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HOW IT ALL BEGAN ----- Credits ----- Cast and crew about the characters ------ On the set ----- General links

 

Certain elements and ideas in "Andromeda" are echoes from Gene Roddenberry's "Genesis II" TV pilot (1969). The main character was Dylan Hunt (played by Alex Cord), a NASA scientist experimenting with suspended animation in 1979. Something went wrong, he was accidentally frozen in an underground chamber and awoke in a post-nuclear year 2133 to find a world in which the society has been destroyed and a pacifist organization called PAX is trying to rebuild civilization. Hunt is the only person left on the planet who understood much of the technology left lying around. This pilot for the proposed television series failed to sell, but the series concept was tried once more as "Planet Earth".

"Planet Earth" (1974) was the story about Dylan Hunt (played by John Saxon) who awakens from suspended animation and finds himself in the 22nd century. He became a sworn member of PAX, the colony of people who revived him. Dylan and his PAX team find another colony which is ruled by women and where all men are slaves. He is captured and sold as a slave, but escapes and hooks up with a male rebel movement. Dylan once again has a profound influence in the new world that he finds himself in.

 

Getting off the ground
 
March 1999 - Kevin Sorbo was offered his choice of two undeveloped Gene Roddenberry's properties - "GR's Phoenix Rising" and "GR's Starship" these were both marked "Working Titles".
 
Tribune Entertainment president Dick Askin: "We had been tracking [the negotiations] like most of the industry and when Sorbo did become available, we knew that we wanted to be in business with him." (17.05.99 Broadcasting & Cable)
 
May 1999 - Tribune Entertainment Company, Majel Barrett Roddenberry and Kevin Sorbo have announced an agreement to develop the science-fiction/action hour television programs "GR's Andromeda" and "GR's Starship" (both working titles) based upon works from the late "Star Trek" creator's archives. The projects, one of which will ultimately star Mr. Sorbo, are being developed for Fall 2000. (13.05.99 PR Newswire)
 
Alan Eastman, executive producer: "When Tribune Entertainment was able to package it with Kevin Sorbo, we knew that the whole deal was alive." (03.01 Reel West Magazine)
 
July 1999 - Robert Hewitt Wolfe became Co-Executive Producer / Head Writer. He started developing the starship-based and tentatively titled "Phoenix Rising" series proposal.
 
Kevin Sorbo: "I'm very excited. We've got a 44-show pickup, and haven't even shot a frame yet. <...> We're trying to put together the behind-the-scenes camp, and our head show writer wrote an 80-page bible for the show already, and it's just incredible." When asked how the series will compare with the Star Trek series, Sorbo says it will "take us hundreds and hundreds of years beyond any of the Star Trek series. There will be no reference made to anyone on Star Trek, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine... Let's face it, it's a big universe out there." (12.11.99 Cinescape)
 
Keith Hamilton Cobb was the first regular cast member, after series star Kevin Sorbo, to join the upcoming show.
<> Robert Hewitt Wolfe: "There was a point where Tribune approached me and they wanted to use Keith Hamilton Cobb on the show. And they asked, 'Can you develop a character for him?' I split the Beka character into the human female salvage captain and this Nietzschean mercernary Tyr Anasazi." (20.11.00 fandomshop.com)
 
As part of his creative contributions to the series, Sorbo played an instrumental role in casting fellow actors to appear with him as regulars on the show. Sorbo notes that Cobb is the only actor he did not personally choose. "It was a choice by Tribune who had worked with him before. All they had to do was show me a photo of him and some of his work on guest spots he's done. Physically, of course, he's the guy! He was Tyr. Keith is very much a thinker. He keeps to himself quite a bit. I don't know where Keith comes from. He's got his own style of working. He gets into his character and plays with it off-camera a little bit while we're on the set. He's very focused on his character."
The characters of Beka Valentine and Andromeda were cast together, says Sorbo. "Lisa Ryder, who plays Beka, and Lexa Doig, who plays Andromeda - I met with them and five other actresses in Los Angeles. Beka was the hardest person to cast in the show. It's the one character that everyone had a different idea of what the character should look like or who she should be. There were a lot of fights in that one. She took forever to cast. At the screen-tests, where I do the scenes with the actresses to see if there's any chemistry and what our working relationships might be like, I felt she was number one. They still wanted to look for others, as they weren't convinced. I told Lisa, 'I've been there. They called me seven times for H:TLJ over a three month period!" Ultimately, Lisa Ryder captured the Valentine role, leaving the role of Andromeda to Lexa Doig. "We all liked Lexa a lot, but she wasn't right for Beka," Sorbo explains. "She wasn't physically or old enough for the part. They were looking at other people that none of us were really crazy about. After talking to the studio people I think Lexa began looking at the Andromeda character in a completely different way," chuckles Sorbo.
For the alien role of Rev Bem only one man had the part. "Brent Stait's reading was so far superior to everyone else!" says Sorbo. "It was like 'This guy's the guy!' He's such a good actor. When I see Brent in person, I keep forgetting that this is Rev Bem, the Magog!" As the ship's engineer, Seamus Harper, the blond-haired Gordon Michael Woolvett, fit the mold. "We had our eyes set on someone else, but we hadn't met Gordon Woolvett yet," says Sorbo. "We saw one Canadian guy about eight months ago, who was doing a show in Toronto. I actually called him and asked him, 'Do you want to do the series? It will give you a movie career.' He wasn't interested. Then they found Gordon. I saw his tape about two weeks before I moved up here. I said, 'This guy's a freaking phenomenon! He's great!' Gordon has a very strong personality, and he works hard. We had to believe that he was a genius, yet he was in a surfer dude's body! He was a Malibu California guy. [Harper] can turn a toaster into a Jaguar. He can make anything happen for you."
The final cast member of the series was for the mysterious role of Trance Gemini, a 'lavender skinned' young pixie of a girl with a pointed tail. Sorbo recalls that Laura Bertram was the first actress that he met upon arriving in Vancouver to begin the series. "By consensus, everyone loved her right off the bat when we looked at the [audition] tapes. She was great. She was just like how she is on the show. She came in and said, 'Oh, I'm so excited to work with you!' She's like a little kid on the set. She's only 22 years old. She's wonderful." (06.11.00 Cinescape)
 
"Wolfe had the unusual circumstance of having his lead actor assist and have a say in what actors would be joining the show. Casting can be a tricky game. Because it's not always possible to have chosen candidates rehearse scenes with each other, Wolfe: "It is important to me to find people who are close to the personalities of the characters. In television, it is something that you do every day. The character is very much the invention of the actor and vice versa." (20.11.00 fandomshop.com)
 
Lisa Ryder: "We both [with Lexa Doig] went to Los Angeles on the same flight to audition. I think the point of that trip was for us to meet Kevin Sorbo. He had approval on all the characters except Tyr, so he wanted to meet everybody and see if we got along, if we matched physically and acting-wise. So many different women were up for the role of Beka, I didn't know if they knew what they wanted. They had me read with Kevin, and I guess they liked our chemistry." (11.12.00 Cinescape Online)
 
Laura Bertram: "It is funny actually, I had a character description in the audition piece, and it never said that she was an alien character. So I didn't even know I'd be sitting in the [make-up] chair for four to six hours." (Fall 2002 Starburst Special #54)

 

Fixing the ideas
 
"It is about a group of earthlings on a voyage of intergalactic discovery under the command of an intrepid captain. Sound familiar?" (10.05.99 E! Online)
 

"Phoenix Rising" - The story followed the time travels of Alexander Grange, a doctoral student living on the planet Korkyra. As he studies his five scientific disciplines, an apocalyptic war devastates Korkyra and propels Alexander 500 years into the future to a world where warring city-states are bereft of the high-technology he studied with on his home planet. Thrust into a world with no friends or family, Alexander's mission in life suddenly becomes to uncover the whereabouts of his loved ones, and bring peace and civilization back to his world.

"Starship" - A futuristic action hour in which a peaceful Earth is run by an organization of artists, scientists and teachers working to bring harmony throughout the universe, The story chronicles the exploration space vessel that serves as home to a team of Galactic trouble-shooters led by Captain Dylan Hunt. After leaving Earth to study the far reaches of the universe, where a long and brutal territorial war between aliens takes place, Hunt and his crew discover worlds that are vastly different from the humanistic and civilized society they left behind." (13.05.99 PR Newswire)

 

September 1999 - from official press release

"Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda stars Kevin Sorbo as Dylan Hunt, the last starship captain of the System's Commonwealth, the Earth-based government that spans a thousand worlds, embracing hundreds of different races and cultures. Following a civil war that plunges the Commonwealth into darkness, civilization is in ruins and is spiraling into chaos. Dylan Hunt is a man of action. Strong, determined, confident, he can see only one course open to him. He must restore the Commonwealth. Finding himself alone in this tumultuous landscape, Hunt allies himself with a group of mercenary aliens who sign on to crew his ship. Together, they set out to travel the cosmos, weaving together the many diverse worlds of the galaxy in order to once again bring peace to the far-flung reaches of space."

 
"It's about a guy trying to restore what was lost in his life," Sorbo says. "I will be playing Commander Dylan Hunt. Hunt has been in suspended animation for between 340 and 360 years. He's picked up by a salvage ship that finds him floating just in the right spot near a black hole, so that he was never sucked in." (28.11.99 Tennessean Showcase)
 
"Kevin Sorbo: Andromeda is the name of the actual series. -- Q: Ok, so you're going to captain what ship? -- Kevin Sorbo: The Phoenix Ascendant." (07.12.99 Kevin on KDKA Radio)
 
"Poster: Sorbo's character will not be Dylan Hunt, or Dylan Jericho, it will be Dylan Shepard. --- Robert Wolfe: Unless I change it again." (29.01.00 rec.arts.sf.tv)

"After a couple weeks of conflicting reports, it may be finally safe to say that the lead character is going to be named Dylan Hunt." (15.02.00 Slipstream News)

 
Robert Hewitt Wolfe: "Andromeda is about one man's quest to forward the cause of civilization over the cause of anarchy." (28.04.00 Space.com)
 
Robert Wolfe reveals that the title of the series didn't come from Roddenberry or him. "He had a title, I had a title, Tribune had a title. And they basically really liked their title." (18.09.00 Sci-Fi Wire)

 

Sundries
 
Robert Hewitt Wolfe: "The heart of "Andromeda" is that it is basically a quest to restore civilization to a dark and sort of down-fallen galaxy. That's sort of the story heart, but the thematic heart is really about what it takes to be, well, how to be a hero is a little glib. It is really about this man who finds himself in an impossible situation and just refuses to allow that to define how he is going to deal with it. He is presented with an impossible situation and says basically "Okay, man. That's what fate's dealt me and I am going to lick it anyway. No matter how crazy that may seem to other people, I don't care." Thematically it is really how we all must define our own lives, our own stories." (24.08.00 Live Yahoo! Chat)
 
Robert Hewitt Wolfe: "A lot of the basic situation was already there, especially as far as the characters of Dylan and 'Andromeda' the ship. They were very much in his original material, and the rest was up to me to develop from there. Obviously, Majel [Barrett-Roddenberry] was involved in the process, and so were Kevin and Tribune and Fireworks, so there was a lot of input coming from a lot of different places. But largely, I got to do a lot of the stuff I wanted to do." (10.00 TV Zone #131)
 

"How closely Andromeda is based on creator Gene Roddenberry's notes? Was Trance created by Sci-Fi favorite son? -- Laura Bertram: I don't believe she was. I'm not sure. I shouldn't say either way, Kevin [Sorbo] really knows a lot about original. When we received the series bible, there was a bit of background on how the series ideas were developed and how it originally went back to Gene's idea, but beyond that I don't have too much information." (Fall 2002 Starburst Special #54)

 

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