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Brad Wright has the right stuff to be executive producer on Stargate SG-1

Have you seen our Stargate SG-1 coverage in TV Zone's recent issues?
SG-1: Now boarding, Gate 2
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selected from TV Zone #123

Richard Dean Anderson interview
TV Zone #117
Teryl Rothery (Dr Fraiser) interview
TV Zone #120
Peter DeLuise (director) interview
TV Zone #118
Don S. Davis
(Gen. Hammond) interview
TV Zone #116
Christopher Judge (Teal'c) interview
TV Zone #115
Season Two guide, six pages
TV Zone #114
Amanda Tapping (Sam Carter) talks
TV Zone #111
Michael Shanks
(Daniel Jackson) interview
TV Zone #109
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Brad Wright, SG-1 Executive ProducerNowadays, most people spend more time at the office than they do at home, so it helps if they like their job. Fortunately, Stargate SG-1 executive producer/writer Brad Wright loves his! A big Science Fiction fan, he produced and wrote for The Outer Limits before joining Jonathan Glassner to develop Stargate for television.

That was back in 1997, but Wright recalls clearly, and with some amusement, the less-than auspicious start to the shooting of the show’s pilot episode Children of the Gods in Vancouver.

“It was the middle of February and we were doing exterior shots up in the mountains,” he says. “On our first day of filming we had rain on a scale that was practically a national disaster. I remember going to the set and looking at Christopher Judge [Teal’c], who had shaved his head for the part. You lose a great deal of body heat through the top of your head, even more so if you’re bald. Well, poor Christopher wasn’t used to the cold. There he was as Teal’c trying to keep his voice low and look very imposing while his lower lip was quivering...

“That same day there was a very rare accident in the film processing that left a gigantic scratch right down the middle of an entire roll of film, so we ended up with almost no useful footage. But after that – maybe it was good karma or maybe we had used up all our bad luck – it began to get warmer, the rain stopped, everyone pulled together and we started to make the series. That first day was the toughest, and if it had been a harbinger of what was to come I think we all would have shot ourselves,” jokes Wright.

“The difficult thing about Stargate is that as a television series it’s fairly massive in scope,” concedes the executive producer. “It’s a big concept. I mean, the Stargate itself is 20 feet high. When we ‘visit’ another planet and want to put a Stargate there, which makes sense considering our heroes arrive through one, that means that the walls of our set have to be at least 30 feet high.

“Suddenly you’re building this huge set just to accommodate the Stargate. The solution to that is to go outdoors on location. Well, we can do that but there are only so many areas in and around Vancouver that don’t have trees. In some of our early episodes it was, ‘OK, here we are on this planet with trees,’ and then the following week it was, ‘Here’s another planet and, oh, look, it has trees.’ We had a hard time mixing the stories up enough (to show that) there are other worlds that have a totally different look and feel.

Filming of Stargate’s third season finished last October but Wright and the rest of the production team were already hard at work planning Season Four, which begins shooting in February. Upcoming episodes include a journey to the original Goa’uld homeworld and the return of SG-1’s arch enemy Apophis (Peter Williams). One major change for the fourth season is the departure of Jonathan Glassner, who is moving on to develop other projects, but will still be a creative consultant for the series.

“Jonathan and I have been remarkably good at spinning yarns out of thin air while under duress,” jokes Wright. “Whenever it seemed as if everything was falling apart, we could calmly sit down together and dream up an idea that ended up becoming a pretty good or, sometimes, great story. He’s a terrific guy and I’m going to miss having such a powerful writing machine across the hall.”

Wright is thrilled with Stargate’s continued success in first-run cable and worldwide syndication but does not intend to rest on his laurels when it comes to its future. “We can’t get stale,” he says. “I don’t want to get to a point where the viewers are saying, ‘Isn’t this a variation on one they’ve already done?’ We have to make sure that we continue to come up with solid, entertaining stories. After all, that’s what us Science Fiction fans want.”

Steven Eramo

Jonathan Glassner talks here >>>
• Also in this interview: Brad Wright on sulphur deserts, writing for Carter and O'Neill, Michael Shanks' appendix crisis and more

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