August 28 and 29, 1999

I had an absolutely incredible time at the GoMainline.Com Collectibles Convention. 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" changed my life when I read it a few months ago. Because of it, I've adopted a macrobiotic way of eating (only fruits, grains, vegetables, and white fish - no processed foods) and I've never looked back. An interesting side effect is that I've been dropping weight (at least 10 pounds - my pants have become too big - I had to buy a tighter belt to hold them up!) Dirk was pleased to hear this; he said I made his day by telling him that. As for losing weight, he said that he's received hundreds of letters from people with the same story; they all turned out fine in the end. 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 G80 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 surpised. He had no idea he had ever been considered for the series. Of course, 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 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. I'll try to cover as much as I can. 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 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 Patrick MacNee on the Agro ship where he says, "You have nothing to fear as long as I am inside you," and she kept cracking up because of the obvious double entrendre meaning of that. 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 said 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 cancelled 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. 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 first thought it was a practical joke, 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 the 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 the Galactica sets were later repainted and used on Buck Rogers, so when she guest-starred in a Buck Rogers episode, 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 cancelled, 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 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! 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) where she 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.

To read my in-depth review of movie trailer "Battlestar Galactica: The Second Coming", click here.

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