Sunday, February 28, 2010

Cryptic Words About Lost's Final Episodes Revealed At PaleyFest...

With the remaining episodes of ABC's Lost quickly ticking down to the end, the thoughts and questions on everyone's mind at their PaleyFest 2010 panel on Saturday evening in Beverly Hills all had to do with just how many of the show's mysteries would be resolved. Greatly for this reason (but also due in part to the fact that the show is currently shooting in Hawaii), the majority of the panel was made up of the show's writers and producers, including creators Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse. Joining them in the "hot seats" were Adam Horowitz, Edward Kitsis, Liz Sarnoff, and director/producer Jack Bender (formerly of The Sopranos fame). The actors who made the journey in the gloomy weather were none other than Terry O'Quinn, Michael Emerson, and two who may have some 'splainin' to do about how really old and wise they are: Nestor Carbonell and Zuleikha Robinson.

The evening kicked off with a quick (two-minute) clip from an upcoming episode the panel was calling "Iceberg," that featured Sayid, Miles, Dogen, and Claire. Miles explains to Sayid, packing his things after being banished from the temple, that he was dead for a full two hours and when he finally came back to life, everyone was equally surprised. He leaves Sayid with an ominous "whatever brought you back..." Claire storms into the scene declaring that "he" (aka "her friend" aka Not!Locke) wants to see Dogen outside, but Dogen responds he cannot do that or he will surely be killed. Claire tells him to send someone that "he" won't kill then. And we cut to black leaving the audience wanting oh so much more.

Moderated by funnyman and self-proclaimed Lostie, Paul Scheer, the record hour and forty-five minute long panel provided plenty of laughs, a few answers, and of course even more intrigue. I'd like to share with you the funny story O'Quinn told of hitching a ride in Hawaii one day only to have the guy drive him to his house to "show him" to his wife, or the funny questions Scheer was submitted via Twitter that he read aloud but didn't ask the group to dignify with answers, but I know that's not why you're all logging on. So let's cut right to the chase and try to dig out all of the spoilers of the evening then, shall we? (And please forgive me if I miss one or two; as someone who has not seen every episode of the show-- I know, for shame!-- some things may have went over my head.)

The finale episode will be written next week. They are currently shooting episode fifteen with sixteen coming up close behind and probably overlapping in a day or so. There will be a total of eighteen episodes to make up this sixth and final season.

Cuse discussed in detail some things that won't be resolved, such as the significance of the man Sayid shot on the golf course and anything further with Anna, Ben's one-time love. However, when asked about the bird that flew by and seemed to be saying Hurley (for those extremely attentive viewers!), he admitted that "Actually a few birds have said Hurley!" Rewind your DVDs, folks, because that will be explained. Does that make Hurley the ultimate candidate, then, if even the wildlife seems to know his name? The creators wouldn't say, nor would they completely reveal the truth about Jacob's list. "The way it always played to me," Cuse started, "was that everything Ben says has an undercurrent of half-truth to it. And the concept was revealed through Ben, in his re-telling, so it could just be one of his lies."

Coming Up on the Island:

Lindelof clarified that Jacob was telling the truth and someone is coming to the island.

Lindelof said that if one word was allowed to sum up the last few episodes, it would be "water." Marinate on that one...

O'Quinn is currently playing "a guy you won't see until the final episode."

To date the Smoke Monster has never taken the form of anything but a human-- despite what a freeze frame when the bus hits Juliet's husband may look like-- but the idea of the Smoke Monster having the ability to take an inanimate form caused Lindelof to smirk: "Like if when Hurley was driving the VW crazily it was because of the Smoke Monster?" If he doesn't already have something planned for this, it would appear he may be thinking about it now!

Flash Sideways:

Jack is married to someone we have seen before. Lindelof clarified that it's Sarah. Since Jack is currently married to Sarah in the flash sideways, she is not David's mom, as it has already been established that Jack shares custody of David with his biological mom.

Did Desmond switch seats or simply disappear from Oceanic Flight 815? The answer will be revealed on an upcoming episode that has already been shot!

Alan Dale is still confused by his character of Widmore. The present tense use of verbs from Bender led most in the crowd to assume his character will make another appearance.

The writers admitted they cut themselves a raw deal with the character of Walt (Malcolm David Kelly) because he was such an integral part of the first two seasons, but the actor's natural aging process upset things slightly. They admitted they are trying to work him back in before the end, and we will definitely see Vincent again!

Lindelof also discussed the apparent lack of homosexual characters on the show (other than Mr. Friendly). Though he admitted he wished they had added more diversity in general in the beginning, he also pointed out that there's is a "pretty chaste show," in that the characters "aren't necessarily thinking sexually while they're running from the smoke monster!" Therefore, there are characters that currently exist within the world of Lost that easily could be gay, and it has just never come up.

Separately, when asked about a supposed upcoming hitman project, O'Quinn simply shrugged off the question since it didn't pertain to the show everyone came out that evening to honor. Emerson had a little more fun with the idea, though: "It's a thing we might do on a street corner or in a church basement!" He laughed. O'Quinn then got into it and added: "On the curb...gradually working our way to Broadway."

And what's up for the rest of the panel after Lost comes to a (bittersweet) end? Cuse said that they won't be discussing the show any further once the episode airs on May 23rd, preferring instead to "leave it up to discussion and interpretation, as always" among the fans.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

In Case You Missed It: Modern Family's "In The Moonlight" Music Video...

Last night at the Modern Family PaleyFest 2010 panel, a fan asked Steven Levitan, show co-creator, about the conception of "In The Moonlight." Levitan said that the young actor who plays Dylan, Reid Ewing, wrote the music but that he wrote the lyrics and was particularly proud of one that was only in the music video. The lyric, quite funnily in itself, was "Underneath the willow tree/wearing nothing else but me..." I'm sure his kids, who were in the audience, were quite proud (and not at all embarrassed!) of his admission, but all I could focus on was the fact that ABC had released a music video for the hilariously inappropriate (but catchy!) song, and I had missed it!

So today, I set about in the depths of Hulu and YouTube to unearth the gem...which better turn up as an extra on the first season DVD set!!

PaleyFest Opening Night: Modern Family!...

"The way I see it, Modern Family is the story of these three families that is being told documentary style," co-creator Steven Levitan explained during opening night of PaleyFest 2010. "But that is apparently up for debate. The thing is, if I believed these families would allow cameras into their homes, into their children's rooms, for these intimate moments, I wouldn't like them as much!"

Funnyman Ty Burrell, who plays hapless dad Phil Dunphy, agreed, adding that he likes that the show hasn't tried to explain the breaking-the-fourth wall elements of the show. He doesn't consider those moments where the characters talk directly to the camera interviews, The Office style, but instead as if the family member is turning to another family member to say "Are you seeing this?" "The audience is like a distant relative!"

And last night at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills, the audience of almost two thousand really was like family while screening a brand new episode ("Fears") of the show. We laughed along with Phil as he brainstormed what treasure he thought might be under the house; we felt for Manny (Rico Rodriguez, who was not in attendance), who didn't want to attend a dance or go on a rollercoaster; and we cried (well, because we were laughing so hard) when Lily's first word was (*spoiler alert*) "Mama."

Moderated by Billy Bush, the panel of cast and creatives from the hit new series spilled secrets from the set as well as how working on such a runaway hit has affected their real lives. Only Eric Stonestreet appears to have hit a slight road-bump with his role as big gay teddy bear Cam. Straight in real life, Stonestreet joked that although he has "quite the hole" to dig himself out of when attempting to meet a woman, he is "appreciative of all of my fans! No matter how much hair they have on their back, or chest...or lip!"

And Stonestreet provided much of the comic relief for the evening, keeping everyone-- audience and panelists both included-- laughing so hard they shed a few tears. He not only treated the crowd to a spontaneous "transformation" into Cam as Director Jason Winer yelled "Action!" from across the stage, but he also joked about his "big reoccurring pimple," for which he apologized after the episode was shown on a fifty-foot screen. And as Burrell was telling a touching story about a twenty-something fan who came up to him and told him how important the show means to him and his siblings, Stonestreet couldn't help but crack: "We're not curing cancer, but we're giving Rickets a good shot!" It was like sitting in the Dunphy living room for a slightly unorthodox Easter Sunday brunch!

Stonestreet is known for similar zippy comedic one-liners and moments on the show, as well. When Bush asked the cast some of their favorite moments to film thus far, Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Mitchell) called back to the figure skating scene with Julie Bowen (Claire) in the parking lot, but just about everyone else pointed to the "moon landing" moment between Stonestreet and sitcom veteran Ed O'Neill (Jay). "Work hard and believe in yourself, and you, too, can touch butts with a television icon," Stonestreet advised the audience.

Winer didn't address recent reports that the cast would be traveling to Maui to shoot a very special episode to air at the end of the first season, but he admitted that there was a bit of a fight with the network over just how much of the moment when the two men "bump bare butts" in a locker room could be shown. "Ironically, things have kind of gone backwards since the days of Dennis Franz on NYPD Blue; we had to keep adding more pixelation!"

Modern Family is touching fans and warming hearts from all parts of life, perhaps most simply because it does not feature a traditional, nuclear family. Levitan considers Cam and Mitchell's relationship to be the "most conservative family" on the show in the way the two go about dealing with issues of parenthood. But in many ways, their coupledom is the most conservative PDA-wise, as well. Ferguson and Stonestreet faked a kiss on stage in response to the lack of on-screen lovin' the duo seems to share, but when asked directly about the reason behind it, both just pointed to the fact that their story is really much more about being young, first time fathers.

While Cam and Mitchell may have a more serious storyline, Sofia Vergara (Gloria) said the key to any good comedy is "to not be afraid to look like a fool." Bowen quickly quipped back: "Oh really? Just when do you look like a fool!? Does 'fool' mean the same thing in your language?" Bowen attempted to copy Vergara's Colombian accent, but it came out sounding more Italian as she said: "Fool means beautiful lady?"

Bowen has become the go-to for physical comedy, after all-- from being unable to work a television remote, to walking into her daughter's room in her underwear while a video chat was open, to getting her trenchcoat belt stuck in an escalator when she wasn't wearing anything underneath, to an upcoming brawl with a mall security guard-- shot at the Grove! (and two of those were admitted to be pulled from the writers' real lives)... In fact, Levitan said that this year "just about every pilot script breakdown [made] a call for 'a Julie Bowen type,'" which the incredibly humble Bowen responded, "was the best compliment" anyone could pay her.

There was no definitive verdict on if fan favorite guest stars like Shelley Long or Elizabeth Banks would be reprising their roles, but one who will be popping up again soon is Phil's dad, as played by Fred Willard!! "At the Golden Globes, it was just crazy the caliber of stars coming up to us saying they wanted to be a part of the show," Levitan said, "but I don't want it to just be a parade of guest stars. We have such immensely talented actors in our cast, and the show is really about them and their relationships."

And it really is a testament to the cast that such somewhat wacky characters can all be so grounded and real in these relationships. Though none of the kids were in attendance for the panel, the actors that were-- like Bowen and Ferguson-- were quick to pay proper credit where it's due and attribute much of the show's relatability and success to their younger counterparts. "They really are brilliant little people," Bowen gushed. "[They] started this newspaper on the set, and they all write these articles and reviews. They're creative and talented in so many ways."

They say the true measure of the success of a show, though, is just how far and wide it can cast its net and still reach people. And the success of Modern Family, therefore, can probably be summed up in one simply story that Burrell shared during the evening: "I was walking in Central Park, and I was going through one of those tunnels, and there was this homeless guy inside, playing the fiddle. He was really into it, fingers flying, and all of a sudden he looked up, pointed at me, and said: "Never since Frasier, has a show come on the air knowing its tone so completely."" If that doesn't explain just how many people have connected with this show, I don't know what will!

To see more photos from Opening Night at PaleyFest, please Become a Fan on Facebook!

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Office Debuts Another Web Series, "The Mentor"...

I have never heard anyone say they want to be an accountant. I assumed it was the kind of job you fell into because you were good at math. But Ellie Kemper's up-beat and mild-mannered Office receptionist, Erin, has expressed interest in learning about accounting to both her boss Michael Scott (Steve Carrell) and her co-worker Oscar (Oscar Nunez), and in the four-part web series premiering online on March 4th, she sets about seeing if those dreams can become a reality when she begins to shadow Angela (Angela Kinsey).

Kemper, who watched the show for five seasons before joining the cast, is eager to jump into yet another somewhat wacky storyline for her still-new character. Currently, she and Andy (Ed Helms) have been dancing around each other in an odd flirtation, and though NBC announced that they will soon be going on their first official date, Kemper isn't quite sure where that will lead them.

"I guess the ground work has been laid," Kemper is cautious when choosing the right words so as not to spoil the episode that I admitted I hadn't yet seen. "It seems like every step forward, it's still unclear because there are always weird obstacles...I honestly don't know what the writers have in store for us!"

For now what's most soon upcoming (at least for Kemper), though, is this Mentor web series. The Office was one of the first network shows to branch out into the smaller medium that is the web-- and it can even be argued that it is due to their success that others are now trying to follow down the path. "I know the very first webisodes we did were the Accounting webisodes, and at that time it was a very new genre," Kinsey points out. "I mean, we came in on our day off, and it was me and Brian and Oscar, and we had such a small, skeleton crew...It felt very free and loose; it felt like something we might have done in college."

And now that they have so many of them under their belt (including the very popular Subtle Sexuality that come with music videos!), Kinsey admits that they're a bit more structured but still just as fun. "There's a real sense of play; it's kind of like going to school on off hours. There's no one really there, and you all kind of cut up a little more, and maybe you still get your work done, but instead of sitting on your chair at your desk, you sit on your desk! That's kind of what the energy's like there."

Kemper agrees: "I felt like there was-- I don't know if relaxed is the right word-- but more room..."

Angela's maternal instinct thus far has only been toward cats, though we have seen her affinity for babies dressed up like little adults. Kinsey thinks it would be "a lot of fun" to watch her try to mother an actual human being and go through those emotions. For now, she's considering utilizing Jim and Pam's newborn baby to fill the void-- potentially dressing it up as a mini-Mother Theresa in a habit or creating yet another holiday special when "come Christmastime I could try to make a live nativity scene!"

But in all seriousness, Angela is going to be taking Erin under her wing in this web series, and in many ways that will make her somewhat of a mother figure to the new girl. Kinsey is cognizant of the fact that this might come out of left field for some fans. After all, she has never been the most helpful or open "team" player in Dunder Mifflin before! "If you change a character too much, the audience falls out of love with that character," Kinsey explains. "But it's not like she wants to mentor Kevin!" Kinsey laughs.

Angela really loves her job; she really loves what she does, and she's eager to share that knowledge with someone, as long as that someone seems capable of learning. Besides, Kinsey continues: "I sort of feel like Angela Martin wants a friend! But she's so prickly that it's such a tall order to be her friend. She's not a robot. She misses Dwight; she misses her friend-- because I think he was her best friend-- and I think her ladies' group at church is catty...I think it's always nice to have an ally at work, and she doesn't have that, so I think she sort of jumped at the chance [to play mentor to Erin]."

Kemper admits that she also doesn't know if Erin's time with Angela is going to damper plans for another Subtle Sexuality single. After all, we all know how Kelly (Mindy Kaling) takes rejection! "I've heard rumors that they are going to write another song and maybe make another video, but I'm not sure if those rumors are accurate," Kemper says. But she is quick to add: "I hope they do! I think it's fun to dress up in those clothes and sing!"

Kinsey hopes they leave room for another duet between Andy and Erin. "I love that [they] have such a sweet innocence about them!" She gushes but then quickly goes for the laugh: "They're kind of both buffoons, and there's a real sweetness to that that makes me want to root for them in a way."

And of course Kinsey probably wants Andy and Erin together to allow room for Dwight and Angela to rekindle their...combative romance. She says: "I think Rainn and I have always thought that we're geeky, militant soulmates, and we hope that someday they find their way back to one another."

March 4th will also bring viewers the one-hour episode of The Office in which Jim and Pam's baby is born. With their coupledom solidified episodes earlier during their Niagra Falls wedding, it appears that Kinsey and Kemper have the new "will they/won't they" go-to couples of the series!

Lauren Graham Spills The Secrets Of Parenthood...

It was once a feature film and then a television series that was quickly canceled but a decade and a half later inducted into the "Brilliant but Canceled" series. Now NBC is giving it a go once again. Brought to millions of televisions across the country (or so the network hopes), Parenthood features an all-star cast of television veterans who are playing one big, happy, colorful and somewhat dysfunctional family.

Lauren Graham once again finds herself playing the too-young-mother of precocious teenagers at the center of the family and the show. Her character this time around, though, is a financially strapped single mother who is packing up her Fresno apartment and uprooting her two inconvenienced kids to make a big move back home. It is a role that she stepped into when Maura Tierney had to bow out of the project due to health reasons. Considering Graham seemed to semi-retire from television, spending the last few years working on independent films and developing ideas for a show of her own, My Life Made Possible By Pop Culture couldn't help but ask what drew her out of the hiatus to sign onto this project-- and this character-- instead.

"The decision was kind of just a very instinctual one," Graham starts on a conference call about her new show. "I have been reading scripts for two and half years or three years or whatever it is since Gilmore Girls ended, and there just wasn't anything I connected to, and that's including things that I was developing...

"I always think about the 'dating model' of you have the list of things that you want but then you meet somebody and fall in love and half the things were not on your list. This is kind of that in that I didn't plan to play a mom; I didn't plan to do an ensemble; I was thinking maybe a comedy and maybe cable, but then I read this script, and I met with Jason [Katims, writer] and just the idea of being able to collaborate with a writer who has such a beautiful grip of work but is also encouraging in 'take your idea and kind of run with it and improvise once in awhile' was just such a different seemed like a good idea!"

What also attracted Graham to the show was the fact that it allowed her some freedom with her schedule, as well as her take on the character. After all, being part of an ensemble cast means she doesn't have to carry the full weight of the script on her shoulders each week, and she "doesn't see dawn as much" as she had to when she was the lead on Gilmore Girls, so that's pretty enjoyable.

"It's a more sane life, for sure, to be part of an ensemble! And I find that the work can be more specific, therefore; I have to really make sure I know where I am in the story because I'm not in every scene...I find this work really gratifying because it is more specific; when you work with a smaller amount of material everything [about it] is really important [for where my character is]."

The irony of getting cast as iconic mothers is not lost on Graham, who was raised by her father. When asked what she draws on to form these characters, Graham admits that she doesn't really "have an idea of what a mom is supposed to be; I just kind of look at who the person is." But she is quick to credit the young actors who play her kids at being "really easy to love" and therefore making her job a bit more effortless.

Graham's new role of Sarah Braverman is what she describes with a little laugh as "it might be strong to say but a failure." This is definitely a step away from her usual 'type' as the always upbeat and fast-talking mother who is really more of a friend to her child than anything else. "She's shouldering a lot of baggage in terms of where she is in life...Looking at life through the eyes of disappointment is something I think about a lot with Sarah."

And Sarah is not buddy-buddy with her kids the way Lorelai Gilmore was besties with her only daughter Rory, either. In fact, Graham admits that the on-screen relationship between Sarah and her rebellious daughter Amber (played by Arrested Development's Mae Whitman) is more contentious than anything else. "What I like about [Sarah is] she's kind of doing things in a more haphazard way an doesn't always make the right choice. That felt different enough to me that it wasn't going to be like It's just like Lorelai!"

But regardless of what kind of relationship it is, there has to be chemistry to work, so what about the chemistry between Graham and co-star Mike O'Malley with whom we see her son almost catch her in the act in the pilot? It must be decent enough because O'Malley is back in the third episode and producers (including Ron Howard) are trying to bring him in for the back nine as well!

Tune in to the premiere of Parenthood this coming Tuesday, March 2nd, at 10!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Woof Wednesday #41...

A candid of Madison during a recent photoshoot to promote my "Team Baze" tee-shirts I had made up for charity. He makes the best model! Now I just need to get him some covers or a national campaign...any paid work will do, really. Inquire about his rates and special skills within!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Breaking News: Louden Swain WILL Perform at Creation's "Salute to Supernatural"...

I have been pushing for Rob Benedict (Chuck the Prophet)'s band Louden Swain to play the opening night concert of Creation Entertainment's LA "Salute to Supernatural" convention ever since I saw them do a set at the Mint for the release of their newest album.

When, last month, it was announced that Benedict would be appearing at the convention-- on Friday-- I thought it was looking good, but the publicity folks at Creation remained mum. Today, though, the band announced via Twitter that they were in fact confirmed and the official website would be making the announcement shortly.

These guys rock-- and they rock hard-- musically but also just as awesome human beings. They were super generous in donating some autographed CDs and tee-shirts for my non profit's wine tasting event back in January, and they have even expressed interest in playing a charity concert for us as well. They are accommodating, easy to work with, genuinely nice guys who also have a killer talent. And I could not be more excited that they are the band chosen this year. Nothing against Steve Carlson or Jason Manns-- they are both very talented, as well. But Benedict is actually on the show, so it makes a bit more sense that he'd get to showcase his "other" gig in a room full of Supernatural fans.

Mid-Season Checkpoint: Life Unexpected's "Teams"...

Can I be on Team Baze for my boyfriend and Team Ryan for my dad?

Allow me to explain...

Baze is fun-loving, goofy, and incredibly charming. One smile from him can have you forget anything that might be upsetting you or stressing you out-- even if that thing happens to be him at any given moment. But I have to admit that most of that charm stems from the actor in his faded tee-shirts, Kristoffer Polaha. The character himself-- the man-child who screws up more times than even he can count-- could easily be on the wrong side of annoying and get under my skin in the not-so-good way if he were somehow thrust into my life.

What's so great about Baze, though, is that he's not as one-note as he easily could have been. He may screw up, but he truly does learn from his mistakes. And he's not devoid of feelings-- even of feeling like he needs to grow up a bit and be more responsible. He couldn't just jump into another casual one-night stand the way he apparently was so notorious for doing because he was starting to recognize and acknowledge feelings for someone else. He also is loyal and protective in his own way: he lied about the true nature of his relationship with Cate because she wanted to keep it quiet, and he didn't want to rock the boat with her.

Perhaps Cate even summed Baze up best herself when they were sitting in the police department and she said, with envy dripping in her voice, that there was something magnetic about him that just attracted people to him and made them like him.

The thing with Baze, though, is that Cate always kept him far away for what she assumed was good reason. She claims it is because he infuriates her, but that is a pretty superficial reason to keep someone at bay. She doesn't dig deep enough to consider such intense emotion a burst of passion that she otherwise does not allow into her life and perhaps from which she could greatly benefit. She prefers to live "playing it safe" (insert flat hand drawing an imaginary horizontal line in the air here) to the peaks, valleys, and spikes that time, let alone a relationship, with Baze brings.

Ryan, on the other hand, is a natural-born father figure. He is constantly shooting stern, disapproving looks every which way (even toward Cate), and he always offers a good tidbit of advice. Most notably he explained to Cate that "trying to understand" is something you do when you love someone. Thanks, Pops! In a less capable actor's hands, that statement might have come off sounding condescending or as filled with venom as Bug's reaction toward Lux that she is "damaged." But Kerr Smith is just as smart an actor as Polaha and manages to make his character insanely likable, if a bit of a glutton for punishment.

Ryan desperately wants to be in love and be that family man that he knows himself to be. In a way, he is a bit like Ted Moseby (How I Met Your Mother), though thankfully Ryan is not pretentious. The problem is that he is still trying to convince himself that Cate is the one to do all of that with despite her standoffish behavior.

Quite frankly, I can't figure out how Cate and Ryan got together in the first place. The show has hinted at how she was once a fun party girl, and I guess being trapped in a small recording booth for a few hours every morning is just a breeding ground for sexual tensions anyway. But those things don't mean automatic chemistry. We have always seen and therefore known Cate as so high-strung and tense that I can't imagine that's an attitude that just got flipped on when she found out her daughter was around. Maybe it's due to my own personal beliefs that we are who we are, and we can't hide who we really are (successfully) for too long, but I feel like Ryan has had to have known that side of her pretty early on (especially being stuck in such close quarters!). Maybe relationships that feature two uptight people can work (look at Wasps; some of them are probably genuinely happy...) but right now it just seems more convenient, more like they're both trying to force it to work because it would be easier, than because it's really right.

And none of this is meant to be a judgment on Cate. I know Cate; I get Cate; I am Cate. There is a lot to be said for our young experiences shaping our intimacy issues for years to come, and obviously what she went through in high school has scarred her more than she'd like to admit. Cate's the one who's a little bit damaged, and she admitted it herself, so that should just mean she needs to figure out herself and her own mess before really committing to someone else.

And if being on these characters' teams means rooting for them to succeed and find love and true happiness, than maybe I should just go with the one who needs the most work and be on Team Cate!

Cate doesn't seem to be in love with Ryan the way she even verbalizes to Lux that she is. Actions speak so much louder than words anyway, and thus far her actions have been to make fun of him when he proposed, cheat on him, and then blatantly lie about her true relationship with Baze. At the end of last night's episode, when she finally put on her ring and set a date for the wedding, she appeared to do so to prove that she was capable of it rather than because she really wanted to. She denies so much and claims so many other half-truths that perhaps she is truly confused as to who she "really" is and what she wants. But right now that doesn't appear to be Ryan.

But maybe that's just the way Shiri Appleby is choosing to play Cate. I spent a good amount of time last night transcribing some of the Ryan/Cate scenes to read the words on the page and see if I had a different reaction to their relationship, and I realized that with different emphasis there was a chance I could believe Cate really is in love with Ryan. Right now I believe she cares about him, but they read much more as a platonic (maybe even hinging on brother-sister) relationship than anyone about to embark on a honeymoon-- literal or otherwise.

I know series creator Liz Tigelaar has stated that Ryan is with whom Cate should be. She has even made a more recent, slightly ominous comment that "by now" (probably meaning by the end of the first season finale) everyone is on Team Ryan..."probably even Baze." What did you do in the second half of the season, Liz??? And I'm hoping that something in the next half of the season manages to sway me, to at least see things from her point of view. Because right now I still don't quite buy it!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Kris Allen On His Return To Idol: It's Not About Me...

Thursday evening brings the first live results show back to American Idol for this ninth season, but more than that, it brings the return of Idol Gives Back, a mega-hit in 2008 and that was all but forgotten last season. The very special episode was thrown together a bit hastily in response to the devastation in Haiti after the earthquakes earlier this year. On the behest of Simon Fuller, season 8 winner Kris Allen went down to Haiti to witness the devastation for himself and will return to the Idol stage on Thursday to perform and premiere a video package of his time helping the UN with their relief efforts down in Haiti.

Allen's trip was a whirlwind: he left last Friday and only got to spend about nine or ten hours in the country. While he dug through rubble and handed out food, water, and clothing and all of the "hard labor" work, Allen said the most lasting memories for him came from just getting to spend time with the people who were affected. "For me, it's always the kids, you know? I got to go into this women's tent, and it felt like a really safe place. They were taking care of the babies, which were, like, from newborn to two, and I got to sing a song for them and hold a couple of babies...There was a lot of happiness and hope in people's eyes; it was a really cool experience."

And Allen lending his name to charity does not begin and end with Haiti. In the past he and his wife have taken quite a few mission trips, and he even visited Thailand after the terrible tsunami a few years back. Allen found a lot of similarities between Thailand and Haiti in terms of the level of destruction and yet the sense of hope from the people. "They know everything is going to be okay. It's going to take a long time but everything is going to be hopefully better than it was," he says. Allen will also travel to Rwanda this spring with the Toms Shoes Foundation and hopes that he can return to Haiti to help even more when he has a little bit more time.

For now, though, he is focusing on his immediate return in front of Simon, Randy, and Kara. When asked how he feels about stepping in front of the judges once again, he is quick to point out that "It's nerve-wracking!" But if he was ever going to come back-- to perform or mentor or just visit-- Allen is glad it could be to help the UN raise funds for such a good cause.

"This is for a completely different thing; it's not about me at all. Every time I was on that stage last year, it was about me, and this time it's not. It feels like a really good thing to come back for."

Though Allen stayed mum about what he would be performing on Thursday night (it could be the cover of "Amazing Grace" he performed for that children's ward in Haiti or "Live Like We're Dying," the first single off his debut album that has even more significance when put up against such a serious backdrop), he did call it an "inspirational and uplifting" song. Allen also previewed that the performance will be available on iTunes with the proceeds benefitting all the good, hard work the UN is doing down in Haiti. Throughout the show, fans will also be able to text donations in to a very specific number. While item donations are welcome, too, right now, money is still the most effective asset someone can give, as there are many, many Haitians who have lost not just their homes, possessions, and family, but also their jobs and will need help with basic survival until things are begun to be rebuilt.

Of course Allen has been too busy to watch the current season of Idol and try to formulate an opinion on any possible frontrunners, but his advice for each and every one of them is the same: "Just go out and do your best. It's a pretty general thing to say, but I think they need to hear that. Just go out and do what you do!"

Modern Family's Young Actors Restore My Faith in the Youth...

Last year I was recruited to judge a middle school scholarship contest. Kids from all across Los Angeles in the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades submitted three to four paragraph essays on why they deserved to go to college and how college would help them become stronger societal members who could then better the community. The contest was actually called "Save Me A Spot" and the winners would receive scholarship bonds to be used upon their high school graduation towards college tuition. The rules of said contest were very specific regarding format and structure, but the students had the option of drawing upon personal or historical examples to strength their arguments. As a young writer, the organizers of the contest thought I'd be a good judge of who could make the most compelling cases, but all I took away from the experience was that if these kids didn't learn proper grammar and syntax soon, it wouldn't matter if they had the money for college or not because they wouldn't get in!

I was always the kid who liked to think outside of the box for my writing assignments. Research papers bored me, and I even opted to turn in a feature film script as my high school English thesis instead of a standard term paper. My teachers were indulgent, though. I started creative writing classes in fourth grade, not because someone saw something artistic within me but because the whole class needed a mandatory extracurricular and the teacher just had a passion for the written word. I happened to find something I loved, and I stuck with it, paying extra close attention during English lessons and studying AP style on my own a few years later when I found the internet. When I began to write, I felt like I had found the missing link in my young life. I couldn't imagine doing anything else, and I couldn't remember what I used to occupy my time before it. I simply fell in love. And I wanted to know everything there was to know about this thing with which I fell in love.

These days, it appears kids either aren't being taught the lessons or they simply aren't connecting with them in the innate way I did. There is something to be said, though, for recognizing you might not have a passion for a subject and still understanding it is something you will need to master to exist as a productive member of society. I'm not even talking about the complexities of using a colon versus a semi-colon here, by the way. If a child is in the sixth, seventh, or eighth grade and doesn't know the proper use of "their/there/they're" or "your/you're" or the difference between a full, complete sentence and a fragment...well, we are in deep trouble. It doesn't matter if the child is in public, private, or parochial school; the fault lies within all of us-- the parents, the relatives, the friends, the neighbors, and the teachers-- to give them the tools because without them they can't better their own lives, let alone their community.

The point of rehashing all of this now is that I came across my two favorite young actors from Modern Family's Twitter accounts this past weekend. Nolan Gould, the eleven year-old who plays the dimwitted Luke Delphy proves he is much smarter than his on-screen alter ego with succinctly written posts (well, they'd have to be at only 140 characters!). In a place where even most adults have taken to ridiculous acronyms and abbrievations (how the hell is "bb" an acceptable form of the word "baby?" It's barely shorter, and everyone just looks ridiculous typing it!), Gould manages to write using full words and proper punctuation. Following him is refreshing simply for those reasons alone; it's like a little burst of intelligence in a sea of internet jibberish.

Rico Rodriguez, Columbian lothario Manny Delgado, appears to truly be the "little adult" in real life that he plays on-screen. Whether online or on a talk show, he is extremely articulate and seems very well read (is that a weird thing to say about an eleven year-old?). I feel like I could easily write to him for life advice if and when I find myself in an existential crisis and yet he easily admits in his Tweets that he goes to bed at nine p.m. because he is still just a kid, after all. He has only been on Twitter for about a day now but it's safe to say we can look forward to many messages filled with spirited joy...all properly phrased.

I can't tell if Gould and Rodriguez are testaments to having your children tutored on a set instead of attending crowded classroom schooling, or if they're just truly gifted. As appalled at I was last year when I found out the sheer volume of kids who didn't have a grasp on even the basics of writing, these two young talents have me breathing somewhat of a sigh of relief that all hope is not lost yet for the youth of Hollywood, let alone America.

Help Ensure Life Unexpected Gets Its Much Deserved Second Season...

Regardless of what side of the whole Life Unexpected fan-driven Team Baze/Team Ryan campaign** you are on, I think we can all agree that we need more of this show! Early on, Life Unexpected was being deemed a show that was a throwback to the good ole' days of the WB, when the network relied on somewhat kooky, always grounded and real, character-driven pieces to compete with the other "big three" networks. Nowadays, the newly minted CW goes for soapy melodrama or flashy supernatural worlds (vampires, demons) instead. As fans of Life Unexpected we are not saying the show should altogether replace such stylized and/or gimmicky programs, but instead we are trying to show that the two types can co-exist peacefully and create even happier audiences. Because as much as we like to live in reality, sometimes we want to escape into a more fantastical world, too. Give us Life Unexpected, and we'll stick around and give new pilots like Nikita a shot.

Though admittedly from the network things are looking good for a second season pick-up of Life Unexpected, better to be safe than sorry, right? So please sign this petition to renew the freshman dramaedy. And of course, tune in tonight at nine for a brand new episode!!

**Remember, you can still purchase your Team Baze and/or Team Ryan tees (proceeds benefitting Children of the Night). Currently they are only available in a women's fitted tee but email me if you'd like another option and with enough demand, I will create multiple options.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Jacob Young Starts SoapFan Mystery Theatre With A Bang...

Agatha Christie stories truly are from another time and place. Yes, they are classics and feature universal stories such as families, love, life, and death, but the pacing leads to a lack of twists because today's savvier audience is always a step ahead of the characters. There is intrigue but little mystery left in these tales. Still, with the right actors in the roles during staged readings, the stories will be just as captivating as the first time they were read, all those years ago. Saturday night brought opening night of SoapFan Mystery Theatre, a one-of-a-kind phenomena that puts beloved daytime stars on stage in such Agatha Christie stories. The staged readings span two weekends over two months and opened with a bang on Saturday with "The Uninvited Guest."

"The Uninvited Guest" tells the story of a mysterious stranger who has car trouble one evening and happens upon a manor in which he hopes he can call for help. Unfortunately he finds the man of the house dead, slumped over in his chair, and the now-widow admitting to the crime. For reasons unknown, the man decides to help her, but once the authorities and rest of the family get involved, it becomes very clear very soon that the events of the evening-- and the players in the game-- were not what they appeared to be. There is some finger pointing and some assumption, and yes, another death before the truth is finally revealed.

In keeping with the recent onslaught of promos All My Children is doing to announce their move to Los Angeles, opening night featured fan favorites from their cast: Vincent Irizarry, Adam Mayfield, and Jacob Young alongside other film and television greats like Stefanie Powers, Maggie Blye, Constance Towers, and Robert Newman.

While there was not a disconnected actor in the bunch, Jacob Young was exceptionally on-point as Jan, the somewhat slow-stepson of the deceased. Young truly became the character, dragging his leg slightly, wringing his hands, and getting so animated he literally reddened as he spoke. Watching him perform should have been truly inspiring for the many young aspiring actors in the audience.

Young also co-produced and directed the performance. His ability to wear multiple hats and yet not get distracted enough to let the intensity of his performance falter should solidify that despite the current worries over the state of the soap genre, Young will have a career in this industry for years to come.

Putting on a live stage show (even one as simple as a reading) is a true testament for soap opera stars. After all, there are still many people who believe such celebrities are merely gorgeous, glamorous props and can't actually act-- at least not without the help of cue cards. But these few seasoned talents truly proved any skeptics wrong. There is a reason they are able to memorize up to sixty pages a day, can shoot four episodes back to back, and always make you believe they want to marry/boff/kidnap/kill a particular significant other within the show!

The cast posed for photos prior to the reading and then stuck around after to meet and mingle with fans who had purchased the VIP ticket option. And as a bonus, lucky soap fans could spot quite a few celebrity audience member sitting around them, including Newman's long-time Guiding Light co-star Kim Zimmer, as well as Passions' Juliet Mills, and even Hollywood legend Jerry Lewis.

SoapFan Mystery Theatre will return to the WGA Theatre in Beverly Hills on March 27 with another Christie reading, "Spider's Web," this time starring Mills, Ricky Paull Goldin, Maxwell Caulfield, and the return of Mayfield and Young. Tickets are still available; be sure to scoop up yours sooner rather than later!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Report From The Set: Romantically Challenged...

On Friday, I checked out a taping of ABC's newest sitcom starring Alyssa Milano and Kyle Bornheimer (Worst Week), Romantically Challenged. Such begins my first installment in a brand spankin' new column for 2010: Report from the Set! Before I left for the show, a friend asked me what the show, which doesn't premiere until spring, is about. I retorted that Milano plays a newly-divorced mom who must obviously be the aforementioned romantically challenged. Other than that, I admit I didn't know much else...yet.

Romantically Challenged is a traditional four-camera sitcom, directed by the esteemed James Burrows and set in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but which tapes over at CBS-Radford in Studio City CA. It turns out Milano's character (Rebecca) is trying to start over after learning her ex-husband of only a few months is already engaged to another woman, while she, on the other hand, hasn't been doing much of anything other than working and raising their teenage son. Of course one of her first experiences entering back into the dating world has her completely messing up by lying not only about what she does for a living (she's a lawyer but tells the guy she "washes dogs," as appears to be a very trendy job these days, judging by how many sitcoms feature mentions of women who do that!) as well as how old her son is. While the show will inevitably focus on many similar unlucky-in-love trials and tribulations for Rebecca, it is much more of an ensemble than one might imagine, considering ABC has been thus far promoting the program as "Milano's new comedy."

Only a few episodes later, for example, Rebecca takes somewhat of a backseat, in a B-storyline that has her meddling in her little sister (we'll get to her in a minute)'s own love life, while her two male friends experience some "bromance troubles" of their own...

Bornheimer portrays Perry, Rebecca's best friend who is a sweet, romantic guy-- one who many women might assume is gay. In one early episode he takes a cooking class because he is really focused on learning how to make "frushi" (sushi made up entirely of fruits) but ends up meeting what he thinks is his perfect woman. Unfortunately for him, she has a thing for dirty talk and spanking, and he just can't get behind (no pun intended) such things.

Perry's couch-crashing roommate Shawn, portrayed by Josh Lawson, is an aspiring novelist who has been friends with Perry and Rebecca since they were kids. His wacky antics range from sending Rebecca's son to school with a short story he wrote to forgetting to pick up Perry from the dentist when he's recovering from oral surgery. Shawn seems to be the butt of many "he just can't get laid" jokes, despite the fact that he is adorably charming (due mostly to Lawson himself). Perry and Shawn have a very Chandler and Joey, respectively, relationship!

But Shawn is not the obligatory comic relief character in this show. That title belongs to Kelly Stables, the smaller screen's Leslie Mann, who plays Rebecca's little sister Lisa. Lisa is a pixie of a kindergarten teacher by day but attracted to the bad boys by night. She is the typical "always picks the wrong men" character but without the self-deprecation or the humorous alcoholism (see Ashley Jensen on CBS' Accidentally on Purpose).

Though the cast and crew were only working on their third episode for their first season when I sat in, the seasoned pros that rounded out the group kept everything running smoothly and efficiently. The writers worked hard on-set to rewrite jokes on the fly, so to speak, as with any show taped in front of a live audience, but it never appeared to be because said audience wasn't responding; they simply wanted to have options in the editing room. The simplest example of a change was a simple line tweak or two, such as when Lisa pointed out a guy she found attractive. He started out as a "guy with a ponytail who could make his pecs bounce" and turned into "a guy with a 'No Fat Chicks' tee shirt" and ended up "a guy with a mullet eating a Churro." However, one particular full scene between Perry and Shawn was re-worked, blocking and all, after the first take fell flat for Burrows. Attending a taping and then watching the episode back at home when it airs, therefore, comes with a fun parlor game to see which versions survived the cutting room floor!

The actors, also, are just as well seasoned, and it was fun to watch them bounce off each other both on-screen and while prepping for scenes. For as professional and talented as they all are, each one of them got tripped up at least once in the evening, caught off-guard by a facial expression or particular line delivery that had them break character, flub their own line, and/or just start laughing. They were having fun with it, so the crew, and the audience in turn, were also having fun with it. The show itself, and their off-screen relationships, may be brand new, but the "honeymoon stage" is doing wonders for their on-screen chemistry.

Admittedly, Romantically Challenged does rely on many of the traditional sitcom staples on which to draw its laughs. There is the expositional recapping of past somewhat ludicrous events in dialogue between characters, the occasional pratfall or other type of site gag, and even the apartment/coffee shop "hangout" sets (though the sets are exceptionally sleek and fun to look at with or without the actors walking around on them). Since the show focuses primarily on relationships-- the platonic ones between the four main cast and the romantic ones with any guest stars that are brought in (one such guest who will appear in episode five or six is Kris Polaha**)-- many of the stories told will be ones that you inevitably seen before. However, therein lies countless permutations of coupling and complications, meaning the show could easily air season after season with its very open-ended premise of these singles all looking for love...or at least lust.

Though the premiere is not scheduled until pretty late in the mid-season game-- April 5--executives at Romantically Challenged do not seem not worried. In fact, on Friday buzz on the set was all about the "high Q rating" this show is already scoring just based on its star(s) and probably it's universal theme. Tune into Romantically Challenged on ABC this spring!

And please stay tuned for future Report from the Set installments featuring Justified and Children's Hospital, among others!

**I originally reported Eddie Cahill would be guest starring but I am now hearing that may have been misinformation. The only way to clarify is to tune in week after week for the six weeks starting in April!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Where Are They Now?: Mason Gamble...

In watching the Sons of Tucson screener Fox sent over this week, a few things stuck out immediately. First and foremost, the show, which features three young brothers who effectively 'hire' a blue-collar guy to pose as their dad when their own is sent to prison, reeks of remnants of Malcolm in the Middle. Perhaps this is because the middle brother here (portrayed by Frank Dolce) calls the shots and is the "little adult" just the way Malcolm was, or perhaps it is because half the crew on Sons... came from Malcolm... anyway.

Anyway, the second thing is that Tyler Labine, who plays Ron, the somewhat schlubby guy the kids employ, is a 2010 Jack Black, right down to his long, scraggly hair, scruffy beard, and comical inflections. Both of these things are what every critic is pointing out, though. The third is one I have a feeling I may be alone in noticing: young Benjamin Stockham (youngest, mischievous brother Robbie) looks nearly identical to young, mischievous Mason Gamble from his Dennis the Menace days.

Hell, they even share some of the same mannerisms and impish wit!

Naturally this led me to abandon my review of Sons... and focus on just whatever happened to no-longer-so-young Gamble.

In truth, Gamble has come a long way since his debut as the titular surprise hero, Dennis. He has grown up-- quite literally-- into a twenty-three year old husband and adult actor who has most recently worked on television procedurals like Close to Home and CSI: Miami.

These days Gamble more resembles heartthrob actor Justin Hartley than any tow-headed, innocent little kid. But watching Stockham on-screen with his big eyes and right-parted hair is a definite throwback. In fact, if Gamble were just a little bit older, I would have assumed Stockham is his son!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Simon Cowell Weighs In On Who His Replacement Should Be...

A few weeks ago I posed the question of whether or not American Idol could survive without Simon Cowell. The general consensus was that it simply couldn't because he was the man everyone started out loving to hate but now just loves. But I also offered some speculation at who might replace him. Today Cowell-- the man, the myth, the legend himself-- weighed in on the same issues.

"It's interesting that when [Idol] first started, we had a record producer, an artist, and an A&R man [as judges], so you had covered pretty much everything," Cowell explains. "I think over the years judges have been replaced by personalities. That in the long-term will create problems because you've got to be able to spot a star."

So what is Cowell's advice in finding a successor? "He's got to be good looking!" He jokes, but he is quick to point out that he also has to "know what he's talking about...They really gotta experience so they don't just criticize but can offer constructive advice as well. My advice has always been to find somebody who actually knows what they're talking about and has had actual success in the music business."

But having a killer wit and unrelenting honesty can't hurt, right??

Howard Stern's name has been in the running the press for awhile now, though Cowell says that as far as he knows, no deal is on the table. Blogger Perez Hilton and Producer Steve Lillywhite have both made public pleas for the seat, as well, though. Cowell admits that "Perez would be funny. He's got a good taste in music; he's a personality; I mean, it could work."

But for now Cowell is taking things one day-- and one episode of the current (ninth) season of Idol-- at a time. Though he misses Paula: "She was just somebody I got really close to over the years. We'd hang out a lot after the show. She always made me laugh," he also admits to "guiding" Ellen through her first few appearances at Hollywood Week. Maybe he is simply grooming her to step into his "head of the table" role when he leaves before the tenth season...?

"We had a limited time, and the decisions were made rather quickly on the day. But then you watch it back and you think 'Yeah, I could have made different decisions,'" Cowell is blunt as always. He urges Randy, Kara, and Ellen to take a "trust your instincts" approach when making their selections but also to remember to consider both talent and personalities. After all, they are making an entertaining television show, as well as trying to find the next big pop star.

And just what does Cowell think about all of the talk in the media (from myself included) that he is irreplaceable as a judge and the show maybe should-- and probably will-- tank without him? He is uncharacteristically (at least according to his on-screen persona) humble in responding: "It's very, very flattering, and I really do appreciate it, but...the show goes on. I'm going to feel sad when it all ends, but it's much nicer to be popular and appreciated!"

PaleyFest Guests Announced...

The Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills has announced their panelists for the 2010 PaleyFest. The full list can be found on their website (with select tickets still available to some of the panels), but here I will list all of the very pretty people I will be seeing at the panels I have purchased tickets for (because sadly I am not "press enough" for the Paley Center publicist. Maybe next year, eh, Terry??)

The February 26 opening night Modern Family panel will feature creators and executive producers Steven Levitan and Christopher Lloyd, patriarch Ed O'Neill, step-matriarch Sofia Vergara, everyone's favorite neurotic dad Ty Burrell, everyone's favorite uptight mom Julie Bowen, and my personal favorite new couple of the year Eric Stonestreet and Jesse Tyler Ferugson.

The Paley Center makes a note to say that additional panelists may be announced at any time leading up to the event, and I, for one, am hoping Rico Rodriguez' name pops up on the list soon because little Manny is my new favorite character! Just watch his "blind date" episode to see why! "What kind of eleven year old talks like that!?"

On February 27, the powers that be of Lost will enter the Saban Theater in Beverly Hills (ironically the address on Jack's bag in a recent episode was that of the theater. Coincidence? Or shout-out? I'm sure some fan will stand up and ask the executive producers, including Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse. So far no actor participants have been announced.

March 3 brings Community and Joel McHale and Chevy Chase. March 4 is Dexter with the cast and executive producers, including Michael C Hall (!), Jennifer Carpenter, James Remar, Lauren Velez, Julie Benz, David Zayas, fan favorite C.S. Lee, and my personal hottie Desmond Harrington. March 5 is Cougar Town with executive producers Bill Lawrence and Kevin Biegel and stars Courteney Cox, Christa Miller, Josh Hopkins, Ian Gomez, Dan Byrd, and Brian Van Holt.

Finally, the fest closes on March 13 with "both" casts of glee (the kids and the teachers for a change): Cory Monteith, Lea Michele, Mark Salling, Chris Colfer, Dianna Agron, Jenna Ushkowitz, Amber Riley, Kevin McHale, Jessalyn Gilsig, Jayma Mays, Matt Morrison, and JANE LYNCH!

So I guess if you want to do a little stalking of your own in the next few weeks, you'll know where to find me...and some of your favorite television stars!

The Ghostfacers Speak...

On a seemingly normal Tuesday afternoon I took a break from sorting through press releases and screening upcoming episodes of cable comedies to dial into a conference call style interview with the writers, directors, and stars of the upcoming Ghostfacers web series, AJ Buckley and Travis Wester. All was going well as we introduced ourselves to each other, but all of a sudden and out of the blue, our voices began to echo in an eerie and screechy sound.

I logged myself out of the call and dialed back in, and the guys were laughing and chatting jovially but neither of them had any idea what had occurred. I offered a theory, though: one of the ghosts or other worldly spirits (maybe even that of their deceased intern, Corbett!) must have tried to infiltrate the call, considering itself the true star and creator of the show and wanting its fair fifteen minutes.

It was an interesting thing to occur to a reporter, considering their characters have a tendency to see a ghost but fumble around and somehow miss capturing the moment, in all of its glory, on camera. But as Buckley laughed and pointed out, they're doing something right these days because now I've "bared witness."

Once the spirits settled down, though, the guys and I had some fun joking about tantrums and diva behavior on set, what to expect from their new spin-off web series, and what they really think of the fan conventions they have attended.

It's been a few years since the "Ghostfacers" episode on Supernatural, and you guys have done some originals on the internet since then, so have your characters of Harry and Ed reached a new level of expertise when we "re-meet" them, so to speak, in the web series? Or are they still kind of bumbling, making mistakes and learning as they go?
T.W: I think you kind of hit the nail on the head with "learning as they go." I mean, they've definitely learned some stuff over the past couple of years. The thing about the Ghostfacers is that they're not stupid. They're not going to make the same mistakes over and over and over again. When they encounter new elements of the supernatural, they do learn, they just might not learn the right thing or the right lessons...We did a spot in season four where we've done our research and we've achieved a certain level of how to deal spirits and ghosts specifically and maybe the supernatural in general. And I think with the web series, what we're looking to do, is kind of explore how maybe someone without the steely-jawed courage needed to be a hunter can still go about having an effect and an impact when it comes to the battle with evil.

A.J.B: I think Ed and Harry have kind of been on this mission...and I don't think they really fully understand why they're on this mission or what the bigger picture is. I think there's this overall arc of where they're going. It's sort of when a Jedi starts to learn his powers at the beginning; he doesn't know it's inside him, but when he touches on it, greatness happens. Underneath the comedy and their sort of learning curve, there will be a bigger picture of why is it these guys-- out of all of the ghost hunter, paranormal experience reality type shows-- actually encounter the supernatural and have experiences with them? And where will the road take them, while being able to kind of sit back and laugh and enjoy the ride.

Harry and Ed aren't the professionals Dean and Sam were when we first met them. It's almost as if we're getting a glimpse into being trained on the job when we see them hunt down a ghost. How much of the web series is going to feature elements or spirits or lore that aren't what your characters were expecting to find?
A.J.B: I think it's always going to be something within the ghost world but not what we thought it would be. We're involved in a lot bigger of a picture than we really know. The great thing about the show is that we'll be able to mix it up.

Now as "hybrids," writing and directing and acting, how much of the web series is what is on the page, played out beat by beat, and how much of it is you guys coming up with an idea or an outline or sketch and then improving as you go?
T.W: If it's not 100% of what we write, I go absolutely ballistic!

A.J.B: Travis does...Travis does.

T.W: If someone says "he" instead of the character's actual name, which is on the page, I will absolutely go apesh*t.

A.J.B: [Laughing] Did you ever see the Christian Bale set [rant]?

Of course!
T.W: Multiple that by about fifty!

Okay, so that will be on the DVD release, I'm sure.
T.W: You can ask our producers this. I think [the footage] was about fifty percent of us shooting and fifty percent of me just screaming.

That makes for interesting footage as well, so I'm sure you can get some use out of that!
T.W: Oh yeah, just talk to our producer; he was on set every day with us!

A.J.B: Going back to the first day that Eric [Kripke] pulled us in the office and said 'So we want to do this spin-off,' and he approached it as 'Would you guys be interested in writing it?' And we waited until we were in the hallway-- we played it cool like 'Oh sure, no problem'-- but when we got in the hallway, we were jumping up in the air. Travis and I d idn't know each other before Supernatural at all, so our ability as a writing team, and how we compliment each other in different areas is one of those things that you look back, and you're like 'Well how the hell did that happen!?'

Do you split the scripts up pretty evenly in terms of episode by episode, or do you find that one of you prefers to write the comedy elements, and one of you prefers the supernatural elements? How do you go about tackling the writing?
T.W: Well, number one we don't talk.

Sure. Why would you talk? You need to be typing!
T.W: If AJ has an idea we get it out in a quick game of charades.

A.J.B: Between Patrick [Doody], Chris [Valenziano], Travis, and I, we kind of sit in a room to break the stories, and then it's kind of a niche writing experience anyway. I think he took five episodes, and I took five episodes. And then on his first pass, character dynamic between the Ghostfacers guys took a little longer than what it was supposed to be, but over the course of the years, being with these characters for such a long time and seeing reruns of the show and putting them up on the internet, we really tried to understand the ins and outs of each character and how they affect each other. It was a pretty enjoyable experience; I had a blast, and even when we got into it, and the first girl came in to audition for [this new role of] Amber, Travis and I just looked at each other and were like 'Holy sh*t, someone just said our words!'

This Amber you mention, is she a candidate to replace Corbett?
A.J.B: Corbett is irreplaceable! He is dearly missed, and I don't think anybody can fill [his] shoes...We're hoping he makes a return!

What is the major difference you guys have found to shooting a web series versus television?
T.W: I think for me the major difference is...when you're doing a TV show, you know, they're a major production, and they have a much larger crew than we had for the web series. So when we were working on the web series, there were a couple of restrictions placed on us creatively, but there were also some areas that opened up creatively, as well.

A.J.B: The beauty about this show is that we don't need a big crew for it [being a web series]. When we shot Supernatural, the crew guys loved when we were on the show because they were just chilling. You light the set for three hundred and sixty degrees; there's no crew on the set when cameras roll because everywhere is working...I think during that "Hell House" episode really gave us an idea of how it would be and how it would sort of flow out; it's when we really first saw what the show was and how it could work so well in this type of environment.

[The web series] was almost like doing an independent film. You have to wear so many different hats, and the experience was different for us, as well, because we were [juggling] writing, directing, and acting. And for both Travis and I, we got to kind of look out for each other. If I was doing something on the set acting-wise, Travis would be behind the camera giving direction, and that's kind of a cool thing for an actor because it's rare that one gives another direction. But it was a very free, open, creative space, which is why I think it was such a fun job and space to work.

So your first season is made up of ten episodes that are three minutes each, but have you already given thought to where you want it to go if Warner Brothers says "let's keep it going?"
A.J.B: Well, we kind of have a general idea of where we want to take the show...if anything, it's just the characters evolving. They'll always be themselves in that they'll make mistakes, and their vulnerabilities, and their demeanor, and everything that will go towards making them become better paranormal investigators...It's pretty open where the show could actually go.

I know you guys don't have a launch date for the series yet, but I hope you'll keep me posted. I've already gotten a few comments asking if it will air prior to your appearance Creation Entertainment's fan convention in March.
A.J.B: The last convention which we did-- it was kind of mind-blowing actually-- the Ghostfacers had their own. It wasn't a Supernatural convention; it was just for the Ghostfacers, and we were all flown out to London, which was absolutely insane!

Oh wow, I wish I had known about that while it was happening!
T.W: Yeah, we were out there, and AJ brought some cameras from his production company, and we shot some stuff. We had, I think it was about seven minutes, that we wrote and submitted to Kripke, and we shot it. The fans seemed to really enjoy it; it was a really cool experience. I think the web series might be out before the [March] convention, but hopefully we'll have something to show off.

Yeah, I've gotten emails from some fans who are already super psyched about it and want to bring props to take pictures with you guys and stuff. It seems like it will be a very, very interesting weekend.
A.J.B: The one thing that we found with our characters is that they're so approachable at the cons and stuff because our characters are them in a sense, and there's nothing intimidating about us. [Laughs] And what we found when we were shooting at the con was that they were the best extras we ever had! We explained a few things about what was going on and how we would shoot it, and they just went full-on. It was a really special experience to see their love and intensity for [the characters].

I think it also goes back to Kripke's initial "tell a friend to tell a friend" campaign when Supernatural first premiered. The fans of the show, and therefore of you guys, are just used to that whole hit-the-ground-running on the message boards and get others excited about it.
A.J.B: We've always believed in the project, but [the fans] have really helped to show the studio that there's already this kind of excitement about it. They're literally the best fans ever! They're so committed and, like, really good people that are really supportive. Both Travis and I are always saying, the more you guys talk about this stuff, the more you guys blog about it, the more we get to do to show you we're listening.

Awesome. Well, I, for one, am very excited about meeting you guys in March! Do you have plans to go back to Supernatural and do pieces in any upcoming episodes, especially now that we know the show will return for a sixth season?
A.J.B: We keep hearing that Kripke is wanting us to come back, so it's just when we get the call, but we would be there with bells on!