the Q & A session:
Gil was asked about Buster Crabbe and he explained that while he didn't actually work with Crabbe in any scenes, he did meet him at the publicity shoots. They talked a great deal and became friends. Gil said he was a great guy and mentioned how Buster had told him that the special effects of the original Buck Rogers, the sparklers for rocket exhaust, etc., were considered cutting edge at the time, even though laughed at as silly by the time of the BR show. Gil then mentioned that some of the effects of the show were getting to that point now where they are considered cheesy, but they were very intricate and very well done for the time. He detailed how each of the models were shot using a computer to keep track of the shots and movement. Rocket exhaust was filmed separately and then added to the model shots. "It was very well done," Gil added, saying that anything today is pretty much CGI and doesn't involve most of the intricacies that went into doing the show.
Gil also told about the first time he was supposed to get into the cockpit of one of the starfighters. There was no space under the "dash," just solid material. He told the stage people that they either needed to make room in the mockup or cut his legs off.
Someone asked if the group was getting any residuals from the DVD sales, which were supposed to have been very good, by the way. Gil looked disgusted and so did Erin. "No," they answered and Gil said he wasn't even aware of the state of DVD sales, since they weren't getting anything from them. Someone then asked why there were no extras and Gil said that was because Universal was too cheap to pay them a day's wage to come in and tape anything. Either he or Erin mentioned that all the times that BR has been shown on Sci Fi and elsewhere, they have received nothing for it. Thom stepped in and explained some of the nuances of the residuals, etc. mentioning that he was very pro-Union and understood some of the regulations determining such things. (Gil and Erin looked a bit tense, but the subject changed after a few minutes.)
Gil mentioned that he had wanted to do Buck Rogers a bit differently in the beginning and butted heads with everyone about it. He compared Buck to Christopher Columbus being brought suddenly to this time. He'd be catatonic. (Personally, I think Buck would have an easier time of it because he would at least be familiar with manned space flight, electricity, etc. but I digress....) Gil said he kept waiting for a line from Tim O'Connor (Dr. Huer) when Buck was being shown the city from along the walkways of New Chicago, something on the order of, "It wasn't a nuclear holocaust, but an environmental one." He said he felt that Buck would have not only refused to sign on with the Directorate, but that he would insist on exploring Earth, seeing what was still out there beyond the devastated areas, finding himself, so to speak. Feeling it would be perfectly viable for Wilma to come along to keep Buck out of trouble, even Hawk could have been brought on board eventually, especially since there would be places unexplored, etc. "And it would have been cheaper to do, too," Gil added.
Personally, I could see that kind of scenario for several episodes, maybe part of a year, but not an entire season. Gil did mention something that I totally agreed with and that was the fact that television of that day simply didn't know how to deal with sci fi. He personally liked sci fi, but felt that the best science fiction could deal with the world around you. His favorite film of all times was The Day the Earth Stood Still. He said it dealt with what was going on in the world at that time and is still a viable film. I would have to agree, Day is timeless, sci fi at its very best.
Gil also mentioned that by the second season, he had given up griping and just did what was handed to him. It was only near the end of the second season that anyone would listen to his ideas. The head of NBC at the time told him that if Buck was picked up for a third season, Gil's ideas would be utilized. Of course, there was no renewal, so no return to Earth.
Thom if he had hoped that Koori would have played in more than just
"Time of the Hawk" and "The Guardians," even though
BarBara Luna had initially been reluctant to do anything that could be
remotely considered episodic (and despite the fact that Koori was
dead!) He said he did. Gil then mentioned that the script from
"Time of the Hawk" was a direct rip-off of a story from Gunsmoke
where Michael Ansara and BarBara Luna played an Indian chief and princess
respectively. (I have been unable to find any such episode, but I do
know, having watched a great many Gunsmoke episodes in my earlier years
that there were such stories, just not with those stars.) Marshall
Dillon (Buck) was supposed to bring in the chief (Hawk), the princess
(Koori) got hurt in the process, there is a fight, etc. and so forth and
then their understanding at the end. I mentioned that
"Satyr" was a Shane rip-off... very well done, but the influence
was there. Gil said he wasn't aware of that one.
Of mention was the fact that Disney owns the rights to Buck Rogers. There was a collective groan considering the way Disney is going these days. Erin mentioned that a very big producer, one with several recent successes under his belt is interested in the property, hoping to buy it from Disney when one of the execs is not paying attention.
Someone asked about the other co-stars doing conventions and Erin explained that she was working on Pamela Hensley and Tim O'Connor. She said that Tim was in wonderful shape, fit and looking so much younger than his actual years. He is slated to appear at the London convention in September. She said that although Pamela doesn't need any income from the conventions, Erin thinks she can get Pamela to do a few, too.
it was about that time that the Q & A ended, much too soon to suit
me. Me, Mariet and Jimma and her husband chatted a bit more,
watching all the costumed attendees, and then they had to leave for the
airport. I had hoped that we could have had more time, but I was
grateful for what we had. Mariet and I went back into the convention
hall where we had lunch and chatted with a very friendly local sitting at
the same table. After that, Mariet and I split up for a bit and I
went back to the celeb area and chatted with Lou Ferrigno (Incredible
Hulk), buying a copy of his book. I saw that Gil was free and went
and asked him a question that had been plaguing me for some time....
I have a script of "Vegas in Space," which is most intriguing in
more ways than one. I had remembered that there was a place, in the
episode, but not in the script, where Buck is playing ten and eleven with
Tansi at his elbow and he suddenly begins to reminisce about the night he
and his buddies from Edwards' (Air Force Base) drove to Vegas and spent
the whole night gambling. It was a very poignant scene and I
wondered whose idea it had been to include it. Gil furrowed his brow
and said if it hadn't been in the script, then it was probably his
addition. I just gave him a thumb's up and he grinned. I said
that perfectly epitomized what I thought Buck would have been like.
Earlier I had asked Thom if some of "Time of the Hawk" had been filmed at Vasquez Rocks and he said yes. I have been there, it was hot as Hades, He said it was hot then, too.
It was not long afterward that Mariet and I left, regretfully, but we were both pooped. The next day I returned home, happy that I could have come and met so many new friends.
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