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Press Conference Held Friday, July 27, 2007

Thanks to the good folks at the Sci-Fi Channel, I was invited to be a part of the press conference being held for the EUREKA crew on Friday evening. They had their panel just prior to the conference, and from all reports, it was a resounding success. Colin Ferguson, Ed Quinn, Salli Richardson, Joe Morton, Jordan Hinson, and Jaime Paglia participated.

Questions from the press corps weren’t in short supply. The first question was about Carter’s ex-wife’s appearance in Eureka. Paglia stated definitively that she would only be appearing for two episodes this season. In other guest casting news, Michael Shanks and Lexa Doig will check into Eureka for an episode later in the season as well. Paglia expressed that at some point, he’d love to ramp up the stunt casting, and he knows how he’d like to do it: have an open mic night at Café Diem, where we’d see random people like Stephen Hawking appearing out of the blue. But his dream idea is to bring in William Shatner to play Carter’s father.

The con panel was touched on briefly, and everyone was excited about it. Colin thought it was fantastic and that he was ecstatic that the numbers for the show have been so good so far; Jaime noted that all of the first season’s eps were shot before they ever aired, and that meant that the whole show was up in the air before they knew anything. And Joe Morton added that he felt that moments like the panel and the audience’s reaction to the group demonstrated how much of a solid base the show has to build upon.

Paglia was quizzed about the show’s mythology, and how to avoided turning into a “monster of the week” show. He offered that the show would first and foremost be episodic, but that it would still remain a “done in one” deal, as he prefers telling a full story in the forty-two minutes given each week. He then mentioned that avoiding becoming a “monster” show was very important, and that part of season two gets away from it, and does so by focusing more on the characters and their arcs. He also feels at this point that more of the supporting characters could support episodes of their own. Ultimately, the group agreed, the monster of the week isn’t the science gone awry: “The monster on the planet is us.”

Asked what initially appealed to them about the show, the cast gave an interesting variety of answers. Colin noted that, “It didn’t need sci-fi; it had character driven relationships.” Jordan offered, “It was so original and had so many possibilities.” Ed Quinn took a different tack, saying that he appreciated “the dramedy aspect of it. It’s a challenge,” while Joe Morton remarked similarly that he liked “the comedy aspect of the show. I’ve done a lot of drama but little comedy.” Salli’s response was direct, saying she was “attracted to the Carter/Allison relationship and the banter between the two.”

From there, the subject of that relationship was dived into. Richardson spoke passionately about it. “Allison is truly confused, because Nathan is becoming more of his old self. Paglia reminded the gathering that we saw “a potential future in season one, but not the only future.” But it was Joe Morton who brought down the room by throwing out the idea that Allison and Nathan are actually the Clintons! Nathan was in charge, and now his wife has superceded him and put him out of the spotlight. We all got quite a kick out of that one, as you might imagine.

Back on the subject of casting, Paglia was asked how difficult it was to cast the show. He told the crowd that casting Colin was the hardest. He saw him on the second day of casting, but co-creator Andrew Cosby wouldn’t say yes until he met Ferguson in person. So onto a plane Ferguson went, and got the thumbs up from Cosby about five minutes after they met. He also revealed that Henry’s character was originally written for the great Ossie Davis, but that Joe Morton totally owns the character and did so very quickly.

Asked about Henry’s turn towards the dark side this season, Morton seemed quite pleased about it. “To play more than one level is more interesting. It’s an evolution of the character, and he needs closure to what happened to him.” Paglia added that “he shows the surface (happy Henry), but there’s more to him.”

I got to ask the final question of the day, and it was about the Carter/Nathan relationship. One site reader told me that he thought that they were the primary “romantic” relationship of the show, as Quinn and Ferguson have tremendous comic chemistry between them. So I inquired about that and got not only a great laugh from the group, but a terrific response from both men. Quinn told a story about being cast in an episode of the American version of COUPLING, and three days into it, his manager called him to tell him he’d been fired. So Quinn packed up and headed out, but instead of alone, he was met and walked off the lot by the star of that show… Colin Ferguson. Since then, they’ve been good friends, which contributes mightily to the way the two play off of one another on screen.

The panel broke up then, but the cast came down and chatted with some of us after that. I’ve done quite a few of these things over the years, but I have to say: the EUREKA group is one of the most personable and enjoyable set of folks I’ve had the pleasure to speak with. And because I know people will write and ask (because they always want to know), some general impressions: Ed Quinn is an enormous man. Built like an action star, and could probably carry a franchise on his shoulders. Colin Ferguson is a born ringleader, and you can see in person how he carries a show. Salli Richardson is just as elegant and calm off screen as she is on. Joe Morton is not only one of our truly great actors, but radiates intellectualism. The man looks like he’s always thinking. Jordan Hinson is very tiny, as you might guess, but has a very sweet disposition that I think will carry her far. Each of them, along with Jaime Paglia, seems genuinely grateful for the success of the show and for the opportunity it represents, and I think that’s why it works on the screen.

Thank you to the excellent staff at Sci-Fi Channel for their generosity and time.

Marc Mason

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