<EM>Battlestar Galactica</EM>'s Lucy Lawless, Mary McDonnell, Jamie Bamber, Katee Sackhoff and Edward James Olmos Battlestar Galactica's Lucy Lawless, Mary McDonnell, Jamie Bamber, Katee Sackhoff and Edward James Olmos

Admiral Adama, President Roslin, Apollo and Kara finally made it to Earth. Well, at least to the Arclight Theater in Hollywood, California, where on Wednesday night stars and producers of Battlestar Galactica met with roughly 1,000 fans of the critically acclaimed Sci Fi Channel series.

Rather than focus on the recently announced sad news that the show's upcoming fourth season, which begins in January, will also be its final one, cast, producers and devotees of the show spent hours praising the space opera's past — and contemplating its immediate future.

Attendees erupted into applause upon seeing a trailer for Battlestar Galactica: Razor, a two-hour TV-movie that tells the story of Battlestar Pegasus, prior to it finding the Galactica. Since Razor, set to air this fall, takes place in the past, watch for Michelle Forbes’ late character, Admiral Helena Cain, to re-appear. Speaking of resurrections, fans also viewed a replay of last March’s season three finale, in which Starbuck (Katee Sackhoff) made a remarkable return from the great beyond. "[The producers] did a really good job of keeping it a secret," Sackhoff told TVGuide.com after the panel discussion. "Some of the crew still doesn't know I'm back!"

When producers first gave Sackhoff the news that they'd be killing her off, "They called me and said, ‘We just want you to know how much we love you,'" she recounts. "They said, ‘We're killing you off, but we're bringing you back. You can't tell anyone — not even your mother.'"

Keeping mum about upcoming specifics isn't going to be very difficult, since Sackhoff is as in the dark as viewers are about Starbuck's seeming resurrection. "I have no idea how I'm back," says the actress, adding, "There's a discrepancy between how long I've been gone and how long [everyone] thinks I've been gone.

"Producers tell me what they can," Sackhoff continues. "They'd tell me who the fifth Cylon is — if they knew, but they don't."

One question posed to executive producers Ronald D. Moore and David Eick was why they ended the series after four seasons when it's such a critical success. "Ron's residual checks from Star Trek started coming in," Eick quipped in response.

Moore, who wrote and produced Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager, said he didn't want the BSG audience getting, well, "Lost," as some serial viewers found themselves in relation to an island-based mystery over on ABC. "We need to write an ending," he said. "We don't want to end it with a wink to the viewer [indicating there's a sequel coming]. We want to give the audience a satisfying conclusion."

When asked if the end of the series will be a happy one, Moore cautioned, "It's about the yearning, not the completion. You're [more] invested in that, the ‘can't quite find love [feeling].'"

How would the actors like to see Galactica conclude? "I'm hoping I stay alive till the end," joked Mary McDonnell, whose President Laura Roslin has battled cancer. Jamie Bamber (Captain Lee "Apollo" Adama) is more philosophical about the finale, saying, "I've sort of decided that whatever the writers decide [will be OK]. We've done everything, and this is like having reached the World Cup finals. [Our last season] can't help but be riveting. Whatever it's going to be is going to be great."

If Edward James Olmos (Admiral William Adama) ends up winning the California Super Lotto, however, BSG could go on forever. "I'd support the show [financially] myself if I could," said the actor. "I don't think the powers that be [at the network] will understand what the show is doing till 20 years from now. This kind of thing happens every once in a while."

"I know [Ronald and David] have the balls to end it at the right time," said an admiring Bamber. "I'll look back [someday at BSG] with such nostalgia that it will hurt." Added McDonnell, "It's a hard [role and show] to begin contemplating giving up."

The evening wasn't entirely somber. In fact, if the actors' responses to moderator Lucy Lawless (aka D'Anna Biers/Cylon Number Three) — who, by the way, is in negotiations to return for BSG's final year — are any indication, Bamber and his cast mates are looking at a future in sitcoms.

Examples: When the topic of Olmos' ALMA Award for Actor in a TV Series came up, the British-born Bamber quipped with mock interest, "Oh, were any of us also nominated?" Ah, Jamie, the ALMA Awards are given to Latino performers. "But I'm [James'] son!" he faux-argued.

In bringing to life this rendition of BSG, Moore said he wanted to pay homage to the late 1970s series, which starred Richard Hatch as Apollo (and who is now Tom Zarek in the current series) and Dirk Benedict as Starbuck. "I wanted this to be a version of that show," said Moore, who joked, "In this one, Apollo has the hots for Starbuck — although, he probably did [in the first series, too]."

The tribute session concluded with the producers and cast expressing their thanks to the loyal BSG viewers. "I've never run into fans who are quite as devoted and articulate," said McDonnell. Added Bamber: "Thank you so much.... You guys complete the process."

"Thank you," said Sackhoff, who almost seemed at a loss for words before adding (god bless her), "Thank you for accepting a Starbuck without a package."

Send your comments on this feature to online_insider@tvguide.com.