Friday, August 4

Battlestar Kamloopica

Source: Kamloops this Week

For a few brief days this week, Kamloops was planet Algae.

More than 100 cast and crew of the television series Battlestar Galactica converged on East Shuswap Road to film scenes for the episode Eye of Jupiter and Rapture. And that meant creating the Algae planet.

The sci-fi series, produced by Ronald D. Moore (who has also produced Carnivale and written for Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine) boldly goes where many have gone before - and re-imagines the classic tale of good versus evil.

For those not familiar with the series, here's a brief explanation of this episode's plot: The robotic cylons are chasing a fugitive starfleet of humans (their creators) around the galaxy in an attempt to annihilate them.

These humans, meanwhile, are searching for the fabled 13th tribe of other humans, presumed to be living on the planet Earth.

The series, which stars Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell, is a gripping drama of human survival against unimaginable odds. A socially relevant, politically charged drama with religious overtones, the series has received critical acclaim in its last three years on air.

The New York Times has said of the series: "Do you think you're too cool to watch it? Because you're not."

Newsday calls it "the best show on television."

A coup for the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, the estimated local economic impact of this week's filming is upwards of $100,000.

During filming on Tuesday morning, line producer Ron French and star Jamie Bamber took time out to talk with KTW about the show, their credit, hot chicks and what ifs:

KTW: What is it about Kamloops that looks like an alien algae planet?

Ron French: "We needed a place close enough to Vancouver with the kind of services that Kamloops has, but also nearby a very barren look - and the hoodoos were a very interesting look for us."

KTW: Do you think Kamloops is what an alien planet would look like?

RF: "(observing his surroundings off East Shuswap Road) You could do this as a planet in space, yes. There are places that could look like this.

"I don't know about the shrubbery so much, but everything else fits."

KTW: (suspiciously) I wouldn't know . . .

Jamie, are you a big sci-fi fan?

Jamie Bamber: "No, not really. I used to be as a kid, but I am a fan of good movies and if there's a good movie that happens to be sci-fi, then I'll see it."

KTW: What's the best sci-fi movie you ever saw?

JB: "That's a good question . . . I guess Bladerunner, or Star Wars as a kid . . . or Gattaca. I really liked that."

KTW: Hey, did you know you could get a Battlestar Galactica Mastercard? Do you have one?

RF: "No, I didn't know that and, no, I'm not going to get one. I don't want them knowing where my money goes."

KTW: Right . . .

JB: "I did, actually. I just found out a few days ago. I don't have one, but it's kind of trippy, I suppose. And, no, I won't be getting one."

KTW: Ron, you're a line producer? What is that?

RF: "What happens is, the Americans come up and they've got the money and the script and they say, 'Make this for us.' So [line producers] understand how to schedule it, budget it, who to hire, all that sort of stuff."

KTW: Kind of like a Canadian concierge?

RF: "(laughs) Yes."

KTW: Jamie, as an actor, what is most fun about working on a sci-fi production?

JB: "The funnest for me is to fly a Viper, which is kind of an iconic thing because back in the late '70s, when I was a small child, I had one as a toy, so to become kind of a space pilot is fun."

KTW: Ron, what would happen if the crew of Battlestar Galactica landed on the island in Lost?

RF: "I'm pretty sure they would know how to survive a bit better because they've had to do this several places where they've landed on planets, inhabited it for a short time and then moved on to another place. That's what goes on in the show a lot. And if we were on network television, we would probably beat Lost [in the ratings], but unfortunately, we're not network TV, we're cable."

KTW: Just curious, on the website, director Ron Moore has a Q&A section. One of the questions posted claims there is a huge gay following to the show and the author was wondering why there were no homosexuals in space.

RF: "There's no 'said' homosexuals on the show. . . I didn't realize there was a gay following. . . Probably a couple of hunky guys on the show like Jamie and people like that probably draws them, but I've not heard that before."

KTW: I understand the show is pretty political. What's the most risque episode you've been involved with?

RF: "Well, it's on cable so there's quite a bit of risque stuff (laughs). The subject matter, actually, is very political and it's amazing how much, especially when the Americans attacked Iraq, how much our story line began to follow that, even to the point of suicide bombers. [Ron Moore] did an interesting thing. He reversed the roles. The heros were the insurgents fighting against the Cylon attackers, which were essentially the American side of the Iraq war. And it's interesting because, if anything else, it opened up a lot of eyes as far as I was concerned, of everyone has a point in what they're doing, whether they're the insurgents or whether they're the attackers in the first place. I thought that was really good."

KTW: OK, you're in the 13th tribe on Earth and you find out the Cylons are coming to nuke the planet. What do you do?

JB: "I would run home to my three little girls and I would just hug them and try to shield them."

KTW: You and you're family are getting evacuated. You can take three personal items with you on the spaceship. What do you take?

RF: "My wife and two kids - simple."

JB: "A pint of Guinness, bag of nuts and a good book."

KTW: If you could be any character on the show, which character would you be and why?

RF: "Baltar. He has the most fun and he has a great life. You'll see in upcoming episodes. Tricia Helfer [a Victoria's Secret model], our Canadian star on the show, is his love interest. He also has a love interest with Lucy Lawless and he just goes on and on and on . . .

JB: "Yup, everyone will say that. I would pick Baltar because he gets to basically live in his tiny mind, which involves sleeping with every beautiful woman on the set on his own terms, at his own arrangements, at his own conveniences."

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