There’s a somewhat odd event today at the United Nations, where Whoopi Goldberg will moderate a panel discussion on the social and political issues that lace throughout the grim television epic "Battlestar Galactica." The series concludes Friday night with a two-hour special finale.
Cast members Mary McDonnell and Edward James Olmos will join series executive producers Ronald D. Moore (who, presumably, is pals with Goldberg from their "Star Trek: The Next Generation" days) and David Eick. Heavy stuff — I don’t recall NASA hosting a Gil Gerard discussion of space-shuttle hazards when "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century" gave up the ghost … but, well, "BSG" is a show that delved into sanctioned torture, religious cults, abortion bans, political assassination, labor disputes and, uh, water management during its startling run, which began back on the Sci Fi Network in 2003 with killer robots and a baby murder. (Sam Grobart of the New York Times has an advance story on the panel, you can find it here)
There also was a screening on Monday of the final episode, and Choire Sicha sent in this report. (No fear: There are no spoilers here.) It was posted on our sister blog Show Tracker…
A very small audience in New York — about a hundred people — saw the final cut of the two-hour season finale of "Battlestar Galactica" on Monday evening. The episode had been flown on the red eye from Los Angeles the previous evening. Mark Stern, the executive VP in charge of original programming for the network that we now apparently are supposed to call "Syfy," said he had not even seen it; this would probably be the only screening before the show aired, he said.
An NDA and an oral pledge by the audience prevents these attendees — nearly all of them media, many from trade publications — from describing the episode in any way. The pledge was conducted by creator Ron Moore, who made each attendee at the New York Times’ Times Center raise his right hand and repeat: "I swear not to reveal any of the spoilers I see tonight."
Why the red eye, Mr. Moore — why so last minute, when shooting was concluded last summer? "A lot of last-minute visual effects getting dropped in, we need that … shot, where’s that shot, no, go back and do this again, a lot of sound effects — it was just a mad scramble," he said. "I think the lion’s share in the last week was done by our visual effects guys and girls who were just sitting in a dark room staring into monitors for like literally 24 hours. They just never took a day off for the last four weeks or something. … We just beat the … out of them. They really gave it their all."
Gosh, that sounds expensive! "Oh, yeah. We sort of raped the treasury of Universal for the last one," he said. "Universal stepped up. The network was, ‘Fine, make it three hours! But somebody has to pay for it and it ain’t going to be us.’ "
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Top photo: Jamie Bamber, Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonell, portrait by Gennaro Molina\Los Angeles Times. Bottom: Katee Sackhoff on the set of "BSG," courtest of Michael Nankin.