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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

in which I manage not to be a total dork at a Sci Fi Channel event

The Sci Fi Channel threw this big bash in New York last night, and I was there. It was kind of an “upfront,” which is when a network invites a bunch of journalists and a bunch of advertisers and plies them with booze and lets them meet stars and tells them why the network is so going to rock in the upcoming season. So this was Sci Fi explaining how awesome its 2008/2009 is going to be, and I was there on behalf of Film.com. But that doesn’t mean I can’t tell you about it, too.

The evening started with a press conference with a whole buncha folks from Battlestar Galactica, which I’ll be writing more about in the next day or two. (Oh, and I’ve seen the Season Four premiere, which debuts on April 4, but I can’t tell you about it until March 31 or Cylons will hunt me down and kill me.) And then it was time to party. The event was held at the Morgan Library on Madison Avenue, which looks, since its renovation a few years ago, like Starfleet HQ or something:

That’s the spire of the Empire State Building visible out the skylights:

The mob of photographers — by which I mean legit photogs, not dorks like me with our little digital cameras and cellphone cams — was insane, but I’m tall and could see over them. And this is what you get at a Sci Fi Channel event: mega sci-fi babe-age:

Yes, that’s Amanda Tapping from Stargate and the new Sci Fi series Sanctuary (which I’ll be writing more about soon) with Grace Park, aka Boomer from BSG. It’s okay to scream and swoon. I did… on the inside, at least. Holy crap, you cannot believe how gorgeous these women are in person. However gorgeous you think they are on TV — and I mean not just Sam Carter and Boomer but all the BSG chicks: Starbuck, Six, Roslin — multiply it by ten. I wouldn’t have thought that would be the case, but it’s true.

The guys are cuter, too, actually. Though maybe that’s just because they actually smile and laugh as themselves: on BSG, not so much.

(Oh, and yes, that’s BSG creator Ron Moore peeking into the pix with them. But the photogs mostly wanted to see the babes. Even if Moore is pretty cute himself.)

After the photo line, it was just a big party, with all the stars mingling with us peons. I’ll be talking more about Sci Fi and the event in general soon, but the silly stuff just can’t wait. I must report that I witnessed BSG’s Mary McDonnell (President Roslin) mistaking Eureka’s Ed Quinn (he plays Nathan, the sort-of bad guy) for a bartender. (All the best stuff happens at the bar.) Quinn is way taller than TV makes him look, and Colin Ferguson, the town of Eureka’s totally adorable sheriff, is shorter.

The president of Sci Fi, some dude with a British accent, did a big presentation about how Sci Fi presents a whole new opportunity for capitalist pigs to sell us geeks crap we don’t need (he used other more euphemistic language, though, as you might expect), and afterward, I asked James Callis — Baltar from BSG — who was standing next to me, whether it made him feel like a product, and he smiled and said No. I bet it did, though. It made me, as a member of the audience, feel like a product, something to be sold to advertisers.

I was totally a fangirl with Amanda Tapping, but she was sweet about it. I thanked her for Stargate’s Sam Carter, because there aren’t anywhere near enough depictions on TV of smart women doing interesting things (which I said to her), and she thanked me for saying so.

Oo, and I got Jamie “Apollo” Bamber to want to shake my hand when I approached him and BSG creator David Eick and thanked them for making science fiction cool. I explained about growing up an uncool geek (which I bet Eick understood, but probably not Bamber) but having been vindicated now that Rolling Stone or Time or whoever it was calling BSG the best show on TV. Triumph of the nerds! And Bamber laughed and shook my hand and congratulated me on my surviving my uncoolness. I think he was actually sincere, too.

And I had had had to ask BSG’s Michael Hogan — eyepatch-wearing Colonel Tigh — just where in the hell he is from, anyway. I mean, I know he’s Canadian, but he has the most unusual accent, and every time I watch BSG with my pal Bonnie-Ann Black, we are both like, Where in the hell is he from, anyway. Which I told him, and he found it amusing. We thought he was from the Maritimes, maybe, and he said that’s been assumed of him before, but he’s actually from way north in Ontario. He was way cuter in person, too: Tigh is such a stick in the mud, but Hogan is a sweetie.

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  • Wow, very good picture of Amanda Tapping with her hair down. (She looks so matronly on Stargate: Atlantis now that I had to do a double-take to make sure that was really her in your picture.)

    I really do enjoy a lot of the shows on the SciFi Channel, especially Battlestar Galactica… it’s a doubleplusgood bonus that so many of them have so many attractive female cast members… Grace Park, Katee Sackhoff, Tricia Helfer (natch), Lucy Lawless, Amanda Tapping, Torri Higginson (sadly gone from SGA now), Rachel Luttrell, etc.

    Now that I think about it, most SF shows have usually had some pretty good-looking women on them… helps get us geeks watching, I suppose.

  • Hey, thanks for “the look inside.”

    I’m sure I’d go all fan-girl at an event like that, but I hope I’d have the guts to go to a suit and ask, “Can’t the SciFi channel make a decent movie? Your series tend to be either good or fun, but the movies are unwatchable.”

  • Thank you for your report. I look forward to your updates.

    Morjana

  • Interesting stuff; thanks for sharing it.

    Yes, absolutely, you are the product; the advertisers are the customers; the actual programmes are merely the bait.

  • Katie

    I’m totally squeeing and I wasn’t even there. I’m so jealous you saw Ep1 of BSG. I have a little countdown going on in my head and I break out into a random giggle at work which probably scares my co-workers. And you shook Jamie Bamber’s hand…swoon.

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