The Light from the TV Shows: A Chat with Kathleen Robertson (“Boss”)

Although I get plenty of opportunities to do in-person interviews when I’m out on the west coast for the Television Critics Association press tours, I very rarely get the chance while I’m here at Virginia, so when I was offered the chance to meet Kathleen Robertson for coffee, one of the stars of a show I already have a lot of love for (“Boss”), you can imagine that I didn’t have to think twice before answering, “Absolutely!” Indeed, I didn’t even blink an eye when it was casually mentioned that it might be nice if I managed to find a way to bring up Starz’s new app for Cox subscribers, Starz Play, because, what, like it’s such a bad thing to hype something that helps more people see some of my favorite series? (As you hopefully recall, I’m a big “Magic City” fan, too.) As I was assured in advance, Kathleen was a total sweetheart, and as we chatted over the course of a half-hour, the topics included the series that brought us together in the first place, of course, but also “Maniac Mansion,” “90210,” “Tin Man,” and even the hilarious-but-underrated IFC series, “The Business.” Read on…but don’t forget that the “Boss” Season 2 finale airs Friday night on Starz!

Bullz-Eye: So the second season of “Boss” is coming to a close…

Kathleen Robertson: Yep!

BE: Your character, Kitty O’Neill, had a decidedly different dynamic in Season 2 than she did in Season 1. How much forewarning did you have about how Kitty’s storyline was going to play out during this season? Did you know from the get-go, or was it only doled out to you on an episode-by-episode basis?

KR: I knew from the get-go. I sat down with the writers at the very beginning of the season, and they sort of explained to me what the storyline was for her. With the exception of the finale. They were very secretive about the finale, and I didn’t know what was going to happen until the week before we shot it and I read the script. Have you seen the finale?

BE: I have not yet.

KR: [Tries and fails to disguise her giddiness.] It’s so good. It’s so good. They kept saying to me all through the year, “Just be patient. Just be patient and wait for (episode)10.” I said, “What does that mean, though? Like, am I gonna get killed? What are you…what happens in 10?” “Just be patient.” And then they’d say, “10 is your episode, and you’re gonna be really happy with it.” So I was. And I am really happy with 10. It’s amazing.

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BE: 10 may be “your episode,” but it’s arguable that you’ve had a lot of episodes. Kitty’s evolved throughout the season, at least in a certain sense. At the same time, though, she also ends up making it pretty clear that she doesn’t really know who she is unless she has someone to serve.

KR: Yeah, that’s true.

BE: Did you see that as being a part of her character from the very beginning, or was that something you discovered as time went on?

KR: Well, with Season 1… [Hesitates.] Farhad (Safinia) said to me at the beginning of the series, “For Season 1, Kitty almost has a reverse arc.” She kind of starts here… [Holds hand up and then begins lowering it.] …and ends here. And it’s kind of like that in Season 2 as well, because from the moment we meet her in this season, she’s pregnant, she’s sort of deciding if she even wants to be in politics anymore…she’s deciding who she is. So the journey for her over Season 2 was a much more internal one, and it was much more a case of asking, “Who am I without my identity?” And for her, the identity isn’t just working for Kane. It’s being in this whole world that she’s sacrificed everything for. So she sort of flirts with the idea of trying to be an alternate Kitty throughout the season, and by the end… [Smiles knowingly.] When you see the finale, I think she ends up where she belongs.

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Universal’s “Battleship” out on Blu-ray with extended Special Edition interactivity

Universal Studios’ early summer action blockbuster “Battleship” hit Blu-ray on August 28th, and critic and fans alike are well in for a treat. Director Peter Berg, of “Hancock” and “The Kingdom” fame, helms this action–adventure experience with industry-standard mind blowing effects, thrilling battles and an all star cast with Liam Neeson, Rihanna and the lovely Brooklyn Decker as Samantha Shane. This action epic follows a young naval officer and his heroic crew as they launch an all out military showdown against a superior alien force with amazing results.

Bullz-Eye was recently invited to an exclusive Blu-ray preview in San Francisco at the legendary special effects studio that makes it all happen in this film, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM). Founded by George Lucas in 1975, ILM has set the standard for visual effects in film with a chain of classics including “Star Wars,” “E.T.,” “Indiana Jones” and “Pirates of the Caribbean,” to name just a few. ILM has played a key role in seven of the top-10 world-wide box office hits of all time.

Upon arriving at the impressive ILM production campus on the former grounds of the U.S. Army Presidio complex near the Golden Gate Bridge, we were escorted to the preview screening of the Blu-ray release of “Battleship.” Here, in arguably the best screening room in the world for special effect films, we watched the film along with the new bonus features exclusive to the Blu-ray release. These included a remarkable “Visual Effects of Battleship” feature, featuring the ground breaking water simulation programs and the cutting edge motion capture effects where ILM pushes the boundaries to bring the aliens to life. The fascinating “behind the scenes” footage here is techie heaven!

Even more unique is the innovative Second Screen feature, which provides an interactive viewing experience that lets you control, interact with and explore “Battleship” with your networked tablet or computer, all in synchronization with the movie on the television screen . . . very cutting edge! With “flick view,” you can interact with the movie by moving content from your tablet to the television screen during the film and compare storyboards, animatics and other exciting content by “flicking” them from tablet to TV screen, by gesturing fingers upward on the tablet. Far out! The “Battleship” box set has more ways to store, collect, download and feature the film, including a Blu-ray disc, a DVD disc, a digital copy for downloading and the innovative UltraViolet version, where you can collect your movies on a “cloud” for instant streaming and downloading anywhere, any time on computers, tablets and smart phones.

After the screening, we were taken through the impressive production compound and grounds with its many iconic models and props of some of the greatest films of our era. You can see some of these props in the slideshow above. Members of the press were then treated to a green screen immersion of ourselves in the climatic “Battleship” deck scene, where an alien gets blown off the ship by main cannons on deck. It was wild! Here’s the clip they created with me in the scene and you can see the green screen setup in the first photo above.

Some of the individuals who brought this action-adventure film to life were members of the top special effect team with ILM. Grady Cofer and Pablo Helman acted as Visual Effects Supervisor and Second Unit Director, respectively. These two skilled craftsman have an amazing wealth of experience behind them, with epic sci-fi and action films to there credit including “Star Wars,” “Indiana Jones,” “Star Trek,” “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Bourne Supremacy,” “Terminator 3,” “Men in Black,” “War of the Worlds,” “Titanic,” “Apollo 13” and more. During our time with them, they both described their personal influences and their approach to this film, as well as thoughtful tips on how budding graphics designers and visual programmers may break into this world of computer visual effects. We also spoke with Animation and Digital Supervisors Glen McIntosh and Willi Geiger. They described their breakthrough animation techniques for the fluid “water” effects, with blasts of water particles expelled onscreen with breathtaking realism.

The extra features in the Blu-ray set are absolutely worthy of a film with these incredible special effects. The Second Screen feature definitely stands out and the entire package will keep you entertained hour after hour.