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Stargate SG-1 Cast Interviews: Michael Shanks

Shanks' Redemption: Full And Uncut
Mary McNamara, Infinitely, 16 Sep 02

Shanks Redemption: Viewers Rally to Return Their Favorite Character to Stargate SG-1. And It Works.

In the wake of a heated viewer campaign to reinstate the character of Dr. Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks) to the screen, can Scifi Channel's "Stargate SG-1" weather the departure of this popular star? For months, "Danielites" (as they are commonly referred to on the Internet) have implored MGM Studios and SciFi Channel to return their treasured Daniel, who "ascended" last season, to the screen.

This week, Stargate's Executive Producer and Showrunner Brad Wright sought to reassure viewers that Shanks may well return. "Two or three additional stories are in development," he said, "and Daniel is very much a part of them."

Mr. Shanks, who said he has yet to be contacted, was amused by all the scuttlebutt. "I know noth-ING," he quipped, mimicking "Hogan's Heroes'" befuddled Sgt. Schultz, "I'm unaware of any more scripts written for my character at this point."

Wright stated that Shanks would be contacted as soon as the scripts were complete. He expressed hope that Shanks would be "willing and available."

Dispirited by "Stargate's" creative direction, Shanks reluctantly quit the series after five seasons. "I found that I was dramatically changing my character to keep him involved in the more military plot lines. I just no longer wanted to compromise the character I had such respect for."

Shanks has already taped one episode, entitled "Abyss," and said he would be happy to return for more. "I have great friends there [in Vancouver] and I love the staff." But he cautioned that the opportunity would have to "present itself in the correct fashion. I like the show. I like the character but the situation would have to be appropriate to the character."

Shanks is a cult figure among "Stargate" viewers. He has as many amateur, fan-produced websites dedicated to him as Matt Damon or Brad Pitt. Fans were shaken by the departure and they've been tilting at the MGM/SciFi Channel windmill ever since. Viewers launched a well-oiled, web-based campaign, spending over $12,000 on print ads alone in "Variety" and "Hollywood Reporter" while showering MGM and SciFi Channel with letters. Brad Wright, for his part, assured that he's taken the time to read every letter he's received.

Shanks seemed humbled by the world-wide viewer attention. "It's nice to know that the character was well-loved but," he hesitated, "it does seem that the money could be better spent on more important causes."

At one point in the conversation, Mr. Shanks and I were discussing "Abyss" which he called a "wonderful, refreshing, positive" experience, and the conversation led to the following:

"I straightened everything out with Brad [in regard to creative differences] when I went back to do 'Abyss' [in March]. I'm happy with that. There were some issues he couldn't control. I don't think he wanted me to leave.  Brad is a wonderful, humble Canadian who does an amazing job, a great job meeting so many different criteria, so many people's agendas - a fantastic job. To come up with quality consistently, given the circumstances and agendas that were presented to him, to come up with a show season after season that actually makes sense anymore - and is poignant as well - is an incredible accomplishment. I have nothing but respect for Brad Wright. I still feel that passion for him and the work that he's done."

Additionally, while discussing the viewer campaign, Shanks expressed some reservations.

"It’s very flattering, of course. It’s nice to know the character was well-loved. That part is great but….I’m very reticent to give it any kind of stamp of approval. I feel awkward about it in some ways because this money was probably hard-earned by someone. It does seem the money could be better spent on more important causes."

2002, Infinitely  Read the article at

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