My Account of the GoMainline Galactica Convention
By John Dorsey
August 28-29, 1999
This article originally appeared on the Sheba's Galaxy website. It has been slightly updated.
I had an absolutely incredible time at the GoMainline.Com Collectibles Convention in Fort Washington, PA. Appearing there were Richard Hatch, Dirk Benedict, Herbert Jefferson, Jr., John Colicos, Anne Lockhart, and Jack Stauffer.
I had attended the 20 Yahren Reunion in Los Angeles last September 4-6 and, while I had a great time, was slightly disappointed that Dirk and Herb didn't show, plus Anne Lockhart and Laurette Spang only appeared for a few hours. So now I finally got to meet Dirk and Herb for the first time and got a lot of autographs from Anne. I actually spent an insane amount of money on autographs, though in Anne's case I really didn't mind since I really wanted them and the money was going to Anne's favorite charity. I also paid everyone to sign my original scripts of "Saga Of A Star World", "The Hand Of God", and "The Return Of Starbuck."
There's so much to say, I have no idea where to begin. I'll start with Dirk. I told him how his book "Confessions Of A Kamikaze Cowboy" inspired me to adopt a healthier way of eating. He was pleased to hear this and said that I made his day by telling him that. Lots of people told him he was crazy to eat the way he does, but today their bodies are breaking down and they've got all sorts of problems; they don't even want to talk to him now.
I asked Dirk if he had ever heard of the unproduced Galactica 1980 script The Wheel of Fire (the sequel to The Return of Starbuck), and he was surpised and said he hadn't. I told him that Starbuck becomes a member of the Ship of Lights. At first he said he wasn't sure he liked that idea, but then he said it might be neat.
I also asked him a question about the A-Team. Did the A-Team ever clear themselves of the criminal charges against them by the time the series ended? Dirk said no, the series was never resolved because it was canceled out of the blue. He said "Thank god for Charlie's Angels" (ironically, this is similar to the title of a chapter in his book) because his two guest appearances on that series helped reestablish him in Hollywood after taking a long hiatus to heal his prostate cancer. Dirk also mentioned the long shooting hours of Galactica were difficult because he was still weak from his bout with cancer. He said he would check out my website. (By the way, the line for Dirk was longer that Richard Hatch's the whole weekend, but that's not too surprising since Dirk doesn't make anywhere near the number of convention appeareances that Richard does.)
I talked briefly to Herb. I mentioned I was from New Jersey, and he said he was, too (Hudson County). I asked him a question about Galactica 1980, and he said he intentionally chooses not to remember anything about that show and doesn't talk about it with anyone. He said it was a situation where there was no joy or love for what you were doing. You just went to work and did your job; it was a really terrible experience. I got the impression he wasn't happy I brought Galactica 1980 up.
I mentioned to John Colicos that Baltar was in an early Galactica 1980 script (taking the place of the villain Xaviar), and he was surprised. He had no idea he had ever been considered for the series. I had the most fun talking with Anne Lockhart. She really is sweet. She was surprised and delighted to hear that I have a Sheba website (Sheba's Galaxy!) and said she would definitely check it out. I mentioned that I had a number of episodes with her on tape from various shows. We talked about Diagnosis Murder where she plays the murderer, Andrea Rivers. Anne said she had a lot of fun playing the villain. We also talked about a funny dog movie she was in called "Hambone and Hillie" which had O.J. Simpson in it! Anne said that no one knows where Maren Jensen (Athena) is. She also said that Jensen did not quit the series mid-way through to take a modeling gig (as I had heard), and the main reason Athena was a minor character was because of Jensen's inexperience as an actress. (On an aside, Mark Goddard - Major West from "Lost In Space" - was also at the con, and on Sunday he walked up to me and said hi. He said he noticed all the fun I'd been having over the whole weekend. He was such a nice guy that I actually felt bad I wasn't a "Lost In Space" fan. I'll have to check out some episodes of it sometime.)
There was a panel discussion with all the actors on both days. When asked about Galactica 1980, there were several responses: Herb said, "Not only did it suck, it sucked poorly." Dirk said, "I'd do anything for money!" Anne said that Galactica 1980 was like the entire season of Dallas that Pam dreamed. Richard said it stunk because they found Earth. "Who wants to find Earth?" he joked. Considering "The Return Of Starbuck" episode, Dirk said the only thing he remembered was Angela's see-through dress. He also mentioned he was proud to do "The Return Of Starbuck" episode because it was a great, funny script. Dirk described it as a "Robinson Crusoe in space" theme. Richard was asked if he was actually invited to do Galactica 1980. Richard said he did receive a script for the pilot, but the names of the two main characters were Troy and Dillon. By that point, he believes the decision had been pretty much made to pass on using him and Dirk in the series.
Richard said he has tremendous respect for anyone who is an actor because it's so hard to find work. Most people don't realize what toll an acting career takes on your life when you're working 18 hours a day. You have no life and your family and friends become alienated from you. A personal relationship is usually impossible. He said his work on All My Children really helped to develop him as an actor, and the money he made enabled him to finally pay his mother back all the money he borrowed from her over the years while trying to establish his acting career.
Richard also said playing Apollo could be frustrating because it's hard to write good lines for such a clean-cut hero. Villains have it much easier when it comes to dialogue. He had many meetings with Glen Larson about this. (I agree. In the first half of Greetings From Earth, Apollo's "Do The Right Thing" attitude starts to get overbearing. Starbuck was much more interesting as the reluctant hero.)
John Colicos was asked what he did on that pedestal when he wasn't busy, and he said, "I would read Marvel comics." He said that he had to climb a rickety ladder to get up there, and those were the scariest moments of his life. There was no protective mat on the floor, just several people standing with their arms outstretched. On one occasion the crew went to lunch and left him stuck up there. It was lonely because neither Lucifer nor any of the other Cylons actually talked, so he was always talking to himself. It wasn't until a few months after the series ended that he got to meet Jonathan Harris, who provided the voice of Lucifer. Anne mentioned that she and John only had one scene together in the entire series (in Baltar's Escape).
They said the last time all six of them had been together was back in 1979! Dirk told a story about The Young Lords where the Cylons had to walk down a stairway, and the Cylon in front fell down and then rest fell down like Cylon dominoes. Anne mentioned her scene in War of the Gods with Count Iblis (Patrick MacNee) on the Agro ship where he kisses her. She felt nervous beforehand because it was her first screen kiss and it was with this older man. During the shooting of the scene Iblis says, "You have nothing to fear as long as I am inside you." Anne kept bursting into laughter because of the obvious double entrendre meaning of that. Eventually, they got it right, but the censors excised the line from the final cut. When MacNee signed an autograph for her years later, take a guess what he wrote! Anne also mentioned that footage was shot of what Starbuck and Apollo saw inside the crashed ship - a demon with a cloven hoof - but it wasn't used because the demon "looked like a dead sheep." She remembered how they were supposed to be all horrified when they saw this thing, but it just didn't look scary at all. She also talked about how she and Laurette gave Richard and Dirk wedgies when they were in their triad uniforms at the end of Murder on the Rising Star. She said, "They looked so cute!"
Richard, Anne, and Herb all said that The Hand of God was their favorite episode. Anne said she loved it because she finally got to kiss the hero. Richard said, "You did?" Anne answered, "Was I THAT unmemorable???" It was pretty funny. John Colicos said he probably prefers Baltar's Escape. Dirk said his favorite episode was The Man with Nine Lives because he got to work with Fred Astaire.
Someone asked about the cancellation of the show. Richard Hatch said the show was canceled because Univeral was getting all the merchandising profits and ABC was getting none (That may have played a part, but I believe there were more reasons that that). The last episode, "The Hand Of God", was shot in April 1979, and the show was cancelled in May before it had even aired. Anne, Richard, and Lorne Greene were all vacationing in Hawaii and staying at beach houses that were blocks away from each other. It was there that they found out on TV about the show being cancelled. Dirk was shooting the movie "Scavenger Hunt" when he got a call from his agent telling him the show was cancelled. Dirk answered, "You're kidding, right?", first assuming he was joking, but he quickly learned it was for real. Most of them didn't believe the show was in danger of being cancelled. (At the 20 Yahren Reunion, Jack Stauffer and John Colicos said they did have a feeling it would get cancelled).
A question was asked about the sets. Richard talked about the vast array of computers that were used on Galactica bridge. Anne said that most of the people used the bridge's computers to play video games! That was funny. Anne also mentioned that many of Galactica sets were later repainted and used on Buck Rogers, so when she guest-starred in a Buck Rogers episode (A Dream of Jennifer), she felt like she was right at home! Dirk said he often talked to the man who was head of overseeing the show's budget, and the guy was always freaking out over the incredible money being spent. For example, they would often spend $30,000 (remember, this is 1978 dollars) to build a set that they would use for just one day and then tear it down. Richard mentioned that the Triad court was extremely expensive to build, yet it was only used in two episodes.
Dirk mentioned the way that women gravitate toward you when you're a star. After Galactica was canceled, all his girlfriends dumped him. When he got on A-Team, they all suddenly called him back and said, "Dirk! It's been so long!" Up until that point, Dirk had thought there had been something wrong with him, but he then realized what being a star does for you. He said he preferred blondes and made mention of having trouble with Britt Eckland (the blonde Theta-class clone from The Gun on Ice Planet Zero) being in his dressing room! (something like that) Dirk said he prefers blondes because he doesn't like smart women! That got a lot of "Oooooh"s from the crowd. He never really would make a play for a blonde; he would just gravitate to whichever one beckoned him to come over.
When asked about what they've been doing since Galactica, Jack said he does a lot of musicals and theatre. He loves being in front of a live audience. Richard said he doesn't do as much acting now because he got tired of doing the same roles over and over again. He mentioned the seminars he holds for acting and self-improvement. Anne mentioned a movie called "A Dog's Tale" that she is in which should be out around Christmas. She produced a play, "War Of The Worlds" which involved Dirk and Herb. She won an award for her work there. Anne is also proud that she founded a charity called Pro-Celebrity rodeos. It has raised $8 million dollars since 1983. John said that he really doesn't act anymore. He doesn't watch television because he feels that virtually all shows are worthless. He prefers to just stay at his house and read and look at the walls. However, he likes Baltar and would be more than willing to reprise the role if given the chance. Dirk said the 70s and 80s were good to him because of Galactica and The A-Team, although A-Team wasn't very rewarding because it was a cartoon show. But after the birth of his child around 1988 he lost interest in acting. He still enjoys acting and will take roles when they are offered, but doesn't actively seek them out anymore. His most challenging role these days is that of father. It's always teaching him new things. He also mentioned that he has done writing and directing. Herb said he was in the pilot episode of Knight Rider; He was David Hasselhoff's boss and was quickly killed off. For six months during the shooting of Galactica, he would peform in a play called "Screamers" in the evenings. There was a clause in his contract which allowed him to get off at 6pm every night.
There was discussion about how each of them got their roles on Galactica. Richard originally turned down the role of Apollo because he thought Galactica would be a rip-off of Star Wars. So they kept doing auditions but couldn't find the right actor. In the end, there were just a few days left, and no one who auditioned fit the bill, so it came down to just him. Larson took Hatch out to an elegant French restaurant to get him to finally agree to take the role. He was convinced when Larson said that Galactica would be a combination of "Family" (Yes, this was a television series) and "Wagon Train." In response to this, Dirk said, "The problem with Family is that it's dysfunctional, and the problem with Wagon Train is that you get a lot of horseshit." That received a lot of laughs. Jack got the role of Bojay mostly because of his past association with Richard on All My Children. Anne was offered the role of another character in the series pilot, but she turned it down because she didn't care for the type of character she was asked to play. Glen Larson wrote the character of Sheba just for her and sent her the first 25 pages of The Living Legend script. After reading them, she immediately said yes. The role of Boomer originally was given to Terry Carter, but he broke his leg in a skating accident and couldn't do it (he would later get the role of Colonel Tigh). Herb was chosen out of 25 other actors who auditioned. Herb said he has pictures for sale of him and Starbuck at a gambling table from the series pilot where Boomer isn't wearing a shirt. The reason why is because he was given the role the exact same day that shooting began, and they hadn't finished sewing his tunic! (In the deleted scenes of the pilot in the BG DVD set, there is a scene in the warrior barracks where you see Boomer, Greenbean and Jolly shirtless). John Colicos was hired to play Balter for just the pilot episode and thus was beheaded by the Cylons in the European version. Larson liked the character and reshot the scene so Baltar is not executed. This version appeared in the U.S. and Canada. Had the show gone a second season, it would likely have been revealed that Baltar was the bastard illegitimate son of Adama, explaining their rivalry. Dirk talked about how he had to go through 6 screen tests, the largest number in the history of Hollywood because Larson and Univeral wanted him, but ABC didn't. He has suggested to Glen Larson that they use all the screen test footage to make an alternate Battlestar Galactica movie. Dirk briefly mentioned Ed Begley, Jr., who played Greenbean, but he mistakenly said "Stringbean" which was hilarious.
Someone asked if they did any training for flying in the vipers (A weird question). Hatch said they trained by using the little machines you see outside of a supermarket where you put in 25 cents for a ride. Anne said that when they sat in the cockpits there would be people running around with a broom to direct them as to what they were supposed to be seeing. She said there is a blooper from The Living Legend where she is in her viper during the Cylon tanker battle and says, "I've got him, Apollo", and then you see a big black hand pushing the fire button on the joystick. Jack said that one time he was in the viper cockpit, the room was dark, and then suddenly the lights came on. He was supposed to say, "Sheba, on your right", but the lighting looked so cool he instead said, "Oh, shit! That's great!" Apparently, it didn't sit too well with Donald Bellisario who was there, because he never worked for Bellisario again.
One of the highlights of the convention was the showing of Richard Hatch's Battlestar Galactica: The Second Coming trailer. What I remember being most impressed about regarding the trailer were the special effects. After rewatching the same battle scene stock footage over and over again for years, it was breathtaking to see all the new space battle shots which included Galactica destroying a Cylon basestar.
After it played, the crowd gave it a standing ovation. Afterwards, Richard talked about his revival effort and answered questions. He talked about how tough it is to be an actor and how tired he is of doing roles that don't interest him. Everyone thought he was crazy when he told them the kind of trailer he wanted to do. They said he would need several hundred thousand dollars to do it, but he did it for only a fraction of that amount ($20,000, I believe, and he mortgaged his house to get it; later, he would lose the house as a result). The reason he was able to do it was because of all the people from all over the country who volunteered their time and services. Many fans lent him Galactica props to use, which was helpful but they had to watch over everything carefully to make sure that nothing was stolen. Not only did fans come to help, but so did the big special effects companies such as WonderWorks (which did Titanic) and Dreamscape (Jurassic Park, ID4). None of these companies charged him for their time.
Richard introduced Sophie LaPorte who was a co-producer and writer for the trailer. He said, "Just so no one thinks I'm a pervert, Sophie is 32 years old." (They were both dating.)
Hatch said his decision to start the revival came about 4 years ago when he attended a Star Trek convention as a guest. He thought that no one would recognize him, but he was blown away when he got a standing ovation. He never realized so many people remembered and cared about a show from 15 years ago that only lasted one season. He had heard that a lot of people were going to revive Galactica, but nothing ever happened. Finally, he got tired of waiting and decided to take action and do it himself. He says he has raised $40-60 million from various investors. His plan is to make Universal an offer they can't refuse. All the studios who have seen the trailer have been shocked because no trailer has ever been this well done before. It doesn't matter if Galactica comes back as a movie or as a TV series. He doesn't have a problem with Glen Larson and Todd Moyer's plan to do their own Battlestar movie (Battlestar Atlantis). While he doesn't agree with their decision to feature Commander Cain and the Battlestar Pegasus, he believes there is room for everyone. Hatch insisted there is no rivalry or fighting going on between each side. He gives them his blessing and hopes they make a wonderful movie.
John Colicos and Terry Carter had very small roles in the trailer because they were only available for one evening at the 20 Yahren Reunion last September. Their scenes were shot in front of a blue screen. Noah Hathaway (Boxey) was not available to be in the trailer, so they found someone else, Mickelean Cormack (Mickelean is Irish for Michael), to play the role of Troy.
Hatch said he would like to have Adama appear occasionally throughout the new movie or series, as a recorded hologram delivering Kobollian wisdoms. With digital technology, it is possible to create words with people's recorded voices and have them speak them. Of course, permission would have to be obtained from Lorne Greene's family to do this.
Hatch said he planned to put the uncut Galactica episodes on DVD (which Universal eventually did on its own). He also said the trailer would be for sale eventually, but I don't think that ever happened either (You can now see it for free on YouTube). At the time, Hatch couldn't make money off of it or allow any copies or pictures of it to get out without the risk of being sued. He wanted all the original cast members to be in the trailer, but some of them couldn't do it for either personal reasons or other obligations. They all have expressed interest in doing another Galactica movie or series, but circumstances at the time would likely dictate whether they become involved.
Unfortunately for Hatch, his revival efforts never went anywhere, but he at least did get a recurring role on the new Galactica series playing the character of Tom Zarek.