SciFi Diner Podcast Ep. 75 – Our Interview with Edward James Olmos from Battlestar Galactica and Blade Runner

September 10th, 2010 by Scott

The SciFi Diner Podcast

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The Interview:


Edward James “Eddie” Olmos (born February 24, 1947) is a Mexican-American actor and director. Among his most memorable roles are William Adama in the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica, Lt. Martin Castillo in Miami Vice, teacher Jaime Escalante in Stand and Deliver, patriarch Abraham Quintanilla in the film Selena, Detective Gaff in Blade Runner, and narrator El Pachuco in both the stage and film versions of Zoot Suit.

In the late 1960s and the early 1970s, Olmos branched out from music into acting, appearing in many small productions, until his big break portraying the narrator, called “El Pachuco,” in the play Zoot Suit, which dramatized the World War II-era rioting in California brought about by the tensions between Mexican-Americans and local police. (See Zoot Suit Riots.) The play moved to Broadway, and Olmos earned a Tony award nomination. He subsequently took the role to the filmed version in 1981, and appeared in many other films including Wolfen, Blade Runner and The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez.

In 1980, Olmos was cast in the post-apocalyptic science fiction film (now a Japanese cult classic) Virus (1980 film) (復活の日 Fukkatsu no hi). Directed by Kinji Fukasaku and based on a novel written by Sakyo Komatsu. During this film, he demonstrated his acting talents along side Masao Kusakari, George Kennedy, Robert Vaughn, Chuck Connors, Olivia Hussey, Ken Ogata, Sonny Chiba and Glenn Ford. Most remarkable was Olmos playing a piano while singing a Spanish ballad during the later part of the film. Although not a box office success, the Virus was notable for being the most expensive Japanese film ever made at the time. Akin to Blade Runner, it is a shocking if less than accurate portrayal of a modern day pandemic virus outbreak akin to (SARS, Avian-flu, H1N1, and Swine Flu).

From 1984 to 1989, Olmos starred in his biggest role up to that date as the authoritarian police Lieutenant Martin Castillo in the television series Miami Vice opposite Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas, for which he was awarded a Golden Globe and an Emmy in 1985. He was contacted about playing the captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise on Star Trek: The Next Generation when it was in pre-production in 1986, but he declined.

Returning to film, Olmos became the first American-born Latino to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in Stand and Deliver for his portrayal of real-life math teacher, Jaime Escalante. He directed and starred in American Me in 1992, and also starred in My Family/Mi Familia, a multigenerational story of a Chicano family. In 1997 he starred alongside Jennifer Lopez in the film Selena. Olmos played Dominican Republic dictator Rafael Leónidas Trujillo in the 2001 movie In the Time of the Butterflies. He also had a recurring role as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Roberto Mendoza in the NBC drama The West Wing. From 2002 to 2004, he starred as a recently widowed father of a Latino L.A.-family in the PBS drama American Family: Journey of Dreams.

From 2003 to 2009, he starred as Admiral William Adama in the Sci Fi Channel’s reimagined Battlestar Galactica miniseries and in the television series that followed. He directed four episodes of the show, Tigh Me Up, Tigh Me Down, Taking a Break from All Your Worries , Escape Velocity (and Islanded in a Stream of Stars. He also directed a television movie of the show, The Plan. Regarding his work on the show, he told CraveOnline, “I’m very grateful for the work that I’ve been able to do in my life but I can honestly tell you, this is the best usage of television I’ve ever been a part of to date.”

In 2006, he co-produced, directed, and played the bit part of Julian Nava in the HBO movie about the 1968 Chicano Blowouts, Walkout . He also appeared in Snoop Dogg’s music video “Vato”, featuring B-Real from Cypress Hill. In the series finale of the ABC sitcom George Lopez, titled George Decides to Sta-Local Where It’s Familia, he guest-starred as the plant’s new multi-millionaire owner. More recently, he has been a spokesperson for Farmers Insurance Group, starring in their Spanish language commercials.

Edward Olmos has often been involved in social activism, especially that affecting the Latino community. During the 1992 Rodney King Riots in Los Angeles, when many people left the city, Olmos went out with a broom and worked to get communities cleaned up and rebuilt. In 1997, Olmos co-founded the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival[8] with Marlene Dermer, George Hernandez and Kirk Whisler. That same year, he co-founded with Kirk Whisler the non-profit organization Latino Literacy Now that has produced Latino Book & Festivals [9] around the USA, attended by over 700,000 people. In 1998, he founded Latino Public Broadcasting and currently serves as its Chairman. Latino Public Broadcasting funds public television programming that focuses on issues affecting Latinos and advocates for diverse perspectives in public television. That same year, he starred in The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit, a comedy that sought to break Latino stereotypes and transcend the normal stigmas of most Latino-oriented movies.[citation needed] In 1999, Olmos was one of the driving forces that created Americanos: Latino Life in the U.S.1, a book project featuring over 30 award winning photographers, later turned into a Smithsonian traveling exhibition, music CD and HBO special. He also makes frequent appearances at juvenile halls and detention centers to speak to at-risk teenagers. He has also been an international ambassador for UNICEF. In 2001, he was arrested and spent 20 days in prison for taking part in the Navy-Vieques protests against United States Navy target practice bombings of the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico. Edward James Olmos narrated for the 1999 film Zapatista, a documentary in support of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, a revolutionary group that has abstained from using their weapons since 1994. On January 5, 2007, he appeared on Puerto Rican Television to blame the Puerto Rican and United States Governments for not cleaning the Island of Vieques after the United States Navy stopped using the island for bombing practice. He also gave $2,300 to New Mexico governor Bill Richardson for his presidential campaign (the maximum amount for the primaries).

Listener Question:

Does Science Fiction need to contain Science Fact?

On the menu tonight: What do you want on the menu?

* Interview Edward James Olmos Part 1
* Listener Feed back
* Thoughts on the Current Season of Warehouse 13
* BSG Trivia
* Felicia Day’s Red
* Judge Dredd becomes Dredd
* Whats up with Walking Dead?
* Review of Browncoats Redemption
* Halo Movie is Still in the works
* Does Science need to be accurate in Science Fiction?
* TWIST: Star Trek: The Experience and Takei on Big Bang
* B. Hardin gives us his SciFi Five in Five – Five ways to end the world

Show News/Listener Feedback:

* Feedback from Raduz
* Feed issues
* Listener Question from the past two weeks:

Should the now defunct TV Show Heroes be made into a major motion picture?

Greg Grunberg thinks ‘there has to be’ a Heroes movie coming http://bit.ly/bEmvqL

Some Answers:

SusuietheGeek: My question about a Heroes movie would be “Why, exactly?”

Mike C: Maybe an argument to be made on terms of economics for the studio but in story terms a total waste of time, there is no resolution for this type of narrative hence the volumes in the show which could be concluded.

* Miles asked on Facebook: The Scifi Diner Podcast I know it aired a few days ago, but did any of you watch Warehouse 13? I think that show keeps getting better. Artie’s the man.

This Week’s Trivia:

BSG Trivia: What was Laura Roslin’s position in the government before she became President?

Prize: First two books in the Autumn Rain trilogy. For more information on the Autumn Rain Trilogy, visit here.

 

You will have until September 22nd to answer this question. Send your answer with your mailing address to scifidinerpodcast@gmail.com, call us at 18885084343, or DM us on Twitter at @scifidiner.

Podcast Promos:

Gamma Quadrant Podcast

Leviathan Chronicles Podcast

The Main Course:

TV News:

Ra Do for a fan film, it’s very bold and nicely done. I can’t believe that the fans were able to finish such a monumental project. story wise it didn’t grab my attention much, but once again I congratulate all the people involved. K’pla!

  • Walking Dead already gets a season 2. Here are the gory details: http://bit.ly/afeMrr Wow and season one hasn’t aired yet. But not so fast: According to B. Hardin who heard it from Bear McCreary’s twitter (he writes the music and wrote score for BSG and Sarah Connor Chronicles) that the 2nd season confirmation was just a rumor. Here is an article on it.
  • Update: AMC has contacted IGN, explaining they wanted, “to dispel the rumor that The Walking Dead has been renewed for Season 2, as that is not the case yet.”  Alas… All right, zombie fans, keep crossing your fingers!

Movie News:

  • Felicia Day’s SyFy Movie “Red” Will Air October 30th. LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) — Syfy will get a little “Red” during its upcoming “31 Days of Halloween” event. This weekend’s bookings have confirmed the Felicia Day-led telefilm – now monikered “Red: Werewolf Hunter” – will premiere Saturday, October 30 at 9:00/8:00c. Kavan Smith and Stephen McHattie co-star in the project, about “a descendant of Little Red Riding Hood [who] brings her fiance home to meet her family and tell him about the family business – they are werewolf hunters.”
  • Renamed ‘DREDD’ wants to lure you in with new title, dark story.  In what could be an attempt to distance the new Judge Dredd film from the 1995 Sylvester Stallone version — something the producers and everyone else have been trying really hard to do since the beginning of this project — the movie’s name has been shortened to simply DREDD.  According to IM Global, who is currently selling the new movie at the Toronto International Film Festival :

    “DREDD takes us to the wild streets of Mega City One, the lone oasis of quasi-civilization on Cursed Earth. Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) is the most feared of elite Street Judges, with the power to enforce the law, sentence offenders and execute them on the spot – if necessary. The endlessly inventive mind of writer Alex Garland and the frenetic vision of director Pete Travis bring DREDD to life as a futuristic neo-noir action film that returns the celebrated character to the dark, visceral incarnation from John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra’s revered comic strip.”

    As well as Karl Urban in the title role, DREDD will also star Olivia Thirlby (Juno), who has been cast as Cassandra Anderson, a character who has psychic powers that include being able to sense approaching danger, foresee events of the near future and telepathy (you can read all about the character here.) No other cast has been announced yet. Preproduction for the movie apparently began Aug. 23 at Cape Town Film Studios in South Africa, and the movie will arrive in theatres in 2012.

    So right now DREDD has Karl Urban, a hot new title, a futuristic neo-noir story that goes back to the roots of the comic book, and a previous (somewhat gross) promise from Urban that the movie won’t make us “puke in our popcorn”? We’re liking it more and more. What do you think?

  • Microsoft Still Interested in “Halo” Movie:  Microsoft has admitted that they are “still interested” in making a movie out of their Halo video game seriesHalo video game series.  Frank O’Connor, the franchise development directordevelopment director at Microsoft’s 342 Industries, told Variety that the company want to make a feature that is a standalone story and not “a verbatim retelling of the game”.

    “We’re still interested in making an excellent Halo movieHalo movie. We’ve created an awful lot of documentation and materials to support a feature film,” he says. “We have a good idea of what kind of story we want to tell, but won’t move on it until there’s a great reason to do it. We’re in no particular hurry.”

    Microsoft also hasn’t ruled out the possibility of bringing Halo to TV.  A Halo movie – led by Peter JacksonPeter Jackson and Neill BlomkampNeill Blomkamp – got close to production in 2006 but collapsed due to a spiraling budget.

  • 5 big-budget sci-fi films that actually got their science right:  Phil Plait is an astronomer and major sci-fi geek.  My old friends know better than to go see movies with me. Sure, I always yell at the screen when a movie spaceship make a “whooshing” noise when it flies past, but at least I don’t throw popcorn: At a prorated 10 cents or so per kernel, it’s simply not cost-effective. But at my best I still mutter under my breath, and sometimes even take notes for my blog.  Such is the life of an evil-hearted nerd scientist critic of science fiction movies.

    Still, it’s not all bad. As rare as good stuff in movies can be, maybe it’s time to recognize it. I love a challenge, so let’s take a look: What movies got their science right?

(insert cricket noise) No, seriously, a lot of movies really do. Well, some do. OK, a
few do. Let’s start off with an easy one, like…

2001: A Space Odyssey

Ask any astronomer what movie comes closest to getting it all right, and they      won’t  hesitate: 2001. The obvious anachronism may make this one a teensy bit harder — Pan Am went out of business decades before the titular date, and the Space Station is hardly a giant spinning wheel in orbit — but a lot of the actual science is good.

There’s no sound in space, for example. Without air, there’s nothing to transmit the sound waves, and the movie shows space as deadly silent.

A classic scene has astronaut Frank Poole jogging around the circular centrifuge, and that’s on the money. Without gravity astronauts have all sorts of trouble, including serious health issues, such as muscle and permanent bone density loss. A spinning centrifuge would simulate gravity and mitigate a lot of those issues.

My favorite bit in the movie is that lack of stars in the exterior shots. If you were out in space and looking at a bright object like a sunlit spaceship, your eyes would adapt to that brightness level. Stars are pretty faint, and would be very hard to see!

And here’s one you might not have thought of (and I’ll risk geek blasphemy for saying it): Interplanetary travel is boring. A trip even to the moon takes three days. Mars is six months, and Jupiter would take years. Space is big and empty, so for 99 percent of the time there would be nothing to do. 2001 shows that beautifully by being boring. I mean, by showing that boredom!

Deep Impact

In 1998, two blockbusters came out about impacts: Armageddon, and Deep Impact. Armageddon was one of the worst movies in the history of humanity, if the not the universe in its entirety, so I’ll leave it alone (it does have one thing right: It’s about asteroids, and asteroids exist. Other than that …).

Deep Impact, on the other hand, got a lot right. The comet was discovered by an amateur astronomer (which was still common in the ’90s, though less now, with robotic surveys scanning the heavens much more efficiently). In the flick, a nuke only managed to split the comet into two pieces; in reality that’s likely to be what would happen to a fragile comet nucleus. The impact scene (damn! I forgot to say “spoiler alert!”) is wonderfully accurate, with the actual moment of collision and subsequent tsunami beautifully detailed and terrifying. Even the scenes filmed at the comet itself were good; the lack of gravity makes it impossible to land a ship, for example, so they tether themselves to it.

It was attention to that kind of detail that made my geeky inner (OK, outer) astronomer sing.

Contact

I have my suspicions that when we make first contact with aliens, it won’t be when they land their flying saucers on the White House lawn. That whole “space is big” thing really is a problem, and it’s a whole lot worse when the distances are measured in quadrillions of miles.

In Contact we find aliens because they beam an intense radio signal to us (though points are taken off for Jodie Foster’s character using headphones; computers are a wee bit better at detection than humans). That makes sense: A radio wave is easy to send, it travels at light speed, and you can encode a lot of information into it. So right off the bat, the movie has it right.

Not only that, but it also shows astronomers as, y’know, people, instead of cardboard caricatures, as usually done. Foster’s character actually — gasp — has a sex life!

Even the depiction of faster-than-light travel is consistent and well done. But none of this is surprising: The script was penned by Carl Sagan himself, an astronomer and brilliant writer. If you haven’t seen this flick, then stop reading my dorky stuff and go get it! Also, read the book Contact. If the last page doesn’t give you chills, you’re not a bona fide nerd.

Star Trek

Yes, the 2009 Trek reboot that pissed off a bazillion fans, who were appalled that suddenly their franchise could be made appealing to a broad audience. Still, despite all the debauching of science usually performed by Trek, there was one sequence made of win: Early on, when the Kelvin is attacked, we see explosions and running crewmen and lots of yelling and screaming. Suddenly, amidst the hullabaloo, a hull breach opens up and a crewmember is blown into space. We follow her out the hole, and suddenly all the noise is cut off.

Like 2001, this is a good depiction of space. Without air, there’s no noise. And the movie wins a second kudo from me because it was used dramatically: The sudden cessation of noise punctuates that death scene for the poor, unnamed crewperson, making it that much more chilling. Of course, that saves her from the awful science later in the movie as Vulcan collapses into a black hole (and don’t even get me started on “red matter”).

The Fountain

This wasn’t a blockbuster, but it was still a beautifully told tale of love, life, death and rebirth. I won’t spoil it for you, but I will say that this is, to my knowledge, the only movie that has ever used supernovae correctly.

When a massive star explodes at the end of its life, all the heavy elements it’s created (like iron, calcium and so on) are blown out into space, where they can merge with gas clouds. These clouds then collapse to form other stars, planets … and you. The iron in your blood and the calcium in your bones were literally forged in the hearts of ancient supernovae. When a star dies, it gives life to others … and that theme is used perfectly in the movie. It’s a metaphor for rebirth, but it’s also used in that way by the movie quite literally. Astrophysics as poetry! Awesome.

I could go on and on, but after this it’s a state of diminishing returns. I know there’s more good stuff out there on display in small doses in lots of movies. And I just bet you have more examples in your own movie collection. So tell me: What flicks do you hold up as a shining example of Science and Reality?

Anytime I read an article like this, it makes me want to hunt the author down and punch them square in the nose! Science fiction is science FICTION! I do really enjoy learning real scientific facts, but NOT when I go to see a fictional movie for the purpose of entertainment! If someone wants to make a science fact movie, fine. Just leave the fictional movies alone when you do. — Ethan

TWIST:

Two Years Ago Today, The Trek Community Lost A Dear Friend… Star Trek: The Experience

As many of you have probably read before, we had the pleasure of visiting Star Trek: The Experience twice during it’s run. Both times, we unequivocally felt like we were home among family and friends. Unfortunately, on September 1st, 2008, Star Trek: The Experience closed it’s doors for the last time and we’re here to mark the two year anniversary of our dear departed friend.

A Brief History of ST:TE

Star Trek: The Experience was a US$70 million permanent Star Trek-themed attraction at the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel, owned by Cedar Fair Enterprise, containing shops styled after the Deep Space 9 Promenade, a restaurant styled after Quark’s, The History of the Future Museum (which was a large collection of props and artifacts), and the Klingon Encounter and Borg Invasion 4D rides. The store was the largest Star Trek-themed store in the world.

The Experience opened with 2,500 on hand for a gala premier on 3 January 1998. It was originally a property owned by Paramount Parks, built by Landmark Entertainment resort/ theme park developer and coordinated by the Paramount/Viacom licensing division. It was sold to Cedar Fair, owner of Knott’s Berry Farm, with the other Paramount Parks division amid the parent Viacom split of CBS and Paramount Pictures in 2006. The facility played host to parties, receptions, weddings, scheduled events, and conventions. Those who wished to hold their wedding there could have it in Starfleet uniform on the bridge of the USS Enterprise-D, with Star Trek aliens such as Ferengi and Klingons as witnesses. The bridge facility was available for photo opportunities and costumes could be rented for the same.

Star Trek: The Experience “Klingon Encounter” and “Borg 4D” adventures uniquely combined ride simulators, accurately detailed sets, special effects and trained, dedicated costumed live actors to make guests truly feel they were actually in the Trek universe. The site offered tie-in parties, photo opportunities and sidebar events when Creation Entertainment’s annual Star Trek convention was held at the Hilton in August. (source Memory Alpha)

For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of (for the lack of a better word) experiencing “The Experience”, there are a ton of resources available on the net that can give you a taste of, what we called, Star Trek Nirvana. Starting with a complete virtual tour of ST:TE. From inside Quark’s Bar all the way through both rides and even the backstage areas.

We’ve had the great pleasure of meeting many of the former ST:TE cast & crew, on the net and in person at Vegas Khhaaan!. All of which we can now call friends. One of our buddies in particular has put together a comprehensive video history of Star Trek: The Experience, called “Star Trek: My Experience”. Many of you may know him as ST:TE’s 7 of 16 or Lt. “Pep” Streebeck, but in the real world he goes by Vernon Wilmer. Vernon is the unofficial historian of ST:TE and his growing series of videos give great detail and insight to its history and origins. He also features many of the cast & crew.


Jennifer M.
It was such an awesome place! I went on that ride like 10 times, every time I went to Vegas! Sigh! It’s not going to be there anymore?! I hope they build something else just like it!

B. Hardin I’ve never gone, but that had to be hard for them to lose such an amazing and unique job! It seems that if they could have hung on a few more years, they would have gotten a new wave of visitors b/c of the new movie. But it seems the timing wasn’t in their favor.

George Takei To Appear On The Big Bang Theory w/ Katee Sackhoff [UPDATED]

The nerdy CBS hit comedy The Big Bang Theory has had a number of Star Trek references over its first three seasons, including guests spots for TNG’s Wil Wheaton. And now it has been confirmed that Star Trek’s George Takei will be appearing on the show. More details below plus more Takei news. UPDATE: More details reveal Takei will appear with BSG’s Katee Sackhoff.

Takei headed to Big Bang Theory

It hasn’t yet been confirmed if TNG star Wil Wheaton will be returning to The Big Bang Theory and it looks unlikely the producer’s will get their wish and bring Leaonard Nimoy out of retirement. However, one Trek star is definitely going to show up during the fourth season of the CBS comedy about a group of nerdy scientists. Executive producer Bill Prady confirmed via his Twitter that Star Trek’s original Sulu George Takei will be appearing in the fourth episode of the fourth season airing October 14th. Prady followed up his announcement with the following tweet on Friday:

TrekMovie has confirmed that Takei will be shooting his episode this week. Also in an email, George Takei reveled some details about the episode, saying:

I am indeed currently working on THE BIG BANG THEORY. It is a delicious script in which I am playing a figure of Howard’s fantasy.

Caltech engineer Howard Wolowitz, played by Simon Helberg, is one of the main characters on the show. He, like most of the other characters on the show, is a Star Trek and sci-fi fan. This will not be Howard’s first fantasy sequence with a sci-fi guest star. Last season he had a fantasy with Katee Sackhoff from Battlestar Galactica (see below).

UPDATE: More details – Takei to appear with Sackhoff

Bill Prady has revealed to AOL that Takei will appear alongside Katee Sackhoff, where she will be reprising her role as Wolowitz’s conscience. Takei and Sackhoff will take opposite points of view as Wolowitz contemplates getting back together with his ex-girlfriend Bernadette (Melissa Rauch). Prady didn’t reveal the location, but did say that it won’t be in a bathtub.

Takei also to appear in new Seagal show and more

George Takei continues to be on a bit of a roll in terms of popularity. He recently appeared on the Disney sitcom The Suite Life on Deck, and he tells TrekMovie he just filmed an episode of Steven Seagal’s new series True Justice. The actor also recently filmed a part in the new Tom Hanks directed movie Larry Crowne. Takei is also in the cast of Supah Ninjas, a live-action comedy for Nickelodeon. A pilot for the high-school comedy about a bunch of kids who are also ninjas has been shot, but it has not yet been picked up. Later in the year Takei will also be appearing in a new series of Sharp TV commercials promoting their new 3D TVs.

ScifFi Five in Five:

Top 5 ways for the world as we know it to end according to Sci-Fi post-apocalypse masterpieces. – B. Hardin

5. Natural turned Unnatural Disasters- As seen in 2012, the Happening, and Day after Tomorrow. Admittedly, I hated all three of these movies, but the concepts were interesting.
4. Attack- As seen in Battlestar Galactica. Cylons invade and destroy. Only a few escape and survive. And for now the twist: the creations become the destroyers of their creators.
3. Zombies– As seen in Dawn of the Dead. Virus that turns people into mindless brain eaters teetering Sci-Fi and horror.
2. Rage Virus– As seen in 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later. The only thing more terrifying than zombies are zombies that can run.
1. Question Marks???– As seen in the The Road. The fact that the author of the The Road left the reason of the apocalypse out of the story really assisted in making the story so complex in its simplicity. It was clear this was a story about a father and son- not the world. Humanity not entire mankind.

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One Response to “SciFi Diner Podcast Ep. 75 – Our Interview with Edward James Olmos from Battlestar Galactica and Blade Runner”

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