When asked about the Sci Fi Channel series “Battlestar Galactica,” which airs on the same network as his series, “Eureka” (and films across town in Vancouver, Canada) actor Colin Ferguson smiles and says, “They’re the cool kids.”
He’s not the only one who thinks that.
Although they’d been rousted out of bed early for a daylong session of set visits, it’s a jubilant bunch of online journalists that troops into the hangar bay of the Galactica, as constructed in a huge soundstage at the Bridge Studios.
At that very moment on this late-June day, there are no doubt many famous Hollywood folks who would happily hock an award or two to be sitting in the same place where the human denizens of the beleaguered space cruiser jump in their Viper and Raptor fighter spacecraft to face the onslaught of the mechanistic Cylons (many of whom look like humans).
One can’t even speculate what they might do to get their photo taken in a Viper, as some of the attendees do later on.
On this day, the bay is home to a panel discussion with cast members Aaron Douglas (Chief Petty Officer Galen Tyrol), Michael Hogan (Col. Saul Tigh), Jamie Bamber (Capt. Lee “Apollo” Adama), Grace Park (Lt. Sharon “Boomer” Valerii, and an assortment of identical Cylons), Tamoh Penikett (Lt. Karl “Helo” Agathon), along with line producer Harvey Frand and Sci Fi’s chief of original programming, Mark Stern.
Also in attendance are Bonnie Hammer, president of Sci Fi Channel and USA Network, and Dave Howe, general manager of Sci Fi Channel.
“We’re the coolest, no question about it,” says Penikett.
He recounts how “Eureka” actor Ed Quinn tracked the “Battlestar” cast down when he first arrived in Vancouver.
“We didn’t know who he was,” Penikett says. “He was, `Welcome to town. Would you like to come over and watch the fights?’ The guy couldn’t shut up about the show. It was awesome.”
Apparently, the relationship has continued.
“I’ve been a fan since the beginning,” says Quinn, speaking in early May. “That show, the writing, it’s just opera. It’s so incredibly good. Aaron Douglas is a friend of mine, and I have been texting him, `You are a bleeping, bleeping Cylon, you bleeping traitor.’ He is so angry with me. He’s probably going to punch me.”
“I saw the first season,” says Billy Campbell, star of USA’s “The 4400,” also in early May. “I will watch the rest of it. It’s fantastic.”
Campbell liked it so much that he cornered Hammer at the network’s upfront presentation to advertisers. According to Hammer (and Campbell), he pleaded for an opportunity to be on the show, even offering to work without pay.
Since “Battlestar” is filming its fourth and final season (set to air in early 2008), time is running out, but says Stern, “I tell you, we are talking about trying to figure out Billy’s schedule, and trying to get him into the show. Ron (series executive producer Ronald D. Moore) is looking into that, but I don’t know if it’s actually going to happen.”
But it’s not just other TV stars that watch “Battlestar.” Douglas recalls an incident that took place, he says, on Jan. 10, when he passed Robin Williams on the street in Beverly Hills. Williams turned around, followed Douglas, and waylaid him on the curb to talk about the show.
“He goes, `That’s the best show on TV,’” Douglas says. “`I cannot believe it. I never miss it. You tell Eddie (star Edward James Olmos), I’ve known Eddie for years, you go up, and you tell everybody that’s my favorite show—the best show on TV. What are you shooting? Why are you here? Why are you not shooting? Is the Chief dead?’
“I’m going, I’m staring at this guy, `This is Robin Williams.’ All these people are walking by, going, `Holy crap, that’s Robin Williams. Who’s that guy? Why is Robin Williams shaking his hand?’”
Bamber recalls a close encounter of “The Matrix” kind.
“I met (the Wachowski) brothers on the Warner Bros. lot,” Bamber says. “I turned around and this—what’s the word, the correct word for it? He’s going through a gender change. He just bowed, put his hands together. These guys rule in terms of sci-fi, and here they are, worshipping our show.”
After acting as co-host of the Asian Excellence Awards with “Lost” star Daniel Dae Kim, Park encountered director, and big “Battlestar” fan, Quentin Tarantino.
“In the after-party,” she says, “he wouldn’t stop gabbing about it. I felt like I had to baby-sit him, he was so excited. He just went on for about 10 minutes. I got so uncomfortable, I had to leave.”
Later Park looked online and discovered that, before the show, Tarantino had singled her out as someone he wanted to meet.
“I think I’ll have to download that,” she says, “and burn it and save it for my grandchildren.”
Last up, Penikett talks about meeting eyes at a party with actor/producer Seth Green, who co-created the stop-motion-animation show “Robot Chicken,” which airs as part of Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim programming block.
“He looked at me with this weird look,” Penikett says, “and I looked at him like, `What are you looking at, Seth? What’s going on, buddy?’ ... I think it was a month and a half later, we got called for `Robot Chicken.’ It was great.”
No exact word on when the “Galactica” parody might appear on “Chicken,” which recently parodied “Star Wars.”