RICHARD BURGI'S TSbyBS SET INTERVIEWS

BY: Regina Moore AKA Charlotte Frost

 

FEEDBACK/COMMENTS: regmoore@earthlink.net

 

Here’s Richard Burgi’s interviews from the set of TSbBS. They’re in three parts because he kept getting called away. Actually, I’m sure there was a fourth part because I’m certain he made a comment about wishing that there had been more emphasis on Jim and Blair’s relationship, which isn’t mentioned below. Alas, I seem to have recorded over the latter portion of the tape (don’t want to think about how I managed that), so Bruce Young’s interview is cut off early on and a later section of Burgi’s is missing. Anna Galvin’s and Danny Bilson’s are there, but I won’t be doing them anytime soon and I’m not sure how much interest there would be.

(What is really interesting – and maybe not that unusual – is how those making a show sometimes have such a different perspective from the fans. Bilson mentions something about his listening to the fans having resulted in the fourth season, which many fans detest. Burgi speaks below with great joy about the filming of “Four Point Shot”, which most fans agree is a terrible episode. I’ve heard that the PTB favored “The Inside Man”, a highly disliked episode, because many of the set people made up the partygoers at the mafia party.)

Of course, Burgi has quite a poetic way of stating things at times, and there’s one word you’ll see where I have no idea what it was supposed to be. I spelled in phonetically. And then he does some incredible deadpan bullshitting at times. He also, despite a fairly consistent, unwavering tone of voice, speaks with great sincerity in a few spots. He really seems to enjoy talking about the show. (And I love how he uses the word “sentinalians” to refer collectively to the good guys. ;-> )


SEGMENT ONE

Setting: Dressed in long trench coat and scarf, sitting with his back to a window, which looks down on early street scene setup with Jack Bartley.

IN: You’re back for a fourth season. How exciting is that for you to be back for a fourth season?

RB: Uh, wow. I’m just really blown away by all the fan support. I think that the people that we’re really doing this for obviously is for the fans, and we have a real intimate contact with the fans and a relationship with them, that uh… I think it’s kind of unusual, you know, they come to the set a lot, been supporting us for quite some time, and it’s really interesting to get a sense and a real feel for the groundswell of support and emotion that they’ve… uh… you know, been giving out. You know.

IN: Does it make it all worth it when you know there’s so many people out there who enjoy what you’re doing?

RB: Yeah. I think that every actor wants to have a sense of his impact or her impact, and it’s really nice to get a sense of that on a couple of different levels, you know, from the letters that we received to people that come to the set to, uh, you know, the hits on the internet. I-I-I’m thoroughly touched all the time, and I feel as though I can’t do enough and that’s probably a common theme of my life. [soft laugh] But I know I can speak for all the other people involved in the show that if we’re doing this for the fans and… uh… uh you know that’s why we just try to give a good ride each week, you know, so that people can sit back and enjoy it and to tune in on a regular basis. And-and that’s all we’re doing it for. [takes drink from Styrofoam cup].

IN: What part of the fans’ campaign do you think was the most effective? Were you aware of what was going on and what maybe made you think “Wow” this is going to clinch it?

RB: Well, I think my favorite part of the fans’ ad campaign was the emulation when they lit one of their own on fire and… uh… they strung it up in front of the offices of UPN, and the other was the sacrifice they had, a couple of alter sacrifices a la the early Aztec and… sorry… [laughing]

IN: [laughing and asking about something that made RB and his wife sit down and really think wow]

RB: I think there was an ad taken out in the paper, there were thousands of internet hits that were inundating the network, and I think that essentially that at some point the advertisers and people must pay attention and just wake up and say, “Oh well, obviously there’s some people that are buying our product and, you know taking up space on our advertising schedule so, you know, we should probably pay attention to them.” And I think it’s probably, probably the internet hits that… just an extraordinary amount of abuse and calls came into the network… [shrugs]… so… [drinks]

IN: [starts to ask questions and somebody comes off camera and says Burgi has to go] Okay, we’ll continue on, if you don’t mind after the break.

RB [getting up and leaning forward to find the microphone cord] Uh-uh. Not at all.


SEGMENT TWO

Setting: Inside the sound studio dressed as before.

IN: Okay, this is Richard Burgi back. Now, you’re back for the fourth season, which is pretty darned exciting. There was a little trouble there for a minute, but how does it feel to be back on The Sentinel?

RB: It feels good. Uh… we kind of had a… a sense of the rug being pulled out from under us because none of us anticipated *not* coming back. But I think in the world of television you can never not expect anything. Is that all right [points off camera], all that noise? Uh… Yeah?

IN: Yeah. Yeah, we’re fine.

RB: It feels really great because, uh, whether we go on past this season or not we’re definitely looking at, you know, a sense of closure and/or going forward with our eyes open, we just weren’t really sure what was happening last year. It’s nice to be back just with the people we’ve been working with and established a family with for the last four years… it-it feels great. I really like being up here.

IN: [Gives background on cliffhanger and asks him to recap for the season opener.]

RB: Well, I think if I tell you what happens in the season opener [laughs] you’re not going to have any sort of a suspense. But what happened in the cliffhanger… uh… was… uh… that… . Let me see. You want me to answer what happened in the cliffhanger, or would you like me to answer –

IN: Uh, no, just sort of give of a hint of some of the good things you’re doing in the season opener.

RB: Well, uh, in the final episode of last season we had a character who was a sentinel played by Jeri Ryan, a nefarious sentinel and she had taken uh… Blair Sandburg… the character of Blair Sandburg… out of the picture and… and whether he is revived or not is a question that we’ll have to answer in the season opener, obviously, I think that his future depends on the collective work and uh [making an intense face] vicious pursuit of this nefarious creature by the team of… of… sentinalians. [grins]

IN: Was it fun working with Jeri Ryan?

RB: Jeri’s a doll. She’s a real, she’s a real pro. And she’s a lot of fun to work with.

IN: You’ve had some interesting guest characters, like Robert Vaughn. What’s it like for you working with him and is it fun for you to have these people come on for an episode or two?

RB [emphatically]: I *adore* working with all these actors and it’s just, to me you know, growing up watching Robert Vaughn and some of these other characters that I’ve seen – there’s been so many – um… it’s just a great… uh… kind of a full circle that I’m blessed to be a part of, and…. We just have fun, you know. I think that we … we engender a really fun working atmosphere up here for people to come and express themselves and that seems to be why people like to come up and work. Because we just have fun.

IN: I think one of the most popular episodes last year was the one with all the basketball stars. I understand that they’re back. Tell me what it was like to work with these guys.

RB: Yeah, we’ll be having a sequel to the “Three Point Shot” episode we had last year which featured Clyde Drexler and Mitch Richmond and Malik Sealy and Lorenzen Wright. And now this year we’re going to have Muggsy Bogs… Kurt Rambus… we just had a gas with those guys, it just got to be so insane and-and we couldn’t figure out, you know, what to not do and, you know, in terms of the plot because there was just… [with great enjoyment] it just kept going and expanding and every time you do something these guys would just cut up and have fun and we would just go off and it got to be like a three hour movie, you know. I have no idea what’s going to be cut, what’s going to be used, and how it’s going to work out, but it was a lot of fun. And playing basketball with them is a real gas. I-I enjoy getting on the court, and so do a couple of guys on the set. It was a romp.

IN: It seems like you guys are always having a good time. [gives examples and mentions something about GM “having come up two or three times during interviews”] What could be better than being paid for having fun?

RB: I think that’s probably why people tune in and it’s our essential interest in this business is to have fun, and you know, I-I-I feel very blessed to be able to do a job, as arduous as it is, that’s fun and for the most part a good time. I mean, it gets really intense and insane and gets to be drudgery at times, but for the most part it’s just fun and, uh, I think that’s what I want to have people experience when they come on board is fun and we’re just in the entertainment business, you know, make no bones about it. We’re here to entertain people and to-to bring them along on a fun ride, you know, and I-I hope that we do that with a sense of pinache and a light-heartedness, as well as, you know, some sort of human interest ingredients, as well.

IN: [Reviews her conversation with GM about the popularity in the show and that he mentioned all the “big” stuff, but also “the really interesting relationship between your character and his” and how the shows success is a combination of things.] Do you agree?

RB [very thoughtful]: Yeah, I think that, individually, we’re pretty… dissimilar, in a lot of ways, but we have a lot of… I think like… feelings about life and… and I think we explore that with the characters as well, and I think that the three of us – Bruce Young, Garett, and I – all each week work to get a sense of exploring discord, disharmony to get to a sense of harmony and a sense of resolution, so…. You know, Garett and I… we’ve all had our personal differences on the set and off the set and, you know, I really love the way we support and work through our differences and-and yet at the same time explore our joy and support each other with our growth and-and exploration.

IN: Do you think having the key to the show is the combination of the different elements?

RB: Yeah, I think there’s an interesting element to the show that is uh… kind of a…. multi-faceted aspect of a… of a… of, you know, of a show that… [tilts his head thoughtfully] I think one thing stands out about the show is it’s not… a classic drama, it’s not a classic action-adventure, it’s not a classic relationship, you know, it’s just a lot of different things, so that in each episode we try and pack in a lot of different things and give… a, you know, various flavors, you know, to the audience to taste each week and-and that’s why I think the show itself it’s has a great action quality to it, the production values are wonderful and I think the relationships – we all work really hard at really relating to each other and listening and supporting and goofing around and having a sense of seriousness with an active ingredient of light-heartedness.

IN: This is like a mini-feature because every time I come here you’ve got three or four cameras and three hundred extras or you’re blowing something up or there’s this really intimate scene or something.... The production values are extraordinarily high on this show.

RB: Yeah, we have… you know, people who have worked extensively in films in every department and I-I would put our-our show that we do weekly up against a lot of films that take months to execute and I would have a good time really finding a large gap in the quality. Because the people that work on the show, from the set designers to the makeup and wardrobe and the guys that are executing the producorial roles are-are all top notch and –

IN: You must know it’s worth it because –

RB: Is that a word? Producorial? [laughing and drinking from water bottle]

IN: I like it I think it’ll do fine. You’re working long hours and don’t have the time to tune in to what’s going on in the real world. Were you surprised when you heard there was this huge fan base where fans were willing to literally put their money where their mouths are to save your show?

RB: Uh… yeah. I really don’t, uh… watch much television except for some of the kids’ programming and some of the videos that my son has on the constant loop [laughs], and working so much, I really don’t get to tune into papers or anything, I’m so out of touch. But I was thoroughly… uh… I was thoroughly enthralled and uh… touched by the outpouring of fan support that it changed I think a decision that was capricious and I don’t think well thought through, but… – maybe it was – but…. I was very… I think all of us were really touched by the outpouring of fan support and emotion and it was really a great tribute to what we do, you know, because I think week after week we really all work our tails off to give to, you know, the fans, and *that’s* who we’re doing it for. You know, I can’t understand people who don’t *get that*, you know, that really don’t put *that* first, because you know we’re doing it to entertain people, to make somebody’s life a little bit more enjoyable and-and-and hopefully have them have some fun, or maybe cry or whatever it is that we do, you know, and that’s what we’re attempting. It’s great to have that-that-that reflection, that-that sense of “Oh, yeah, your work is actually paying off.” And, you know, I uh… I feel like I can’t do enough for the fans sometimes and… so… it’s-it’s really touching, yeah.

IN: I understand that there was a group that actually got together and raised money to buy an ad in like USA Today or Variety or something. It’s like that’s something, that’s going the extra step. What was your reaction when you heard? I mean, those ads are like thirty forty thousand dollars.

RB: Uh, yeah, I also heard that that same group were active mercenaries that had staged a coup and captured this, uh, third world tyrant who had uh… been an acting despot very similar to what I think the current circumstances that surround this show. [laughs] The group, the nucleus of I think people that, uh, got together to support the show is a rather intense and nesurfluous [??] group and I think that their energy has really reverberated to create an awakening within people that I think might not understand that *fans* are the ones buying the advertising time and tuning in and… making sets flicker at night, so… [smiles] It’s time to wake up. And I think the fans finally got their-their due. [laughs and tilts his head back to finish off water bottle]

IN: Speaking of due, you’re needed on the set, is that correct? [talking to somebody off camera] we’ll unplug you and let you go back. If we can have you back a bit later.

RB: [being unplugged] Oh, yeah, that’s fine. You know, I always, you know, within the process, I’m trying to figure out like a sense of… [runs his wriggling hands along an uneven path, indicating an indirect route] you know, a bite or something…


SEGMENT THREE

Setting: In the sound studio, but absent his coat and scarf, like he’s dressed for one of the loft or MC scenes. Overall, more relaxed and gesturing more.

IN: I was just speaking with the lovely Anna Galvin and she mentioned that what surprised her most about the fan outpouring and so on was that a lot of the letters that she saw were from women and at first I think a lot of people thought that the show was aimed at teenage boys or young men but there’s a huge female following. Has that surprised you? What do you think women are getting out of the show?

RB: Oh, I think we have a very strong female contingent that have a voracious appetite for action, for relationship, and a sense of intrigue, and uh, these women are a wild, wacky, and I think represent a cross section of America that is overlooked, you known, uh…uh… the maternal structure, the uh… the earth core… the foundation elemental structure of-of mankind. [growing more intense] The mother qualities. The-the-the… [looking toward ceiling] the-the-the locust of parturition. Yes, let’s see. [speaking louder] The locust of parturition being the area of-of birth where all things begin and I think these women embody a sense of boldness and spirit and strength and resolve and… a force to be reckoned with. [looks at IN with an air of finality]

IN: Were you surprised when you saw that –

RB: [trying not to laugh and then laughing] I thought you would take that again.

IN: That’s all right, we’ll use some of it.

RB: Yeah, I think the initial fan base was... uh… young boys who liked… uh, is that right? ‘Young boys’ -- it sounds almost perverted. [laughs]

IN: You want to try it again? Let’s try that again.

RB: Right, what was the initial…? [looks thoughtfully toward the ceiling] Okay. Go ahead.

IN: The Sentinel appeals to way more people than we ever thought and all sorts of people.

RB: Yeah, I think the demographics were initially targeted 18-40yos males. But what we found… uh… the amount of women who tune into the show and the overabundance of female viewership and letters that we get each week has proven to I think negate the general idea of what this show is targeted for or at. And, you know, the women who watch the show have a real wonderful sense of-of-of right and wrong and of what they think is a good quality show and I think it appeals to a sense… I mean, I like the fact that women are responding to it because I always trust my wife’s judgment about things. I’d rather, you know, give way to female intuition whenever possible, so uh, I think the collective female intuition is saying something very positive here. [smiles]

IN: Is there anything you’re doing different for the fourth season?

RB: Well, I think what we’re going to try and do this season is bring on some really choice characters and also do things that this show is I think known for, the relationship that has been spawned by the characters is something that is going to be developed a little further and I think that that’s a lot of what people want to see. We’ve got some icons of sports and of television that will be working with us, and film, and we’ve got on staff some icons of the literary world, as well. So, uh, I think this season we’re just going to attempt to bring a lot more to the foreground in terms of… relationship, in terms of action, in terms of intrigue, and essentially have a lot more fun.

IN: Tell us about the guest stars. [off camera talking] Oh, you have to run?

END

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