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Stargate Miscellaney (no spoilers)

A tip of the hat to the Solutions Blog for posting this link to an interview with Mallozzi (conducted via email) in the wake of news/rumors coming out of Comic Con:


In it, he offers some speculation on some things that might be behind the low ratings for the premieres (short answer: while not conclusive, it may have something to do with SciFi VP O'Brien's comment at SDCC urging viewers not to watch via TiVo, which doesn't get counted in ratings... or something like that). (Can somebody explain how they get ratings numbers for me? I thought it was more based on extrapolations from a sampling of households, not actually counting actual tuning in? In which case I'm not sure why it would matter if *my* TiVo was on. What am I missing, here?)

He also comments about the rumors regarding Devlin's desire to finally make his Stargate movie sequels, starring Russell and Spader (he points out what I realized after reading the various announcements about this: Devlin has signed a deal to do 3 movies for MGM; he'd *like* to use two of those for the Stargate sequels; MGM has *not* agreed to it or greenlighted it; there's no script, no deal; and while Russell and Spader may indeed have said in the past that they'd like to do it, that's not the same thing as having them signed to do an actual movie right now).

Finally, regarding the startling news that SciFi wants to put a 6-month break between the first and second halves of S10/S3 of SG1/SGA? It's news to him, and he is having trouble believing it right now:

"This bit of news is so bizarre that I have a hard time believing there is any truth to it. A six month lay-off in the middle of the season? I mean, come on. Seriously? Why not just tell me that SCIFI has decided to start airing SG-1 and Atlantis at 1:00 and 2:00 in the a.m.”

Hmm! But of course he can't say categorically that it is not happening. I do notice now that checking out news outlets (like Gateworld and Solutions), nobody has officially confirmed this, it still has "rumor" status and is apparently based on something heard at SDCC rather than an official announcement by SciFi. On the other hand, I think we can all easily believe that SciFi would make a decision like that and simply fail to tell the executive producers of the shows in question, right? Mallozzi may think that it sounds bizarre, but folks who remember various fiascos with Farscape know that SciFi has done this kind of thing before. (And what about this very-long break between seasons for BSG? I originally thought that was a decision of the BSG production team, not the network -- but am I misinformed on that?) I think that Mallozzi is right that if it's true, it signals an odd change in attitude towards "the Gates".


( 51 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 27th, 2006 05:44 am (UTC)
A six month lay-off in the middle of the season? I mean, come on. Seriously? Why not just tell me that SCIFI has decided to start airing SG-1 and Atlantis at 1:00 and 2:00 in the a.m.

He is aware of what SciFi did to Farscape, right? Right? Because SciFi, they're nothing if not... whimsical.

Jul. 27th, 2006 02:40 pm (UTC)
Right, my point. Um, Joe? Oh, nevermind, just ask around -- anyone will remind you.

But the thing is that IIRC, by the time SciFi had started screwing around with FS's scheduling to that extent, everybody knew it was because it had basically given up on FS and was trying to shove it out the door? Or didn't we know, but that was the Big Clue? Or something? But I mean, once you know (or realize in retrospect) that SciFi was writing off FS, then screwing with its scheduling makes a sort of sense.

Yet from all indications, supposedly SciFi is still pretty happy with the Gates? *shrug* (Low premiere ratings notwithstanding; plus, it sort of sounds like this 6-month break plan would have had to be thought about before SciFi got the numbers on the premieres -- that's very recent news.)

Or maybe SciFi are just morons, and always have been. Yes, sometimes the simplest explanation is the most likely.
Jul. 27th, 2006 03:50 pm (UTC)
I can't speak to Farscape because I wasn't involved in that. I can't speak for BSG either.

Just my own speculation? Scifi has enough programming now that they don't need to depend on Stargate as much anymore. I don't think they are just writing it off, but I could be wrong. What I do think is that they aren't as invested in making it work.

They have reached the point where they do have the longest running scifi show in the US. They have gotten a lot of attention over the years through Stargate. They have a spin-off that has lastest at least 3 years. And now they are in a position to showcase more original programming.

They had the success of BSG (though honestly I don't think this show will last forever). They have the sucess of importing Dr Who. They have Eureka that has the potential to be a runaway hit, based on its numbers for the pilot. They have the Dresden files coming up. They have the rights to many other old shows, like Firefly, Dark Angel, and Dead Like Me. And since they have such a varied schedule now, they've taken SG-1 off the Monday night stack.

All of these factors aren't necessarily a reflection on the Stargate shows themselves. But, if you add the fact that numbers are down for the show, and SGA is not performing well in syndcation, those are additional blows to the franchise. I also think people underestimated how much RDA's absense would have on the show. (I say this despite the fact I like Mitchell and I have been enjoying season 9 and 10, for the most part.)

If you take all of these factors combined, plus the budgets that accompany some of the longer running shows including cast salaries, I think it's an indication that Stargate might be in trouble. If the show doesn't bring in the numbers they want -- I expect a hike in ratings for the episode 200 -- then they might cut it lose. They have other successful programs that they can invest in.
(no subject) - eregyrn - Jul. 27th, 2006 04:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nangi_akki - Jul. 27th, 2006 05:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - eregyrn - Jul. 27th, 2006 05:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nangi_akki - Jul. 27th, 2006 06:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - zonereyrie - Aug. 3rd, 2006 10:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - eregyrn - Aug. 22nd, 2006 05:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 27th, 2006 06:00 am (UTC)
I don't get the change in attitude, myself. SciFi is fucking around with the schedule like they always do, and I suspect it will be to the detriment of all the shows, including BSG.

The way they get ratings numbers: certain homes get a little electronic box which is hooked up to their TV. It records what you watch every day. (They used to have people log by hand, but everyone wants to seem smarter than they are, so it was skewing ratings in favor of stuff like The History Channel.) So it's really those homes that need to put on SciFi.
Jul. 27th, 2006 02:48 pm (UTC)
The thing that as I was saying to Cofax above, when they fucked around with Farscape's scheduling, that was in a period when they had already mentally written that show off, right? Even if we didn't know it at the time, we realized that in retrospect, didn't we?

And as I say -- I originally thought BSG being held until Oct. was perhaps due in part to the production wanting to take a little extra time with it? But am I wrong, and that was purely SciFi's network scheduling decision? (Shows you exactly how much I am NOT plugged into BSG fandom, that I don't know the gossip from there.)

Or can it really be that SciFi is so dumb that they think this decision makes sense and will be good, and they can't see how it could be very bad?

Someone (I thought it was in comments here, but apparently not) suggested that SciFi could just be thinking that this way, they won't have any "downtime" -- they get first-run programming year-round (SG1/SGA July-Sept and March-Sept, with BSG running Oct-March).

Yet, um... okay, fine. But it would still work the same if they did the Gates July-Sept and Jan-March AS USUAL, and BSG Oct-Dec and then March-June. This whole "let's run BSG's 20 eps all at once" doesn't make that much sense to me.


Also -- yeah, see, that's how I thought ratings worked! Which begs the question of why O'Brien was exhorting the SDCC crowd to watch "live" instead of on TiVo. We're not who she needs to be convincing.
(no subject) - becky_monster - Jul. 27th, 2006 03:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - moonshayde - Jul. 27th, 2006 03:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - moonshayde - Jul. 27th, 2006 04:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - eregyrn - Jul. 27th, 2006 04:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - zonereyrie - Aug. 3rd, 2006 10:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - eregyrn - Aug. 22nd, 2006 05:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - eregyrn - Jul. 27th, 2006 04:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - zonereyrie - Aug. 2nd, 2006 03:09 am (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - zonereyrie - Aug. 3rd, 2006 10:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
Part 2 - zonereyrie - Aug. 3rd, 2006 10:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Part 2 - eregyrn - Aug. 22nd, 2006 06:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Part 2 - zonereyrie - Aug. 22nd, 2006 08:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - aizjanika - Aug. 8th, 2006 06:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 27th, 2006 10:10 am (UTC)
huh, interesting layers of dynamics between scifi and just about everyone it seems like. scifi does seem to make some odd decision too.

ps. action figures arrive at my po box today. *bg*
Jul. 27th, 2006 02:48 pm (UTC)
Granted, SciFi has ALWAYS made odd decisions.

Ooooh! I have action figures ordered but I haven't received noticed yet that they are shipping! *is impatient*
Jul. 27th, 2006 09:26 pm (UTC)
sadly, that's very true.

action figures should arrive tomorrow or saturday.....it's only a matter of time till there's action figure theatre. ;)
Jul. 27th, 2006 01:25 pm (UTC)
Thank you for your insightful and clear posting on this. Even if some of this cannot be offically confirmed yet, I appreciate the straightforward manner that you've laid this out. I can't tell you how difficult it is to find information without spin and I think you've done your best to just put the news on the table before divulging your own personal taste.

Especially regarding the movies. I can't get a straight answer from anyone on that. This makes more sense to me and I suspect this is more truthful than not.
Jul. 27th, 2006 03:04 pm (UTC)
*nods* I think that everyone is jumping the gun with regard to the movie thing. It's still at the "idea" phase, but a lot of people have been talking about it like it's practically ready to start production -- and it's not. I think people got confused by the fact that Devlin has *a* deal with MGM, and not realizing that the deal is unspecific. I also think that the coverage and whoever Devlin is talking to in order to get his hopes reported is perhaps an attempt on his part to build a sort of buzz about the idea so that when he *does* sit down with MGM to try to get them to let him do it, he can point to that. Maybe.

The thing is that I think Mallozzi sounds reasonable when he says that he can't see MGM giving Devlin the go if doing that has the potential to screw with what MGM has admitted is their second most successful franchise after Bond. But I guess it comes down to whether the MGM execs see it that way or not.

Also... you know, people have discussed the fact that Serenity didn't exactly light up the box office; not enough to really make profit-minded studios sit up and notice, anyway. Here is something else that occured to me...

Back in 1994 or whenever it was, "Stargate" did okay. But I don't recall that it did *that* well. In fact, I had the impression that that was the original reason MGM did not sign Devlin and Emmerich up to do sequels to it (whereupon both move on to other projects). MGM's agreement to allow the show to be developed was in part an attempt to mine another market; and in part, I bet, based on Showtime being willing to put up some of the money for it.

It seems that MGM would be unlikely to greenlight sequels NOW, 12 years later, unless they saw potential profits in it. The problem? "Stargate" the movie is NOT the Indiana Jones franchise. (To refer to another franchise where there has been buzz for years about a long-awaited 4th movie, with everyone involved in the originals, Ford and Spielberg etc., having said they want to do it.) How many people out there have actually been sitting around saying they wish Devlin would finally complete his trilogy? Of the potential audience for sequels to Stargate, how many have been satisfied with the show as a continuation?

"Stargate" is also obviously not "Star Trek" -- there isn't this huge built-in audience lying around out here, *except* for fans of the show. (And a very small number of people who kinda liked the movie and who haven't liked the show that much. But those numbers aren't the kind that make a movie studio exec drool.) With most potential moviegoers, the reaction is far more likely to be "a sequel to Stargate? what?" and "I thought the tv show *was* the sequel".

So economically speaking, apart from its impact on a successful TV franchise... I'm having a hard time imagining how the sell of this is going to go down in the MGM offices.

Will be interesting to see how it develops!
Jul. 27th, 2006 03:32 pm (UTC)
All the points you have brought up are ones that I have been considering, but when I tend to talk about them in different venues, I get the good old "you're wrong!" slam. So it's hard not to get heated about it ;)

Frankly, I think a lot of what has been announced about the movie is spin. The places that are pushing for the movie have obvious agendas and I do believe that Devlin is working the press for his own benefit. I don't mean that in a mean way -- that's how business works often. So, everything has to be taken with a grain of salt. The spin in some of the circles I lurk in is no big surprise, but to be blind to some very obvious facts is disturbing.

You're correct that Staragte in 1994 did not do well as a movie. I remember the movie coming out. And while I wanted to see it, I never really was pushed enough to go to it. I had an interest in the premise, but the commericals itself did not sell me on the characters. Numbers that came in after the movie's release show that it was by no means a blockbuster. It didn't flop. But it fell into that mediorce category. And I'm sure some people disagree with this assessment of mine. But it wasn't a blockbuster success and basically had more of a cult following.

Because of this, I think it's probable that the sequels did not get a go ahead at that time. And I believe you are right when it comes to the tv market. By then, MGM probably was looking to make money in a different venue and Showtime likely gave them an offer they couldn't refuse. Tv also can be a great way to gte additional revenue through syndication and these days dvd sales. But that's getting ahead of what happened at the time.

I seriously doubt that MGM will sign for these movies unless they can be fairly certain it will not interfer with the franchise as a whole. I think that is pretty obvious. They are going to do what's best in the interest of their company and success. We'll have to see how they define what's in their best interest.

Add to the fact that the majority of people associate Stargate with the tv show. I know even with causal viewers when I say I watch SG-1 they say, oh the show with Richard Dean Anderson? The show with MacGyver? So, the basic association people have with Stargate is through the show and not necessarily the movie. More specifcally, they recognize RDA = Stargate. But that's a whole 'nother topic ;)

Also, it's apparent that it's through the show, not the movie, that the franchise has been a success. The movie cannot be dismissed. There would be no show without the movie. And I did like the movie -- don't get me wrong. However, I became a fan through the show and I believe that the majority of people have, except for a minority that were with the show from the movie's start. This isn't a slam on them or the movie. But I think it's clear that it's the show that captured most fans. It created a spin-off. And now we're starting to merchandise.

I don't think Devlin helped himself much, either, but being so vocally against the series. Mind you, I can understand where he is coming from. I think of the original works that I am working on and I would be upset to lose that kind of control over my creation. However, I also understand that those are some of the risks involved in the industry. As someone who works in film and knows the entertainment industry, he should have been aware for that and also been prepared for it.

Obviously, my opinions are biased as I prefer the show to the movie. I enjoy the movie in the context of the show. I don't agree with the direction the show has taken over the years, either. But the tv series, by nature of being tv, has a broader scope than the movie and therefore has the ability for longevity and creating an array of characters that people can identify with. Add the chemsitry between all the cast members (not to say Spader and Russell didn't have chemistry) and you have a show that just adds layers to the movie. For the show to be this sucessful, it did something right.

Incidentally, the last time I checked the movie poll on scifi the majority (though slim) didn't want one without Teal'c and Sam.
(no subject) - eregyrn - Jul. 27th, 2006 04:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 8th, 2006 06:15 pm (UTC)
In which case I'm not sure why it would matter if *my* TiVo was on. What am I missing, here?

I'm confused about that, too. I thought they were also now counting Tivo data, but just in a different way than they count the regular ratings. Since I don't have a Nielson box, the only way they know what I might be watching is because of Tivo. I usually try to record the shows and watch them live, though this season I've been more inclined to record them than watch live, partly because I'm not liking season 10 as much so far and I don't want to sit through commercials.

Even when I was most excited about the show, though, I couldn't always start it exactly on time--especially last year when it was on at 8. I think I watched every episode of season 9 while I was still cooking dinner! *g*
Aug. 8th, 2006 06:16 pm (UTC)
P.S. I'm catching up on old posts I had open in tabs. I'm not sure why I saved this one, but thought I'd comment anyway because you brought up a point that I've been confused about ever since I read that. :-)
Aug. 22nd, 2006 06:13 pm (UTC)
*waves* See upthread. A nice guy from "tivolovers" named zonereyrie came over and explained things very clearly.
Aug. 23rd, 2006 01:27 am (UTC)
Yay! Thanks. :-) I saw that you mentioned something about this somewhere else, but didn't find my way back here to read it. :-)
( 51 comments — Leave a comment )