LEXX Convention: Invasion of the Moderators – Interviews and Comment – PART ONE
NOTE: Comments by FX, BlackCloud and thefrey are maked appropriately.
Wednesday, October 3, 2001
< FX > After doing 101 last minute things including dropping my dog and his luggage off with my longsuffering friends and their dogs, I am finally on the way to the airport. My shoulder bag is stuffed with about 20 pounds of printouts from the sadboard (all the questions that you peeps have brought up in the last several months)…I also have my emails from mamabear regarding contacts at Electropolis who will hopefully be looking out for us on Thursday morning….Needless to say, I arrive at the airport way too early given the changes in travel, and spend 3 hours hunting books and looking at guardsman with guns and so forth…It is going to be a very long day as there are no direct flights to Halifax, and the layover at Newark airport is going to test my will to continue on into Halifax when I really just want to run into NYC and see friends and colleagues.
Arriving at Newark was weird familiar; I had spent so much time there over the last few months that my feet automatically took me to my favorite haunts, even as I was getting myself back together after the jolt of seeing the altered skyline from the air on the way in. So I spent the layover NOT getting on a bus into the city, looking for theFrey, and calling a lot of people. Frey and I finally found each other at the gate for the Hali flight, and got to know each other as we waited to get to THE MECCA (yeah, right 😉 )
The flight was good as there were an unusual number of well built and flirtatious men on it. Appears several Canadian boys from Nova Scotia work on an oilrig in the gulf, and they were coming back to Hali for their three weeks of R and R! I haven’t had that much solicitous company while smoking and waiting for my luggage in a while, and I found it a good omen when a couple of them asked me if I wanted to go out with them later in town…Guess what the name of the bar they wanted to go to was? yup, the Shoe ;-)…however, I am happy to report that there are in fact quite a few bars in Halifax, I just didn’t have the time to hit them all….Frey had rented us a truck (yeah, we didn’t look like ma and pa kettle rolling around Halifax!) and after a really long and really rural trip we finally made into Hali at about 1 in the am…and yes, being females we had no problems asking directions when we were lost…several times…Once at the hotel we ditched the bags and went to find snacks and alcohol…we wanted to get to Electropolis early however, so we decided to forego a seriously late and social evening….
< thefrey > Ah Hem. Fx, I did not ‘rent us a truck’, I reserved us a subcompact. Being someone not unaware of the perils of dealing with vendors, I even made a trip out to the car dealerships in my area to examine the choices available from this rental agency. Which is not to say that I am particular or fussy, nope not me (!). Of all the cars offered, the one I chose had the most comfortable interior and luggage space for the compact price. I confirmed that my preference was being held for me while waiting for you in Newark. Can I help it if they rented them all to other people while we waited in that horrible line for forty-five minutes? The woman at the rental agency counter was obviously deranged when she offered me that other subcompact. No my dear, you mess up my arrangements, you better come up with something sweeter for the same money. Besides, the Ford Explorer Sport Trac was much more comfortable that the Focus would have been. Although it was not without its down side, and I am not talking about the aforementioned stereotypical Texan rolling in to town driving a truck.
< FX > Uh huh, all we were missing were long horns and a gun rack…
< thefrey > But you are right about the long rural trip, lord, I was waiting for the wolves to start pacing along side the truck like something out of a Russian fairy tale. I do admit to being surprised that there was not more development in the airport corridor leading to Halifax.
Thursday, October 4th
< thefrey > God, I would have killed for four hours of sleep, but as the Queen of Crafters, I had several things that I wasn’t able to finish before I left due to time constraints and packing logistics. So after we parted company to go to bed, I spent about two hours finishing up my projects.
< FX > TheFrey of course was also tired but willing to get an early start on the adventure. So off we go in our big black truck, braving the wild and hilly streets of Hali to find Electropolis…now thanks to all the photos from previous uncons, I at least knew what I was looking for…but the humongous building on the water was ‘too big’ according to theFrey…so we kept on driving, and found a smaller building with an Electropolis sign.
< thefrey > Hey, what can I say? I remember seeing pictures of this sign and building in some of the write ups from a few years ago.
< FX > We parked and wandered around and found a bus depot on one side and a carpentry shop with lots of people running around with bits and pieces of sets…but no sign of crew or cast…finally we went up some stairs to ask for our first contact, Brian Cosens….The people upstairs took one look at us and said, ‘Lexx people?! You want the building back the other way ‘…I think I heard a sigh of relief as we took off back to the building that I had wanted to stop at in the first place!
< FX > After maneuvering the truck into place, we saw that we were in the right place immediately, as there were forlorn bits and pieces of Lexx all over the parking lot, including Stan’s bed, the space shuttle and broken bits of the bridge….very depressing I must say…but we squared our shoulders and headed up the stairs to Electropolis.
< thefrey > Fx is right, the props and sections of Lexx in various stages of dismemberment were very unsettling. Then as we entered the building and looked up several flights of stairs, I felt a feeling of impending dread. That feeling it turns out had more to do with the steps then our mission, but more on that later. I often times get these little psychic flashes, or do I mean psychotic?
< FX > We quickly hooked up with our first contact Brian Cosens, who promptly led us to a charming assistant director named Jason Shipley. Jason did an admirable job of walking around with a headset keeping stuff moving while giving us a tour of the various studios. We made it to studio 1, the huge studio where so many lucky Lexxians have gotten to peer down on the happenings below.
Studio 1 had a giant chessboard for the actors to stand under with their heads poking through the tiles for The Game. Next to this was a ground level chessboard with a medieval looking sort of rolling iron maiden. The unfortunate actor is locked up in this thing with his head sticking out while crew members drag the maiden around the chessboard with a rope. Ah, the glamorous life of an actor.
< thefrey > I spent a few hours in this studio chatting with the makeup and production assistants while watching Brian being tortured on this set. Not only was he locked into the Iron Maiden, but also he had to sit on a small hard seat, which was raised and lowered hydraulically while the maiden was being moved to various locations. Doubtless this would be more fun for Brian if the construction of the Iron Maiden did not make him list backwards. I’m sure that being constantly told to straighten up only added to his enjoyment.
< FX > It appears that The Game has been filming for four weeks now, and has become the episode that wouldn’t die. Paul Donovan wrote it, and the outdoor location scenes are what Nigel, MM and Paul took off for Iceland for right before the uncon to shoot. So actually, this eppy has been dragging along since June. Cast and crew were convinced that the episode would never actually be finished, and that they will be getting called in to do ‘just one more scene’ for the rest of eternity. Brian opined that he would get the call on Christmas Eve to come back in. More on The Game later.
Jason also pointed out the ‘boardroom’ upstairs where the beans and cast hold meetings, bang out scripts, smoke, scratch and see how many sounds their bodies can make while plotting more Lexx dementia. We then cruised along to the main hallway where crew, cast, and most importantly, caterers hang out between takes. We were finally going to see the bridge of the Lexx, studio 2, Mecca, site of every Lexxian’s fantasy shot of him or her putting his or her hand out and saying “Lexx, destroy that planet/child/bag lady/self involved actor.” Oh wait that last one comes under the heading of child, right? …As we pushed through many rushing people, a very recognizable voice rang out, and with the distinctive Stan the Man whine said “That’s right girls, just walk right past me…” Being a well-trained New Yorker, I ignore strange men calling out to me as I walk by, but Frey was already turned around and babbling about how ‘we didn’t recognize you with your back turned.’….WE hell, I didn’t even see the tall thin man in a red jumpsuit with a red beanie! Remember, I have been walking through subway tunnels ignoring the guy masturbating in the corner for years now. At any rate, Brian quickly retorted “Ah yes, and I have an eminently forgettable ASS” I felt committed at this point to put on my party manners and exchange air kisses while making appropriate noises of greeting.
As many of you know first hand, Brian makes it easy to just relax and enjoy the ride. He tucked us under protective Downey-wings and ushered us to studio 2 where he was shooting under Paul D’s direction. So with no time to recover, I was shaking hands with another tall thin gentleman with very white legs and a baseball cap. (I thought he had nice knees) Paul told us that they were filming YoVeyYo, in HQ24 (High Definition Video) and please don’t give away the plot. So we won’t.
Brian crawled into his moth and worked against green screen while 1st AD Caroline Richards cued him his lines. Kai and Xev had filmed their portions of the same scene on the previous day. Paul is very intense, very driven, and something of a perfectionist. As I watched the same scene being shot over and over, I remembered again why I usually don’t go to watch films being shot. It’s beyond painful. On the bright side, I know this show, so I actually understood what was going on, and why Paul would finally decide they were done with a particular scene. Some of the time. Besides, every time there was a break, Brian would drag me back to his ‘office’ (a stairway behind the scenery) where we would frantically puff cigarettes, and continue getting acquainted. Too crowded for groping though, so everything was quite platonic.
< thefrey > This is where I got my first look at the death trap that is the Lexx Bridge set. The place was an accident waiting to happen. The whole set is raised between six and eight feet in the air, with many, many places for the unwary to trip or misstep. Paul Donovan’s chair was placed on a piece of decking which had been clamped into place over one of the openings. The cat walks, you know the ones the crew come pelting down to enter the bridge? They have open spaces on both sides, are tilted slightly and angle sharply as soon as they leave the bridge. The catwalks end behind the set at a narrow set of right angle steps which have no hand rails and overlook an even more open unprotected space. Oh, but safety is not totally forgotten, each tiny set of steps has a sign taped on them telling people to be *careful*! Ha!
< FX > As the morning progressed, Paul decided to show Brian the tapes from the previous day’s shoot, where Kai and Xev are in their own moths in the same scene, which will all be tied together by CGI and editing. As we all watched the monitor, Frey and I were hit with the dreadful realization that we now knew exactly how Lexx will end. I felt like the kid who finds out what his gifts are a week before Christmas morning. All the light went out of this trip for me right then, and DAMMIT I know who is responsible for this! I turned to Frey and said “Well I guess I can go home right now” But I had already asked Brian out to dinner that night. F***.
< BlackCloud > And, may I thank you both, again, for ruining my Christmas morning by talking me into going somewhere that this bit of information was available. . Hello! The saying is “Ignorance is bliss?” That kind of put a howitzer to bliss’ ole head now, didn’t it? (sniff!) Ah, who am I kidding, it’s the kind of bad news you have to know, even if you know you don’t really want to know it, y’know? (How many times can you use ‘know’ in a sentence class?)
< thefrey > Well as a child who use to actively seek out her presents, and became an expert at rewrapping them to pass parental inspection, the fact that I had found out the ending did not hit me as hard as perhaps it did FX and Blackie. I will admit to being partially responsible for them being there, but I was not responsible for that hard hitting ending. And as FX said, we do know who is responsible for that.
For me, possibly the highlight of the trip came when after viewing the tape, Paul turned to say something to Brian. As he looked at Brian, he noticed us. The expression that came over his face, as he realized that he had just let us view the absolute climax of the whole series was priceless. We were yet again pledged to secrecy.
< FX > Anyway, I still had to pick up BlackCloud at the airport, so I morosely sat down to watch the rest of the scene unfold. In between trips to the potty (hey, it’s cold in that studio!) I finally saw him, McManus, la Garbo, whatever. We were rushing past each other in different directions on the stairs, and ignoring each other, when we both ended up in studio 2.
< BlackCloud > (I vant to be alone. Heh! 🙂 )
< thefrey > I was oblivious to FX’s comings and goings as I had just found out that I was going to have to do the Donovan interview. This is when I discovered the existence of FX’s twenty pounds of printouts from the Sadboard. Since I was planning on doing transcription while FX questioned him, I was not familiar with the questions, and was not prepared to talk to the man while flipping back and forth through a wad of print outs.
So I was feverishly organizing the posts by subject and rewriting them in my note book when FX returned from one of her little jaunts and nudged me asking how long HE had been there. I humbly apologize to FX for my behavior at the time, since I am afraid I growled at her to leave me alone and let me get this mess organized. She persisted in her attempt to get my attention like the saint that she is, until I grasped the fact that I had been within a few feet of MM for an unknown amount of time without realizing it.
< BlackCloud > What? You two never mentioned you had the man alone in your sights for full interview time and never said anything to him! Oy Baitsim (not that I have any)! Maybe, now this is just a maybe, maybe he was actually waiting to be interviewed and possibly felt snubbed when it didn’t happen? I know, I know, too many years on psych units have this effect on you. “Take a number, pull up a couch!”
< thefrey > Good heavens Blackie! It was in the middle of a shoot. They were WORKING, what did you want us to do? Tell Mr. Donovan to wait a few and drag him off for an interview? He disappeared as soon as they were done with this scene.
Anyhow….. I looked up, and d*mned if FX wasn’t right. There he was. How freaking peachy, but I still had another few pages of posts to organize or I was going to look like an idiot when I talked to Mr. Donovan. I’m sorry, but not even the chance to check out MM was enough of a payback against the possibility of my looking like an unprepared yutz. So I virtuously continued my scribbling for several more minutes until I was finished. I was finally paying attention when this next little conversation took place.
< FX > McGarbo then proceeded to ignore almost everyone in studio 2. Brian went to him at one point, and we heard Mikey say “I finally signed all that stuff you left me, except for that one pile, I know a dealer when I see one!” Hmmm. Someone hoping to be able to retire off their e-bay earnings? Seriously Mr. McManus, how much money can you make off of Lexx memorabilia for chrissake?!
< BlackCloud > (Oh, yeah, right. If that were true I’d have my trading card back from uncon. I even left five funny monies there attached to it for return mailing because it was Sunday and the post was closed. Bet ya spent that on cancer sticks, “dealer” boy, eh? Ye gads, what a goon! Bloody self-important egomania… Oops, I said I’d let that go, didn’t I? Sorry, never mind.)
< thefrey > Apparently someone had sent MM several pics to be signed. He signed the one on the top and left the rest blank, because as he said, he knows a dealer when he sees one. Unfortunately the thought that a group of fans might have decided that having MM send one envelope back to someone who could distribute them to the rest of the group, rather than making Salter Street mail multiple envelopes did not occur to him. I do hope it was a dealer and not a group of disappointed fans who had tried to make life easier for him. (Note: the three items I had left in a self addressed envelope for him are *not* destined for Ebay, they were for three different people who begged me to try and get them autographs. Although I will admit, I attached different names to two of them, so that there would be no confusion.)
< FX > Anyway, after that sour little aside, the filming began again, except this time MM was calling out lines for Brian to play against, as opposed to playing to a cavernous dark studio with a green screen. And MM actually sang the chant folks, and it was haunting and beautiful and all that good stuff. Sorry Saddy, but Mikey does not sing ‘like an ashtray’: it was very moving and plaintive and it worked. We all got teary, including Brian. Paul quietly said ‘cut’, and it was over. MM then went over to talk to Brian, who was now trying to get back out of the mood they had all worked so hard to create. I mentioned this surprising solicitousness on MM’s part to Brian later that night, and he shrugged it off by saying “He was just doing the right thing.”
It was now time for me to go rescue Blackie from the airport, so let’s cut to Frey’s interview with Paul which occurred while I was tearing around Nova Scotia.
<thefrey > Ah yes, the unexpected interview. Hummmmmn. Shortly after FX left, and Brian got a call on his cell phone from His Divine Shadow, Mr. Donovan broke the crew for lunch. Oh all right, it could have been anyone on the phone, but it cracked the crew up and they did a few catcalls to Brain, asking why his Divine Shadow was interrupting the shot.
As we waited in line at the catering truck, Mr. Donovan spoke to Xenia. You could tell just by looking at her that the poor thing was not feeling well. Xenia assured him that she would hold up okay, if she kept taking her medicine and using her throat spray. We got lunch, went back up the stairs from hell to pick up silverware, salads and drinks and then went down the d*mn stairs to a picnic table just outside of the Electropolis studio by the parking lot. With much forethought, I only took a piece of roast turkey and a roll, and didn’t even get to finish that! Sigh…. And it looked so good too. After he finished his lunch, and I pitched my mostly untouched portion we then walked to a Buddhist coffee shop that Mr. Donovan favors just a few blocks away to finish up the interview.
This interview was very kindly granted to us during Mr. Donovan’s lunch break. A few questions were missed, but I assure you that they were missed due to lack of time, not to any reluctance on the part of Mr. Donovan
Please also be aware that I am paraphrasing, since I do not know shorthand, therefore any typos or misstatements are due to my transcription skills, or lack thereof. Who knew that I would someday regret not learning shorthand?
< thefrey > Are you currently working on any other shows or feature films or is Lexx consuming all you energies?
Paul Donovan: I am just working on Lexx, it will take until spring to finish all the post production work. (Note; Mr. Donovan pointed out later that doing twenty four one hour episodes was the same as shooting twelve full length movies. Which would account for him not having a lot of other irons in the fire.)
<thefrey > As a story writer how do you feel about people creating their own stories based on your characters and themes. Is it a compliment or are you like Ann Rice and consider it an affront?
Paul Donovan: No, I don’t mind, after all script writers do this all the time. As long as people enjoy it, I have no problem with it.
<thefrey > What was your favorite Lexx episode, and why?
Paul Donovan: Does it have to be an episode that has already been seen? I think that the episode we are working on right now ‘Prime Ridge’ is going to be great. Also the episode ‘The Game’ is very experimental, it is either going to be really great, or really bad. It is not going to be a normal episode even for Lexx; it is a game, nothing but a chess game.
<thefrey > What is the funniest thing that happened during the production of season four.
Paul Donovan: Well that’s hard to say, so much of it is either only funny to us, in jokes, misbehavior and stuff like that or it is stuff that is not the least bit funny at the time. Crises of various kinds, and it is hard to find later when enough time has passed that it becomes funny, but we are trying to keep better track of it this year for the bloopers reel.
<thefrey > Lexx brought a breath of Star Wars to TV and left several fans with feelings they had not had since the premier of Star Wars. Was it your intent to make the Sci Fi community sit up and take notice, or did you feel that you had a great story and that was good enough for you?
Paul Donovan: I was also struck by Star Wars. There was no sense of competition with Star Wars, but that would be a worth while ambition to have achieved the same effect. I especially liked the way Star Wars told the story first and was science fiction second. I felt that Lexx had a freshness that much of television was lacking.
<thefrey > Did you think that Salter Street would be as big as it has become?
Paul Donovan: I was in a tunnel the last six years working on Lexx and while I hoped it would be successful, but I didn’t think it would be this big.
<thefrey > Has running such a large enterprise such as Salter Street affected your outlook on life or your writing?
Paul Donovan: I haven’t run Salter Street in a long time, just Lexx.
<thefrey > It has been said on the boards that if Sci Fi picks up Lexx for a fifth season, MM will not be back.
Paul Donovan: That is not even a matter for discussion. Sci Fi would probably accept a fifth season, but we made it clear to them that we are not planning one. We are worried that if Lexx continues there is a good possibility of the creativity being exhausted.
<thefrey > Which editing ticks you off the worst, the cuts for sex or violence?
Paul Donovan: Probably the violence, as it is mostly done with lightness, unlike some of the darker stuff that you see.
<thefrey > After a few seasons did you feel a need to stay consistent or did you just let the story go its own way?
Paul Donovan: There was a main story line but both the story and characters were constantly developing as we went.
<thefrey > Has Lexx changed much from your initial vision?
Paul Donovan: Yes, now that it is almost over I have finally figured out how to do it.
<thefrey > Is the divine order or insect control going to be reintroduced in season 4?
Paul Donovan: No….. Not really.
<thefrey > What was the deal with the two talking stars on Brunnis in Supernova?
Paul Donovan: That was just stuck in there for fun, why shouldn’t stuff be fun?
<thefrey > Was MM doubling for the guy Dale in Texx Lexx?
Paul Donovan: Yes, sharp eyes there, someone wins an award.
<thefrey > What have you got against bald German men? Both Dr. Kazaan from Luv Liner and Mantrid have be bald, Germanic and overwhelmingly evil.
Paul Donovan: Nothing at all, but the first three seasons were German co-productions and shaved heads are very popular there in certain circles.
<thefrey > What is the story behind Sci Fi not promoting Lexx the way they do their in house shows? And how do you feel about it being banished to late-late Sundays during it’s re-runs when this not necessarily the case for the other Friday night Sci Fi programming while they are in re-run?
Paul Donovan: I’m not really sure what exactly this is referring to. Sci Fi has told us that the promotional push for Lexx would be equal to their other shows.
<thefrey > Ed. Note: I then explained about the marathon twenty-four hour Sci-Fi tapings just trying to catch a premier promo, and the Farscape, Chronicle and Invisible Man promos till your ears bleed, as opposed to a single Lexx promo during Lexx and the occasional Summer of Sci Fi snippet. I also pointed out the close ratings between Farscape and Lexx despite the virtual promo black out for Lexx.
Paul Donovan: Well, different shows require a different amount of viewership to justify their cost. So it is possible that Sci Fi might be more heavily pushing the shows that cost it more money than Lexx does, especially if they are in house shows. (Note: Is this guy just too diplomatic for words or what!)
<thefrey > Why is Lexx being shown at different times in different countries?
Paul Donovan: This is a time span problem, the networks purchase the show and then decide when to show it for according to their own internal reasons. Once we are finished with it, it leaves our hands.
<thefrey > Any chance of the rights to Lexx be sold for future Lexx shows?
Paul Donovan: This decision now belongs to Alliance Atlantis, but I have not heard anything about that.
<thefrey > Can you change your marketing outfit to give the Lexx stuff more exposure?
Paul Donovan: All of that is now under Alliance Atlantis that will be up to them. I have not heard anything but they may focus on it in the future. (Note: When I spoke with Lex later, He said not to even get him started on this topic!)
<thefrey > any chance of a movie version of Lexx?
Paul Donovan: That idea is kind of far fetched right now.
<thefrey > Is there any chance of a made for TV prequel?
Paul Donovan: If there was a good budget and script I would not mind being involved. But I feel it is time to move on.
<thefrey > Are their any plans on doing some Lexx books?
Paul Donovan: Well there have been some discussions, but the publishers want someone to write them and the Lexx writers are too busy writing the show. Perhaps when things slow down, but I am not currently inclined to do it.
<thefrey > What is happening with the Darrow/Valdron ‘All about Lexx’ Book?
Paul Donovan: The powers that be in regards to projects like this now rest in the hands of Alliance Atlantis and it will depend on what they want to focus on. Although I am very pleased because Darrow knows the show better than anyone.
<thefrey > What are your plans for the future?
Paul Donovan: I have some ideas about doing a mini series, but I’m not sure who I might do it with. One of the things I am thinking of is using CGI to do historical drama, instead of creating a parallel universe I would be creating Renaissance Italy. I think that would be very interesting.
<thefrey > I thanked Mr. Donovan for the interview and he went up to the offices to check on a few things. I proceeded to wander about the studio, visiting other Crew members.
After having a nice little shoptalk with Colleen McMaster and Sandy who are two of the accountants for Lexx. I wandered back to the main waiting area, got something to drink and chatted with several more of the crew and cast.
I also talked to Louis Del Grande who some of you will remember as the Roada the Cleric from the episode Twilight. He is a totally too funny actor, who originally hailed from the New York area, but has been living in Canada for about a million years. How funny is he? Well I had noticed him in the distance talking to MM earlier, and let me tell you, anyone who can make MM laugh several times has got to be a howl. I found this to be true a few minutes later when I spoke to him. He is over the top even when just shooting the breeze in the break area. He introduced me to Ms. Blanchette and Chris Bould who was the director for Viva Lexx Vegas, and then we chatted about his kids and how much he likes Canada. He was curious about us, so I explained how the Texas, New York and Florida crowd made it to Nova Scotia via a website developer in England when none of us had ever met face to face. We then discussed Texas, (don’t ask X) and I made him laugh a time or two. He was so cool that I was disappointed when he was called back to continue his shots.
I next talked to Andrulla Blanchette, an incredibly buff looking broad who was brought in as the Queen of Sheba to challenge Xev during Viva Lexx Vegas. Well I guess it would take a former Ms Olympia (2000 lightweight division) to be a match for our favorite clusterlizard loveslave. Andrulla is a very nice Londoner who owns a few gyms and does personal training. Ignoring her wig (what is it with Lexx and these wigs from hell?) she gave me a little back ground information on herself. In addition to what must already be a full time job with her gyms, she also does some modeling and acting. She said that she had done a lots of talk shows, personal appearances and was once in a heavy metal band’s music video for a for a song called ‘In Heaven Tonight’ (Cheap Trick?) She is currently in training for the Ms. Olympia competition and will complete for this title in Las Vegas on the 26th of October. http://www.andrulla.com/about_me.htm
I then decided to go watch Brian filming ‘The Game’. Between takes of Brian being wheeled around in the aforementioned Iron Maiden, I was standing in the semi-dark chatting with a super nice lady named Paulette who was one of the freelance hairdressers. I turned to snag a chair and almost ran into MM. It was so dark in the studio and he was wearing such dark clothes that I didn’t realize it was him until he had almost passed me and I noticed the silhouette of the ‘Hair-do from Hell’.
Having successfully snagged my chair, I then sat down and continued chatting with Paulette, one of the makeup ladies and a free flowing group of other production people. I was told that most of the craft people are freelance. Crafts include the people from makeup, wardrobe, carpentry, design, sound, electrical and filming, in other words practically everyone there, including the accounting peeps! Most of the ones I talked to said they had a good lead on another position, and several had jobs lined up and waiting for them. And as one gentleman said, any smart freelancer keeps a few months reserve in the bank. Still, I couldn’t help but be concerned for them, even as they themselves took it all in stride. Ah well, lets get back to FX shall we.
< FX > Meanwhile, I had found Blackie, and a fresh supply of (Canadian) cigarettes, and we traded insults and terrorized Canadians as we headed back to Hali and Electropolis.
< BlackCloud > I have to admit, I was a bit of a coward both coming and going to NYC during my trip. Usually, I photograph the skyline; I’ve got dozens of pics, in all types of weather and ozone levels. However, this time, all I could do was stare at the dashboard. Then, my ride dropped me at the wrong terminal in Newark, thus giving me a chance to familiarize myself with the Monorail. (Sadly, I sat inside humming the “Simpsons” monorail tune in my head the whole time) I also arrived too early and lay in a pool of drool, half asleep waiting for time to board my plane. Oh, I’m sorry, did I say plane? Planes are bigger than vans aren’t they? When the thing with wings finally got to Halifax, I was wondering if I’d recognize FX again, having only met her once, but when I saw that “Alright-no-time-to-chat-let’s-move-I’m double-parked” expression coming toward me (or, in this case, meter’s timed out), I thought, “New Yorker=FX”
It was great to see her again and I was becoming excited about the prospect of spending time watching the day-to-day workings of the filming of “Lexx.” I’d met most of the ‘stars’ at uncon so I’d pretty much gotten that out of my system.
< FX > We lost Frey for most of that afternoon, but we did find Jason who tried to start the tour over again. This time, we got shanghaied by Lex. Lex Gigeroff is everything you have heard and then some. For the record Saddy, Lexx says that the wife and kids are fine, and yes, the pregnant spliffs are still being consumed, mon! I never did get up the nerve to ask Paul D if he was schtupping Eva H, but I did notice he showed up at the Lexx Wrap party with requisite gorgeous blonde trophy-girlfriend in tow. (To the victor go the spoils…) And you thought these guys went into film because of having to share their artistic vision, right?
Lex showed us a series of smaller studios, including the King Tut room with prominent tacky bed for Viva Lexx Vegas, the airforce one set for same, as well as the oval office which we have all seen a few times now. We wandered through prop rooms and what not with Lex talking a mile a minute. He, like Paul is adamant about no more Lexx. He has a bunch of other things on the burner, but right now Lex doesn’t want to even think about anything remotely Sci Fi, let alone Lexx. I then asked him how in the world had Lexx ever come to be: the answer was, not surprisingly, surprising. It appears that Paul had been looking at CGI and the possibilities it presented for an affordable version of a WWI movie. In the process of investigating CGI, the now famous scene of Stanley H. Tweedle, government grunt, sitting at a desk flicking nuts and bolts at a robot’s ass was created. That scene was shopped around and eventually bought by some unsuspecting type with more money than sense, and the rest, as they say, is history. Paul now had money, and a couple of scenes, and he just had to come up with a movie, or four, to go with it. No problem gathers up your cronies, and get to work.
Lex’s own philosophy is that when he sees a movie and knows how it is going to end, then the movie has failed. “I am interested in not the left hand turn, but the sudden left hand turn”…that no one saw coming. In terms of one of his favorite movies, Alien: here we have the captain, Dallas, heroic, strong, silent and good looking-leading his troops to victory. Oops, the captain just got snuffed, now what the hell do we do? Well, okay, there’s a woman over here, I guess she’ll have to take over, except she doesn’t really lead the troops to victory, she just kind of barely escapes. With her cat. I am not sure I agree with Lex on all of this, but I was surprised by anyone taking that much trouble over a cat.
< BlackCloud > Gotta agree with ya there; what was up with the ‘think-I’ll-die-an-alien-death-for-a-cat’ thing? I bet the cat would’ve just split, if the roles were reversed. “Sorry, Ridley, look at the time. Got a fur ball to cough up!”
< FX > Anyway, the setting up the obvious hero, and then destroying him early on was definitely the premise of IWHS: first we all get to see live Kai, an obvious hero type, die heroically. Then our next hero type, Thodin gets destroyed by the first hero who got killed.. So ‘DeadKai’ as hero is actually the molding of these first two ‘obvious heroes’. This all made sense when Lex was saying it, but I was sleep deprived at the time.
So why insects as aliens/baddies in the Lexx universe(s)? Well, the one thing that bothered both Lex and Paul about Sci Fi, including the original Star Trek (which they loved, but not the various incarnations thereafter) was “why don’t the aliens look ALIEN? Why are they always…humans with, like, blue antennae?” Okay, I’ll buy that; is there anything as alien looking as a praying mantis?
< BlackCloud > (Marilyn Manson? Dennis Rodman?)
< FX > The Lex talk quickly degenerated from there; he wanted to know what Blackie’s favorite episodes were from each season, as well as mine. When I said ‘Eating Pattern’, we talked about addiction, and how weird (and fat) Rutger Hauer had become. Tim Curry on the other hand, had been a joy to work with, since he told Lex he liked working on weird movies, after all, look what Rocky Horror had done for him. I asked Lex about Dr. Rainbow, and any traumatic rectal exams he was working out. Lex said that actually Dr. R. was an extended version of one of his favorite routines. It appears Lex loves to imitate Dustin Hoffman being autistic. So Rainman became Dr. Rainbow. We also asked if Lex played roles because he wanted to or because they were short of money. A combination of both; he played Divine Shadow/Criminal because he wanted to, as well as the singer in Eating Pattern.And he had fun with both, and with Dr. Rainbow. But the six characters in Lafftrack he got dragged into kicking and screaming “Where’s the German actor you said was going to do this?”. Lex’s favorite episode by the way, is Brigadoom. It was the “first time in years my brother and I had written music together. We just pounded it out in a few days”. And it was also a way to give some background on Kai, and the insect wars. Plus he has always loved the magical aspects of Brigadoon; a place you visit at midnight where all these stories are told and anything can happen, existing out of time and space. By this point we had smoked ourselves silly, and also beaten the topic of Bin-laden to death, so we decided to finish our tour of Electropolis.
Just as I was asking some really incisive questions about the relationship of Kai to Spock, MM wandered out. He waited until he had everyone’s attention, and then asked if Blackie and I were the ‘web board moderators’ (Electropolis had been warned of our arrival on the call sheets for October 4 and 5)…We said yes, at which point MM said “I’m Michael” and stuck out a Michael-paw. We shook, and he made some comment about my grip at which point Jason (who had rejoined us) and Lex, chimed in with “yeah she got us too”… This rapidly led to a discussion of kung fu, at which point I was more than embarrassed, and decided to move on and let Michael bitch to Jason about something or other.
< BlackCloud > I believe, “Oooo, you’ve got a firm grip!” was a compliment or awkward attempt at conversation. I told FX that MM reminded me of my oldest brother, socially awkward but ultimately friendly if you get to know him, which is hard because he’s always talking! Not that there’s anything wrong with talking; only when you think what you’re saying is in the final analysis more important than what anyone else is saying. Of course, that’s just my opinion, I could be blonde.
< FX > By the way, this was to be a recurring pattern with McManus; he would come out and stand silently until everyone looked at him, and then he would state his business, and people would run around to try and solve whatever was peeving him.
Anyway, we continued on with Lex, and he said one more thing which we should all keep in mind when watching Lexx unfurl over the next few months; “Dead is never dead in Lexx” (spoiler 😉 ) We chitchatted some more and eventually ended up back at studio 3 which has a giant cage in it for a large part of the Viva Lexx Vegas episode. We watched Xenia battle Ms. Olympia in the cage for a few takes, while being emceed by a sleazoid played by Louis Del Grande, who is sort of a totem in Canada, well known b actor type. Xenia was in a serious Cleopatra outfit in keeping with the King Tut motif of the episode, and performing gamely despite being sick as a dog with bronchitis. Between takes she would come out and look for her mommy, who was there watching Xenia finish up Lexx in Halifax. Mama Xenia is a beautiful woman and obviously proud enough to bust of her little “Schwatzy”. 😉
<thefrey > After several trips up and down the stairway from hell, I ran into the rest of our intrepid little crew. I was introduced to BlackCloud and then FX, Blackie and I brought each other up to speed on what we had been doing the last several hours. After being berated for not coming to find them when Nigel Bennet showed up, I then got the good news that I had missed getting introduced to MM. Ah well. In between FX and Blackie kept popping in to watch Viva Lexx Vegas. (In an incredibly hot studio, have these people never heard of air conditioning?)
I was hanging in the much cooler but still too warm break area introducing myself to Xenia’s mom, Patricia Zentilli and Rolf Kanies. Patricia and Rolf were just a joy. God are they nice! And funny too. I just can’t do them justice in a little snipplet, perhaps Saddy would let me add something about them at a later date. Both of them were just wonderful. Shortly thereafter as luck would have it a magazine wielding MM decided to grace the room with his presence.
< BlackCloud > Three of the sweetest souls on the set, I must say. Patricia “Bunny” and Rolf “Priest” are chill-and-grab-a-cigarette-while-shootin’-the-breeze friendly and at ease. This was good because there were definite moments of unease that these souls, like Brian, just dissipated with their presence. It’s no wonder Xenia was looking for her mommy when she was feeling down and out. I would be too if she were as kind and supportive…and on-set 14hrs? Whatta mom!
More on Rolf later, I’m sure, but I happened in on one of the funniest moments when I went up to see some of the marine bit that I kept hearing about in “ApocaLexx Now.” Everyone was talking about it; I kept seeing brawny marine-clad actors around all day, so I finally made my way up. I saw Bunny sitting on a tower, clad in her red, white, and blue bikini waiting to put the troops through their paces. She stood up, just as the ‘troops’ came running up, only they weren’t the troops…they were the crew! It took a moment for me to realize these weren’t brawny marine-types when I saw some skinny legs in shorts and a couple pairs of sandals. Then, I saw glasses on one of the others and thought, “No, is that Donovan, too!? Hah! How much fun is that!” My boss is a total pratt-ass; at least theirs is cool enough to have fun! (Of course, she probably reads Sad and I’m totally fired now. Right! Good! I quit! (sorry, channeling Tweedle, gov’t worker 4th class) Bunny was running the production crew through the marines’ routine and I think some of the more ‘spicy’ gestures may have been added in? I’ll only know when I see the episode since I missed the marines. (I hope you guys had tape rolling for that!)
<thefrey > Nope, sorry, my camera was messing up on Thursday. Anyhow….. Shy though I am <snerk > I decided that since I was on a self-introduction roll, MM would be next. I went up to him, told him who I was and that I was here for Sadgeezer.com and how nice it was to meet him. We shook hands and I told him how glad I was for his sake that the ‘Hair-Do from Hell’ was being reduced to more manageable proportions. Oops. He sort of, kind of, almost smiled and said ‘actually’ he preferred it the way it was in season one and two. He shared a few thoughts about the relative skills or lack thereof by the hairdresser in season three, and then I mentioned the debate going on in certain circles of why he was saddled with it. He did chuckle when I explained the completely debunked-yet-refuses-to-die theory of how ‘Paul and Lex decided he had got lucky at their expense one too many times and they would see how hot he was with a big damn bun on his head.’ Then not wanting to overstay his tolerance I excused myself and wandered back over to Blackie and FX.
< BlackCloud > Hah! Oh, no you did not! You never mentioned that, Frey! Hah! I can’t believe you don’t like the bigger ‘do! It’s much cooler.
<thefrey > I didn’t *say* I didn’t like the bigger hair-do from hell, I do, I just thought the smaller one might be a bit easier on MM to manage. I now stand corrected.
< BlackCloud > You should have asked him about the Freudian implications of the nihilistic ramifications of… something or other; we might have gotten an interview! He is so obviously not into fandom that his character in “Fluff Daddy” must have been played real. Donovan’s only direction must have been, “Okay, just be yourself, Michael.” Also, I understand a more scathing view of LiveKai’s opinion of fandom was edited from that episode. Probably a good thing; why offend those whom you profess to be in the business to communicate to through your “art”. Why, that would just be sheer condescension and mean-spiritedness. Is that possible in Canada? Isn’t that, like, against national laws or something? No, I contend that, like my brother McGar…McManus seems to want things to have substance and depth and meaning most of the time. So, when we walk up to him and ask, for the umpteenth time, “How tall are you really?” or “Is that your real walk?” it rings so trite and insignificant in his ears, that he wants to hurl metaphysically. Well, all I can say is, everyone needs to be humored from time-to-time. So, humor us. (And, send me my damn card! Uh, releasing…)
< FX > We eventually made our way back to studio 1 to watch the end of The Game. This shoot was supposed to wrap at 8 o’clock, but Brian came by at one point to say it was going to go at least til 9:30, and did we mind waiting that long for dinner. Hey, not at all Bri, not for you! Meanwhile, the head carpenter who had been tortured with the sets for this eppy for several weeks came over to explain what they had done, and the difficulties of shooting this particular piece, so we were well entertained. Besides, Mikey had shown up in full be-wigged splendor, so we could anticipate him getting tortured in the iron maiden as well. Instead, poor Brian, Patricia and Rolf got half strangled for the next several hours while Mikey sat comfortably, and Paul screamed out ‘d4 to f5’ or some such chess related moves. Over and over and over. I want to point out now that these guys never complained, and were never anything less than gracious and professional, no matter how tired and how hurting they were. My esteem for Rolf, Patricia, and Brian raised even higher. Finally, MM was ‘released’ and although he had done nothing except sit in his wig, he said, “just add this to the list of things I was right about”
<thefrey > Earlier I heard him tell Paul that they needed to check the list as he had done all the shots they needed of him
< BlackCloud > Okay, don’t make me separate you two! I’ll turn this car right around!:)
< FX > Eventually, Patricia, Rolf and Brian were released, at about 9:30. We trotted upstairs with Brian to his dressing room where he showed us an awesome picture (from Xev’s fantasy sequence) of Stan and Kai rolling around in bed together. 😉 He then slapped a video of ‘The Making of Lexx 3’ in the VCR for us to watch while he changed and cleaned off makeup in preparation for dinner.
< BlackCloud > Brian’s dressing room was awesome, compared to how he said it was originally. It had a somewhat SouthWestern-NewEngland theme going on, with eighth diagonally hung full-length mirrors spaced along his walls. Shelves and comfy furniture, mementos and artwork with soft lighting had turned a cold box into a warm, inviting room that well matched its designer. I was told MM has his piano in his dressing room and is quite talented a pianist, as we saw in “Walpurgis Nacht”
< FX > Dinner was awesome; northern Italian fare at a restaurant where Brian is obviously well-known and loved. We shared wine and horror stories about being raised catholic, and B regaled us with tales of his siblings. He is the oldest of five, and has a sister who spent their childhood fingering him for crimes he did not commit. He had also told me earlier in the day about Newfoundland, where he is from, and even treated me to a mini geography and history lesson about the place. Turns out the Downeys have been in Newfoundland since the 1600’s, and it is one of the largest islands in the world (okay, 17th or 18th largest!)… the point is he is well traveled, well read, and can talk (and make you laugh) about anything! And a very natty dresser I might add; leather jacket and pants with charcoal shirt, all in all a far cry from Stan the Man! I did ask him at one point if he had children and he got very serious and said, “I am 50 years old, I have never been married, I have no children, and I am NOT gay”… Okay, all the good guys in New York are gay, maybe I should move to Canada. At any rate, the evening ended with a pitstop at the Shoe, where we met up with the head carpenter again, and were very abstemious (well, at least Brian was) until we finally parted ways.
< BlackCloud > Was I right or was I right? I was right. I think I proved my point about Brian being one of the nicest people on the planet, thank you very much! He is a consummate storyteller. I think after “Lexx” Atlantic Alliance should give him his own show, with him doing the narration throughout. He is a kind soul, too (I saw you secretly slip that down and out gentleman cash), and probably wouldn’t want us tootin’ his horn like this in public because he’s just being himself. (Maybe we should start exporting water from Newfoundland? Soil?)
Oh, on the groovy side, for the uncon-ers out there, I believe Brian did mention he’d entertain appearing at future uncons if invited (Nigel Bennet, too, right Frey? Frey, who sooo didn’t let us know he was in the building? :p)
< FX > You are right Blackie, he did say that he thought that Mr. Bennet would be open to the idea, schedule permitting.
But he voiced doubts re MM and Xenia, and sort of shook his head a little. Gossip is that both have been fairly unhappy this last year, especially the former. I think he has visions of appearing at conventions in a wig when he is seventy and snarling “I’m a real actor dammit!” And he is a real actor, and I do not blame him for being depressed by this vision; maybe he can learn distance and perspective from Brian and Nigel.
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