Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Woof Wednesday #46...

Everyone says dogs inherently know how to swim. I've never wanted to test the theory. Madison, on the other hand, looks eager to jump right into the deep end!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Mark Pellegrino Doesn't Believe His Lucifer Is All Evil...

Mark Pellegrino returned to L.A. from shooting up in Vancouver on Saturday. Sunday afternoon he was meeting and greeting fans at Creation Entertainment's 'Salute to Supernatural' convention. Some LOST fans even came out for the day simply to meet the man, the myth, the legendary figure-- and try to get a few spoilers out of him.

Though Pellegrino claimed he never really signed a confidentiality agreement at the convention, discouraging him from spilling how the seasons (and in LOST's case, the series) end, he played pretty coy anyway. However, the mere fact that he was shooting Supernatural this past weekend should mean that he's in the finale episode, right? "I'm around it-- I'm near it," Pellegrino tried to get out of truly answering my question. But I think it goes without saying that Lucifer has to be there!

But he doesn't necessarily have to be in his current vessel; after all, he is becoming more and more beat up as the time passes. And Pellegrino says it will only get worse as time goes on. "It's kind of gross; I don't know what I want to describe it!" He laughed. "Basically, he's falling apart!"

Zachariah isn't having any luck currently trying to get Dean to agree to become a vessel, and so far neither has Lucifer with Sam. Pellegrino said "Lucifer has to adjust to what's going on, definitely." However, he wouldn't comment on whether or not he would be using people from the Winchester boys' past (either alive or dead) to get that commitment the way Kurt Fuller said Zachariah would.

When asked if he was Team Destiny or Team Free Will, Pellegrino admitted that "I personally am a big believer in free will. If there is a God, I think God gave us free will for a reason. I think you can only be a moral being if you have free will to choose between right and wrong."

Such a statement works for both of his current shows, and Pellegrino put it best when he shared that he believes all of the characters he plays are good. "I have to find a way to make a character that would be considered evil good and moral. For me, the thing about Satan's story that's really interesting to me is betrayal and revenge. In essence he was betrayed by his father and his brother and sacrificed for a lesser moral being: man." Pellegrino has performed in Hamlet which features similar themes, and he admitted he can relate to that kind of passionate justice and therefore draw on such emotions to make the characters more complex.

Therefore, Pellegrino agrees with Terry O'Quinn, who has said that it doesn't really matter to him if his Not-Locke character is supposed to be good or bad. The most interesting characters are the ones with layers, after all. "I make him good; I make him pursuing the things he needs to...I leave the judgment to the people who are watching it."

Besides, when you get into a heavy, high level of iconic figures, there are things that they do, according to Pellegrino that may seem evil, but "that distinction between good and evil is so blurry because there's a vision involved that we can't see. I'm sure there could be a lot of juries that could convict God, but there's a lot of elements to the universe."

Pellegrino is in a unique position for an actor. He is simultaneously starring on two separate dramas for two separate networks, and playing iconic figures in them both. Yet come May, he may be out of two really great jobs, but he won't be completely out of work. Pellegrino picked 30 Rock as a dream project, and he recently auditioned to play an upcoming boyfriend of Liz Lemon (she just gets all the good ones these days!!). He doesn't yet know if he received that role, but he is also currently working on a film: "Is that destiny?" He asked.

Pellegrino also told me what Variety already reported, that he will be starring in a new indie film, shooting this summer. The film is called Joint Body and is about a parolee who strikes up a friendship with a stripper, saves her from an assailant, and is forced to confront the demons of his past because his ex-wife is banning him from contact with their child.

Pellegrino likes iconic parts and is more than willing to take on yet another one. "A friend of mine asked me to read "Blood Meridian" by Cormac McCarthy. I love his work in general, and they've asked me to play the part of the judge, who's also an interesting, bizarre, iconic character, and I like that a lot. That may be coming down the pike, too."

On (Animal) Adoption...

Today is my anniversary with Madison. Three years ago I brought the little fuzzball that came to be my best friend to his forever home. I am fully aware that I can be considered part of the problem, since I got him from a pet store, but I fully believe that all dogs need good, loving homes. It is not their fault if they were bred for profit or if they came from a dangerous place like a puppy mill. They all deserve the chance to grow up and live a happy, healthy life. I've said it before; I will say it again: at the end of the day, adoption is adoption. And if you don't believe me when I say it has enriched my life in immeasurable and incomparable ways, maybe you will believe these other, from the mouths of those much more famous, words:

"There are so many animals out there...people need to take these dogs and rescue them and give them a nice home. You're actually doing something good-- you're saving an animal. At the end of the day there's just a massive overpopulation of dogs that don't have a home, period."

"I think it's really important to support no kill facilities [in general]...I think make sure you know what kind of dog you're getting and that you're set up for it. Like, if you have kids, there's certain types of dogs that aren't good to have, and a puppy is different from getting an older dog. And make sure you're not getting a dog just because you think it's cute but that you actually have an environment that's appropriate for the dog to be happy."

"It's a commitment! I think people joke that it's just a dog, and I can't tell you how many times people want to return the dog, or it ends up at a shelter...I don't think people understand that you're really dealing with adopting a child. It's so important to be aware of what that means and how it could change your life-- change your life for the better, really."

"The sheer number of dogs that are available for rescue, every day, in every city, hundreds and hundreds of dogs are being destroyed. And there's a rescue group for just about every breed, if you're looking for a specific kind. There are so many lives that need to be saved, and they'll love you and appreciate you all that much more for it."

"Learn about your breed; that's super important. My Jack Russell has a lot of special needs, and I read the Jack Russell for Dummies book, and it made me want to read more and learn even more stuff about him and his needs. Sometimes, you know, a bad dog is just a mis-cared for dog."

"It's like Cesar [Milan] says: he'll train the owners and rehabilitate the dogs. That is a huge piece of it. A lot of people give their dogs up because the dog has had issues, but if everyone just went to training..."

And Allen's fiance, Taylor, added as a joke that "if you're looking to secure your woman, it's always a good look to have an animal by your side!" But all laughter aside, he's right! It helped his cause, and it is the first thing I look for, as well. If a guy doesn't love Madison-- and if Madison doesn't love him-- he stands no chance; after all, Madison was here first and will be around for many more years to come.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Truly TV To Talk About...

A while back I reported that some very special fans of Allison Mack were raising money to take out ad space on a billboard in Los Angeles to show their gratitude and support for her nine (!) years of hard work and loyalty to Smallville and the WB-turned-CW. Unfortunately, I soon after came to learn that was a misrepresentation of the fandom's plans and just a rumor running rampant (as so many are!) on the interwebs. Today I am here to clarify that what really went on during the month of February was, in fact, a global fundraising campaign, but the end result will actually be a P.S.A style commercial called "Legendary," dedicated to the character of Chloe Sullivan and her portrayer, Mack.

This is the kind of thing I live for! Fan culture has always been a fascination of mine, ever since I started two AOL newsletters for actresses who were on Days of our Lives in the late nineties. In college I took a class (and a full four-units one, at that!) on the phenomena that is fandom in the digital age. We discussed the fanzines and newsletters of my early days with the message boards of the current day (Facebook wasn't that popular yet); we even screened Trekkies. I then decided that for my final project in the class I would shoot a documentary about soap opera fan culture (since I had years of experience on the subject). I always intended to turn it into a feature and put it in festivals, but lack of funds kept me from getting to fly around the country to finish doing my interviews.

Recently I learned that a special group of Arrested Development fans actually did complete a feature film documentary about the fandom of the show, interviewing both fans and actors alike, just as I did with my piece on DOOL. That, along with this news about the commercial just proves the dedication and passion each and every fandom has, regardless of medium or genre. It truly is its own little society, and the people you meet there become a family based around a shared love. It's inspiring and fascinating all at the same time.

Today a website dedicated to this special P.S.A. project has gone live. Check it out for a preview of the commercial, including some promotional behind-the-scenes photographs taken by yours truly.

"Legendary" was co-produced by ReKon Productions in Los Angeles and shot over a single day with actresses donning Supergirl tee-shirts and explaining why the character means so much to the fans. Since negotiations are still going on between Mack, the producers of Smallville, and the network, regarding her involvement in the tenth season of the iconic show, this commercial could not come at a more poignant time. As of press time, it is scheduled to air in Los Angeles, with other markets a possibility. Stay tuned to this site for airdates!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Travis Wester Previews The Ghostfacers Web Series At Creation Entertainment's LACon...

"A couple of years ago, I think it was '08, we went down to Comic Con and did a little fun thing with the guys, and someone asked the question of if the Ghostfacers were going to come back, and Kripke said "Stay tuned." Travis Wester kicks off a mini Ghostfacers junket in Los Angeles last week. "Of course at that point we had already discussed the idea of doing a web series, and we worked and we worked, and we worked, and it took awhile to get it there, but we shot it a few months ago, and we'll be posting it [soon]."

Moments later Wester revealed that the web series will premiere on on April 15th, the same day as Supernatural's 100th episode airs! The lucky fans who attended Creation Entertainment's 'Salute to Supernatural' convention during the last weekend in March in Los Angeles got a sneak peek at the web series, including the introduction of the new intern! There was still the same humor as the boys bumbled around a bit (when coming to a box of old dusty film reels, they seemed surprised to learn what was inside were screen tests...even though the words SCREEN TESTS were scrawled in giant Sharpie along the side of the box), and a hint of mystery as just the smallest glimpse of the dead starlet (guest star Kelly Carlson)'s ghost was seen in a mirror.

The guys didn't shoot any original footage at the convention, the way they did at the special Ghostfacers convention in York a few years ago (where they also brought out Misha Collins as a special guest), but they did have lots of laughs...and some more previews.

Mircea Monroe, for example, will play the new intern, "hired" solely for her, uh, attributes. "She's really hot," Wester spills. "It creates tension... Coming from personal experience of being a total geek and stuff, when I'm hanging out with all my geek buddies and then a hot chick rolls up, there's a real intense tension because no one knows how to act around a hot chick. I think we kind of wanted to explore that...Mircea was great; she was just hilarious!"

Monroe has a background in stand-up comedy and just did a televised sketch show, so she was kind of a no-brainer hire once she came in to audition because the guys needed someone who could riff with them since the nature of the show is pretty loose and improv-y.

And Wester laughs when asked how closely the web series may tie into the future of Supernatural. "I think, honestly, Kripke will be the decider...They're doing a pretty intense story arc, so obviously we still live in the same universe, and we make reference to the bigger show, but I think should this go further-- and hopefully we'll get to continue into [a second web season]-- then we'll sit down and really figure some stuff out."

Where would the guys like to see the guys go should they get that second season? Wester would like to see them "develop into the persona that they have sort of set up for themselves-- legitimize their facade...They're sort of "We know what we're doing; we know what we're doing," but they sort of still don't. It would be nice over the course of the property to see that trajectory."

Of course since so much is up in the air about season six of Supernatural, Wester acknowledges they could always return to that bigger show anyway. But in the meantime, why should people tune into the web series? "Let's put it this way," he breaks it down. "If I was a fan of Supernatural, and I loved the Ghostfacers episode, I would love the web series. If you hated the episode, you're still going to like the web series! Trust me."

If you missed my first interview with the Ghostfacers guys, feel free to give it a read! It was conducted a few months ago, so they were a little more guarded about spoilers, but it was still a fun time, and I think that comes across!

And believe it or not, I have MORE from Wester-- with AJ Buckley, too! (they just gave me such good stuff!)-- coming up in the next week or so, so stay tuned!! In the meanwhile, though, you can still enter to win an autographed tee-shirt from Wester and Buckley... I am shameless with my plugs and tie-ins!

Kurt Fuller: The Hardest Working Actor In Television Today...

The good people at Creation Entertainment were (for lack of better word) very good to me this year! During their 'Salute to Supernatural' convention at the LAX Marriott, they arranged for me to have a one on one interview with everyone's favorite character actor and a hilarious guy in general, Kurt Fuller (the somewhat ironically evil Zachariah).

I heard through the grapevine that you are a convention virgin. Is that true? How are you liking it?
- This is my first convention. I'm liking it so far! The question and answer thing-- I was actually terrified because I play Zachariah, and I thought "Are they going to boo me or throw things at me? Are they going to separate reality from the show?"

What made you sign on this year-- now-- as opposed to last or for a convention from a previous show of which you were apart?
- Everybody on the set-- Jared and Jensen and Misha and the others-- talk about the conventions, actually a lot, and they make them sound really fun. They made them sound like they're well run, and they all enjoy it. I'm actually going to go to a convention in London, [too]. It's a fun way to travel. I'm a people person; I like talking [to the fans], so I started thinking that I should try one. They'd asked a lot, so I said yes, and here I am!

And we're definitely glad to have you. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday: meeting hundreds of people who are automatically happy to see you! And I think what everyone is wondering is what part of a part Zachariah has in the end of season five. For example, will you be in the iconic 100th episode?
- I am in the hundredth episode. It's a big episode! I can tell you it's a very big episode; it starts catapulting toward the final episode. It's big. It's BIG.

Will there be any major changes to Zachariah as he nears the end, so to speak? I mean, time is kind of running out in terms of getting what he needs from Sam and Dean.
- Zachariah is losing his subtlety. Everything he has tried has not worked. If he was smart, he would take another avenue. I worry that he's not as smart as he could be. I try and make him smart, but he is who he is.

So what other tactics will he try then?
- I will tell you this: he's going to try and use other people who might get to Sam and Dean, since I can't get to them.

Interesting. Other people as in ones who are still alive or...?
- You know what, no one's ever really alive or dead on Supernatural. Anybody is fair game.

Well, that is definitely something to think about! Are you-- you Kurt, as an actor-- Team Destiny or Team Free Will?
- I am Team Free Will! But Zachariah is Team Destiny. [Thinks for a moment] But you know what, you think about your life: you planned out your life and said this is what I want to do, this is where I want to go, this is who I want to be, this is who I think I'm going to meet...and as you've gone on, nothing has happened exactly as how you say you wanted it to. There is a destiny, you know. You have [some] free will, but you can't always pull [everything] off. I don't think things can be one or the other; stuff happens, and you don't know why-- stuff that you think is going to mess you up turns out to be the best things. Sometimes we do it for ourselves: we make lemonade out of lemons, but we don't know because it's a very mysterious world.

That is a great answer! And very true of Supernatural, and this crazy world of television in general. Which brings me to another recent project of yours that I really love: Sons of Tucson. Will you be reprising your role of the principal?
- When I first did Sons of Tucson, they were going to really use the school, but now the guy who's running it-- Matt Carlson, who's a friend of mine-- is trying not to use the school so much. If they go back, I will come back.

Congratulations on booking Leapfrog for ABC, as well. I have read a lot of pilots this year, but unfortunately not that one. Can you tell me a little bit about it?
- It's good! It's really good. I just booked it; I am meeting everybody on Monday for the first time, so I know it's being directed by Jim Burrows who's just a genius. It's an old-style four-camera show, which they're trying to bring back-- partly because one camera shows are really expensive. It costs a lot to do a single-camera half-hour, so I'm sure they'd love four-camera shows to be popular again.

It's really about two couples-- two daughters who are married, well one is getting married, and she barely knows this guy, and the other have been living together for nine years. It's really about their relationships and their fear of us. Debra Jo Rupp plays my wife. It's funny; it made me laugh, and not many things make me laugh!

If Leapfrog 'goes,' would you be able to do both that show and Supernatural next year?
- I would be able to do both but not as much. They're both being done by Warner Brothers, so they'd work it out. [But] they don't even know what will happen with season six! They're still throwing around ideas, and they don't let much out [anyway].

I figured as much, but I had to ask! And you've said you enjoy interacting with fans. Do you have a Facebook or a Twitter? Misha, Rob, and Jim are preeetty active on there!
- I have, basically, and I don't know if you've seen it advertised on TV, the Jitterbug phone.

No, I haven't seen that...
- It's for seniors and has really big buttons. I almost have a Jitterbug phone. But I am about to get an iPhone, and then I might-- because it's not good when you have to push the buttons three times to get to the right letters, and that's what I have. I will be doing that, yes. I personally like face to face contact, but like Zachariah, I see where things are going.

Kurt's wife also co-wrote a really fun novel I read over the summer, called "Beverly Hills Adjacent" about a character actor and his wife in Los Angeles and their trials and tribulations. I didn't get a chance to ask him how much of it was based on their own lives, but you should all check it out!!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

'Ghostfacers' Giveaway!...

Today at Creation Entertainment's 'Salute to Supernatural' convention events, Ghostfacers AJ Buckley and Travis Wester announced the premiere date of their new web series spin-off to hundreds of their diehard fans. Ghostfacers will be premiering on The CW's official website on April 15. Mark your calendars now because that is only a few weeks away!

And in honor of the web series (which was shot this winter) finally getting its date, "My Life, Made Possible by Pop Culture" is proud to announce a very special Ghostfacers giveaway! Buckley and Wester graciously autographed an official Ghostfacers tee shirt specifically for this site and this contest. The lucky winner will receive that plus the 2009 Comic Con edition of Supernatural Magazine which features a cool interview with the guys.

All you have to do to enter is Tweet this permalink or ReTweet my original Tweet* about the premiere date. The contest will run until April 13th, on which day the winner will be drawn and notified and the prize mailed.

Good luck! And remember to keep checking this site for photos and more news from the convention! (PS the photo below is (c) Warner Brothers TV, 2010 of the NEW and complete Ghostfacers team)

*UPDATE: All right, let's face it: the amount of Tweeting I've been doing this #LAcon weekend makes it damn near impossible to find my original Tweet about the Ghostfacers premiere date. So as long as you Tweet out the date-- telling fans to tune in, of course-- and @reply me, I'll see it and you will be entered to win!

Supernatural Saturdays: Dark Side of the Moon...

I spilled my best clips a bit prematurely on Thursday just out of the sheer excitement of the weekend, but I saved one more for my weekly Supernatural Saturdays column! Maybe the second coming of Knight Rider would have fared better if Misha Collins did the voice of KITT...


Richard Speight Jr's Greatest 'Trick' Is His Acting Ability...

Richard Speight Jr. had a tough task at hand in a recent season five episode of Supernatural. He had to turn his character of the Trickster from a candy-eating thorn in the Winchester boys' side to an arch angel who really should be out to help them in a way. The role is complicated for Speight not only because he doesn't really like candy all that much-- "The only chocolate I really like is mousse, but I guess he's just not as sophisticated a character as I am!"-- but also because it rides the line between dramatic and comedy, and he is often forced to turn on a dime within a scene. But all of those challenges just make the job even more fun for Speight, and really, this is what he has been training for his whole life anyway.

"My Life, Made Possible by Pop Culture" chatted with Speight during his appearance at the Creation Entertainment opening day on Friday, March 26 2010. What he had to say is a must-read for any fan of the show but also any young (and aspiring) actors out there! The man knows his stuff!

Well, I just want to point out that I'm a fellow Trojan--
- Oh nice, fight on!

[Laughing] Yeah, well, I was wondering what brought you out to USC in the first place. Did you major in film?
- Theater actually because there is no film acting major, and in truth the study of acting is the study of acting. It used to be that in the old days every movie star started in theater in New York and London and then were brought to California. Now so many start only on TV and film. [I think] that's probably not the best thing; it's probably better to get the full show. You know, in TV and film you're only doing snippets, and then they edit it together, but when you have a theater background, you learn the entire arc. You're forgetting lines; the audience isn't responding right; you learn on your feet. You learn to do it on the fly and hopefully well, but you become self-sufficient in the process, and you're not just a peg in someone else's game. It's a good foundation.

Do you get to do many plays now in any downtime from your television projects?
- [Shaking his head] I used to do a ton of theater, but Los Angeles is not a town that supports it. You can't make a living just doing theater here. There's really only one or two venues for it.

Having such a strong and somewhat classical training, were you leaning more towards doing dramatic roles as a young actor?
- I can't say I wanted something in particular when I first started. I kind of assumed I'd be doing more comedy because in large part that was my background. I wasn't a stand-up comic, but I did a lot of improv work and a lot of comic acting, to be straight-forward about it. A lot of the plays I did-- almost all-- were comedic roles. It was impossible for me to get cast in dramas for a lot of years because I was viewed as a funny guy. Then when I did Band of Brothers, the pendulum kind of swang in the other direction. Even though I didn't necessarily play a super intense, heavy character, but program-wise, it was viewed as super intense and heavy. The jobs that followed that were dramas, and this is the first job that really straddles the line, and I love it! I feel like I'm really getting to do my homework and studying the arc and picking the moments on when I'm going to turn and how much in those moments. It's so different than your average TV guest spot.

Definitely. One of the things I love about the show is that so many really serious moments get punctuated by comedic line delivery or even a simple look between actors.
- One of the things that makes the role so awesome [is that I get both worlds].

So I know when you first took the role, you were just the Trickster. You were a needle in the boys' side, and you seemed like just another demonic villain. Then, all of a sudden, this year we get the surprise that he's-- that you're-- really Gabriel. How did that revelation, a couple of episodes in for you, change your portrayal of the character?
- What I noticed about in the script "Changing Channels" was that they had the Trickster trying not to reveal information. So many of the times they have the characters doling out information in slow, clever ways, but he was [the opposite]. And that made it a very interesting process and creative energy of reversing to keep everything inside and accidentally let them pop out. That's where it was fun to map out. Like in the scene on the sitcom set when Dean gets a little close to the family-- a nerve-- he tweaks a little bit, and something comes out. He backs up and tries to regain control, but something comes out a little bit more. He views himself as a puppeteer in the ways he manipulates people in terms of how he thinks they should feel or act but the boys aren't making it easy, and in the process, he's losing the control that he relishes so much.

So how do you set yourself up for those turns?
- A lot of times I'll plan, but a lot of times it happens on the fly, too, when I get in there and see how Jensen comes at me. I thought I had an idea of how this would be, but if he's going to play it that way, then I'm going to play it this way. And that's what's fun about acting [in general].

And I have to ask: what can you tell me about the fate of Gabriel?
- I will make an appearance at the end of season five.

An open-ended one?
- I don't know if I'll be back in season six, but I hope so, and I'm thrilled to know there will be a season six because I know for awhile that was up in the air.

Definitely. It will be interesting to see how the show deals with a post-apocalyptic world. But let's not get ahead of ourselves with speculation-- what are you most looking forward to in the immediate future of this weekend?
- The Q&A is one of my favorite things; I really enjoy it! I've never been the first guy up, like Friday, opening act, and I was wondering how that would be, but it was a lot of fun. The crowd was here and eager, and you never know-- if they're still driving up or whatever.

I think when they saw you were going to be here early, though, they rushed to make sure they didn't miss your appearance!
- Well, even if you're making that up, it's a lovely thing to say! I'm glad they did. Why I like doing these conventions is the give and take with the fans. As an actor you sort of live in a bubble, and I've done a lot of work in twenty years that didn't really have a life outside of the show. I like the interaction. What I really like is getting on stage and answering questions because there are always these funny moments that come about...As an actor it's always great to have people give a crap about seeing you!

And that's why you will be attending the special fan-thrown karaoke party tonight, as well, right?
- [Nodding] Usually you're out of town-- you know, New York or Chicago-- and you're there for the weekend. I'm only here [today]; tomorrow is actually the tenth anniversary barbecue for Band of Brothers, so I'll be there. People are here because they want to see the actors, and I think it's fun for them to see us in a non-structured environment. If they want to ask a question-- they didn't get to the microphone or were too nervous-- or want to sneak a picture, it's an extra added [something]; more bang for their buck, so to speak. But for the fact that fans watch the show, I don't have a job! So I say, if you're going to come out here and do it, do it all!

Friday, March 26, 2010

'Supernatural's Chuck: A Modern-Day J.D. Salinger...

Today kicked off Creation Entertainment's annual 'Salute to Supernatural' convention, held at the LAX Marriott. The weekend festivities opened with appearances by Richard Speight Jr (article coming soon) and Rob Benedict, whose band also performed in a special, first convention appearance concert.

"My Life, Made Possible by Pop Culture" managed to steal a few minutes with Rob before he took the stage to great about a thousand fans in the downstairs ballroom. Though he couldn't confirm nor deny how season five would end, if the boys would survive the apocalypse, or even if he would be back next season, he did chat about his relationship with the show's creator and his love of the somewhat hapless character.

This is your first L.A. convention appearance, is it not? Are you looking forward to meeting some of the fans out here?
- It is. I'm excited to find out where they're coming from. The last one I did in the states was Chicago, so it was that hood.

Are you at all concerned you may run into a real life Becky?
- [Laughing] You know, I meet people all of the time that come up to me and say "My name's Becky, so yeah..." but no, other than that I've never had a weird or odd experience with a fan. I'm not sure if the same can be said for all of the other guys!

And your band, Louden Swain, will be performing tonight. That's another first. I have to admit, when it was announced that you would be appearing, and on Friday, I wrote in to the convention organizers to request Louden Swain!
- Did you really? That's so nice. [The convention] approached us about playing, and I think a lot of people were requesting that we play, and so they asked us to. There's talk about maybe us playing another couple of conventions, so I think this is kind of a [trial]...But it's really special! I'm excited to get the fans to hear us, [and] that's an element I haven't done yet.

Do you think any of your music will make it into the show?
- I'd love to. I'm really bad at that kind of networking, I guess, that you need to do. I think they're aware that I'm in a band. The thing about the show is a lot of the times they'll use classic rock-- well known rock-- but yeah, we'd love to. We've had our music placed on a couple of other things, so we're always into that idea.

You could always just have Chuck hum a few bars in the background of a scene or something.
- There is a guitar in the set of his house, so I could just pick it up and start strumming!

Exactly. And you own the rights, so they can easily keep it in. Did you know initially that Chuck was going to turn out to have such a greater purpose when you went in and initially read for the character?
- My audition scene was-- I think-- when they tell me they know about the books or something like that, and I had read the script, so I knew. But I had to go back and look at all of these episodes I had never seen of the show because I wasn't all that familiar with it.

So what about Chuck intrigued you enough to get involved with such a crazy show?
- Right off the bat I knew, and what attracted me to it was: here's a guy who's just the most unlikely prophet. He doesn't want the job; he doesn't think he's very talented or good; he's sort of drinking his way into oblivion. They described him at first as sort of a J.D. Salinger type. So that part was just kind of a rich place to play from...I guess I played it that he's tortured by it-- that he feels like it's a curse in a way, but at the same time he's strangely in love with the stories because he's created them.

Do you think Chuck is glad the Winchester boys are becoming the famous ones, even though he is the one who "wrote" the books?
- It had described his relationship with the boys* as father-son in a place [in the first script], and he really sort of does care about them; he wants them to be safe. He just doesn't want the burden of being the guy who knows. He wants to be in the shadows and nobody sees him. I love that! That's cool to play that.

I'm a huge fan of some of your past comedy work, especially Head Case on Starz.
- Thank you so much. Head Case was awesome. They got enough for a full two seasons but that's it, though.

I know; I was bummed to hear it wasn't coming back. How much of your inherent comedic style do you bring to Chuck versus maybe what was on the page of that initial first script you got for your audition?
- This more than other things I've done even, I have a real fondness for the writers and the actors, and this character-- he's a really fun guy to play. I understand Kripke's sense of humor, but one sort of feeds into the other. In the episode this year at the convention, where I'm sort of riffing at the end, that was as much him as it was me. He wrote an outline of things he wanted me to say, but I just [went off]. There were parts-- and specific lines-- that I just came up with on the spot, and they liked and kept in.

And I have to ask: season six; what's the deal!? Will you be back?
- I don't know-- but I didn't know last year whether or not I was coming back this year. I am about to go up and shoot my part in the season finale. I know how it ends, and definitely it's up in the air. What's kind of interesting is [Chuck]'s tied to the story, which is a cool thing. The kind of role I have on the show, it's just kind of episode to episode, and they just call to see if I'm available.

But would you ever really say "No, I'm not available?"
- [Laughing] No, of course not!

To catch up on what Rob had to say during the fan Q&A on stage in the main ballroom, please check out my Twitter archives, where I updated live from the event.

*The photo to the right is of Rob imitating the squinty, shruggy swagger of leading men Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki. Become a Fan on Facebook for tons more photos!

Weekly Examiner Round-Up...

In preparation for this weekend's events, I admit I slacked a bit in the entertainment news reporting department. Here's what I came up with, though, in case you missed it. And in case you haven't noticed, Examiner likes all of our articles to have a "local spin," hence the multiple use of Los Angeles and its suburbs in titles:

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Dean Dies...Again??...

I know tonight's episode of Supernatural hasn't even ended yet, but I'm spending the weekend with the men of the show, and in honor of that, I present some very special clips from next week's brand new episode, "Dark Side of the Moon," in which Dean and Sam get killed and go to heaven (at least their version of it). Um, how will they get out of this one?? Maybe they'll tell me this weekend! Stay tuned!



Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Woof Wednesday #45...

Madison sits on the taller chair out on the patio when Snowball comes over because Snowball hasn't quite figured out how to jump that high yet. Every now and then, though, Snowball gets too close for Madison's comfort.

It's a very thin line...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

On Writing: The 'LOST' Team...

Lost revolutionized television from its initial promos. A plane crashes on a deserted island, leaving passengers with checkered pasts stranded, injured, and forced to come together to survive. The subsequent seasons that spiraled down the road of the supernatural-- from spontaneously appearing polar bears, smoke monsters, mysterious "Others" who appeared seemingly out of nowhere, etc-- only fed the belief that series creators Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof were those rare Hollywood scribes that still managed to pluck a unique and intriguing story out of the ether of imagination and make it sizzle not only on the page but also the screen.

"There was this moment in the first show where Sawyer is sitting on the beach, wondering just what [the castaways] are going to do about food, and a knife slides across the sand to him. Whip pan to John Locke who simply states: "We're gonna hunt," and at that moment, I just one's going to watch this show!" Lindelof laughs when asked if the show that is wrapping up its sixth and final season is what he always hoped and wanted it to be.

With so many historical, philosophical, and religious undertones intelligently layered throughout the episodes, it might go without saying that the writers of the show-- Liz Sarnoff, Adam Horowitz, and Edward Kitsis-- are smarter than most. Just how do they manage to do it, though? "We have this tradition that we've always liked to do-- we call it mini camp," Cuse explains. "We take three to four weeks of just all of us writers in a room with a big whiteboard and some free thought. It's during a time when we've just finished writing all of the episodes for a particular season and can just concentrate on sussing out themes and overall arcs. That's why it's like a camp experience."

"And we never like to assume we're any smarter than the audience," Lindelof is quick to add.

Googling is an option, too, of course-- although Lindelof admits that most of the Googling that goes on in their offices is just to settle bets. Instead, he graciously credits his Intro to Philosophy 101 college pre-requisite that he "thought [he'd] never, in a million years, use" for the theory knowledge that led to some of Lost's best allusions and character naming conventions. The writers admitted that many of the characters' last names (such as Jack Shepard, John Locke, and Dogen) have serious significance, and if one were to search the internet for the real life past figures, they will understand a little more about the character and his destiny.

Sarnoff, one of the few on staff who doesn't have a usual writing partner, admits she loves collaborating with others on scripts, especially when such nitty gritty details are involved. Each one of Lost's scripts is written by at least two people, for which she is grateful. "So much crazy stuff happens on our show, it's especially nice to have someone to back you up or help you remember when something happened!" She laughs.

But in all seriousness, Sarnoff relishes the team atmosphere and "big picture" mentality that Cuse and Lindelof have created within their writers' room, which is quite a switch from her previous experience working on Deadwood, under the guise of David Milch. "Working for David, if you wanted to pitch a story, you'd have to write and write and write until he hears it so much he thinks he thought of it!" There she was literally writing the pages they would be shooting that day; there was no planning ahead, and having everyone wait on the material could be quite unnecessarily stressful.

Some of the most fun things for writers to do are to insert little pieces of themselves, friends, and family into their scripts. Sometimes it is done through characters who share their characteristics or even names. For some of the Lost writers, it is much more specific than that. Horowitz enjoys making characters Yankees fans just to "even the playing field with all those Boston people!" Kitsis honored his own family dog by sticking an "I Heart Shih Tzus" bumper sticker on the back of a picture vehicle.

But have there ever been moments when the writers doubt themselves? "Oh sure!" Kitsis chuckles. "We call them the 'sh*t-fairies.' See, most nights we go home pumped, thinking we've just written the best episode ever. But then we'll come in the next morning, look at the copy again, and wonder who came in in the middle of the night and made our work suck!"

And while rewrites are more than common, not only to satisfy a writer's own perfectionism streak but also the network's, Lindelof admits that there have been times that episodes they wrote went to production and then to air with things that they wish they could have altered. "It's not really something we had control over, but the way we built up the character of Eko...I'd like to redo that in a way. Originally the character was supposed to have a much longer, more intricate story arc, but the actor (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) wanted to leave the show so we had to change things."

Perhaps one of the harder things for a writer, then, is to deal with the so many other personalities that come into play once their baby (their script) leaves the safety and sanctity of their writer's room. In the next breath, though, Lindelof points out that sometimes a writer can be pleasantly surprised by what happens after their characters enter the reel world. "Sometimes you have someone-- in our case Michael Emerson-- who comes in and so completely nails a character you thought was only going to be around for three episodes...that you decide to build around him."

The writers' initial vision, therefore, may be what sells others on their show initially, but it is all of the changes, growth, and evolution they allow it that really make it or break it. After all, it won't matter what happens at the end-- or in Lost's case, what does or does not get answered-- if the journey is not entertaining!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Do You Love Fur?...

On Sunday, March 21, Thumping Tails held a fundraising event for abused, neglected, and abandoned animals in the Los Angeles area. They worked hard to educate both young and old(er) about the shelter system in the city and the need for adoption, and even fostering, services for these worthy animals. The event was held in a Culver City park and featured toys and a movie for the little ones, live music, wine tasting for the adults, and raffles and silent auction items for all. Some celebs even turned up to show their support, though due to liability regulations, no one was actually allowed to bring and show off their own animals. These are some of the highlights of the day:

Will Wisteria Lane Finally Embrace Change?...

Desperate Housewives started off super strong in 2004 but then quickly fizzled and nearly died around season three. It came out of the gate as a contender last year, slowly picking up strong guest star after strong guest star, and this year it finally seemed to regain its stride, thanks in great part to the additions of Drea de Matteo, Julie Benz, and even Sam Page (who I love, even if his character is the weakest of the least so far). Perhaps unfortunately these three talented actors, though, signed on only temporarily.

de Matteo is a New Yorker with a young baby who probably can't wait to pack up and leave La La Land, but the hole left on Wisteria Lane when her sassy, somewhat reformed Angie Bolen goes out (from what I hear, in a quite literal bang) is going to reverberate all across the country. The same might be said for Benz' exit, which aired last night in a much quieter, simpler way. Arriving back to the house she was sharing with Dana Delany's Katherine Mayfair, she was accosted by packed suitcases. Katherine, fearing judgment from her neighbors, was feeling uncomfortable about accidentally outing their relationship, and she decided to leave town until she could get her head straight. In an interview Benz gave a few weeks ago, she said she loved the idea of the two "riding off in the sunset together." Well, last night she got her wish...sort of. They drove off in the dark but still together.

I'm glad Marc Cherry opted to simply write Katherine and Robin out on a trip when word got out that both actresses (though technically Benz was just going to be guest starring for a short arc anyway) were cast in other pilots. Housewives may be a primetime soap, but the genre is changing, and long gone are the days of long-term comas (Lauren on the new Melrose Place came out of hers in one episode!) and fake deaths only for the character to return with a new face and a renewed attitude a season or so later. This way, though, they can come back with less scoffing or eye-rolling from the audience. However, I can't help but note that getting written out in such a way might be the best thing for the actors, especially now that their "out and somewhat proud" relationship has come to light among the other housewives. After all, look at how the other gay couple of the cul-de-sac, Bob and Lee, have fared!

Tuc Watkins and Kevin Rahm are both accomplished actors in their own right, but they have been relegated to glorified extras in many scenes within Housewives. They're paraded out for parties, such as Karen's cancer-free celebration last night, and every now and then they'll allude to something going on behind their closed doors-- like when Gabrielle stumbled into a nursery they had set up for the baby they have yet to adopt-- but mostly they are just tucked away in a corner of Wisteria Lane that seems to be a bit unnecessarily old-fashioned.

Bob and Lee were the first gay couple to move onto Wisteria Lane. Since them, Andrew (Shawn Pyfrom) moved in, as well, with his doctor boyfriend who has since never been seen. As a gay man himself, Marc Cherry should have no problem writing realistic, poignant material for them. But for whatever reason, he doesn't. Maybe ABC or the FCC are still somewhat sensitive about the subject, but after seeing Katherine and Robin in bed together, there really should be no excuse anymore. This is 2010, and it's about time viewers no longer settle for the double standard.

My solution? Page's character of Sam clearly has a secret, and maybe it should be that he is gay as well. So much is being said for him being the "perfect son" while Andrew was a screw-up for years. But what if they have something very similar in common and have just approached, and embraced, it differently? And maybe Sam even has an affair with Bob or Lee. This will allow a new kind of triangle (and we all know how much the show loves those!!), but more importantly, it will allow Bob and Lee to move into the ensemble a bit more fully and take their rightful place in the circle of friends and front-burner of story lines. I'm not going to be picky when it comes to which one has the affair, either: they both deserve some action and a real, meaty story...finally, for once, and hopefully not for last!

I understand the risk here that if neither Body of Evidence, nor No Ordinary Family "go" next season (or if Delany and Benz decide to attempt double duty), Cherry could find himself writing just as many gay characters as straight ones. I maintain, though, that this is 2010, and that risk won't seem so great when faced with the reward of actually portraying a real microcosm of society.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

One More Week!...

Supernatural finally returns next Thursday, March 25th with a brand new episode called "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid." The boys visit Bobby's hometown, where deceased are rising from their graves to rejoin their families. Bobby tells them to leave, as he has been reunited with his dead wife and loving his so-called second chance, but of course what has returned is not the same as what was buried in the first place...


Making a Difference the Only Way I Know How...

When I was in kindergarten, my teacher asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I said a cop*. I always believed that what you say you want when you’re young are the things you should end up going after when you finally do grow up. Not that you should eat candy for breakfast everyday or eat the snow scooped off cars or anything. And not that I have done either of those things...well, not often anyway. But when you’re a kid, you’re unencumbered; you haven’t yet learned to be “aware” of about what others are thinking or saying or judging you. You are free to just say what you really want, and that can be quite liberating.

*Obviously I am not the one pictured over to the right!

Now before you begin judging me for not practicing what I preach, let me offer the disclaimer that I am pretty sure I liked the idea of being a cop mostly because “The Babysitter’s Club Mystery” was my favorite of all of their series, and I basically saw crimes just as big “mysteries” for me to solve.

I “borrowed” a compact from my mother’s old makeup bag in order to make my very own Turtle Communicator for my very own Lil’ Crime Stoppers Club. The sad thing was, not only were April, Splinter, nor my favorite Donatello (let alone any of the Turtles!), on the other end, but since I ran with a crowd who was more into painting their nails and playing Mall Madness on endless Friday nights, no one else carried one around in her backpack. So I took to Scotch taping photographs on that little round mirror part and “playing pretend.” Or maybe in some weird little way I was inventing the cell phone without even realizing it…

As I grew, so did my interest in police work, but mostly because it was all I saw every time I turned on the television. Law & Order, which I found too dry for my taste, was granted a much flashier spin-off (and then later a second one), only to be followed by show after show that tried to “one-up” the one before it with prettier people and grittier streets. At least the latter was something to which I could relate, and the former—well, that gave me something to look forward to when I enrolled in the academy! Hell, if the guys in my chemistry and physics labs looked like George Eads or Gary Dourdan, I would have been much more eager to show up and succeed…it really does always come back to giving the kid candy as a motivator, and as I got older, the kind I was most interested in was eye.

More than any of the silly, sentimental sitcoms I gravitated towards in the past, I got into Profiler not for the gift Ally Walker appeared to have but how she fearlessly went toe-to-toe with hard-nosed criminals and other agents. I was intrigued by the gimmicks and fancy tools of C.S.I., but I stuck around to root for Marg Helgenberger who was the quintessential beaten woman who took control of her own life and screamed that she would be a victor, not a victim. The same was more than true for SVU’s own Mariska Hargitay: none of these women suffered from the teary-eyed syndrome that seemed to be born with Clarice Starling in Silence of the Lambs. Though she was seemingly a tough chick, her voice would waiver and crack, and her eyes would mist over whenever she was placed in a tough position. Expected and overlooked, perhaps, with a rookie, but definitely not okay in order to eliminate stereotypes. All of the shows I studied featured strong, smart, successful women in the middle of what was once assumed to be a man’s world. They pulled their leather boots up tight (though they may have been stiletto boots) and kicked the doors in just as hard as any guy. I yearned to break down such barriers, too!

Instead, though, I just wrote about them. In my senior year of high school-- a college preparatory magnet school-- we were given the somewhat daunting task of creating a senior thesis as our English class term paper. I was never one for research papers, and since I was enrolled in two English electives that year, I was actually going to have to produce two unique and distinct thesises (thesii?). Being the lazy but creative student that I was, I figured that instead of investing hours upon hours a day to tackle two fifteen to twenty page papers on topics that I would probably no longer hold an interest in (if I had one to begin with) when they were all said and done, it would be much more fun (and beneficial for me in the long term) to write feature length film script. It was just lucky for me that one such elective happened to be existentialism so I could submit a law enforcement script (one I had already written a few months earlier, I might add) that played with the definition of true justice. At the center was a serial killer who was “offing” young girls who happened to be infected with HIV. About a third of the way into the script, the lead detective on the case (as well as the lead character in the story) comes across a victim who doesn’t fit the usual M.O.—a pubescent boy—and he is faced with the ethical dilemma of whether or not to pin all of the murders on this copycat killer. Naturally, this sends him on an emotional rollercoaster of uncertainty in his “absurd world.”

The script, which when I re-read it today seems better suited as a Law & Order spec than a feature that can stand on its own, was a stretch for this class—and this school in general, which was not known for being super friendly to the arts. I was convinced my teacher would see through me and know I was really just trying to avoid having to go to the library, where I hadn’t stepped foot since the third grade (literally). When she came up to my desk before class the next day, holding the block of papers suspiciously devoid of any red markings in her hand, my stomach dropped. It wasn’t a suitable assignment, and now I was going to have to start over and work for a change. But my teacher broke out in a smile just as I was breaking out in a sweat, and she gushed that she “couldn’t put it down.” She dropped the script on my desk, where I just watched it land with a dull thud. She kept talking about what she loved about it, and how she could actually “see everything happening in front of her as [she] read.” Apparently, mine was the only project she read that night because of how engrossed she was in it. Her voice was cloudy and distant, though, over the heartbeat in my own ears. I flipped to the back of the script where the only red writing was a single letter: A. For someone who had pretty much kept her writing just for herself until this point, and never let anyone peek inside her private notebooks or Microsoft Word documents, this was exactly the kind of validation I had been looking for. But obviously I had been looking in all of the wrong places because the characters on my television couldn’t talk back to me and tell me all I wanted (and perhaps, needed) to hear.

Now I drive down major avenues in Los Angeles, seeing huge billboards that advertise starting salaries with the L.A.P.D at over $60,000, but I don't wonder what happened to the little girl with brass balls who would have dialed that 800 number in a heartbeat. She is risking her sanity in another just as unstable profession!