Posts Tagged ‘Fantasy’

The Syfy Channel’s 2010-2011 Original Movie Line-Up

March 25, 2010

DURING the 2010-11 season, the Syfy Channel, one of television’s most prolific producers of original films, presents a talent-rich Original Movies line-up showcasing stars such as Hill Harper (CSI NY), Eric Roberts (The Dark Knight), Sean Bean (Lord of the Rings), Lauren Holly (NCIS), Colin Ferguson (Eureka), Isabella Rossellini (Blue Velvet), Jewel Staite (Stargate Atlantis), Alan Cumming (Tin Man), Felicia Day (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Ryan Carnes (Desperate Housewives, Doctor Who), Lance Henriksen (Aliens) and Barry Williams (The Brady Bunch).

Movies include Riverworld (previously reported on SciFiAndTvTalk), starring Alan Cumming in an epic adventure based on the award-winning series of Philip Jose Farmer novels; The Phantom, and 24 of the popular Stargate Original Movies, including Red, a re-imagining of the Little Red Riding Hood story starring Felicia Day, Roger Corman’s Sharktopus, starring Eric Roberts (also previously reported along with Red on this blog) and Lake Placid 3 – sequel to the most watched Saturday Original Movie ever (Lake Placid 2). Below are some highlights of these upcoming projects.

The Phantom – Four hours, premieres in June – Ryan Carnes stars as The Phantom and his alter ego Chris Walker in this re-imagined version of the classic comic strip transported to present day. A favorite costumed hero for more than six decades, The Phantom relies on his wits, physical strength and skill with weapons instead of superhuman powers. Isabella Rossellini guest-stars in a villainous turn as Lithia, the head of an experimental mind control program. Also starring are Cameron Goodman as Chris Walker’s love interest, Renny, and Sandrine Holt (24, The L Word) as The Phantom’s trusted advisor, Guran. Director: Paolo Barzman (The Last Templar). The Phantom is produced by Muse Entertainment and RHI Entertainment.

Mega Piranha – Premieres Saturday, April 10th @ 9:00 p.m. EST/PST. An unusual alliance tries to stop a mutant strain of giant ferocious piranhas that have escaped from the Amazon and are eating their way to Florida. Stars Barry Williams, Tiffany and Paul Logan.

Mothman – Premieres Saturday, April 24th @ 9:00 p.m. EST/PST. The legendary West Virginia monster returns to exact revenge on five childhood friends who covered up an accidental killing. Stars Jewel Staite.

Mongolian Death Worm – Premieres Saturday, May 8th @ 9:00 p.m. EST/PST. A treasure hunter who has been searching for a tomb containing Genghis Khan’s treasure teams up with an humanitarian UN health worker to stop the Mongolian Death Worms, awakened by experimental oil drilling in the Mongolian desert. Stars Patrick Flannery and Victoria Pratt.

Witchville – Premieres Saturday, May 22nd @ 9:00 p.m. EST/PST. This first Syfy production in China is a sweeping fantasy tale of a kingdom besieged by witches who are sucking the very life out of the land. Only the new King can save his people, but his mysterious connection to the Red Queen of the witches may be his undoing. Stars Luke Goss.

Lake Placid 3 – In this sequel , a game warden, his wife and their young son move into their aunt’s cabin on Lake Placid, where the lonely boy stars feeding baby crocodiles he views as pets. Three years later, the crocs start looking at him and his family as their food. Stars Colin Ferguson.

Stonehenge Apocalypse – When the giant stones of Stonehenge begin to move and cataclysms occur all over the Earth, only a fringe radio talk show host who’s an expert in UFOlogy figures out that the ancient monument is really alien technology. Stars Hill Harper, Misha Collins and Peter Wingfield.

The Lost Future – In a post-apocalyptic world, both humans and animals have devolved back to the Stone Age. But a small group of wise men knows there is knowledge in the mysterious artifacts called books. Now they have found a young man who knows how to read. If they can defeat the warlord who rules the city where the books are kept, the young man can help them defeat the disease that decimated the world and restart the civilization. Stars Sean Bean.

Scream of the Banshee – An archeology professor unearths a dangerous relic, releasing a creature that can kill with her bone-splitting scream. Stars Lauren Holly and Lance Henriksen.

Morlocks – An experimental time machine opens a window into the future and mutated monsters (the Morlocks) use it to come back to the present and go on a murderous rampage. Stars David Hewlett (Stargate Atlantis).

8th Voyage of Sinbad – Sinbad searches for the golden head of the long lost Colossus of Rhodes and, instead, finds an island where the mythical Minotaur still rules, protecting a vast treasure. Sinbad and his crew have to battle the creature and its minions to get the treasure and save their own lives. Stars Manu Bennett.

Syfy Greenlights Three Inches Pilot

March 24, 2010

THE Syfy Channel has ordered the 90-minute pilot Three Inches from writer Harley Payton (Twin Peaks) it has been announced by Mark Stern, Executive Vice President of Development for Syfy. The action-adventure/fantasy will be produced by Fox Television Studios and Executive Producer Bob Cooper, whose Landscape Entertainment is producing. J.J. Jamieson heads up television for Landscape Entertainment. Peyton also serves as executive producer.

In Three Inches, Walter, a professional daydreamer and underachiever is struck by lightning and develops a unique “super” power – the ability to move any object using just his mind…but only a distance of three inches. He’s soon recruited by a covert team of superheroes each gifted with their own extraordinary abilities. Together, the unlikely band of heroes proves that “super” is simply a state of mind.

“Three Inches is a smart , off-beat spin on the superhero genre. It introduces a new group of crime fighters who possess some imaginative – if not all that super – powers,” said Stern. “We look forward to working with Harley, Bob, and Fox Television Studios on this project.”

David Madden, executive vice president, Fox Television Studios, said, “We felt there was something special and particularly twisted about this script, both in tone and in its sense of imagination. we could not be more thrilled to be working on it with Syfy.”

Harley Peyton was producer and/or writer of more than 20 episodes of David Lynch’s groundbreaking television hit Twin Peaks, for which he received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Writing for Drama Series (1990). He also wrote the screenplay for Less Than Zero, based on the novel by Bret Easton Ellis. He is currently working on a follow-up to the feature film The Thomas Crown Affair.

Riverworld Comes To Syfy In April

March 17, 2010

THE Syfy Channel sets sail this spring with the 4-hour Sunday night television movie Riverworld, premiering Sunday, April 18th from 7-11:oo p.m. EST. Starring Tahmoh Penikett (Battlestar Galactica/Dollhouse), Laura Vandervoort (V/Smallville) and Alan Cumming (Tin Man), Riverworld is an epic adventure featuring familiar characters in an unfamiliar world and is based on the popular award-winning series of novels by Philip Jose Farmer. The TV miniseries is produced by Reunion Pictures and will be distributed internationally by RHI Entertainment, who teamed up to also bring TV audiences two other Syfy Channel TV events, Tin Man and Earthsea.

Matt Ellman (Penikett) is an American war zone reporter who has witnessed the worst of humanity first-hand, yet still grasps on to an optimistic spirit. When a suicide bomber kills both Matt and his fiance Jessie (Vandervoort), they awaken separated in a mysterious world where everyone who has ever lived on Earth seems to have been “reborn” along the banks of a seemingly endless river. Determined to locate Jessie, Matt joins forces with a 13th century female samurai warrior named Tomoe (Jeanne Goossen) and American novelist Sam “Mark Twain” Clemens (Mark Deklin). Together they sail upriver in search of its source, and to discover where they are and who put them there. Alan Cumming guest-stars as the mysterious “Caretaker.”

BBC’s Merlin Comes To The Syfy Channel

March 14, 2010

Bradley James as Prince Arthur and Colin Morgan as Merlin. Photo copyright of the BBC

THE second season of the critically acclaimed series Merlin makes its Stateside TV premiere on Friday, April 2nd @ 10:00 p.m. EST/PST on the Syfy Channel, following the spring season premiere of Stargate Universe @ 9:oo p.m. EST/PST. To give viewers a chance to catch up before the new season two launch, Syfy will showcase all 13 hours of Merlin‘s first season in a full day marathon on Sunday, March 28th from 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m. EST/PST.  

An imaginative new twist on a timeless legend, Merlin is set in the mythical city of Camelot, before history began. It’s a fantastical realm of legendary beasts and mysterious peoples, and a dangerous world where magic has been banned by the ruthless tyrant, Uther Pendragon. In the season two premiere episode, new servant Cedric (Mackenzie Crook, The Office, Demons) threatens Merlin’s position as Arthur’s righthand man, turning the Prince against his loyal friend. Merlin is convinced the slippery newcomer is up to something and he’s right – Cedric is a con man and a thief who’s after a magnificent jewel recently unearthed in a tomb far beneath Camelot. Little does Cedric realize that his precious prize is more dangerous than he could possibly imagine.  

Merlin stars Colin Morgan as Merlin, Bradley James as Prince Arthur, Anthony Head as King Uther, Richard Wilson as Gaius, Katie McGrath as Morgana and Angel Coulby as Gwen. Series is executive produced by Julian Murphy and Johnny Capps for Shine Television.  

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

Buffy The Vampire Slayer’s Felicia Day Sees Red on Syfy

March 10, 2010

FELICIA Day, star of web videos The Guild and Joss Whedon’s Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-long Blog, who also played Vi in the final season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, will portray a werewolf-hunting descendant of Little Red Riding Hood in the new Syfy Saturday Original Movie, Red.

Scheduled to premiere in 2011, Red is Syfy’s latest re-imagining of classic fairy tales, legends and pop culture characters. The new line of films launched with Beauty and the Beasts: A Dark Tale, which starred Estella Warren, on February 27th.

Syfy, one of television’s most prolific producers of original movies, is also developing films around the stories of Aladdin, Sinbad the Sailor and Hansel & Gretel, among other projects.

In the action-packed Red, Red (Day) brings her fiance home, where he meets the family and learns about their business – hunting werewolves. He’s skeptical, until bitten by a werewolf. When her family insists he must be killed, Red tries saving him. Red also stars Kavan Smith (Stargate Atlantis) and Stephen McHattie (Watchmen). Red is produced by Angela Mancuso and Vesuvius Productions in association with Chesler Perlmutter Productions.

In addition to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Felicia is most widely known for her work in web video. She co-starred in Joss Whedon’s Internet musical Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-long Blog, which was voted the Best Web TV of 2008 by Time magazine, Entertainment Weekly and People magazine. Currently, she stars in the web series The Guild, which Day also created and writes for. The Guild was the winner of YouTube, Yahoo and SXSW Best Web Series Awards for 2008. The series has generated more than 50 million views web-wide. The actress also has a hugely popular Twitter following, reaching more than 1.7 million fans.

Sanctuary’s Robert Lawrenson – Soldiering On

March 8, 2010

Actor Robert Lawrenson. Photo courtesy and copyright of Velocity Public Relations

When Dr. Gregory Magnus originally founded the Sanctuary network, he did so with the intent of surrounding himself with like-minded individuals who were just as dedicated as he was to the survival, preservation and protection of Abnormals. Magnus’ daughter and fellow scientist, Helen, did the same when she took over the reins from her father. Among her most trusted allies is Declan MacRae, who became head of the UK Sanctuary after the death of John Watson. The handsome Brit is smart, techno-savvy and knows how to handle himself in a tight spot. Sharing his character’s UK heritage was a big help to Sanctuary actor Robert Lawrenson when initially stepping into Declan’s shoes. 

“I was very fortunate in some respects that Declan was a Brit,” notes Lawrenson. “I believe it was Michael Caine who said, ‘you only have to play the differences,’ and I take that to every role that I do. I start with me and compare myself to my character. I work out what the differences are in our personalities, then focus on those and think about where I need to extend my own personality in order to create the character. 

“With Declan, it’s nice because there are similarities between the two of us, with him being an authority figure and me being kind of a quiet, authoritative type in my general sort of persona. So that’s an extension of myself. However, I don’t have an ex-military/SAS background, so that’s a huge difference right there, and that brings with it [acting] challenges, too, because Declan is a very tough ex-Special Forces guy. He’s totally comfortable with, for instance, handling weaponry and storming into a situation where there are enemy targets, but those types of things are totally foreign to me. 

“Luckily on Sanctuary, we have some really good stunt coordinators as well as a team of guys called Def-Con-5, who basically taught me what I needed to know about Declan’s military side. I understand that these guys have an actual military/Special Forces background, so they taught us everything from handling a gun and how to hold your arms, to how to survey and secure an area. To be honest with you, I’m probably ready to go to war now because that’s how much they showed us,” jokes the actor. 

“Apart from maybe a couple of times in stage productions where I’ve held a gun, I’ve never had to be that kind of tough guy in terms of a military sense. So I had to present Declan as totally switched on and clued-in about every situation and totally confident walking into enemy territory. It was interesting to learn what the professional view of that is and then try to bring that to my performance.” 

It was a year-and-a-half ago that Lawrenson came to Vancouver, British Columbia from the UK and began working with an agent to pursue acting opportunities on this side of the pond. “Funnily enough, everything I’ve done over here so far as been Sci-Fi related,” he says. “I did an episode of Smallville [Abyss] as well as a Syfy Channel original movie, Beyond Sherwood Forest, which actually starred Robin Dunne [Dr. Will Zimmerman] as Robin Hood. I played his father before being stabbed to death about six minutes into the movie. 

Declan (Robert Lawrenson) confers with his colleagues regarding their next move. Photo by Jeff Weddell and copyright of Sanctuary 2 Productions

Sanctuary then came up. I’d been looking at a few other projects when I received a call to come in and meet with Martin Wood [executive producer] and Amanda Tapping [Dr. Helen Magnus and executive producer]. At the time it was just a guest-star role to play Declan in one episode. It was literally for that week’s filming. I really hit it off straightaway with Martin and Amanda – I would challenge anyone not to because they’re fantastic individuals. It was a very relaxed casting session and they really enjoyed what I did, so they booked me for the role. 

“After a couple of days of shooting, Martin came over to me and said ‘I’m really liking this Declan character,’ and then he started talking in terms of recurring the role throughout the series. Martin mentioned a couple of ideas that he had about where the Declan character might go and when it might recur, so it just went on from there and I ended up doing four episodes in season two.” 

Audiences are introduced to Lawrenson’s character in the second half of Sanctuary‘s season two opener, End of Nights, Part 2. In it, Helen and her people help Declan defend the UK Sanctuary when it is attacked by a small group of super-Abnormals, including a transformed Ashley Magnus (Emilie Ullerup). Despite his military background, dealing with this type of threat is a brand new experience for Declan, and the same was true for Lawrenson when first starting out on the series. 

“On my first day of work I found myself standing on this completely green-walled, green-floored set with just the lighting rig above me and my fellow actors around me,” recalls the actor. “I’ve done some presenting and hosting on a green screen, but never a drama, so this process was quite daunting to me and I wasn’t quite sure how to react to it. 

“I told Amanda Tapping how I felt, and she said something to me that made it all click. Amanda explained that she looks at working on the green screen like working in the theater. Oftentimes in the theater, you’re working in an acting ensemble with no scenery or props, and it’s all about the script as well as the other actors and the communication between them and their characters. 

“That was the perfect thing to say because my background from childhood is theater, which I’ve done a great deal of. When I lived in England, I spend every year performing plays at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, so I tend to gravitate towards the stage. That’s where I found my love of acting. So what Amanda said to me made such sense and I thought, ‘Wow, you’re absolutely right. What does it matter that I don’t have an actual wall there. As an actor, it’s something that I can just visualize for a scene.’ It was incredible, and it still sticks in my mind because it totally put me at ease.” 

Will (Robin Dunne) and Declan contemplate their next move. Photo by Jeff Weddell and copyright of Sanctuary 2 Productions

Declan’s next appearance is in the season two episode Hero, where he, Helen and Will pursue a flying do-gooder (Chris Gauthier), who has dubbed himself “The Adjuster” and has interfered in their efforts to protect an Abnormal. “Hero was a lot of fun,” enthuses Lawrenson. “Chris Gauthier is an absolute star and it was a laugh-a-minute the whole time he was there with us on-set. This was a big episode for Declan because the London Sanctuary had been heavily damaged, so he came over to spend some time at the Old City Sanctuary. This is when we really kicked off the relationship between Will and Declan in that they became sidekicks, which was then flipped on its head in a later episode, Veritas, where they were totally opposite of each other. 

“In terms of specific scenes in Hero, I remember me and Chris Heyerdahl [Bigfoot] wearing safety harnesses and standing on a warehouse railing on the show’s set. We were probably 30 or 40 feet up and pushing this old refrigerator over the railing and onto an imaginary monster that was going to be ‘painted’ in later during post-production. That was quite memorable because I wasn’t quite sure whether or not I was going to fall off with the fridge. 

“There’s another little scene at the start of the episode that I particularly like and it’s just after Will and Declan have been attacked on their motorbikes. They’re back at the Sanctuary nursing their wounds and the girls are laughing at them and taking the mick out of Will. I’d love to do more scenes like that. In fact, I got to talk with some of the guys at the Syfy Channel and they told me that they really enjoyed the comedy of this episode, so hopefully we’ll have more opportunities to see the lighthearted sides of these characters as well.” 

Amanda Tapping directed Lawrenson’s third Sanctuary story, Veritas, in which Helen Magnus is accused of killing Bigfoot. “I put Amanda Tapping on such a high pedestal; I don’t have enough blocks to raise her up,” says the actor. “She is an outstanding individual. To give the performance that she does week-in-and-week-out, and to give the performance she gave in Veritas whilst also directing, having only directed once before on both Stargate SG-1 and Sanctuary, was just amazing. 

“As an actor, this was my first time working with an actor/director, and Amanda has a way of connecting with an actor. I mean, so do the other directors. Martin Wood is a fantastic director and I’m not in any way comparing them, but Amanda has a different understanding of the process because she sees it from an actor’s point of view as well. So being directed by her on Veritas was brilliant. Whenever we were struggling to find the right way to pitch a scene, Amanda just seemed to have the right thing to say, and that was really great. 

“There’s a scene I played opposite Robin Dunne where our two characters are having a big argument in Magnus’ office. Will comes in and Declan has his feet under Helen’s desk and is sitting there tapping away on her computer looking very much at home. We had a scene prior to that, where Declan has his feet in front of the roaring fireplace in her office, and because of both these scenes, the audience is becoming suspicious of my character’s motives. Amanda just found the right away to communicate to me exactly what she wanted from my character’s point of view in this episode, so that made it a real joy for me to do.” 

A quiet moment for Declan - something rare in the Sanctuary world. Photo by Jeff Weddell and copyright of Sanctuary 2 Productions

With Dr. Magnus temporarily relieved of her lead Sanctuary position in Veritas, it may at first seem as if Declan is trying to “move in” on her territory. On the contrary, he is doing his best to protect Helen as well as those working directly with her and the future of the Sanctuary network. Lawrenson is looking forward to not only learning more about Declan’s and Helen’s relationship, but also uncovering more about his character’s background. 

“Declan massively respects Helen Magnus,” he says. “This is a very character-driven show and there has been a lot invested in the back stories of the characters. However, not much has been revealed about Declan. We had hints about him in End of Nights, Part 2, where Nikola Tesla [Jonathon Young] says to him, ‘James Watson [Peter Wingfield] must have told you about me before he died,’ So there is obviously a suggestion that Declan had been working with James Watson. There are other things as well, like the argument I spoke of earlier between Declan and Will in Veritas, where my character is suspected of trying to take over the Sanctuary network. He says to Will, ‘You have no idea of the political landscape,’ which implies that Declan is quite entwined with the politics of the network. 

“So to come back to what I was saying, that there isn’t much of a back story that’s been provided yet for Declan, and that’s really exciting for me. Again, we had the hints I just spoke of and also those in the two-part second season finale Kali, where Declan is mentioned throughout. Having laid all that foundation, I’m looking forward to seeing where our excellent writers hopefully go in terms of further fleshing out my character. As far as how I position Declan in my mind, I think he’s spent many years fighting other peoples’ wars, and to now be involved in what Helen is doing with the Sanctuary network, he’s found a ‘war’ that he wants to fight and a cause he truly believes in.” 

Born and raised in his native England, the actor made his stage debut at the age of 12, performing in musicals with a local youth theater group. A number of years later, he made his TV debut when he was cast in an episode of the long-running British drama series Heartbeat

“That was a fantastic first role for me because of the people I got to work with,” says Lawrenson. “I was on-set with great British actors such as Robert Glenister, David Calder and Celia Imrie, who was my mentor that week. We all stayed at this lovely manor house hotel in Yorkshire, and the night before filming began, everyone went out together for dinner. There I was sitting with these actors whom I had watched and admired for many years on TV and they were fantastic with me. The next morning, Celia sent me a note that said, ‘Don’t worry about your first scene, you’ll be wonderful.’ I’ve kept that card for years. To work with someone like her on my first scene was just amazing.” 

Holby City, Emmerdale Farm, Fat Friends, Where the Heart Is, The Royal and Doctors are among the other hit UK shows that Lawrenson has guest-starred in. Regular watchers of Coronation Street will also recognize him from his recurring role as PC Glaister. “That was another fantastic show to work on,” says the actor. “It’s very much like Sanctuary in terms of its friendly, good-natured, hard work ethic. 

Will, Henry (Ryan Robbins) and Declan race against the clock to try to solve a problem. Photo by Jeff Weddell and copyright of Sanctuary 2 Productions

“At one point on that show, I ran into another of my screen idols, Sir Ian McKellen, who was in an episode that I was also in. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any scenes with him, but one day I rounded the corner from my dressing room on the way to the green room, and he was standing there in the hall talking to Johnny Briggs, who played Mike Baldwin. I thought, ‘There’s Gandalf [McKellen’s Lord of the Rings role] speaking to Mike Baldwin. Wow, that’s not a sight you see every day.’ I’ve worked in this industry long enough that I don’t tend to get starstruck, but when I saw Ian McKellen, I got starstruck for a moment.” 

Besides acting in front of the camera, Lawrenson also does a great deal of voiceover work for TV narration, advertising, corporate shorts and charity fundraisers, the latter of which he finds especially rewarding. 

“There was a charity project I did for the Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool,” he says. “Yoko Ono is the patron of their society, obviously because of [her late husband] John Lennon. The hospital is around the corner from where he grew up. I think their charity is called Imagine [the Alder Hey Imagine Appeal], and she licensed the use of the Beatles song Imagine to them. David Morrissey had done the voiceover for one of their earlier videos and I was working with the production company that made it. David wasn’t available for their next campaign, so I offered to do the voicing for it. 

“I get personal reward and personal pride in the work I do. When I really nail a scene, I feel great, but I see that a selfish reward. When you’re able to contribute part of what you do for a living to a cause that’s going to make a practical difference in other peoples’ lives, that’s truly rewarding. I don’t do enough of that, and I’d like to do more. Amanda Tapping and Damian Kindler [Sanctuary creator/executive producer] have set up Sanctuary for Kids [S4K], and I’m hoping to help out with that charity in whatever capacity I can. 

Currently, the actor is busy doing more voiceover work, including some animation projects, as well as continuing to audition for various Vancouver-based productions. “I’m waiting to hear, too, about my possible involvement in a feature film, which would actually be shot back in England later this year,” he says. “And I’m also looking forward to finding out about Declan’s involvement in season three of Sanctuary.” 

To find out more about Robert and see clips of his work, check out his official website at www.robertlawrenson.com . 

Steve Eramo 

As noted above, Robert Lawrenson photo courtesy/copyright of Velocity PR, and Sanctuary photos by Jeff Weddell and copyright of Sanctuary 2 Productions, so please no unauthorized copying or duplicating of any kind. Thanks!

BBC America Acquires New Seasons of Being Human

February 15, 2010

The UK's unlikeliest of roommates - George (Russell Tovey), Mitchell (Aiden Turner) and Annie (Lenora Crichlow). Photo copyright of Touchpaper Television and the BBC

BBC America has announced the acquisition of two new U.S. premiere seasons of the BBC America co-production, Being Human. The show’s highly anticipated second season will premiere in late summer, with the third season following shortly.  

George, the werewolf...Photo copyright of Touchpaper Television and the BBC

Being Human premiered on the channel in July 2009 and quickly won over fans, with a sold-out crowd at last year’s San Diego Comic-Con. The Los Angeles Times said it, “has not only avoided any Sci-Fi Three’s Company comparisons, but wound up with a compelling, self-aware and funny story line. Buffy fans – come out of the Twilight and sink your teeth into this import.” Meanwhile, The New York Times noted that, “all three characters are highly appealing, but the charm of the show lies in the delicate balance of engrossing drama and disarming humor; the series is not campy or self-conscious. It’s witty in an offhand, understated way.”  

Annie, the ghost...Photo copyright of Touchpaper Television and the BBC

Russell Tovey, Lenora Crichlow and Aidan Turner return as George, Annie and Mitchell, the three twentysomethings trying to live as normally as possible despite being a werewolf, a vampire and a ghost. After the death of vampire leader Herrick at the end of season one, the supernatural friends are hoping they can now get on with their lives, but an even greater danger is lurking within the very human world of which they want to be a part.  

And Mitchell, the vampire...Photo copyright of Touchpaper Television and the BBC

Werewolf George is coming to terms with the fact the he has Herrick’s blood on his hands, and a girlfriend who knows his horrific secret. Meanwhile, turning down the door of death has implications for ghost Annie, but her confidence is at a peak and she’s determined to stand up and be counted in the real world. And, with Herrick gone, Mitchell must appease the vampire world, but can he find a way to lead by example?  

The entire first season of Being Human is currently available on iTunes and Xbox LIVE Marketplace.  

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

This Week On Demons – 02 – 06 – 10

February 6, 2010

Our creature-smiting heroes team up for their final adventure this week on Demons. Photo copyright of Sony

SPOILER ALERT!! – On the series finale of Demons, after a run-in with a pyromancer, Luke (Christian Cooke) is haunted by dreams about the car crash that killed his father and Galvin’s (Philip Glenister) connection to it. Psychic Karen convinces Luke that his godfather is not the man he seems and, with Gladiolus Thrip (Mackenzie Crook) back on the scene and showing an unhealthy interest in Luke’s past, the vampire-fighting duo look set to be torn apart. Nothing Like Nebraska airs Saturday, February 6th @ 9:00 p.m. EST/PST on BBC America

As noted above, photo is copyright of Sony, so please no unauthorized copying or duplicating of any kind. Thanks!

The Syfy Channel Unveils New Saturday Night Movie Genre Slate

February 4, 2010

Rhett Gilles and Estella Warren star in Syfy's re-imagined Beauty and the Beast. Photo copyright of the Syfy Channel

THE Syfy Channel has announced it is adding a new Saturday original movie genre to its popular mix, re-imagining classic fairy tales, legends and pop culture characters – from Little Red Riding Hood, Aladdin and Sinbad the Sailor to Handel and Gretel – beginning with the premiere of Beauty and the Beast on Saturday, February 27th @ 9:00 p.m. EST/PST.

Starring Estella Warren (Planet of the Apes), Beauty and the Beast is not the traditional Disney fairy tale. In this gritty celebration of Valentine’s Day, a young Beauty (Warren) with a gift for healing helps a deformed Prince (Rhett Gilles, Wraiths of Roanoke) regain his throne and defeat the ruthless nobleman who wants to be king – and then together they try to destroy a power-hungry witch. Beauty and the Beast was directed by David Lister and written by Gavin Scott.

Said Thomas Vitale, Syfy Executive Vice President, Programming and Original Movies, “By turning familiar timeless stories inside out – like retelling Little Red Riding Hood as a werewolf tale or envisioning a dark version of Shrek – we’re creating an entertaining new genre for our popular Saturday night movie franchise, which has become the television destination for fans of action-packed, independent Sci-fi, Horror and Fantasy films.”

Vitale also announced a preliminary development slate for the new line of Syfy original movies, including:

Red – A young woman who is a descendant of the real Little Red RIding Hood brings her fiancé home, where he meets the family and learns about their business – hunting werewolves. He’s skeptical until bitten by one. When her family insists he must be killed, Red tries saving him.

Hansel – Twenty years after his encounter with the witch, a grown-up Hansel returns to the haunted forest, seeking revenge. But there’s a surprise waiting – his sister Gretel (who he thought had been killed) is the witch’s protegé.

8th Voyage of Sinbad – Sinbad searches for the golden head of the long lost Colossus of Rhodes and, instead, discovers an island where the mythical Minotaur still rules, protecting a vast treasure. Sinbad and his crew have to battle the creature and its minions to get the treasure and save their own lives.

Aladdin (working title) – After accidentally releasing an evil genie from an ancient lamp, Aladdin must find a way to imprison the genie again before it wreaks havoc on the world.

Black Forest – A group of naive tourists take a sightseeing tour into a supposed enchanted forest, where they encounter evil creatures from the world of Fantasy. Trapped in the Black Forest, their only hope of survival is fighting their way out.

As noted above, photo copyright of The Syfy Channel, so please no unauthorized copying or duplicating of any kind. Thanks!

Heroes’ Robert Knepper – Mover And Shaker

February 2, 2010

Robert Knepper as Heroes' Samuel Sullivan. Photo by Chris Huston and copyright of NBC

 

Murder, kidnapping and rape are among the most heinous crimes committed by racist and pedophile Theodore “T-Bag” Bagwell. Once described by TV Guide magazine as “one of the creepiest characters on television,” T-Bag became a very familiar face to Prison Break fans around the world thanks to the talented Robert Knepper. For four seasons, he kept viewers guessing as to what his character would get up to next, and when the show ended last year, the actor began looking for a new creative outlet. He was soon cast as Samuel Sullivan in season four of Heroes. The leader of Sullivan Bros. Carnival, Samuel has the ability to control earth and other minerals with his mind. Playing someone with super powers could not have been more different from T-Bag, but Knepper was determined to make this character just as memorable for audiences.    

“When I first met with Dennis Hammer [executive producer] we talked about Samuel not being a stereotypical character,” says Knepper. “I learned a long time ago from a great acting teacher of mine in New York to always play the opposite. Don’t play a bad guy like a bad guy, don’t play a doctor like a doctor, don’t play a cop like a cop, etc. The stereotypical carnival barker is someone who is kind of oily and sleazy and is like, ‘Step right up, step right up, see him walk, see him talk.’ That type of thing, you know?    

“At this point I didn’t even have any ideas yet visually about Samuel, but Dennis and I talked about him being charismatic, magnetic and magnanimous, like a rock star. Samuel has to entice these people with powers to get them to come over to his side because he realizes that he’s more powerful with them around him. His abilities increase exponentially as a result of that. I suppose he could have just coerced them in obvious ways – hey, you’re going to join me or I’ll kill you – but then you would have had half a season of Heroes and not a full one,” jokes the actor. “But I think Samuel is smart enough to realize that it’s better to entice these people and get them to say, ‘Hey, thank you, Samuel, for helping me realize something in my redemptive path that I really need to look at. Now, how can I pay you back?’    

Samuel welcomes you into his world in "Hysterical Blindness." Photo by Trae Patton and copyright of NBC

 

“So Dennis and I talked about all this in our initial meeting and I realized that this was a really interesting character. From there, I began thinking about what Samuel would look like, and Keith Richards kept coming to mind. Why do rock-‘n’-roll musicians sometimes wear facial make-up onstage? When you’re, say, an accountant, you don’t do that when you go to work. I come from the theater where you want the audience to see your eyes in the back row, but some of these guys go over the top. KISS wore all this make-up and created a certain look for themselves, so I thought, ‘Well, it may or may not be explained why Samuel does this,’ like the nail polish thing that I came up with, but these guys [the Heroes producers] were great. They let me experiment and would pull me back if they felt I was going a bit overboard with the make-up, but it was always a collaborative effort from the get-go.    

“I think they knew and know that I’m a team player and a true storyteller. I love being part of telling a story, and when you’re in the theater or on television, at least the kind of television that I like to work on, that’s a true collaboration. And I have to say that the people on Heroes took a lot of my ideas and ran with them. When we were shooting the last [season four] episode, Tim Kring [series creator/executive producer] came up to me and said, ‘I just want to thank you because we have such a great time writing for you.’ And I said to him, ‘I had a great time saying your words, buddy.’ When you have that kind of collaboration, the writers love writing for you. Also, on Heroes, they know I don’t look ahead. I’m right there in the moment with the scripts. What’s right there on the page is what I’m concerned with and nothing more. So it really was such a terrific start with these guys, and by the time we got to the end of filming, there were a lot of good feelings bubbling around.”    

Making his debut in Heroes‘ fourth season opener, Orientation, Samuel Sullivan is seen giving a speech at his brother’s funeral. He tells his fellow carnival workers – who also have special powers – that they are his true family and that the outside world does not understand them. Using his power to cover his brother’s grave with dirt, Samuel later goes to see Lydia (Dawn Olivieri), an empath who can sense the wishes and desires of others. In this and in later episodes, he uses her abilities to show him others with powers who can help him expand his family. Although Knepper had made some decisions on how to play Samuel, there were still one or two aspects of the character he needed to tweak.    

Samuel consults Lydia (Dawn Olivieri) as fellow carnie, Edgar (Ray Park), looks on. Photo by Chris Huston and copyright of NBC

 

“My challenge with this character, as with any character, was to make him believable so as not to look so damn silly as you’re standing there causing an earthquake with your clenched fists,” he says. “Samuel’s accent was a huge challenge for me. I always work with Tim Monich [dialect coach] and try to make the time to prepare and get it [the accent] down. I remember when I did [the feature film] Hitman in Bulgaria during one of the hiatuses from Prison Break. I worked for a bit over here with Tim and then I studied with a guy in Bulgaria for a couple of weeks before we began filming. I thought, ‘People know me all over the world as T-Bag from Prison Break, and now I want to be Russian. I want to be as freakin’ Russian as I can.’ When I did press for that movie, I met a French journalist in New York, and his first comment was, ‘Where did they get that Russian guy who looks a lot like T-Bag.’ I thought, ‘Yes!’    

“With Hitman I had time to study the accent, but with Samuel it was frustrating because I had to jump in right away. Early on I had this crazy idea of making him Irish, or not necessarily Irish but coming from someplace in the British Isles, maybe a little Scottish, maybe a little of Northern England. There’s kind of an Old World feeling to Samuel because he’s not your average guy walking down the street. This is someone with powers who is suddenly discovering them over the years. If, when he was a child, Samuel had known about his abilities, he probably would have destroyed half the world, but if his brother had told him about it, then maybe he wouldn’t have been so destructive. Who knows?    

“Anyway, the fact that my character had these powers made him seem timeless, and there’s something timeless about British accents, but I didn’t have any time to call Tim [Kring] about it. I actually phoned him after we began filming and apologized to him, saying, ‘I’m just kind of winging it [the accent].’ I’ve done quite a few English dialects over the years in the theater, but never Irish.    

The charismatic, magnetic and magnanimous Samuel. Photo by Adam Taylor and copyright of NBC

 

“I remember going down to Comic-Con and telling the people there, ‘You’re going to watch me discover Samuel as we go along. This is not a fully fleshed-out character, especially dialect-wise.’ And the thing is, a lot of these fans are the same fans who watched Prison Break, so I just hoped that they’d forgive me for that because I was experimenting. But at least I had the guts to experiment in front of them, almost like it was theater. I’d say that by about a third of the way through the season, I found my footing. So Samuel’s look didn’t change, but his dialect did.’    

What did the actor think about his character’s powers and filming scenes where Samuel uses them? “I like how the writers wrote about the power of moving earth,” notes Knepper. “That’s how it was described to me. What’s Samuel’s power? He can move earth. Then, of course, it went from this nice sweet simple act of Samuel moving his arms and covering up his brother’s coffin, to covering up seeds he planted in the ground [Hysterical Blindness], and then, [in Strange Attractors] him saying, ‘I can’t believe you’ve hurt one of my own. I’m going to bring down the police station.’ And before that [in Ink] when Samuel destroys the house where he and Joseph grew up and later became its caretakers, all because the owner wouldn’t let him into the backyard.    

“So you don’t want to upset this guy because he will do something destructive, and as the season goes on, Samuel becomes angrier and angrier as more and more things are revealed to him. When it comes to shooting the scenes where he uses his powers, you’ve just got to pretend. You have to stand there and think, ‘I’m believing all this is real.’ It’s described to you [in the script] how to look, but even then you don’t know for sure. It’s more about a feeling you have as opposed to what you’re really seeing.”    

Samuel Sullivan - one man who literally can make the earth move! Photo by Adam Taylor and copyright of NBC

 

Among the heroes (and villains) that Samuel tries to lure into his carnival family are Claire Bennet (Hayden Panetterie), Hiro Nakamura (Masi Oka) and the psychotic Sylar (Zachary Quinto), who, while suffering from amnesia, stumbles upon Samuel’s carnival in Hysterical Blindness. “The thing with Sylar is that Zach and I first met when I was doing Prison Break,” says Knepper. “We were in this issue of Entertainment Weekly as some of TV’s best villains, along with people like Vanessa Williams from Ugly Betty and James Callis from Battlestar Galactica. We were all brought together for this photo shoot, and because I don’t watch TV I didn’t know who any of these other actors were, but it was just nice to be included in this group.    

“I did, however, know that Zach was in Heroes, and then later when I came on the show, I thought, ‘This is kind of fun. Here are these two heavyweights [Sylar and T-Bag] going up against each other.’ So it was a little surreal. Our characters were famous from our [respective] TV shows, but now we were together. It was like a big-time wrestling match; in this corner is Sylar, and in the other corner, Samuel,” chuckles the actor. “Zach is a cool guy, and even though people go nuts for him because of the Star Trek film [in which Quinto plays Mr. Spock] as well as Heroes, he’s totally unpretentious about the whole thing.    

“As far as the storyline with Sylar and Samuel, I’m not sure the writers knew exactly where they wanted to take that. Sometimes he would get Sylar in his clutches, and then Sylar would disappear and then come back. I think that’s still got to be fleshed out as far as what happens with it. Ultimately, though, I feel that Sylar will become as much a hero as he can be and be part of taking down Samuel. However, I’m not sure yet if they [the writers] know whether they want to do that or not. It would be kind of nice to leave it hanging as far as, oh, you thought you saw that bad boy [Sylar]. Well, take a look at this bad boy [Samuel], and you’ve got them both on the same show. At the same time, I don’t know if Sylar and Samuel could ever come together because they might be a bit too narcissistic.”    

Sylar (Zachary Quinto) and Samuel. Photo by Trae Patton and copyright of NBC

 

In the fourth season Heroes episode Thanksgiving, viewers are given further glimpses into Samuel’s and his brother Joseph’s (Andrew Connolly) past. Since childhood, Joseph, who was also an evolved human with the power to cause others to lose control of their abilities and render them unconscious, had kept his younger brother from ever fully realizing his abilities in order to prevent him from wreaking havoc. When Samuel discovered that Joseph lied to him, it led to the fight where he accidentally murdered him.    

“It’s funny, after I was cast as Samuel, I found out that it had been between me and another actor, and the next thing I heard was that this other actor [Andrew Connolly] would be playing Joseph,” recalls Knepper. “I thought, ‘Oh, this is going to be awkward,’ but Andrew turned out to be really cool. He’s the real McCoy, meaning he’s Irish, and just the sweetest man. On our first day working together, Andrew came up to me and said, ‘They gave me a few episodes to watch and your Irish is terrific. You’re an amazing actor and I’m just really honored to work with you.’    

“So Andrew was incredible, and I learned so much from him about Samuel. We had that great scene together where our two characters go out in the field and they fight. Samuel is so upset and he throws a rock and hits Joseph in the neck. But he didn’t throw that rock to kill him. Samuel threw it because he was so angry, and then it was like, ‘Oh, crap, I killed him.’ That scene was so well done in how it was filmed and written to say, no, no, no, it was not the intention to kill him. Damn you, Joseph, I hate you so much that I feel like killing you, but I don’t really want to kill you. I just want to let you know how mad I am.    

In an effort to discover his true self, Samuel inadvertently kills the one person he ever truly cared about. Photo by Justin Lubin and copyright of NBC

 

“Joseph was everything to Samuel. He was his world, he was his mentor, he was his father, and he was his leader. At the same time, Samuel couldn’t believe that his brother kept this information from him. How dare Joseph hold this back from him and not let Samuel reach his full potential. How could he not have found a way to tell his brother? All this stuff is fantastic in Shakespearean-like or Greek tragedy-like proportions, and really neat to play. And Andrew was terrific to work with from start to finish.”    

In last week’s Heroes episode, The Act of Deception, Claire returns to the carnival to try to talk Samuel into surrendering to her father, Noah (Jack Coleman), who is coming for him. Samuel agrees, but unknown to Claire or Noah, he betrays them and uses Noah’s attempt to capture him as a ploy to further convince the other carnies that they must help him create a new world where all evolved humans will be accepted. Filming this episode as well as the final few season four Heroes stories was especially satisfying for Knepper.    

“The best thing about working on an ensemble show is that most shows shoot around eight days [per episode], but Heroes shoots 10 or 11 days as well as shoots simultaneously with other episodes,” explains the actor. “When I was on Prison Break I’d work three or four days out of eight, so I got a lot of time to spend with my family. These last three or four episodes of Heroes were over two months worth of work. I swear I worked every day, sometimes all night long, but as a result, I got to feel what it’s like to be number one on the call sheet, and it didn’t feel like an ensemble. It was like I had this weight on my shoulders, and I proudly took it. I thought, ‘I’m going to take this season to the finish line,’ and I loved it.    

Samuel and Edgar in the Heroes fourth season finale "Brave New World." Photo by Trae Patton and copyright of NBC

 

“Probably my biggest challenge was finding the energy as well as time to memorize my lines and just stay afloat. But I was like a boxer in the ring and thinking, ‘Come on, come on, bring it on. What else have you got for me?’ In these last few episodes everything comes to a climax in regard to Samuel’s powers along with his anger, frustration and revenge. It boils over the top and is very intense.”    

Born in Fremont, Ohio, Knepper was nine years old when he joined a community children’s theatre group, the Back Alley Kids and performed in plays during the summertime. At home, the actor’s parents both played piano, and rather than television, their nightly entertainment was standing around the piano and singing. Knepper’s father is a veterinarian, and the actor always thought that he would one day take over his dad’s practice.    

“But I never stopped having fun [performing onstage],” says Knepper. “Luckily, my parents didn’t discourage me from having fun, and they didn’t encourage me, either. When I was in high school I was auditioning and doing college plays, so it just seemed like a natural conclusion that I would go into the theater.    

“When I was studying at Northwestern University I did an English play called The Ruling Class, which my mom and dad came to see. This particular night just happened to be amazing; it was the first time I ever got a standing ovation. And my dad was so sweet. Before he and my mom came backstage, he sent me a note that read, ‘I think you’re doing the right thing.’ So they were always supportive of my decision.”    

While attending Northwestern, Knepper worked professionally onstage, and after two years he moved to New York City where he continued performing in the theater. The actor was around 25 years old when he relocated again, this time to Los Angeles, to pursue feature film and eventually TV work. That’s Life!, Wild Thing, Species III and The Day the Earth Stood Still are among his movie credits, while on the small screen Knepper has guest-starred on such shows as Star Trek: The Next Generation, ER, Law and Order: Criminal Intent and CSI: Miami as well as played recurring characters on Presidio Med and Carnivale.    

Robert Knepper's Prison Break alter ego - Theodore "T-Bag" Bagwell. Photo by Greg Gayne and copyright of Fox

 

Prison Break is what put me on the map, though, and I haven’t looked back since,” says the actor. “T-Bag had so much in his past as well as so much he was fighting against and wanted. Of course, there was the need to cover all that up because he was a wanted criminal. He had escaped from prison, so he needed to be charming. Some of the funniest damn lines I’ve ever said acting-wise came with that role, too. T-Bag was kind of like the show’s Don Rickles,” he jokes, ” and that was a hell of a lot of fun. It’s the same sort of thing with Samuel. Again, you peel the layers of the onion away, but you don’t wear it on your sleeve. You don’t walk around saying, ‘Look at me, I’m a wounded guy. Oh, forgive me.’ Samuel would kick T-Bag’s butt, except for the fact that he’s just as wounded.”    

Steve Eramo 

As noted above, photos by Adam Taylor, Trae Patton, Justin Lubin, Chris Huston or Greg Gayne and copyright of NBC or Fox, so please no unauthorized copying or duplicating of any kind. Thanks!