Last Updated: 18 October 2000
The Daily Telegraph - Wednesday December 31 1997
The Sentinel (Thursday, Seven at 8:30)
"After an army mission to Peru goes wrong, one soldier is left behind in the
jungle to fend for himself. While there, something strange happens to his
body and he discovers he can see, hear, smell and feel things far better
than the average man.
Now back in the Western world, Detective Jim Ellison (Richard Burgi -
pictured) uses his new found powers -- and a new friend who wants to study
his abilities -- to fight crime.
A great fantasy/drama series, with excellent special effects."
SENTINEL STANDS TALL
TV WEEK (National TV Magazine) - December 27 - January 2
The Sentinel - Seven/Prime, 9:30pm
Richard Burgi (left) stars as Jim Ellison in the American police series, The Sentinel.
Detective Ellison has hypersensitive senses, meaning he can see, hear, taste and feel better than the average man.
"It's a fantastic role to play," says Richard, who is best known for his daytime soap
roles (in Another World, As The World Turns and Days of Our Lives).
Set in the fictional town of Cascade, Washington, The Sentinel is big on special effects.
Creator Danny Bilson says: "We were looking to create a series that was in the vein of a Die
Hard or Lethal Weapon."
Local fans continue to receive letters from Channel 7 acknowledging that they are giving the
series a better publicity push this time round, and we are being treated to a major promo
campaign during primetime. In addition, reader's letters sections of every major newspaper for
the last month have featured viewer letters praising the show.
Channel 7 reports that The Sentinel is rating strongly for them at the moment, as is
supported by the move to the Double episodes.
GARETT MAGGART Q&A INTERVIEW TV GUIDE ONLINE - January 14 1998
This article comes from TV Guide Online's Sci-Fi News
which is updated weekly. The interviews then move to their archive where you can still read the
Richard Burgi piece.
AKA: Blair Sandburg on The Sentinel
Don't let his long hair and bookish habits fool you. Anthropologist Blair
Sandburg has kicked butt on occasion. And those occasions are more and more
frequent on the increasingly action-packed series The Sentinel (Wednesdays, 9 p.m./ET,
UPN). Steeped in shamanic lore, Sandburg works with Det. Jim Ellison (Richard Burgi), the
titular supercop with extraordinarily heightened senses. It's far from a desk job, but it's the
grad-school thesis of a lifetime. We caught up with Garrett Maggart, who plays Sandburg, between
takes on The Sentinel's Vancouver set. - John Walsh.
How did you land this role?
Actually, I was at my sister's wedding in New York, and they sent me the
script. It was out of season. It was not during regular pilot season. I
almost passed on it. I was like, "Well, I don't want to go flying back to
Los Angeles right now." But then as it turns out, they had had to postpone
the original audition two days. So I was able to go in, and fortunately
they liked me from the start.
Do you have any idea what cinched it for you?
Well, I think what cinched it was that Malcolm Jamal-Warner was up for it
or something, but wanted too much money. Well, that's what I heard, anyway.
Do you share your character's interest in anthropology?
I always have had, a little - you know, not enough to actually make me go
to college and study. I mean, come on, you've got other things to do. Like
golf. But actually, since I've been playing Blair I've done a lot more
reading on it, just so I don't sound so green when I'm saying some of the
terminology that they write for me. I'd like to at least sound like I know
what I'm talking about.
Are you content being an actor? Do you see yourself writing, directing at
Everybody I know tells me to write. I have never written. It stems from
school. I'm extremely dyslexic. And I'm the worst speller in the world. So
I've just always had this phobia of writing, of actually putting pen in
hand. And I haven't yet found a computer with a spell-checker that works
for me. So I've just never really written. But it's always in the back of
my head to write.
And I do want to direct. But I don't think I want to direct The Sentinel. I see the
directors that come in to do the show. It's a big show. Their backs are up against the wall
from day one. The schedule is just incredible. I don't think that's for me. Not yet, anyway.
Has your dyslexia been a problem professionally?
It is a little bit of a problem. I'm an awful cold reader. I have to read a
script once or twice and then just get into my head. But actually, my
dyslexia has made me develop a good memory. You know how when you're a kid
in school, you all take turns reading? I'd count out how many paragraphs it
was until my turn, and I'd memorize it. And by the time it came to me, I
wouldn't know what the story was about, but I would know what I was
supposed to say because I would have it locked down to memory. So everybody
thought I could read perfectly.
What drew you to an acting career?
Well, my father's an actor. His name is Brandon Maggart. He's one of those
guys who's been in everything twice. He worked a lot on Broadway, and
that's where I got the bug. I'd just sit in the wings and watch the plays -
Hello, Dolly; Applause. And as a young kid I was hanging around with Lauren Bacall and
Jerry Lewis and Carol Channing. It was pretty exciting, but it also seemed very normal to me,
you know? I mean, that was my life, the only one I knew.
So you got the bug early on. Did you do a lot of high-school plays?
Well, actually, no, because it was what I knew I wanted to do for a career,
and I didn't want to be a child actor. I didn't really see too many of them
making the change to adult acting. I mean, of course there's the few that
do it, and they're wonderful - Jodie Foster, Matt Dillon. But the norm was
that you didn't make that leap.
How about in college?
Well, in college I just took the normal drama courses. I didn't major in it
because, again, I knew it was what I wanted to do. So I just used college
to get other information. I mean, the last time I checked I didn't see
anybody making a living doing Julius Caesar. So I got an associate's
degree, mainly to appease my mother, and then I started acting.
Started acting or started bartending?
It's funny. I didn't know that people had other normal jobs. I thought
everybody had a night job until they booked a show. I just figured
everybody was a bartender or something. I didn't know that there were
actually stockbrokers and mechanics. This had just been my life for so
long, and this was what I had always known that I wanted to do. I moved to
L.A. in '88, got a night job and started going on auditions.
When you auditioned for The Sentinel, did they tell you how physical the
work would be?
No, they just lucked out with Richard [Burgi] and me. Richard is very
athletic. And I was sort of a jock in high school. When I was a kid, all I
did all day long was play football and baseball. And I was just a happy
surprise for the producers because they just saw this long-haired kid,
probably thought I'd never even seen a football before. So when they
started talking about stunts I said, "Oh, I'm fine with that." And they
were a bit surprised, but it's worked out well. Since they don't have to
use a stuntman very often, they can do fewer setups. It makes filming go
much more quickly.