Meet the Man 2010. August 5-8, 2010
Convention, Vancouver, Canada
As the Meet the Man event in Vancouver began, Richard was invited to the stage as part of the opening ceremonies, and he took the mike to welcome the attendees and to joke briefly with the audience. Once the convention was underway, the schedule called for him to leave the stage to begin his first photo session, and Dan Shea came to the stage for the first Q&A session. Dan kept up a lively dialogue with the audience, accepting a challenge to perform shirtless pushups, and joking with audience members who quietly exited for their scheduled photo op with Richard by calling after them, "Hey, where are you going?! I didn't see you all rushing out of the room when Big Boy was up here!!"
When it was time for Richard's first Question and Answer panel of the day, he returned to the stage calling, "I'm back!" The first thing he did was to empty his pockets, and he pulled out an orange bandana, which he unfolded and held up to the audience, asking, "Remember this? Girls, speak out!"
He gave only a partial explanation of the bandana, but the story behind it is that it dates back to the first descent rafting trip he had taken to Headwall Canyon and which had aired on the National Geographic channel in 2000. Two years later, a group of five of his fans had joined Earth River Expeditions to make the same excursion into the spectacular British Columbia wilderness. One of those fans had created matching bandanas for each member of the group by imprinting them with an embroidered silhouette of the image of Richard from his trip as he stood before a waterfall and raised his machete in awe. After the travelers had returned to Vancouver, somewhat sunburned and mosquito bitten, they had been invited to visit the SG-1 set during the filming of "Paradise Lost," and a special embroidered bandana in orange was presented to Richard. He had proudly worn it on the set, and a few pictures of that day have made it to the internet. Now, 8 years later, he had brought his bandana along, hoping to acknowledge the group of fans who had made the Headwall trip, and he turned to Kate in the audience to help identify them, but unfortunately the other four fans who had participated in the expedition had not been able to attend MTM.
Richard then turned to the topic of Twitter, and he asked how many in the audience tweet. There were cheers and applause as he told about how he and his daughter Wylie were flying back east to go to her performing arts camp earlier in the summer when she took his cell phone and opened a Twitter account for him. He explained that he is still learning how tweeting works, but he added, "I've been occasionally sending out messages, though apparently not enough to satisfy some people!" Then he promised to tweet some messages over the course of the weekend.
As the questions from the audience began, the first question referred to the number of times that MacGyver had had to cry on screen. Acknowledging that he cries very well, the fan asked if he had a technique for crying on cue. Richard responded, "I don't do that very well at all! I'm such a happy guy! It scares me to death when I have to try to cry, and when I see it in a script I try to change it to laughter, although that doesn't go over very well." Then he told about a college professor at Ohio University who had taught a technique for the theater which involved turning slightly upstage and pulling out some nose hairs. "True story!" he insisted, although he said he wasn't sure if the professor had been joking or not. "But try it sometime!"
The next question asked which of the various versions of Samantha Carter on "Stargate" was the better kisser. At first he didn't hear the full question, and as he asked for clarification and slowly began to understand, he finally answered definitively, "Yes!" Then he admitted that he couldn't really answer the question, adding, "Just the fact that we're on camera should let you know that we're limited to what we can do. No tongues!" He added mischievously, "…Maybe. Silly girl."
Another question began, "I've been watching you on TV for over 40 years," at which point Richard interrupted with, "You must be very tired!" The question continued with a thank you for the consistently excellent entertainment each week and asked if there had been anything that he had wanted to do on "Stargate" that he hadn't had the chance to do. Richard considered the question carefully and asked, "What do I have to choose from?" After giving a bit more thought, he replied that he got to do just about everything on the show, and he was trying to recall what others on the show might have done that he hadn't. Finally he turned the question back on the audience and asked, "Is there anything you would have liked to have seen me do?" There was laughter as the implication and imagination registered with the audience, then he responded, "I never got to have a baby!" Audience members reminded him that O'Neill may have left a child behind on Edora, but he clarified, "Oh, but I didn't have it!" Finally he decided that he had been able to do just about everything he would have wanted to do by the time he left to be a single dad, two years before the series ended, and "It was a very satisfying experience for me."
Another fan asked about the episode of "MacGyver" when he had composed and played a song called "Eau d'Leo" on the guitar, and she wondered if he still plays guitar and if there was more of the song. Richard admitted that he doesn't play much at all and said that he had recently pulled out the five or so guitars that he owns and had even tried to restring his 12-string guitar, without success. His attempts to play drew blood without the necessary calluses. Regarding the song, he explained that the title, "Eau d'Leo" was intended as a tribute to Leo Kottke, one of his musical idols, and the tune was basically a compilation of melodies. During the filming of the episode, the producers had needed a piece of music for him to play, but they didn't want to have to pay royalties to another artist. Richard had come up with the melody that they could use, but the process had created an "absolute nightmare" because of the legal logistics of registering, publishing, and performing it so that it could be used on the show. "We were shooting the episode and they needed something there, so I kind of improvised some melodies, and a nightmare thus was created. But there's no beginning or end to it as far as I know." He wondered aloud if he was remembering correctly that someone had once sent him lyrics to go with the song, and he turned again to Kate in the audience and asked, "Do you know?" When she didn't recall having heard that he concluded, "No? Then I'm lying! Sorry!"
The next question asked about "Continuum" and why it wasn't released on the big screen worldwide. Richard answered that the decision is up to MGM, and "MGM is kind of a wonky little entity, owned and operated by a gentleman from Australia. No offense!" He said that Brad Wright has been trying for years to get some part of the "Stargate" franchise on the big screen, but no one at MGM has been willing to make a feature out of it. At one time there had been a game plan to make a series of perhaps three or four features, because they had the sets and cast and crew in place and they could have made them relatively inexpensively, but "corporate minds aren't always the clearest when it comes to the creative world."
Another fan stumbled through a rather long, rambling question that seemed to be asking if there were certain things that fans do when meeting him that he would particularly like or that he would find irritating. Richard listened intently and then answered, "I'm not sure what you're asking, but that was really irritating what you just said… I jest!!" Then taking the question seriously, he continued, "Most of you know I'm a fairly private guy in my real life - whatever that is! I live fairly quietly and under the radar as much as possible, and my kid is the most important thing in the world to me and basically what I do my living for." He added that when meeting people in public, as long as they are polite, he can be equally polite, and usually people who approach him know something of his personality and know how to approach politely. He doesn't mind being approached, as long as one isn't overbearing. Then he laughed as he searched for the right word and said, "I'm thinking of one in particular!" He went on to tell the story of a man who had approached him once and demanded that he sign something for his wife, named Charles. "So he was lying to me, and demanding, and pushy, and I don't respond well to that." But for the most part, since his job exposes him to the public eye, he doesn't mind talking to fans about it.
The next fan announced, "I have a question about MacGruber," and Richard immediately interrupted, "So do I, actually!" The question, however, referred not to the movie but to the "Saturday Night Live" skit in which Betty White appeared as MacGruber's grandmother. The fan wanted to know how he felt about Betty White being either his mother or mother-in-law. After a pause, Richard answered, "I think you're really over-thinking it!" He went on to say that he hadn't really thought about it in those terms, but it would be fine, since "Betty's a sweet young thing. She's great." Referring to MacGruber himself, Richard said that he adored Will Forte and Kristen Wiig and the only reason he had agreed to do the skits with them was that they were so much fun - and that Pepsi was paying for the commercials. But as for the movie version, he struggled to find the best diplomatic words and finally ended with, "The movie… kind of… fell… short."
Another fan began his question with a story. He explained that when he would mention the name "Richard Dean Anderson," people would always ask, "Who?" and Richard interrupted again to ask, "It was my mother, right?" Continuing, he explained that he would get the same reaction at the mention of "Jack O'Neill," but if he would show a picture, people would immediately recognize "MacGyver!" He asked if people often recognized Richard as MacGyver, and with a straight face, Richard replied, "No!" Then laughing, he admitted that he does indeed get that a lot. He also said there have been times when people didn't recognize him but wondered, "Who is this grizzled old fart who all the girls are saying nice things about? And all I have to say to them is, 'Neener, neener, neener!' "
He went on to say that "MacGyver" will probably be around forever because "he was basically a nice guy and a unique TV hero in a time when TV really needed a unique type of hero." It was a time when the A-Team was blowing up everything indiscriminately, but then "MacGyver came along and he did it nicely." He related the story of his rafting trip to Futelefu in Chile. He stumbled over the grammar as he began the sentence "The two guides I was traveling with…" wondering aloud if it should be "two guides was" or "two guides were," trying out each version, asking the audience, and finally settling on "I was with two guys that happened to be guides!... And we was traveling down the river." Futelefu is an extremely remote town with dirt roads, no television, no exposure, and the guides were taking bets on whether anyone would recognize Richard when they arrived in the town. No one had taken the bet that he would be recognized, but as they walked into a little place to get something to eat from the selection of "molded cheese and dry bread," a little kid who didn't speak a word of English went running to the back, and when he returned, "Sure enough, I was 'MacGeever'!" So in answer to the question, he concluded, "Yes, I get that all the time."
After completing the somewhat long story, Richard observed, "I never knew this about myself until recently, but I talk a lot! I never knew that! I just yammer on, and I've got all these tangential little rivulets that I'll take and nobody stops me! Somebody should!" Instead, another fan took the microphone for the next question, and he laughed, "Nobody's going to!"
The next question asked if the episode "Window of Opportunity" had been fun to do, and if there had been a lot of ad libbing during the shooting. Richard has a reputation for not remembering episode titles and details, so as he paused and turned to the audience to ask, "Now, who knows me well enough to know…" the audience broke into laughter, cheers, and applause, and he called out, "Ah, the true fans!" Several people in the audience tried to help by calling out that it was the "Groundhog Day" episode. With his memory refreshed, he answered with an absolutely straight face, "No, it was scripted right down the line. I said every word…" but he was interrupted by laughter from the audience, who wasn't buying a word of it. Changing his tone, he confessed, "Chances are I may have said a couple of things that were off-book." He admitted that his ad libbing had been a problem in the early days because he had come from "a school of misbehaving," but later on "I tried to be as respectful as possible to our writers, but sometimes I just couldn't control myself."
Another fan explained that she and her husband had welcomed the birth of their first child, a little girl, a few months earlier, and she asked Richard if he had any parenting tips. Immediately he answered, "Sure! What do you want to know? I would advise you to always change her when she's wet. And sometimes if she's not." Then he asked, "Are you serious? Do you really want me to answer this question?" He went on to explain that Wylie had just turned 12, which is apparently a whole different world, but because they are both aware of the changes that are happening, they have managed to stay very close and well connected. He mentioned that for some things, such as video editing, she has left him in the dust. He had taught her the fundamentals of iMovie, and then "ZOOM!" she went on to do amazing things with editing and creating movies. As a single dad, Richard spends a lot of time with Wylie, and they have a great relationship, so he offered the advice that as a child gets older, "Just stay close, stay tight, and force communication. Don't take no for an answer. And be sure there is eye contact." He observed that typically people tend to look away when speaking to each other, but he and Wylie had established a rule that whenever they are talking about something important, they must always make eye contact. It creates a whole different dynamic and allows you to get really deep and to stay connected. "At least it's working for me," he concluded, "because I have a great relationship with her. …But she keeps telling me to stop staring at her."
The next question referred to the relationship between Carter and O'Neill. A fan described the later season episode in which Sam had broken up with Pete, and Agent Barrett had seemed to be interested in asking her out. Sam had replied at the time that she had somebody in her life, and the fan wondered if that was meant to imply that Jack and Sam had finally gotten together. Even less familiar with the episodes that aired after he had left the series, Richard struggled to understand the question, asking, "Did you finish your question? What was it? Did Jack feel… jealous? Did MacGyver get…?" Again the audience called out trying to clarify, and Richard finally answered that "in deference to and respect for the Air Force, we didn't have any real fooling around going on." The fan responded, "No, I knew that," only to have Richard joke back, "How did you know?? We just learned!" Finally, he concluded, "No, we didn't end up together. Was that your question?" It was, but his response drew a few disappointed "aaws" from members of the audience who had hoped for a different answer. Richard continued, "I'm sorry! I wish I could say something else, but I don't think we did. Does anybody know otherwise?" When some audience members called out moments that seemed to suggest that they did, Richard adjusted his reply with a mischievous grin, "We did? We did! It's just that easy!"
One fan wondered who Richard's childhood heroes had been. He answered immediately with names from the past such as hockey great Bobby Orr and William Boyd who had played Hopalong Cassidy. Wondering if anyone in the audience was old enough to recognize those names, he asked, "How far back do you want me to go?" The fan answered, "To your childhood," to which Richard immediately shot back, "I'm still having that!" After more consideration, he went on to include names like Howdy Doody and Sky King, although in the case of the latter he acknowledged that it was probably Penny he was more attracted to, "in tight jeans and all. I didn't know what that meant, I was so young!" Then for good measure he added, "I'm kind of a dog guy," so he included Lassie and Rin Tin Tin on the list.
The final question made reference to Ernest Pratt as a diverse character, and the fan wanted to know, of all the characters he had played over the years, which had been the best representation of who he is. Rather than compare the various characters, Richard chose to talk about his love of the short-lived series, "Legend." With fondness, he recalled, "Legend was such a fun endeavor," then he described the reason for its early demise. "Legend" was created when Paramount was trying to start up the new UPN network, and it was essentially an experiment, part of the first wave of shows that UPN aired. No one knew what kind of ratings to expect, and after 13 episodes the show was taken off and "tossed away like so much… meat." New to the role of executive producer, Richard acknowledged that he didn't know the rules, and so he was very verbal about trying to get a second chance for the show. They had been shooting in Tucson, and as he told the story, Richard played with the name, "Three-son?" then sighed at his own bad joke, "God, I'm such a dork."
Richard had flown to Los Angeles and had gone to bat as the executive producer to fight the fight in the offices of Paramount, to no avail. Paramount's response had been, "We understand, Richard, it's a great show, it's terrific, it's just a little too… dirty, a little too… sandy." Voicing his exasperation, Richard went on, "It's a western! For God's sake, we're in a desert! But seriously, that's one of the reasons I got, was that it was too 'dusty'." He spoke of the show as "my lost love" and went on to describe how much fun it had been as an actor with the freedom to misbehave. "It was a different venue of exploration for me, and it was getting to be very freeing and very absurd after awhile. I was starting to be able to play with some comedy and lighter moments with the character. It was very self indulgent."
At this point, the panel had come to an end, and the emcee approached the stage to close the session. Reluctant to leave, Richard tried to negotiate more time, to the delight of the audience. "Two more questions! Yeah, two more questions! Here we go! There's one! Go ahead! What's your question?" In response, the emcee ordered that his mike be cut, but Richard turned to the tech crew and pantomimed pulling money from his pocket and counting out the bills as a bribe. With his mike restored, he shouted triumphantly, "Thank you!" and then apologized to the audience as he left the stage, "I'm sorry! I tried! Bye!"
Many thanks for the additional photos from Paja and Daniela.
Transcript written by KateR. Meet the Man 2010. Vancouver, Canada. August 5-8, 2010.