Friday, March 19, 2010

TV & Movies: Paley Center Caprica Panel

For those in the know, Wednesday 3/17 I was at the Paley Center for Media with my friend Craig Hatler to watch two preview episodes of the hit SyFy show Caprica, and to enjoy a panel discussion with actors and production staff after the previews.  I want to give a quick shout out to Tony Tellado, past guest of the SFSNNJ, who was there for his podcast Sci-Fi Talk (http://www.scifitalk.com/).

If you have not been following the show, it is a prequel series to the multiple award winning Battlestar Galactic series.  The story, which details the struggles of two families, the Adamas and the Graystones, in the aftermath of the deaths of Dr. Daniel Graystone's (Eric Stoltz) daughter, Zoe Graystone (Alessandra Torresani), and Joseph Adama's (Esai Morales) wife and daughter.  Graystone, a brilliant cyberneticist who had developed a massive virtual reality internet, is in the midst of developing Cylons for a military contract when he discovers that his daughter has created an artificial version of herself.  Adama, who is a lawyer for the Tauron mob, in which his brother Sam Adama (Sasha Roiz) is a high ranking enforcer.  The show deals with all manner of social issues including gender and sexual orientation, drug abuse, family tragedy, religious schism, terrorism, and morality.  Featuring a stellar cast and great writing by veteran writers like Ron Moore (Star Trek TNG, Battlestar Galactica), Jane Espensen (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), and Remi Aubuchon (24), and a stable of great directors and cinematic talent, Caprica is a force even greater than the series that spawned it.

I am going to say right off the bat that if you are looking for spoilers, look elsewhere.  We were asked very nicely by Mark Stern, EVP of Development for SyFy, not to leak any information about the episode content for episodes 108 and 109, which air tonight and next Friday, and I intend to honor that request.  This article will be focusing on the panel, however there is one thing I will say about these upcoming episodes: if you have not been watching, catch up and watch these!  I have to say that these will likely be the most talked about pieces of TV to come down the pike!  Anyway, on to the panel.

The panel included:
Ron Moore, Co-Creator & Executive Producer

David Eick, Executive Producer
Esai Morales, Actor "Joseph Adama"
Alessandra Torresani, Actor "Zoe Graystone"
Magda Apanowicz, Actor "Lacy Rand"
Sasha Roiz, Actor "Sam Adama"
Mark Stern: Executive Vice President of Development for the SyFy Channel
David Bushman, Curator of the Paley Center for Media, and Moderator of the Panel

The event started off with rousing applause for the two episodes that we just screened, and that I am definitely not going to talk about, and David Bushman introduced the panelists.  The first topic was on the differentiation between Caprica and Battlestar Galactica, and David Eick was quick to point out that Caprica is a major change in tone and context from BSG, and was more akin to "Dallas in space, where the robots are the oil."  Everything from that point on was raucous and fun. 

Here are some random quotes from the panel with a few notes on the topics:

Question: What is it like operating in a show with no absolute moral authority, like Adama and Roslin were in BSG?

Sasha Roiz: This world is so morally ambiguous my character actually comes across really well.
Esai Morales: Well, it's not really Battlestar, we are reverse engineering our characters as we go, here.
Esai Morales: You have to keep in mind that no one is evil all the time, no one is good all the time either.
Magda Apanowicz: It is more like reality because we have to keep choosing between really bad choices all the time, and we mostly just make bad choices because they are the least bad.
Alessandra Torresani: She (Zoe) has been betrayed by everyone, but she grows and changes and evolves in every scene and every episode.
David Eick: It's like we are dancing on the edge of  the precipice, and the fact that we could fall off is exciting.
Esai Morales: What's great is that it gives the audience the chance to decide for themselves who is right or wrong.
Alessandra Torresani: Yeah, you can root for a different character in each episode!


Ron Moore: People are complicated, and a tendency of TV is to simplify the characters.  We wanted these to be more like real people.

Question: How was the casting process?
David Eick: You really need to get lucky with actors and with casting.  You can't have a firm idea of who is who until you start looking at parts.
Mark Stern: Whatever they said they liked, they got!
Ron Moore: Casting and writing are organic processes, they grow out of what you are doing.
Sasha Roiz: Well, I initially auditioned for Lacy, the best friend!  Seriously, I was up for the part of Tomas Vergis, but got cast in as Sam Adama, and yeah, I'm a thug.  They must have liked me though, 'cause next thing I knew I went from guest star in the pilot to regular.
Esai Morales: I started to look around at all these other high profile actors, and I got angry.  You have to get angry for doubting yourself at times like that.
Magda Apanowicz: I hate auditions, and I was getting my wisdom teeth pulled the next day, so I figured I would get the pain of one over quickly so I could suffer through the other.
Alessandra Torresani: I cheated, during my network test I discovered that the director and I shared a love for the LA Lakers, so I think he made me look good.

Question: Do you get flack about the religious elements of  the show?
Mark Stern: They never question the important stuff, we really don't get much flak about it.
Esai Morales: I get some flak because I have a few fundamentalist relatives.  The thing is they don't understand if they are being insulted or not.  It just confuses them.

Other random stuff:
They kept shifting who would play Tomas Vergis.  Jane Espensen had suggested James Marsters, but they decided they liked him better as Barnabas (a decision I have to agree with).  Mark Stern observed that you have to be careful in dealing with characters that are linked to certain aspects of pop culture, like James Marsters and Patton Oswald.

We will be seeing a lot more of Tauron and Geminon in the next few episodes.

Amazing Stories of the 1950's was a major source of inspiration for the V-World game New Cap City, in which much of the virtual action takes place.

Smoking is in the show because they want it to look like a stylized 1950's era, but with super high tech stuff.

Esai: I was very upset because smoking is bad and kills people!
Sasha: Hey, Sam is bad and kills people too, you don't seem to have much problem with him!

4 comments:

friend said...

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kathyyoho said...

(spoilers if u haven't seen "Ghost in the Machine")


The "New Cap City" scenes with Esai/ Adama were amazing! Last night episode was my favorite so far, especially when Sam and Joe chat about how to kill and when Joe tweeks up with the eyeball juice and cuts loose! Esai is such virtuoso of a an actor. Love his penchant for social causes. Check out his FB, no pretense, no lack of opinion about anything!

Todd said...

I totally agree, kathyoho! Just wait until next week, though. If you thought this week was awesome, next week is guaranteed to knock your socks off!

slamaina said...

I was also present at the Paley event. Thank you for not posting spoilers (as was asked of us). There has been a few places that they were posted. Don’t these people realize that they are endangering pre-screenings in the future?

I found this post through a post on the FaceBook wall of Esai Morales. You did a great job on the write up, you captured all the best parts. I liked that they hung around afterwards and chatted with everyone.

Now I am off to poke around the rest of this blog. I am from South Jersey. I never knew that there were any SciFi society in NJ.

Slam