November 24-26, 2006
Richard Dean Anderson and Amanda Tapping appeared at the very special "Avalon" weekend with their fans in Wells, England on November 24, 25, and 26th.
The weekend was Richard's first official convention and included Question & Answer panels, coffee or tea, photo opportunities, and auctions in support of Comic Relief, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, and the Waterkeeper Alliance
The setting of Wells, England was selected for its proximity to historic Glastonbury, the legendary Avalon that has ties to the Stargate mythology.
Below are some photos from Richard's visit to the Avalon convention.
Welcome to Avalon
Wells, England, has a history stretching back more than a thousand years. A city by virtue of its magnificent cathedral, the tiny town of Wells is known as England's smallest city, a charming crossroads of stone and half-timbered buildings about 20 miles south of Bristol. Only four miles from Glastonbury, the legendary Isle of Avalon with ties both to King Arthur and to Stargate's mythology, Wells presented a magical venue for Avalon 2006, the first gathering for fans of Richard Dean Anderson and Amanda Tapping.
Avalon 2006 welcomed 580 visitors to Wells for the special event which ran from November 24th to the 26th. Here, fans would have the opportunity to meet and mingle with Richard Dean Anderson and Amanda Tapping in one of five intimate sessions during the course of the weekend. Each session of approximately 120 fans enjoyed a moderated "Question & Answer" with Richard and Amanda, followed by a "Meet the Guests" morning coffee or afternoon tea, and an individual photo session. Finally, the evening auctions raised money for three charitable causes, Comic Relief, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, and the Waterkeeper Alliance.
Registration for the event began on Thursday, November 23rd, as fans gathering in the town were able to meet up with friends, many of whom they had only known through the internet. The historic Crown Hotel on Market Square served as the venue for registration as well as a gathering place for many of the fans. Others met in hotels and B&Bs throughout the town, although the Americans, for whom November 23rd was Thanksgiving Day, discovered that a traditional turkey dinner was difficult to come by in the quaint historic town.
On Friday morning, the Avalon event officially began as the first group of fans filtered into the majestic 13th century Bishop's Palace adjacent to the Cathedral. There visitors were serenaded by a harpist as they checked in and were ushered through the ornate hallways, adorned with priceless artwork and antiques, to the upstairs room where the Question and Answer session would take place. Soon, Thomasina Gibson appeared to introduce the special guests, and Richard Dean Anderson and Amanda Tapping entered the room to rousing cheers and applause.
Amanda Tapping, a regular at many conventions since Stargate began, had just completed her "AT2" event in London the weekend before, but Richard Dean Anderson, not known for fan conventions, was relatively new to this sort of fan gathering. Although he may have been a bit nervous at first, he quickly warmed up to the intimate setting, and quipped in perfect O'Neill fashion, "What are you all doing in my bedroom?" By the second session he had begun providing the ecstatic fans with an additional photo opportunity as he sashayed down the room's center aisle from front to back as if he were working a catwalk, hands on hips, turns and poses, to a frantic explosion of camera flashes. Fans had been asked to limit their picture taking to the first 5 minutes of the session, but when those minutes had elapsed and fans were reminded to put down their cameras, both Richard and Amanda raised their hands like school children and said, "We don't mind, really, it's okay!" Moments later, however, Richard did jokingly request "No cameras!" as he tried to control his unruly hair to much laughter.
Following the initial greeting and picture taking, Richard and Amanda seated themselves on stools in the front of the room and prepared to take questions from the audience. To provide a variety of questions in each session, questions had been submitted and screened in advance, and those who had been selected were called upon to stand and ask their questions of the guests. No two sessions were alike, but following are some of the questions that were asked in each of the five sessions.
Friday Morning Question & Answer Panel - November 24, 2006
Richard began by asking where members of the audience had come from, and who had come the farthest. There were answers called out from Europe, and as far away as North America and Australia. He had only just recently arrived in the UK, but he said that the narrow winding roads and the grey weather made him feel as if he had been in a spy movie. Yesterday he felt sure he was being followed, and he spoke of taking pictures in a field of cows and hiding behind trees as if he were the spy. He also mentioned that he had become instant friends with the 14 year old dog that lived at the place he was staying.
One of the first questions from the audience asked, "What does Jack know about Sam, and what does Sam know about Jack that no one else knows?" Both were puzzled for an answer, admitting that there weren't many secrets on the set and they would have to make something up. Finally Amanda decided that Jack was afraid of millipedes, and after careful thought and considerable hedging, Richard finally decided that Sam was really "A - man! - da!" to which Amanda replied, "Now you know the truth!"
Asked whom they would clone if they had the opportunity, Richard answered Ricky Gervais (of "Extras") because he is so funny, and Amanda chose Dawn French (of "The Vicar of Dibley"), insisting that every country should have one.
Those preferences reappeared in another question when they were asked which three people they would choose as guests for a dinner party. Richard chose Ricky Gervais, Eddie Izzard, and Terry Thomas, wondering if the audience recognized the names. Amanda chose Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders, and then included her mother, admitting that her Mum would never forgive her if she didn't invite her to dinner with Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders. Then Richard began to joke that perhaps they should have chosen someone more influential like Jesus or Ghandi, but they kept their selections for a fun party. Amanda also mentioned her grandmother, and told the story that she also later repeated in other sessions. Amanda described her grandmother as a remarkable woman who passed away only a few years ago at the age of 103. In the early seasons of "Stargate," her grandmother had called Amanda and admitted, "Mandy, I've watched your show, deary, and I don't really understand it, but that Colonel O'Neill is really a looker, isn't he? If only I were 20 years younger!" As the seasons wore on, Grandma wished she were 30 years younger instead.
Asked who would win in a fight between Yoda and Thor, Amanda answered Thor, but Richard asked for clarification, if their powers could be used. The answer came back that the fight would not include powers, but Richard still replied that Thor would win, "because he's younger - and naked!"
Another fan asked if there were anything they would not do on camera. Amanda answered that she has a "no nudity" clause in her contract, but that she has in the past had to select a body double for herself when nudity was called for. She described the process as surreal, examining pictures of woman taken from the neck down to preserve their anonymity, and trying to find a woman whose chest would match her own. Finally Richard answered that he had the same answer, and even joked that he got the same pictures. Then he admitted that at his age there was no longer a need for him to take off his clothes, in fact he could hardly do it anymore to get into bed at night.
Both were asked how they had come to choose the charities that they support. Amanda talked about how she tends to choose associations that help living things that are unable to help themselves, such as children and animals, and she added that ever since her daughter Olivia was born, she has focused more on the environment. She particularly admires the work being done by the Waterkeeper Alliance. Richard talked about growing up in Minnesota, the "Land of 10,000 Lakes," which he insisted really has 11,000 lakes, but it would be too much trouble to change all the license plates. He grew up around water, and has always been drawn to lakes, rivers, and oceans. Over the years, he has supported many different charities financially, but he has recently started to concentrate his interests and to take a more active role. He sees the abuse that humans have inflicted on the planet, and he has focused his interests on protecting the environment, particularly waters and marine life. He also talked about his first meeting with Paul Watson, how he came to be on the Board of Directors for Sea Shepherd, and his admiration for the work they do to protect the oceans, the whales, and the seals. Short on time, he wrapped up by mentioning his support for other charities, including Art of the Brain, for which he is also an active supporter.
Another question referred to their travels, and asked what had been the most profound place they had ever visited. Richard talked about his trip to Tibet, describing it as the most remote place he has ever visited, and one of the most profound experiences of his life. Amanda recalled a trip she had taken as a teenager when she spent a night out under the stars near a lake in Canada and witnessed the Northern Lights.
A man in the audience asked if they remembered the early "Stargate" episode and the young Make-A-Wish girl whose wish it had been to have her dog appear on the show. Her dog had appeared as Cassie's dog in "Singularity," and Amanda remembered the situation, but Richard apologized and admitted that he only remembered when they had mentioned the dog's name!
The final question of the session went to Richard, asking what he would prefer, given the choice between acting and producing. He answered that he has enjoyed producing, but at this point in his life he would prefer being a "dumb, vacuous actor," and he proudly announced, "I are a actor!" Amanda then asked the audience what they had thought of episode "200," and she received supportive cheers and applause. Richard said he had returned for the episode because (feigning a lonely voice), "I missed them so much," then jokingly mouthing, "Not really!" He talked about is role as "Invisible O'Neill," saying that the scene was originally intended to be shot using another actor because of his limited availability, but then he became available and wore the green suit to play his invisible self. He added that he actually knew his lines, which was ironic because he really didn't need to act since he couldn't be seen and only his voice was needed.
Friday Afternoon Question & Answer Panel - November 24, 2006
In the afternoon, the questions began with the hypothetical proposition, if it were possible to download any single subject into your brain as in "The Fifth Race," what would it be and why? Richard pondered the question without an answer, and Amanda, after a quick thought, decided to choose English literature. Teasing, Richard started making faces, suggesting she was just sucking up, and he tried to come up with an answer to top hers, discarding some options like, "Astrology! No! Scratch that!" Finally he decided on "All the languages of the world," and turned toward Amanda with a smug grin as if he was very pleased with himself.
For one of the earlier questions, a young woman named Lacey stood up and began, "I've been watching you since I was ten years old." Immediately Richard put his face in his hands and shook his head as everyone laughed, then he looked up again and called out, "Just kill me - how old are you NOW?!" Lacey's question was about the influence of role models, and as "Stargate SG-1" had influenced her life, she asked them to describe who or what the outstanding influences had been in their lives. Richard began by playfully mentioning people like Eddie Izzard and Ricky Gervais, and then he finally answered that his dad had been a major influence in his life. Amanda answered that it was her grandmother, and then she retold the story about her grandmother's crush on Richard Dean Anderson, if only she had been 20 years younger. The audience laughed as she pantomimed working out the math that still left a considerable age gap, as Richard simply grinned throughout with a flattered smile.
A few questions later, a young woman stood and asked in a very forthright and self assured voice who their favorite guest star had been to work with and why. Picking up on her manner of speaking, Richard teased, "Show a little more confidence next time!" Then both Richard and Amanda paused for a moment to think about favorite guest stars. Richard pointed out that there were ten years of appearances and that's a lot of time to think back. The young woman answered, "That's all right, I have time," but quick as a flash Richard shot back with a grin, "According to Lacey, I don't!" referring to the earlier question that had made him feel old. Amanda finally answered that her favorite would probably be Carmen Argenziano, who was like a father to her. Richard continued to mull over his answer, unable to narrow it down. Someone suggested Dom DeLuise, and he got a mischievous twinkle in his eye joking, "Nah, I didn't have ANY fun with Dom DeLuise..." Finally he decided that his favorite was probably Robert Picardo because he's witty and quick and funny and they really had a ball working together.
Among the other questions of the afternoon was one asking if they could ban one thing that would help to improve the environment, what would it be. Without hesitation, Amanda answered, "Guns." Richard agreed, but then he tried to come up with another answer. He talked about how it would be great to be able to go back in time to when people lived in small separate villages, and he talked about the quaint little villages he had seen coming into Wells. He said he wished it was possible to go back to living simply like that, without the negative impact on the environment of today's big cities. Finally someone offered to simplify his answer for him: "Okay, so... Ban cities."
Another question was, "If your memory were to be erased and you were only able to hold on to three memories that you would never want to lose, what would they be?" Amanda answered they would all be about her daughter, her birth, her first smile, her first word, and so on. Richard answered the same way, saying that his daughter is the most important thing in his life and he would never want to lose any of those memories.
Another person introduced herself as a teacher in an inner city Los Angeles school, and she said many of her students made unfortunate choices in role models, imitating the violence they see in movies and TV rather than choosing positive influences. She asked what they would say to those students to help guide them away from violence and gangs and to choose positive role models. Both Richard and Amanda took the question very seriously, but neither could really come up with an answer. They agreed that it was a huge question that deserved more time, and they didn't know how to offer words of guidance concisely in any way that would make a difference. Richard kept trying to say that you just need to keep showing kids the difference between movie violence and reality, although for many of those kids there isn't really much of a difference, and they both said "God bless you" to the woman for taking on the job that she's doing.
Someone asked if they ever self-critique, and the mischievous Ernest Pratt grin returned to Richard's face as he joked, "Yes. I'm doing it right now." Amanda said she hates to watch herself and so she usually doesn't BECAUSE she is so critical of her work. Only just now has she been able to watch herself in the earliest SG-1 episodes. Richard said that he is also critical of his work but that he also doesn't usually watch himself. Most often he never sees his own work once he's gone through the dailies or the editing process.
Another fan wondered if they answer to both their real names and their character names. Amanda answered first saying that her father had originally wanted to name her Samantha but her mother had had the final say in naming her Amanda. In response, her father has called her "Sam" all her life, so yes, she does automatically answer to both names. Then she turned to Richard, who answered simply, "Uh... No!"
The next question asked what was the most touching moment behind the scenes on "Stargate," and immediately Richard quipped, "I never laid a hand on her...!" They both agreed that there were far too many moments to mention any particular one, since it was such a joy to come to work each day. Then Amanda added that it was always fun to see Don S. Davis get flustered because everyone on the set would start to laugh uncontrollably, especially if Richard and Amanda caught each other's eye, making it impossible to stop laughing.
One of the men in the audience asked Richard what his favorite chat up line was, and does it work, and then he turned to Amanda to ask what chat up line would work with her. At first Richard didn't understand the British expression "chat up line," and someone had to explain the American version, "pick up line." He fumbled with the question a bit, confessing that he doesn't go to bars, and he's too shy to try using a "line." Then he asked, "But don't women hate that, anyway? Can't they see right through it? You can almost imagine the little 'think bubble' above their heads saying, 'Go away,' " and he turned to Amanda for her opinion. But Amanda simply answered with the only pick up line he'd need to use, and the one that was guaranteed to work. Imitating a suave male voice, she said, "Hi, I'm Richard Dean Anderson," and then pretended to sigh and swoon. Richard laughed right along with the audience, and then picking up her lead, he continued, "Hi, I'm Richard Dean Anderson. I used to be famous. I used to have my own TV show..."
The last question was from a man who asked Richard if he has ever thought about forming his own curling team, and could he be a member of it. Richard made sure everyone knew what curling was, and he said yes, that forming his own team would be fun. Then he proceeded to talk fondly of his grandfather, John I. Anderson, who came from northern Minnesota and who loved curling, although his grandmother always insisted that it was just an excuse for him to get drunk. He finished by saying yes, he'd love to form his own team, and when the fan asked again, "Can I be on it?" he shot back, "No! You're too young! You have your whole life ahead of you - don't waste it on curling!"
Saturday Morning Question & Answer Panel - November 25, 2006
On Saturday morning, Richard and Amanda were asked to describe their favorite guilty pleasures. Pretending to misunderstand "guilty pleasure," Richard responded in typical Jack O'Neill fashion, "What?" Finally he confessed that his favorite guilty pleasure is breaking the speed limit, and he added that since his trip here he had also developed a fondness for scones. Amanda's guilty pleasures include chocolate and the long running British soap opera, "Coronation Street."
Asked to speak about his short lived television series, "Legend," Richard was surprised at first to discover that people even knew about it. He thanked the fan for bringing up the topic, and went on to say that he had based the character of Ernest Pratt on his own grandfather who had lived in northern Minnesota. Although he was happily married and not quite the womanizer that Ernest Pratt was, Grandfather Anderson did share Ernest's moustache and several other personality traits including his wicked sense of humor.
Another fan asked what ambitions each still hoped to fulfill in life. Richard mentioned the house he has been building for some time and is looking forward to completing, and he wants to be able to spend as much time with his daughter Wylie as possible. He has also always wanted to go to Antarctica. The nearest he has ever been was during a trip to Chile. He is hoping to join Paul Watson and Sea Shepherd on their anti-whaling trip to Antarctica the year after next to face the Japanese whaling fleets. Amanda responded that she has always loved the open air and long walks, and there is a particular trail she would like to hike. Ever since she was a child she has wanted to visit the Great Wall of China, in fact she had dreamed of walking along the wall with her daughter on her back papoose-style, although Olivia is a little too big now for that dream to come true in quite that way.
Someone else wanted to know who among the SG-1 characters or actors would be most likely to use off-world technology to help with the housework. Amanda answered that Sam was definitely likely to do something like that, although she, Amanda, would not, and she added that Michael and Christopher wouldn't clean anyway! Richard answered simply that he "wouldn't know how!" and he described his home as "clean but messy."
Asked about working on "Atlantis," Amanda said that David Hewlett is a great person, very funny, and she adored working with him. Richard talked about his experience working on "The Return." Director Brad Turner is wonderful to work with, and Richard particularly enjoyed working with Robert Picardo, with whom he had great chemistry. He loved having the chance to return to the Stargate universe to "play and misbehave." He also loved doing the underwater scenes from the episode, although he described the situation as "totally bizarre." He began miming an underwater scene, with eyes wide open and arms flailing, insisting that no one would behave that way in real life if they were trapped for five minutes under water, and suggesting that the audience try it some time in a swimming pool, for which he earned rounds of laughter.
Both were asked if they had been invited to return for any future "Stargate" episodes or movies. Amanda said that she had been asked to be in both "Stargate Atlantis," for an undetermined number of episodes, and in the two upcoming "Stargate" movies. Richard confessed that he had not yet been approached, adding under his breath, "poor baby." He said he would like to return for an appearance, "I think," depending on the situation with his house and his daughter, but he added that his relationship with the "Stargate" producers is "very Scandinavian. We don't talk a lot."
Another question asked about their stupidest or most embarrassing moment. Amanda described a recent incident during her current visit to the UK when she attended the wrap party for "The Vicar of Dibley." There she had met Dawn French, an idol of hers, and Lenny Henry, whom she didn't expect to be there. Just like an adoring fan, she had a huge grin on her face the whole time. When she was introduced to Lenny Henry, he extended his hand for a handshake, but in her enthusiasm she had given him a hug. She pantomimed her huge smile and enthusiastic hug, and then admitted how totally embarrassed she had been by her reaction. Richard's response was one that he had given before in which someone had approached him once and asked, "Didn't you use to be someone?"
One fan welcomed both of them to the UK and asked what they thought of the city of Wells. Amanda's answer used words like "beautiful," "stunning," and "magical." Richard said that he hadn't yet had a chance to explore the town properly as it had been dark and rainy, but that he had fallen in love with the stonework of the local buildings. In fact, he wanted stone just like it to use in building his house in Malibu. As he had driven into Wells, he had thought to himself, "I've come home!"
Another fan asked which accolades over the years had meant the most, and Richard spoke about being approached by Sea Shepherd and the Waterkeeper Alliance. Previously he had supported numerous causes financially, but he welcomed the opportunity to focus his efforts and to become more directly involved. He was thrilled when he was invited to sit on the Board of Directors of these organizations. In fact, he spoke at length about the work Sea Shepherd is doing, and about their campaign against the illegal fishing and whaling of the Japanese. Right now he is busy being a father and building his house, but he mentioned again that perhaps in a year or so, after he has trained and gotten in shape, he is hoping to join the Sea Shepherd crew aboard their new ship, the Leviathan, for the campaign in Antarctica. He also talked about his love of the ocean in general, and his passion for diving.
One of the final questions asked each of them to name the hottest actors or actresses with whom they had worked. Richard hesitated and joked, unable to be specific. He finally avoided the question by answering that the people he would most like to work with are Ricky Gervais and Eddie Izzard. Amanda also offered a few vague suggestions, and then finally answered, "I did mention Rick, didn't I?"
Saturday Afternoon Question & Answer Panel - November 25, 2006
The Saturday afternoon session began as the others had, with Richard doing the catwalk to allow photo opportunities for those seated in the back row, and joking with the audience. He has been known for avoiding conventions in the past, mostly because the anonymity of large crowds feels uncomfortable, but he said that these smaller sessions of about 120 people were far more intimate and just the way he liked it.
A question to Richard was if people still ask him if he knows how to do all the science tricks that MacGyver could do. He talked about how long ago the series had been, and he admitted that he loves fixing things, although he would prefer to hire someone to do the job for him. He even mentioned the MasterCard commercial he had done, joking that it gave a glimpse of what MacGyver would be like today, someone who colors his hair and buys the things he needs from a store. He spoke for some time, and then stopped himself in mid sentence asking, "What was the question again?" before turning to Amanda and asking, "I didn't answer the question, did I?" When someone repeated the question for him, he answered simply, with a grin, "Yeah, people still ask me that!"
Both were asked about the kissing scene in "Window of Opportunity," and how many takes were necessary to get it right. They both joked that it was a wonderful excuse to kiss someone else. As Richard pointed out, "She is married, and I am... not," Amanda added, "It's just my job, honey!"
Another question to both guests was, "Have you ever been in any really dangerous situations while shooting 'Stargate SG-1'?" Amanda described a scene in the episode "Family" in which Daniel and Carter were supposed to run past a mark just before an explosion. They rehearsed the timing of the explosion as "Daniel, then me, then boom." The special effects operator was prepared to release the explosion after the second person ran past the mark, however in the real take, the two actors were preceded by a cameraman, so as the scene was shot, "It was Cameraman, Daniel, BOOM!" As the audience laughed at her retelling, she called out, "I was fine, thank you for asking!" She also mentioned the scene from "Solitudes" in which Carter emerged from the ice cave, which was actually filmed on a glacier north of Vancouver. Amanda was alone on the ice and the crew was "waaay oooover there," as the glacier made ominous creaking noises. She also referenced the scene from "The Enemy Within" during which Kawalsky threw Carter against the wall and Amanda suffered a slight concussion. When it was Richard's turn to reminisce, he spoke about a few examples, such as firing the weapon that required him to pull back the catch so quickly and so often that his fingers bled. However, he concluded that he couldn't recall anything particularly serious, admitting that after all the stunts on "MacGyver" in which it seemed he was bleeding almost every day, "Stargate" was "a tea party, a walk in the park!"
Both were asked how much of their own personalities had become a part of their characters. They said that over time both their characters had taken on more and more traits of their own personalities, but they both agreed that more than any of them, Jack O'Neill was Richard Dean Anderson.
One fan asked Richard, now that he had appeared on "The Simpsons," was there anything else he would like to do to complete his career. In the past Richard has often joked that his "Simpsons" appearance was the culmination of his career, and he talked at length about the experience, how he loved the show, how much fun he had had, and how he has always been the first person to poke fun at himself. Finally he mentioned his other favorites, suggesting he'd like to appear on "The Office," or "Extras" with Ricky Gervais, or on "Family Guy." Amanda said she'd love to appear on "Coronation Street" or "The Vicar of Dibley," and she talked again about meeting her idol, Dawn French, at the "Vicar of Dibley" wrap party.
They were asked if they could pass one law to save the world, what would it be. Amanda asked, "Just one?" and they considered carefully, saying it was hard to narrow it down. Richard talked about his charities to protect the waters of the planet. Finally Amanda said she would ban the use of fossil fuels. Richard, in an attempt to outdo her, announced, "I'd forbid the use of FUEL!" then turned to Amanda and grinned, "Beat THAT!" In response, Amanda said she'd ban breathing, and Richard countered in a funny voice, "So, you have lungs, do you?"
A young boy in the audience asked about the scene from "Unnatural Selection" in which the team was in the cargo bay of the Prometheus eating Ben and Jerry's ice cream. He wondered if they liked Ben and Jerry's, and if so what their favorite flavor would be. At first Richard tried to recall if the ice cream had indeed been Ben and Jerry's, thinking that he had requested Häagen-Dazs. He couldn't remember what flavor they had eaten in the scene, but he thought he recalled something with chocolate chunks. As for his favorite, Richard said, "I think I would go for Cherry Garcia or vanilla. Yes, just plain boring vanilla." Amanda added that she was very disappointed that she wasn't in that scene and didn't get to share the ice cream, then she asked the boy what his favorite flavor is. When he answered "Vanilla Caramel Swirl," they were both very impressed and asked, "Do you have any on you?"
When the preset questions had been completed, the floor was opened for additional questions from the audience. One fan asked why Jack and Sam weren't together after ten years, given that both Richard and Amanda had some influence over the directions of their characters. Their answers echoed what has been said in the past, that while the actors do have some say in the minor decisions affecting their characters, they do not direct the storylines. All of the scripts are approved by the Pentagon, and the Air Force would never approve a relationship between officers in the same chain of command. They pointed out the supportive relationship they have had with the Air Force during the run of the series and how they have always strived to be realistic in the development of the characters.
Another fan asked if they would have done anything differently had they known that the series would be so successful and last so long. Richard told the story about how the series was picked up by Showtime for two seasons immediately, and then for two more before the first season had completed airing, so they knew early on that it had potential. As to what she might have done differently, Amanda joked, "I should have started having babies earlier!"
Another young boy asked them both how they thought the series should end, if they could write the ending themselves. Richard answered simply, " 'The End!' " Then he admitted that he hasn't been following the series closely since he left, so he didn't really know what to suggest. When asked by Richard what he preferred, the boy said he hoped for an explosive violent ending, which earned him a handshake from Richard. At first Amanda agreed that the show should go out "in a blaze of glory," but then she added that the writers had done such a good job in the past that she would be happy with whatever the writers would develop. Finally they suggested that perhaps the best ending should involve a big bang - and fishing.
Sunday Morning Question & Answer Panel - November 26, 2006
As the Sunday panel began, Richard indulged in a bit of role reversal as he brought out his own camera and began snapping pictures of the audience as they took pictures of him.
One of the first questions was directed at Amanda. She was asked if she ever did any of her own stunts instead of her stunt double, and had she ever made a mistake. She answered that yes, she had done a lot of her own stunts. As an example, she described the scene from "Smoke and Mirrors" in which Carter and Barrett had to leap over a stone wall and land in front of the camera as the house exploded. There were five cameras set to capture the action, and the director had them practice over and over, critiquing Amanda's jumps by comparing her to a gymnast. Finally she mastered the leap, only to fall into the camera when the scene was shot.
A question to Richard referred to his penchant for adlibbing lines and asked if it ever caused trouble during filming. He replied that he doesn't memorize lines very well, but he prefers instead to read over the script and memorize the ideas to get the essence. "Then, if I can twist it into an O'Neillism, more power to it." Amanda joked that they had to warn the guest stars because they were liable to miss their cues. They would get a script and O'Neill's dialogue would be blank, leaving Richard to fill in the lines and the cast to guess what he would say. The writers used to try to write what they thought Richard would say, but then he wouldn't say it BECAUSE they were expecting it. Richard added, "I'm not going to say it if they think that's what I'm going to say!"
One fan asked them to summarize the Avalon weekend in one word. Referring to the uncomfortably warm temperatures during the mild November weekend, Richard answered, "Hot." Thinking of the cozy atmosphere of the small group sessions, Amanda replied, "Intimate." Immediately, Richard joked, "That won't be happening today!" They each went on to explain, laughing at the connotation that "hot and intimate" evoked. Richard mentioned the story of his mother telling him how cold it was on the day that he was born. Amanda talked about how pleasant and calm the weekend had been with small groups and opportunities to talk to people. She finished, "So... Intimate. And hot. Not together."
Amanda was asked about her own science background, and if she really understands the technobabble her character has to say. She answered that her brothers work in high-tech jobs. One is a biochemist, and another is a computer scientist. In school, she had won an award for science and one for drama, but although her parents wanted her to pursue science, she had discovered her love of acting, and now she has the best of both worlds, playing a scientist on TV. She said that she does research some of what she's supposed to talk about as Samantha Carter, and she does understand it at the moment, although she couldn't explain the theories later. Someone from the audience called out, "And if you forget your lines, Rick can't help you." Amanda agreed, "Richard can't even pronounce any of the words," to which Richard replied, "I had sense enough to prove to them early on that I can't remember any of those words. My contribution is, '...What?' "
Asked about their favorite foods, Amanda answered, "Sushi...sushi. That's my answer." Richard began, "Lately... if you could see me naked you'd understand..." then pretended to be confused by the giggling in the audience at the image he had suggested. He continued by mentioning that he has put on 15 pounds since he left "Stargate," and a cereal he discovered called Puffins, the peanut butter variety, is partly to blame. "I can eat a box at a sitting," he confessed. "I put blueberries all over it. I have a freezer full of frozen blueberries. Strawberries and blueberries go great." When Amanda reminded him that he had been speaking about "lately," he continued, "Oh, lately... scones. Someone just told me yesterday that they're fattening." Amanda teased, "With jam and cream, who knew?" to which Richard insisted, "Twelve pounds of fat in each one. But GOOD fat!"
Someone wanted to know if an action series based on Sea Shepherd would be a good idea. Amanda thought it was a fantastic idea. Although Richard agreed in principle, he felt that pragmatically the storyline might work better as a thematic film rather than as a series. There is always the concern that such a project might come across as preachy. He thought that documentaries were the best way to go, and they have in fact already done some good. A similar series made during the "MacGyver" days had never taken off, but in a sense he felt that "MacGyver" had been successful as a dramatic series with a message.
Another fan posed the hypothetical question, "If you were to bump into a 20-year-old version of yourself, what words of wisdom would you give?" Immediately Richard asked, "Virgin??" and got clarification of the question from Amanda. Richard's response was, "I'd warn him against the future," and Amanda replied, "Stand up for myself more. In my attempts to be nice, I used to let people walk all over me. I'm not like that now, but I used to be." Finally Richard added, "If I ran into a 20-year-old 'virgin' of myself, I'd be... surprised!"
Richard was asked for his opinion of British comedies, and he mentioned Eddie Izzard and John Cleese as being among his favorites. He said he thought Ricky Gervais is a genius, and he has been searching out his work.
Another question for Richard referred to the house that he has been building in Malibu and asked if it was environmentally friendly. Richard admitted that the house is turning out to be much bigger than he had intended. In fact, he said that it is about the size of a small motel, although the builders have assured him that it will look more residential when it is finished. As for the environmental impact, he described it as "about half and half" and said that he has made some changes. He has two acres of land and he is using a water dispersion system to recycle clean water so as not to drain the city's supply. He had also considered installing solar panels but there was no practical place to position them. At times he has actively participated in the construction of the house, and he joked that he has had fun annoying the builders by helping out and hammering nails. He described it as a great experience, but not necessarily one that he would do again.
Both were asked if they would prefer to visit the Spam Museum in Austin, Minnesota or to drive the pace car for the Indy 500. Amanda replied that she would probably eat Spam while driving the pace car. Richard joked about the choice between "Spam or Speed" and wondered if anyone actually eats Spam. He was surprised to hear that it had its own museum, and, wondering if there was really a need for one, he asked what it was like there.
One of the final questions asked both Richard and Amanda if they had had the time to do any sightseeing during their visit. Since their stay was a brief one, they hadn't had too many opportunities to be tourists. On Thursday they had gone to Bath and bought a lot of clothes for their daughters, and on Saturday they had taken a brief stroll through the local market. However, they were both missing their daughters, and they would be going home as soon as the convention had ended.
Morning Coffee and Afternoon Tea
Following each Question and Answer session, everyone was escorted downstairs to another large room in the Bishop's Palace. Here, amid columns and arches and magnificent stone fireplaces, tables had been set up as an elegant dining area. Those in the morning sessions enjoyed morning coffee with cakes while the afternoon sessions were served cakes with afternoon tea. Each round table seated nine people, with a vacant space for Richard and Amanda to join the group for more intimate conversation. The seating had been assigned, and at each place the guests found a little gift box containing a personalized charm. Each charm was matched to an interest of the individual fan, and no two charms were alike. Designed to be used on the stem of a wine glass to identify to whom it belonged, the charms were also intended to spark conversation as guests got to know each other.
Initially the plan had been for Richard and Amanda to circulate among the tables separately and to use the charms as a starting point for conversations with the fans. However, Richard and Amanda preferred to circulate together, and as they joined the fans at each table, the topics of conversation covered a broad spectrum beyond the charms themselves. Richard and Amanda seemed particularly interested in learning about where the many fans had come from, and they willingly answered any additional questions posed to them that had not been asked before.
Richard in particular seemed to enjoy trying his hand at speaking some of the many languages that were represented. With a smattering of foreign language phrases at his command, he delighted in surprising and impressing the fans with a few common expressions. Upon learning that several fans at one table spoke French, he proudly announced, "Je suis un Américain" (I am an American) and "S'il vous plait" (Please). At another table with several Spanish speaking fans, he tried out, "Hola" (Hello) and "Como esta?" (How are you?), and then surprised the fans by asking, "Viene a mi casa el Sábado?" (Want to come to my house on Saturday?) Amanda, too, had an opportunity to try some foreign phrases. When a Belgian family asked if she spoke French, she responded, "Un petit peu" (A little bit).
Richard and Amanda were especially intrigued to learn how many fans had come from great distances, and how many fans lived relatively close to each other but had only met through the internet and their mutual interest in the actors and their work. At one table, three women from Yorkshire discovered that they lived only miles from each other, but had only met for the first time that day, and Richard was delighted by the coincidence, declaring it, "so good!" He was fascinated by the countless stories of the "Stargate" series bringing together strangers who had now become friends, and he asked fans for details about where they were from. One of the Yorkshire women described her home as "Up north, where Yorkshire puddings come from," and Richard thought he remembered having had Yorkshire pudding before, recalling that it is not meant as a dessert and asking, "It isn't a sweet pudding, is it?"
As Richard and Amanda approached one of the first few tables during the Friday afternoon session, Amanda began a conversation with a young couple from Germany. Suddenly, the young man knelt on one knee and spoke to the young woman, with Amanda looking on. As the young woman responded with a startled but enthusiastic "yes," Amanda stood up to cheer and announced to the room that the couple had just become engaged. There were congratulations all around, with the young man accepting a hug from Amanda, and the young woman receiving a kiss from Richard. Everyone was delighted by the surprise, but as they moved on to the next table, Richard asked jokingly if any proposals were about to happen at this table as well.
Many of the questions brought up at the tables had to do with "Stargate." Richard was asked what he thought of the first "Stargate" episode that had aired without him. He admitted somewhat sheepishly that he hadn't seen it, but then clarified that he hadn't watched most of the episodes in which he had appeared either. He went on to say that it had been time for him to leave, and he knew that the show could go on without him or without any one of the main cast. He described how he had missed his daughter, and how she had often said to him and to her teachers that she didn't want him to leave. Their separation and his commute to be with her had even started to affect his health, and he had finally made the decision to put Wylie first.
Someone else asked Amanda if it was really true, as Richard claims, that he never knows what is happening on the set. She answered that it is indeed true, and Richard added that in his role as executive producer he would have a say in the writing and the editing, but that when it came to shooting, he did as he was directed and knew nothing about the bible of the series.
On Friday morning, Richard was asked if he would be appearing in the final "Stargate" episode, "Unending." Months earlier he had gone to Vancouver to shoot several scenes for season ten, but because he doesn't follow the series closely, he hadn't been sure if any of those scenes might appear in the finale. He turned instead to Amanda to ask, "Am I?" and when she shook her head, he answered, "No, I won't be." Asked if he had been approached about appearing in the upcoming "Stargate" movies, he answered that they had spoken to him as a producer because he owns rights to the franchise, but that so far no one had asked him to appear in the movies. Amanda said she would keep her fingers crossed that it would happen, and everyone at the table joined her in crossed fingers. Amanda also mentioned that she is the executive producer of a new project, although it was too soon to elaborate, and she hoped that Richard would be in it. Richard laughingly acknowledged that she hadn't formally approached him for that, either, but she assured him that she was only just now planting the seeds.
On Sunday, Amanda was asked to describe what it was like on the "Stargate" set on the final day of shooting. Richard was also curious to know the answer, and commented, "Good question." Amanda responded, "It was emotional. We were in denial. The last shot was of the team going through the stargate, and Chris refused to go up the ramp in rehearsal. He just wouldn't do it. He wouldn't go until the moment we actually shot the scene. Then we walked through and Chris started crying, then Michael and myself. Then the whole crew came over... Chris, Michael and I went up to the briefing room and looked through the window at the stargate. We'd started off like that ten years ago. We'd just stood there looking at it going 'Wow, it's big! And we get to go through it!' Now it's ten years later, and it's over. We just stood there with our arms linked, looking down, and no one said a word. It was very emotional. We're looking forward to doing the DVD movies and hope they go well. But there were a lot of tears... Also a lot of champagne." When Richard was asked what his final day of shooting had been like, he replied, "Nothing like that! They said, 'That's it for Rick!' And everyone clapped, and then it was 'Bye Rick!' That was about it!"
Asked about the future of "Stargate," Amanda confirmed that the series had not been picked up for an 11th season, but that there would definitely be two movies, probably for DVD. She had also been asked to do several episodes of "Stargate Atlantis," and she described how much fun she and David Hewlett have when playing opposite each other as Carter and McKay. As yet, the details for the upcoming movies were largely rumors, and no one knew for certain what was happening. Amanda offered optimistically, "We live in hope!" to which Richard added, "And I live in California!"
Another topic that came up frequently during the Meet the Guests sessions was Richard's work with the environment. One fan asked him whether his work for the environment had given him more or less faith in humanity. He gave the question serious thought and said it was difficult to answer. He admitted that he has seen some awful things, which can be depressing, but that he has also been inspired by the people who take action to make a difference, and he wants to do more to help.
Another question to Richard was, "You went to Tibet once. Are there any plans to go back?" Because of the volume of the other conversations in the room, it was difficult for him to hear the question, and he misunderstood at first, asking, "I wet the bed once?" Then he went on to answer that it had been an amazing trip but that there are no plans at the moment for a return visit.
Richard was also asked if his National Geographic films were likely to be released on DVD. He explained that the project wasn't time-constrained, so nothing had yet been put in place regarding release and distribution. He was pleased, and perhaps a bit surprised, by the notion that there was an anxious audience awaiting the completion of the project.
Several of the questions took a lighter tone. Amanda was asked if she still has her belly button ring after having given birth to her daughter Olivia. She answered, "Oh yes," she does still have the ring. She doesn't wear it all the time because it can sometimes get in the way or catch against her, but she does put it in every now and then to keep the piercing open. Richard, overhearing the conversation, simply asked Amanda, "She asked you about your belly button ring??"
Richard was asked if he still plays the guitar, and he answered that he had recently taken out his 6-string and then his 12-string to restring them, but he had given up playing them because it was too difficult. He had lost the calluses on his fingers, which makes it more difficult to play now. Amanda added that she plays the guitar as well, but admitted that Richard is much better.
Referring to Jack O'Neill's Minnesota cabin, Richard was also asked if he has a pond where he lives, but he answered that he has a whole ocean nearby.
In another conversation about Richard's series "Legend," Richard described how he had modeled the character of Ernest Pratt after his own grandfather. Asked whom of his three characters, MacGyver, Ernest Pratt, or Jack O'Neill, he would most love to meet for a drink, he answered immediately, "Ernest Pratt."
Richard also spoke about his daughter Wylie, who has taken an interest in pursuing acting. She has tried out for acting, singing, and dancing, and not only loves it but has been doing very well. Wylie was spending the Thanksgiving holiday this year with her mother, which made it much easier for Richard to get away during the holiday weekend to come to Avalon. He joked that he would otherwise have been spending Thanksgiving with his brothers, but "without Wylie, the rest of us don't really care about each other!" Then he added with a grin, "Thanksgiving is the one with the Pilgrims, right?"
Since the visit to England was brief, both were asked if they had enjoyed the trip, and if they had had many opportunities for sightseeing. They hadn't been able to do much touring, but Amanda described how windy it had been during her visit to Glastonbury Tor, and Richard said that he was hoping to see "The Henge." Both of them were very impressed by the place where they were staying. Amanda likened it to "something from a Merchant Ivory movie," but Richard kept talking about the two dogs that lived there. One was rather listless, which he described as "basically a rug," but the other one was 14 years old and had taken an instant liking to him. He said she would keep walking to the gate and then coming back for him to take her for a walk and to play with her. His bonding with the dogs was a highlight of his visit.
Since Richard has a reputation for avoiding most fan conventions, one of the most frequently asked questions during the coffee and tea sessions came from anxious fans wondering if he was enjoying himself or if he was nervous or frightened at his first official convention. He responded that he had heard the rumor about himself that he was afraid of conventions and that "people seem to think that." He explained that he isn't nervous, but he simply feels awkward in crowds of people. Comparing Avalon to larger events, he added, "I adore this more intimate gathering where one can talk to people individually. I love it! It's not anonymous like most fan events." Another fan who was also attending her first convention announced that she too was a convention virgin. Richard suggested that perhaps they should start a club, "Rick's Convention Virgins," but then they would no longer be virgins for future events. Both Richard and Amanda said that they were having a very good time, and they would love to do it again.
As Richard and Amanda worked their way around the room, each table got to enjoy about five minutes of their time for more intimate conversation. When all the tables had been visited, the fans were dismissed by table and directed back upstairs to the room that had been set up for photos. Each person posed between Richard and Amanda as their picture was taken. The pictures then appeared digitally on a computer screen so that each one could be checked for quality in case a retake was required. At first, Richard amused himself by leaving his position after each picture in order to peek at the computer monitor himself. There he made a face or a comment as he inspected and approved each image before moving on to the next one. Eventually he trusted the volunteer whose job it was to check each picture, and he remained in position with Amanda to greet and pose with each new guest. Both were tireless and endlessly patient as each of the 580 guests received their moment of personal time and their photographic keepsake.
Wells and Glastonbury
Each of the morning and afternoon sessions lasted approximately 3 to 4 hours to include the Q&A, coffee or tea, and the photo sessions. The schedule allowed for a break of 1 to 2 hours in the afternoon between sessions, and again in the evening before the auction began, and this gave fans who were not involved in a session opportunities to explore historic Wells and neighboring Glastonbury.
Wells is an ancient community of stone and half-timbered buildings. It derives its name from three wells, dedicated to St. Andrew and once believed to have curative powers, in the market place and on the grounds of the Cathedral and Bishop's Palace. By population, Wells is a small town, but it is granted status as a city by virtue of the immense Cathedral at its center, and it proudly claims the title of 'The Smallest City in England."
The history of the cathedral dates back to 700 AD when the first church was built in Wells in honor of St. Andrew, and it was raised to the status of Cathedral Church two centuries later. Following the removal of the Bishop's seat to Bath, Wells fell into decay until Bishop Reginald de Bolun tore down the old cathedral and began building the current one in 1180, a project that would take 250 years. Today the magnificent Wells Cathedral stands on Cathedral Green in the heart of the town.
Situated next to the Cathedral is the Bishop's Palace, the walled residence of the Bishops of Wells for centuries. The Palace is surrounded by a moat, and is known for its swans that have been trained to ring a bell hanging from the gatehouse at feeding time. The grounds surrounding the Palace and its moat are a public park with walking paths, and tucked away along the path is a large stone marker indicating the direction of nearby Glastonbury Tor. It was to the Bishop's Palace that fans were welcomed for the Avalon event.
On the opposite side of the Cathedral from the Palace is Vicar's Close, an enclosed cobblestone street lined with quaint row houses and towering chimneys. Built in 1363, the Close was once the home of the Vicar's Choral, and today the men of the choir and their families, as well as others who help run the Cathedral, still live there. The Vicar's Close is purported to be the oldest planned and continually inhabited street in Europe.
Beyond the walled grounds of the Cathedral and the Palace is Market Square, fronted by the more modern Town Hall, and the 15th century hotel, The Crown. In 1695, the Quaker and founder of Pennsylvania, William Penn, preached from a room in the Crown to a crowd gathered in the market place below. He was arrested for unlawful assembly, only to return weeks later to continue his preaching before being sent to the New World. Some three centuries later, fans gathered at the Crown to register for Avalon and to meet over a pint in the pub.
Wells holds open markets in the market place twice weekly, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Here visitors can buy a wide range of items from meats and produce to clothing and jewelry. On Saturday afternoon, Richard and Amanda took advantage of the break between the morning and afternoon sessions of Avalon to wander through the outdoor market and the nearby shops in search of gifts to take home to their daughters.
More shopping awaited in the Town Hall, where Legends Memorabilia had set up a room filled with "Stargate" costumes, props, photos, and memorabilia for sale. Dan Shea, Stargate's Sergeant Siler, was also often to be found mingling with fans amid the "Stargate" items. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society also shared a corner of the room and there they offered T-shirts, hats, and other items for sale, and invited fans to become members in support of the oceans and marine life, an invitation which more than 70 fans accepted.
Throughout the weekend, fans could be seen gathering and mingling in the shops, pubs, and hotels of Wells. The Old Deanery, a 12th century building along Cathedral Green, perhaps haunted by the ghost of the nephew of Sir Walter Raleigh and now used as a conference center, was set up by the Avalon organizers as a gathering place with snacks and magazines. Another popular meeting place was the local Starbucks, one of the few public places in town with internet access.
The Avalon organizers also arranged for a bus excursion to Glastonbury, just five miles from Wells. In addition to being a central icon in the mythology of "Stargate," Glastonbury has been a place of pilgrimage among both Christians and Goddess-worshippers for thousands of years. Situated on the Somerset Levels and Moors, Glastonbury was once an island, Avalon, when the lower wetlands were flooded. The Medieval Abbey, now a preserved ruin, is historically significant because of the traditions that Jesus and Joseph of Arimathea came there and that King Arthur and Guinevere were buried there.
Overlooking the ruins of the Abbey is Glastonbury Tor, a rounded hill that rises above the plains. Long considered a place of worship, its earliest Christian roots date back to Saxon times. In the early 12th century, a chapel, St. Michael de Torre, was built at its summit, but was destroyed by a powerful earthquake in 1275. The church was rebuilt in 1323 and lasted until the Abbey was closed in 1539. Today St. Michael's Tower is all that remains of the church at the summit, and a tiered path and stairs lead visitors to the windswept top of the Tor. There one has a spectacular view of the surrounding lowlands, and no hint of the secret cavern of Ancient treasure and technology buried deep below.
Each evening an auction was held to raise funds for charity, and the proceeds of the Avalon weekend were given in support of Comic Relief, the Waterkeeper Alliance, and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. The auctions were intended to be held in the Town Hall, but on Friday evening another event scheduled for that venue conflicted with the plans, and the Avalon auction was moved instead to the Cathedral. There, within the majestic surroundings of the 12th century Cathedral, fans from both the Friday morning and afternoon sessions gathered to raise money for charity.
The day's events had run slightly behind schedule, and Richard and Amanda were still finishing their dinner when the auction was scheduled to begin. However, soon afterward Amanda appeared. Richard had to finish signing the autographed pictures that would be given to all the attendees, and as he remained in the back of the Cathedral to complete the task, Dan Shea filled in for him as a guest auctioneer.
The auction was somewhat subdued in deference to the setting, but there were still many moments of lighthearted silliness as the guests encouraged the fans to raise their bids for a worthy cause. Amanda began by sharing an anecdote. Warning that "Rick is going to kill me if he finds out I told this story," she described what had happened during a break earlier in the day. Richard and Amanda had been exploring some of the rooms in the Bishop's Palace when they discovered a hidden door in the oratory leading to a spiral staircase. They had climbed up the stairs to another room of artifacts when Richard's mischievous sense of humor got the better of him. Spying a call button on the wall, he pressed it and announced, "Jesus to the Oratory..."
Amanda, too, shared in the silliness. One item that she presented was a set of pictures that included a portrait of General O'Neill and a pose of Amanda draped only in the American flag. She pretended to kiss and flirt with O'Neill's picture to encourage bids, and when someone called out, "How many stars are on that flag?" she blurted out, "Trust me, no one is looking at the flag!" Then, as if remembering where she was, she glanced toward the front of the church and jokingly whispered under her breath, "I am so going to purgatory!" Then, without explanation, she suddenly ran down the aisle and disappeared in the back of the church where Richard was still signing autographs. Soon she came running back up the aisle to the front of the church, held up the pictures, and announced triumphantly, "Signed!" Richard had obliged her with an additional autograph to increase the bids.
The items offered for the auction included pictures, DVDs, T-shirts, props, and various memorabilia, and Amanda and Dan worked the crowd, moving up and down the aisles and demonstrating the items. For a set of miniature zat guns, they demonstrated a shootout complete with their own sound effects and a stunt fall from Dan Shea.
After the first few items had been sold, Richard finished his autograph session and joined Amanda and Dan. At first he was a bit uncertain about his role, and as Amanda and Dan tried to demonstrate how the auction worked, he protested, "It's my first day on the set!" He caught on quickly, however, and soon was parading items down the aisles, posing for pictures, and joking with the crowd. One of the items he presented was a picture of himself with a baby seal, autographed by both Paul Watson and himself, and he spoke passionately about the work that Sea Shepherd is doing. As bidding began for another item, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a Power Bar that he had apparently been carrying around all day. He attempted to flatten it back into shape, and offered to autograph it and add it to the deal, which raised the bidding even higher.
The final item of the evening was an opportunity for two people to visit the "Atlantis" set during filming, and the bidding rose quickly for that, eventually going for approximately £2000. It was about 10:00 when the auction ended, and the organizers tallied the total and wrote it on a piece of paper for Richard to announce. However, without his glasses, he couldn't read the paper and waved it off to the others. Dan Shea took the opportunity to be "helpful" and held the paper farther and farther away asking, "Can you read it now?" until he finally fell over a chair that he had backed into. Instead, Amanda whispered the amount in Richard's ear so that he could announce that the total for the evening was about £3000.
With that, the auction ended. As Richard left the front of the church, he paused and turned to watch the audience for a time before finally blowing two gentle kisses and making his exit. Meanwhile, the fans moved to the back of the church where they picked up their autographed pictures, their pictures from the photo session, and a commemorative chalice specially commissioned for the event. Then they made their way back to their hotels as the first day of Avalon came to a close.
Saturday's auction was held in the Town Hall in a large formal room with high ceilings and portraits along the walls. Here the fans from the Saturday morning and Saturday afternoon sessions gathered, with standing room only, to raise more money for charity. To begin the event, Thomasina Gibson introduced the Mayor of Wells who gave a short welcome speech. Then the auction was under way as Richard, Amanda, and Dan Shea moved up and down the aisles displaying various pieces of memorabilia to the crowd.
Amanda began the lighthearted evening by telling again the joke she had shared at the FMA Awards about the pirate with a steering wheel in his pants, announcing, "Argh, it's drivin' me nuts!" In fact, Amanda seemed to lead the evening, and she particularly enjoyed dashing back and forth between competing bidders, encouraging or even daring each to outbid the other, and finally awarding the winner with a hug. Richard and Dan joined in the shenanigans as well, and as Richard began offering hugs or kisses to the winning bidders, it seemed that the competition was more for the hug than for the item up for auction.
One of the items was a set of four Stargate commemorative plates, with one of the original four cast members illustrated on each plate. Amanda was holding the plates for O'Neill and Carter, while Dan Shea displayed the plates for Daniel and Teal'c. As Amanda struck poses and encouraged the audience, she pretended that her two plates were kissing each other, making the accompanying sound effects. Following her lead, Dan Shea did the same thing with his two plates, to roars of laughter.
Another item was a piece of original artwork done by Amanda Tapping, a small canvas of five hearts painted on a dark background. She explained that she had painted several of these when she had been pregnant with Olivia and going through the mothering "nesting instinct," and she had given them to Peter DeLuise and other friends and co-workers. She smiled as she looked toward the portraits on the wall and admitted her masterpiece may not be "great art," but her work was nevertheless very popular with the fans.
Once again the final item was an opportunity for two guests to visit the "Atlantis" set. As Richard and Amanda tried to encourage the bidding, Amanda suggested that the winner could have lunch with Joe Flanigan, to which Richard quipped that she would have to be the one to tell him. Eventually the bids passed £2000 as two women, one near the back and one near the front, battled each other for the prize. Richard was standing near the front of the room, but Amanda called to him from the back, "Rick, come over here! I think we'll get more money!" As he walked back to join her, he placed his hands to his lips to make loud whistling bird calls in appreciation of the enthusiastic bidding. Later, in support of the money being raised for Sea Shepherd, he attempted to lift his black T-shirt to show the white Sea Shepherd shirt he was wearing underneath, but both shirts accidentally came up together, and there were many camera flashes in the back of the room before he could pull the white shirt down again to show the Sea Shepherd design. Just as the winning bidder was about to be announced, Richard told them to wait, and he and Amanda conferred in whispers in the back of the room. At last they announced that they had agreed to offer both of the bidders the visit to the set for £2500 each, and Amanda added that "Rick will straighten it all out with (producer) John Smith!" There was a huge cheer for the two winners, and twice the money raised for charity.
When the final tally was made, the bank representatives came forward to present a giant check showing a total of nearly £7000 raised for the evening. Richard was clearly touched, and he thanked everyone warmly and spoke at length about the work and dedication of Sea Shepherd. He described with enthusiasm his admiration for Paul Watson and told how he had helped to found Greenpeace but had left because he felt they had not been active enough in defending the environment. He extended his appreciation to all those who had joined Sea Shepherd this weekend, announcing that more than 10% of the Avalon attendees had become new members. He also said that he was looking forward to joining Paul in the future in Antarctica as they battle the Japanese whalers. He mentioned also what an honor it was for him to be asked to be a member of the Board of Directors, but he stumbled over the words and attempted to rephrase, finally ending with a grin, "Some have way with words. Some not have way!"
Finally the auction was at an end, and Richard and Amanda hugged each other affectionately, turned to congratulate and thank the crowd, and waved as they took their leave.
Because there had been only one session on Sunday morning, the auction could be held in the afternoon, and a larger venue wasn't necessary, so the fans returned for the auction to the same room upstairs in the Bishop's Palace where the Question and Answer sessions had taken place.
Once again, Amanda, Richard, and Dan Shea worked the crowd, playfully encouraging them to bid. Dan Shea walked down the aisle exhibiting a mounted plaque with Goa'uld symbols on it. Someone in the crowd called out to ask if Richard would sign it, and Richard called back, "I'll do anything you want to it!" That brought cheers and "ooohs" and laughter from the crowd and an innocent, "What??" from Richard. Dan gave the plaque to Richard to sign, but as the bidding continued, he kept walking around the room as if he was still holding the invisible item, even offering it to one of the bidders who "took" the invisible plaque from him to show to his wife before handing it back.
Once again, Richard auctioned off one of his autographed seal pictures, and when the bidding got up to £300, he leaned over to the auctioneer to whisper in her ear, holding the picture in front of their faces to hide what they were saying as cameras madly flashed. Finally he announced that he would sign another picture, and both of the top bidders could win the picture for equal bids, then he hugged both winners in thanks.
Just as had happened the previous evening, as Richard hugged and thanked each winner, the bidding increased with each item just for the chance to get a hug. When one winner stepped to the back of the room to pay for her item, she said with some disappointment that she had not received a hug, and the security officer nearby overheard her. After she returned to her seat, the security officer took Richard aside, whispered to him, and pointed out the woman, at which point Richard called her back and gave her the missing hug.
One additional visit to the "Atlantis" set was auctioned and then the totals were calculated. Another £5000 was earned that afternoon, and the bank representatives came to the front to present the final giant check for £15,000 ($30,000) raised during the three auctions. Richard, Amanda, and Dan offered their heartfelt thanks to the crowd for their generosity as the audience applauded. Then, in a magical moment, the audience spontaneously began to rise to their feet, still applauding and cheering, as Amanda and Dan slipped out the side door, leaving Richard alone to receive the accolades. He was genuinely touched, not fully comprehending the reason for the standing ovation. He began to leave, but hesitated, and tried to call Amanda and Dan back to join him, but they both smiled and called back, "This is for you!" The ovation lasted at least two minutes until finally, deeply moved, Richard bowed, then raised his arms in the air and called out above the applause, "I love you all!!" before leaving the room.
Shortly after the auction ended, there was a reception upstairs for the staff and stewards to celebrate the end of a highly successful weekend, and Richard and Amanda both joined the gathering to thank those who had made Avalon possible. The celebration was brief, however, since the event had ended and the building had to be vacated. As the celebration drew to a close, Richard and Amanda returned downstairs to collect their things and prepare to meet the car that had come to take them back to the place they had been staying. Richard asked, "Did I tell you about the two dogs staying there? One of them is 14 years old, but she's taken a liking to me and follows me all around and leads me out where she wants me to go." With that, Richard and Amanda said their goodbyes and drove off in the car, as Richard looked forward to at least one more chance to play with the dogs before finally heading home.