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Old November 6th, 2003, 02:29 PM   #1
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Default Tom Desanto rembers his BSG project

From Cinefantastique December 2003/January 2004 issue (Steven Simak writer)

X-Men producer Tom DeSanto always loved Battlestar Galactica and had pursued the TV rights for close to four years without success. He was also keenly aware that both Hatch and Larson had mounted unsuccessful attempts at reviving the series. That all changed during an auspicious flight to New York with X-Men director Bryan Singer to promote the film. "Bryan saw I had the Galactica DVD with me, and we got to talking about the show," recalls DeSanto. "And that was how we partnered on it."

With Singer committed to directing the project and the huge success of X-Men behind them, doors suddenly swung open. DeSanto and Singer pitched the ambitious revival to Studios USA as a continuation of the original series. "I think there was a little bit of disbelief at first," DeSanto says. "It was a little like, 'You want to do what?' A lot of people were not familiar with Galactica. It was similar to X-Men; it was a sleeping giant.

DeSanto and Singer received the green light to produce a two-hour TV movie for Fox, to be broadcast in May 2002. As with the current Sci Fi Channel production, it was hoped that the premiere would serve as a backdoor pilot for a continuing series. Writing team Dan Angel and Billy Brown (X-Files, Goosebumps) were brought in to flesh out DeSanto's concept for the premiere episode. Several visual-effects houses, including Foundation Imaging, Eden FX and the Orphanage, began work. The producers rented a massive abandoned Sears warehouse in Vancouver, where set construction began.

"We built the skeletons of two Vipers and started building the bridge set," DeSanto says. "It was going to be a true rendition of the bridge, only we were going to make it a bit larger."

The DeSanto-Singer production was set 25 years after the events of the 1978 pilot. Adama has passed. Apollo, captured by the Cylons 20 years earlier, is presumed dead, and Boxey has assumed command of the Galactica. The Cylons, silent for close to two decades, have apparently abandoned their pursuit of the Colonists. Weary from their search for Earth, the fleet establishes a new colony in a secure asteroid field. Not unexpectedly, the Cylons return and launch a massive assault.

In typical "Locutus of Borg" fashion, Apollo - controlled by Cylon technology - re-emerges to threaten the Colonials. Describing the finale, DeSanto says, "In the final shot, you go through the clouds, and you actually see the Cylon planet for the first time. It's this massive, mechanized society, and you go in through the 'Chamber of Rule' as we called it. You hear these voices talking, and you come across wave after wave of Cylons. Then you come through the shadows and you see human faces and the last face you see was Richard Hatch. It was Apollo, and as you push in on his face, in the middle of his pupil you saw a little red Cylon eye." Although updated to reflect he passage of time, the technology, spacecraft and sets for the remake remained faithful to the 1978 originals.

DeSanto also hoped to bring back key actors, including Richard Hatch and Dirk Benedict, to reprise their roles in combination with new cast members. "There was communication and meetings between me and Tom talking about possibilities, but it was very general," Hatch recalls. "I think Tom genuinely wanted to use some of the original actors."

Actress Anne Lockhart recalls a conversation she had with DeSanto about reprising her role as ace-fighter pilot Sheba if the remake went to series. "Sheba was not in the pilot, but she was going to show up," Lockhart explains. "She has been lost for 20 years and is now commander of the Pegasus. I think it would have been wonderful. Apollo could have played both sides of the coin. How wonderful for him to play a bad guy, and here comes this woman he loved when he was a good guy."

DeSanto also had a series of meetings with Larson, who joined the production as a consul. "He just wanted to make sure that his child wasn't being raised by a pack of wolves," DeSanto says. "He didn't want it to be something that was being turned out to exploit its name."

Budgeted at more than $10 million, principal photography was scheduled for three months: November 2001 to January 2002. Postproduction would continue through the spring, with Galactica scheduled to debut on Fox in May 2002. After directing the pilot, Singer would immediately begin pre-production on X2: X-Men United, which was scheduled to being shooting in May as well.

But as with the rest of the world, Sept. 11, 2001, changed everything. "It was devastating," DeSanto recalls. "No one was able to function. It was difficult to focus, and we lost about a month, and that caused the schedule to shift."

With Galactica falling behind schedule and principal photography for X2 rapidly approach, Singer had no choice but to abandon the project and begin work on X2. Hoping to save Galactica, DeSanto attempted to attach a director to the project. Several, including Stephen Hopkins, Gary Fleder and Brian Henson, were brought in. Sans Singer, however, Fox withdrew support and production shut down.

Rumors also circulated that Fox had shelved Galactica in favor of Joss Whedon's Firefly. DeSanto responds, "Some people came up to me and said Joss had wanted to do Firefly, and Fox realized they couldn't do both sci-fi shows, so they had to sort of pick a child. But those were just rumors. I know the history of it, and it was just Brian's availability."

Although still contractually attached to the new Galactica as a consulting producer, DeSanto has no direct involvement in it. "Studios USA had approached me and said they'd like to continue. Then they decided to go in a different direction, which wasn't a continuation. It was something that wasn't in sync with the vision I had for the show."

Disappointed that he was unable to bring his plans to fruition, DeSanto adds, "I love the show. I was trying to fight to bring the show back and stay true to its memory and stay true to Glen and the great actors who worked on it. When you talk about Galactica, people's faces always light up. Galactica was great middle-America science fiction."

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Old November 6th, 2003, 03:09 PM   #2
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Thanks for sharing that, Peter.

(I think I'll go cry now... <sniff> )
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Old November 6th, 2003, 03:47 PM   #3
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Sorry to rub salt in open wounds on this topic... Later this month, you'll get to see some of those designs/photos when BattlestarPegasus.com relaunches. (Other BG fan sites -- including Colonial Fleets, BattlestarGalactica.com and others -- will be able to host copies, per BattlestarPegasus.com's Open Content Model/Creative Commons License.) See the Galaction section here at CF for a minor preview.

Michael
:colwar: ...who's already cried enough about this.

P.S. Peter, as always, you're a gem for taking the time to post this. Thank you.
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Old November 6th, 2003, 06:26 PM   #4
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Default Thanks Peter



(If time permits, maybe Desanto/Larson can pick BSG back up after the mini shows on Scifi).
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Old November 6th, 2003, 06:58 PM   #5
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Wow. It's almost like losing a loved one or a child. What might have been...!

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Old November 6th, 2003, 10:58 PM   #6
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Muffit, wait till you see the vipers and the drawings....aaaaarrrrgh, what they threw away, it's just...

to go from something where you could have hyped the actors, the connection to the original story, gotten totally positive press (excepting the critics, who never like scifi anyway)...to that at least partially poorly acted misnamed thing. Ack.

And that's still with some mixed feelings about the evil Apollo thing, although the idea Tom D. touched on as far as redeeming Apollo: oh, it was a cool one.... curious as to what happened to him after that though.
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Old November 7th, 2003, 09:45 AM   #7
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I can only see the evil Apollo thing as a good thing. It seems like it would have been Hatch's best acting opportunity in the BG world. Look what happened to that Borgie Blondie when she came into Voyager. Her slow transformation from alien machine to human would have been much like Apollo's...and she ended up taking over that entire show, stealing the thunder from the other characters who were there earlier.

The general viewing audience never bonded with Apollo because he was a much less interesting (even bland) counterpoint to Starbuck. Ironically, DeSanto's idea to turn Apollo into a Cylon would have led to a much more human Apollo than we ever saw in the original.
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Old November 7th, 2003, 09:56 AM   #8
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That's interesting RGrant. To me, Apollo was the easy one to bond with. He had no vices (although Starbuck's helped endear him to us), and I thought showed tremendous passion in his part. As any actor knows, it is much easier to play a dynamic role than a "straight" one, and Apollo was certainly much harder to play. Richard brought Apollo to life for me.

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Old November 7th, 2003, 10:12 AM   #9
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It may indeed have been harder to play the part of Apollo, but I'm talking about the character, not the actor. Starbuck was much more of a human character. We knew his motivations, where he was coming from. Apollo was more of a blank slate. We knew he was earnest, self-righteous and had few if any faults. That's not easy to bond with for a lot of people.

Turning him into a Cylon, letting us experience some of his pain, would have done a lot to turn him into a more sympathetic, more human character. He never had anything driving his character other than the motivation to be the dependable Mr. Stand-up Guy. What actually motivated that? The need to impress Adama? Some failure from his past? Even making him a bit of an anal, obsessive-compulsive about duty -- some kind of fault, no matter how small -- would have done a lot to make him more human.

That's why even if the Apollo as Cylon thing borrows a lot from Seven of Nine, I still think it would have been a great opportunity to finally explore the Apollo character.
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Old November 7th, 2003, 10:16 AM   #10
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If he borrows from Seven of Nine for this, he borrows even more heavily from the Locutus of Borg arc from TNG. However, man/machine mix like that is hardly original. Six Million Dollar Man, for example. I remember seeing something once, or reading it, kind of like a Twilight Zone episode, where a guy had an advanced artificial arm and it eventually took him over and made him a killer.

I'd love to see what DeSanto could do with this idea, though.

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Old November 7th, 2003, 12:56 PM   #11
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It is far from over folks.

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Old November 7th, 2003, 01:01 PM   #12
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Damn straight. :colwar: :colwar: :colwar:

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Old November 7th, 2003, 01:31 PM   #13
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I just want to do this everytime y'all* chime in:


*oh, no! I've lived in SW Ohio too long, and my husband starts working in Kentucky on Monday... I'm doomed, next thing you know I'll forget how to drive on snow!
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Old November 7th, 2003, 01:36 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by RGrant
It may indeed have been harder to play the part of Apollo, but I'm talking about the character, not the actor. Starbuck was much more of a human character. We knew his motivations, where he was coming from. Apollo was more of a blank slate. We knew he was earnest, self-righteous and had few if any faults. That's not easy to bond with for a lot of people.

Turning him into a Cylon, letting us experience some of his pain, would have done a lot to turn him into a more sympathetic, more human character. He never had anything driving his character other than the motivation to be the dependable Mr. Stand-up Guy. What actually motivated that? The need to impress Adama? Some failure from his past? Even making him a bit of an anal, obsessive-compulsive about duty -- some kind of fault, no matter how small -- would have done a lot to make him more human.

That's why even if the Apollo as Cylon thing borrows a lot from Seven of Nine, I still think it would have been a great opportunity to finally explore the Apollo character.
His fault wasn't stated so much as it was a part of him: the obsesssion with taking on all of the most dangerous missions--Sheba in the Hand of God makes a statement about "maybe it is true, you really do want to get yourself killed".... there is a flaw in that: how does that protect Boxey, his son?

I never had a problem relating to Apollo, either, Muffit. Guess he was just the knight in shining armour character.... I don't think it's just a woman thing....(?)
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Old November 7th, 2003, 02:27 PM   #15
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Who are the Orphanage, that's an FX house I've never heard of?

Also, the test shot stills at Eden FX's website seem to have an even greater significance now we know for sure they worked on the trailer.

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Peter
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Old November 8th, 2003, 01:46 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally posted by peter noble
Who are the Orphanage, that's an FX house I've never heard of?

Also, the test shot stills at Eden FX's website seem to have an even greater significance now we know for sure they worked on the trailer.

Regards,

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Here's their site:
http://www.theorphanage.com/
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Old November 8th, 2003, 04:51 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally posted by jewels
His fault wasn't stated so much as it was a part of him: the obsesssion with taking on all of the most dangerous missions--Sheba in the Hand of God makes a statement about "maybe it is true, you really do want to get yourself killed".... there is a flaw in that: how does that protect Boxey, his son?

I never had a problem relating to Apollo, either, Muffit. Guess he was just the knight in shining armour character.... I don't think it's just a woman thing....(?)
You might get a bit antsy if your brother was killed right in front of you.
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Old November 8th, 2003, 06:18 PM   #18
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Thanks for posting that. I do hope that they do not
give up the fight. I know I won't.
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Old November 8th, 2003, 11:27 PM   #19
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So I gotta ask, is this whole idea dead now?

Is there any chance (even semi-officially) that this could eventually come back?

I gotta know
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Old November 9th, 2003, 05:48 PM   #20
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I don't think that the idea is dead AsianC.
Especially not if some of the sites we've been
lobbying pick up the call to put the REMAKE on
the sites against violance against children,
after all a baby killing occuring on the small
screen is a bit much for even the most hardened
teenager to take. (Let alone child or adult)
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