CAPRICA at the Paley Festival: Destroying Battlestar Galactica

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After showing the pilot for Caprica at the Paley Festival on Monday night, Caprica and Battlestar Galactica creators Ron Moore and David Eick answered questions for the audience and moderator/devoted BSG lover Seth Green, joined by writer/producer Jane Espenson and Caprica actors Eric Stoltz, Esai Morales, Paula Malcomson, Alessandra Toreson, and Magda Apanowicz for a Q&A session that focused a lot more on That Other Show Moore and Eick Made than on Caprica.

Before the showing, however, Eick noted that they were so nervous before showing the BSG pilot that they employed some, um, libations. A little more comfortable now, he invited Moore to join him in the new tradition of christening the maiden voyage of Caprica by enjoying libations right there on stage, pulling out a flask full of tequila. And invoke the gods or the fates they did, swigging away. And letting Seth Green do so, as well.

Let us dispense with the comments about red-headed stepchild Caprica first, as it was less the focus of the discussion–look for a report on Battlestar-related content in a separate post.

  • Speaking of red hair, Green asked Eric Stoltz if, as a redhead, he feels enormous pressure to change his hair color. While Stoltz did not really answer the question, he did note that Green is currently sporting a purple mohawk. Green claims this is just the latest in a long line of poorly considered hair decisions on his part.
  • If Caprica hits it big, Stoltz may need a little training on dealing with fandom, as he didn’t really seem to get into the swing of charmingly answering questions until the very end.
  • Paula Malcomson, on the other hand, was a hoot, spanking people both literally and figuratively. Possibly because Green at one point mistook her for someone on 24.
  • After 90 minutes of the pilot and an hour of questions that had nothing to do with the show she was on, poor Apanowicz had to escape to the restroom in the middle of the Q&A. Since no one was asking anything about Caprica, she could have gone for an In and Out burger while she was at it. When she was (finally) asked about landing the role, however, she noted that she’d had infected wisdom teeth incisions at the time and that they cast her from her audition tape–and how grateful she was they’d trusted her from only that.
  • When asked how she came to the pilot, Toreson talked about liking that Zoe was a strong, intelligent character, but then claimed that it was exciting to get this opportunity because there are so few roles for young female actors out there. It is possible the audience snickered at this claim. Perhaps she meant there are few roles for young female actors in which they play computer geniuses who become alleged terrorists over monotheism? Because she might be right about that.
  • In response to the same question, Morales talked about how he was sure he wouldn’t get the role because he saw someone who looked more like Edward James Olmos than he does auditioning. Under pressure from Stoltz to reveal who that actor was (“Was it Danny Trejo? Was it Dabney Coleman?”), Morales went from refusing to answer to saying it was a successful actor to saying the actor’s first initial was A to saying it was A Martinez. Way to obfuscate there, buddy (thank goodness they went with Morales–especially since he has a killer Olmos impression).
  • Malcomson originally auditioned for private school headmistress (counselor?) Sister Clarice, the role that eventually went to Polly Walker.
  • Stoltz finally warmed up a bit during this question, teasing Morales and then telling his own tale of woe about filming in Provo, UT, (“Provo. Utah. It…was tough”) and getting and then ignoring the script, tossing it on his dresser. From which the maid stole it at the behest of a Battlestar fan. Which was when Stoltz realized he might have something big on his hands and he should maybe read the script. That he no longer had.
  • Morales also thought the current BSG still had Dirk Benedict and had been running for 30 years.
  • Given that Caprica opens 58 years before the robotcalypse that kicks off Battlestar Galactica, the actors “expect” to do 58 seasons.
  • Jane Espenson was willing to use the term “soap opera” when referring to Caprica as more serialized than BSG.
  • The actors were all full of praise for director Jeffrey Reiner, who set up enough cameras that acting felt like theater and who was more than willing to tell them when they were crap.
  • Moore, Eick, and Espenson were insistent that they not focus much at all on telling Joseph Adama stories that allow BSG viewers to connect too many dots as to how little Willie grows up to be Admiral Adama.
  • Along the same lines, they are trying really hard to resist the temptation to make cute litte references to Grandpa Agathon or a line of musicians named Thrace or to one of young William Adama’s teachers being named Roslin. One of the things they feel they have to do is “destroy Battlestar Galactica“–changing the look, the dynamics of relationships, the way the story unfolds–and making too many connections back (forward?) to BSG, no matter how winking, would undermine that. No flashforwards, no overt references–Caprica is its own show.
  • They also know that means they’ll lose some fans in translation–but they think they’ll gain some, too.

Overall, they seemed excited and hopeful–a lot of the audience seemed to be, too. I’m off to see if Morales’ uttering his name summoned Dirk Benedict, and if he has anything discouraging to say about how Caprica won’t work because a teenage girl is meant to hand out babies instead of computer programs.

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5 thoughts on “CAPRICA at the Paley Festival: Destroying Battlestar Galactica

  1. It should be noted in defense of Eric Stoltz that Seth Green was asking absolutely no questions directed at the cast of Caprica. All of his questions and comments were Directed at Moore and Eick, and occasionally Jane Espenson. On an evening intended to celebrate both the outgoing BSG and the new Caprica, Green seemed unprepared as a moderator to lead discussion of both programs, but rather showed up as the super-fan with fan boy questions printed on cue cards that had corners cut off ready to have all his BSG Mysteries solved in one night.

    As an actor who had been brought in to discuss his role in Caprica, which the audience had just watched, it is understandable why Stoltz would seem irritated when the first question lobbed his way is about being a red-headed actor in Hollywood. For much of the Q&A the Caprica cast and even Grace park and Tricia Helfer to a certain degree looked bored and uncomfortable being on stage with nothing to do but sit in front of an audience.

    I’m a fan of Seth and the very creative work he does, both on Robot Chicken and as a creator in other mediums like the comic he co created “the Freshmen”. The problem I had hwever was that the longer the evening went on, the more irritated i became that he had not a single question to ask the new cast about their role in bringing Caprica to life.

    Having attended several Paleyfest events both this year and previous years, screenings like this are intended as much for the actors to express themselves and speak directly to the audience about the work they’ve done as they are to give fans access to their favorite stars. It felt as though the cast of Caprica was not given that opportunity. Only a couple of audience questions were taken, and thankfully there were at least a couple good questions for the Caprica cast. I’d love to have heard more from Esai Morales (who seemed to me to be a charming and funny individual) and Paula Malcomson (who’s work on Deadwood is second to none!).

    As it was i was glad to have seen Caprica on the Cinerama dome and i look forward to the future of the series. It looks to be a deep thought provoking show that will leave me wanting more just as well as BSG ever did.

  2. I’m dying laughing at the idea that Seth Green’s 3×5 cards had the corners clipped off. I love him to little bits and pieces, but he was definitely in fanboy mode that night. I couldn’t believe that “the people on the Internet will be mad at me if I don’t ask this” actually came out of his mouth.

    You’re absolutely right that the night ended up being more about Battlestar than about Caprica. Our second post on the matter will probably mark me as very guilty of having enjoyed some of that–Green’s clear interest in one over the other would get uncomfortable, but then he’d ask a question that I’d love and I’d be forced to forgive him and his tiny purple mohawk.

    Still, the little group I was with felt that they would have been better served with separate panels for BSG and Caprica. I’m sure there would have been difficulties with that as well–with the Paley having to move certain panels away from the Arclight or giving away tickets to the panel for The Hills (well, really–couldn’t that have been predicted?), they had to be a little nervous about filling seats for a show that no one had ever seen before. At the same time, they had to be a little worried about filling out a panel with the increasingly busy and scattered BSG crew. So I can see how it ended up going down this way. But it might have worked better to have Green lead the fanboy lovefest for one panel and do Caprica by itself for the other.

    They do seem to have a tough time hitting a happy medium with moderators, though, don’t they? Even as we were thinking that Green should be spreading the love a bit, we were glad he cared–some of the other moderators really don’t seem to know much about the shows in question. I do know the Paley staff–pro and volunteer both–have a horrible time trying to get even the best of the moderators to handle the audience question period correctly–they really do have a procedure! That kind of mayhem didn’t help in getting more questions from the audience.

    And Stoltz really did get rolling once he started teasing Morales. He’s dry, which I tend to like a lot. He and Malcomson have got to be a deadly pair. I was impressed with Morales the moment he bounded onto the stage and ran to shake Green’s hand–he just seemed…classy. I hope we get lots more chances to see them–and maybe hear them next time!

  3. Pingback: BATTLESTAR GALACTICA at the Paley Festival: Infecting with Accountability « TV BACON

  4. I enjoyed the “Caprica” pilot. However, I wish I would have known how explicit it was going to be. I little too much girl-on-girl writhing nudity and the whole “who wants to kill a virgin” stuff was pretty over the top if you didn’t have a heads up (as I didn’t.) Still–I’ll watch when it is on “SyFy.”

  5. You are so right about that (D and B and I turned to each other and said, “Um, this is the DVD version, I guess?”).. In terms of story, I appreciate that the teenagers have decided the whole thing is disgusting to the point that they want to blow it up (well–maybe they shouldn’t actually blow things up, but you get the idea). But in terms of my having to watch it–yeah. So is is supposed to be titillating, or not?

    And as we mentioned in the Party Down entry concerning Graystone staying clothed for most of his sexual interlude with his wife while all this girl-on-nekkid-girl action was going on elsewhere…well, it doesn’t surprise me that it’s from the same crew who gave us girl killer robots who were Tricia Helfer and Grace Park and boy killer robots who were Dean Stockwell.

    I think you’re right that, as stupid as their new name is, “SyFy” will “protect” us from that somewhat as they go to series. And I liked it overall more than well enough to sample it again then.

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