Babylon Podcast #201: Interview with Leslie Erganian (Prop Designer)

Welcome to Show #201!

Here it is a major milestone episode, and we were so excited to get to the daydreaming that we all totally forgot what show number we were on.

And Tim is feeling emotionally abused about how long it’s taking for JMS to do his level best to get the Lensman feature film project moving forward. He still loves you, Tim, he really does.

Babylon 5 Season 1 prop designer Leslie Erganian and Michael O’Hare as Captain Sinclair. 1994.

Interview: Leslie Erganian, artist and prop designer for Season 1, joins us to talk about the scrounging and other creative solutions that went into creating many of the iconic props seen in Season 1.

Leslie talks about the craft behind making such items as the Grey Council staff, the translator, Adira’s star laces, the statue of Li, the Centauri Goddess of Passion, and many more items, including the phenomenon of bilateral symmetry in the alien races, and the utensil challenges that not having it can cause at Craft Services.

Photo courtesy Leslie Erganian

Listener Emails: Kate in Chicagoland weighs in with her “Likes & Dislikes”, and she does not like the fake appearance of the trees in the Captain’s office, and both Tim and Bret fell prey to the “view” from the office, thinking it was a painting at first.

Lurker’s Guide 2.0: Summer is starting a push to get Lurker’s Guide 2.0 completed and finished, including missing collectibles, photos of magazine covers and toys, and all sorts of other B5 goodies that didn’t get included in the original guide during the years after Crusade. Let her know if you want to lend a hand.

More Parody/Filk Songs Wanted: If you know of any more B5-related fan songs out there, definitely let us know, so we can let other B5 fans know where to buy them! And if those CDs are out of print, let’s brainstorm on ways to get those songs back out there for fans!

Babylon Podcast Social Communities:
Twitter: @babylonpodcast

Babylon 5 Information Gathering: If you know of a dead or abandoned B5 related website that may be in need of a new home, let Summer know! Maybe we can mirror it here or house it on a sister site.

If you can, Please Donate to the show!

Promo: Dragon’s Bard
Promo: Dragon Page “Cover to Cover”

Comments

  1. Neil Ottenstein says:

    I haven’t had a chance to listen to this yet, but it sounds cool. Great picture.

  2. Paul Hahn says:

    Just listened to this–I have to say, I think the comments about budget were a little exaggerated. My best recollection is that B5 had a budget of a little under $1M per episode, maybe $.9M, as opposed to ST-TNG which had a budget in the range of $2M to $2.5M per episode. $300K is way low, whereas the $25M figure that was is way high except for stuff like the Lost pilot.

  3. Tim, you should be ashamed. When someone who seems to know something and willing to talk about it says, “What do you know about the O’Hare thing?” you don’t wax on about what you know, that’s an invitation to find out what she knows. Good thing we love you. I haven’t growled at my car radio like that since ya’ll had Morden on and Summer *didn’t* ask why he appeared to Lenier in the day of the dead episode 😉

    My belated congratulations on your 200th episode. Having heard them all, I don’t feel I’ve heard it all, so please, another 200 if you will.

  4. ChristopherNYC says:

    Tremendous interview.
    I know the podcast hit on the problems in production a few times, but it was really interesting to hear the personal effect it had on the crew.
    Sad to hear, but glad that the podcast expressed how thankful as fans we all are.
    Thanks.

  5. Loved the interview with Leslie. Props were always my favorite place to visit. Bear Burge used to take things apart to create some masterful items — like the medical headband which took a light out of ring you get in a bubblegum machine and glued it to a piece of plastic to give you a dramatic visual effect. I never met Leslie but appreciated her comments about how frugal they had to be about props.

    Many of the furnishings they used were from IKEA and some were made by Nancy in the Art Department. She would get a chunk of wood or someone would bring her in a piece of driftwood and she would create some amazing items.

    I think the gentleman she was thinking about when she was talking labels was Alan Kobiashi. He did labels for a lot of Ivanova’s beverages – including Brevari. I had one of those labels somewhere!

    Sandy

  6. Awesome interview. That’s really messed up how she got let go though. >:(

  7. Neil Ottenstein says:

    As far as the budget – it is probably in Asked And Answered, but I found it by doing a simple search:

    From: jmsatb5@aol.com (Jms at B5)
    Subject: Attn JMS: Typical Episode Budget
    To: rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated
    Date: 9/22/1999 1:17:00 PM

    The average Trek budget was about $1.4 million, sometimes going to $1.6.

    The average B5/Crusade budget was about $920,000 per.

    jms

  8. Gary The Great says:

    It always struck me how the brevari beverage label (Which I believe is in the security manual, or the cookbook) is written in Narn, not Centauri.

  9. Excellent interview. I know people like Leslie … creative types who want so badly to fit their creativity into the system and improve it. The worst part of the system is that it always uses, grinds, and spits back talented artists like her. How did Jeffrey survive? He’s never claimed to be creative, but surely he has seen this come and go. Incidentally, why does Leslie have such a vivid memory of things from the time when Jeffrey’s just umms and uhhs and says he doesn’t remember? Drug of choice?

  10. Gary,

    Why do you think the Centauri colonized Narn? Everybody knows the Narn have the best stills this side of the Rim! (Or is it the best vintners? I never could get that straight. ;-))

    Be seeing you,
    Edmund

  11. Take your pick. We’re pretty much the best at everything we do. Including egotism.

    • I thought it was because Narn’s land grew the best hops and the Narn equivalent of agave to make brevari.

      Kinda makes you wonder about the real reasons for that planetary bombardment… I’m thinking one of the Houses wanted to increase the values of their 5-year and 15-year stock by affecting how much brevari one of their competitors might have still been making with products from Narn.

  12. @ Michael – I think most of those moments that Jeffrey umms on, are when we ask him questions about things he wasn’t directly involved in. Sometimes we assume that because he was the Producer’s Assistant that equates to Knowing Everything That Went On. There are plenty of examples where Jeffrey’s memory has been razor sharp – like The Brawl In The Hall, or the embarrassment of when he was suspended in a body stocking to portray the “revealed” Kosh in “The Fall of Night” (which sent me into a fit of giggles).

    With a guest like Leslie, we naturally focus on her area of expertise. We’re not likely to ask about the makeup trailer. She was the one asking us about Michael O’Hare’s departure!

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