David Eick Questions and Answers

Created by John Larocque on March 28, 2005
Last revised: September 7, 2006

This document is ©2005, John Larocque. All rights reserved.

David Eick (executive producer)

3/31/2003 -- When I originally approached Ron Moore with the opportunity the studio presented to me, his initial impulse seemed uniquely appropriate, and Breck Eisner, who was attached to direct until prior commitments pulled him away, agreed. There are countless examples of remakes of classic stories of every ilk and tone that have seemed to work, because new life was breathed into an iron-clad franchise -- everything from Mission: Impossible to The Brady Bunch to the James Bond films. Yet there seemed to be precious few examples of "continuations" that worked -- and several that failed. Moreover, Ron seemed compelled by the themes and the sprit of the original Battlestar Galactica -- the family relationships, humanity pulling together to survive, etc. -- and to that end, he felt better-equipped to more purely explore those themes without the baggage of a continuation. We readily agreed, and the studio -- and eventually the network -- seemed thrilled with that take... The old show was of its time -- much has taken place in our world between 1978 and 2003, and to the extent we want our contemporary reality to be represented in this new take, it has evolved accordingly.

3/31/2003 -- In the original Battlestar Galactica, Starbuck and Apollo are the quintessential "brothers in arms" -- a nod to the great male/male relationship descendants of William Goldman's Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. So changing Starbuck to a woman -- while maintaining the nature and energy of the Starbuck-Apollo relationship -- seemed an appropriate way to make our point about warrior loyalty in a new way.

4/14/2003 -- Of primary importance to all of us -- from the beginning -- is maintaining the spirit of the original, the ideals of rising to a mortal challenge and putting aside differences to achieve a common goal... Our approach is much more humanistic, naturalistic and "real" than something like Hercules. Again, the idea is to present the themes inherent in the original in a way that resonates with contemporary audiences and fans of the original, alike. So while the mythos of the original Battlestar Galactica has its place in the origin of this world as well, ours is not a show aimed toward too much hocus-pocus or flight of fancy. Hopefully, the balance will be a more grounded, believable approach to science fiction than fans of the genre have seen in some time... We have approached several of the original actors and are still awaiting word on whether we can pull off a cameo.

4/22/2003 -- I think SciFi wanted to send a clear message that the intent of this project was to retain the thematic and mythological underpinnings of the original while being free to expand and reinterpret the world -- and this subgenre we call "space opera" -- from a visual and tonal standpoint. We are trying to take a more natural, realistic approach to this story and to the form in general. And while "remake" may have very well covered such an endeavor, I agree that the term "reimagining" -- while recognizing the term incurs a controversial reaction from some of the original show's fan base -- is a fairer and more accurate description of what is afoot here... Our story line has a strong relationship to the original Battlestar Galactica movie. The devastation of an entire homeworld, the attempted escape of the survivors, the encroaching Cylons and the search for Earth will all play central roles in the upcoming miniseries... I'm aiming for two things: to prove to the loyal fans of the original that this is a worthy successor, AND to build a bridge to an audience that didn't watch or wasn't around for the original. These may seem like contradictory interests, but I think it's possible with the balance we've struck. For now, all I can say is we're making a helluva four-hour miniseries/pilot, something an audience will eventually judge. In this business, you ultimately have one job: to make something GOOD. If you do, everything else (usually) follows.

5/5/2003 -- Our attempts to attract some of the original stars didn't result in any casting -- "cameo" or otherwise -- of any of them. Some of the conflicts had to do with interest, some with their availability, and some with our available resources. I regret that we weren't able to work something out with at least one of them; I think their inclusion would've served greatly to acknowledge the fans of the original show, a few of whom I realize have misgivings about our plans with this project. On the other hand, for those who will be coming to this with a totally clean slate (either because they weren't fans of the original or because they're too young to remember it), perhaps a clean break from the past is the appropriate way to go.

5/5/2003 -- The intention, from the very beginning, was to create a large-scale, four-hour PILOT to launch a new Battlestar Galactica television series. I am thrilled at what we're accomplishing, pleasantly shocked at how well many things have already come together, and beyond proud of the job Michael Rymer is doing with the cast and everything I've seen so far. I think the miniseries will stand on its own as a thrilling piece of entertainment and a worthy addition to the Battlestar Galactica canon. However, to be completely honest, if this isn't launched into a weekly series, I'd be disappointed. A series is -- and always was -- the central goal.

5/26/2003 -- The new Starbuck is definitely a descendant of the original. Colorful language, inappropriate attitude, hotshot pilot. Generally subversive in every way.

6/2/2003 -- We have certainly gone to great pains to make the scientific premise as realistic as possible, within reason. And "within reason" means different things -- sometimes it's a function of what we can achieve well within the resources we have, and sometimes it's a function of what's cool: Dirty Harry's gun, a .44 Magnum, is a very real thing, and if you've ever fired one, it's definitely loud -- but it doesn't exactly sound like the Sherman-tank sound effect you're used to hearing in the movies. The point is, a balance must be struck, and I think our balance leans 100% more toward the realistic than most contemporary science fiction I've seen. There have been two aesthetic touchstones primarily for this pilot: "2001: A Space Odyssey" and "Black Hawk Down", both of which are very rooted in reality and both of which still manage to be gripping, suspenseful and exciting.

6/9/2003 -- I believe, in all humility, our sets will surprise and gratify even the most skeptical BG fan. Our production designer, Richard Hudolin, should look forward to seeing his name come Emmy-nomination time. The sets are -- at the risk of hyperbole -- sensational. Amazing. The Hangar Bay looks like a stark, operational combination of a futuristic airport and a cathedral. The Combat Information Center takes the idea of the archetypal spaceship "bridge" (which we've seen a thousand times), dispenses with it entirely and creates an environment that is equal parts believably functional, intimidating and beautiful. When the West Coast Sci-Fi Channel exec, Mark Stern, flew in recently to see the final sets, he was speechless. And if you know Mark, that's a first...

6/16/2003 -- Ron Moore and I have had several discussions about possible threads and tangents to pursue, mostly having to do with character trajectory and emotional arcs (vs. specific plotlines.) We have also been inspired by certain episodes of the original Battlestar Galactica series, as well as classic sci-fi (Philip K. Dick especially) and broader strokes culled from pretty disparate sources -- running the gamut from Greek to Native American mythology, for example. Nevertheless, our focus for the last year-and-a-half has been largely on the pilot itself, and our attempt to perfect every aspect of it (a never-ending endeavor, which I know all too well will continue to haunt us even long after the pilot has aired.) Adjustments are often made to lay the groundwork for ideas we want to pursue in future episodes -- adjustments made as recently as during shooting on the set!

7/21/2003 -- Commander Adama is a reflection of our own contemporary image of a career military man (Norman Schwarzkopf, Colin Powell or even Donald Rumsfeld could be viewed as modern examples.) These are men for whom the military has functioned as both career and family -- at times at the expense of their own immediate, biological families. So when the entirety of Adama's reason for being is suddenly yanked out from under him, he's forced to reconsider the decisions he's made about the priorities in his life. Rather than having all the answers, Olmos' version of Adama has only just been awakened to the questions when we meet him.

8/11/2003 -- Eddie is honest, and the honest answer is twofold: First, he LOVES the new Battlestar Galactica. His agreement to do the project was based initially on the strength of the script alone, then on the auspices involved in making it. Second, he genuinely feels that "fundamentalist" fans of the original BG will only be hurt by the absence of the actors and the change of stylistic aesthetic that informed the original show. It's been 25 years since the original; the actors are different, and the tonal approach is contemporary, not retro. I think Eddie's comments were an attempt to give as forthright a warning as he could about how some of these differences may rub diehard fans the wrong way. (Some of the faithful supporters of old John Wayne westerns didn't take too kindly to Clint Eastwood's "Unforgiven", either.) However, Ron Moore, Michael Rymer and I believe that even the most dedicated, stalwart devotees of the original will find the essence of that show's inspiration reflected in a compelling and (I hope) honorable way in the remake.

9/2003 -- I thought that the mythos was so strong in the original. The idea was really a timeless one - the idea of humanity having to rise up to survive. We were allowed to reinvent from there. To my surprise, the network said, "Absolutely, reinvent! Don't be beholden to anything in order to make this story resonate in a contemporary way." So that freed us up from a storytelling standpoint and also from an execution and casting standpoint. All categories were free to make something new, springing from this original concept. (source: Dreamwatch, courtesy of SciFiPulse.net)

9/23/2003 -- Boomer was changed to a female simply to drive home the point that this is a co-ed universe, in every sense of the word. Men and women live, play and fight alongside each other, with very little (if any) regard for sexual disparity. Boomer was also a good character to make female because her duties are largely navigational and strategic, and we felt this was a good counterpoint to Starbuck's warrior-like disposition.

10/6/2003 -- [Tigh] is Commander Adama's "yang" -- the brutish, borderline reckless but otherwise purely committed second-in-command on whom Adama relies for the "dirty work." Despite his personal shortcomings and his tendency towards rage (and self-abuse), Col. Tigh ultimately proves that any vessel like the Galactica needs the likes of him to survive. Our version of Adama is definitely a more unapologetic warrior than the Lorne Greene version. However, Laura Roslin functions as his counterpoint, and between the two characters we intend to explore that hawk/dove debate so prevalent in the analysis of combat and war strategy. In effect, it could be suggested that Adama and Laura together make up the duality of the Lorne Greene version -- the "attack vs. restraint" argument dramatized between two distinct characters.

10/13/2003 -- Our roles will be different than on the miniseries, but it's looking like [Ron and myself] will both remain deeply involved in a potential series. As I have transitioned from a term-deal producer at Universal into a studio executive, I will continue to oversee the series in much the same way, but more from an "overview" perspective than day-to-day, "on the ground." And while Ron was juggling the launch of [the HBO series] Carnivale along with the miniseries, we are now working toward bringing him back to Universal so that if a series is launched, he'll be on hand to run it. And I'll be able to boss him around. Finally.

11/11/2003 -- This is an ambitious project -- we're really trying to reinvent the genre of science fiction. That said, I think we have paid great respect to the mythos of the original Battlestar Galactica. I think fans of the original will appreciate that we're using that mythos as a springboard into a new thing. At the same time, we're reaching out to a new audience that may not have seen the original or who may not even watch science fiction. In a way, we're like the Galactica itself: We may be carrying a lot of the old world with us, but we are definitely heading for a new one. (source: SciFi.com)

12/4/2003 -- I invited Dirk to work on the miniseries and he wasn't available, I'd be happy to try again.

12/4/2003 -- Michael did a film some years ago called Angel Baby which had some of the best acting I'd ever seen. Because I knew I wanted an actor's director first (not a FX director) I thought he'd be perfect.

12/4/2003 -- It's a funny thing, remake versus sequel. Initially, it was Ron, but in a strange way, I feel he was still able to acknowledge the existence of the original show by having this take place further down the timeline. They talk about the old Vipers, then you see them, and they are the very ships from the original show. It has the ring of nostalgia despite the fact that it is not a literal translation. The value in Ron's approach to this is that we could accomplish what we had initially not only told ourselves what we wanted to accomplish, but what we had been asked by the network to accomplish. That was the deconstruction of the tonal aesthetic of the so-called space opera, which are all descendants of the original Star Trek and the original Battlestar Galactica. That's a long lineage, and quite a dense history to try to deconstruct. I really felt that Ron's approach really gave us the best chance to do that. (source: UGO)

12/4/2003 -- Question: What do you do when your lead actor tells about 200,000 people that they shouldn't watch the show?

I laughed my ass off. I thought it was hysterical. He's being very honest. I think he feels that anyone who watches the miniseries who is expecting a literal rebroadcast of a 1978 show, they are going to be very disappointed and shouldn't watch. I understood exactly what he meant. I think it was more fun to interpret than as an actor dissing the project he was in. I was sitting right next to him when he did it and I was almost in tears from laughing. Maybe I'm just an idiot, and it should have bothered me [more] than it did. (source: UGO)

12/2003 -- I first heard that a new version of Battlestar was in the works when it was being developed for another network [Fox]. After the timing of that project didn't work out, Universal Studios decided to develop it for the Sci-Fi Channel and asked me if I'd be interested in developing it for them. I was thrilled because I was familiar with the original series and it sounded like a really interesting and fun project. (source: The Official Mini-Series Magazine)

12/2003 -- Our intent was to go deeper than what you're accustomed to seing in science fiction television, which can tend towards a colder, more distant and more sterile sense of human interaction. I think we've decided to go in almost the complete opposite way, and so there is a sense of real pathos, anguish, humor and sexuality, as well as a sense that you can reach out and touch these people, that they're real. That, I think contributes to the overall goal of achieving something that feels more real, more visceral and more meaningful than what you might find elsewhere in science fiction. (source: The Official Mini-Series Magazine)

2/2004 -- In about December of 2001, I got a call from David Kissinger who said, "One day you'll look back on this conversation as the one that got you your house in the south of France." Basically he said that they had been in development of Battlestar Galactica, which at the time was a continuation they were doing with the team of Tom DeSanto and Bryan Singer for the Fox network, as a two-hour backdoor pilot. In the midst of the development, Bryan Singer had been called away to X-Men 2, and this had undercut the development process, and they were back to square one and were going to redevelop the project for Universal's own network, the Sci-Fi Channel. So David asked me if I was interested in pursuing it, and I said, "Yes, but only if I could start all over and not use any of the existing material, not use the existing script which had been developed." And he said, "Fine." And at that point, I called Ron Moore, who I had met while I was at USA Networks and while he was helping us out on a show called Good versus Evil, and who I suspsected, based on his background in Star Trek, might have had a hunger or apetite for approaching scifi in a way, perhaps, wasn't allowed in that world. And we had a series of meetings. Then to my shock and surprise, he said he was not only interested, but had a really amazing take on it. (source: Miniseries DVD commentary)

4/3/2004 -- We set out to use the original BSG spaceship design as a starting point, and then sort of contemporized and reinvented from there. And I would say we stuck pretty close to it. The Galactica itself is about three steps away from the original Galactica, but still maintains its original -- as Ron Moore calls it -- an "alligator in space" kind of look. And the Vipers, of course, are pretty close to how they originally looked... This is a remake, not a sequel. So anytime we show anything from the old show, it's really more or less a nod to the audience of TOS. Now in the case of the Cylons, we did in fact have an image of the old Cylons in the miniseries. It was in the context of a museum where you saw an old piece behind a display case. Again, the implication there is that the Cylons, the CG Cylons that you see in this Galactica, are effectively descendants of the robotic Cylons from the original show. (source: James Iaccino)

4/3/2004 -- The series is going to take some of the notion or the aesthetic of documentary style and go a step further with it. You know, one of the conceits of the miniseries is that the audience is watching this stuff as it's really happening and not watching a spectacular, theatrical presentation like a lot of television sci-fi. The only way we thought that idea could really work would be if the CG could approximate that vibe, that documentary style. We were never entirely positive how well that was going to work so as we were shooting this stuff on sets, we were cautious in how pan held and how documentary we went. I thought the director, Michael Rymer, really struck a very compelling balance between a more elegant style along with a visceral documentary style. When we saw what Gary Hutzel, our Visual Effects Supervisor, along with Zoic, our Visual Effects House, was able to achieve in approximating that documentary style in a CG universe, it was very clear that we could do it. And could do it maybe better than we had allowed ourselves to believe. And so that has given us the freedom to push that envelope even further on the stuff we shoot practically. (source: James Iaccino)

4/3/2004 -- I think I'm going to be involved at the story stage, at the script stage, at the rough cut stage, and at the visual effects and sound design stage. The difference between my position here and my position before is that my presence on the miniseries was full-time and every day and now it's going to be subject to my availability. Certainly my time to prioritize this as I would any new show is there. Obviously I have a relationship to Battlestar which is fairly unique. It's going to be very "hands on" and very involved, certainly in the early going. (source: James Iaccino)

4/3/2004 -- If we were going to discuss the possibility of inviting any of the original cast into the new show, you would start with Richard Hatch or Dirk Benedict. Yes, he [Hatch] is someone who we would consider as a member of the original cast to be involved with this. But nothing has been determined yet or decided yet or defined or any of that. As Richard can attest, I was pretty adamant about getting him and Dirk involved in the mini as cameos. I wanted Richard to play Elosha, and I wanted Dirk to play the armistice station officer. And we just weren't able to come to an agreement. (source: James Iaccino)

3/22/2005 -- Ridley Scott is the honorary godfather of this. His films "Blade Runner," "Alien" and "Black Hawk Down" are informative to us stylistically and aesthetically. And Edward James Olmos plays a pivotal role in "Blade Runner." We had just seen "Donnie Darko" and talked about how great Mary McDonnell looked and how great she was, and wouldn't it be great if we could get her? (Olmos) is the anti-"Father Knows Best" spaceship daddy. We wanted somebody complicated who had demons and scars and secrets, and Eddie just conveys that. The idea was to take the attributes that are assigned to a central heroic character and split them into two people. You could say one was great with diplomacy and human understanding and empathy, and the other was a great warrior and strategist, but neither of them shared the other's strength. And both of them have weaknesses, which makes for a much more interesting leadership role than if we had a Lorne Greene or James T. Kirk sort of thing, where they tend to be universally great. (source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

12/7/2005 -- Question: Now that Firefly has jumped from the small screen to the big as Serenity, would you ever consider doing a theatrical feature of the new BSG?

Ultimately, I would think any appetite for a Battlestar feature film will be in part driven by how Serenity performs at the box office. However, Glen Larson, the producer of the original Battlestar, in a strange, unusual twist of contractual dexterity, was able to carve out the theatrical film rights back in the '70s when he made his initial deal for the television series. He holds those rights to this day, so any pursuit of a feature film would have to involve Mr. Larson. Given his purported disdain for the new series, that would seem an unlikely scenario -- but you never know... (source: SciFi.com Behind the Scenes)

4/19/2006 -- This whole thing began in an unorthodox way. There was a script for a project called Battlestar Galactica, which was a continuation of the old series produced by Bryan Singer. It was set up at Fox as a two-hour pilot. They had gotten the script and hated it, and were trying to back out of the commitment. Fortunately for everybody, Bryan had to go do X-Men 2 and that gave everyone the out. Back at Universal, David Kissinger and Angela Mancuso said "why are we doing this for Fox, when we should be doing this for our in-house network? Let's do it as a mini-series and let's throw this bad script out and start from scratch." David called me, asked if I would like to take it on, and I asked if I could start all over. He said I could, and I started shopping around for a writer. There was already a buyer lined up, and it was formulated that I would produce it, Sci Fi would be the network it would be on; now all we needed was a writer and an idea.

I started sitting down with different people that I had known, and Ron was one of them. He really sold me on the idea of the series being an analog for post 9/11 socio-political landscapes. Everyone else was yelling about the Cylon planet, and stuff that I certainly wasn't interested in... I did know that he was tired of Star Trek... To him Star Trek was a very limited sort of environment [and] he had gotten to point after ten years where he felt very constricted by it. I knew that I wanted to do something very un-Star Trek like, and I knew we weren't going to get the go-ahead from the network unless we had something that distinguished itself very loudly as not Star Trek... I knew we had to veer away from that, and who better to bring on board than someone who knew Star Trek backwards and forwards and could go right every time they went left. It did inform my decision to call him. (source: iF Magazine)

8/9/2006 -- I was excited to take on the challenge because at the time, I just had a pilot I had made for the USA network killed. So I was at home, sitting on the couch, wondering what to do next when the phone rang, and David Kissinger, president of Universal television had just gotten word back from the president of the Fox network, which was where they were developing a two-hour Battlestar Galactica sequel with Bryan Singer, that they didn't like the script and didn't want to move forward with it, and beyond that, more importantly, that Bryan Singer had been called to duty on X-Men 2. And so, suddenly here was Universal with all this hope about a revamped Battlestar Galactica and nothing to really do with it. And they decided to, "Let's take advantage of this opportunity and not do it at Fox and let's do it for our own network, Sci-Fi Channel, and now we just need someone to come and figure this out." And I asked to see the script, I looked at the script and I said, well, I'd be happy to take this on if I could start all over, if I could basically find my own people and put this together myself, and David said OK. (source: Comic News Insider)