Coooooonnn!!!!!! Report: Friday and Saturday (Mania.com)
By:David Michael Wharton
Date: Sunday, July 17, 2005
Another Con come and gone, at least for me. As always, it's been a hoot and a half, but it has in some ways been an uneventful Con, with not as many earth-shaking revelations or presentations as in previous years. As I'm submitting this through a haze of sleep deprivation and alcohol, I'll get right to it. Here are the highlights from my Con forays on Friday and Saturday.
Art of Adapting Comics to Screen panel
- Hosted by Creative Screenwriting Magazine, the panel consisted of Stan Lee, Josh Olson (A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE), Bryan K. Vaughn (Y: THE LAST MAN), Zak Penn (X3), and Marvel Studios' Kevin Feige.
- While discussing Marvel's assorted film and TV efforts over the years, Stan Lee jokingly issued a public apology for HERBIE (the fan-maligned robot inserted into the 1960s FANTASTIC FOUR cartoons in place of the Human Torch, due to rights issues).
- Stan Lee is working on a new animated show for MTV, which will follow the adventures of the world's greatest secret superspy: Hugh Hefner. And his "superbunnies." Ahem.
- Vaughn, who it was just announced this week will be adapting his EX MACHINA comics for the big screen, said he hadn't decided whether the iconic image of the single World Trade Center tower would make it into the film, but the script will definitely deal with the larger political and philosophical issues raised by 9/11. He discussed the difficulty of transitioning the story from comics to film, since it is in many ways the exact opposite of what you want for a movie: the first part is high-flying superheroics and the second half is about "filling potholes."
- Olson actually had to persuade Cronenberg to be more "Cronenberg-y." In the absence of "exploding heads or weird car sex," Olson fought for (and got) several distinctively "Cronenberg-y" sex scenes.
- Penn restated that the Dark Phoenix saga will be part of X3 but will not be the only thrust of the story. He explained that many concessions had to be made in adapting the story and remaining consistent with the tone established by the first two flicks. After all, the comics version of the story has star-spanning empires, vaporized planets, and mutants gallivanting around on the moon. Penn asked the audience: "Does X2 seem like it's heading to the moon?"
- Probably the funniest moment of the panel saw Vaughn explaining that he wasn't even sure why he was there, since he is only now beginning to work in film. His real motivations were revealed when he produced the Marvel No-Prize he had won years ago and asked Stan Lee to sign it.
VERONICA MARS panel
- Charisma Carpenter made a surprise appearance on the panel after creator Rob Thomas (not the Matchbox 20 guy) announced that she would be joining the show for a several-episode stint. According to Charisma, she is playing "a bitch in a bikini." Thomas further elaborated that she is playing Kendall Casablancas, the stepmother of Dick and Beaver.
- Thomas said that, due to Alyson Hannigan's busy schedule, there weren't any specific plans to bring back Trina Echolls, but admitted that he'd love to get both Hannigan and Carpenter into the same episode of VERONICA.
- The other upcoming addition to Veronica's neighborhood (I narrowly avoided a VERONICA'S CLOSET reference there)? None other than Steve Gutenberg.
- As the second season begins, Veronica and daddy Keith will have gained some notoriety and celebrity from their solving of Lily Kane's murder. Keith has written a book on the subject, which "is hovering around number 97 on the New York Times best-seller list," explained Thomas. Meanwhile, Veronica will struggle with the fact that she has lost some of her outsider status, but social acceptance isn't all it's cracked up to be.
- Kristen Bell is apparently a bit of an on-set prankster, having slipped Teddy Dunn (Duncan Kane) a fake script that indicated Duncan would be spending much of an episode a) naked and b) making out with guys. Thomas explained that, to Dunn's credit, after a brief period of freaking out, he was ready to forward with the script as written. "Those are the kind of people you want in your cast," said Thomas.
- The first episode of the second season will contain an Encyclopedia Brown reference. Thomas saw the crowd's enthusiastic reaction as vindication, since he'd received a comment from a network executive wondering whether the audience would have any idea who the hell Encyclopedia Brown is.
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA panel
- Mary McDonnell (President Roslin) shares a hairdresser with Marylin Manson.
- Asked whether he believed Number Six is an implant in his head, a hallucination, or a true manifestation of a higher power, James Callis (Dr. Baltar) declined to speculate, arguing that to nail down one specific answer would betray the mystery of her character, and since Gaius himself was still unsure of the truth.
- Showrunner Ronald Moore confirmed that the Battlestar Pegasus will show up by episode 10 of the second season. After this point, the humans will be going on the offensive against the Cylons. "For a while," added Moore.
ABC's INVASION panel
- Show creator Shaun Cassidy (AMERICAN GOTHIC) credited LOST for creating the current atmosphere that is conducive to mixed-genre shows such as INVASION.
- Cassidy said the show will focus on themes of family, and on how the small town and we as a species recover from trauma (specifically the pilot's hurricane and successive weirdness). "You can do all the hurricanes and plane crashes and aliens you want, but in the end, it's about peoples' relationships."
- One audience member, making a not-so-subtle jibe at LOST's expense asked Cassidy if the show would actually provide solutions to the mysteries it posed, or if it would just keep stalling for time to pad the show. "Do we know who killed Laura Palmer, is that what you're asking?" replied Cassidy. "We do."
- Cassidy mentioned that he believed that a AMERICAN GOTHIC DVD set was planned for an October release.
ABC's LOST panel
- Asked "what's up with the polar bears?" writer Javier Grillo-Marxuach explained that it's a little known fact that polar bears are actually indigenous to the South Pacific.
- Sawyer was originally envisioned as a Prada-wearing, boiler-room con man from Buffalo, New York. The writers adjusted the character after casting Josh Holloway (though he did attempt to master a Buffalo accent first, whatever a Buffalo accent in).
- Both Josh Holloway and Maggie Grace confessed a fondness for skinny-dipping. Javier added that the show is also written in the nude, though this never gets any media attention.
- Believe it or not, Shannon's character was originally written as much bitchier.
- When an audience member asked about the significance of Walt's comic book, specifically that it features both aliens and polar bears, Damon Lindelof responded, "We can't have aliens in LOST since, as everyone knows, LOST is not a science fiction show." Javier also precluded any appearances by Green Lantern or the Flash (both of whom appeared in the comic).
- Javier stated that the writers express goal was to "put you into a Moebius loop of confusion."
- Lindelof explained in no uncertain terms that the mysterious cloud of black smoke that appeared after Kate dynamited the hole down which Locke was being dragged is not a cloud of nanobots. "Of course," he added, "that depends on how you define 'nanobot'."