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SciFi Diner Classic Ep. 10
Our Interview with Richard Hatch
(Original and Reimagined Battlestar Galactica)
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In our tenth episode of the SciFi Diner Classic, we interview author Richard Hatch (Original and Reimagined Battlestar Galactica). Since we do a news and interview show, it goes without saying that the news portion of our episodes often date themselves fast. And while the interviews with the people that make Science Fiction happen remain relevant and in our opinion important, most listeners will not listen back 100 episodes and wade through old news just to get to the interview. So what the SciFi Diner Classic aims to do is to share these interviews with you. If you have been with us from the beginning, then bear with us as we introduce some of our newer listeners to voices from the past. We’re bringing you just the interview and nothing else.
Richard Hatch (born May 21, 1945, in Santa Monica, California) is an American actor. He is best known for his role as Captain Apollo in the original Battlestar Galactica television series, and also as Tom Zarek in the remake of Battlestar Galactica.
Hatch began his theatrical career with the Los Angeles Repertory Theater. In the late 1960s, he starred Off Broadway in several plays and musicals and won the Obie Award for his work in PS Your Cat is Dead in Chicago.
Hatch began working in television in 1970 when he starred as Philip Brent in the daytime soap opera All My Children, a role he played for two years. For some years, he then made guest appearances in primetime series such as Cannon, Barnaby Jones, Hawaii Five-O, and The Waltons, as well as appearing in several made-for-TV movies such as The Hatfields and The McCoys with Jack Palance, Addie and the Kings of Hearts with Jason Robards, Last of the Belles with Susan Sarandon, and Deadman’s Curve in which he portrayed Jan Berry of the musical group Jan and Dean.
In 1976, Hatch gained his first major television role as Inspector Dan Robbins on the detective series The Streets of San Francisco, a replacement for Michael Douglas (who played Insp. Steve Keller) who had left the series that year. Though the role was only for one season, Hatch won Germany’s Bravo Youth Magazine Award for the role. Following this, he had a recurring role on the series Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, also for one season. By this time, Hatch had become something of a pin-up and regularly appeared in teen-oriented magazines such as Teen Beat, 16 Magazine, and Tiger Beat.
Hatch then gained his first starring role in Glen A. Larson’s sci-fi series, Battlestar Galactica (1978), though this too proved to be for only a single season as the series was cancelled in 1979. Hatch was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for the role.
Throughout the 1980s, Hatch made guest appearances on various television series such as Hotel, Murder She Wrote, The Love Boat, and Fantasy Island. In 1984, he appeared in several episodes of the prime time soap opera Dynasty, which was at the top of the ratings at the time.
In 1990, Hatch returned to daytime soap operas and appeared on Santa Barbara originating the character Steven Slade. He continued to make guest appearances on prime time series such as Jake and the Fatman and Baywatch, but roles were becoming few and far between.
Hatch’s next prominent role would be as Tom Zarek in the reimagined version of Battlestar Galactica, in which he made semi-regular appearances from 2004 to 2009.
Hatch has made several low-key theatrical film releases, including Best Friends (1975), Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen (1981), and Prisoners of the Lost Universe (1983). An abridged version of the pilot episode of Battlestar Galactica was also released in cinemas, initially overseas and then for a limited run in the U.S., as was a sequel film, Mission Galactica: The Cylon Attack, which was also made from episodes of the series.
Battlestar Galactica revival attempt
For many years, Hatch attempted to revive Battlestar Galactica. In the 1990s, he began writing novels based on the series, and also wrote, co-directed and executive-produced a trailer called The Second Coming in the hopes of enticing Universal Studios (the rights holders for the franchise) into producing a new series that would have been a direct continuation of the original 1978 series (ignoring the events of the failed spin-off Galactica 1980 in which Hatch did not appear). Original actors John Colicos (Baltar), Terry Carter (Col. Tigh) and Jack Stauffer (Bojay) appeared in the trailer along with Hatch himself. Hatch also believed that he could persuade Dirk Benedict to return and play Starbuck.
Although the trailer won acclaim at science-fiction conventions, Universal was not interested in Hatch’s vision to revive Battlestar Galactica, and instead opted for a remake rather than the sequel for which Hatch had campaigned. Initially, Hatch (who claimed to have remortgaged his house to make the trailer) was bitterly disappointed by this turn of events and was highly critical of the prospective new series on his web site.
Hatch at Gatecon 2005
In 2004, he stated to Sci-Fi Pulse that he had felt resentment over the failure of his planned Galactica continuation and was left “exhausted and sick… I had, over the past several years, bonded deeply with the original characters and story… writing the novels and the comic books and really campaigning to bring back the show”.
Battlestar Galactica re-imagining
Despite his resentment, Hatch developed a respect for Ronald D. Moore, the new series’ writer and producer, when he appeared as a featured guest at Galacticon (the Battlestar Galactica 25th anniversary convention, hosted by Hatch) and answered questions posed by a very hostile audience. . Later, in 2004, Hatch was offered and accepted a recurring role in the new Battlestar Galactica series. He played Tom Zarek, a terrorist turned politician, who spent twenty years in prison for blowing up a government building; Hatch has said the character was presented to him as a Nelson Mandela figure, and that he views Zarek as challenging the status quo and working for the common man. Hatch/Zarek spends most of his first episode in heated debate with Captain Apollo (played by Jamie Bamber), the role that Hatch had played in the original series. He has appeared in several further episodes of the series as a guest star until 2009. After accepting the Zarek role, Hatch stated “it was a very deep and profound struggle for me to let go and realize that I was not the creator of the series and it didn’t belong to me… I’ve finally come to terms with and accepted that.”
Alongside his attempts to revive the original Battlestar Galactica, Hatch created his own space opera entitled The Great War of Magellan. He has written a comic book series and a role-playing game in support of this, and is presently working a novel trilogy with Brad Linaweaver (who co-authored many of Hatch’s Battlestar Galactica novels).
Most recently, Hatch has been working on a new reality TV series called Who the Frak?, which he created and appears in as himself. The series is touted as “the world’s first social network reality drama”.
Hatch can also be heard in numerous television commercials and other voice-overs.