Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Pop Culture Halloween!...

This year Dexter came to an end, and since it was a series that I connected with deeply, I decided there was no better timing than to finally dress up my dog as everyone's favorite serial killer. Originally I thought I'd do Lumberjack Dexter to mark the end of the show and because I figured it would be easier to find a flannel shirt that would fit him (if nothing else, I was just going to cut a shirt I have that doesn't fit me properly), but a trip to Target had me stumbling upon a thermal shirt in just the right color. And wouldn't you know it, Madison's an almost perfect size 12M! Getting crafty with some scissors, a silver Sharpie, and a black trash bag, and we had his apron, too. 


So now all that is left is getting Saran wrap, strapping myself to a table, and finding someone else to take a photo of Madison standing over me for our holiday card...

From LA Examiner: 'The Tomorrow People' Photos and Spoilers from Luke Mitchell and Greg Berlanti; NBC re-teams with Tina Fey and Ellie Kemper...

One of the things that has seemed the most tragic to us personally about the titular Tomorrow People on The CW's new super powers drama is that those who represent the evolved stage of human evolution are the ones that are looked at as "different" and therefore hunted. Whether out of fear or envy or a combination, these people have been abused enough to want to strike back out of revenge and/or run underground just to stay out the firing range. And John Young (Luke Mitchell) might just be the most tragic case of them all-- a young man who is different even when among his own people because [Spoiler Alert] Ultra experimented on him and managed to tweak his DNA enough to give him the ability to kill, which his fellow Tomorrow People cannot. John is keeping that secret-- for now-- but with his promise to Jedikiah (Mark Pellegrino) to stand and fight rather than turn and run should their kinds cross path in the streets, it doesn't seem like he will be able to hold it in for long... [MORE]

"First Look: The Tomorrow People's Russell's flashback episode"

We've already seen Cara (Peyton List) and John's (Luke Mitchell) breakout flashback episodes on The CW's The Tomorrow People, and both were quite tragic. So soon the show will deliver Russell's (Aaron Yoo), but just because he is a more comedic character in present day doesn't mean that some of that humor isn't simply to deflect from the angst or anguish he feels from his past. His breakout episode is not set up to be a palate cleanser by any means-- especially because the trip down memory lane starts when he learns his father has passed away... [MORE]

"NBC orders new Tina Fey/Ellie Kemper comedy"

Tina Fey and Ellie Kemper are returning to NBC sooner than you might have thought, and this time they will be working together. The peacock network committed to 13 episodes of a new half-hour comedy starring the former The Office star and 30 Rock scribe/star. This one has Fey writing again (alongside Robert Carlock) and Kemper in front of the camera as a woman who escapes from a doomsday cult and starts her life over in New York... [MORE]

The Trend of Non-Traditional Zombie Programming Begins with 'The Returned'...

Before Jason Mott’s “The Returned” novel even hit shelves, ABC picked up an hour-long drama based upon the supernatural story of people returning years after they had passed away, looking exactly as they had when they passed away. The book focuses less on the how or the why and more on what the simple act of returning at all does to those who said their goodbyes and grieved years before only to have their lives uprooted and wondering if what returned was even human, let alone their actual loved ones at all. The ABC series focuses heavily in the pilot on the return of one special little boy to parents who are now old enough to be his grandparents. By the end of the episode, the small town this boy returned to realizes this is not an isolated incident, and the unknown looms large. Since the show is designed to be on-going, beginning mid-season 2014 with thirteen episodes, the elements of how and why are sure to be a major part of the show, perhaps even (unintentionally) taking a page out of Sundance Channel’s own version of The Returned, a French version of a story about people who pop back up years after they died, as well. If two similar stories mark a coincidence and three a trend, then it is official: traditional zombies are out and the industry is now focused on the much more human— and haunting— tales of relationships ravished by death only to be potentially torn apart further when those dead return.

All three versions of this story play with some similarities, most notably the insatiable level of hunger these quote-unquote returned come with, as well as the precocious child at the center of it all. But Sundance’s The Returned focuses on one small French town, while Mott’s novel tells of a global epidemic and the ABC version based on his book appears to want to follow in those footsteps by having the first returned turn up thousands of miles away from where he died, let alone was buried. Sundance’s The Returned focuses intimately on a few key players, starting with a teenage girl whose school bus crashed off a mountain only for that same girl to wake on the mountain years later and walk the few hours home to a stunned mother who turned her bedroom into a shrine for her lost little girl. You could almost let yourself think this girl just walked away from the terrible accident for a moment— something maybe supernatural about her— until you see the way people respond to her sudden presence after years of accepting her being gone.

Though the elements of the supernatural are not explicit, they are certainly sprinkled into this story much deeper than just the simple premise of being able to return from the dead at all. This particular teenage girl has an unexplained, slightly uncomfortable connection that arguably could have prevented or actually caused her own demise. She is the center of the start of this story but just one piece of the phenomenon. There is also a cryptic little boy who follows a stranger home and inserts himself into her life wordlessly but so easily you just feel this isn’t the first chain of events of which he has been in control— regardless of whether he’s someone who has returned or some other spirit or being.

The little boy may be the connecting piece between characters and events, but he is also important as a way to set the tone for the show as a whole. He is a quietly expressive character who literally only says one word in the premiere episode and instead does a lot more with looks and body language. The show as a whole is quiet and thoughtful in the sense that the dialogue (which has to be subtitled for anyone not fluent in French anyway) is secondary to the storytelling. You could watch this show on mute and still pick up on all of the most important factors because there is no explaining away situations or relationships through exposition. Everything is there plain as day on the faces of the actors, the detail in the art direction and key prop placement, and in the shot composition. Immediately you are deeply engrossed with the various intimate and emotional journeys, and only then are flashbacks to show the returned when they were still living (the first time) brought in to enhance your connection to the characters and give you an even greater understanding of the “why” behind such powerful and at times violent responses to their loved ones’ returns— and how much worse it will be if and when they disappear again.

Sundance’s The Returned isn’t really asking the “how” or “why”, either, choosing to treat each occurrence merely as another human event. It lets you live with these characters and experience what they do rather than  peer in at them like a voyeur— or like they are creatures to be studied in a lab. Once they have the self-awareness that they died and are yet still somehow standing in flesh and bones again, they may begin to feel a bit more like specimens to be studied, and that just further enriches the range for the roller coaster you are riding with them. A handful of returned are introduced right off the bat— in the first episode— from various ages and situations and walks of life— and following all of them adds to the complexity, as well. In addition to the innocent young girl whose life was cut tragically short, for example, there is also a free-spirited musician, a seemingly average housewife, and a serial killer who seems to have perfected his kills even better in his absence from this world.

In such a small town, everyone is connected— sometimes in common and sometimes slightly convoluted ways— and therefore those who remained living while others died were the ones most changed by their lost relationships. Some of them— perhaps even many of them, the majority— may have strayed or spiraled too far from who and what they were supposed to be. So now that there are returned the question has to be asked: for whom is this second chance really?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Halloween with a Heart on 'The Goldbergs' and 'Trophy Wife'...

I don't love Halloween, but I do love Halloween episodes of television shows. I consider Halloween the official start of the holiday season, even though there is a big gap between it and Black Friday (yes, the next big holiday I observe is not the one where we eat turkey because long ago our ancestors gentrified this country by force but instead the one where we express Extreme Capitalism. I have very special tastes and traditions...) There are limits to my love of Halloween programming, though. Unlike Christmas, which is a theme I will watch on any show, even one I don't like at all and never tune into during the rest of the regular year, with Halloween, I only want to watch the ones that feature kids getting into the spirit (or more commonly, coming of age out of looking for treats, more into the tricks of the evening). I mean, I love candy more than I should admit, but at a certain point your Halloween celebration turns away from gathering the heaviest bag and then sitting at a kitchen table to trade with your friends and becomes much more about shorter, barer costumes, getting drunk, and probably hooking up with someone you can only remember by costume name the next morning. To me, there's just something kind of sad about watching that unfold, even in fiction. Thankfully, the fine folks at ABC agree with me and delivered two insanely strong (and funny) Halloween episodes of freshmen comedies The Goldbergs and Trophy Wife.

Halloween is a time for both timelessly classic costumes like ghosts and witches, as well as hot topics and pop culture items of the particular time. Set in 1980-something as Patton Oswalt reminds us every week, The Goldbergs brought me back to my childhood not only with the most covet-worthy Ghostbusters costume that Adam (Sean Giambrone) didn't even want to wear for the majority of the episode-- and how dare he!-- or Beverly's (Wendy McLendon-Covey) perhaps unintentional Freddy Krueger sweater-- but also with the details of the random extras who came to trick or treat at the Goldberg house. Seeing kids in those cheap plastic masks with even cheaper matching painted-on plastic aprons brought back hilarious (but probably painful at the time) memories. Some kids just aren't crafty enough to build their own Rubik's Cube or find a way to be Slutty Jane Goodall (which, for the record, was tamer than what most city girls where to public school today, but I could see how parents in the '80s could be outraged by it), so the hope is that their parents would be. But some parents aren't either, or are just too lazy to car about Halloween, so they find the simplest thing possible, seemingly as an impulse purchase by the register, and dress their kids in it. And you know what? It doesn't even matter; when you're that young you don't get teased for having a crappy costume; and you're all in it for the candy anyway. The mask gets you the candy, so all is right with the world.

Trophy Wife actually dealt with the last-minute costume notion when Kate (Malin Akerman) had to save the day and run to a costume store ON Halloween because Bert (Albert Tsai) wanted to be Iron Man but his mother didn't know who that was. First of all, I just have to point out that as comedies go on, all characters tend to have their IQs drop just for the sake of making the audience laugh, but it is refreshing on this show to see that Kate herself is not the typical ditzy, dumb, airhead. She's actually informed about things in the world-- not just pop culture-- so even when she makes mistakes in other areas, she seems like a woman who could still survive well in the world, even if she wasn't married to a well-off guy. Jackie (Michaela Watkins) is dippy enough to make you wonder how she is getting by post-divorce. She ends up on freeways without realizing how she did it; she doesn't know who Robert Downey Jr. is (for shame!); and she doesn't watch the real news either. She's quickly becoming the fourth child in Kate's step-mother adventures. But anyway, that was a tangent irrelevant to Halloween. It was a little unrealistic that Kate would manage to find such a kick-ass Iron Man costume ON Halloween, but watching her work her way through the line at the costume store was enjoyable in itself, and her genius strategy for trick-or-treating was genius.

Interestingly enough, both shows, despite being set decades apart and with different core themes on a normal weekly basis, did manage to deliver one similar storyline: the kid who eggs his own house. They each had their own individual take on the how and why of the event occurring, and both with separate results. On The Goldbergs it was much more about Adam trying to grow up and fit in with a cooler crowd-- the kind who uses Halloween for mischief and decided to get back at a house that was giving out crappy treats that just happened to be Adam's (sidebar: watching Murray make such a rookie mistake with the "Take One" candy bowl on the porch idea was also a nice callback to my childhood-- and probably everyone's). On Trophy Wife, it was a manipulation of a kid woozy from painkillers after having dental surgery by a kid who had egged the house last year.

Any time Halloween is done on a television shows, the costumes the characters wear are always enviable-- actual professional costume designers make them, after all. Again, I have to call out The Goldbergs' Ghostbusters outfits, but on Trophy Wife Jackie's Queen Elizabeth frock looked like a dead-ringer for Bette Midler in Hocus Pocus, too, and that just endeared me even more; Kate was a centaur-- something Jackie just happened to have lying around her house from a previous year; and Warren (Ryan Lee) hilariously went as Ellen Degeneres in what is easily the most GIF-able moment from the whole night of TV (I am working on getting that represented here).

But what makes these two shows stand out in a whole slew of holiday programming is the fact that they didn't use Halloween as a stunt or an excuse to do some weird, wacky, one-night-only crazy detour from the stories and tone they deliver week after week. Instead they used the holiday as a colorful backdrop to get to the heart of these characters and these families and their individual, particular stories and dilemmas. The Goldbergs is a coming of age comedy for a little kid who observes life through a video camera but here he was, actually getting out there, having an adventure, learning things about himself (meanwhile his mother was still struggling to let go of her babies growing up and actually showed up at a high school party to "talk up" how "delicious" her older son was to a girl he liked). Trophy Wife is a blended family comedy of adjustments for the new, young step-mom but here was a chance for her to shine while showing that the seemingly most together one in the family, her husband (Bradley Whitford), actually has his own nutty side. It went a long way to show how these people ended up with each other in the first place. 

Halloween is often a night for people to take a break from their regular lives and just have some fun for a while. Many shows, therefore, would just deliver "one-off," stand-alone, dare I say otherwise irrelevant episodes. But on The Goldbergs and Trophy Wife, Halloween was a tool to highlight the lives and moving the characters along on their respective paths. Both the holiday and the shows as a whole were so much better served that way!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

From LA Examiner: Felicia Day Talks 'Supernatural'; 'The Walking Dead' Renewed; Luke Mitchell & Phil Klemmer Talk 'The Tomorrow People'...

Every time Felicia Day gets invited back to The CW's Supernatural we just get more jealous of her. Not only did she get to hack Leviathan computers and get Dean (Jensen Ackles) to cosplay, but she also traveled inside a video game, and now she gets to hang out with characters from The Wizard of Oz come to life! ... [MORE]

"AMC renews The Walking Dead for season 5"

AMC announced today the renewal for acclaimed zombie series The Walking Dead for a fifth season... [MORE]

"Luke Mitchell & Phil Klemmer on John confronting his The Tomorrow People past"

When we first talked with Luke Mitchell about his The Tomorrow People character of John Young, we didn't yet know about his big Ultra secret, so his quiet and somewhat brooding nature seemed more about the circumstances and situations that had recently happened to him. Mitchell admitted that John was a "reluctant" leader who stepped up to look after his underground motley gang of Tomorrow People when Roger (Jeffrey Pierce) disappeared. But what we have come to learn since is that there is a lot from John's past that he is holding in, as well-- previously working at Ultra may just be the tip of the iceberg. And it is those secrets that continue to haunt him and affect his attitude and decisions. John's back story episode "Kill or Be Killed" will explore the roots of these to see the young man John was before his Tomorrow People status had completely taken over his life or his family... [MORE]

Monday, October 28, 2013

Who Did It Better: Historical Urban Legends in NYC Edition...

Over the summer CBS' Unforgettable delivered an "urban explorer" episode that actually dove deeper into the mysterious history of New York City when Carrie (Poppy Montgomery) and Al (Dylan Walsh) investigated the death of one such adventurous young man only to learn he had stumbled onto an underground map to some potentially very real treasure. In the appropriately titled "Maps and Legends," legend had it that centuries earlier, while building the subway system, a large amount of gold coins were hidden in the tunnels, and the dynamic Major Crimes duo were sucked into the hunt as motive for murder. On that show, the truth behind the treasure was revealed to the audience in the final few seconds/frames. Carrie and Al and were much more concerned with the present so they considered it a successful expedition simply to catch the killer. But this episode was just the first of a few to follow the theme of decoding history*, and so now I have to ask: who do you think took on that theme better?

ABC's Castle is obviously the other show in contention after just delivering "Get A Clue," and episode in which Beckett (Stana Katic) and Castle (Nathan Fillion) stumbled onto a city-wide scavenger hunt put together from an old letter and carvings in 18th century buildings. Again a young explorer was murdered for how close she was getting to a supposed fortune, but true to the inquisitive nature of the writer-turned-police-aid Castle, the answers that came at the end of the episode on not only who killed her but why also came with a definition resolution about any supposed hidden treasure-- for the audience as well as the characters.

In both cases it turned out that [Spoiler Alert!] there was actually a historical fortune to be found in New York City. On Unforgettable it was gold coins that were literally poured into the concrete as the subway ceiling was erected, while on Castle it was a bucket of the first minted dimes. But the actual treasure at the end of the rainbow is about where the similarities end.

Unforgettable started its case cryptically but scholarly, with Carrie and Al finding their D.B. slumped in a chair in a public library, an old journal open to a key page, an even more key mural painted on the ceiling above his head. All of these things proved to be clues later toward helping decode the mystery, but none of them had to do with his cause of death so they were details that seemed unconnected at first-- not unnoticed because the point of the show is that Carrie remembers everything-- but certainly kept out of play for the first few acts as they investigated the cause of death, known associates, and more common methods and motives for murder than something that seemed like a plot of a movie.

What was great about "Maps and Legends," though, was that every clue this urban explorer managed to pick up on was something that was deeply ingrained and intimate and for knowledgeable eyes only. No one could just "stumble" onto things and put it together out of thin air. The treasure truly felt shrouded, and the cyphers and coding seemed like they could have legitimately gone undetected for hundreds of years.

On Castle, on the other hand, focused more on misdirection to distract from the fact that once the clues were all laid out in front of the characters, the treasure was really easy to find, almost as if it had been planted there much more recently than the 1700s. All someone would have had to do to find the secret room in the chapel was get curious as to why there's a hole in the stone carvings, for example, and stick their hand in and find the latch. They may not have known what was in that room, but common sense tells you something valuable would be in there if taken the time and energy and care to hide it away at all. I personally expected the twist at the end of the episode to be that the scavenger hunt event planners were the ones to put the bucket of (fake) coins in as a bonus prize for whoever solved their puzzle first just based on the fact that things started to come together so quickly and easily. 

But first the dead woman was found by a chapel with bloody palms like stigmata, posed like she had been crucified. Couple that with the surveillance footage of a monk following her, and they could have fallen down a "Da Vinci's Code" rabbit hole for a little while (they even make that direct reference within the episode). Instead, though, they pushed the plot along fast and furiously to follow the trail of the scavenger hunt.

Both shows played with the idea of whether or not the treasure was real at all throughout their episodes in order to play with the audience's sense of adventure. Even though Castle himself is open to all kinds of larger than life cases (*cough time travel), Castle seemed to go out of the way to try to convince the audience there was no real treasure so that they would be surprised. Unforgettable has relative skeptics in its lead characters but just let the audience go along for the ride with them as they got sucked into the investigation, regardless of rationalization. 

While Castle delivered a much more fun episode, due to the level of intricacy and detail that went into the actual mystery on Unforgettable, I'm going to have to give the CBS drama the edge in the "who did it better" poll. What say you? Leave your thoughts and votes in the comments.

(*Admittedly CBS' Hawaii Five-0 also aired a story of a somewhat more conspiracy theorist researcher who was trying to uncover the truth about a lot of ancient lore and mysteries. He, also, was proven right and actually uncovered seemingly long lost rings that had just been hidden in an iconic island statue. But because that show doesn't have the New York City tie, it is not a part of this friendly competition.)

How Donna LaDonna Became My Favorite 'The Carrie Diaries' Character (I Know, I'm Surprised Too!)...

When we we first introduced to the high-hair sporting, straw-in-a-soda-can drinking Donna LaDonna (Chloe Bridges) on The CW's The Carrie Diaries, she seemed to be the quintessential '80s villain. She sauntered around the high school halls making eyes at the cute boys and making side-eyes at Carrie (AnnaSophia Robb) when Carrie caught the eye of the guy Donna liked. But The Carrie Diaries isn't actually an '80s movie, so the more we got to know its characters, the more we realized there was more than met the eye to everyone, just perhaps Donna most of all. 

Donna was supposed to appear the villain at first glance, but as episodes evolved, so did she. Donna isn't a one-note character who's out to steal your boyfriend or shove you against a locker for not being cool enough. Her dry wit and her insane self-confidence may make others a bit uncomfortable at times, but that is probably because by witnessing Donna in all her esteem, they are forced to recognize and confront their own more childlike insecurities. Donna went from being the character that it seemed like we should love to hate to the one the others should aspire to be.

The Carrie Diaries' creator and executive producer Amy B. Harris put it best:

"She never lies, and she's never duplicitous. She's just brutally honest, and she wants what she wants. So even in the second episode where she hands Sebastian back his coat and says 'Thanks for keeping me warm,' that's the truth. If someone wants to take it one way or another, that's their problem! She was somebody who wanted Sebastian, and she felt Carrie was in the way, so Carrie had to go," Harris said.

"We were really looking at her as 'Okay, she'll be our villain; there's always that one person that you hate.' And what we realized was that in high school those relationships are changing constantly. Your best friend kisses your boyfriend and you're no longer speaking, and then somebody else who went through it with you or had that happen to them relates to it. When we initially started talking about Donna kind of taking on Maggie and started dating Walt, we suddenly thought about 'Okay, is she evil? Does she do terrible things?' And what we realized was she would immediately know what Maggie didn't know was Walt's gay. Because if he's not attracted to her, he's not attracted to women. She's that confident. And then once we got there we started realizing 'Oh she could be a great confidante for Walt.' Once that played out, we realized that was the reality of people: they're not just a villain; they're not just your best friend; things get complicated."

What was it, exactly, that put Carrie and Donna in opposite cliques at the start of this show or even the start of their high school experience? At that young age, undoubtedly petty things like proximity and superficial things like 'You like Jansport backpacks and had a Lisa Frank Trapper Keeper in elementary school!? Oh my God, me too!!' go into the decision. We are shoved onto a playground or into a classroom with thirty other kids who only have the same year of birth and zip code in common with us, and we buddy up somewhat arbitrarily at first. Then the parents often become friends-- or at least they'd intervene enough to set up play dates-- and it's easy to stay latched onto the same kids year after year, classroom after classroom, because there is safety and comfort in numbers. There can also be safety and comfort in not trusting those who aren't in your inner circle simply because they aren't in your inner circle. But that doesn't mean the Donnas of this world are inherently mean girls, and once this Donna proved herself to actually be quiet sensitive, intuitive, therefore intelligent, and later completely trustworthy, she was someone with whom we wanted to spend more time.

From her earliest introduction, Donna also seemed like a cracked door into the more sassy and self-confident grown up world in which Carrie seemed eager to play but had a long way to go towards finding herself and the place where she truly fit. Since the show is called The Carrie Diaries and centered on Carrie herself, it was easy in the beginning to identify with the titular character's meeker attitude and wide-eyed innocence and therefore be kind of taken aback or at least off-guard by someone like Donna who came off as too worldly for some small town high school. The Carrie Diaries is a coming of age story for someone who has been very sheltered growing up in WASPy Connecticut, where it wouldn't be a surprise to learn that Carrie had been taught to paint on a smile to get through the rough stuff, to keep her emotions to herself, and to play the demure, angelic young girl more akin to Mayberry than Manhattan. It makes sense that someone like that would be wary of the someone as open and blunt as Donna. But the world needs more young women as open and blunt as Donna. In fact, it needs more people like her in general-- gender aside. It would be a better place if high schools were populated by Donnas-- people who don't care what you think because they already know they're awesome-- people who are strong enough not to be pushed around but smart and secure enough to know that pushing others around is pointless, too. People don't play games, who don't kowtow to what others want to hear, who don't worry about conforming to standards at all. People who know what they want and are setting out to get it. People who own who and what they are and simply by doing that inspire others to do the same.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

My Hollywood Story...

If you've been reading this blog since the beginning, you pretty much know why I moved out to California, but specifically to Los Angeles, to begin working in the entertainment industry. My story is not really unique when you think of the hundreds of people who get off buses and planes and the interstate in beat-up cars every day with the same big dreams in their heads and bigger hope in their hearts. The main difference for me, though, was that I didn't move out here to be an actor. And what's even more unique is that in my ten years of scrimping and cutting corners and freelancing, I have never once even worked a day as an extra or a stand-in just to get some extra cash. At times I've thought I should have: it would allow me to be around creative people and be really easy work (as long as you don't mind sitting around and waiting for hours at a time-- and as long as I'd have a book with me it'd be heaven: paid to sit around and read!). But still, for whatever reason (maybe the constant having to call in to see if they could use someone of my "type"), I never did it. I chose to leave production altogether instead of taking smaller, shorter term gigs. Sometimes I stumble across things like Patricia's Hollywood Story or Melinda Cohen's account of working on Parks and Recreation (she played Eagleton's version of Ann Perkins in the "Dopplegangers" episode), and I kick myself for not spending more time on set. 

Patricia Steffy tells a great "only in LA" type story about crazy auditions she has been on, including one that had her "improv-ing a death scene." That fascinates me. As someone who has been on the hiring end of auditions, I can't even imagine calling someone in without context and basically ask them to choose how they will die by improv-ing it on the spot. For Steffy it went like this, as she wrote: "My character was murdered and left on the floor of an apartment before a different guy, who had been stalking the character, burst in and saw the murderer with his hands still on the body. Naturally, I asked some questions about where things were going, and one of the producers said, 'At this point, the audience will be expecting necrophilia, but there’s a twist.'" 

What the what? And yet, still awesome because of the intense and insanely unique situation.

And then there's also Cohen's specific story of witnessing first-hand the trickle-down theory in effect in this industry. The vibe of a show comes from the top. Behind-the-scenes, that's often even past the showrunner to the network suit(s) who may have more of a hand in the show than they might like. But on set, that more often comes from the star, who sets the tone and the precedent for the attitude and environment. If the person is method, it may be a quieter set, while he or she is off getting ready for scenes alone and leaving others to do their own, individual things. If he or she is there to really create a sense of family and community, so one is formed, with moments taken for bonding or live-Tweeting (as we've seen on Arrow and Scandal perhaps most notably) or just general "we know the day is long and we appreciate you" morale.

"Everyone is feeling the post-lunch slump while getting retouched in the makeup trailer when Amy suddenly enters, iPad in hand. Full of purpose she strides to the sound system and moments later the entire makeup trailer is transformed into a dance club, as Salt N Pepa’s ‘Push It,’ turned up to the max, sounds. Makeup artists, hair dressers, series regulars, guest stars, AD’s, costume designers and PA’s, anyone and everyone who enters the trailer is immediately pulled into the magical, frenzied dance-a-thon, led by a flip-flop wearing Amy Pohler who busts out serious moves in the corner while playing DJ and leading us through a fantastic journey of dance music," Cohen wrote as an example of her time in Pawnee.

"Twenty minutes later and everyone is pumped up and ready to return to set... The set of Parks and Rec is like Disneyland except you get paid to be there. In fact, the enthusiasm level of everyone is so high, I keep having to remind myself that this show is in its 6th season. The novelty must surely have worn off by now. But no – unlike other sets I’ve been on, something here keeps everyone aware that, even though the hours are much too long to be away from your families, this is special. And I think that something is Amy Poehler: a woman in a power position who radiates such joy, appreciation and modesty, she has created the ideal creative working environment. She is a true inspiration to someone like myself, a woman who writes her own roles, always aiming to create content with depth. Being on the set of Parks and Recreation showed me that it is possible to be a star and a real person at the same time."

You learn so much from being on set and not just about the actual art and business of production but about people. I implore anyone who ever visits any set-- as an extra, a skilled worker, a fan, or a bystander who happens to catch something filming down the street and walks over to check out what it is for a few minutes-- the most valuable part of the process is the people-watching. From the extras to the leads, the PAs to the grips to the DP and director, you get the most complete picture of a show and of humanity by watching these different people interact-- sometimes harmoniously and sometimes not.

Whether weird or wacky, all of the stories you take away from experiences on set are wonderful in the end because they add a sense of color and richness and yes, anecdotes that make great party fodder!, to your life.

Friday, October 25, 2013

From LA Examiner: Beau Mirchoff Talks 'Awkward'; FOX 2014 Premiere Dates; Amy B Harris Talks 'The Carrie Diaries'...

Once a cheater, always a cheater, right? That's what many MTV Awkward cast members had to say back when it was Jake (Brett Davern) falling for Jenna (Ashley Rickards) even though he was dating Lissa (Greer Grammer). And now that it is Jenna who has cheated on her boyfriend Matty (Beau Mirchoff), the sentiment resonates that much stronger. Jenna's action sends ripples through her group of friends, and her reaction to everyone learning the truth only makes it worse. But there's one person still in Jenna's corner, and that's Matty's portrayer, Mirchoff himself. Mirchoff is willing to give Jenna the benefit of the doubt more than Matty may, and more than much of the audience may... [MORE]

"FOX announces premiere dates for Rake, The Following season 2, more"

FOX has announced some very important season premiere and finale dates today, but they are not coming to television screens until mid-season aka January 2014. Read on for all of the info and set your DVRs accordingly... [MORE]

"The Carrie Diaries EP Amy B Harris answers our burning season 2 questions"

The first season of The CW's The Carrie Diaries saw young Carrie Bradshaw (AnnaSophia Robb) experiencing a lot of firsts and the youthful excitement that came with them. From her first foray into Manhattan to her first big city party to her first couture dress, Carrie had a lot of "Ooh and aah" moments (best put by the series showrunner herself). She also had some less than stellar moments, some of which led to getting her heart broken. And now in its second season, The Carrie Diaries is looking to take all of the lessons from those experiences and apply them to a more confident Carrie... [MORE]

'On Writing' with Cole Haddon...

It may be a rare move for a writer to go from writing about television to writing for television, but for some that is exactly the dream. For some, writing about television is merely a means to the end of writing for television-- a way to make connections, circulate a name in the industry, and prove he or she knows the medium and therefore knows what he or she is talking about when saying his or her project is the next big thing. Cole Haddon is one of the lucky few who have made that move successfully.

Haddon started his professional writing career as a journalist, but he did so with the direct intention of getting into screenwriting. Working as a journalist was a way to get himself out to Los Angeles and begin having conversations with some of the people he admired the most. A self-proclaimed "intense cinephile" who tries to watch a movie a day, Haddon knew "there was no other way to sit down with Quentin Tarantino for an hour or talk to James Cameron or meet somebody like Sam Raimi who in my native Detroit is a bit of a God to aspiring filmmakers," than to study the medium, review their work, and schedule interviews with them. Haddon was building a track record for himself as a writer as well as a lover of the business but that didn't necessarily mean transitioning to the creative side of things was easier just because he already had some connections.

"There was mostly complete indifference," Haddon said of the response he received when people learned he wanted to trade journalism in for a screenwriting. 

"At the end of the day, unfortunately, some journalism is not respected like it used to be. It's deluded by just the evolution of it really, and so some journalism doesn't necessarily mean intelligent journalism or quality journalism. So for the most part I think people found it interesting that I could talk about filmmakers. I think people always appreciate my passion and knowledge about film history that I used while [I was] a journalist."

Coming from the journalism side of things, Haddon knows very well the kinds of questions that circle new projects. He understands the way the business works, the compromises that often have to be made between the various creative entities on a project and the studios behind them, and the anticipations of the audience. Haddon also knows those things can be distractions for a creative writer, whose main job is to create a nuanced world full of unique characters. 

"The thing [from my time as a journalist] that benefited me most as a screenwriter, as ridiculous as it sounds, [was] the four years that I spent transcribing people, transcribing interviews. It is the worst thing to do as a journalist, and I would constantly try to find extra money to pay people to transcribe for me because it's just tedious; it's horrible. And yet that transcription, because of the huge amount of words I'd have to churn out in order to actually pay my bills, it really taught me how people speak individually and how distinct voices should be, patterns of speech, word choice, regional differences in language, that sort of thing," Haddon said.

"I'm incredibly focused on that. With Dracula in particular, you have people from wildly different backgrounds and that really had to be reflected in their manner of speech... Dracula himself is playing an American. An Eastern European aristocrat prince warlord who has his language poisoned by two continents worth of sort of stampeding for centuries… And now in this bizarre sociopathic way, he's mimicking an American industrialist. He's trying to play human, so his language is really about what he thinks human beings are like."

Haddon's screenwriting career thus far has been made up of taking beloved stories and characters from his childhood and re-imagining them with his own spin, and NBC's Dracula starring Jonathan Rhys-Meyers is not only the most recent but also perhaps the biggest undertaking yet. The network drama was ordered straight to series which was a big deal in itself but made even more so by the fact that Haddon thought he had "accidentally, maybe arrogantly" talked them out of wanting the show, which has themes of "reason versus faith, science versus religion," in his pitch meeting.

"I wanted the bad guys to be fundamentalists. It was about fundamentalism to me, and they were technically Christians, and so that can be a scary thing to say to a network out-loud-- that your villains are going to be fundamentalist Christians," Haddon, who noted that NBC always told him to "go for it" in his scripts, said.

"I think the show is really still an expression of that conflict. You still have a vampire of supernatural origins with delusions of bringing light and progress to the world versus a fundamentalist religious organization that is interested in doing the opposite... And given the world today, especially in America where there's such a conflict between those who want to regress to the past, those who want to move to the future, those who want to look to science for a solution to our problems, and those who want to bring about some sort of state of permanent war in order to bring about horrific world, it just seemed very relevant to have this conflict manifested in the war between Dracula and the Order of the Dragon."

While such a serious and deep serialized show can still be a scary thing for a major network to tackle, the major challenge Haddon himself found with the story of Dracula was a way in that interested him but also paid respect to the story as it used to be, as opposed to how vampires have been homogenized and sensationalized in the last few years.

"I hesitated…because he's been so abused and really embarrassed by pop culture for so long. His cinematic heyday, for the most part, has been behind him for thirty plus years… Vampires have turned into something else in that interim, sort of a younger, sparkly version [that] really taints it. It's hilarious that the most novel thing about this show is that we return vampires and Dracula to the original period that it really became popularly known, which is Victorian England," Haddon said.

"One of the biggest challenges is that in the novel he is a villain through and through and has nothing to elicit sympathy from others about him, and that really was an impediment in me wanting to pursue the world. It wasn't until I found my way in, which was providing him an origin, which Bram Stoker never did…and giving him a trauma that he had to avenge-- something that would allow audiences to emphasize with him about."

Having a name as well-known as Dracula, Haddon is aware that many people will come to his new show with certain specific expectations for the titular character as well as the world around him. It's unavoidable when a property is as iconic as this one. But that just means he will know he truly has a success on his hands when he manages to blow those expectations away and give audiences even more than they knew they wanted. 

Ask DanielleTBD is Live!...

I think it's time for a little rebranding...

When I first started this website it was a blog in the earliest definitions of the word. It was a place where I could rant and ramble my thoughts-- however personal, however simple, though always centered around one familiar (and almost universal) topic of pop culture. As the years went on and I turned some of my earliest writings here into a book and began getting paid to write reviews and interviews and even the occasional trend or think piece or otherwise evergreen gallery, this site changed. It became less about sharing myself and more about sharing my work. I didn't contribute many original pieces here at all, mostly because I needed to focus on getting paid, and it was always a scrimp and a save and a cobbling together to make ends meet monthly as a freelancer elsewhere. So this became a hub, an online portfolio of sorts, to link out to where you could find me elsewhere on the web. 

That didn't stop the thoughts or feelings or pieces of interest-- about pop culture and other things admittedly-- from coming. And I think it's about time I got back to basics and got back to writing about what I love about pop culture, the crazy trends I don't understand in pop culture, what I love about this business, the crazy trends I don't understand in this business, and writing in general. I've actually been inspired by a friend's Tumblr (Tumblr-- there's something I don't really understand the need for. It's like blogging, but it's impossible to leave comments and start a dialogue with writers or GIFers, as is much more common on that platform, that you like). She does this thing where she has an open forum where she lets her readers and followers ask her questions about her job, her writing, or herself and current interests/passions/fandoms. It reminds me of the emails I sometimes get from people eager to break into the industry asking how they can get an agent or sell a script or even if I will read their script. I genuinely love that stuff; I love to give back and help others starting out the same way I could have used a mentor when I was just starting out. I think a lot of people can benefit from hearing stories-- even if it's of what not to do. So from now on if and when you email me these questions, I promise to be as candid as I have been in the past, but I also plan to post my answers publicly on this site for others to use as they see fit.

After Tweeting that I needed writing inspiration and would take on any topic thrown at me a few weeks ago, I had a successful weekend of creating, so I not only want to do that again, but I want to keep the door open for general questions, too. It sounds terrible, but after a few years of doing nothing but asking questions, sometimes it would just be nice to answer them.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Reflecting on 'Dance Til Dawn' On Its 25th Anniversary...

The year was 1988. Reagan was in the White House; the Olympics were in South Korea; the Internet worm made headlines; and half a dozen rising television stars came together for one made-for-TV original movie that wouldn't change many lives, but it did change mine. Directed by Paul Schneider and airing on NBC, Dance 'Til Dawn gave this blogger a first taste at high school life through the fictional Hoover High's "Paris in Puce"-themed prom and all of the drama surrounding it. Twenty-five years later, this rare gem somehow managed to skip a reunion film (a travesty with all of that talent!), and though the decade that spawned it certainly dates it, the spirit more than holds up, especially when considering recent fondness for nostalgia.

Dance 'Til Dawn is an ensemble piece featuring two generations: the teens who are currently preparing for their senior prom and the parents who had been there and done that years earlier and now buzz around their kids, affecting how they approach the big event. While stereotypical high school themes like taking the geek out of glasses and suddenly seeing she's actually hot are present, Dance 'Til Dawn goes deeper to consider the actual characters underneath such stereotypes.

Then-Growing Pains star Tracey Gold is that geek, aka Angela "Dull" Strull, who wears Coke-bottle glasses and dowdy dresses and abides by every overbearing rule that her religious parents (Kelsey Grammer and Edie McClurg) set for her. Until the night of the prom, that is. For four years, she and best friend, eclectic artist Margaret (Tempestt Bledsoe) planned a night of Tom Cruise VHSes (I said many elements were dated!) and "pigging out 'til dawn" instead of the titular dancing. But the day of the prom, the "coolest kid in school," AC Slater-mullet-wearer Kevin McCrea (Brian Bloom) asks Angela to be his date, and it is an offer Margaret can't let her refuse.

Of course, in any typical teen movie fashion, Kevin has an ulterior motive. It's not as sinister as Carrie, but it's not as petty as She's All That, either. He is determined to get laid on prom night and hears from a friend that Angela is a "sure thing." After four years of dating the girl-next-door Shelley Sheridan (Alyssa Milano) and still not getting any, Kevin ignores the obvious signs that his friend is making sh*t up and follows the wrong head to Angela, who has no idea of his grand plan. All she knows is she's going on a date-- finally-- that turns into quite the magical experience for any teenage girl, let alone one who as spent her life on the sidelines. They dine at a fancy restaurant; they are [Spoiler Alert!] voted King and Queen of the prom; they hit the hottest after party surrounded by people she now considers friends. Of course along the way, he begins to actually like her, and she begins to come out of her shell and actually grow in her own self-confidence. This is not a movie without a message, but it's not delivered as schmaltz or in a post-tragedy after school special sort of way.

But Angela isn't the only character to find her way in Dance 'Til Dawn, and that is what I always loved and responded to most about the movie. If it was just one girl's tale toward popularity, it would be like so many other similar projects. But here, it worked both ways and while a geek was getting over her flaws and becoming cool, the cool kids were showing that they, too, were flawed. Even the parents had things to work through-- insecurities and image concerns they carried all the way from high school and shaped them into the kind of adults they turned out to be. It was not a matter of social standing but of character that determined who owned them, who overcame them, and who refused to admit they were there, making them human.

Then-Married with Children star Christina Applegate fits into the latter category, as Patrice, a spoiled, controlling, image-obsessed young woman who writes down the tie and cummerbund her boyfriend Roger (a practically mute in the movie, though with Patrice as his girlfriend, you can't blame him, Matthew Perry) must get to match her dress, which matches the prom theme she picked out. After all, she has to "go with the room" for everything to be picture perfect. She assumes she will win Queen because she assumes everyone loves her. But Patrice was OG Regina George, and no one, least of all the audience, should feel too badly when her tightly-wound plans begin to unravel around her.

Then-Who's the Boss star Milano is the actual most popular girl who is revealed to be deeply insecure, and though pretty, kind of one-note in relying on that prettiness (and her previous label of Kevin's girlfriend) to get her through things. She starts the movie so worried about image, just like Patrice, that she hires a limo for herself just to keep up appearances that she's going to the prom with long-time boyfriend Kevin. She then keeps moving all around the small town, afraid of running into people who know her and therefore will know she's not at a super cool frat party-- her reason for why she "didn't want to" go to the prom after all. But her literal journey is also an emotional one as she gets to know the geekiest guy in their class, Dan Lefcourt (Chris Young), who is also hiding out so his dad (then-Growing Pains star Alan Thicke for an extra oomph) doesn't learn he didn't have a date either. They may be the most unlikely pair according to their yearbook, but their fear of letting other people see the real them bonds them because they actually share their real selves with each other. 

Even Roger grows (a backbone) by the end of the movie!

I can't exactly pinpoint what spoke to me when I was a wee child watching this movie. I was certainly familiar with most of the cast, though I was hardly the pop culture connoisseur that I am today. In fact, it was my knowledge of pieces of little known pop culture history like this one that made me really earn that title. I was far too young to relate to many of the events, though already the idea of caring too much about what others thought was a theme ingraining in me through my own family and school friends' families and small town. On Dance 'Til Dawn, that theme is not limited to the kids, either. Both Angela's parents and Dan's dad are guilty of it. Patrice's parents (Mary Frann and Cliff De Young) are much more concerned with their own marital problems of constantly bickering and wondering "what could have been" since they got married too young. Reflecting, it's obvious that Patrice's parents reminded me of my own (and provided me with my favorite psycho-analytic line that I would scream in my apartment on countless occasions about how kids are "better off if their parents are happily divorced, rather than unhappily married") and Patrice was my personal cautionary tale. At the time, though, I think the upbeat music, princess dresses, and pastel colors probably added to the initial appeal.

Over the years, I re-watched Dance 'Til Dawn until my self-recorded VHS wore out. I started seeing myself and my own insecurities and issues reflected in some of the characters. Coming of age stories with young women at the center weren't easy to come by-- especially on television-- so I relished what I had. I shared my feelings with these fictional characters as some of them did with each other. I went to high school myself and learned whether due to city or year or simply not being produced by Hollywood, my own class didn't really reflect Hoover High '88. I tracked down a seemingly-studio produced VHS on eBay and still checked in, now to note how far I had come-- and just how suggestive that make-out point car scene was (seriously, Shelley got pregnant on prom night, right? Oh how Kevin probably kicked himself when he learned she actually was ready-- just not for him. Also, the sequel really writes itself...). Later I found a DVD on Amazon and introduced the movie to my college and post-college work friends. I still watch it every few months or so. While I always got a good giggle over expository lines like "I remember when I was a little girl way back in the '70s," I started to see the wit in even the asides ("If you don't want to go to this religious college, just stand up to your parents and say so. I mean, what are they going to do? They'll probably just turn the other cheek"). But mostly, as the years went on, and times changed, and kids grew up faster and faster, I enjoyed the sweetness and simplicity of this story all the more. It was rare then; it's even rarer now. And the fact that it's rare to not only remember it but also to do so immensely fondly and passionately makes it even more special.

Today, October 23 2013, marks the 25th Anniversary of Dance 'Til Dawn. I think I'll celebrate by hosting a screening and then brushing the dust off a reunion script I attempted during the 20th Anniversary, ironically entitled Dance 'Til Dusk. It will follow the format of Dance 'Til Dawn, with the then-teens now the parents and a new generation with much more modern concerns on their special night. Join me, won't you?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

From LA Examiner: Nikki DeLoach Talks 'Awkward'; 'Homeland' & 'Masters of Sex' Renewed; Jim Beaver Talks 'Revolution'...

If you've seen the trailer for the second half of MTV's Awkward's third season, you may be feeling that Jenna's (Ashley Rickards) usual relatable teen angst is kicked up a notch into almost anti-hero territory. The girl who seemed so much more mature than those around her when we first met her as gradually proven to be just as messed up and insecure as all of them, and it's her time to spiral and make choices that her parents, her friends, and even some of her fans won't condone, which leaves those around her to step up and be the mature ones. And some of their responses-- especially that of her on-screen mother's (Nikki DeLoach) may surprise you! ... [MORE]

"Showtime renews Homeland and Masters of Sex"

 Showtime has renewed the acclaimed Homeland and Masters of Sex for new upcoming seasons, David Nevins announced today... [MORE]

"Jim Beaver calls Revolution role gruff like Bobby Singer but not as lovable"

Those of you who are expecting a reunion between Eric Kripke and Jim Beaver to produce "Uncle" Bobby 2.0 may be a little crushed to learn that Beaver's "rugged" Texas Ranger character John Fry on NBC's Revolution is not nearly as lovable as Bobby Singer himself. At least, that's what the actor thinks after having spent time in his boots over in Austin filming the show... [MORE]

Monday, October 21, 2013

From LA Examiner: ABC Family Announces Return Dates; NBC Bumps 'Parks and Recreation'...

ABC Family announced plans to kick off the new year with the returns of fan favorite programming ranging from Pretty Little Liars to Switched at Birth to newbs Twisted and The Fosters. As always, ABC Family's hit dramas will return at the top of January to get 2014 started right... [MORE]


NBC's Parks and Recreation just celebrated their 100th episode but today news about that show is far less celebratory. File this under: Boo; boo, NBC, boo! ... [MORE]

I Went Off On A Tangent and I Don't Know What To Title It...

I don't think there's anything particularly outwardly prude or conservative about myself. Therefore when a few (word choice was deliberate and specific, this was more than a couple) people recently asked me to read their new scripts and each and every single one of them happened to center on a character who was some kind of sex worker or just generally partaking in a sexual awakening of some sort, I wasn't completely caught off-guard or offended in any way. I wasn't even surprised. After all, it is the trend of the day, and the E.L. James' of the world have managed to take a subject matter which not that long ago was stashed under pillows in secret and turned it into book club fodder, stories as rabidly discussed and dissected as devoured.

But I admit that I am extra critical of content that dances on the racier side of things. I hold those projects and products under a closer lens than I do just about any other. I would never tell someone their story (whether real or not) is not worthy of being told, but I would highly suggest that the way it gets told steers clear from the gratuitous, the contrived, or the jumping-on-a-bandwagon-just-because-it's-trendy-and-you-think-it-will-sell-faster-that-way. Those should be givens-- and suggestions for any genre and style of storytelling-- really, but they still have to be said, perhaps sadly, in the state of ever-evolving mediums that don't adhere to the same censors of yesteryear.

For example, DirecTV's Rogue's first season featured a large amount of urgent, aggressive sex scenes that often came out of nowhere (you could argue that makes sense because they were the definition of "in the heat of the moment" or otherwise "scratching an itch") but were also completely unnecessary. We didn't need them to explain the emotional state of the characters because the actors in those roles were dynamic and detailed enough to always show off what was going on behind the eyes in any and all of their (clothed) interactions with each other. Most of these scenes, therefore, felt like they were thrown in because they could be-- because they were on DirecTV, which doesn't have to play by the rules of television, network or otherwise.

In many ways, I feel the same way about Showtime's Masters of Sex. Since this one is based on the true story of Dr. William Masters' research into sexual response, dysfunction, and disorders, a certain amount of showing the experiments is necessary to get an understanding for how and why he was both revered and at the same time feared. And certainly the way these scenes are shot are artistic enough to offer a visual dichotomy in how shocking they were for the time period but how immune we are to them today. After a certain point, though, it just becomes repetitive of the same theme, and it doesn't help that though Masters' work may have been revolutionary, his reason behind it was born out of desperation and insecurity and his male gaze during was, well, pervy.

There is no sense of shame anymore surrounding pleasures-- guilty or otherwise. Our culture has become one of sharing even the most seemingly mundane or cringe-worthy thoughts and moments, even if with just virtual strangers, hiding in the vastness of the avatar-covered social media. While it should be seen as a step forward to find self-esteem enough to not care if other people react negatively, many people put private things out there to only want positive reinforcement in return.

One of the projects I was recently asked to read was one based loosely on the writer's life, about a character who "never had the typical 20s, college experience" because of a young marriage and you know, not actually attending a four year college. The character feels later in life (late 30s) that experiences were missed and sets out to have those experiences-- to kind of rewrite how the life has to end up, in a way. The writer thought it would make a great story about "empowerment." I thought it was a great story about "selfishness."

I have no problem with people who wake up years-deep into a way of life to have a change of heart or freak out from routine or wonder what they're missing and want to do something crazy and even uncharacteristic for a little while. I have experienced those moments, too. If you have nothing or no one counting on you and you want to quit your job or backpack around Europe or sleep your way across the country while following a band on tour, I say go for it. But I have a very real problem with people who shirk their parenting responsibilities to go sow some sort of wild oats they feel they didn't get to do because they decided to have a child in the first place. And to me, that's how this story was reading.

In a script, the easy fix to making that protagonist likable is just to cut the kid out of the story and let that character go on making potentially reckless decisions. No more kid means no more need for the audience to worry about someone being left behind or potentially emotionally scarred by such abandonment. No more kid means the protagonist can suddenly be seen as "brave" for following one's heart and not giving into the status quo and setting a tone that no matter how old you are, it's never too late and you should never give up on yourself or finding your bliss or whatever.

(By the way, I am using the word protagonist purposefully, too, in order to keep things gender neutral. Many people argue that when men do things like this, they are celebrated, while women are the ones who get judged. I judge both equally.)

In real life you can't just cut a kid out to go have your own little adventures. That kid is still counting on you-- emotionally, financially, physically for a roof over its head and clothes on its back. And that was pretty much my point. You made your choices, and you don't have to live with them forever if they're causing you pain or suffering, but you have to take them into consideration and be willing to compromise, rather than throw them, along with all caution, out to the wind. A sense of balance has to be struck-- in life but also in writing. Whether this is your truth or just a story you're telling, if you're choosing a new sexual partner (or a parade of new sexual partners) over your child, I'm going to call you selfish. And I'm not going to apologize for it, just like how you're probably not going to apologize for your behavior. It's not about shaming anyone; it's about self-awareness and owning one's behavior. Maybe that means I deserve the label of a "prude" or a "conservative," and if so, I'll wear them proudly. There is no shame in that, either.

From CommuniCon: Dan Harmon, Chris McKenna, 2 Microphones, and Fans Participating This...

Only in its second "season," CommuniCon has already become one of the most fascinating fan conventions out there not only for the creativity of the fans who show up in costumes or with fan art to sell, video games to demo, and web series to screen, but also because of the personalities who attend. There is a panel dedicated to the writing staff, as well as one for the supporting actors-- from the beloved but then never seen again Greg Cromer as Dr. Rich, to the recurring Greendale sweethearts Neil and Vicki (Charley Koontz and Danielle Kaplowitz)-- and there is even one for the crew, ranging from Casting to Costumes to MakeUp, to Production Design, Art, and Construction. But undoubtedly the event that brings the biggest buzz is "Dan Harmon and a Microphone," an unmoderated, unprecedented candid conversation and question and answer with the creator of the show. That format is unique enough to set the weekend apart. And this time around, Chris McKenna joined Harmon for a very special two men and two mics panel that offered some fascinating behind-the-scenes glimpses into the way the Community writers work and just how far Harmon himself as come as a showrunner... [MORE]

The following is Part 2 of "Dan Harmon and Chris McKenna and Two Microphones," a special closing panel for CommuniCon's second convention. The Community scribes came to partake in an unmoderated question and answer session with the audience where they talked about everything from the evolution of Britta's character, to why there haven't been any characters with physical disabilities portrayed on the show, to little teases about season five... [MORE]