Tag: Sci Fi Channel

[UPDATED]: SCI FI Renews ‘Sanctuary’

As reported at TVGuide.com, the SCI FI series Sanctuary has been renewed for a second season of thirteen episodes. We just got official confirmation from SCI FI themselves and we are currently trying to get some further information. As indicated in our recent interview with Amanda Tapping, the crew behind the show will kick into pre-production immediately as they will need several scripts ready before they start shooting in January. This article will be updated as more details roll in so please keep checking back.

[UPDATE 11/13] Below is the official Press Release from SCI FI:


New York, NY – November 13, 2008 – SCI FI has greenlit production on a second season of Sanctuary, the Channel’s groundbreaking new hit series, ordering 13 new hours, it was announced today by Mark Stern, Executive Vice President, Original Programming, SCI FI & Co-Head, Original Programming, Universal Cable Productions. Sanctuary is slated to begin production in Vancouver early next year for a 2009 premiere.

“SCI FI will continue to trail blaze the television landscape by further exploring the many worlds of Sanctuary through its unique green screen environments,” said Stern. “Technology and great storytelling makes Sanctuary a fantastic addition to SCI FI’s 2009 lineup.”

More than 3 million viewers tuned in to the premiere of Sanctuary on October 3, 2008 making it the highest rated original series premiere since Eureka debuted in July 2006.

Sanctuary follows the adventures of the beautiful, enigmatic and always surprising Dr. Helen Magnus (Amanda Tapping), a brilliant scientist who holds the secrets of a clandestine population — a group of strange and sometimes terrifying beings that hide among humans. Along with her new recruit, forensic psychiatrist Dr. Will Zimmerman (Robin Dunne), her quirky tech wiz Henry (Ryan Robbins) and her fearless daughter Ashley (Emilie Ullerup), Magnus seeks to protect this threatened phenomena as well as unlock the mysteries behind their existence. The series also stars Christopher Heyerdahl as the sinister John Druitt.

Created by Damian Kindler (Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis), Sanctuary is produced in association with SCI FI Channel and distributed by Tricon Films and Television. Season 2 of the series will be executive produced by Damian Kindler, Amanda Tapping, Martin Wood, Keith Beedie, and N. John Smith.

The PCZ Interview with Sanctuary’s Amanda Tapping: Part One

Amanda Tapping is easily one of the nicest people in entertainment. Her humor and natural ease at speaking are traits that serve her well in the comedy troupe Random Acts, which she co-founded. Amanda is very generous with her time and is a supporter of several charities, such as The Canadian Cancer Society and the Waterkeeper Alliance. She has appeared on several TV shows and a few films over the years. For ten seasons, Tapping starred in the television series Stargate SG-1 as Samantha Carter, a role she continued over to sister show Stargate Atlantis. Currently she is both the star and Executive Producer for Sanctuary on the SCI FI Channel. I previously spoke to Amanda and her co-star Robin Dunne at San Diego Comic Con back in July. More recently I talked to Amanda by phone about Sanctuary and her other projects. In Part One of this interview we talk about some of the technical aspects of shooting in front of a green screen, the style of the show and a little bit about one of its more mysterious characters. Check out Part Two where we talk a little bit about what’s to come on Sanctuary as well as what else Amanda has going on in her very busy career.

AT: Hey Joe, this is Amanda Tapping calling.

PCZ: Hi, how are you?

AT: I’m good, how are you doing?

PCZ: I’m doing great. Thanks for taking the time to call and talk to me today.

AT: Absolutely, it’s nice to talk to you again.

PCZ: So, to start off, I think there’s big congratulations in order for the success of Sanctuary on SCI FI.

AT: Thank you, yeah. Fingers crossed, every week we’re like “Ok, let’s watch the ratings.” Never a relaxation moment for us.

PCZ: I’m sure. The premiere was a huge smash so that’s gotta be…

AT: It did very well. We knew there would be a drop the second week, but we were actually really happy with the numbers. The thing with SCI FI, too, that’s good to know is that it’s one of the most TIVO-ed or DVR-ed networks and their Friday nights are traditionally heavily taped. So they add a lot more to our ratings after the fact knowing that and that helps. We hope to find out in the next couple of weeks whether or not we get a pick up [for a second season].

“We hope to find out in the next couple of weeks whether or not we get a pick up [for a second season].”

PCZ: They’re going to decide that early?

AT: Yeah, we have a twenty-nine week lead time for delivery of the show, from when we start production – when we actually start shooting it – which is a long time. And if they want us to deliver in July then they need to give us the heads up a lot sooner.

PCZ: It’s got to feel pretty good after the webisodes – those were a huge deal and to really persevere and push through and make it to TV – now it’s a success on [TV] too it’s got to be doubly exciting

AT: It feels good, yeah, I mean the webisodes were a great experiment for us and served to put us on TV, which is great. It wasn’t our intention, but it is kind of a relief that we’ve actually gotten somewhere with it

PCZ: Now, knowing that it does well on the Internet is there any idea of maybe between seasons doing any Internet shorts or webisodes?

AT: At this point no, we’re just really heavily focused on getting the TV series made. I just left our sound post-production company. We’re in post literally until January and then we’d start shooting the next season so there really isn’t any amount time between to shoot new footage. In my perfect world what would happen eventually is we would start to integrate the show into the web and do things like – I don’t know if I talked to you about this before, but the idea of Magnus walking down a hallway and the fans could click on a door that she passes. That kind of thing would be awesome, if we had the opportunity to do something like that. But at this stage making the TV show is as daunting as can be, so we’re sort of focusing all of our efforts on that! (laughter)

PCZ: You’ve finished the live action filming on all 13 episodes?

AT: We finished shooting September 12th. Now we’re just in the post-production pipeline

PCZ: So, it sounds like that even though you guys are doing this primarily in front of green screens and you don’t have a lot of setups as far as locations, with all the post work, do you really save any time shooting each episode?

AT: No, not really at all. In the actually shooting of it, it’s the same as a regular practical set shoot. Seven days per episode, same number of hours in the day, so it’s sort of the same hours I was working on Stargate and number of days per episode. And I think the post production is actually – we could use a lot more post production time than we have because our viz effects team is just going full guns. But it doesn’t really save you any time, no.

PCZ: I asked Robin (Dunne) this at Comic Con. Being in front of a green screen frees you up to concentrate on the characters a little bit more. You’re not distracted by what’s around you and can really focus on the characters, do you find that to be the case?

AT: You’re absolutely right, yes. To me, shooting on the green screen feels a lot more like doing theater than anything else. Often times in theater you don’t have the full set, you don’t have the fourth wall with the audience there and the green screen feels a lot like that. It feels like you said, you’re exactly right, you concentrate more on the character and what’s actually happening between the characters and their relationship in the scene. It feels a little more immediate. We have one practical set that we shoot on a bit which is Magnus’ office. It still has green screen elements to it and it’s always fun for the actors to sort of go and play in there. When you’re sitting in front of the green screen it’s just us and the words. It’s fun, I’m starting to appreciate the green screen a lot more.

“To me, shooting on the green screen feels a lot more like doing theater than anything else.”

PCZ: There are scenes where I’ve noticed, like in the episode [right after the pilot] with the three witches where, for instance, in their flashbacks to where they’re remembering what happened to them, and they’re walking through the encampment killing the guys, that almost had a theatrical look to it in that it was almost a Shakespearian set. It really brings more of an atmosphere to it

AT: Well, we almost have the luxury of being able to play in the world’s biggest graphic novel. We can make it look like anything and we’ve chosen to go with that kind of style to it. So, like you said, we can have this very Shakespearian feel to it with the women running across the battlefield and this incredibly intimate, askew view of things like a graphic novel does. We have that luxury and it’s really fun. Part of the thing for us too is we don’t always know necessarily what it’s going to look like exactly at the end. For the actors there’s great joy when we get the script and go “Where are we going to go this week? Oooh, I wonder what this is going to look like!” which is why when we get the final viz effects it’s so cool. It’s a great playground. It’s like I said, the world’s biggest graphic novel to play in.

PCZ: I think it’s a definite credit to the team that’s doing all the post and fills in all the green screens because I find myself watching the episode again to see if I can tell what is and isn’t real. It’s not often easy to tell.

AT: Which is very cool. Lee and Lisa Wilson, who run Anthem [Visual Effects Inc.], our viz effects house, that’s a source of great pride for them. We’ve often said if you can’t tell what’s real and what’s not then that’s very cool. With Sanctuary we also have it where it’s very much not real because it’s not quite photo realistic to the eye. We kind of like that aspect of it too because it gives it a sort of edgier, different kind of look. So we play with that and play with the audience with that and the audience seems to thus far be enjoying that ride.

PCZ: You can do these sweeping pull backs that wouldn’t be possible if it was a real set that are just like “Wow!”

AT: Exactly, exactly. Unless we had a lot of helicopters.(laughs)

PCZ: I have to say I think one of the standout characters and performances on the show is Ryan Robbins. My background being a computer geek, it’s just great seeing the cool, wisecracking computer guy.

AT: (laughter) He’s awesome. I was just watching a mix of one of our upcoming shows and he’s got amazing comic timing and just sort of this wry view on things. You ‘ll see a lot more of the Henry [Foss] character and lot more of Ryan as the show progresses.

PCZ: I don’t know if this is intentional, but one of the mysteries outside of the show is who plays Bigfoot? I can’t find anything anywhere on the actor who plays Bigfoot. I know who he sounds like, if that’s his actual voice. Is that something you guys are intentionally playing up?

AT: It’s something where Bigfoot asked us to not say that it was actually him, so we’re honoring his wishes. He’s very reclusive as you probably well know, it’s hard to get footage on him, so it’s good that he actually has come up here to shoot.

“It’s something where Bigfoot asked us to not say that it was actually him, so we’re honoring his wishes.”

PCZ: This is probably the most footage anyone has ever had up close on Bigfoot so that’s…

AT: It’s close to home for him, we’re in the Pacific Northwest rain forest and that’s kind of where he hangs out.

PCZ: So he doesn’t have to commute back and forth to L.A. or anything like that?

AT: No, we didn’t have to pay him a per diem or location fee.

PCZ: (laughter) Fair enough.

Part Two of our interview with Amanda Tapping is available here. Sanctuary airs Friday nights at 10PM on the SCI FI Channel.

‘Eureka’ Comic Debuts With A BOOM!

BOOM! Studios has announced the premiere of it’s new comic book series based on the SCI FI Channel series Eureka. And they didn’t just say “hey, we’ve got a comic coming out,” they got Eureka co-creator Andrew Cosby and series actor Ed Quinn (Nathan Stark) to make the announcement via video. Eureka #1 ships December 2008 with two covers (see below). The writers for the series are Cosby and Brendan Hay (The Daily Show With John Stewart, The Simpsons). The artwork will be done by Diego Barreto with J.K. Woodward handling the covers. We will have more information on the comic for you soon and stay tuned for some upcoming Eureka articles to help you get through the wait until the continuation of season three on SCI FI.

‘Stargate Universe’ Concept Art Online

SCI FI has released four concept art images from next year’s continuation of the Stargate franchise, Stargate Universe. The images show some detailed designs of the new ship that will be the central setting of the series as well as a look at the bridge of a shuttle craft (see below). Check out all the images here. These are some pretty detailed designs and I am very interested in seeing what the final sets will look like. Production starts on Universe in February and the show will premiere on the SCI FI Channel in the summer. We will have plenty of coverage of Stargate Universe in the coming months, so stay tuned!

‘Stargate Universe’ In 2009

As expected, SCI FI has announced that it has given the go ahead for the third series in the “Stargate” franchise. According to the Hollywood Reporter, “Stargate Universe” will premiere in 2009 with a two-hour pilot followed by a one hour weekly series beginning in the summer. In contrast to it’s two predecessor series, “Universe” will be a space-based show, taking place aboard the unmanned Ancients ship Destiny. The group of explorers who discover it will find themselves “unable to return to Earth, the crew must fend for themselves aboard the ship, which has a preprogrammed mission taking them to the far reaches of the universe.”

This follows on the heels of yesterday’s press release that current series “Stargate Atlantis” will follow the reverse plan by transitioning from a weekly series to a two-hour movie format. Below is the press release from SCI FI with all the details. Check back this weekend with our wrap-up of “Stargate” news, including our thoughts on the past, present and future of the franchise.[EDITOR’S NOTE: The wrap-up has been delayed until Tuesday. Sorry for the inconvenience.]



New Stargate Series Targeted For Summer 2009 Premiere

New York, NY – August 22, 2008 – SCI FI Channel and MGM Television Entertainment have reached an agreement to extend MGM’s Stargate brand with a new series for the Channel. Production on the first season of Stargate Universe, a weekly series based on the popular Stargate franchise, will begin in early 2009, with the show targeted to premiere that Summer. Brad Wright and Robert Cooper, co-creators of Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis and who both currently serve as executive producers on Atlantis, will serve as executive producers and writers on the new series.

“SCI FI has enjoyed tremendous success with Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis and we’re proud to be the home of the new Stargate Universe,” said Mark Stern, Executive Vice President, Original Programming for SCI FI & Co-Head Original Content, Universal Cable Productions. “Universe will continue the Stargate legacy of vibrant storylines and compelling adventures, but will re-invent the format in a whole new way.”

“The Stargate franchise enjoys a loyal and substantial fan base that welcomes each new installment with fevered enthusiasm,” said Charles Cohen, Senior Executive Vice President and Corporate Development for MGM. “We are delighted to be working again with Brad and Robert and look forward to seeing new adventures with the launch of Stargate Universe on SCI FI Channel next year. Stargate Universe will continue the longstanding relationship between MGM’s stellar science fiction franchise and cable’s premiere destination for all passionate science fiction fans.”

Thomas Vitale, Senior Vice President Programming & Original Movies said, “Stargate Universe is a natural progression for the Stargate brand and for our network. Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis have been key drivers for SCI FI and we are looking forward to seeing where this next chapter leads, as each new installment of the Stargate franchise further engages the SCI FI audience.”

Wright and Cooper said: “In ‘Universe,’ we plan to keep those elements that have made the franchise a success, such as adventure and humour, while breaking new ground in the relationships between mostly young and desperate explorers, thrust together and far from home. Above all, we believe the Stargate itself remains an enduring icon with infinite potential as a jumping off point for telling stories.”

After unlocking the mystery of the Stargate’s ninth chevron, a team of explorers travels to an unmanned starship called the Destiny, launched by The Ancients at the height of their civilization as a grand experiment set in motion, but never completed.

What starts as a simple reconnaissance turns into a never ending mission, as the Stargate Universe crew discovers the ship is unable to return to Earth, and they must now fend for themselves aboard the Destiny.

The crew will travel to the far reaches of the universe, connecting with each of the previously launched Stargates, thus fulfilling the Destiny’s original mission. Challenges will arise though as the ship comes into range of Stargates placed centuries ahead of the Destiny and the crew is unable to control the ship’s navigational schedule. If someone is left behind, there is no way to go back for them, adding to the drama of encountering new races, enemies and adventures.

Stargate Universe will debut as a two-hour movie event on SCI FI. Following its premiere, Universe will assume a regular hourly slot in Summer 2009.

Universe will be distributed by MGM Worldwide Television Distribution. “