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Interview with Paula Malcomson and David Eick of "Caprica"
I was not able to attend this conference call, but it's
fascinating reading! This is a great show.
Moderator: Maureen Granados
January 19, 2010
1:30 pm CT
Coordinator: Welcome to the CAPRICA conference call. At the request of
NBC this call is being recorded for instant replay purposes, a
transcript of the call is also being made. With us on today's are David
Eick and Paula Malcomson, also on the call are Maureen Granados and Bill
Brennan of Syfy.
Maureen Granados: Hi everyone. This is Maureen at Syfy. Thank you so
much for joining our call. As you know CAPRICA premieres this Friday,
January 22, at 9:00. And again we have Paula Malcomson and David Eick
with us so without further ado I will turn it over to your questions.
Coordinator: The first question comes from Jim Halterman,
Jim Halterman: Hey good morning gentlemen. I really enjoyed the pilot.
Can you talk a little bit about making a show and...
Paula Malcomson: Can I just point out that I'm a woman? Just before
Jim Halterman: Oh I'm so sorry.
Paula Malcomson: ...go any further.
Jim Halterman: Sorry about that, sorry about that.
Paula Malcomson: No problem.
Jim Halterman: I just want to know the intention to make the show
different from Battlestar Galactica, can you talk about that a little
bit because it definitely has a whole different feel to it.
David Eick: Well I just wanted to use this opportunity to point out that
I'm a woman too.
David Eick: You go first Paula, you've earned it.
Paula Malcomson: You go, that's for you. That's - this is you - this is
all your field.
David Eick: Okay now that we've screwed around what's the question again
Paula Malcomson: It was about the differences and...
David Eick: Oh yeah the difference between Battlestar and CAPRICA?
Jim Halterman: Yeah basically just the intention to make it different
because it definitely has a whole different feel about the show.
David Eick: Yeah I think we're very intently committed to the idea that
this show stand on its own, that it not in any feel like an echo or a
descendent or a, you know, extension of Battlestar Galactica in any way.
You'll note that the title is not Battle Galactica CAPRICA it is simply
And the relationship that it has to Battlestar is purely
inconsequential. It's kind of in an Easter egg sense fun for the fans
and audience that followed Battlestar Galactica but if you never saw a
lick of that show it will have no impact on your ability to really get
involved in and relate to the characters and the drama we're doing on
Jim Halterman: Okay. And also the fact that people can pretty much see
pieces of CAPRICA or the pilot a lot of different places other than the
Syfy Channel just because it's, you know, there's episodes being put
online and stuff. Is that part of your design or does that come from the
David Eick: Well it was a network design but I believe - and I'm not
certain about this - that it's a release strategy or a distribution
strategy that other networks had tried as well. I think Glee may have
done something like this where the pilot premiered and then a period of
time went by and then the pilot re-premiered as a launch to the series.
And so I think in a multiplatform universe as it were where people are
consuming dramatic material on their televisions, on their DVD players
and on the Internet it's really kind of smart and ahead of the game to
figure out new and unorthodox ways to launch a show.
And - but that was definitely the network's call and we were happy to
get aboard. And in fact it gave us an excuse me spend even more money on
the pilot because the version that airs Friday is, you know, sort of
tricked out with a bunch of new shots and visual effects and a couple
scenes we even redid. So it's been worth it all around.
Jim Halterman: Fantastic. Good luck with the show.
Paula Malcomson: Now he tells me. That's interesting - news to me.
David Eick: Don't worry it's not...
Paula Malcomson: It's fine.
Paula Malcomson: That scene where I'm in drag, is that included?
David Eick: Yeah. Yeah.
Paula Malcomson: Weird.
David Eick: Iím sorry.
Jim Halterman: Thanks so much. Good luck with the show.
Paula Malcomson: Thank you.
David Eick: You're welcome.
Coordinator: The next question comes from Charlie Jane Anders, io9.com.
Charlie Jane Anders: Hi. Thanks for doing the call today, you guys. And
I mean guys in a non-gender specific way. Actually this is a question
for Paula. It seems like watching the first few episodes it seems like
your character has a lot of really - a lot of really tough moments to
play. And she makes a lot of choices that might make her unsympathetic
in the eyes of a lot of viewers.
And I'm wondering how you struggled with portraying that and making her
a likeable character even though she's kind of, you know, maybe not the
best mother and she makes some decisions especially at the end of the
second episode that are...
Paula Malcomson: Well we - yeah absolutely. I think that was - it's
definitely something that occurs to you in the back of your mind but as
an actor you have to sort of aside your own judgments in terms of
whether the character is good or bad necessarily as, you know, I think
being a good actor is sort of understanding the complexity of the human
psyche and also knowing that we are none of us perfect.
So but yes it was tough and I did think about - particularly that man
would find perhaps this character unsympathetic. And I just tried to
play, you know, I just really tried to tap into the loss and the pain
and the fact that, you know, she has made mistakes and, you know, go
from there you know.
David Eick: Yeah, I would also add that I don't think in the sort of
canon of this show or shows like it there's a tremendous amount of
concern for what I would call old fashioned television tropes-like
sympathetic characters. I think audiences want challenging characters
and characters who are neither, you know, black or white but are
somewhere in the middle that they're morally gray and that they're going
to challenge the audience's expectation in every way.
I think the character that Paula plays and one of the reasons that she
plays it so well is that you're never quite sure what to expect from
her. And there are times when you expect her to maybe lose her shit when
she completely holds it together and vice versa. And I think that's
human and real and that's part of what I think is the hallmark of the
Charlie Jane Anders: Okay cool thank you very much.
Paula Malcomson: Thanks.
Coordinator: The next question comes from Sheldon Wiebe,
Sheldon Wiebe: Hi, I'm glad to be here and I hope you enjoy the
experience as much as we are. David, in CAPRICA you're dealing with -
although it's a totally different context you're dealing with a lot of
the same themes that recurred through Battlestar, things like religion
versus science, faith versus knowledge.
When is violence right or is it ever and the whole question of who or
what constitutes a terrorist. And on top of that you've added something
to the effect of what is the nature of the human soul. How do you
translate these themes from the microcosm of BSG to the macrocosm of 12
colonies from a, you know, a dozen planets and worlds in a star cluster?
Paula Malcomson: I'm really glad this question is to David Eick and not
(David Milch), we'd be here for about a week. My God.
David Eick: Exactly because my answer is, huh, I don't know. No, Iím
kidding. It's really simple. Nothing is different which is to say
whether you're telling a story in the realm of a combat-rattled
spacecraft where everyone is battle weary and desperately hoping to
survive or in an environment like CAPRICA where we're in a much more
terrestrial world that feels more accessible and is perhaps more vast
The focus on the story is still all about character. And so whether the
theme in question happens to be what kind of moral values are necessary
for technological advancement or to use your example what is the nature
of the human soul. Those themes still get explored on a very pointed
specific point of view level in terms of those themes coming from
And character is always where we start our story. And like Battlestar I
would say CAPRICA is not terribly plot-driven. There are wonderful yarns
and threads wrapping around episodes and through episodes but ultimately
I think the audience for the Sopranos, for Mad Men, for Grey's Anatomy,
for the Shield and the Wire and the kinds of shows that really are about
delving into character are going to be the audience for CAPRICA.
Sheldon Wiebe: Cool. And a quick thought on the scene that was filmed
too late to be included on the screener, I'm just wondering how do you
think that new scene will color the audience's perception of the
David Eick: Maureen, you'd have to help me here because I'm not sure
which scene in particular that is.
Maureen Granados: This is a scene that we were adding to the pilot, it's
the pyramid scene with Daniel.
David Eick: Oh. I would say that was added to enhance and amplify the
spectacle of this world which is to say one of the aspects of the
CAPRICA universe as it were is they have a (fort) and they like them and
they're huge. And in that way they're a lot like - it's another example
of how this is a culture from which our culture defended for those who
are, you know, embroiled in the mythos.
And so because you're always dealing with limited resources in the pilot
we really were not able to convey the sort of largesse of that, the
spectacle of it in the way that we would have liked. And so when we got
the series order we were able to amortize certain costs over the course
of the entire season to really do a one big bang scene in the pilot that
really featured the size and scope of athletics in this world and it was
definitely worth it, it's really fantastic.
Sheldon Wiebe: Great, thanks very much.
Coordinator: The next question comes from Troy Rogers, deadbolt.com.
Troy Rogers: Now David I wanted to know how much impact did female
viewership play in not setting the series in space or relying heavily on
David Eick: You know what most of the people I spoke to about Battlestar
in terms of the fan base were women so the - this - the empirical
demographic breakdown of the audience is something that I just choose to
keep at bay and not pay a lot of attention to. So I never really think
in terms of gearing a show towards a particular audience.
In sort of general terms do I recognize that fact that perhaps a female
audience might be more inclined to watch something that's, you know,
deals in story from a sort of, you know, soap operatic kind of
melodramatic terms and without the accompanying visual sort of ghetto
and spaceships and outer space? Sure.
There might be - it might have more accessibility to a female audience
just because of that generalization. But I don't know, I mean, and
certainly that was never a motivation for not setting the show in space.
The motivation to not set the show in space was to make it as different
and unique from Battlestar as possible.
Troy Rogers: Cool all right. Now although people will look at CAPRICA as
science fiction I wanted to know with the quick advances in technology
how soon do you think I'll have to start worrying about the machines
Paula Malcomson: Start worrying now.
Paula Malcomson: You should have been worried months - weeks and years
ago. We're pretty close. We're pretty close. You know.
David Eick: Yeah, I think there's certainly a quality to this show that
unlike Battlestar gives you a sense that what you're seeing is 1-1/2
maybe 2 generations away from where we are right now. And so that tether
that I think an audience is going to have to, you know, connecting their
own reality to this sort of advanced reality they're seeing in the show,
the speculative reality, is going to be part of what makes it really
Paula Malcomson: I don't think it's even that far away, you know.
David Eick: Probably not.
Paula Malcomson: I think that's the thing. I think it's so much more
even immediate than that in terms of artificial intelligence being as
close as it is and, you know, anyway there's lots of - I think this is
really fantastic. It's been - I've had a little time off to read about
some of this stuff and it's pretty interesting what scientists are
talking about now and our themes on the show. I had no idea how
prevalent they would be.
Troy Rogers: Yes, it's cool and scary at the same time.
Paula Malcomson: Very cool and very scary. But I liked how this guy - I
was reading this guy, Frank Kipler, who talks about actually heaven
being this sort of virtual-ville if you will. And that sort of made me
optimistic. And the guy's really proving this mathematically, you know,
that we might end up at this place, you know.
Troy Rogers: Wow.
Paula Malcomson: It's kind of a nice thought.
Troy Rogers: Yay, we're going to obsolete soon.
Paula Malcomson: I know. The dogs and us and you don't have to be good
or bad as well because no one would show up right?
Troy Rogers: Exactly. Thanks a lot.
Paula Malcomson: Yeah.
Coordinator: The next question comes from Michael Hinman, Airlock Alpha.
Michael Hinman: Well good afternoon everybody, how you doing?
Paula Malcomson: Good.
David Eick: How are you?
Michael Hinman: Good talking to both of you guys again. And I just - I
was curious since the - since some of the changes that happened on, you
know, the show runner position and stuff, what kind of changes might we
see, you know, I guess toward the midpoint of the season? And, you know,
what can we expect that - is there going to be like a different pace to
the storytelling or any other noticeable changes?
David Eick: A different pace to the storytelling did you say?
Michael Hinman: Yeah or, I mean, are we going to see - because usually
when there's a show runner change there's usually at least some type of
adjustment that even viewers can kind of pick up on. I mean are we going
to see any of that with the midway point of CAPRICA?
David Eick: Well not in a way that I wouldn't say characterizes any
first-year show which is to say, you know, even on Battlestar which was
very celebrated after its first season, you know, the show needed to
find its legs, the show needed to kind of figure out what it was, how
serialized is it going to be? How self contained is it going to be? How
much action is there?
How much, you know, esoterica can we, you know, from a Cylon
metaphysical standpoint can we really, you know, implement into the
show? What arcs do we want to leave dangling? Which ones do we want to
wrap up? Who's' going to die, who's going - I mean all those things get
discovered as you go.
I think the - in this case the show runner so to speak, the head writer
change was much more of a function of practicality and just aiming
weapons where they were best suited.
And - but the changes in the show, which there have been, the show's
definitely undergone a great and positive I think and fruitful evolution
in growth from its beginning to its - now we're nearing its conclusion
of the first season - but only in a way that I would say is consistent
with any first-year show.
Good shows should get better as they go and I think this one does.
Paula Malcomson: For sure.
Michael Hinman: Excellent. And Paula, you know, we all loved you as -
not just in these first three episodes of CAPRICA so far but of course
Deadwood as well. And, I mean, outside of the fact that you're probably
spending more time on a soundstage, I mean, how is this experience with
CAPRICA different from Deadwood for you?
Paula Malcomson: Oh God, in a million ways. And we're not spending so
much time on a soundstage believe it or not.
Michael Hinman: Oh really?
Paula Malcomson: This show is very heavy in locations. So it's kind of
been, you know, last week were in the middle of a forest on horses with
fires lit shooting in the middle of the night, you know. And that's not
uncommon, it's been - it's sort of been an incredible odyssey this show.
And it's obviously in some ways Deadwood was, you know, we were
contained to one - what made that an easier show in a lot of ways was we
were contained to one set, the writers, the producers, everyone was
there on a ranch working together.
And this has been more spread out so there's obvious challenges. But -
and this is a longer run too. I've never done a series of, you know, as
many episodes. We had 12 and I think it's interesting to have to have to
find a second wind and a third wind.
But what that serves to do is just creates deeper and deeper characters,
you know. I've forgotten the question but...
Michael Hinman: ...comparing the two a little bit like...
Paula Malcomson: Yeah.
Michael Hinman: ...differences.
Paula Malcomson: I mean, you know, you approach the work in the same way
always. And in a lot of ways this is - there's been a lot of freedom
here to really sort of feel as though almost anything is possible on
this show. Like if we take a turn somewhere we can end up going down
another road. It's been quite an organic process and as was Deadwood
I mean I think that was really, you know, one of the signatures of that
show is that it felt like a living organism and this does too in a lot
Michael Hinman: Excellent. Excellent. Now David just one last I want to
know, has filming for Season 1 wrapped?
David Eick: We are about seven days away.
Michael Hinman: Okay excellent. Good luck on the first season.
Paula Malcomson: Yeah.
Michael Hinman: Thank you guys, so much. Appreciate it.
David Eick: Thank you.
Paula Malcomson: Welcome.
Coordinator: The next question comes from Lisa Steinberg, Starry
Lisa Steinberg: Hi David and Paula. Good afternoon, thank you so much
for speaking with us.
David Eick: It's our pleasure.
Lisa Steinberg: I'm so much looking forward to CAPRICA. And I wanted to
ask you, David, obviously with Battlestar Galactica there's going to be
a lot of fans that will more than likely watch the show. And I wanted to
know how do you really expect that new viewers will get drawn into this
show or how do you feel, you know, how do you feel the show will draw
viewers in that are not so familiar with Battlestar?
David Eick: Well as most people who know me might say I'm certainly not
beyond arguing with my network and we have spirited debates and
discussions about all aspects of the creative process. But one
particular area in which I completely genuflect and am in complete awe
of what they're able to pull off is in publicity and marketing. They're
just - I think they're the best in the business.
I have no doubt that the show is going to be a sampled. I had very
little to say about how the show is being marketed, where the show is
being marketed. It was presented to me. It was as iron-clad as you could
hope for. They spent a ton of money and they really believe in the show.
And so the real answer to your first question is - was a marketing
answer which is you draw viewers to the show by making people aware of
it by your marketing muscle and by the kinds of things we're doing right
now. And so I've never been anything but completely confident and
absolutely relieved to have the team that we've got at the network in
I think the question about how do you keep them once you get them there
has to be to make the show rich and compelling and to measure up to what
we often, I hope, achieved with Battlestar just from a qualitative
standpoint but without the baggage and without trying to - and without
having the audience feel like any heavy lifting is involved from the
standpoint of knowing or understanding or being, you know, a fan of
So a great deal of very deliberate decisions were made very early in the
process to make this show stand on its own, to have the Battlestar
connected tissue extremely intermittent, inconsequential and really only
kind of, you know, fodder for the fans and nothing at all that would be
required by a new audience or misunderstood by a new audience.
And so, you know, the answer is hopefully we're telling great stories
really, really well and that's the thing that's going to keep the
audience. But in no way are we relying on the Battlestar faithful to
support the show.
Lisa Steinberg: As kind of a follow-up to that how important do you
think it is - I'm not even sure if you could comment or, you know, if
you would be familiar but how important are social networking sites to
that promotion and getting the word out there? Like social sites like
Twitter or Facebook - would you possibly be able to speak on that?
David Eick: I'm finally - I've finally reached the age where I can say I
don't now what those things are.
Paula Malcomson: I know.
David Eick: I mean I do know what they are but I'd be lying if I said I
knew how to harness them or what to expect from them. I know that the
way the show is cross-marketed this company leaves no stone unturned
when it comes to squeezing every fruit available or every possible drop
of either publicity or awareness.
So if it's out there, if it's Twitter or Facebook or Twitterface or Book
- I don't know what any of them are but I know that they're being
harnessed and definitely used to the fullest potential.
Lisa Steinberg: And finally for Paula I was wondering what it is about
the role that you found really challenging?
Paula Malcomson: It was a very strong pilot. And it's - I knew that
these guys write very well for women - was the reputation. And I - she
is - and this was a role that I didn't know how to play so I wanted to
do it. I really didn't know - I sort of had to be talked into it because
I thought it was so far from me in certainly superficial ways.
But when it all really sort of - when you really get down to the work
it's kind of amazing how much you do find, I mean, in everyone and sort
of in the human experience what is - what we have in common and what
connects us, you know.
So it's always an interesting thing to do to take on a new role because
it's going to reveal to you levels of yourself that you weren't aware
of. It's kind of frightening.
Lisa Steinberg: Well thank you both very much again for speaking with
you this afternoon. I'm looking forward again to seeing CAPRICA.
Paula Malcomson: Thanks.
David Eick: It's our pleasure. Thank you.
Coordinator: The next question comes from Ivey West, CliqueClack TV.
Ivey West: Hi guys. Again thank you for spending some time with us this
afternoon or morning I guess wherever you're at. A question for Mr. Eick,
when you guys did BSG you guys talked about during - you and Mr. Moore
talked about during the run of the show how the plot evolved organically
instead of having everything mapped out in a direct direction.
Based on that reaction and based on your experience there have you
changed that? And I think you spoke to it a little bit with Michael's
question earlier but if not why have you stuck with this mentality?
David Eick: Say that last sentence again, it's not what?
Ivey West: Well it seems that you may have spoken a little bit to the
question with Michael's - with your answer to Michael's question earlier
but if you not why have you stuck with this - have you stuck with this
mentality and if so why?
David Eick: Oh sorry I just didn't understand what you said. Yes, you're
talking about the mentality of screw planning let's make it all go
along? Yeah that's just called laziness. There's no mystery to that,
it's just called - actually I will tell you Ron Moore and I had a number
of discussions about this very early on.
We had come from very different backgrounds in terms of how writers
rooms are run. On Star Trek literally they sort of write the outline, I
mean, this is all - I'm hearing this third hand, I can't confirm any of
this. But presumably the outline process takes place in the room; it's
very precise, very detailed. There's not a lot of jazz or improvisation
invited or tolerated. And it's just kind of an almost military-like
That's not to say that the work is any less good it's just that it was
run with that level of discipline and structured parameters. On shows
that I worked on - I worked a lot with Sean Cassidy, I've worked with,
you know, other writers and producers in a variety of different
capacities and there was a much looser environment where young writers
were encouraged to, you know, come up with stuff and contribute and you
might throw stuff out in this season.
And, you know, of course the (unintelligible) there is you're really -
you might somehow find something brilliant. The downside is sometimes
you can't find your ass with both hands and you have an episode that
And so I think we really wanted to sort of combine the best of both of
those environments. And when it came to how the writers room run on
Battlestar and then later CAPRICA (unintelligible) which was to have a
structure, have a large picture plan usually concocted over a few
scotches between me and Ron in the off season.
And those - that would be delivered to the writing staff and then
everyone was encouraged to improvise and add and subtract and change and
go crazy and just sort of create an environment where there are no bad
ideas. And then if we lost our way we'd circle back to (unintelligible)
want to go. So it really is a combination of, you know, of running a
tight ship and yet really allowing for there to be a lot of
improvisation and changes on the fly purely with the intent of getting -
of having the best ideas.
Ivey West: Excellent, excellent. Well thank you guys very much.
Paula Malcomson: That's also applied in the, you know, on set with the
actors as well. It's really sort of - happened there also in terms of
being able to have a sort of a - kind of loosely deal with the script so
when a surprise or something interesting comes up we've had the luxury
to be able to follow that instinct.
You know, like the other day I had a scene where I just decided for the
good of the show it would be an excellent idea to slap Eric Stoltz. And
so I did for the good of the show certainly.
David Eick: Of course that's for the good of the show.
Paula Malcomson: Yes.
Ivey West: Well that's interesting that that freedom, that seems to be
born out of the writer's room it also shows up on the set as well. So...
Paula Malcomson: Yeah.
David Eick: Definitely.
Paula Malcomson: It's really the only way to work as far as I'm
concerned otherwise you - there are no surprises and it's, you know,
it's boring and, you know, the beauty of this, you know, I think one of
the directors said to me the other day I never know what you're going to
do. And I said, no, neither do I. And that's, you know, there's just
something amazing and beautiful about that, you know. And hopefully it
Ivey West: Excellent, excellent. Well thank you both for your time.
Paula Malcomson: Thank you.
David Eick: Thank you.
Coordinator: At this time we have time for one further question. It
comes from Steve Aramo of SciFi Talk.
Steve Aramo: Hi David, hi Paula. Thanks for your time today.
Paula Malcomson: Hi.
Steve Aramo: Paula, I wanted to ask you if maybe you could tell us a
little bit about how you first became involved in CAPRICA and maybe
about your audition process if you don't mind?
Paula Malcomson: Yeah, I met with Jeffrey Reiner who was directing the
pilot. And I hit it off with him certainly. He's very smart, he's
incredibly well schooled in film, is a huge film buff. And he just seems
like the kind of director I wanted to work with.
So it was first of all responding to the material, then meeting Reiner.
I auditioned for Sister Clarice initially and Reiner wanted to see me
play Amanda. And like I said I had - I was trepidatious about that
because I didn't know if I could play her. And I was frightened of it.
And I realized that that was a really good thing.
And sort of then I met David and Ron and everybody else involved and
then I think I was the first person cast and then Esai and then Eric and
I was delighted with the men that I would be accompanied by and then
Steve Aramo: Excellent. I'm so glad it worked out, that's great.
Paula Malcomson: Yeah, really great.
Steve Aramo: And David just a quick question for you, looking now with
the first season of the show almost wrapped what maybe have you enjoyed
most so far about bringing the CAPRICA story to life would you say?
David Eick: Well the biggest and most pleasant surprise was the one that
we sort of didn't allow our self to dream could happen which was to get
as lucky as we were able to get with this ensemble. You know, it's just
- that phrase about you're only as strong as your weakest link really
applies when you're dealing with an ensemble cast.
And to have such strength across the boards from established and, you
know, well-recognized actors like Paula and Polly Walker, Esai and Eric,
combined with some real newcomers, some people who are going to brand
new to an American audience and to have them hold their own.
And then to discover brand new talent like Sasha Roiz who plays Sam
Adama, Joseph's brother, who in almost no time we were able to start
building episodes around him because he was a strong discovery. Those
are the things that you can't plan for you just have to hope.
You know, we got together in Lake Tahoe way back in January of last year
to start breaking stories so it wasn't for lack of planning when it came
to aiming to make the show good in every way that we could control. But
as hard as you might work on casting and of course we (unintelligible)
you just never know until you get there and we just got incredibly lucky
with the crew.
Steve Aramo: Listen, thank you again both for your time and best of luck
and success with the show.
Paula Malcomson: Thank you.
David Eick: Thank you very much.
Maureen Granados: All right everyone thank you so much for joining,
Paula and David, again thank you very much for your time.
Paula Malcomson: No problem.
David Eick: Our pleasure.
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