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Gatecon Highlights

Gatecon 2022 | Peter & David DeLuise Take Us Inside Key SG-1 Episodes

Stargate SG-1 director/producer Peter DeLuise steals the spotlight in Sunday’s must-see Dial the Gate panel at Gatecon 2022.

The tone is set fairly early on when host David Read takes a question about the child actor from the Stargate SG-1 episode ‘Show and Tell’ – from the former child actor from ‘Show and Tell’ (S2, Ep20). Gleefully, Peter DeLuise pulls him on stage to re-enact the scene.

“And then because you were underage at the time I had to shoot you out, didn’t I?’ And you looked at me and you said ‘What are you going to do? How are you going to shoot me out of the scene, I’m the focus of this entire team?’ – ‘Oh, this kid’s getting on my nerves.’ And to endear myself to you. I gave you a GameShark.”

Peter DeLuise
The opening of the Stargate SG-1 episode ‘Show and Tell’ (S2, Ep20). Charlie (Jeff Gulka) stands in the foreground. DeLuise cameos as one of the soldiers pointing his gun. | MGM, 1999.

It’s a riot – the hour that crowns Gatecon’s triumphant comeback after two years of pandemic, political turmoil, and all-around bad vibes. It’s also very much the Peter DeLuise show, and how could it not be? The actor turned director, writer, and producer helmed an astonishing 57 episodes of Stargate SG-1, six episodes of Stargate Atlantis, and eight episodes of Stargate universe. (Plus SG-adjacent shows Sanctuary and Dark Matter).

David DeLuise, meanwhile, played Samantha Carter’s boyfriend in four episodes of SG-1. Not all guests are created equal and he’s at peace with that, lubricating the discourse with wry asides and knowing reactions – the grinning cheerleader for Gatecon 2022’s greatest coup.

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Getting Involved in Stargate

It seems impossible to imagine Stargate SG-1 without Peter DeLuise, but he first graced the credits towards the end of Season 2 with the epic ‘Serpent’s Song’ (S1, Ep18) and ‘Show and Tell’ (S2, Ep20). His involvement, it transpires, was a happy accident rooted in his time in the cast of pre-ironic revival teen cop show 21 Jump Street.

“So there are two producers Jonathan Glasner and John Smith – John Smith which totally sounds like a fake name right, like he’s in witness protection –  [they] were on a show called 21 Jump Street and 21 Jump Street is how I got my start as a director. 

“I was periodically coming up here to try to audition for local stuff. And John Smith was doing a show called Two, with Michael Easton as an evil twin and a good twin. I was auditioning for that show. And after the audition was done, John said, ‘Hey, you know, if you lived up here and you had your Canadian resident status, you could qualify for Canadian content. I could hire you as a director because I know you’re a good director.’ between redemption which I used to work on and I was like, ‘I’ll take you up. on that’. Took me a while, but I got my landed immigrant status as a Canadian. 

“I called them and I said, ‘Hey, John, I got my status. I’m up here, I’m in Vancouver. Do you have a job for me?’ And he’s like, Well, Two‘s cancel, so I don’t and then this other show that I’m working on, all the jobs are full, but you’ll be the first alternate and I thought basically, he was giving me the heave-ho like, ‘You went through all this trouble for nothing, you’re not gonna get a job.’ And then Mario Azzopardi, as it happens, dropped out of his directing assignment to do a movie of the week, which left an opening for me. John said, ‘We’re gonna slot you in’, and Jonathan Glasner knew who I was already from having worked with him, so he had his blessing as well. I had never worked with Brad Wright before that moment. 

“But my job was just to endear myself to the cast, especially Richard Dean Anderson because if he doesn’t like you, you’re out, man.”

Peter DeLuise
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Directing Teenage Jack O’Neill in SG–1’s ‘Fragile Balance’

An audience member asks about shooting the (we think) teenage Jack O’Neill in the Stargate SG-1 episode ‘Fragile Balance’ (S7, Ep3), played by future Twilight and Z Nation star Michael Welch.

“Because Michael Welch had not watched the show, what ended up happening was I took on the role of ‘Just do it like this’. Because I was so familiar with the dryness and the personality [in the way] Richard Dean Anderson inevitably would say his lines, I would just cut through the BS and just go ‘Look, he just doesn’t like this’, ‘He stands like this’, ‘He throws these fingers aside’. And by the time Richard Dean Anderson got on set, he had his tics figured out. Michael Welch was imitating me imitating Richard Dean.”

The teenage Jack O’Neill (Michael Welch) in the Stargate SG-1 episode ‘Fragile Balance’ (S7, Ep3). Welch played Mack Thompson, a former hockey player, in the first two series of the Syfy show Z Nation. | MGM, 2003.

Directing Dad – the Legendary Dom DeLuise – in SG-1’s ‘Urgo’

Peter and David are crown princes of celluloid comedy, sons of frequent Mel Brooks collaborators Dom DeLuise and Carol Arthur. Dom, who sadly passed away in 2009 at the age of 75, has Blazing Saddles (1974) and Spaceballs (1987) sitting proudly on his IMDb – and, of course, the Stargate SG-1 episode ‘Urgo’ (S3, Ep16). In this deliciously surreal outing, Dom DeLuise plays Urgo, the manifesting AI, and his creator, Togar.

“I think it started with [story editor] Tor [ Alexander Valenza]’s pitch, and Brad [Wright] recognized that would have to be a very special character, the AI.

“Tor had this shit-eating grin on his face. He and Brad kind of came up to me and went, ‘We have this idea. We want to know what you think. So there’s this fun episode and we were thinking that maybe your dad could play the title role.’ I was like, ‘My dad does comedy, his brand of comedy is not conducive to this. Are you sure?’ And they go. ‘Well, we think when you hear the idea…’ and after I heard the idea, I was like, ‘Oh my god! This is gonna be awesome.’

Dom DeLuise as the distracting projection of a rogue A.I. in the Stargate SG-1 episode ‘Urgo’ (S3, Ep16). The role is not dissimilar from another Dom DeLuise part: the imaginary friend Koosalagoopagoop in Dexter’s Laboratory. | MGM, 2000.

“It’s not just one character, it’s two characters, so he was super in it, and then the whole rest of it was just making sure he was comfortable. We gave him a really substantial chair [so] he could sit right there, next to where he needed to be. He had a hard time getting around and walking. His hips were not great and you can kind of tell when he’s moving around, but he was so full in every other aspect of that. And so getting him there and making sure he was comfortable so he could be the funniest guy possible that that was all the trick of that and then he liked this chair so much that the Stargate production, wrapped it up and send it to him, and he sat on that chair for the rest of his life. 

“Directing him was awesome because I knew what he could do and I knew that we shouldn’t limit him so I always kept him alive the two shot [a camera angle that frames two characters, in order to show the reaction of one to the other]. I would shoot him and then I’d shoot the other person. But the two shot would keep him going, so I’d get another couple of extra takes out of him. And then he would just make stuff up and the other actors who just try not to laugh.

Peter DeLuise

“To Brad Wright’s credit, I could only add a certain amount of time in the editing room so I put in all the jokes that I thought were there but Brad went even deeper and he mined all the gold nuggets.”

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Joining the cast of SeaQuest DSV

Then we have a surprise appearance from the notoriously troubled seaQuest DSV, which cast Peter DeLuise in its second season as Dagwood, a prototype G.E.L.F. (genetically engineered life form). Not only does this Rockne S. O’Bannon jaunt still have its fans, but they’re apparently out in force.

“Patrick Hasburgh was a writer, producer, and showrunner on 21 Jump Street and he migrated to seaQuest. So he called me and he said, ‘There’s this interesting exotic part that I think you would be right for.’ So Patrick said, ‘This is a guest spot, it’s not much of a thing but it is something so we’ll get you in there.’

Peter DeLuise as Dagwood in the second season of seaQuest DSV. The introduction of the G.E.L.Fs was part of a series of desperate course corrections that saw the show all but rebooted for its third and final season, seaQuest 2032. | Universal, 1994.

“Then a new part was coming up which was scheduled to [go to] a local. They were moving the show from LA to Orlando and they had designated the part that I ended up playing as a local part so they weren’t gonna pay the extra money for the relocation fee. It was such an exotic, wonderful character. He was an experimental genetically engineered life form, a G.E.L.F. and that mottled look made up his skin camouflage. That’s how that was supposed to work and you had superhuman strength, but because he was the prototype they hadn’t developed his mental skills very well. They put an importance on discipline versus smarts. And so he came out not unlike Lenny from Of Mice and Men. A big little kid. I don’t really care about the salary. I’m happy to get back in front of the camera. So I said ‘Yeah, let’s let’s make this happen’ and my niece was just learning to talk-”

“My daughter, Riley,” deadpans David. “She was eight.”

“She was a great character study for that. She would say ‘Mama’, but [with] this noise just like she was warming up her vocal cords. I stole that and so many other more things where I was just relaxing my throat as characters. I shaved my head in anticipation of getting the role, only to find out that they couldn’t get any of the other actors to shave their heads.”

Peter DeLuise

“You were the prototype,” says David.

“That’s how they justified it. ‘Peter already shaved his head, what are we gonna do?’ It was a good look because it was exotic. So I was like, ‘Oh, I’m happy to keep it.’

The Longevity of Stargate SG-1… and That New Series

“It’s a little bit dated,” reflects Peter. “There is the odd mullet haircut, but overall it’s a testament to the quality of the show when people can still enjoy it and they can introduce their kids to it and it still holds up. I did a show called 21 Jump Street as a much younger person, but it was because we were trying to be fashion forward, a lot of the things that we did on the show don’t hold up and they quite frankly look ridiculous, including mullet hair. I didn’t know I had hockey hair at the time, I thought I was just copying Mel Gibson from Lethal Weapon.

“So I’m getting sidetracked but the point I’m trying to make is if the material holds up over time, that’s a testament to the core thing. I mean, there were two franchises off of that. Then if people are still following the show and they’re still invested in it, that’s another reason to bring it back, right?

Peter DeLuise

“Without comparison, [the Stargate] is the absolute best tool to tell the story. All you have to do is walk through this door, this portal, [and] you can find anything you want on the other side. Brad Wright and Jonathan Glasner knew that when they were producing Outer Limits and they saw that the show was an MGM property and they went, ‘That’s gotta be a series – that’s the most perfect storytelling device in the history of storytelling devices.’ 

“And it still is the most perfect way to start a story, all you have to do is walk through that thing and you can find anything on the other side.”

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James Hoare is editor of The Companion. He has been “working in publishing” since the early 1990s when he made his own Doctor Who fanzine to sell in the school playground.

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