We circle back to WAREHOUSE 13, spending time with Saul Rubinek and Aaron Ashmore as they share their memories of the show just a couple of weeks before the doors close for the final time. Plus one of the building blocks of The Marvel Age Of Comics passes away.
From BUFFY to ONCE UPON A TIME, Jane Espenson has written some great TV but her proudest accomplishment is the web series, HUSBANDS, now starting a new season on a new home, The CWSeed. Jane talks about why the show just keeps growing, plus the Alluring Amber Benson fills us in on her guest shot on HUSBANDS and that classic BUFFY Musical. And Shark Fever isn’t cooling off. SyFy tosses out another film in the genre, GHOST SHARK. We talk to the writer/director about how SHARKNADO was just a lead in for his film. Oh yeah, and Affleck will be Batman. Just deal with it.
Last week, I wrote about the awesome folks of Warehouse 13, whom I was lucky enough to meet after attending their panel at Dragon*Con. But they weren’t the only fantastic people at the con, oh no. In fact, Dragon*Con is always so packed with amazing guests that I never get to see or meet all of them, and am left lamenting the fact that I missed Dean Cain’s panel or never got to say hi to Jewel Staite or Sean Maher in the Walk of Fame, despite running around from hotel to hotel like a hyperactive kid in a candy store. But I did get to see and meet a lot of cool folks, and that’s what I’m here to share, so here we go!
The first event I got to was a fantastic Lord of the Rings panel, featuring Billy Boyd (Pippin), Craig Parker (Haldir), and John Rhys-Davies (Gimli). It was a blast. The first thing I have to say about it is very shallow but true: these guys have the most delightful accents! I think I could listen to Scottish, Kiwi, and Welsh actors answer questions all day. And oh, yeah, the questions themselves were pretty good too. I think my favorite bit was when Craig invited a fairly young boy named Orion who was slightly hyperventilating up onto the stage to ask his question (it’s cute when a kid’s that nervous. Adults…well, not so much). I heard through the grapevine later that this happenstance made the kid a minor celebrity at other panels, where people started looking for Orion. To which I say – only at Dragon*Con. I love that about Dragon*Con. My second favorite bit was hearing about how Billy used to read books while working at a bookbinder’s – by tearing out the pages he was finished with and tossing them away. Being an extreme book lover, I’d call that sacrilege, but…well, it does sound kind of fun. And then of course, John predicted that The Hobbit will be a game-changer and that we’re all in for a treat, so: yay!
Over the weekend, I had the pleasure of asking Craig and John a couple of quick questions (missed Billy, sadly. Maybe next year?). Craig is delightfully easygoing, and John is effortlessly charming and has that amazing presence that I associate with really good stage actors. And even though he had a plane to catch, he still took the time to sit down for a few and give me his full attention, which speaks to the sort of person he is. Here’s what they had to say:
What would you like to say about current or future projects?
“Actually, I’m a total bum at the moment, because I’m in the process of moving to the States, so everything’s just… everywhere, and I’m not working on anything at the moment.” (Hopefully it won’t be that way for long. I’m sure we’d all love to see him in something again soon).
What’s your favorite part of Dragon*Con?
“I don’t know whether it’s the visuals…the overstimulation of seeing something incredible everywhere you look; or talking with all of the passionate people. It’s an incredibly engaging weekend.”
What would you like to say about current or future projects?
“Projects are falling by the wayside all the time – you know, there were two pictures I really wanted to do recently, but they didn’t work out. But now I’m doing Golden Boots, which is a movie about a little boy who wants to play soccer, and that takes place in Detroit, Michigan. I’m also working on Behind the Mask, which takes place in the pre-continental U.S.; and I’ll be the villain. It has a bit of swash; a bit of buckle; a bit of murder…and unfortunately the bad guys don’t win. I’m going to be in the new Pinocchio, which is a mixture of animation and drama – and I’ll be playing the bad guy. And I’m hoping that Flying Tigers will be shot in China early next year.”
What’s your favorite part of Dragon*Con?
”Obviously the people – it’s the chance an actor gets to meet the people who’ve been keeping him employed for the past forty years. You get to talk to them, and know who they are. I cannot tell you how valuable that is. When you work in theater the audience is right there, telling you “You’re good; you’re bad; you stink.” In film, you can lose sight of your audience; and then you can lose sight of yourself and your own true proportion.”
Words of wisdom indeed. Next up we attended the Buffy & Angel Q&A, featuring J. August Richards (Gunn), Juliet Landau (Drusilla), and James Marsters (Spike). James Marsters challenged everyone to embarrass him (they tried but failed); J. August Richards shared his opinion of Gunn’s story arc from street-savvy vampire hunter to lawyer and back (he was happy with the lawyer arc, and with Gunn going back to his roots when the story needed it); and Juliet Landau spoke about her voice work as the Little Sisters in Bioshock (and how she landed the role thanks to her acting as Drusilla).
The panel was a ton of fun, and I got to check in with J. August Richards afterwards. When asked what he’d like to say about current or future projects, Jay told me that he has something he’s really excited about, but he can’t talk about it just yet. Therefore – check back here on ComicMix in a week or two, when I’ll be interviewing J. August Richards about his newest, as-yet-unannounced project! Yay!
When asked his favorite part of Dragon*Con, Jay replied:
“The people! What I love about Dragon*Con is that it’s one of the rare instances where you get to be around fifty thousand people who are completely non-judgmental.”
Word. At the Buffy panel, Juliet Landau mentioned a documentary she’d made that was airing Saturday, Take Flight: Gary Oldman Directs Chutzpah, and my friend and I love Gary Oldman, so we checked that out as well. I hadn’t heard of it before, but it turned out to be one of the surprise best parts of the weekend. The film is a behind-the-scenes documentary of Gary Oldman’s artistic process as he creates a music video for a Jewish rap group (yes, that really is a thing!), and it is fantastic. I was either smiling or laughing for pretty much the whole thing, because the rappers are funny, and Gary Oldman in creative mode is a thing of joy and awesomeness, and Juliet & co. did an amazing job showing all of that. Juliet also did an excellent job in selecting the classical music that accompanies some parts of the film and really highlights the beauty of the more peaceful scenes.
When asked about what she’d learned in making the film, she replied, “Every set you’re on, you learn. One of the things about Gary on set – and all the best directors I’ve worked with, like Tim Burton and Joss Whedon, are like this – is that he is very focused on the work, but also on having fun. Everybody’s focused, but there really is a joy to be making stuff – that’s really palpable with Gary.” And it really is.
I got to chat with the extremely nice Juliet after the film, and she shared that the documentary is available for purchase on her website. I definitely recommend it, but fair warning: the song being filmed is pretty catchy, so if you watch it, I guarantee you’ll be singing, “Red Rover, Red Rover, send your best guy right over,” for at least half a day afterwards! Juliet also mentioned that her upcoming projects include The Bronx Bull (Raging Bull II), and Where the Road Runs Out. And her favorite part of Dragon*Con? “Meeting all the people!”
Also included in our mad convention dash was the Big Damn Heroes panel, with Adam Baldwin (Jayne), Jewel Staite (Kaylee), and Sean Maher (Simon) of Firefly and Serenity. Those three are like a comedy show once they get going. Highlights of the panel included Nathan Fillion making cameos on all of their cell phones (taking over the panel even when he’s not on the panel, as Adam said!) to check in repeatedly on, basically, how pretty Jewel was looking that day (it really was a hilarious gag, and she really is very pretty); an audience member contributing Firefly bourbon for them to drink; and Adam Baldwin being temporarily embarrassed to share with the crowd (he got over it).
Speaking of Adam, I also went to a Chuck panel where he talked about his role as John Casey; and even when he’s the only one on stage, he’s a riot. Adam answered questions such as whether Casey was really in the Navy or the Marines, and then ribbed fans for being that into the details of the show, noting that “It’s not real!” However, he clearly appreciates the fans who care enough about his characters (notably Jayne) to dress the part, and was particularly kind to a thirteen-year-old fan who was a bit nervous in asking her question. As I said, I sadly missed chatting with Sean and Jewel, but I did get to talk with the quick-witted Adam after the panels.
Adam reports that his newest project is the opening episode of Law & Order: SVU. “I’m joining the cast as a ‘replacement’ for the captain, Cragen, who…got himself in a little bit of hot water last season. So that has kept me a little busy.” As for his favorite part of Dragon*Con? “The people – lovely people who are very kind, and good old Southern hospitality. And the food’s great…you know, wine, women, good food! And the panels …and the utilikilts (pointing). There’s one right behind you.”
And so there was.
Meeting Adam was a lovely experience; and another highlight of the weekend was Jane Espenson’s panel. Jane is like the writer equivalent of actor Mark Sheppard, in that she has written for basically every awesome genre show I’ve ever seen. She’s also delightful to listen to. Her panel focused in a large part on her newest project, Husbands, a web series which can be seen online at lovehusbands.com. We watched an episode, and it’s very funny; and certainly a spin on the newlywed premise that we haven’t quite seen before, being about two gay men who have gotten married in haste and are now dealing with the consequences. She also encouraged people to check out Once Upon A Time over on ABC if they haven’t yet, and answered questions about the writing process, mentioning that she’d like to turn her blog musings into a book someday (yes please, Jane!). Writing tips she shared included her own approach to beginning to write for an established character by asking “what one incident is going to most poke at the character’s emotional core? Getting inside that is one of the best ways to train yourself to be a good writer.” As for her favorite part of Dragon*Con: “Meeting beautiful amazing people in costumes!”
Speaking of people who’ve worked on everything cool ever, I also got to talk with Rob Paulsen, voice actor for a million billion zillion of the toon characters we all know and love, including Yakko Warner, Pinky, and more from Animaniacs. He couldn’t possibly have known that’s one of my favorite cartoon shows ever, but that didn’t stop him from saying, “Hellooooooo, nurses!” as I and my two gal pals walked up to say hi, and, “You all make me want to say, ‘Narf!’” which got the conversation off to a fun start. Rob shared that since he was Raphael on the original Teenage MutantNinja Turtles, he’s pretty excited to be Donatello now on the new one. “And Sean Astin is Raphael, Jason Biggs is Leonardo, and Greg Cipes is Michelangelo, so that’s great.” He also suggested we check out his podcast, Talking Toons, which can be found on iTunes or RobPaulsenLive.com; and now that I know about it, I certainly will! As for his favorite part of Dragon*Con:
Rob: “The pretty chicks!”
Me: “He says, looking at us…”Rob: “Absolutely! I’m not the blind Turtle!”
Walking around the Walk of Fame, I got to chat with several other actors and actresses, including Lee Arenberg, of Pirates of the Caribbean fame (“’Ello, poppet!”) who was enjoying meeting all the fans, and can currently be seen as Grumpy in Once Upon a Time. He also mentioned that he’ll be in the new season of Californication. Last of all I sawMira Furlan, who told me that she’s going to be in a new film starring Penelope Cruz that’s called Twice Born. She then opined that DragonCon was “fantastic – mad and fantastic,” and I couldn’t agree more.
Well! That’s the news for this week, but there’s even more to come, as I also got to attend the Battlestar Galactica panel and chat with those actors while at Dragon*Con and have more to say about that; we’ve got an exclusive chat with J. August Richards in the offing; and I’ve just gotten back from the fantastic Baltimore Comic Con.
So check back for more excitement next week, and until then, Servo Lectio!
While we’re sweltering in the summer heat, we have to be reminded that Winter is Coming. At least so says the Stark Family of Winterfell. HBO has just announced the forthcoming deluxe release of A Game of Thrones season one, in a handsome package for the holiday season. Read the details in this press release:
New York, N.Y., July 11, 2012 – Season one of the television phenomenon Game of Thrones will be available for the first time on Blu-ray with HBO Select (Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Copy* in one box set) this fall with the release of Game of Thrones: The Complete First Season Collector’s Edition. The beautiful collector’s box set is designed with the sigils of the four main houses and comes with a premium dragon egg paperweight, a Blu-ray bonus disc of season two, episode one, as well as all of the bonus materials and interactive features from the original DVD and BD releases for only $99.97. This limited edition set is the perfect gift for any Game of Thrones fan!
Based on George R.R. Martin’s best-selling series A Song of Ice and Fire, the sweeping fantasy saga instantly became one of the network’s biggest hits and the fastest selling TV on BD titles of all time. The Emmy® award winning show, which has been called “tantalizing” (Los Angeles Times) and an “HBO Triumph” (Boston Globe), follows kings and queens, knights and renegades, liars and noblemen as they vie for power in a land where summers span decades and winters can last a lifetime. As two powerful families engage in a deadly cat-and-mouse game for control of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, betrayal, lust, intrigue and supernatural forces shake the four corners of the Kingdoms and the bloody struggle for the Iron Throne will have unforeseen and far-reaching consequences.
Blu-ray (5 discs) – includes all DVD features plus:
• Blu-ray Complete Guide to Westeros – an interactive compendium of the noble houses and lands featured in season one, PLUS 24 exclusive histories of the Seven Kingdoms as told by the characters themselves done with animated illustrations that provide more information on the background of Game of Thrones.
• In-Episode Guide – in-feature resource that provides background information about on-screen characters, locations, and relevant histories while each episode plays.
• Anatomy of an Episode – an in-episode experience that explores the creative minds and colossal efforts behind episode six, “A Golden Crown.”
• Hidden Dragon Eggs – find the hidden dragon eggs to uncover even more never-before-seen content.
DVD (5 discs):
• Complete Guide to Westeros – an interactive compendium of the noble houses and lands featured in season one.
• Making Game of Thrones -an exclusive 30-minute feature including never-before-seen footage from the set and interviews from the cast and crew.
• Character Profiles – profiles of 15 major characters as described by the actors portraying them.
• Creating the Show Open – an inside look at the creation of the Emmy®-winning opening title sequence for Game of Thrones
• From the Book to the Screen – executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss along with author George R.R. Martin talk about the challenges of bringing Martin’s epic fantasy novel to life on HBO.
• The Night’s Watch – an in-depth look at the unique order of men who patrol and protect the Wall, a 700-foot ice structure that separates the Seven Kingdoms from the darkness beyond.
• Creating the Dothraki Language – an insightful glance into the comprehensive language created for the Dothraki people in Game of Thrones.
• Audio Commentaries – Seven audio commentaries with cast and crew including David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, George R.R. Martin, Emilia Clarke, Peter Dinklage, Kit Harington, Lena Headey, Mark Addy, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Maisie Williams, Sophie Turner, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Bryan Cogman, Harry Lloyd, Daniel Minahan and Alan Taylor.
Game of Thrones series regulars include (in alphabetical order): Mark Addy as King Robert Baratheon, Alfie Allen as Theon Greyjoy, Sean Bean as Lord Eddard “Ned” Stark, Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Ser Jaime Lannister, Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister, Michelle Fairley as Lady Catelyn Stark, Aidan Gillen as Petyr Baelish (“Littlefinger”), Jack Gleeson as Prince Joffrey Baratheon, Iain Glen as Ser Jorah Mormont, Kit Harington as Jon Snow, Lena Headey as Queen Cersei Lannister, Isaac Hempstead-Wright as Bran Stark, Harry Lloyd as Viserys Targaryen, Richard Madden as Robb Stark, Rory McCann as Sandor Clegane (“The Hound”), Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark and Maisie Williams as Arya Stark. The series is executive produced by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss; co-executive producers, Carolyn Strauss, Guymon Casady, Vince Gerardis, Ralph Vicinanza and George R.R. Martin; producers, Mark Huffam and Frank Doelger; directors include Brian Kirk, Daniel Minahan, Alan Taylor and Tim Van Patten; writers include David Benioff & D.B. Weiss, Bryan Cogman, Jane Espenson and George R.R. Martin.
OK, you know [[[Torchwood]]] is returning July 8th. And you know Bill Pullman is now part of the cast, joining John Barrowman, Eve Myles, Kai Owen, and newcomers Lauren Ambrose, Alexa Havins, Mekhi Phifer, and Arlene Tur. You know this because it’s all been reported here on ComicMix, right?
Well, then. Let’s expand upon this some. This new season of Torchwood also has a whole bunch of interesting guest stars. In politically correct yet still tantalizing alphabetical order, we’ve got John DeLancie, Frances Fisher, C. Thomas Howell, Ernie Hudson, Wayne Knight, Nana Visitor (hot damn!) and Mare Winningham.
Not bad for a ten episode cable run. But that’s not all. There’s plenty more Torchwood ahead.
There’s going to be a Torchwood webcast series called Web of Lies, which will star Eliza Dushku. It’s being written by producer (and former Battlestar: Galactica, Dollhouse, and Tru Calling Buffy writer/producer) Jane Espenson, and she’s been Tweeting the news all over the smartphone world. There are implications that Dushku might appear in the next series on Starz/BBC.
Meanwhile, John Barrowman, Eve Myles, Kai Owen, Mekhi Phifer and Alexa Havins are doing new full-cast audio dramas for the BBC. A three-parter is currently being recorded in Los Angeles, with more coming in the future.
Man. Nothing for two years, and now more Torchwood than you can shake a stick at. I’m hyped; it’s my favorite teevee series.
By now, just about everyone has had the chance to see the pilot to CAPRICA, the long awaited prequel to BATTLESTAR GALACTICA. Critics called it ‘dark’, but creator Ronald Moore and writer Jane Espenson talk about how the show will be evolving over the next few episodes. Plus week 6 at the top for AVATAR and David Tennant might need another new job.
Don’t forget that you can now enjoy THE POINT 24 hours a Day – 7 Days a week!. Updates on all parts of pop culture, special programming by some of your favorite personalities and the biggest variety of contemporary music on the net – plus there is a great round of new programs on the air including classic radio each night at 12mid (Eastern) on RETRO RADIO and COMICMIX’s Mark Wheatley hitting the FREQUENCY every Saturday ay 9pm.
CLICK HERE TO LISTEN LIVE FOR FREE or go to GetThePointRadio for more including a connection for mobile phones including iPhone & Blackberrys
Don’t forget that you can now enjoy THE POINT 24/7. Updates on all parts of pop culture, special progarmming by some of your favorite personalities and the biggest variety of contemporary music on the net.
CLICK HERE TO LISTEN LIVE FOR FREE or go to GetThePointRadio for more including a connection for mobile phones including iPhone & Blackberrys
Jane Espenson will be writing a five-issue Oz miniseries as part of Dark Horse’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer series.
"I’m doing this five-issue Oz arc," Espenson told Sci Fi Wire. "I am planning on doing a lot of writing on that over the Christmas break. The next thing I’m going to do is finish this Dollhouse script, then we get into that Oz comic and really, really knock that out."
Oz was the series’ resident werewolf and rock star, played by Seth Green. He was also romantically linked with Willow before going on his own mission. Will that mission be a part of the miniseries? "Oh, that is top secret, my friend, but it’s super cool," Espenson said, adding: "You’ll see a wolf or two. There might be a wolf."
Now that Willow has realized she’s a lesbian, does that mean Oz finds a new girl friend? "I don’t think wolves mate for life," Espenson said. "I think there could be a new mate. We’ll see."
This is not the popular writer’s first visit to comics, as she previously wrote a story focusing on Tara, Willow’s fellow wiccan lover. No schedule or artist for the project have been announced.
Editor Scott Allie provided frustrated Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans with an update on the oft-delayed series.
“Good news, gang — Andy Owens has just turned in the final inks for long-overdue Buffy #19,” he wrote at Dark Horse’s website. “So while Michelle wraps up the colors on Buffy #19, I want to thank you for your patience, apologize for the delay, and promise to do my best to keep it from happening again.” The issue will be on sale November 26.
He went on to assure all that Buffy #20-22 are completed so the schedule should stabilize in the coming months.
“You’ve probably read the news that Jane Espenson has joined the staff of Dollhouse, which means she’ll be seeing Joss daily while writing her much-anticipated arc, which will feature Oz,” Allie teased. “Jane makes her Season Eight debut in the issue #21 one-shot, kick-starting the next arc. We’re doing some unusual promotions for that issue, and you’ll want to keep your eye on MySpace Dark Horse Presents and other places come the first of the year.”
Writer and producer Jane Espenson has written, or co-written, episodes of some of the most popular and successful TV shows in recent memory. From her first writing work on Star Trek: The Next Generation through stints on the hugely popular Buffy: The Vampire Slayer and Angel, to one of the most celebrated series currently on TV, Battlestar Galactica, Espenson’s career is certainly one which fans of quality writing, humor and storytelling can appreciate.
In addition to her continued professional writing accomplishments, Espenson also finds time to offer inspiration to fledgling writers by providing advice on the craft of writing, breaking into the businesss and what makes a good spec script via her personal website. Recently, I caught up with Espenson to talk about, among other things, how writers can break into "the business," her love of sci-fi and fantasy, and what episodes of Buffy are her favorites.
COMICMIX: Jane, thanks for taking the time to talk with me. For those who may not know, can you talk a bit about your background? Did you always know you wanted to write?
JANE ESPENSON: I grew up in a small town in the Midwest where I watched a heck of a lot of television — good and bad. For every M*A*S*H, there’s an Enos. You don’t remember Enos? The Dukes of Hazzard spin-off? Well, I was watching. I always knew I wanted to write for television.
I read an article once about spec M*A*S*H scripts that were submitted to the show, and I wrote one myself. I wrote "PUT COMMERCIAL HERE" after every scene. I never sent it to anyone. It’s just as well.
CMix: Were there any particular writers you admired when you were growing up? Anyone influence your work today?
JE: I didn’t notice the names of individual television writers back then, although all those shows certainly influenced me. My mother introduced me to the books of Jane Austen, which I love. Austen had that wonderful observational sense of humor rooted in character. I’d love to think that influenced me.
But I’m most strongly affected by the writers I’ve worked with and for. So much of this job is about seamlessly emulating the "voice" of the show’s creator, that I’ve spent years mastering how to write like Joss Whedon and Ron Moore.
There are worse influences to have!
CMix: How did you first break into the business? Was there someone who gave you your first break?