The BATTLESTAR GALACTICA Team Reunites to Support the WGA and SAG-AFTRA Strikes—And Express Concern About AI - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

The BATTLESTAR GALACTICA Team Reunites to Support the WGA and SAG-AFTRA Strikes—And Express Concern About AI

September 21, 2023 by  


The BSG cast and writers reunite. (Photo credit: Marisa Roffman/Give Me My Remote.)

The cast and creative team reunited for a BATTLESTAR GALACTICA picket outside of the Universal lot on Thursday, September 21, as the studios met with the WGA negotiating committee for the second straight day.

“It’s more important than ever that we’re out here to support our negotiating committee and show that we care,” BSG writer Anne Cofell Saunders tells Give Me My Remote in the video below. “We’re standing together. Our fortitude and our strength is real, and we’re not going to give up until we get a fair deal.”

The reunion was organized by Kristine Huntley (LEGEND OF THE SEEKER, TWO SENTENCE HORROR STORIES), a lot coordinator at Universal. “We’re always looking for ways to bring a lot of people to our gates—we don’t have the SAG presence here, so we try to think of fun, special pickets that can bring people and get them excited to come out,” Huntley says. “We’ve got a really incredible turnout.”

Huntley, a “huge” BSG fan, who cites the show as one of her inspirations for becoming a writer,  reached out to Cofell Saunders to see if it might be possible. Cofell Saunders reached out to BSG boss Ronald D. Moore, who was unable to attend—but sent a signed script (of the iconic episode “33”) for them to raffle off.


Kristine Huntley raffling off BSG swag. (Photo credit: Marisa Roffman/Give Me My Remote.)

Huntley gathered memorabilia from other writers—scripts, crew shirts and jackets, storyboards; a shirt and WGA picket sign were signed by the actors and writers who attended the reunion—and spent the morning selling $5 raffle tickets benefiting Green Envelope Grocery Aid Fund. (After the tickets were done being sold, Huntley estimated they raised hundreds of dollars.)

“Standing together means supporting each other,” Cofell Saunders says. “Means donating money, donating our time or effort—anything we can do to support each other. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t think about all of the crew, all of the hard-working craftspeople, all of the amazing artists that are put out of work because of the strike. That’s why we have to support the Green Envelope Grocery Fund. Because if we don’t, if we’re not here for each other, then what are we doing?”


Michael Trucco, Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, and Anne Cofell Saunders. (Photo credit: Marisa Roffman/Give Me My Remote.)

The reunion brought out BSG stars Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, James Callis, and Sam Witwer, as well as writers including David Weddle, Carla Robinson, Bradley Thompson, Jane Espenson, Mark Verheiden, and Michael Taylor. 

“I’ve kept in touch with almost all of them, but to have them here, at once, together, is amazing,” Cofell Saunders says.

The actors have been regulars on the picket line, as well. “This is a special one, because all of the writers of my [former] show are here,” Olmos says. “I’m very grateful they’re here, so I came to support them.”

“This is an industry where we work long hours,” Mary McDonnell adds. “Where we miss life events to be at work. Where storytelling for human beings, reflecting the human experience, is central to our existence. We need protection. We need help. We need help moving forward. We need top to bottom collective understanding of this amazing thing that we get to do. Nobody’s complaining about having to go to work. People just need to be able to live a decent life. It’s about dignity. I also think it’s a powerful thing, where I do think this will redefine where we’re headed. It could be potentially extraordinary.”

Given BSG’s storylines—which found humanity battling for survival against artificial intelligence known as Cylons—it’s not surprising the people involved with the series are concerned about the impact of AI going forward.

“I’ve said this before—the hill I die on is AI,” Trucco says. “I know a little something about AI—it doesn’t end well. I want to protect the integrity of the artist. There’s a lot of things that are going on. There’s a transition in the business, there’s a corporatocracy that’s happening in America across the board, no matter what the business is, and our business is directly affected by that. So I’m trying to represent and try to stand up for that solidarity, in opposition to the corporatocracy in America. The disparity in pay. [But] one of the biggest issues for me is AI.”

“It’s not that I’m ignorant to AI—I know…the evolution of technology and I’m aware of it,” he continues. “But we need to heavily regulate it.”

“AI it’s a very difficult situation’ it’s gonna be here a lot longer than anyone else that’s alive at this very moment and reading this,” Olmos adds. “AI is here to stay, and we have to learn to live with it. How do we do it?”


Cofell Saunders on the picket line. (Photo credit: Marisa Roffman/Give Me My Remote.)

For writers, who have expressed concern about potentially being tasked with rewriting AI first drafts—which would also impact how much the studios owed them for the work, no matter how much overhaul was needed—”I think we have to take charge of AI,” Cofell Saunders says. “We have to show leadership. We have to say we’re in charge, we’re the boss; AI is not the boss. For example, as a writer, I don’t want to rewrite a script written by an AI. Artificial intelligence has never had a baby, has never had a family, had its heart broken. I think humanity needs to tell humanity’s stories. I’m all for embracing new technology because we can’t escape it. However, I think having worked on a lot of shows that…when the enemy looks like [Tricia Helfer’s Number Six, who was a Cylon], it’s going to be very appealing and hard to resist. I’m just joking, but seriously: AI can be a wonderful tool for us, if we’re very specific in how we regulate it. And I think that’s going to affect all jobs, everybody.”

With humanity seemingly ignoring all of the warning signs from popular sci-fi movies and shows dealing with AI, Trucco points out, “there’s a great quote: ‘The only thing that history has taught us is that we never learn from history.’” 

“We make the same mistakes over and over and over again,” he says. “It’s incredibly frustrating. Listen, we have a tendency, at least in our industry, to strike every 15 years because technology keeps evolving and the contracts don’t. The business model is changing for the studios, for the networks, but they’re not willing to change the business model for the actors, the writers, the composers, the directors. So that’s where the frustration lies. We understand technology evolves.”


Trucco on the picket line. (Photo credit: Marisa Roffman/Give Me My Remote.)

After going through this with VHS and DVDS, “now we’re in streaming services,” he continues. “People watch everything on their telephone. They say it’s a passing fad; it clearly isn’t. So we have to be able to be willing to evolve our business model, and the contracts need to reflect that.”

With the WGA strike more than four months deep, and the SAG-AFTRA strike is more than two months long, the picketers have to have “a whole lot of patience and understanding of what this means,” Olmos notes. “The reason that we’re doing this is the most important aspect of [being here]. This is a very good cause and it has to be done…I hope they can really work something out, because this one is the most difficult [negotiation]. The things that have to be [worked out] are a lot more than they’ve ever been.”

Trucco urges fans to be “vocal” in their support for the actors and writers. “Right now, the optics for the studios and the AMPTP is not good,” he says. “They don’t look good. I hate to tell you guys, you just don’t look good. You literally look like a movie villain, in your glass houses and your golden chariots, and you’re stroking your chin…it doesn’t look good. So do the right thing.”

McDonnell notes that people outside of the industry seem to understand what’s at stake this go-round. “[The strike’s issues] have broken through to the American public,” she says. “The American public no longer thinks that everyone in Hollywood is a billionaire, or a millionaire. I’ve had people stop me in towns and cities and said, ‘We had no idea how hard you work, how little money you work for. What is going on?’ And I say, ‘It’s an industry. We’re like the automotive industry; we don’t get paid that much. We’re just workers.’ This is art. We’re not these people up in these glass houses. There are some people at the top—many of them, totally supportive of this strike. But I love that America, at least, is understanding [what’s going on], and I think that is going to be a profound difference.”


The BSG cast and crew with supporters. (Photo credit: Marisa Roffman/Give Me My Remote.)

McDonnell also praises fans—many of whom came out to the picket with BSG-appropriate signs and outfits—for being “remarkable” amid the SAG-AFTRA limitations on what actors can talk about during the strike. (Actors are not permitted to promote the characters they played, or the shows or films they appeared in—outside of certain projects that received waivers—for the duration of the labor action.)

“They’re doing whatever they can, because we can’t promote anything,” she says. “So on Twitter and Instagram, the fans keep moving the thing forward. There are a lot of fans here today to support the show we cannot mention—you know, the one that was in the sky. We have always felt that support, particularly with this show, because we do conventions and we go all over the world with this show.”

“What I found is that when I first started doing [conventions], I was very shy,” she continues. “And I thought, ‘No, this might not be for me.’ But beloved Michael Hogan, he said, ‘Come on, McDonnell, you like football, don’t you?’—I grew up in a football house—’Just think of this as a giant tailgate for geeks and smart people.’ As soon as he said that, I turned around and looked at everybody and went, ‘That’s perfect. It’s a giant tailgate for geeks and smart people.’  Not that people who watch football aren’t, but you know what I mean. We have met some of the smartest people at conventions. The fans are everything, really. And the fans need to know what we’re dealing with. So this is really a nice connection.”

“People are striking for things all over the world right now, marching for their rights, fighting for democracy,” she concludes, noting the recent documentary Ukraine SUPERPOWER was “so deeply inspiring.” “So why doesn’t this industry move forward, so we can all celebrate that we’re creating a new world that’s vibrant and open to storytelling that we’re going to need?”


Follow @GiveMeMyRemote and @marisaroffman on Twitter for the latest TV news. Connect with other TV fans on GIVE ME MY REMOTE’s official Facebook page or our Instagram.

And be the first to see our exclusive videos by subscribing to our YouTube channel.

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases made through links/ads placed on the site.

Comments Off on The BATTLESTAR GALACTICA Team Reunites to Support the WGA and SAG-AFTRA Strikes—And Express Concern About AI


Comments are closed.