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My 2009 Comic-Con Adventure

NSU's Fearless Production Manager Safaris Through Precarious Panels At Comic-Con

by Harris Toser

(Continued from second page)

Burn Notice
Here's another show not in my weekly routine. Still, it was awesome to get the scoop on upcoming Burn Notice episodes from Matt Nix, the show creator and executive producer, and Alfredo Barrios, Jr, co-executive producer, at the private press panel. Also in the room were several recurring characters including Seth Peterson (who plays "Nate Westen"), Jay Karnes ("Brennen"), Ben Shenkman ("Tom Strickler"), and Michael Shanks ("Victor Stecker-Epps"). The highlight here was the chance to meet self-proclaimed B-Movie legend, Bruce Campbell.

Burn NoticeGuest stars Karnes and Peterson were asked if it was difficult filming in the heat and humidity of Miami, the show's locale. Karnes had this to say: "There are challenges. The humidity is extraordinary. You have two shirts for every scene you are doing because you're going to need them. For the last episode I shot, they had a location where it was like a Perfect Storm for exactly where you wouldn't want to shoot. There was wind. There was auto traffic from a bridge. There was boat traffic because we were near the water. And they were doing a sound check for a rock concert nearby. It was though someone had made this as a 'Can you shoot in this location?'"

Matt Nix spoke a bit about the relationship between lead characters, Michael and Fiona (played by Jeffrey Donovan and Gabrielle Anwar). Nix said, "When you think about it, what are their romantic scenes? Their romantic scenes tend to be where they are building explosives, right? Where they are in action. And not to get too heavy with it but that's not really a healthy basis for relationship." Nix was also asked if he has a specific endpoint in mind for the show or if he's "making it up as he goes along." Unfortunately, the answer was not all that specific. Nix would only say, "Yes, I have a specific endpoint in mind and there is a lot of flexibility as to how to get to that endpoint." And finally, Nix was asked about Michael Shanks' character and if he's really dead to which he explained how his wife made him promise early on if he kills a character they remain dead. Still, Shanks fans will be happy to know Nix is looking for loopholes (though this may not please his wife!).

Later, when it was time for Michael Shanks to join our table, he was asked what he's doing next. The Stargate actor told us he had recently filmed a pilot for CBS with Donald Sutherland and Jacqueline Bisset, which ended up being the only one of the three medical drama pilots CBS commissioned that did not get picked-up. "I did the pilot for Stargate Universe…did a cameo in that then did a show called Sanctuary and am in talks right now to do another episode of Universe. I've been quite busy." I asked Michael about the next Stargate SG-1 movie. "I know it's been green-lit and the script's been written and we're supposed to do it in October but I haven't heard anything. Not hearing anything at this point causes me some concern."

When the talk turned back to Burn Notice, we asked him if he's learned any spy tricks in real life and Shanks drolly said, "No, they don't let me try anything fun and they won't even let me hold a gun on the show. They keep me shielded away from all the cool stuff. They keep me in the kitchen or the living room, so I just sit there and inhale the smoke."

I asked Shanks if he would be going downstairs to the exhibit floor and he asked, "Is that where all the people are? If so, then I'm going!" He told us he had never seen a comic-con event before and had no idea what to expect. He planned to go walking with Jay Karnes, "just to see what would happen." Ben Shenkman told us he had no plans to walk the floor. "I've been here seven of the last eight years. Eight years ago when I came here, it was still kind of a fan event…more like Dragon Con is now. I won't go down there, not because people recognize me. I won't go down there because it's too hard to walk!" After hearing this, Shanks said he was still going down. "One thing I've learned since I've been here is don't believe anything he has to say," laughed Shanks.

Our last sit-down was with Bruce Campbell. Of all the actors I saw at Comic-Con, Campbell was by far the most unfiltered, which is one of the reasons fans love him. Campbell was asked if growing up, he wanted to be a spy like James Bond. "I wanted to be Zorro. I wore a cape. I ran around my yard with a cape and a stick. That was my sword." Campbell was asked what he would like to see happen with the Michael and Fiona relationship and storyline to which he replied "I could give a rat's ass. It's never going to be resolved. That's for the women of the audience. Me as a guy, I could care less." I asked Campbell what else he has coming up and told us about Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, a new animated movie from Sony Pictures. "I play the mayor, a scheming mayor. Great animation from Sony — I just saw it." Campbell is also part of The Heist, a video game due in September by inXile Entertainment and published by Codemasters with Campbell, Ed Asner, and Christian Slater. When asked if he would be in the next Spider-Man movie, Campbell said "I'm sure I'll be in there somewhere tormenting Spider-Man."

More Burn Notice photos from Comic-Con:
Burn Notice Photo 1
Burn Notice Photo 2
Burn Notice Photo 3
Burn Notice Photo 4
Burn Notice Photo 5
Burn Notice Photo 6
Burn Notice Photo 7
Burn Notice Photo 8

Being Human
Being HumanThe Being Human panel was literally a means to an end. I went only because it was combined with Torchwood and the Being Human part was the first half of the panel. Had I known then what I know now, I would have enjoyed the panel much more. You see, Being Human had only premiered on BBC America the day before the panel and being I was in San Diego much of the week, I didn't have a chance to see the premier yet. I have since become a fan of the show, which is the story of a vampire, werewolf, and ghost trying to blend into modern day society in Bristol, England (sounds sort of hokey in theory but it's really enjoyable).

The panel featured Lenora Crichlow, Russell Tovey, and Aidan Turner (all three of the show's leads) along with writer and creator, Toby Whithouse. Whithouse explained how the idea for the show evolved from a non-genre specific show to a sitcom (and a bad one at that, as Whithouse declares), and finally, to the six-episode show watched by nearly one-million British weekly when it aired there earlier this year. All three leads were then asked to explain their initial thoughts of the show concept and how they came to be on the show. The responses were similar with all three not all that keen on the concept but in love with the execution of it once they saw the script. Turner said "I remember getting the call from my agent and nearly hanging up the phone. It shouldn't work. It shouldn't make sense. But as the others have said, it's more than a supernatural show."

And what a show it is. Annie and George (Crichlow and Tovey) are new to the supernatural thing while Mitchell (Turner) has been at it since the First World War and is trying to take a break from his vampire ways. Crichlow and Tovey get to yell and scream about how unfair their plights are; Turner plays it cool. Along the way, George meets another werewolf, Annie meets another ghost, and scariest of all, their neighbors! George and Mitchell work in a hospital because it suits Mitchell's lifestyle (not too sunny). Annie doesn't get out of the house much (hey, she's a ghost after all).

The actors and creator were asked about the second season (or series as they are known in Great Britain) and Whithouse announced the BBC had upped the second season to eight episodes, which I guess is better than none, right? "We're working our way up to the American standards, very slowly" said Whithouse. Filming was set to begin shortly after Comic-Con and Whithouse said he thought the shows would air in the U.K. the same time of the year as the first season (around January). Whithouse said he's going for an "unbroken line" between seasons one and two and he's hoping to keep the same tone as the first season.

More Being Human photos from Comic-Con:
Being Human Photo 1
Being Human Photo 2
Being Human Photo 3
Being Human Photo 4

Next Year in San Diego
Cool autographed Comic-Con swagI've only discussed the panels and press events I went to at this year's Comic-Con and haven't mentioned how I spent the bulk of my time at the show — namely, walking the exhibit floor (much of the time with NSU Card Talk's "Batman") trying to find those elusive promo cards and other Comic-Con swag. Nor have I mentioned how I got to shake hands with Chi McBride and the cast of Human Target at the Warner Bros. booth, or how I ran into Billy Connolly in the hotel elevator, tried to get my picture taken with Gene Simmons, or any of the other craziness that happens at Comic-Con. Perhaps I'll tell you about it at next year's show. See you then!

Just a few cool autographed items aquired while making this article (yeah, I'm bragging but hey, isn't this whole article a bit of a brag?):
Autographed swag 1
Autographed swag 2
Autographed swag 3

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