Syfy and Universal Cable Productions (UCP) today announced a pick-up of two more installments of the critically acclaimed horror anthology series, Channel Zero. In addition,UCP has signed an overall deal with the series’ executive producer, Nick Antosca (“Hannibal,” “Teen Wolf”). Under the agreement, Antosca will develop and produce scripted programming with UCP for the NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment portfolio and for external networks and streaming services.
Each installment of the Channel Zero anthology is based on a “creepypasta” (user-generated horror stories published online). The first installment in the anthology series, the six-part Channel Zero: Candle Cove, landed on several “Best TV of 2016” lists and centered on Kris Straub’s unnerving story of one man’s obsessive recollection of a mysterious children’s television program from the 1980s. No-End House, the second six-hour installment, is set to premiere on Syfy in October 2017. It follows Brian Russell’s story of Margot (Amy Forsyth, The Path), a young woman who, along with her friends, visits the No-End House – a bizarre house of horrors consisting of a series of increasingly disturbing rooms.
“Channel Zero certainlyhit a nerve with Candle Cove,” said Chris McCumber, President, USA and Syfy. “We look forward to creeping everyone out again this fall with No-End House – and can’t wait to see what nightmares Nick has in store for the future.”
“Nick delivered a truly haunting and unpredictable first installment of Channel Zero and was embraced by fans and critics alike,” said Jeff Wachtel, President, Chief Content Officer, NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment. “He is a fresh, passionate talent with a unique vision -- precisely what we strive to cultivate here at UCP. We’re fortunate to have him in the family and look forward to developing new projects together.”
"Making Channel Zero's Candle Cove and No-End House has been a terrific experience,” said Nick Antosca. “Universal Cable Productions and Syfy gave us a unique space to adapt weird cult horror stories and showcase some of the most talented independent directors out there. I'm so excited to bring more of these stories to the screen."
Novelist, screenwriter and TV writer Antosca (Hannibal, Teen Wolf) returns as executive producer, showrunner and writer for both newly ordered installments alongside executive producer Max Landis (Chronicle, American Ultra), with Universal Cable Productions as the studio. Before CHANNEL ZERO, Antosca was a writer and producer on Hannibal. He has written five books including The Girlfriend Game, Fires and Midnight Picnic, which won a Shirley Jackson Award. He is from New Orleans, Louisiana and currently lives in California.
Antosca joins UCP’s roster of overall deals with A-list and top-notch emerging talent, including Sam Esmail, who is at work on Season 3 of the Golden Globe and Emmy-award winning Mr. Robot; James Frey’s Full Fathom Five, who are currently producing the supernatural horror-drama pilot The Haunted for Syfy; and Doug Liman’s Hypnotic, who recently produced the teleportation drama pilot “Impulse” with UCP for YouTube Red.
(L-R): Penny (Arjun Gupta) and Quentin (Jason Ralph) in "The Flying Forest." Photo copyright of Syfy.
On next week's all-new episode of The Magicians, Quentin (Jason Ralph) and Penny (Arjun Gupta) embark upon a quest. Meanwhile, Margo (Summer Bishil) works on a way to help Eliot (Hale Appleman), and Julia (Stella Maeve) seeks out an old friend’s help. Check out the clip below from The Flying Forest and then tune in on Wednesday, February 15th @ 9:00 p.m. EST/8:00 p.m. EST on Syfy (US).
Face Off: All Stars contestant Emily Serpico puts some final touches on her "Snow Queen." Photo copyright of Syfy.
Next week on an all-new episode of Face Off: All Stars, in the second elimination challenge of the season, the All-Star teams work to create beautiful snow queens inspired by a series of unique snowflakes. Snow Queens airs Tuesday, Febraury 14th @ 9:00 p.m. EST/8:00 p.m. CT on Syfy (US).
As noted above, photo copyright of Syfy, so please no unauthorized copying or duplicating of any kind. Thanks!
Tracy Scoggins as Captain Elizabeth Lochley in Babylon 5.
Once again, I have decided to open up the interview vault and revisit some of the many interviews I have had the pleasure of writing over the years and that just appeared in-print and not on-line. In today's interview, the always charming Tracy Scoggins talks about taking command as Captain Elizabeth Lochley in the popular Sci-Fi TV series Babylon 5. Enjoy, and keep coming back for more familiar faces and shows!
Life has never been dull for Tracy Scoggins. Whether modelling swimsuits on a sun-drenched tropical isle or playing a television character which has lived for hundreds of years, she does everything with style and panache. When TV Zone last spoke with the actress she was getting ready to embark on her greatest adventure yet having just been cast as Captain Elizabeth Lochley, the stalwart commander of a troubled space station on the Turner Network Television science fiction series Babylon 5. Having recently completed a full season of episodes and two made-for-television movies, Scoggins looks back fondly at her work on the program which began with just another audition.
“I’d read for the part that Shari Belafonte eventually got in the [second] Babylon 5 movie Thirdspace. So that was the first time I presented myself to the producers, which was actually several months before the whole Lochley thing came about,” recalls Scoggins.
“Obviously, the fact that they asked me to come back and read for a part on the series meant that they must have liked something that I did in the previous audition or at least saw some potential there. I must tell you, though, that it took a half-dozen or so auditions altogether for me to nail the role of Lochley and it was pretty much business as usual. What happens is that there are a lot of women the first time you go and gradually the field gets narrowed down. So at the last two auditions, I believe, there were four or five of us left and I was lucky enough to be chosen.”
The Lochley character was created in response to the controversial departure of Claudia Christian who played Lieutenant Commander Susan Ivanova for the first four seasons. When she and Babylonian Productions failed to reach an agreement on her contract for the latest season Ivanova was written out of the series and Lochley was brought aboard. Although she is playing a totally different role, did Scoggins have reservations about joining the show because of this?
“None, and, you know, I recently addressed this issue with a group in Atlanta [Georgia] and I have to say the same thing I said to them because it’s so true. The one thing we, Tracy and Elizabeth, have in common is a tendency not to concern ourselves with things that we absolutely cannot control,” she says. “I can’t determine people’s preferences but what I can do is use my energy creating the most watchable character I possibly can. Notice I didn’t say amiable. In the beginning I purposely didn’t make her that likable because I think there were different steps to go through in her development. So I feel my responsibility was to create a great character and then let the people decide.
“I see very few similarities in the two of us, Ivanova and Lochley, except that we’re both in the military. Well, we also both have green eyes, brown hair and are five-eight-and-a-half, but that’s all,” jokes the actress. “Ivanova has her own way of doing things and so does Lochley.”
When Commander John Sheridan (Bruce Boxleitner) is chosen as President of the Interstellar Alliance he selects Captain Elizabeth Lochley, an Earth Force officer, to take command of Babylon 5. Lochley arrives on the station at the start the show’s fifth-season opener No Compromises. She immediately gets to work to secure Babylon 5 against the threat of an assassin who plans to kill Sheridan during his inauguration ceremony. Like her character Scoggins got right down to work her first day on the set.
“I was in every scene and in every frame just about with a whole lot of dialogue,” she recalls. “Luckily for me, I think, one of the things we shot that day was the audition scene that I’d already done several times with Jerry Doyle [Michael Garibaldi], so that was a breeze.
“Everyone was so warm and welcoming to me,” continues Scoggins. “Having Janet Greek as the director was a real boon to the whole creative process. Because she’s such a strong and efficient woman it helped me to have her there molding the Lochley character with me. Believe me, I’m not saying that a guy couldn’t have done it just as well but I feel that it was an aid for me to have her there. When a woman decides to become a director or even a high-ranking officer in the military it’s really a foray into a man’s world. Maybe not so much in the twenty-third century but I have to go with my own personal observations in today’s world. So my character identified with her in that respect as well.
“When Lochley first arrives on Babylon 5 she shares a certain mistrust about her situation, much like the people on the station do about her, you know? I think that any time you go into an arena where you don’t feel completely safe you put up walls and try to hide your true self, but as time passes Lochley is more willing to show her soft underbelly. Not that my belly’s soft, let me tell you,” laughs the actress.
“Something else I feel really helped define my character early on were the fireworks between her and Garibaldi,” adds Scoggins. “I think it’s human nature to clash occasionally with those people with whom you have the most in common, so I like the way their relationship developed. It went from complete distrust and constant disagreement to a certain acceptance and then an understanding and, finally, a friendship, and I think that’s very real, especially in a working environment.”
A great deal about Lochley’s past is made known as the fifth year unfolds, especially in the episode Strange Relations which reveals that she and Sheridan were married briefly several years ago. It is because of the time that they did spend together, however, that the commander knows that he can still trust Lochley. Viewers also discover that the captain was once stationed on an outpost on which a rogue telepath murdered two of her crew. This could explain why she is hesitant to grant a group of rogue telepaths refuge in “No Compromises.” Lochley is reunited with her dead childhood friend Zoe (Bridget Flanery) in Day of the Dead and when faced with A Tragedy of Telepaths she contacts old acquaintance Alfred Bester (Walter Koenig) for assistance. Scoggins is delighted with her character’s story arc and is grateful to Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski for playing an active role in Lochley’s development.
“If fans like me he made them like me,” she says. “JMS, for the sake of saving some breath, has a certain sixth sense about people. When I was a kid I used to be obsessed with the phoenix legend and how it had sort of manifested itself in completely unrelated cultures. I used to draw pictures of the birds and I even embroidered some on a pair of Levis.
“I remember skimming through one of the first Babylon 5 scripts [Strange Relations] I received and there’s a scene in which Lochley is wearing her flight helmet. On the outside of it is an insignia of a phoenix. I immediately phoned JMS and said, ‘OK, you must have talked to either my mother or my friend Martha from high school. Which one was it?’ He told me, ‘No, I just thought that would be appropriate for Lochley.’ How weird is that? It’s not something I had ever mentioned before in an interview, so he couldn’t have read it on the Internet or anywhere else. It was something that I hadn’t even thought about in years.
“JMS really thinks about his characters,” continues Scoggins. “It’s no secret that I, Tracy, am a confirmed junk food junkie and he allowed me to make Lochley that, too. He must have really enjoyed writing that into the scripts because whenever Lochley’s eating she’s chowing down on some really disgusting high-fat food.
“In River of Souls [the third Babylon 5 movie] there’s a scene in which Lochley comes in holding this ridiculous fast food thing with a silly straw sticking out of it. She says something like, ‘They make the best beefburgers on the station. Not that I’m the least bit deluded that there’s any beef in this, but if it tastes good you don’t ask questions.’
“JMS also knows I’m a very athletic, open-air kind of person, so the art on the walls of Lochley’s quarters is of outdoor scenes from places on Earth that she misses. I even have my own family photos in her office and JMS had them put athletic trophies in there, too. It’s little things like those that make you feel really at home in a character and I think the viewers pick up on that.”
One of the more interesting aspects of Lochley’s character is the fact that she is Sheridan’s ex-wife. Married couples have been living and loving in outer space ever since Doctors John and Maureen Robinson on Lost in Space, but there were no ex-spouses aboard the Jupiter 2. The fact that Sheridan handpicked Lochley to replace him and Ivanova proves that there is no animosity between them with regard to their past relationship. As for the commander’s new wife Delenn (Mira Furlan), Scoggins promises there will be no catfights aboard Babylon 5.
“I think there’s a strong mutual respect and an undying trust that exists between Lochley and Sheridan,” explains the actress. “As was said in the text of the show they were just too much alike, both having dominant personalities, to last together in marriage but as friends they are perfectly suited. Sheridan knows that in a pinch he can count on her to do the right thing by him both professionally and morally.
“With Lochley and Delenn you’ve got two strong females with very distinctive personalities. I don’t know that the viewers ever noticed it but I personally had a little fun with just silly small things during shooting. The first time I meet Delenn in Sheridan’s office in No Compromises I give her this up-and-down glance, sort of the once-over, which I think is what any ex would do when looking at the new Mrs. Sheridan,” she chuckles. “I like my scenes with Delenn a lot and I feel she and Lochley also respect each other, albeit it far more distantly.”
When looking back on all of the episodes she appears in Scoggins is hard-pressed to choose a favorite. She prefers to talk about some of the more memorable moments from her body of work on Babylon 5. “I like the defining welcoming scenes with Lochley,” notes the actress. “I also enjoy the first time we see her with Lieutenant Corwin [Joshua Cox] and he says, ‘Well, not everything will go into a report, captain,’ and I tell him, ‘Then the report is incomplete.’ I think that says a lot. I love how Lochley stands up to Sheridan and more or less tells him that she won’t be his ‘yes-woman’ or his little puppet but then says, ‘Sir,’ trying to end the conversation with a modicum of respect.
“Her scenes with Garibaldi in the mess hall where she states her case in front of everybody are pretty powerful. I think it’s a very defining and significant moment for both those characters. I love her interaction with Zoe in Day of the Dead because it allows the audience to see my character’s vulnerable side. There’s also this touching scene in Wheel of Fire in which I don’t really say anything but just watch as Sheridan’s ship leaves. I know that I, Tracy, felt a lot because it was the last day of filming and I think it sort of bled into the character, both literally and figuratively.”
According to Scoggins it was easy to become caught up emotionally in a scene such as this because the cast and crew on the program cared about each other. “Working on the show was a rare and wonderful experience for me on so many levels,” she says. “It’s such a different kind of set to work on than some of the other shows where I’ve been a regular or a guest-star, and that’s a lot of shows. With this cast and crew - and I can really make a blanket statement here and feel completely accurate - there’s a kindness about everyone and a real intelligence. I mean, in between shots we’d play Mindtrap or people would play chess. It was a very bright set to work on and everyone was always prepared and behaved professionally and I think the quality of acting speaks for itself. You can see that but you don’t know necessarily what’s going on behind the scenes. There’s a lot of giving and I wish I’d seen more of it in the past [on other jobs] and I hope to see more of it in the future. You could really get spoilt being there.”
Production on the show’s fifth and final season wrapped at the end of March but after a brief respite everyone involved was back in front of the cameras filming two new Babylon 5 movies. In the first, River of Souls, the Soul Hunters, immortal beings who capture and preserve souls, have returned and are searching for an ancient relic stolen from them. Lochley must not only prepare for their impending attack but also deal with the thousands of enraged souls that the thief inadvertently sets loose on the station.
“There’s not much I didn’t love about working on that movie,” enthuses the actress. “Once again Janet Greek directed. I was very, very heavily in the script and I got to work with Martin Sheen [the Soul Hunter]. I enjoyed the action, although they’ll definitely be a clip on the blooper reel. There’s one scene where Lochley’s running down the hall and has to toss a thermonuclear grenade into an area that needs to be destroyed.
“I did it so well in rehearsals and looked really tough. So when it came time to shoot the scene I threw the grenade, it bounced off the sides of the door, went, ‘Bing, bing, bing, bing, bing,’ and bounced back towards me. At this point I screamed like a woman and ran the wrong way, as if it were a real grenade,” she laughs. “I turned into Betty Boop for a second. Of course, the first word I heard before ‘Cut’ was ‘Print!’ OK, that’s saved for posterity!
“Working with Martin Sheen was wonderful. I remember when I was a teenager he did a television movie with Linda Blair called Sweet Hostage. That film had a real strong effect on me. It was such an interesting story and I thought he was just so sexy. Not trying to sound like John Hinkley, I told him that I had been a fan of his for some time and that I really enjoyed his work in that particular film. He then told me about this young man who had also seen him in a movie, TheExecution of Private Slovik, and that his performance inspired this person to become a public defender and to fight for people’s rights. Well, his influence on me wasn’t quite so noble. I told him that all I could think about was getting kidnapped by a sexy older man. So we had a lot of laughs.
“Martin had this two-and-a-half-to-three-page monologue for his first scene and, let me tell you, he didn’t miss a syllable, even after having been in makeup since four o’clock that morning. We were all just uncommonly impressed by him. He would constantly entertain us on the set by singing Frank Sinatra songs. Of course, this was before his recent family problems involving his son Charlie, but he’s dealing with that situation very admirably and is taking a proactive role in trying to fix it. He’s an exceptional actor and human being.”
After a two-week break in May Scoggins returned to work to film the second movie, A Call to Arms, which is the lead-in to the Babylon 5 spin-off Crusade. “That was such a whirlwind,” she recalls. “They packed all of my scenes into just two days, which was OK because I spent that time working with Bruce, Jerry and Jeff [Conaway, Zack Allen]. In River of Souls I have such a great character arc and get to experience a variety of circumstances and emotions. It really is a dream for an actor. ‘A Call to Arms’ was challenging but not on the same level.”
Prior to the start of filming on both films Scoggins and Jerry Doyle along with J. Michael Straczynski had the opportunity to meet thousands of Babylon 5 fans at several shopping mall tours organized for the West Coast of the United States. The actress is touched by the overwhelming show of support she and Lochley have received from the viewers.
“Some people have said, ‘I wasn’t sure about you in the beginning but then you got me.’ That’s been a common response,” she says. “I think they had doubts as to Lochley’s true allegiance. They also weren’t sure if they were going to like anyone besides Ivanova, but everyone’s comments about my performance have been both flattering and positive, so I’m very pleased.”
Babylon 5, Bridget Flanery, Bruce Boxleitner, Captain Elizabeth Lochley, Claudia Christian, Entertainment, J. Michael Straczynski, Jeff Conaway, Jerry Doyle, Joshua Cox, Martin Sheen, Mira Furlan, Science Fiction, Tracy Scoggins, TV, Walter Koenig
he gripping new British thriller The Level debuts on Blu-ray and DVD on February 21, 2017 from Acorn, an RLJ Entertainment, Inc. (NASDAQ: RLJE) brand. This Acorn TV Original Series and ITV co-production stars Karla Crome (You, Me & the Apocalypse, Under the Dome) as a detective with a secret double life that is about to unravel. The DVD and Blu-ray 2-Disc sets feature all 6 episodes plus bonus behind-the-scenes featurettes (54 min.) ($39.99 each, AcornOnline.com). The Level made its U.S. premiere in December on Acorn TV, the premier North America streaming service for world-class television from Britain and beyond.
Detective Sergeant Nancy Devlin (Crome) is a good cop with a dark secret: she’s loyal to drug trafficker Frank Le Saux (Philip Glenister, Life on Mars), who is like a father to her. But when their clandestine meeting turns violent, leaving Frank dead and Nancy with a bullet wound, Nancy fears her double life may soon be exposed.
Assigned to Brighton to investigate the crime, Nancy must track down Frank’s killer while concealing her role – and her injury – from her enigmatic new partner, DS Gunner Martin (Noel Clarke, Star Trek Into Darkness, Doctor Who), and her old friend, DS Kevin O’Dowd (Robert James-Collier in his first series since playing conniving butler Thomas on Downton Abbey). Can Nancy stay one step ahead of her colleagues – and the killer?
Featuring “a great cast and a twist-filled plot” (London Evening Standard, UK), The Level also stars Joe Absolom (Doc Martin), Amanda Burton (The Commander), Lindsey Coulson (EastEnders), Laura Haddock (Guardians of the Galaxy), and Gary Lewis (Outlander).
Bonus: Behind-the-scenes featurettes (54 min.)
Street Date: February 21, 2017. Details: SRP: $39.99 each; DVD 2-Disc Set: 6 episodes plus bonus – Approx. 288 min. – SDH Subtitles – UPC 054961254491; Blu-ray 2-Disc Set: 6 episodes plus bonus – Approx. 288 min. – SDH Subtitles – UPC 054961254699. Contains violence, strong language, and sexual situations.
Amanda Burton, Blu-ray, British thriller, British TV, Doc Martin, Doctor Who, Downton Abbey, DVD, Entertainment, Gary Lewis, ITV, Joe Absolom, Karla Crome, Laura Haddock, Lindsey Coulson, Noel CLarke, Philip Glenister, Robert James-Collier, Star Trek Into Darkness, The Level TV show, TV
The fifth and final season of BBC America’s critically-acclaimed series, Orphan Black, will premiere Saturday, June 10th @ 10:00 p.m. EST/9:00 p.m.CT. Tatiana Maslany makes the highly anticipated return to her Emmy-winning role as multiple clones in the Peabody Award-winning series.
In addition, BBC America announced Tatiana Maslany (Leda clones) and the full cast will appear together for the first time at 2017’s PaleyFest LA on Thursday, March 23rd. Jordan Gavaris (Felix), Maria Doyle Kennedy (Mrs. S), Kristian Bruun (Donnie), Kevin Hanchard (Detective Art Bell), Evelyne Brochu (Delphine), Ari Millen (Ira and Castor clones), acting double Kathryn Alexandre and co-creator and writer, Graeme Manson, will kick off BBCA’s farewell to the series when they join the festival for a panel.
Orphan Black is produced by Temple Street Productions, a division of Boat Rocker Studios, in association with BBC America and Bell Media’s SPACE Channel. The series is executive produced by Ivan Schneeberg and David Fortier, Graeme Manson, John Fawcett and Kerry Appleyard. The series is co-created by Manson and Fawcett, with Manson also serving as writer and Fawcett as director. BBC Worldwide distributes the series internationally.
Ari Millen, BBC America, BBC Worldwide, Bell Media, Boat Rocker Studios, clones, David Fortier, Entertainment, Evelyne Brochu, Graeme Manson, Ivan Schneeberg, John Fawcett, Jordan Gavaris, Kerry Appleyard, Kevin Hanchard, Kristian Bruun, Latheryn Alexandre, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Orphan Black TV show, Science Fiction, SPACE Channel, Tatiana Maslany, Temple Street Productions, TV
(L-R): Grant MacLaren (Eric McCormack) and Carly (Nesta Cooper) in Travelers. Photo copyright of Showcase.
Showcase announced today that Travelers, the #1 new Fall series*, will return for a second season with production beginning this March in Vancouver. Produced by Peacock Alley Entertainment Inc. , in association with Showcase and Netflix, Season 2 of the time-travelling sci-fi drama will air exclusively on Showcase in Canada in Fall 2017. Series Writer and Creator Brad Wright returns, along with series leads Eric McCormack, Jared Abrahamson, Nesta Cooper, Reilly Dolman, Patrick Gilmore, and MacKenzie Porter.
"From Lost Girl to Continuum, Showcase has a proven track record for delivering quality, homegrown hits,” said Daniel Eves, Senior Vice President, Kids and General Entertainment, Corus Entertainment. “Travelers is an exemplary production that spotlights Canadian talent on screen and off and it’s an honour to add Brad Wright’s latest masterpiece to our roster of critically-acclaimed original series.”
Season 1 of Travelers followed a group of people from the future who have discovered how to send consciousness back through time, directly into people in the 21st century. These "travelers" assumed the lives of seemingly random people, while secretly working as teams to perform high-stakes missions in order to save the world from a terrible future. Starring Eric McCormack as FBI Special Agent Grant MacLaren, MacKenzie Porter as Marcy, Patrick Gilmore as David, Jared Paul Abrahamson as Trevor, Nesta Cooper as Carly, and Reilly Dolman as Philip, Season 2 of Travelers picks up on the group’s haunting realization that their missions may have altered the future in ways they did not predict.
"I couldn’t be more proud of the Canadian team who worked passionately to bring this new series to life,” said Brad Wright, Writer and Creator, Travelers. “We are so excited to reunite in Vancouver this spring and start our work on the sophomore season for Showcase.”
“I’m as proud of Travelers as any show I’ve ever been part of,” said Eric McCormack. “And I’m blown away by this extraordinary young cast as any group of actors I’ve ever worked with. That the entire team is Canadian is icing on the cake, which makes my friend, Brad Wright, the cherry on top.”
Travelers is produced by Peacock Alley Entertainment Inc., in association with Showcase and Netflix, and is distributed by Sky Vision.
As noted above, photo copyright of Showcase, so please no unauthorized copying or duplicating of any kind. Thanks!
Brad Wright, Entertainment, Eric McCormack, Jared Abrahamson, MacKenzie Porter, Nesta Cooper, Netflix, Patrick Gilmore, Peacock Alley Entertainment Inc., Reilly Dolman, Science Fiction, Showcase Network, time travel, Travelers TV show, TV
Netflix has released the official trailer (see below) for Marvel’s Iron Fist, which will launch globally on Netflix on Friday March 17, 2017 @ 12:01 a.m. PST.
About Marvel's Iron Fist: Billionaire Danny Rand (Finn Jones) returns to New York City after being missing for years, trying to reconnect with his past and his family legacy. He fights against the criminal element corrupting New York City with his kung-fu mastery and ability to summon the awesome power of the fiery Iron Fist.
Gordon Michael Woolvett as Seamus Harper in Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda.
Once again, I have decided to open up the interview vault and revisit some of the many interviews I have had the pleasure of writing over the years and that just appeared in-print and not on-line. In today's interview, Canadian-born actor Gordon Michael Woolvett talks about playing the intergalactic Mr-Fix-It Seamus Harper in Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda. Enjoy, and keep coming back for more familiar faces and shows!
Most actors usually try to find something they have in common with their character in the hope of making their performance all the more believable. This was easy for Gordon Michael Woolvett, who portrays the wisecracking, spanner-spinning, tool-toting engineer Seamus Harper on the syndicated sci-fi TV series Andromeda.
“I love computers and I especially enjoy tinkering,” says the actor. “In fact, before I became involved in the show I was building a hovercraft. I’d downloaded the schematics off the Net, bought all the materials, and was about to send away for a two-stroke vertical shaft [engine] that could go eleven miles-an-hour on land and one or two miles-an-hour on water. I was going to take it out to Nevada and drive it around the desert, but my plans had to be put on hold.
“Fortunately, I’m able to live out my dreams vicariously at the moment through my new favorite TV show from the UK which is called Junkyard Wars. My wife [actress Michele Morand] and I were out to dinner recently with Robert Hewitt Wolfe [Andromeda co-executive producer] and he told us about it. On this show, two teams are sent into a junkyard and are given the task of building a certain item out of whatever they can find. What could be cooler than that? You’ve got to see this show. It’s awesome. I think they should invite me to come on as a guest judge. What do you think?”
Although it is hard to imagine another actor playing Harper, it may surprise some Andromeda fans to learn that Woolvett initially passed on the role. “When casting began for the show, my wife and I had only been living in Los Angeles for a year after moving there from Canada,” he notes. “I had just gotten my green card and the idea of going back home to do a series didn’t appeal to me. Also, at the time, I was signed to a holding deal with CBS, which if I never do again is just fine with me. Basically, you’re paid not to be available to work for anyone else. You’re committing yourself to shows that don’t even exist yet, as opposed to auditioning for ones that do exist and, maybe, getting a job.
“Luckily for me, the producers of Andromeda were having a difficult time finding an actor to play Harper that they could all agree on. So when they asked me a second time I said, ‘Sure, I’ll be happy to come in and read.’ While I was at the audition, I began talking with one of the executives at Tribune [the company that produces and distributes the show], Seth Howard. He and I really hit if off, so much so, that I wondered whether or not he was my long-lost brother. After that, they looked at my demo tape and a short time later I received a phone call offering me the part. Michele and I had three weeks to pack up and move to Vancouver so I could start work on the program.”
Born on Earth, Seamus Harper grew up in a refugee camp laid waste to by genetically enhanced Nietzscheans and the Magog, who use human hosts to incubate their fetuses. As an adult, Harper joined purple-skinned Trance Gemini (Laura Bertram) and a peace-loving Magog named Rev Bem (Brent Stait) as one of the crewmembers aboard the salvage ship Eureka Maru, commanded by Beka Valentine (Lisa Ryder). “Because of his upbringing, my character has a dark side that shows itself only when he’s in dire straits. He also has this great fury in him,” says Woolvett. “In our first season finale Its Hour Comes ‘Round AtLast, Harper and Tyr [Keith Hamilton Cobb], join forces to do some things you wouldn’t except my character to be doing. It’s pretty neat.
“You know, it’s taken me practically a year to get to the point where I can actually describe Harper,” continues the actor. “I could play him but I couldn’t tell you who he was, until now. Harper is Bugs Bunny. Bugs has that sarcastic, wily, real smart-ass side to him. He’s always trying to foil someone. Conversely, he’s got this mean streak in him, and when he gets angry, he gets really angry. There are also moments when he commands sympathy from the audience and you feel sorry for him. I think that’s Harper in a nutshell.”
Harper and the crew of the Eureka Maru are ecstatic when they discover the High Guard warship, the Andromeda Ascendant, which had been missing for three hundred years. After freeing the vessel from the edge of a black hole, they go aboard and prepare to salvage her. To their surprise, they find Captain Dylan Hunt (Kevin Sorbo) and the ship’s artificial intelligence, Rommie, (Lexa Doig) still very much alive. Before Harper and his friends realize it, they and a Nietzschean mercenary, Tyr Anasazi, agree to join Dylan on his mission to bring order back to the universe and restore the System’s Commonwealth government.
“The relationship between my character and Dylan is an interesting one. They are the two people aboard Andromeda with the most first-hand knowledge of Earth, and yet are so unlike,” explains Woolvett. “Harper and Dylan are from totally different worlds. Dylan lived during a time in the Commonwealth’s history when life was good. It wasn’t the same for Harper. So I liken Dylan to a Roman gladiator or Roman [High] guard, while Harper is a peasant. As much as Harper’s loyalty lies with the Maru’s crew, and, in particular, Beka, he still has a great deal of respect for Dylan. Granted, my character’s respect is easy to override when it comes to his own needs,” laughs the actor.
While not officially Andromeda’s engineer, Harper becomes its general handyman and caretaker. He quickly proves to Dylan – and the audience – that he is the MacGyver of outer space. Give him his tool belt and a roomful of spare parts and he can make just about anything. In D Minus Zero, he presents Dylan with a Footprint Magnification System (FMS), which makes a small ship look like a bigger one. Then, in TheBanks of the Lethe, the caffeine loving, techo-wizard perfects a device that sends Dylan into the past where he is reunited with his former love Sara (Sam Sorbo). By far, though, Harper’s greatest achievement is when he gives Rommie human form in To Loose the FatefulLightning.
“Of course, Harper’s main reason for building a body for Rommie is that he’s in love with her,” says Woolvett. “Unfortunately, although she is grateful to him for doing this, she cannot return his affections. What a punch in the gut for my character, but it’s a disappointment Harper has to learn to live with. There’s still a great deal of good-natured flirting between the characters – well, it’s really more on Harper’s side – and I think it makes for a wonderful dynamic with him and Rommie. This type of unrequited love thing has been done before on lots of other TV shows. It’s easy to do and it’s very easy to do wrong. On Andromeda, we’re having fun with it. We don’t beat it to death, and the viewers seem to enjoy watching Harper lust after Rommie every now and then,” he chuckles.
“What I truly like most about working on this show is the cast. In the beginning it was like, ‘Wow, it’s terrific being on a Gene Roddenberry show. The sets are great, the effects are cool,’ all that stuff. However, as time passed I saw the characters start to develop into ones that I’d actually want to watch. I believe that strong characters are the basis for a successful TV series, and Andromeda definitely has its fair share. There’s a real mix of people. Every time Harper is paired with another character it’s a chance for me to try something new, and as an actor I find that quite gratifying.”
Trained as a theatrical actor from the age of eight, Woolvett was twelve when a TV and feature film agent took him on after seeing his performance in a production of Oliver! The Ontario native made his feature debut playing James Woods’s and Gabrielle Lazure’s son in the 1985 Canadian movie Joshua, Then andNow.
“Talk about being in awe,” he recalls. “I spent a month-and-a-half in and around Montreal shooting a movie with all these big-name actors. When James Woods and Alan Arkin, who also starred in the film, got together they pretty much did their own thing, and the director, Ted Kotcheff, just kept the cameras rolling. I was like, ‘Wow, you don’t even have to follow the script.’ That’s probably the last job where a [script] writer actually liked me,” jokes the actor.
Act of Vengeance, Bride of Chucky and Shadowbuilder are some of the other movies in which Woolvett has appeared. On the small screen, he has worked on a number of made-for-TV films as well as guest-starred on such shows as PSI Factor: Chronicles of the Paranormal, FX: The Series, Silders and Kung Fu: The Legend Continues. The actor was also a series regular on Mysterious Island and Mission Genesis. When asked about his most difficult role, Woolvett says it was Ricky in the 1995 Canadian movie Rude.
“It was a montage of stories about growing up in the ghetto, and dealt with everything from drugs to racism to homophobia. There was a scene in which my character along with a bunch of other guys beat up a friend because he’s gay. Those types of scenes are tough for me because I have to reach deep inside myself and do and say things I really don’t want to.”
Fans of this talented and affable actor can look forward to seeing him in two upcoming films, The Highwayman and Clutch. In March, Woolvett and the rest of the Andromeda cast were back in the show’s Vancouver studios to begin work on the show’s second season. The actor will soon be adding “father” to his growing list of roles. He and his wife are expecting their first child. “Now that is sure to be my toughest role, and the most rewarding one,” he says proudly.
Brent Stait, Entertainment, Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda, Gordon Michael Woolvett, Keith Hamilton Cobb, Kevin Sorbo, Laura Bertram, Lexa Doig, Lisa Ryder, Michele Morand, Sam Sorbo, Science Fiction, Seth Harper, TV
Quentin (Jason Ralph) and Alice (Olivia Taylor Dudley) in "Divine Elimination.' Photo copyright of Syfy.
This week on The Magicians, Quentin (Jason Ralph) and his friends prepare to face The Beast (Charles Mesure) again, while Julia (Stella Maeve) conspires with The Beast and their new ally to lure and trap Reynard. Check out the clip below for Divine Elimination and then tune in on Wednesday, February 8th @ 9:00 p.m. EST/8:00 p.m. CT on Syfy (US).