It’s funny going down to Little West 12th Street – it’s in what used to be the Meat Packing District of Manhattan, and it was where you went to buy meat… either the kind that comes from an animal or the kind that’s hidden inside the skirt of a tranny hooker. The neighborhood is very different now, and is a center of whole annoying area of rich douchebag nightclubs and restaurants. It was there that the SciFi Channel had their annual upfronts, where they announced what’s happening in the coming year.
The event was really just a big party with some speeches and a video presentation. My first stop was, of course, the bar. They had some fancy cocktail called Prohibition Punch, but it lacked the kind of punch I was looking for, so I switched over to bottled beer. Nine of those in two hours did me very nicely, and it was only because those beers made me go to the bathroom a number of times that I was able to meet Alan Cumming. More on that later.
The big announcement that night was that SciFi had decided to pick up the back nine of Battlestar Galactica’s fourth season. The network had previously only ordered 13 episodes, but now had gone for a 22, despite the show seemingly dipping in the ratings. I asked SciFi president Bonnie Hammer what motivated the full season pick-up, especially since so many fans had been worried that the show might get cancelled altogether.
“First of all, it’s not really down,” she told me. “We’ve grown the younger audience and we’ve grown women, so the shift from Friday to Sunday has been a positive one. But we also, with all the new research that’s been done, realize that one out of every four viewers DVRs Battlestar Galactica. So if you add 25% to our ratings in terms of a weekly basis, it’s huge. And it’s one of these shows where everybody I bump into watches it, but we’re never quite sure how, when or where. Is it downloaded, is it DVR, is it home video? But if you look at the masses of audience that actually know every piece of BSG, it’s huge.”
She also confirmed that the two hour direct-to-video Battlestar movie was being looked at as a possible ‘backdoor pilot’ for the proposed spin-off show, Caprica. “It’s one of the options that we have in terms of doing the two hour.”
For more on Battlestar Galactica check out my interview with Grace Park here.
While I had Bonnie for a couple of seconds, I had to follow up on something I had heard during the video presentation. They showed the Flash Gordon logo and said that the show would be on later this year – and they played the iconic Queen theme song from the 1981 Flash Gordon movie over it. Would that song be the theme to the new show as well? “It’s too early to say,” Hammer told me, which is too bad – if the show is using the Queen theme, I think we might be able assume that it’ll be aiming at the same campy vibe as the film. Time will tell.
The party was also full of other SciFi Channel stars. I spent a lot of time drinking next to Terence Mann (he was having wine while I was knocking back Brahma Beer), one of the stars of The Dresden Files (and of the Critters franchise. How did I not talk to him about that?). Also on hand was Paul Blackthorne, who plays Harry Dresden on the show. I have never seen an episode of the program so I didn’t have anything to ask these guys, but I can tell you that Blackthorne is very tall. When did actors stop being short? I got into this business so I could finally be considered tall, for god’s sake.
I did talk to Major Victory, though. You may remember him as the former male stripper who got tossed from Stan Lee’s Who Wants To Be A Superhero – unfairly, I think. I told him that he was robbed, but he said that he’s pretty happy with the way things turned out as the actual winner, Feedback (also on hand, also in costume), was a real comic book fan. Also, Major Victory met his current (very cute) girlfriend in the audition process… plus he is going to be hosting a show on SciFi Pulse, the broadband internet channel, where he’ll be interviewing the losers from the next season of Who Wants To Be A Superhero as they get kicked off the show.
We didn’t get to see any footage from Tin Man, the re-envisioning of The Wizard of Oz that the SciFi Channel will run at the end of the year, mostly because they haven’t started shooting yet. Alan Cumming was there, though, but except for when I literally bumped into him in the men’s room, I don’t know where he was hiding. His co-star from the show, Zooey Deschanel, was mingling, however. She is just as stunningly beautiful as she was the first time I met her, but so much skinnier. Eat, Zooey, eat!
I ended up leaving the event pretty early, showing an amount of self-restraint when it comes to free booze that I rarely, if ever have. I did stop at another bar on West 14th Street briefly on the way home, and it smelled like diapers and I was served by a huge transsexual Puerto Rican. Maybe all the last vestiges of the old Meatpacking District haven’t been wiped away yet.