Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Comic-Con: Warehouse 13, or the Treasure of South Dakota

Imagine a warehouse in a remote part of America, which contains very special artifacts that can cause major damage if used in the wrong hands.
Now imagine two federal agents who suddenly find themselves working there, and being tasked with finding other powerful artifacts.

Three from Warehouse 13

That's the premise of Warehouse 13, a new show that may be Syfy's next big thing. Former Buffy writer and producer Jane Espenson is credited with creating the show with Brent Mote, and also writing the pilot with Davis Simkins. Simkins and co-executive producer Jack Kenny were there at Comic-Con to talk about the show. They both said they go through a lot of research coming up with incredible artifacts, whether it's a 45 RPM record that plays a song so soothing it's used to rob banks, or a special compass from the 16th century that could case someone to teleport.
"We approached each story," he said, "from a more personal aspect in terms of what would be a character be experiencing or going through.". In the latest episode, "Claudia", the artifact, a 16th century compass, figure in a teenager's desperate attempt to save her brother from a terrible accident that put him stuck between dimensions for 12 years.

Unlike most sci-fi shows, W13 also presents characters who are more than meets the eye. At first glace, Pete Lattimer (Eddie McClintock) may look like a Secret Service agent who doesn't take life seriously. In fact, McClintock says he doesn't take life too seriously, either. However, we find out Eddie is special because he can feel "vibes" that warn him when something's wrong. When he was a kid, he felt a vibe before his dad, a fireman, died. "It's what caused him to grow up to be someone," he says "who metaphorically keeps trying to save his father by saving the world."

His partner, Myka Bering (Joanna Kelly) is a by-the-book agent who often clashes with Eddie's laid-back style. "She's very structured," Joanna explains, "This girl likes things done a certain way, likes rules, likes regulations, makes her feel in control." However, we also learn she lost someone she loved in an unnamed event in Denver. The pain is still there, which is why she prefers to stay in control. Once she gets more involved with W13, she learns how to work with Pete. It's not long before she breaks a rule or two if it gets the job done.

McClintock admitted he was worried when it looked like someone else would becmoe Pete on the show, but Kelly calmed him down just before they auditioned together. Their read-through, which even included a couple of flubs, convinced the producers to hire them as the leads.

The leads are impressed with how much SyFy is backing the show, and so is Saul Rubineck, who plays curator Artie Neilsen. "Syfy doesn't have six or seven shows to take our place," Rubinek says. "If we were on a network, we dip in the ratings, GONE!
We're not like that. They're invested in the show, we know that"

Rubinek also revealed W13 has a history that extends back thousands of years, and that Artie may have a few secrets of his own. He's also pleased with the newest cast member, Allison Scagliotti. She's none other than Claudia, the girl who begs Artie to save her brother. She turns out to be a scientific whiz kid that will be a big benefit to W13.
She admitted she was pretty impressed with Rubinek after meeting him. "I learned from him every day," she says, "even still now the show has wrapped and we're still bouncing ideas off each other." She's also impressed with the set, and Artie's office, which she says could have been designed by Jules Verne. But she is also proud that the show's fantasy elements are still down to earth "(W)hat makes us different," she says, "is that we've blended these action and fantasy elements with real people and real places and artifacts that could have been in your attic."

Mark Stern, the head of Sci-Fi, was also there. Kenny used this chance to ask if the show would get a second season, and asked the crowd to help. Stern said that he loves the show, and the cast is amazing. he also said it's the public's decision on whether a second season is coming. Judging from the latest ratings, they'll also be around for some time to come. He also said that next year, the panel should be at Ballroom 20.

The show will also have one other Whedon alumnus: Mark Sheppard will be on the show as a member of the organization that runs the warehouse. We'll also meet an adversary who thinks there shouldn't be a warehouse at all.

Warehouse 13 airs Tuesday nights on SyFy

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Comic-Con: Lucky Inglorious Basterds

I would say this year's Comic-Con was mixed. It would have been just about wonderful if my laptop hadn't died just after I entered my hotel room, and Fox (yes, I'm saying this) had a more efficient autograph session plan that didn't exclude those who thought they'd be included.

However, thanks to Twitter, and a bold move, I can declare myself a Lucky Inglorious Basterd, along with about 200 others.

I found out through a Twitter post that the producers of the movie will give out movie passes to the first 200 people outside of a tea and coffee shop on 6th Avenue at 8 AM. Now, I figure there may be a lot of people camping out overnight, just like Twilight fans. I decide to get up at 6 AM that day. Either there will be 450 people waiting to get a movie pass, or there won't be. Either way, I'd get a good picture.
This is what I found...

Waiting to see some Inglorious guys

Thanks to my increased amount of patience due to waiting in line much more often than a person should, I figured I had a chance. I could also knock off a few podcasts to pass the time.
At 8 AM, they passed out the movie passes, but these weren't your average passes...

Now that's one know

They were dog tags. Clever.
When 8 PM rolled around, I got a nice seat at the Gaslamp Cinema. It was the same place where they showed Hamlet II the year before. There was some speculation on who would be there. Some of us did see Dominic Monaghan, aka Charlie from Lost, in the audience.
The screening was introduced by Eli Roth, director of the Hostel movies. He got the crowd excited for the first U-S showing of Quentin Tarantino's latest film.

It's a war movie, and a tale of revenge. It's a portrait of the most seductive form of evil, and the most direct form of vengeance. It's five cinematic time bombs that converge into one unforgettable climax.

Now, what I just said may sound pompous and exaggerated, but this isn't...
there are two words that will convince you to lay down your ten bucks for this movie.
Christoph Waltz!
OK, is that a new dance?

Nope. He's had a lot of experience on TV in Europe. He lives in London, and is very popular.

He also owns this movie as one of the most charming and soulless people you ever want to meet...Colonel Hans Landa, hunter of Jews. Right off the bat, he calmly convinces a French farmer who was hiding Jews in his basement to expose them. One gets away, a girl named Shoshanna. She won't forget this day, or the man who did this.
They cross paths again when she's invited to lunch by Zoller, a German war hero, and Landa just happens to be there. He oozes menace, even they he's just eating strudel with her. You won't forget this man.
However, for the American market, you need a big star. Brad Pitt is that man. He's Lt. Aldo Raine, leader of the Basterds, Jewish soldiers who can be ruthless, too. They think nothing of literally scalping Nazi prisoners. Roth is there as Donnie Donowitz, known as the Bear Jew because he clobbers Nazis with a baseball bat. Pitt has a presence in this movie, but it's nothing compared to Waltz's performance.

But what of Shoshanna? Melanie Laurant plays her role beautifully as a woman who tries to forget her past, until it returns to menace her. When the premiere of a propaganda's movie starring Zoller is scheduled for her movie house, she decides to make it an event the Nazis won't forget. The fact that Hitler will also be there makes her more determined.
Raine's group also plan to be there, to take out Hitler and the top Nazi bigwigs. This leads to a climax with blood and fire.

The crowd was very happy with the film. Half gave it a standing ovation. Afterwards, Roth showed his appreciation by signing autographs, even on the dog tags.

Eli Roth signs a dog tag

The movie is premiering all over Europe, and will come here officially in a couple of weeks. I suggest if you want a war picture that's really different, this is it.

Comic-Con: What Price Employment?

Michael Westen is a spy without a job.
Naturally, he wants to get back in the game.
His girlfriend doesn't want him to, because she thinks it will make things worse.
This, in a nutshell, is the rest of the summer season of Burn Notice, USA's spy show that has gotten a big following. It's so big, it took a spot at Comic-Con in 2009.

Jeffrey Donovan and Gabrielle Anwar weren't able to make it, but creator Matt Nix and writer Joseph Barrios Jr. were there along with Bruce Campbell (Sam), Seth Peteson (Nate Westen), Ben Shenkmen (Stickler) and Michael Sharks (Victor, a villain who is dead but still popular). Here, there's Michael with Matt and Joseph...

Michael Shanks Meets His Maker

During August, Nix says the main plot of the show will be one question: what price employment? Michael is relying on Stickler, a shady kind of guy,to get him back in the CIA. He has to do jobs for Stickler to show he'll do anything. Being a cloak-and-dagger MacGuyer just isn't enough, although Sam and Fiona say it should.
"She really objects to what Michael is doing, and she wants to support him," Nix says, but eventually there will be strains, even enough for her to go back to Ireland. It may get more complicated, though. "I think we will see both of them doing things," Barrios says, "we wouldn't have probably expected them to do in the context of their relationship."

Nix also praised Sharon Gless, who plays Michael's mom, Madeline. Now that she knows what's the deal with Michael, she sometimes gets involved in his missions, and holds her own. Then again, she was Christine Cagney back in the '80s. That's still there.

As for any chance Shanks may be back as Victor, Nix says that may not be likely. "My wife has this thing," he said. "She made me this promise if you kill somebody, they gotta be dead." Still, there's the chance of a twin bother, flashback maybe.
But Shanks understands this. "This is not a genre show specifically. This is an action show, " he said. "The elements will have to be sort of plausible and believable. It would be stretching credibility to really pull something out of your hat." However, Shanks may make an appearance or two in Stargate Universe soon.

Seth then mentioned that his character, Mike's brother, will have a wife, and be gambling again, which means trouble. He also mentions he's not always in the center of the action. "They keep me shielded away from all the cool stuff," he said,
"and they keep me in the kitchen or the living room." Seth also noticed that he and Jeffrey have a good relationship when they play brothers. "I have a lot of fun playing off of him, and he's so creative and funny," he said. "I really look forward to those scenes, and not to mention when I see stuff blown up."
He did say he was looking forward to walking around Comic-Con, especially the exhibit hall. Shanks, however, admits Comic-Con isn't what it used to be. He had been there for some time, and admits the most difficult time isn't fans coming up to him, but it's becoming so crowded. "It took me 20 minutes, " he said, "to walk the length of this room, and I can't do it anymore." He may speak for a lot of Comic-Con veterans.

But the real star of the panel is this man...

Here's Bruce

They call him Bruce Campbell, whose career is more durable than most A-listers, past and present. He's Sam Axe, ex-Navy Seal and current raconteur. He likes this show because it's not so serious like other drama or spy shows. "I know ex-CIA guys and special ops," he says. "These guys sit around, crack jokes and drink beer." Of course, so does Sam.
"You don't watch a show to watch some bitter weird, twisted, sad, dark ending. That's not us." He says they are heroes who will always get the bad guys.

As for the future, Sam will mention a Miss Reynolds as his current girlfriend, but it's not certain if we'll meet her. We will hear Campbell in a new CGI movie, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs this fall.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

That's One Small Step For Fans, One Giant Leap for Fankind

Was it just five years ago that I started ging to Comic-Con because Sarah Michelle Gellar was there at last? Back in the days where there was actually breathing room?

Indeed, but now I am going back to Comic-Con once again, but for the second time as a member of the press. Granted, last year, I had to use someone else's pass to talk to the cast of Kings, but at least I got a picture of Paris Hilton and didn't have to stalk anyone.

This year, two items will be waiting for me: the Comic-Con book at a modest discount, and the Dollhouse Special Edition DVD with a special letter from The Talented Mr. Whedon. As usual, his influence is everywhere, through those who have worked for him and those who work for him now. There's even a panel on how Bram Stoker, who created Dracula, may have been the Joss Whedon of his day. Well, that may be stretching it a bit. After all, did Stoker write any musicals about mad scientists?

It's also going to be interesting because Comic-Con is about to hit 40, one day after the 40th anniversary of the Moon landing. That explains the title of this post. Back then, the first event was well after Apollo 11 ended. Even in the early days, it got good guests including Ray Bradbury and Jack Kirby. Now, it's Cannes for genre fans from Whedonistas to Twilighters, Star Wars fans and Trekkies to, of course, comic book fans. It's gotten so big that the Hilton across the street is hosting some panels, including one for Weeds, surprisingly enough. If Mary-Louise Parker was a confirmed guest, a lot of guys would pack the place...especially if they've seen many of her sultry body parts.

As usual, the schedule makers have made sure that all attendees will have to give up at least one panel they planned to see. For example, to see the massive Disney 3-D presentation, they'd have to give up seeing a table-read for the never-made episode from The Middleman, a show that deserves to be on ABC Family about 231,450,099 times more than Secret Life of the American Teenager and Make It or Break It combined. Lord knows SyFy (the New Coke of Cable TV) doesn't have the sense to produce that show if it threw away Doctor Who. Or, if they want to see the cast of Chuck, they'd have to skip seeing Juliet Landau talk about the return of Drusilla in the Angel comic book. For certain fans, that's not too difficult.

But consider this choice: the annual Masquerade against a screening of the director's cut of Watchmen with Zach Snyder AND screenings of Torchwood and Doctor Who: Planet of the Dead. You can do without the third option if you remember to tape the shows on the DVR, but the other choices....yeesh. It's always a headache for attendees who like everything. Well, that's why we have Hulu and YouTube, where we can see the panels thanks to fans who feel our pain.

Well, my wishes have influenced my schedule, along with what assignments I get from Whedonopolis. I hope I can get the best of both worlds again.

I am disappointed we won't get a preview of Inglorious Basterds, Quentin Tarantino's new movie with Brad Pitt. It sounds like a natural, since Quentin is always popular. Still, there's always a chance of sneak preview. I got lucky last year with Hamlet II, and if someone decides that Comic-Con is the perfect time to preview The Box with Cameron Diaz, or Jennifer's Body with Megan Fox, then we are really lucky. We shall see.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

OK, it's been too long

Things have been slow in June. People are busy awaiting what happens in July, especially Comic-Con (two and a half weeks away!!). What's been happening in my life in mostly in my other blog, The Notorious IG.

Enough of this, though. Yahoo has finally announced that it's getting rid of the Geocities web sites in late October. Naturally, they offered me my own AT&T website for seven bucks a month until June 2014. That's two dollars more than what I pay now. Not too bad. So, to take advantage of that offer, I upgraded last week.

While all my pictures and files make the transition, the webpages themselves did not. I spend the last three days rebuilding all of my web pages. I finished late last night, but I did it. It's a little different from the old site, mainly because I decided to get rid of a few pages. I got rid of my old trophy page that shows all the awards I got in my early days of having a website. I got rid of pages devoted to the Buffy-Angel love story, and Spike and Angel. I did, however, keep pages that looked back at the WB staking Angel before its time, the Bronze, and the original Buffy movie (soon to be shown on the big screen in Sacramento). I did some slight upgrades to some of the pages, including one from the Browncoat Cruise.

I also noticed there were some "orphan pictures". I will move them to a scrapbook page. A couple are from the first con I visited where I actually talked to cast members, including a funny Mark Lutz (Groo, that is) and Amber Benson (wow!).

As you notice, there aren't any pages for Comic-Con...yet. I have two blank pages ready to go.

I have had a web page since the start of season five, way back in 2000. Since then, trying to make a mark in the internet has changed big time. Back then, I had Homestead as a free site, complete with marquee. I switched to Yahoo less than two years later, and that lasted a long time. Now, with Yahoo Geocities about to expire, I have moved to AT&T Web Hosting. Through all that time, I had that website to express my thoughts about the Whedonverse.

Now, I have my choice between Facebook, MySpace and Blogger to express myself. The webpages I would make for my Geocities site in 2000 are now the blog entries of today, complete with pictures. Still, I have an obligation to keep my website going because it has pieces of very personal history. Is a MySpace entry the best place to put a memorial to the first great internet watering hole? Is a Blogger post the ideal place to show how people were upset with Angel getting kicked off the WB, or put links to other sites? I think not. Sometimes a website is the best place to keep your memories. It's a very special attic, because that sounds better than "storage space".

Anyway, I'll announce the Grand Opening of the new Impaler General's Home Page tomorrow morning, usually after my attempt to get that Dollhouse Special Edition DVD.