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Stargate SG1 Crew returns Print E-mail

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Stargate SG-1 Crew Returns to Earth for Special Photographic Mission
By Paul Gendreau

Culver City, CA, USA, Earth - The members of the U.S. Air Force's elite Stargate SG-1 team recently returned to Earth for a special photographic mission which took place in this Los Angeles suburb, the original home of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film studios, on Saturday, October 20. The focus of the mission was to create new images to be used by the advertising, marketing and publicity teams at MGM Television Entertainment, the earthbound production company which provides valuable technical support to the Stargate SG-1 team.

Each member of the elite Stargate SG-1 team, which includes Richard Dean Anderson as Colonel "Jack" O'Neill, Amanda Tapping as astrophysicist Major/Dr. Samantha Carter, Michael Shanks as civilian scientist Dr. Daniel Jackson, Christopher Judge as former Goa'uld cohort Teal'c, Teryl Rothery as Dr. Janet Frasier and Don S. Davis as General George Hammond, began setting foot on planet Earth throughout the week prior to the photo shoot, each utilizing the Stargate on Earth - the portal which has served as the special U.S. Air Force contingent's gateway to unknown worlds for five television seasons.

Busily assembling themselves at Culver City's Smashbox Studios and preparing for the arrival of the Stargate SG-1 crew was another elite team of professionals - a crew of wardrobe, hair and makeup specialists, MGM Television executives, photo assistants and technicians led by heralded photographer Matthew Welch, whose work over the past ten years has propelled him to the forefront of the entertainment photography scene.

Arriving at 0800 hours, the actors got busy right away, going through the hair, makeup and wardrobe process with which, by now, they are all very familiar. Between nibbles of their catered breakfast, Anderson and crew prepared for their latest mission - Operation Glamour.

Fans may be surprised to see the Stargate SG-1 cast as they've never seen them before. Eschewing their traditional uniforms for a relaxed and fashionable earthbound wardrobe, the colleagues (who, after five seasons have all become very good friends) took their places in front of the camera for the start of what was to be a long, yet extremely productive day.

The day's first shot focused on the four players at the core of each Stargate SG-1 mission, but the term "first shot" can be a bit misleading, lest the novice assume that there was only one shot involved. Nearly an hour later, they were still at it, with photographer Welch arranging and rearranging the group into every conceivable configuration -- Anderson standing, Anderson sitting, Tapping with arms crossed, Judge looking left, Shanks facing right.

Following the group shot came individual photos, offering everyone except the camera's current subject a break. After everyone completed their solo shots in this particular wardrobe, it was back into wardrobe to change into the day's next ensemble, followed by hair and makeup touchups. And then? Back into the studio and under the lights for the next round of click, click, click.

Seasoned pros like the Stargate SG-1 cast are used to this drill. After all, what they do on the show's set in Vancouver, British Columbia every day is not much different. However, it's been a week since production wrapped for season five and everyone is enjoying spending time with each other in warm and sunny Southern California for a change.

Lunch! This being L.A., the catered lunch is California cuisine at its finest. A salad of mixed greens, roasted spicy potatoes, vegan enchiladas and grilled chicken breasts seem to hit the spot. A beautiful flan tops off the delicious luncheon. The mealtime respite is a brief one, however, as the full six-member cast prepares for the afternoon's shooting.

Moving outdoors, photographer Welch has already set up a giant overhead tarpaulin to diffuse the strong L.A. sun and create a totally different, and natural, lighting effect for the new location. A fake wall serves as a gritty backdrop for the actors who once again "assume the positions" they've come to know so well.

"Let's try the next one with Richard behind Amanda," offers Welch. "Now let's move Chris over to the other side." Even the casual observer can sense that this day will yield hundreds of images that will each be different from the other. And that's exactly the point.

The photos will serve as the fuel which propels the popular show's advertising, marketing and publicity campaigns as it enters its sixth season of production early next year. Billboards, magazine and newspaper ads - everything the public sees which represents the show photographically (other than the on-set photography which is shot and compiled thorughout the production season) will be generated today. It's a lot to accomplish, and everybody here knows it.

It's mid-afternoon and the cast is only now donning their familiar Air Force uniforms and taking their places in front of the white cyclorama backdrop where they will spend the next two hours. Shooting in front of such a backdrop allows MGM's creative staff to manipulate the backgrounds used in print ads, thereby maximizing the utility of each and every photo that is shot.

More group shots. More individual shots. It's five o'clock and, just when people should start to get tired and testy, a breath of fresh air enters the scene which gives the entire studio just the shot of energy needed to barrel through the final two hours of shooting.

Her name is Wylie Anderson, she's star and executive producer Richard Anderson's petite daughter, and she has just come from a birthday party for which she dressed as a ballerina, all in pink. Anderson explodes in a massive grin at the sight of the beautiful little girl. She, in turn, runs to him and leaps into his arms and, for the moment anyway, shooting is suspended while everyone takes their turn "oohing" and "aahing" over the popular little addition to the studio.

The final hour or so is spent with the cast, in uniform, posing for the camera, then stopping as Wylie, who has been busily drawing just off-camera, runs into frame on tip-toe to deliver her latest artistic creation to daddy, who is clearly thrilled to receive it.

The father and daughter Anderson's share a "high-five," followed by a "high-four," a "high-three," a "high-two" and a "high-one," with Wylie missing nary a beat.

Following a number of these magical "special deliveries" from the little girl who is obviously the cast's favorite visitor of the day, Welch and MGM Television Photo Chief James Leland decide that they've gotten what they came for.

"That's a wrap," Welch announces. Within ten minutes, the cast has cleared out and headed back to their hotels for an evening of post-photo shoot revelry before boarding planes the next day for Vancouver, or wherever their individual journeys may take them as they begin their production hiatus in earnest. Anderson won't be attending the party, however. It seems he's already got a date for the evening - with a pretty young ballerina.

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