new comes in, you’re trying to get to know them and there’s never enough time for that. With Joe, and, of course, Colin, you already know them and they know how to talk with you and know what you need. It’s just cozier and easier to sort of give them what they want because you both know how to translate each other’s words.”

After production wrapped on Eureka‘s third season, the actress shot guest-spots on episodes of Warehouse 13 and Sanctuary, and can also be seen as Hera in the feature film Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief starring Pierce Brosnan and Rosario Dawson. As for Eureka, the program continues to grow in popularity and has been renewed for a fourth season. While the episodes may be driven by scientific mishaps, there is a lightness and humor involved in storytelling as well, both of which Cerra feels draws viewers to tune in.

“I remember looking at one of the Eureka websites and someone was complaining that the science was wrong. Somebody else wrote in and said, ‘Just watch it and be entertained.’ and I agree,” says the actress. “There are a lot of TV shows about murder and sadness, and what’s great about Eureka is that you can sit back, watch it and just be entertained, and in today’s world I think that’s a good thing.”

Steve Eramo

As noted above, photos are by James Dittiger, Marcel Williams and F. Scott Schafer and copyright of The Syfy Channel, so please no unauthorized copying or duplicating of any form. Thanks!

Eureka’s Colin Ferguson – Jack’s Back!

July 31, 2009
Colin Ferguson as Sheriff Jack Carter in the Eureka episode "Welcome Back Carter." Photo by Marcell Williams and copyright of The Syfy Channel

Colin Ferguson as Sheriff Jack Carter in the Eureka episode "Welcome Back Carter." Photo by Marcell Williams and copyright of The Syfy Channel

For the past three years, Colin Ferguson has been upholding law and order as Sheriff  Jack Carter on The Syfy Channel’s hit series Eureka. When its cast and crew returned to work last fall after a brief hiatus to begin shooting the remaining 10 episodes of the show’s third season, the actor had the chance to put on a totally different hat, that of director. He stepped behind the camera for the first time to direct the year three story Your Face or Mine. In it, an unhappy and lovelorn scientist uses her newest invention to temporarily assume Deputy Jo Lupo’s identity. Unfortunately for Jo, the scientist enjoys herself a little bit too much and decides to switch places permanently. While not the ideal position for the deputy to be in, Ferguson had the time of his life in his directorial debut.

“The good news is I had [consulting producer] Matt Hastings and [producer] Robert Petrovicz to take me through the prep process,” says the actor. “They taught me an important lesson, which is it’s all about the prep. So during prep I slaved over the script – which was a terrific script written by [co-creator/executive producer] Jaime Paglia – and when it came time to shoot, we really didn’t have a problem at all. That’s one of the perks of being a regular on a show and directing it; I’m familiar with every set, every actor and every personality. So I know what works as well as what to do and what not to do, probably more what not to do because I’ve watched significantly more talented directors than myself come through here and seen how they’ve approached things. So this was a great opportunity for me to use a lot of those experiences.

“Of course, working with the cast was great,” he continues. “Everything went so smoothly. Everyone was so kind and rallied behind the cause. After all, we want other members of the cast to direct and have bigger episodes. So it was important on a number of different fronts that this went well, and it did. The story is all about Erica Cerra’s character [Deputy Jo Lupo] and like the film Face/Off in that it’s about identity theft, only on a much more literal scale. I knew the scene where Jo is facing off against herself was going to be a hugely important one, and the ball would be in Erica’s court more than anyone else’s. So we worked on that scene ahead of time and Erica knew that she had to deliver. Well, she knocked it out of the park and did an amazing job. You really buy the fact that there are two of her character in that scene the entire time.”

Sheriff Jack Carter and Deputy Jo Lupo (Erica Cerra) in Ferguson's Eureka directorial debut "Your Face or Mine." Photo by Marcell Williams and copyright of The Syfy Channel

Sheriff Jack Carter and Deputy Jo Lupo (Erica Cerra) in Ferguson's Eureka directorial debut "Your Face or Mine." Photo by Marcell Williams and copyright of The Syfy Channel

Although the actor spent plenty of time prepping for his directorial debut on Eureka, there were times when he had to tweak his way of doing things. “The biggest thing I learned throughout this entire process is that as much prep as you do and as much as you know exactly what you want, that on the day, sometimes the ‘language’ you use isn’t always right,” muses Ferguson. “By that I mean, yes, I know what I want, but I don’t always know the exact words that the other person needs to hear in order to achieve it. Is it, ‘We’re going in this direction first,’ or, ‘I’d like to do a two-shot then go into a single,’ or, ‘I need to start the scene from this point,’ etc. So you go through all the options until you get to the right one and then you’re like, ‘OK, excellent, let’s shoot it.’ I realized I can speak quickly, rattle off a bunch of subjects and eventually get to the right one,” jokes the actor. “Next time, though, I’ve got to make sure I’m able to speak quickly and express to everyone exactly what I want right off the bat.

“We ended the episode, I believe, under budget and on-time, so I think everyone was happy about that. We shot inside on the sets for most of the time, and when that happens you have to keep it even more interesting. So I made sure to plan a special shot every day so that I could put a spark into things. I was extremely pleased with how everything turned out and, again, above all else, I received a wonderful script. Had I been given a not-so-hot script or one that needed a ton of work and massaging, it would have been quite a different experience. I got really lucky and the entire thing was a perfect fit.”

There is an old adage that no good deed goes unpunished, and that was certainly true for Sheriff Carter midway through season three on Eureka. He was fired for letting Eva Thorne (Frances Fisher) go free at the end of the mid-season cliffhanger From Fear to Eternity. However, the town and its residents could not do without his unique style of policing, and Carter was back on the payroll by the end of the mid-year opener Welcome Back Carter. Since then, he has been kept busy personally and professionally, both of which have resulted in one or two new acting challenges for Ferguson.

Dr. Allison Blake (Salli Richardson-Whitfield), Sheriff Carter and Henry Deacon (Joe Morton) try to figure out what is causing the gravity wells in "Welcome Back Carter." Photo by Marcell Williams and copyright of The Syfy Channel

Dr. Allison Blake (Salli Richardson-Whitfield), Sheriff Carter and Henry Deacon (Joe Morton) try to figure out what is causing the gravity wells in "Welcome Back Carter." Photo by Marcell Williams and copyright of The Syfy Channel

“The writers have brought in Allison’s [Salli Richardson-Whitfield] old school friend, Dr. Tess Fontana [Jaime Ray Newman], who Carter ends up in a relationship with, ” he notes. “Also, right now [early December 2008] Salli is eight-and-a-half months pregnant, so in the series her character is carrying Stark’s [Ed Quinn] child and, therefore, will be doing a lot of ‘heavy lifting’ as far as the tech talk during the latter part of the season. In fact, she and Tess are both doing that, which has provided me with an acting exercise when it comes to trying to keep my character fresh. Carter is in a number of scenes with not a lot to do, so for me it’s a matter of , OK, what can I focus on here, because he’s hearing all this information, but doesn’t impart much of it.

“So what I try to do is give myself lighter days. One way to keep it [your character] fresh is to stop yourself from burning out, so every now and then you don’t over-think it. You just literally show up and do the best you can and let the scene go where it wants to go. In doing that, you allow yourself to regenerate a bit, so when a moment comes up that you really feel like digging into, you can actually do that. Another way is to change the dialogue every so often. That’s obviously a tricky thing because you don’t want to become at odds with the producers and writers and make it appear as if you’re disrespecting what they do. However, it helps to talk with them occasionally about changing a line or two if you feel it will better service your character.

“Another thing is to take the work seriously. It’s fun to joke around and get through a scene that way, but too much of that and there’s the danger of phoning it [your performance] in. And that’s just boring for you and the viewers. So you’ve got to dig in and see what you can come up with, and I have to tell you that there have been some really neat scenes we’ve come up with this season,” enthuses Ferguson.

Sheriff Carter and Dr. Tess Fontana (Jaime Ray Newman) end up slightly out of sync in "Insane in the P-Brane." Photo by Marcell Williams and copyright of The Syfy Channel

Sheriff Carter and Dr. Tess Fontana (Jaime Ray Newman) end up slightly out of sync in "Insane in the P-Brane." Photo by Marcell Williams and copyright of The Syfy Channel

In the season three Eureka story Insane in the P-Brane, Carter is on his way to Global Dynamics when he discovers a car partially blocking the road. He has a rather prickly exchange with its owner, Dr. Tess Fontana, before allowing her to drive off. The sheriff later meets up with her again unexpectedly at Global, and has no idea that Tess will be helping him stop yet another experiment gone wrong from destroying Eureka. As Ferguson already mentioned, Tess and Jack become romantically involved as the latter half of this season continues to unfold. What did the actor think about a new love interest being introduced for his character?

“I was nervous out of the gate, because the initial meeting between Tess and Jack was a little ‘forced’ insofar as how they didn’t like one another,” he says. “Then, however, there was a nice little transition that they [the writers] did involving the two characters actually hooking up. And what’s neat about it is it’s not some tedious type of thing where their passion overflows as they lock lips in an embrace. It was more like a gradual emotional melting. Again, it started off with Jack and Tess not really liking each other, but having a begrudging respect, which leads to a friendship, and then to something romantic. It’s subtle, which I like, and not overdone, either. It’s not episode after episode of their relationship. It’s sprinkled into the plot, and hopefully the viewers will enjoy it.”

The actor has also enjoyed seeing his character’s relationship further develop with his daughter Zoe (Jordan Hinson) as well as with Henry Deacon (Joe Morton). “It’s always a pleasure to work with Jordan,” says Ferguson. “Her character of Zoe is a little lighter in these latter episodes, but the two of us have had some wonderful little scenes together, which I’m proud of. As for Henry, he’s going through something that I can’t talk about, but I’ve enjoyed him having this problem, if you know what I mean, because it throws something new into the relationship between him and Jack. Any time you have to redefine a relationship because of circumstance it’s a good thing in terms of storytelling.”

Henry, Sheriff Carter, Allison and Tess try to sort out yet another scientific mishap in "It's Not Easy Being Green." Photo by Marcell Williams and copyright of The Syfy Channel

Henry, Sheriff Carter, Allison and Tess try to sort out yet another scientific mishap in "It's Not Easy Being Green." Photo by Marcell Williams and copyright of The Syfy Channel

At the time of this interview, Ferguson and the rest of the Eureka cast and crew were shooting the season three story Shower the People, which guest-stars a very familiar face. “In this episode, people contract this infection and something really bad happens to them. Unfortunately, it’s December in Vancouver and we’re all soaking wet, which is all part of the story, but we’re having fun,” laughs the actor. “A good buddy of mine, Billy Campbell [Jordan Collier in The 4400] is doing a guest-spot in this episode and we’ve been having a ball working together. I’ve been in Vancouver for six of the last seven months and I definitely feel like it’s time to go home for a bit, so having an old buddy on-set makes a big difference.”

It was announced last weekend at Comic Con in San Diego that Eureka has been picked up for a fourth season, which means that everyone involved will be back in Vancouver at some point to start filming. In the meantime, Ferguson is currently working half a world away and enjoying every minute of it.

“I just finished shooting Lake Placid 3 as a actor and start prepping Fossils as a director on Monday [August 3rd],” he says. “So I”m busy, busy, busy and loving life in Bulgaria.”

Steve Eramo

As noted above, all photos by Marcell Williams and copyright of The Syfy Channel, so please no unauthorized copying or duplicating of any form. Thanks!

Eureka’s Jaime Paglia – Small Town Kinda Guy

July 22, 2009
Colin Ferguson (Sheriff Jack Carter), Joe Morton (Henry Deacon) and Salli Whitfield-Richardson (Dr. Allison Blake) in the season three Eureka episode "Welcome Back Carter." Photo by Marcel Williams and copyright of the Syfy Channel

Colin Ferguson (Sheriff Jack Carter), Joe Morton (Henry Deacon) and Salli Richardson-Whitfield (Dr. Allison Blake) in the season three Eureka episode "Welcome Back Carter." Photo by Marcel Williams and copyright of the Syfy Channel

BELIEVE it or not, it was three years ago that Eureka co-creator and executive producer Jaime Paglia first invited audiences into the small Pacific Northwest town where, thanks to the local government-run think tank Global Dynamics, just about anything scientifically and technologically-speaking can happen. The brains behind Eureka may be working towards the betterment of humanity, but their results often end up endangering the town and its locals.

Midway through the show’s third season, Sheriff Jack Carter prevented a doomsday weapon from destroying Eureka. However, when he let Eva Thorne, one of the scientists involved in a pre-Eureka research project on atomic bombs, go free, he was fired. That was last summer. Earlier this month, Eureka returned to the Syfy Channel with 10 brand new episodes to finish out its third season, which was part of the plan all along according to Paglia.

“The reason that this order [for season three] got split the way it did was because once the writers’ strike [of 2007] resolved itself, it was a matter of, ‘OK, hurry up and catch up,'” explains the executive producer. “In order to stay on track for having episodes to air last summer in Eureka‘s regular time-slot, we were only able to physically shoot and complete eight episodes.

“So as opposed to doing the full 18-episode run all at once, we wrote and shot eight, then took a brief hiatus while the writers furiously caught up on scripts so that we’d have more material to shoot, and gave the cast and crew a little breather. Then we went back and shot the last 10 episodes. We’d hoped that they were going to air earlier this year, around February, but economics being what they are, the network elected to hold them until this summer.

“We planned to do a mini-arc with the Eva Thorne [Frances Fisher] character and that was something we wanted to resolve. We had discovered the challenges of sometimes doing a longer mythology arc that you then might not be able to explore in every episode the way we would want to. And I think we decided it was easier to focus on the active element of the first eight episodes of this [third] season and resolve things a bit quicker. That, in turn, allowed us to create a whole new mini-arc for the remaining 10 episodes, and it felt like a really nice, manageable way to approach the story breaking process.”

An unemployed Sheriff Carter happily lends a hand to help his friends out in "Welcome Back Carter." Photo by Marcel Williams and copyright of the Syfy Channel

An unemployed Sheriff Carter happily lends a hand to help his friends out in "Welcome Back Carter." Photo by Marcel Williams and copyright of the Syfy Channel

In the mid-season cliffhanger From Fear to Eternity, the lives of many of our favorite Eureka characters were turned upside-down. Besides Jack Carter’s (Colin Ferguson) dismissal by General Mansfield (Barclay Hope), the sheriff’s teenage daughter Zoe (Jordan Hinson) almost died as a result of her exposure to an aging compound that killed Eva Thorne’s colleagues. Dr. Allison Blake (Salli Richardson-Whitfield) also discovered that she was pregnant with her deceased husband Dr. Nathan Stark’s (Ed Quinn) child. All these developments, coupled with various behind-the-scenes goings-on, steered the show’s writers in a certain direction when it came to writing the rest of the season.

“There were some curve balls thrown at us midway through this season,” notes Paglia. “Some were production related, and others were just the types of things that happen with peoples’ personal lives that, in turn, can affect how you break stories. All those elements definitely had an impact on what we ended up doing with these back 10 episodes.

“We wanted to introduce a new love interest for Jack Carter and change the dynamic that we’ve traditionally had with him and Nathan Stark as these two Alpha males battling over the Alpha female. Also, with Stark’s passing, we wanted to bring in a new character, which we did in Dr. Tess Fontana, played by Jamie Ray Newman. Tess and Allison have a history. They’re old friends, but that also gets a little tense when Tess and Carter start to develop a romantic connection, which was, I think, really fun to play out.

“Something else we wanted to do was step up the relationship between Deputy Jo Lupo [Erica Cerra] and Zane Donovan [Niall Matter] and challenge it as far as if it’s a short-term thing or something more,” continues the executive producer. “Then there was Zoe and her boyfriend Lucas [Vanya Asher]. She’s coming to an age now where they’re talking about college and whether or not they’re planning to go to the same school and things of that nature. So I think it gave us a chance to really deepen the relationships and those connections and go to places that we haven’t before. That’s a challenge writing-wise and probably a lot more satisfying for our cast of actors to play as well.”

The second half of Eureka‘s third season opens with Welcome Back Carter. In it, Carter and Zoe contemplate leaving Eureka as the ex-sheriff looks for a new job. Meanwhile, everyone in town is surprised when Carter is replaced with Fargo’s (Neil Grayston) latest invention, a robotic sheriff named Andy (Ty Olsson). Unfortunately, the congenial and civic-minded robot is targeted by powerful gravity wells, which repeatedly crush him. Carter investigates and ultimately teams up with Andy to help save the day. Realizing that Jack is better suited to uphold law and order in Eureka. Andy helps Henry (Joe Morton) get him reinstated.

Sheriff Carter and Douglas Fargo (Neil Grayston). Photo by Marcel Williams and copyright of the Syfy Channel

Sheriff Carter and Douglas Fargo (Neil Grayston). Photo by Marcel Williams and copyright of the Syfy Channel

“I’d like to have Sheriff Andy make a return to the show,” says Paglia. “He nearly did in this season’s finale, but I would say looking forward optimistically to season four, I think it would be great to have him back on some kind of recurring basis.

Welcome Back Carter is probably the most challenging episode we did in these back 10. There’s a sort of constant push and pull that goes on when you’re making a show like ours because you’re obviously tied to a certain budget. You do everything you can with that budget, and with that in mind, the [visual effects] guys who put the show together kill themselves to give us more than we’re even paying for. I mean, they really extend themselves and I think they’re more critical than any of us when it comes to saying, ‘You know what, if we did just one more thing it would be better.’

“One example of that is the final action sequence in this episode where Jack and Andy are in the barn. Probably two-thirds of those [VFX] shots were not originally budgeted, but creatively everyone agreed that they really needed to be there. So the networks and the studio came through with the extra money and the guys did everything in their power to get it done.”

Following Welcome Back Carter is the episode Your Face or Mine, in which Erica Cerra plays two very different versions of her Deputy Lupo character. Paglia is quite complimentary of her work as well as Colin Ferguson’s, who made his Eureka directorial debut with this episode.

“This was an opportunity where we really wanted to allow some of our other cast members to be the focus of the story, and Erica really stepped up to the task,” says the executive producer. “And Colin might be a little biased, but I think it’s probably one of our favorite episodes of these back 10.

“Colin did a terrific job of directing and he’ll be doing it again. This was actually the first episode that we shot of these back 10, and we specifically did that so that Colin would be able to prep his episode as a director without having to worry about acting in the previous one. This presented some interesting challenges for the writers, but we welcomed that as it gave us a chance to write a script that wasn’t Carter-driven in every scene. That said, he’s absolutely a presence through the episode. Colin got to be a fun comedic runner without having to be ferried from one set to another, which would have really impacted his work as a director.

Deputy Jo Lupo (Erica Cerra) and Allison try to figure out who's who in "Your Face or Mine." Photo by Marcel Williams and copyright of the Syfy Channel

Deputy Jo Lupo (Erica Cerra) and Allison try to figure out who's who in "Your Face or Mine." Photo by Marcel Williams and copyright of the Syfy Channel

“So it all really worked, and I think it proves that we have an amazing supporting cast who we can put in the center of a story and still have it feel like our show.”

Paglia previously spoke of the introduction of  Tess Fontana as a new romantic interest for Carter in these upcoming Eureka episodes. How will this impact the sheriff’s and Allison’s relationship in the future? “We want them to truly ‘earn’ what they have relationship-wise,” he muses. “Most of us have had those unrequited relationships in our lives – those missed opportunities where the timing just wasn’t right or things went in a different direction. And you always wonder what if you had managed to work things out.

“As you know, we forced Carter and Allison apart in season two. She was taking over Global Dynamics and Stark was getting much closer to her and trying to help [her son] Kevin [Meshach Peters]. That was a very deliberate choice on our part to put Carter in a place of not trusting Allison for the first time because she was making some choices that were guided much more by her own personal interests and love for her child. And with the proposal from Stark at the end of the season, it really put a cap on the fact that she was going to go down that road.

“Of course, all that changed when Nathan died in what was a very noble way. Then there’s this pregnancy that’s left over and how is that going to affect Carter’s and Allison’s relationship. You’ll see as the rest of this season unfolds that their friendship has developed. It’s interesting when another woman comes into the mix and one who Allison had a previous relationship with. She sees that Tess could potentially make Carter happy and has to make the unselfish, or selfish, choice about whether or not to be supportive of that. Salli, Colin and Jamie Ray really play that dynamic nicely.

“There has been a recurring theme that we’ve tried to weave into the episodes over the past few seasons, which is do they [Carter and Allison] or don’t they have ‘a thing.’ You just have to have a little faith. It may take a long time to get there, and it’s not going to be the same road that was traveled down in the alternate time-line at the end of season one. We’ve seen different characters end up getting married and different characters being the parents of the kids. When Allison was pregnant at the end of year one it was with Carter, and last season it was actually with Stark. Those changes are part of the show. But as for Allison and Carter ending up together, well, there’s still the potential. After all, you never know what the future holds, but if you believe strongly enough and maintain those connections, anything is possible.

Dr. Allison Blake in "Your Face or Mine." Photo by Marcel Williams and copyright of the Syfy Channel

Dr. Allison Blake in "Your Face or Mine." Photo by Marcel Williams and copyright of the Syfy Channel

Sadly, Eureka fans hoping to see the return of Dr. Stark this year will be disappointed as that is not in the cards. However, there are some other familiar faces that will be making a comeback. “I don’t want to and can’t spoil it, but I can tell you that there are two characters that have been a major part of our series and will be making a reappearance,” teases Paglia. “Along with that, Lexi Carter, who is played by Ever Carradine, will be back for a few episodes and she’s great. We also have Billy Campbell [The 4400] coming in for an episode. But, yes, we do have two favorites who will be returning.”

And what about the show’s “big bad?” At the very end of Welcome Back Carter, an alien object is detected to be heading straight for Eureka. Can Paglia shed any light on how it may manifest itself? “We wanted to have another big bad,” says the executive producer, “but we wanted it to be something different as well as have it sort of tie into the historical aspect of our characters and the town on a personal level.

“So instead of it necessarily being a person, it’s a thing, and we don’t know what it is. The question is, is it from out there? Is it man-made? It’s coming towards Eureka and we have to deal with it, and that has, again, allowed us to introduce some new characters and bring back some old ones who we haven’t seen in a while.”

When it comes to a “wish list” Eureka episode, Paglia definitely as one. “There’s the concept that we’ve had for a really long time that focuses on Carter’s smart house, S.A.R.A.H. [Self-Actuated Residential Automated Habitat] and her desire to not just be literally a housewife to Carter, but to get out there, find a job and experience the world,” he says. “There was an episode in season two called Duck, Duck, Goose where S.A.R.A.H. was downloaded in a smart car for a while and was able to get out and feel the wind in her hair so to speak. However, she hasn’t managed to become personified yet, and I have an idea who I would like to play that character if we ever get a chance to do it. And I’ll just say that the actress happens to be on Battlestar Galactica.”

Having occupied a Tuesday night time-slot on the Syfy Channel since its premiere, Eureka has been moved to Friday nights for the remained of its third season. With the shift, the series has continued to go from strength to strength, much to Paglia’s delight.

Carter and Dr. Tess Fontana (Jamie Ray Newman) try to save the day in the season three episode "Insane in the P-Brane." Photo by Marcel Williams and copyright of the Syfy Channel

Carter and Dr. Tess Fontana (Jamie Ray Newman) try to save the day in the season three episode "Insane in the P-Brane." Photo by Marcel Williams and copyright of the Syfy Channel

“I’m happy that Syfy has sort of staked out a hold on Syfy Friday’s for the channel,” says the executive producer. “Naturally, when you’ve got a time-slot that seems to be working for you, there’s always that little trepidation about throwing any curve balls into the mix. However, we premiered to record numbers and have managed to hold onto our number one status on the channel.

“We’ve actually built our audience even more and we want to see those numbers continue to grow. I’m hoping that we can maintain that on Friday nights. The network has always been very supportive of the series and I don’t think they would have moved us if they didn’t believe we could not hold our own. Hopefully, that will prove to be the case.”

Steve Eramo

As noted above, all photos by Marcel Williams and copyright of the Syfy Channel, so please no unauthorized copying or duplicating of any form. Thanks!

The Syfy Channel Annouces Its Fall Line-Up

July 20, 2009

ON the heels of its successful summer series launches, Syfy will continue its tradition of imagination-fueled original entertainment this fall with a strong line-up of series and season premieres, along with new episodes of some of its most popular returning shows. Syfy’s fall 2009 line-up includes:

Stargate Universe – New Series Premieres October 2nd @ 9 p.m. (2-hour premiere). Airs Fridays @ 9 p.m. beginning October 9th.

Syfy’s upcoming one-hour series, Stargate Universe, follows a band of soldiers, scientists and civilians who must fend for themselves as they are forced through a Stargate when their hidden base comes under attack. The desperate survivors emerge aboard an ancient ship, which is locked on an unknown course and unable to return to Earth. Faced with meeting the most basic needs of food, water and air, the group must unlock the secrets of the ship’s Stargate to survive. The danger, adventure and hope they find on-board the Destiny will reveal the heroes and villains among them.

Set to premire in October 2009 with a two-hur special, the series stars Robert Carlyle (Transpotting, The Full Monty), Lou Diamond Phillips (Che, La Bamba), Ming-Na (ER, Vanished), Alaina Huffman, Louis Ferreira, David Blue, Jamil Walker Smith and Brian J. Smith with special guest-stars, Grammy nominated artist Janelle Monae, Amanda Tapping, Michael Shanks, Gary Jones and Carlo Rota.

Edgier and younger in tone, Stargate Universe will take the franchise in a dynamic new direction, appealing to longtime Stargate fans and first-time viewers alike. The two-part premiere is directed by Andy Mikita (Stargate Atlantis, Stargate SG-1) and lensed by Ronn Schmidt (The Shield, The Mist). Robert C. Cooper and Brad Wright (Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis) serve as executive producers and writers on the new series. Stargate Universe is distributed by MGM Worldwide Television Distribution.

Destination Truth – Season Three Premieres September 9th @ 9 p.m.

This fall, Syfy will premiere the third season of its reality hit, Destination Truth. World traveler and intrepid explorer Josh Gates will return to host nine all-new episodes – each an off-the-map adventure in search of the answers to some of the world’s most intriguing unexplained mysteries. This season on Destination Truth, Josh will travel to some of the most extreme locations on Earth, including the isolated Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan and the heart of the worlds worst nuclear accident at Chernobyl. Viewers will also ride along on unprecedented investigations, including the world’s first overnight exploration of King Tut’s cursed tomb and pitch-black dives in ancient Caribbean caves.

A graduate of Boston’s renowned Tufts University, Josh holds degrees in archaeology and drama, and was recently inducted into The Explorers Club, a prestigious global organization dedicated to the advancement of exploration and field research. An avid scuba diver, he has participated in sub-sea archaeological excavations in the Mediterranean and his work as a photographer has taken him from sweltering African villages to the icy heights of the Himalayas. In addition, he has scaled “the roof of Africa” on Mt. Kilimanjaro, climbed Aconcagua, the tallest mountain in the Americas, and set foot in more than 75 countries around the world.

Destination Truth is executive producer by Brad Kuhlman for Ping Pong Productions (1,000 Places to See Before You Die, Celebrity Rehab, FM Nation). Bechara Gholam will serves as co-executive producer.

Sanctuary – Season Two Premieres Friday, October 9th @ 10 p.m.

Syfy’s groundbreaking hit original series Sanctuary, the first TV show based on an online series to be picked up for a second season, will return to Syfy in October. Sanctuary follows the adventures of the beautiful, enigmatic and always surprising Dr. Helen Magnus (Amanda Tapping), a brilliant scientist who holds the secrets of a clandestine population – a group of strange and sometimes terrifying beings that hide among humans. Along with forensic psychiatrist Dr. Will Zimmerman (Robin Dunne) and her fearless daughter Ashley (Emilie Ullerup), Magnus seeks to protect those threatened phenomena as well as unlock the mysteries behind their existence. Joining the cast in season two is Agam Darshi as Kate Freelander, a con artist and thief who finds herself in an uneasy alliance with Dr. Magnus. Sanctuary also starts Ryan Robbins as tech whiz Henry and Christopher Heyerdahl as the sinister John Druitt.

Special guest-stars this season include Christopher Gauthier (Eureka) and Michael Shanks (Stargate SG-1). Created by Damian Kindler (Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis), Sanctuary is produced in association with Syfy and distributed by Tricon Films and Television. Season Two of the series is executive produced by Damian Kindler, Amanda Tapping, Martin Wood and Keith Beedie.

Scare Tactics – Season Three Episodes Return Tuesday, October 6th @ 9 p.m.

Syfy’s hidden camera reality show Scare Tactics is hosted by famed comedian Tracy Morgan. The hit series captures its frightened victims who have been set up by friends and loved ones. Unsuspecting victims are placed into elaborately staged scary situations involving movie-style special effects and make-up. The horror hoaxes are skillfully designed to tap into the wildest fears of the prank’s prey. Viewers laugh along to the hilarious reactions of the show’s “stars” as they are caught off-guard and on camera. Scott Hallock and Kevin Healey of Hallock Healey Entertainment are the executive producers and creators of Scare Tactics.

Ghost Hunters – All-New Episodes Throughout The Fall – Wednesdays @ 9 p.m. Featuring special guest-investigators Meatloaf and Josh Gates.

This fall, Syfy presents all-new episodes of Ghost Hunters every Wednesday @ 9 p.m. Get in the spirit with Jason, Grant and the rest of the TAPS team as they embark on chilling new investigations including a host of historic haunts as well as some of the most daunting locales featured on the show yet, such as the massive long-abandoned Essex County Hospital in New Jersey. In October, music superstar and longtime Ghost Hunter fan Meatloaf will join the team as a guest-investigator in a special episode featuring a home in Thousand Islands, NY, one of last year’s finalist locales in the Great American Ghost Hunters contest.

Ghost Hunters is produced in association with Craig Piligian’s Pilgrim Films and Television (Dirty Jobs, The Ultimate Fighter, My Fair Wedding). Piligian and Thomas Thayer, along with Rob Katz and Alan David, serve as executive producers.

Warehouse 13 – All-New Episodes Throughout September – Tuesdays @ 9 p.m.

Syfy’s newest one-hour hit dramedy series Warehouse 13 continues through September 2nd with a host of special guest-stars including Battlestar Galactica’s Micheal Hogan; Eureka‘s Joe Morton, Erica Cerra and Niall Matter and Stargate Atlantis‘ Joe Flanigan. Warehouse 13 follows two Secret Service agents who find themselves abruptly transferred to a massive, top-secret storage facility in windswept South Dakota, which houses every strange artifact, mysterious relic, fantastical object and supernatural souvenir ever collected by the U.S. government. The Warehouse’s caretaker Artie (Saul Rubinek) charges Pete (Eddie McClintock) and Myka (Joanne Kelly) with chasing down reports of supernatural and paranormal activity in search of new objects to cache at the Warehouse, as well as helping to control the warehouse itself. Warehouse 13 also stars Allison Scagliotti as Claudia Donovan and CCH Pounder guest-stars as Artie’s boss, Mrs. Frederic.

The series is produced for Syfy by Universal Cable Productions. It is executive produced by Jack Kenny (The Book of Daniel), who also serves as showrunner. David Simkins (Dresden Files) is executive producer and Stephen Surjik (Monk, Burn Notice) is producer/director of the show.

The Warehouse Job

June 4, 2009

LAST week, the Sci Fi Channel announced that a number of very familiar names and faces will be guest-starring on its new one-hour dramdy adventure series Warehouse 13. Premiering on Tuesday, July 7th @9pm EST, the program follows two Secret Service agents who find themselves abruptly transferred to a massive, top-secret storage facility in windswept South Dakota, which is home to every strange artifact, mysterious relic, fantastical object and supernatural souvenir ever collected by the U.S. government. The Warehouse’s caretaker Artie (Saul Rubinek) charges Pete (Eddie McClintock) and Myka (Joanne Kelly) with chasing down reports of supernatural and paranormal activity in search of new objects to cache at the Warehouse, as well as helping him to control the warehouse itself.

Some of the annouced guest-stars include:

Ivan Sergei (Crossing Jordan, Charmed) plays Ross, an EMT from Unionville, New York who, along with some of the other townspeople begin to display bizarre behavioral symptoms, including involuntary (and potentially dangerous) expressions of their subconscious desires.

Tricia Helfer  (Battlestar Galactica, Burn Notice) plays FBI Agent Bonnie Belski, who clashes with Pete and Myka when they interfere with a case on her Chicago turf. However, after a third inexplicable bank takeover, she finds herself willing to make use of the agents’ expertise.

Joe Flanigan (Stargate Atlantis, First Monday) portrays the handsome, wealthy Jeff Weaver, whose charm catches Myka’s interest, but he finds himself under her and Pete’s scrutiny when a sculpture on which he bid, vanishes in an impossible heist.

James Naughton (Ally McBeal, Gossip Girl, Planet of the Apes) is Gilbert Radburn, a well-tailored, Donald Trump-esque high-profile entrepreneur. When a competitor threatens his intended acquisition, Radburn’s suspicious behavior attracts the attention of Pete and Myka.

Roger Rees (Cheers, The West Wing) plays MacPherson, one of Artie’s former Warehouse colleagues who has gone rogue and is now competing with the team to gather dangerous and powerful objects for his own use.

Erica Cerra (Eureka, The L Word, Battlestar Galactica) and Niall Matter (Eureka, Watchmen) portray Jillian and Gary Whitman, small-time thieves on the Las Vegas strip whose fortunes, twisted by the strange power of a luck-inducing artifact, take a fantastic turn.

Joe Morton (Eureka, Terminator 2) guest-stars as John Hill, a charismatic prison inmate and an extremist religious leader in a Florida prison.

Michael Hogan (Battlestar Galactica, The L Word) plays Myka’s father Warren Bering, who receives a dangerous object anonymously in the mail which puts his life in jeopardy.