August 1, 2008

‘X-Men’ Producer Revisits ‘Battlestar’ Making

By Matthew Price, The Oklahoman

Aug. 1--SAN DIEGO -- At the 30th Anniversary Battlestar Galactica panel at Comic-Con International, "X-Men" producer Tom DeSanto talked about the Battlestar Galactica that almost was a direct sequel to the original series. Starting in 1998, DeSanto worked with director Bryan Singer to bring a continuation of the series to television.

After some initial confusion about who owned the rights, Singer and DeSanto pitched a $13.5 million backdoor pilot to FOX in July 2000. A series pickup was contingent on the ratings.

FOX and SciFi entered into an agreement that would have allowed SciFi to broadcast letterboxed versions of the episodes a few days after they originally aired.

"We were eight weeks away from shooting when 9/11 happened," DeSanto said.

The pilot's plot, about kamikaze pilots crashing into buildings on the human city of New Caprica, suddenly seemed too close to home.

DeSanto and company attempted to rework it, but the schedule slipped, and Singer had to decide between "Battlestar Galactica" and "X-Men 2." Singer and FOX struggled with the decision, but ultimately Singer went on to helm "X-Men 2."

DeSanto showed several effects tests for the series, which he wanted to have a World War II, 16 mm newsreel feel.

DeSanto correlated the "Battlestar Galactica" story to the Biblical Exodus of the Jews. The sequel would have followed that story.

"What if the Jews had stopped at Mt. Sinai and built Las Vegas?" he said.

The story was set 20 years after the events of the original series, when the remaining humans voted to build a new society and stop the search for Earth. They became unprepared for the robotic Cylons, who eventually found them.

"9/11 paralleled our story very much," he said. "Cylons came back with a fury."

After a sneak attack on the humans, the conflict is reignited.

The final shot of the pilot would have revealed a human-Cylon hybrid -- the former Apollo, played by Richard Hatch.

The storyline of the series would have showcased the conflict between Apollo and his son, now the commander of the fleet, and the battle for Apollo's soul.


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