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Katee Sackhoff On Difference Between Longer TV Seasons Like Battlestar Galactica vs. Shorter Like The Mandalorian
"If I do it again, it’s a money grab. If I do it again, it’s a retirement fund."
Actor Katee Sackhoff discussed the evolving landscape of television production on the latest episode of her new podcast — Blah Blah Blah — stating that she has "no desire" to go back to the grueling days of filming 20 or more episodes for a single season.
"Shooting a movie is like running a marathon and shooting a TV show is like running until you die," explained the Battlestar Galactica alumnus, paraphrasing The Office's B.J. Novak. "That resonated so deeply in my soul and I’d never heard that before. I’d only ever done 22 episodes on one show in my life and it was Battlestar and I will never do it again. I mean, I can’t say never. I have no desire to do it again. If I do it again, it’s a money grab [laughs]. If I do it again, it’s a retirement fund."
The challenge of having so many episodes back-to-back, she continued, is finding a way to keep the story "fresh" over a longer period of time. "That takes a big writers’ room … to come up with those ideas because that is a lot of content over and over and over again."
At the same time, Sackhoff admitted a dissonance she feels toward the current streaming model of shorter seasons.
"I don’t like the 8-episode model. I like a longer show," she added. "I like more episodes. I think that the downtime between the big-budget shows is too great. And so, I would like more episodes selfishly. I would absolutely like more episodes."
And while the streaming boom has radically changed episode counts and production schedules, the legal language of actor contracts still adhere to the old way of doing things.
"We have these really long hold periods, where you can shoot eight or 10 episodes and it takes three-and-a-half months and then they get to hold you for like 16 months," Sackhoff revealed. "You’re preventing me from going and doing another TV show as a regular. And granted, if you’re super famous, you can kind of get out of it sometimes. But you get held for a long time and people are like, ‘Where did you go for two years?’ You’re like, ‘I was on hold and then they canceled the show.’ People don’t realize that actors are held."
"That’s a direct conflict. We had to get Netflix to agree to release me from my contract. They knew they were not gonna pick up the show, so it was just getting someone to just say, ‘Fine.’ Because they weren’t gonna pick up the show. It wasn’t performing for them. We knew that they were going to [cancel it], but we also had to get Disney to agree to take me in second position. So it was this really complicated deal that almost didn’t happen. And I was getting a little nervous there, down to the wire, like, ‘What are we gonna do?’ It came down to the wire and Netflix finally released me from my contract."
SYFY's Battlestar Galactica ran from 2003 to 2009, encompassing a miniseries, four full seasons and two made-for-TV movies (plus a 2012 web series prequel). The series was one of the most acclaimed sci-fi shows of the modern era, notching Emmy wins, TCA awards and finding itself on plenty of "Best Of" lists along the way.
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