Sunday, September 14, 2014

September 6. 2014: Reading Rainbow Live with the cast of Battlestar Galactica!!

Several months ago I became aware of a Kickstarter campaign for Reading Rainbow. Its goal was to bring Reading Rainbow back for “every child, everywhere”. Now, I’ll be honest, I’m a Sesame Street / Electric Company / 3-2-1 Contact kid, not a Reading Rainbow kid, but after reading up on the program, it seemed utterly worthwhile. Not to mention it was lead by LeVar Buron (aka Geordi LaForge from Star Trek: TNG) and I’m a huge ol' Trekkie. And THEN when they announced an opportunity to attend a Reading Rainbow Live event with not only LeVar Burton but with the cast of Battlestar Galactica?! I mean, I could help kids learn to love to read AND indulge my geeky heart all at the same time!?

Oh yeah, I was in.

And so, on September 6th, I found myself at YouTubeSpaceLA. (shout out to them for donating the space!). I really didn’t know what to expect. I mean, this was the first Reading Rainbow Live event they were putting on, after all. And yet… and yet… my expectations were exceeded.

They did an A-MA-ZING job!

The event was quite well organized: check-in was smooth and they already had name tags ready when we arrived, they opened the doors right when they said they would and it started *exactly* on time (be still my Type-A personality heart) at 2:30 pm. And the meet/greet/photo-ops also went quickly and smoothly.

Anyway, the facility was a pretty intimate location, maybe 7 or 8 rows of chairs behind a floor space for kids. And it was fun to see the teleprompter behind the chairs that you knew they’d be reading from, and the various cameras and mikes around. Plus, they had a large video screen at the front on which they were streaming tweets that were tagged with “#RRLive”, inviting us all to tweet something, tag it, and see it on the big board. Which, I of course, totally did.

Exterior of YouTubeSpaceLA with a mini-red carpet for photo-ops.

Speaking of photo-ops. *smiles*

Teleprompter with some opening remarks for the co-founder of Reading Rainbow, Mark Wolfe.

Credit: Reading Rainbow for this photo of the crowd all smiles and ready to begin.

You can see the big board in the background where they are inviting us to tweet…so I did.

First I took a picture of all the tweets and tweeted that. Then, because I’m a geek, I took a picture when my tweet appeared and tweeted that. :D


Anyway, the event itself consisted of an intro from Mark Wolfe, talking a bit about Reading Rainbow and trying to engage the kids, followed by LeVar Burton also talking passionately about Reading Rainbow before reading a book from the Reading Rainbow iPad app.

...Now, let me pause here a moment because, I’ll be honest: I am a huge believer in actual books.  As in actual physical paper books. But... I must admit that the iPad app was pretty darn cool! With each page there was some place the reader could tap on the screen and it would do some sort of sound or motion effect. And, you know, if this is what is going to get kids reading when they otherwise wouldn’t, then well, I think it’s a good thing!

Mark Wolfe kicking off the proceedings.

LeVar Burton talking about Reading Rainbow

LeVar reading from the Reading Rainbow iPad app.

After Mr. Burton read from the iPad, he then introduced Katee Sackoff (OMG, it’s Katee Sackhoff!!) who then introduced the BSG cast – OMG, they all look exactly like they do on TV! LOL! For some reason I really am always a little surprised by that. (and yes, I’m totally squeeing right now as I write this!). And the introductions included a surprise appearance: James Callis! He wasn’t on the original list of cast members that were going to appear but there he was, woo! (and, perfectly, he was seated next to Trisha Helfer, heh). And, during intros, everyone gets a hug from LeVar. Awww. ;)

LeVar and Katee Sackhoff (OMG!)

LeVar Burton and Katee Sackoff (because it’s worthy of two pictures)

*Hugs for everyone!*

Then, after much cheering and clapping, they all settled in, they all read a book (so adorable), then they showed some video of LeVar doing “field trips” that they had filmed back in the day when RR was on TV (fun!), and then they read another book (again, adorable). And better yet, both the books they read were kind of sci-fi-ish. One was about robots and the other was titled, “Miss Martin is a Martian”.  Perfect.  The way the readings went was each person read two pages then they all turned the page and the next person read two pages, etc, all the while the page they were reading from was projected on the big screen behind them so we, too, could read along and see the illustrations.  There are more pictures near the end of this post of the readings, but directly below is a smattering.

Katee Sackoff (OMG!) reading

James Callis reading.

Trisha Helfer reading.

After that, the founder of RR, Mark Wolfe nailed it by saying, “So the books were probably interesting to the kids; now we’ll get to the part that is interesting for the adults… questions and answers!” Stunningly, there weren’t that many questions. I, personally, really wanted to ask EJO if he was aware that his BSG statement about separating the police and military is making its rounds on the internet right now after the events in Ferguson, but with all the kids in attendance, such adult themes seemed a little inappropriate. I also was strangely tempted to ask Trisha Helfer and James Callis if they wanted to go ahead and make out for, you know, old times sake, but that, too, seemed rather inappropriate. ;)

In any case, I do have a few exerts from the Q&A below.

After the Q&A, we then were asked to wait just 5-10 minutes as they got read for the photos. They had that mini red-carpet with RR backdrop set up outside and did what I thought was a fantastic job of shuttling people through the photos such that it wasn’t just “stand here, smile, snap, get out of here”. Each person had a small amount of time to chat with the cast before the photo and after as the next group came in. It was a *small* amount of time, but it was enough to have a brief conversation.

In fact, after my photo as I was leaving I told Jamie Bamber, as I shook his hand, “I’m a huge fan of Law & Order and I loved you on Law & Order: UK” He thanked me, of course, and then I said with a smile, “Well, to be honest, because of your accent, I couldn’t understand a word you said, but I loved you anyway.” He took it in stride and said, “Oh, my stuff was really great stuff. You should go back and watch it again with a translator if you need.” LOL Well played, Jamie Bamber, well played.

Then I picked up my swag –which included an autographed copy (signed by the whole panel that was there) of one of the books they read, SO FUN!

Autographed book.

Over all, it was less than two hours but it was well run and really a whole lot of fun. I really do believe that when I didn’t have a camera up in front of my face taking a picture, I was smiling. Because it was just so very adorable (I know I’m overusing that word, but it’s the best word to use!) to see them all reading kids’ books!

Alight, favorite moments (in no particular order), along with some pictures.

Katee Sackhoff introducing Edward James Olmos as “the Admiral”. And despite that intro, his hello to the kids was not exactly Admiral-like, but it was awesome. (sorry the picture is blurry but you get the idea)

All of them watching along with the videos whenever they showed the “field trips” on the big screen.

When they all got settled, EJO grabbed a microphone, opened a book, and started reading – in Spanish. And he just kept going. Finally he stopped and said, “And for those that are Spanish-challenged”, you’ll be happy to hear the rest of the reading will be in English (or words to that effect). Too funny. Below are pictures of Jamie Bamber literally looking over EJO’s shoulder probably thinking, “Is your book really written in Spanish?!?” and the next picture of EJO reassuring the crowd that the rest will be in English. Again, too funny.


LeVar excitedly re-doing one of the sound effects in the book he read because, “I just like that one, I’m going to do it again!” (or words to that effect)

The fact that LeVar didn’t know Katee Sackhoff or vice versa before all of this – that Katee called LeVar and wanted to be a part of it. How awesome is Katee? Way awesome, that’s how awesome!

There was a running joke that started at the very beginning when Katee was introduced and said that she felt like she was “raised by LeVar”. Then tried to backtrack to indicate no, not really, LeVar isn’t *that* old… Then, near the end of the program Katee confessed that she used to run around the house with her banana clip hair clip on her eyes like a visor (cute!). The founder of RR then interjected about how old LeVar was that Katee had banana clip hair clips when LeVar was on TV. Later Katee confessed that one of her favorite TV shows was Golden Girls. The RR founder interjected again with, “Want to hear a funny Golden Girls story? When Betty White was young she used to watch LeVar on TV…” lolol Poor LeVar. He was, of course, a very good sport about it. (BTW, I also loved LeVar’s reaction to the Katee-banana-clip story. He just responded, “You just made my life. I WIN!” heheh). Below is a pic of Katee describing wearing the banana-clip hairclip.

Just how *very studious* James Callis looked when others were reading. He had this most intense frown of concentration both as he read out loud and as he along along with the reader. Look at these forehead wrinkles! LOVED HIM!


I’ve heard it before but Jamie Bamber’s British accent. Why is everything better when said in a British accent? *fans self a little*

Trisha Helfer was the best at making BEEP and BLIP sounds during the robot book and had some of the best hand motions as well. Perhaps not surprising since she had experience being a robot. ;)

Katee Sackhoff was clearly thrilled to be there. She was practically fangirling the entire time (see pictures below). And it was so fun to watch. Watching someone have such a good time is always fun.



Actually, they all seemed pretty happy to be there and Michael Trucco (below) wasn’t the only one who took a moment to take a picture of it.

EJO never remembered to grab his microphone when he read. The first time he forgot to grab it was forgivable, the second time was just funny. :D But when he *did* get that microphone to his mouth…his reading voice is fantastic! I hope his grandkids know how awesome it is to have that dramatic voice reading their bedtime stories to them! ;) Also, I adored how he was all in to the introduction of the book they were going to read. I mean, LOOK AT HIM AND ALL HIS THIS-IS-THE-BOOK-WE-ARE-READING-PAY-ATTENTION-OR-YOU’LL-BE-SORRY-NESS!

Everyone (the cast as well as the audience) singing “Happy Birthday” to these three year old twins. The father said that was the best birthday present ever. I have to be honest, I think the parents were far more impressed than the three year olds, but nevertheless, that is going to make a SUPER story for those three year olds to tell in years to come!

I have said a lot about EJO, but that’s because he really was amazing. Especially with kids ruing during the photo ops. I was rather jealous of a number of those kids who were going to come home with super-awesome photos, lol.

Jamie Bamber read a page that contained the following text: “If he catches you, who knows what he’ll make of your parts! Toasters, microwaves…” And because we’re all geeks, we all chuckled at Jamie Bamber being horrified at the prospect of being made into a Toaster (you can see the “Toaster” text in the photo below).

They were all asked what their favorite book was. LeVar’s was Game of Thrones and then he confessed to binge watching the show after finishing the books. But what was funny is when the question was asked the entire panel gave this stress reaction: literally a “omg, that question is too hard!” (BTW, Michael Trucco’s favorite books are Where the Sidewalk Ends and Everybody Poops, heh). Below is Trisha Helfer and James Callis with their initial stressed out reaction to the question, heh.

The “red carpet” was just plain fun. The cast seemed very at ease and very happy to be there and to pose for pictures. And they were a gooooood looking group of people to be sure. :)



And, of course, I’m SUPER happy to have THIS picture! Thank you one and all!!!

LeVar just being *so* genuine. It’s hard to describe. It’s just that vibe he gives off that this just isn’t a gig, it’s not just lip service. He truly genuinely believes in this cause and truly genuinely means everything he says. It’s a little awe-inspiring just being in the presence of someone who is really that enthusiastic, that giving, and that genuine.

Again, just a great event for a great cause. I’m so excited for all the other people going to the other Reading Rainbow Live events. You’re in for a great time!

Thank you Mark Wolfe, LeVar Burton, Katee Sackhoff, and the cast of Battlestar Galactica. You were everything I could have hoped for and more!

I’ll just leave you with a few more photos (because I took a ton, lol)







  1. Thanks for the insightful blog! Good read.

  2. Thanks for the recap! It's great to see that everyone was having a good time. Kinda too bad that many of the kids were too young to fully appreciate it, but hopefully one day they'll be able to look back on it and see how special it was.