Asta 2

Farscape Convention Report of Really Absurd Length

danceswithwords entitled her report Con Report of Absurd Length, but I topped her! Hence the subject line.

Pictures will have to come later. Currently my camera with the memory card is buried under a pile of stuff on my dining room table. But I wanted to type up my notes while I still recall what my notes mean.

danceswithwords and I only attended Saturday and Sunday which means we missed David Franklin and Gig Edgley’s Q&A’s on Friday and we skipped Virginia’s Q&A on Sunday to, I believe, go to dinner instead.



Raelee Hill

Raelee was seven months pregnant as of the Friday of the con. She looked quite lovely. She hasn’t worked at all this year, which seemed to mostly do with the pregnancy, though her agent tried to convince her she could stil get her work. It would seem Raelee was right.

I’m not entirely sure what David Franklin did at the cabaret on Friday night, but she had to point out he was in rare form.

She talked a bit about a show she did when she was 23, Water Rats, and described herself as being way too earnest, but enjoying the role.

She was asked about her knitting, at which point I turned to danceswithwords and made some comment about her being one of her people. Raelee clarified that while she can knit, badly, it’s embroidery she does in her free time. She talked about how in between takes on Farscape she would be in her slippers, drinking tea, and working on her embroidery while Wayne would be next to her drinking tea and reading the sports page and how they looked like an old married couple.

Another question, which I couldn’t make out very well, regarded her wire work on the show, which she loved doing.

Someone asked about Sikozu's look changing between the series and miniseries. The hair and makeup person wanted to make a drastic change and Raelee was fine with it since it helped convey she was now with Scorpius. Her agent was less than enthused about the change though.

Throughout the weekend, it every guest was extremely complimentary of the writers. Raelee talked about the massive rewrites to the scripts, which was the norm, and how she’d encountered nothing like that before or since doing Farscape. Probably, in part, because of the last minute changes, the writers were very good about allowing the characters to ad lib. It struck me that Farscape was very much like Battlestar Galactica in that the actors were given opportunities to contribute ideas to the show and help develop their characters.

Anthony Simcoe

I had heard stories about Anthony being extremely hyper during Q&A’s, but other than walking back and forth across the stage non-stop, I didn’t find him particularly animated.

Anthony talked about the election and how great it was to see Obama elected. Over the past several years, Anthony has built up a media consulting firm and he acts as an adviser to members of the Front Bench (the American equivalent would be the Cabinet). He joked about people asking him how he deals with that since he’s so laid back and casually attired and he responds that, well, he puts on a suit and tie. Now that he’s chosen to focus on politics, of course he’s been offered two lead roles in films this past year.

The last bit of acting he did was a small role as a pirate in Nim’s Island. The experience was so horrible it made him never want to act again. He heavily criticized the directors, a husband and wife team, stating they had no idea what they were doing. They even failed to realize that pirates whose base of operation was in the islands would not be wearing jumpers (sweaters) and leather. He was more miserable in the costumes for the film then he was wearing the makeup and heavy clothing for D’Argo.

Speaking of D’Argo, the inevitable question about makeup came up. He talked about combating the potential claustrophobia of the makeup by becoming, and he hated using the term, Zen about it. He had to teach himself not to think about it and just be D’Argo. He went on to talk about how he had chosen to play D’Argo as Cyreno, though he wasn’t certain anyone picked up on that. He also commented that, to the show’s credit, instead of hiring some big, burly guy who physically fit the role better than he did, they chose to cast people who could act.

He talked about the quality of the show and in a season they would do four great episodes, four bad episodes and the rest would be good which was a really terrific ratio of bad/good/great. He also made commented the found show least successful when it became too silly.

Someone asked him what his porn name would be (your first pet + the street where you grew up) and his, sadly, was pretty low rent - Snuffy Nag.

He was asked why Australian actors, as well as the Brits, etc, are better at doing American accents than vice versa. He’s theory is that so much of our TV is shown overseas, including American children’s programs, that from a very young age they are used to hearing various accents and it’s easier to pick up when you’ve been hearing it all along. (Not to keep making BSG comparisons, but when Jamie Bamber has been asked about his excellent American accent he says it wasn’t too difficult to do since his father is American and he heard it all his life.) American actors perhaps struggle more because the reverse isn’t true, we haven’t been hearing those accents all along. Although, he said that is beginning to change and we are watching more TV from outside the U.S.

Kent McCord

It was somewhat odd to see Kent McCord since, several years ago during an episode of Stargate featuring Cameron Mitchell’s father, danceswithwords coined the phrase, “He’s no Kent McCord.” So, I spent a few minutes thinking, “It’s really Kent McCord!”

Casting for the role of Crichton Sr. seemed to be last minute and contract negotiations took a few days so Kent basically stepped off the plane and was taken directly to the studio. Since they had ho wardrobe for him, he was told to bring a couple of changes of clothes with him and one of the outfits would be used for filming. I think a follow up question involved how tired he must have been and did this kind of turn around continue to happen? He said that he had it written in his contract that he would get three or four days in Australia before he had to report for shooting.

I didn’t realize just how long Kent has been acting. He got his start guest-starring in five episodes of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet playing a friend of Ricky Nelson’s. His character’s name was Kent. He joked about how Ozzie wasn’t very original when it came to character names. It sounded as if he formed a lasting friendship with Ricky/Rick Nelson.

He talked about Adam 12 and not so subtly mentioned that Season 2 was just released on DVD. He seems to take his roles very seriously and he recounted how he spent quite a bit of time memorizing the Miranda rights only to be told by the police consultant on set that an officer, for legal reasons, needs to read them from the card. To prove he still remembered what he memorized he proceeded to read us all our rights.

I was thrilled someone asked about Galactica 1980, a series so bad most BSG fans choose to pretend it doesn’t exist. Kent spoke quite fondly of Glen Larson, which shocked me. I didn’t think anyone liked the guy. Turns out, Kent was under contract to Universal and was set to star in the original Battlestar Galactica. He didn’t state whether he was to be Apollo or Starbuck, I’d lean towards Apollo, and I turned to danceswithwords and said, “He could have been Tom Zarek!” I can’t recall if stated the exact reasons why it happened, but he lost the job in the original BSG. Then Larson called him after BSG was canceled and said he was going to try and relaunch the show, cost cutting by filming on location rather than pricey sets. (Maybe things were different in the 70’s, but filming on location is now costlier than filming in the studio.) Larson was ready to go into production, but Kent refused to commit until he had a signed contract. He wasn’t going through having a job and losing it like he did with BSG. Finally, on a Friday, Kent’s agent called and said they had a deal. Kent had to go in for a costume fitting and reported to set 11:00am Saturday to begin filming.

Galactica 1980, as Larson envisioned it, was to be a three hour mini-series that would lead to a series. (Hmmm, this sounds familiar.) Kent told the audience how Larson had wonderful ideas for the series, but because NBC had decided to go to series right away and relaunch the show in the fall, the production became rushed and Larson wasn’t able to tell these wonderful stories he wanted to tell. Sorry, I’ve seen the show and I don’t think any amount of additional time could have salvaged it.

Kent and his wife have been together 50 years, married for 46 of those. I just had to mention that. :)

Claudia Black

Claudia opened up her panel by sharing what’s been going on in her life. She mentioned having moved three times in four years…or four times in three years, I can’t recall...renovating the house, and having two children. She mentioned wanting to have a water birth for her first child and the doctor saying she couldn’t. She ended up going into labor at her friend’s wedding and, as luck would have it, her friend lived near a hospital that did water births and she got the water birth she wanted. She commented that after Aeryn’s water birth in Peacekeeper Wars she had been a bit concerned, but realized during her own labor how Aeryn was over-reacting. ;)

There was also an amusing story of her being in Las Vegas with friends and being mistaken for Catherine Keener. That was a little disconcerting to her because Catherine is older than she is. To make matters worse, her friend informed her that the ladies room attendant had asked her if she was Cher.

She discussed being cast as Charlie’s wife on Life and shooting the pilot, then having her role recast due to her pregnancy. (I still wish they would have tried harder to work around that. Or make the character, Jennifer, pregnant. Jennifer already had kids with the second husband.) She recounted a story she heard about the press junket for Life before it premiered. Of the ten questions asked by journalists, two were about her and why she no longer appeared in the pilot. She thanked the fans for that because, without us, she questions whether she’d have the name recognition she does and that there would have been that kind of interest in her absence.

Joking about being a series killer, she talked about Moonlight. It seems she was supposed to be on the show earlier, but had to bow out. They ended up creating the role of The Cleaner just for her and the plan was for her to have a big role in the second season. I have mixed feelings about this. While I want to see her work, it was painful to watch her in that role.

She was, of course, asked about Ben and their chemistry. She talked about her first meeting with him and working together. Farscape was the only time she had to screen test and she met Ben while waiting to do so. He suggested that they run their lines together before the test and as they walked outside, to get some space and quiet, he began saying his lines. She was surprised by this, assuming they woudl wait until they were outside, but she started saying her lines and they just fell into synch with one another. It’s been like that ever since.

She also recounted an experience she had while doing a photo shoot with Ben – I can’t recall if it was for Farscape or Stargate. They were just sitting next to each other, not touching, not speaking, and either the photographer or an assistant went, “Oh my God, you have so much chemistry!” They were both taken aback because they weren't doing anything.

She’s been doing quite a bit of voice work which is perfect for a mother of two small children.

There was some Stargate talk. Someone asked about she and Ben (or Vala and Cam) not having many scenes together. She said when she got a script in which the two of them finally did have what she saw as a substantial scene together she got very excited. She thought it was an awesome scene and tracked down Ben to discuss it with him. However, when they went to shoot the scene she decided to review her lines and asked Ben if the scene had been changed because it seemed so much less than what she had recalled. She became very disappointed. But, after they filmed the scene, even though the director felt they had nailed the first take, he asked them to do it again just so he could have the pleasure of watching them.

She also mentioned a scene between Vala and Sam that was cut in which Sam offers to be her friend and it led her to comment on how TV shows always end up cutting the character scenes.

Oh, and she had to point out that Ben followed her to Stargate. ;) She also chastised him for not calling her when he got the role. She found via a text from her husband as she was exiting the tube in London. He asked if she had heard about Ben's casting.

Originally, after John’s death in ‘Icarus Abides’, Aeryn was supposed to pull the blanket over him. Claudia told the writers that Aeryn would want to curl up with John until there was no more warmth left in his body. :(

She also discussed how much she enjoyed shooting the ‘Infinite Possibilities’ episodes, doing her own stunts and driving the dune buggy, especially since she is very uncoordinated in real life. She brought up how Ben injured his hamstring during filming and she knew it was bad because he became very quite and limited his running for the rest of the shoot. (Ben would refer to the injury in his own Q&A.)

A question was asked about taking any props from the set after the series ended. Surprisingly, to me, the cast and crew had to purchase anything they wanted to keep. She mentioned wanting Aeryn’s big gun, but it was a one of a kind item and wasn’t for sale.

She told a funny story about the recent earthquake in LA. She said she could laugh because no one was killed. When the earthquake hit she was on hold with one of the airlines trying to redeem points for a flight to Australia. She had been on hold numerous times during the call, transferred from one person to the next - she hates being on hold and, apparently, it’s far worse in this country than others - and there was no way she was hanging up. When she felt the first tremor, she remained in her chair. When her office began to sway around her, she decided to go stand in the door...but not before transferring the call to speakerphone. While standing in the doorway, a gentleman came on the line to assist her. She hollered to him to not hang up, she’d be with him in a minute, there was an earthquake. He asked if she realized this wasn’t 911, but American(?) Airlines. She explained she had been on hold for a long time, it would just be a minute, she would be right with him, and to not hang up. He commented it was a first for him.




Francesca Bueller

Francesca began by giving a recap of what has been going on in her life. She mentioned a horrible SciFi Saturday film she had recently been in. She cringed and laughed while talking about it, thus signifying the horribleness. She talked about her interest in philosophy and taking a class to see if it’s an area of study she would like to pursue. And she mentioned possibly becoming an acting teacher.

Most of the questions she was asked involved Farscape and it was clear that she has many fond memories of her time on the show. They had planned to be in Australia for six months and it turned into four and a half years, but it paid for the beautiful home she never thought she would have.

Minister Akhna was written especially for her. Had there been a fifth season of the show she would have had a reoccuring role and been the co-villian with Scorpious, the two battling for power.

She was asked if she had hoped to appear on Farscape more, but tough union rules severely limited the number of non-Australian actors they could hire and her time on the show.

She mentioned how great it was to be able to look back at the ‘Look at the Princess’ trilogy and see her entire family on screen. This was the first time I had heard it confirmed that their children where the children in those episodes and others in the audience had the same reaction as I did, but danceswithwords indicated that piece of information has been around for awhile.

There were some questions about makeup and character development. I don’t recall what she said specifically about the makeup, but she didn’t seem to have any problems with it. Raxil she referred to as a sexless creature which made her a little harder to get a grasp on. And the costume designer took her to a sex shop to look for ideas for Akhna and as soon as she was given the boots it helped her to find the character.

Ben and she have a lot of memorabilia from the show – the cast made of her head and shoulders is in their bathroom – and she talked about having to pack it all up every time the fires threaten their home. During the last scare, as she was preparing the family to leave (it seems her mother lives with them as well), Ben decided he was going to remain behind, on the roof, with a hose. Ultimately, she had to use the, “If you love me, you’ll come with me” guilt trip to get him down.

She recounted how her father, who suffered from Alzheimer’s, was able to visit the Farscape set before he passed away, but he often confused her with Gigi Edgley. She could tell her story was making the audience sad and she assured us that it was alright, everything happens for a reason, and she was fine with it all.

Not being familiar with her other roles, I was surprised to learn she had a part in the film Deceived and co-starred with Al Pacino in a Broadway production of Merchant of Venice.

Ben Browder

It was hard to jot down any notes after Ben’s Q&A. since he was all over the place during his talk. I’ve referred to him as being crazy, but that’s not fair. He was putting on a show for the audience and I don't mean that in a negative way. I’ve been to enough cons now to see that the guests have different ways of dealing with the experience. Ben seems to fall into the category of, yes, this is a way to make extra money, but the fans deserve to be entertained for their money. So, for me, it was part Ben Browder recounting his acting experiences and part stand up routine.

He opened his panel with a career retrospective, using props. He began by putting on a grass skirt and coconut bra to reenact his participation in a college production of South Pacific. We learned two things from this. One, his football coach was concerned about his commitment to football after finding out about this and, two, Ben is a pretty good singer. Which he would demonstrate once more later on by leading us in ‘Take Me Out to the Ballpark’ during the seventh inning stretch. Following the the college years, he took us through a drama school production of Hamlet, Farscape, and Stargate.

He didn’t talk much about either Farscape or Stargate. He’d be asked a question about the sheries and take the answer into a totally different direction. Someone did ask about John’s rape and if he thought John told Aeryn. He said no because she’d grab a gun and go off to kill people and he feels John would never tell Aeryn or anybody. And he confirmed he’s had a long discussion regarding the webisodes, which left me to believe they are still being developed and they want him involved in some way.

He talked about how he began writing and it sounded like a story many of us could tell. His first attempt at writing a script was done in secret. He didn’t even tell Francesca about it, often telling her he was going out for coffee. When he finally showed the script to someone he was informed it wasn’t very good, but to keep working at it. He progressed enough in his writing that by the time he was filming Farscape he was asked if he wanted to try writing a script for the series. He was asked if he got upset when an actor would ask to change his dialogue and he stated that, as an actor, it would be hypocritical of him to make them stick to the script.

There was a funny story involving Chris Judge which I won’t do justice to. While filming the episode in which the ceiling was being lowered, threatening to flatten T’ealc and Cam, Chris decided to take off his pants. This concerned Ben because he was in a very small space with no where to go and he didn’t know what Chris was planning. Apparently, thoughts of getting even with the white guy for decades of slavery came to mind. And while asking Chris what he was doing, Ben was getting no response. It turned out Chris just wanted to moon the camera as it panned around to him.

Ben was asked about location shoots versus shooting in the studio which led to him talking about Chris's dislike of location shoots. I had heard that Chris wasn’t a part of the Antarctica shoot for Continuum because of the cold and potential for polar bear attacks, but the man is apparently afraid of all animals, even squirrels in the Vancouver woods. Ben pointed out to Chris that he grew up in South Central LA, yet he was afraid of a little squirrel.

Francesca was in the audience during the panel and Ben would often stop and talk to her or ask her questions because, as he repeatedly pointed out, women remember everything and men remember nothing. He proved his point by not recalling what he talked about earlier in the Q&A. Also, because of her presence, he avoided answering questions such as “Who is the best kisser?”. Ultimately, he said she was.

Ben talked about meeting Francesca at drama school in London and an incident that occurred soon after he arrived there. In one of his classes, the students were asked what the official dance was from where they were from and to demonstrate it. When they got to Ben he told everyone he could show them how to shag. While North Carolina’s official dance (I didn’t even know states had these!) is The Shag, he inadvertently scared his classmates and it quickly got around the school that there was this guy from the states who thought he should be teaching them all how to shag. When he first encountered Francesca standing at a bulletin board and tried to talk to her, she fled. It took some time and work, but he finally got her to speak to him and he won’t share who taught who how to shag. ;)

Politics came up and Ben joked about running for president in 2012. He later amended that to 2016 since Obama was going to be around for awhile.

Ben’s currently coaching high school poll vaulting. One of the girls on the team set a record which made him as happy as any personal success he’s ever experienced. He can still clear ten feet himself, though the hamstring injury flares up from time to time while he’s doing demonstrations. He also coaches youth football and shared how accident prone twelve year olds can be. He had three players out with injuries and none of them were hurt on the field. He believes that boys should be wrapped in bubble wrap until they are thirty.

Ricky Manning

He had a very short talk and I didn’t jot down any notes. He was asked about the webisodes and said he couldn’t say anything. And he clarified that he hadn't taken the shirt off his back for Scorpius in ‘Cracker’s Don’t’ Matter’. He was asked to do it, but instead suggested they call the manufacturer of the shirt to get some for promotional consideration.

He also debuted the first episode of a potential web series, Fusion, which can be found at Froonuim.com. The story had promise, the acting was better than what I see on some prime time series, and the production values were pretty good considering it was shot over the course of a weekend with no budget. My only complaint would be it all seemed rushed, but given that webisodes give you about ten minutes to tell a story it is to be expected.

The two actors from Fusion were at the panel and when Ricky asked them to stand up they had a deer caught in the headlights quality about them. I’m guessing it was their first con. ;)
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Thanks for writing this up. I'm really enjoying reading the reports! :)

They were just sitting next to each other, not touching, not speaking, and either the photographer or an assistant went, “Oh my God, you have so much chemistry!”

HAH. I don't doubt it, though. For two people who are not in a relationship, they sure have a very palpable connection.
I was thinking of giving up after writing up the Saturday panels, but it was such a small con and Creation doesn't allow video recordings I figured there weren't a lot of reports floating around.

Ben and Claudia so seem to have a connection, just not a romantic one. You could definitely tell by the way they spoke about the other that they are good friends.
I'm glad you remembered a lot more from Fran and Ben's panel than I did. Obviously the lack of sleep on Saturday night did not help me there.
Taking notes definitely helped with the remembering. Though, a couple of my notes left me going, "Huh?" Then I took a look at your con report and went, "Oh, yeah, now I remember." Even with more sleep, it was hard to piece together what Ben was talking about. ;)