Are you guys still staying strong and ready for more Comic-Con highlights? Good, I thought so. Saturday is always an action-packed highlight day for the Con, with the best of science and entertainment panels saved for last. And this year did not disappoint. We got an up close and personal view of the very last Lost panel ever as we watched right from the stage and bring you great pictures and highlights from the panel. Thanks to two great friends from the production crew, we were able to enjoy the controversial Futurama! panel from backstage, where we caught up with the writers and producers. Along with a full transcript of the highly anticipated True Blood panel, we had two more great press rooms with Fringe and MythBusters. To be a part of the Comic-Con action, please click continue reading.
Panelists: Damon Lindeloff and Carlton Cuse (executive producers and head writers of Lost) and special guests to be named later.
We can say with a high degree of scientific certainty that this years Lost panel, the last ever at Comic-Con, was the most anticipated event, as evidenced by queues that wrapped around the convention center, around the marina, and back. Some fans had started lining up in front of the Hall as early as 7 oclock the night before. Luckily for you, our faithful readers, ScriptPhD.com had a front and center seat right up on the stage with the press to take in every moment right up close as it happened. And since a picture is worth a thousand words, we decided to let you experience the full Lost panel in the pictures we snapped and with YouTube videos kindly recorded by Tostie Productions.
A fun Season 6 promo!
And an even more fun parody video
As a supplement to the full videos, scroll down for some fun pictures capturing the best moments of the panel. Please credit all photography to ScriptPhD.com if you take these for your own use.
Moderator: Bill Morrison (Bongo Comics)
Panelists: Claudia Katz (producer/writer, Futurama), Patrick Verrone (Producer/writer, Futurama), Eric Kaplan (writer/producer, Futurama), Michael Rowe (producer, Futurama), David X. Cohen (Futurama, The Simpsons), Matt Groening (The Simpsons)
As many of you know, there has been a fair amount of controversy surrounding the return of FOXs immensely popular animated show Futurama! due to contract negotiation issues with the actors doing the voices. The Futurama! panel was to have consisted of the voice talent, however because of the uncertainty of when and if the show would be renewed, animation and production talent appeared instead. Matt Groening began the morning by reading a humorous, sarcastic statement absolving Fox of blame for the situation. Due to time restrictions, the panelists saved time only for fan questions.
Producers showed a funny clip of Futurama! behind the scenes. (The clip is available as an extra on the DVD of Futurama!
Matt Groening: First of all we want to make it clear that we love our Futurama actors! We just hope that FOX and the actors can come to agreement ASAP. Let us continue.
David X. Cohen: We are mainly a panel of writers, and we decided to take advantage of that. S we are going to show you some samples of actual behind the scenes dialogue from writers room: things people have said over the years in the writers room that have been memorable, and we wrote index cards later. We saved them, Xeroxed them, and read them back, these are magic moments. And genuinely behind the scenes.
We need to think about logistics?
What kind of logistics?
Thats what we need to talk about-there might not be any logistics
This is a light, romantic scene, so we dont want him farting, puking and shitting diarrhea.
Were you nominnated for something?
No Im a judge.
What did you judge?
Nothing, I forgot. re the Webby awards
My monster manual is starting to smell.
Search for lame [on the script] going upwards.
Watch, itll highlight the whole script.
Inscincere compliments are still good.
Futurama brings the flava.
At this point, the writers opened up the floor to fan questions, and each fan that asked a question got a prize out of the box to mimic what the Lost writers did during their panel at last years Comic-Con.
David X. Cohen: This is mostly Lost merchandise as prizes.
Fan: How do you guys keep continuity throughout the series? Theres a lot of references in later seasons from earlier seasons.
David X. Cohen: Fan sites, actually. We frequently consult with them, Im proud and embarrased to say.
Fan: Beginning of the new season, are they going to end up in a random place or back home at Planet Express?
Matt Groening: David and I debated over that one. I thought it didnt matter and that we should just start over. And David thought, no we have to address that world. So, he wore me down and thats what well do.
David X. Cohen: Exploring the story of that world wont be the thrust of the plot, well get them back home, but yes we will address that world in the beginning for continuity.
Fan question: Do you guys expect to do Futurama! in theaters?
Erik Kaplan: Like puppet theaters?
Matt Groening: Wed love to do a Futurama theatrical, but we had premiere screenings at various movie theaters, we actually had one here at Comic-Con last year. Its really fun to see it on the big screen. Hats off to the animators at Rough Draft for creating something thats way beyond the boundaries of television, so we have watched the show on big screens. And we do plan on some work as a theatrical feature.
Fan: Will Leela and Bender ever get together?
David X. Cohen: We were right on the brink at the last season, and we will address that a little bit, but theyll have their ups and downs in the new adventures. But of course its their ultimate destiny.
Fan: Is it harder to come up with jokes later in the series than in the beginning?
Michael Rowe: Can be hard at start, actually but later you learn from those mistakes. You get into the flow of the feel.
David X. Cohen: Were at a certain point now with the show where that curve is leveling up, but someone will say, Wait we did that in Season 3 so then we remember a hilarious joke we did and do a twist on that.
Michael Rowe: Well have to go back to the DVDs and change it!
Patrick Verrone: Its actually much harder to come up with stories than jokes.
Fan: What was the inspiration for Nibbler?
Matt Groening: That was my idea of designing something cute, my Ewok.
Matt then gave this fan the uber-prize for best costume theyd seen all day.
Fan: Will there be any major characters that weve come to know and love next season?
Michael Rowe: I guess it depends on the actors [and the contract resolution].
David X. Cohen: Were not going for anything big.
Matt Groening: But were planning to reveal the secret origin of Scruffy. He is not what he seems.
Patrick Veronne: I was home working on a script for a concept called Twitter in the Year 3000, which Im working on right now. Im hoping to involve you the fans from here at home, but that may get written out. Well probably call it something else because of the Twitter copyrights.
Michael Rowe: Were going to have a shocking, unlikely relationship. Bender and Amy. Its hot and heavy. Bender is due for a lot of it. And it even turns into marriage.
David X. Cohen: Theres a controversy about the robosexual marriage aspect of it.
Michael Rowe: Yes, its human/robot marriage, I heard there was Proposition Infinity to address the controversy of it. [laughter from audiencehes ripping on Proposition 8 in California to repeal gay marriage.]
David X. Cohen: There is going to be a literal rebirthing of the show. We have another big one in the works: Ken Heeler, Zapp Brennigan, and Leela stranded together on an island.
Matt Groening: We have another one where Fry arrives early for once in his life to meet up with Leela. And Fry and the Professor get into time machine to skip over the 10 minutes so they dont have to wait, only they go forward 10 years on accident. They keep going forward in time, hoping that eventually theyll get into a time machine that goes bakcwards. I cant say anymore well all right Ill tell you. The universe collapses. Thats all I can say.
Patrick Verrone: [Off-topicall the panelists got a Hersheys kiss during Comic-Con.] I disovered you can turn a Hersheys kiss into a gelatinous blob.
Erik Kaplan: Someone here has a figurine of Judge Sotomayor.
Fan: Are you guys planning on doing any more mythology episodes?
David X. Cohen: 100% chance. Definitely, its in the works!
Fan: Simpsons episodes tend to parallel other works. Does Futurama parallel sci-fi?
Matt Groening: Yeah, we tried to do a bit of that. To create a broad enough sci-fi universe to have fun with all sorts of sci-fi. But we didnt want to do parodies, although we did do our Star Trek episode with the original cast. But mostly, we keep it to a lot of references to literary science fiction.
Fan: Is there a Zoidberg story in the works?
DXC: That is an episode we want to do this year. Why did the Professor hire Dr. Zoidberg? We want to do the origin of them meeting many years ago. Yes, although its the Professor who will mainly star in the episode, we still want to do that backstory as a part of it.
Matt Groening: Some guy came up to me and showed me his Zoidberg tattoo on his arm. And I was so amazed by it, I told him I cant believe you got that. And the guy said, Yeah, everybody gets Bender!
Fan: Are we speaking to the original writers here today? Is there a difference between the Fox and Comedy Central versions?
David X. Cohen: Well, the format has changed. Its more of a feature piece with more music, battle scenes, andepic scenes. Its really hard to watch 90 minutes straight of jokes. You have to pace it out differently.
Michael Rowe: Its four half hour shows in one movie, and we had to make them work.
Matt Groening: In the middle fo the third one there was a writers strike, so that also may be accounting for some of the inconsistency that you notice.
David X. Cohen: There were three huge events at 22, 44, and 66 minutes in the new format. There were challenges to it, but it worked to our advantage. Ultimately, its up to you the viewer to decide where we succeeded, where we didnt.
Fan: What was the creative evoluton of Zapp Brennagan sleeping with Amy Wong?
David X. Cohen: Given an infinite amount of time, all possible pairings would occur eventually. This idea seemed like it would create good tension between our characters. It did. This is why Amy and Bender have their deal down the line. It creates more cross-breeding.
Fan: Youve created celeb guest heads. Any exciting ones planned for the future?
DXC: We cant talk about it until the actor resolution. Until the person agrees to record it, we cant announce anything. Generic answer yes, but we do have every exciting big names planned. Ufortunately we cant elaborate.
Bill Morrison: Any parting words?
David X. Cohen: Keep your fingers crossed. This is business, and were just hoping for the best. Many cast members are still around, things are good between us. Just hope for the best and it may come true.
By this point of Comic-Con, the journalists and media covering the event are running mostly on coffee, adrenaline and the never-ending desire to get sleep someday. After three straight days of virtually no sleep, wall to wall coverage, running the marathon to get from one end of the Convention Center to the other, all while dodging nerds and egregious violations of personal space, you might be wondering what the atmosphere is like by now in the press rooms? Pretty darned silly! Check it out:
From the Press Room: Fringe
Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Jeff Pinker (series showrunners)
[ScriptPhD note: please forgive us for not delineating between the three showrunners for this particular part of the interviewthey had to move very quickly from table to table, and it was tough for us to tell the voices apart in transcription. Thanks for understanding!]
Press question: How is the rewriting going? There was a whole conversation about it at the Paley Television Festival.
Showrunners: Its going really well. We now know what the show is to a much greater degree. In a first season show, youre really trying to find it, youre trying to find the voice, trying to find what works and what doesnt work, and like most shows that Ive been associated with, the characters and the actors playing them start to become more one. And its a much easier time for writers who are joining the second season. The learning curve is much steeper. And they learn much faster. And theyre working out great. Were just having fun with it.
Press question: Is there a plan for this season? Have you guys all sat down and
Showrunners: We have a plot arc, a plan for this season, we have characters arcs planned for the season, and beyond.
I think in general, were much better prepared this season than we were last season. I think its hard for any show on earth, youre in the first season, youre finding your feet. So I think its a major improvement for us: what works on the show, what is the balance between the A story and the B story, which characters do better in what storylines? And its really a trial by fire. And hopefully if things are going well, by the end of the first season, everything slots into place. And that really happened. I think we all tangibly felt by the end of the first season that the show had really found its stride.
Press question: So when youre plottig time for the show, what are the terms that youre using for the different worlds?
Showrunners: We say our reality and the other reality.
ScriptPhD: Do you guys mind if I ask you a sciencey question?
Showrunners: As long as you dont embarrass us! [laugher]
ScriptPhD: Promise. I represent ScriptPhD.com, were one of the few sites that covers science in entertainment. Really enjoyed the panel with your writers and your science advisor Ricardo Gil de Costa. He talked a little bit about his role, and I wanted to get the reverse, straight from the horses mouths.
Showrunners: Which one of us is the horse in that equation?
ScriptPhD: Its just a saying!
Showrunners: Its a collective horse.
ScriptPhD: Its a collective horse, a proverbial horse. Tell me a little bit about how you use Ricardos expertise, and how that works in the mix of the science that you approach and obviously you are entertaining first and foremost?
Showrunners: We are entertaining first and foremost. We made a rule very early on that our show would not have aliens. Because The X-Files had done that so well. And we made another rule that all the science would be plausible, based on the science thats currently accepted or at least proto-science. So the stories come from two different directions. One, well come up with an idea that we really love and well say, well, make the science work. Or, well start with the science and ask where the story is in this.
ScriptPhD: And what role will Ricardo play in this process? How will you use his expertise?
Showrunners: Basically, its educating us about the language of the science, that we can rip creatively on it. You want to use the terms that arewe cheated, we tried to make it evocative and creative. So well start with an actual article, actual reasearch, actual cases, and let that inspire us. As opposed to making stuff up. Everything that youve seen on the show has had some article that was the basis of it. You can see on any mainstream website or news outlet, the science and technology section has some very strange stories. It used to be that you really had to search these things out. And now you really can look at mainstream science and be inspired to imagine this really great stuff.
Press question: One of the things that makes it really successful is the science. Some people have asked about the romance, which for me personally is a bit too soon. In the second season, where are we on the Peter/Olivia romance?
Showrunners: I think were in a place whereI assume youre talking about Josh and Annatheyre more familiar. Its more brotherly and sisterly right now and more of a caretaking role. As we go into the second season, our stories are starting to be driven by the characters as opposed to outside in. And if you saw our season finale, Olivia ended up in the other universe, and shes going to come back, and theres going to be consequences of whats been done to her and whats been happening to her. And she, in many ways, is going to become affected by the cases and this world. And hes going to have to take more of a caretaker role towards her. Its also very important for all of us that in doing a romance, you have to buy it. The characters have to organically get to a place where you would believe it. As opposed to forcing them together just to do it. Olivias character has so many walls. She was in love with someone who burned her badly, so shes going to be very unwilling to trust again. And Peter has his own issues too. So I think if we do it, we really want it to happen organically, so that the fans buy it.
J.H. Wyman (writer/co-executive producer)
J.H. Wyman: Well, Im the showrunner, with Jeff Pinkner, just so you know.
ScriptPhD: With Peter, how much are you going to go into the two realities. This reality versus the other reality? And where are you going to go with that?
JW: I can say that Peter is actually going to learn a lot of things about his existence, who he is, whats going on, were going to delve into many things that will bang Peter out as a character. And make him the hero I think he wants to become. Thats all I can say about it.
ScriptPhD: But you are eventually taking us on a path where were going to learn about all of this?
JW: Look, you watch the program so you know that theres enough answers in there toI mean, its amazing the theories that people will come up with. Its really quite wonderful. But yes, were definitely going to be able to delve into that and talk more about what were investigating in Fringe.
Press question: So we know there was this other reality Peter. Well, we think so. Is there another reality massive dymanic that enriches the world? Are we going to learn more about that?
JW: I would say thats an interesting theory. I dont mean to sound cagey about it. I think there are certain things the fans are trying to work out and figure out and the direction that were going down right now absolutely follows that line of thinking. But I dont want to be cagey about what youre going to see, but I promise it will really play your mind, because it does mine. Its fun, you know? Really fun!
Press question: Any clues?
JW: Lets talk about how the show is different, and theres so many clues in that. Lets talk about why its Fringe 2.0 instead of the original, and why its getting better I think.
Press question: So we know theres not going to be aliens, what other things can we expect that we havent seen yet, as far as the fantasy and science fiction minus the aliens?
JW: Its funny you should say that, because we literally made a wholeyou know at the beginning, theres the words, and weve done most of those words. Now, weve come up with a whole bunch of wordstheres many things beyond alien that youre going to see that will frighten you and hopefully make you think science is dangerously out of control. But whats really important, and the key to the characters and whats happening this year, and why the show is different this year as opposed to last year, is that were actuallyI would consider the first season a prologue, thats my take on it. Heres the show, heres what youre going to be doing with it, heres the things that are happening, science is out of control, much more advanced than you would even imagine, here are the characters and the players. Now the second season is: lets get involved into these peoples lives. And I think that that is the key to all the questions that you were asking. Youre going to fall in love with it. Like this year, Walters emancipation. Hes going to come out and come into his own and Peters going to have to let him, its really delicious stuff you know? Olivias going to start to develop in her own way, Peter in his own way, things that you never imagined youd get to spend time with them, like last year in their houses and this year you will.
ScriptPhD: Like the relationship between Walter and Peter will develop.
JW: Oh, thats one of my favorite things, yeah!
ScriptPhD: I really love that part of the show!
JW: Im so glad you say that because its a big part. Yeah.
Press question: You just started shooting in Vancouver, just like another show, Supernatural. Can you talk about what thats been like?
JW: We were in New York, and just cost-efficiency wise, we brought it to Vancouver. They allowed us to do much more. Because our money goes further, because of the Canadian dollar, and the production value goes up. The things that were planning to do this year really do take a certain amount of finance and fiscal responsibility to be able to do, so we figure we can definitely get much more money to do them. And were ecstatic. It was a smooth move, all our keys are still with us, and we found great people there, the nicest people ever. You cant imagine. You go there and theyre just the sweetest people.
Press question: How much does the fans reaction to the show influence you in writing it?
JW: A lot. For me. I did read what they said about Season 1, going into Season 2. Because you have your own perceptions as a writer. You look at it and youre going, This is the story that Im compelled by. I love the science and I love all that stuff, but what do I like? And then when you start to write from that spot, you start to realize, oh when Im really telling the truth, everybody responds. And people seem to pick up on the smallest little things. So I say, Oh, everybody loves Walter in this! Oh, they love that moment. And you realize that thats something that you wanted to investigate so lets do that. And Im always looking at what they have to say, because thats why were doing this, is so people can discover the program. And I still think not enough people have. And its really something, what the show is. The more that I can hear from the viewer, the more that I can do my job. Because, its not to write for them, but theyre a parter of sorts. I dont want to write a show that fifteen people watch.
ScriptPhD: Thats really refreshing, because there are other showrunners [no names shall be mentioned ?] that are like, its my vision, its my show
JW: No, no, no. Im much more secure than that! I certainly have a vision
ScriptPhD: Im just amazed, because Im a fan and a journalist and its really refreshing to me that when I watch the show, I know theres a symbiotic existence between you and your fans, and a synergy there to make the show possible, and I think thats just terrific.
JW: I did a very small program in the UK called Key and Eddy, a show in London. And I did it in 2001, and I still get people calling and asking what I was thinking for the rest of the show, because it only ran 13 episodes. And it left kind of a big question mark. It was very much ahead of its time. They still email and call and say this or that, theres a whole movement, and theyre there. And its so hard these days to find time for appointment television, and the point is that when youre asking someone in this busy time to commit to your show, the five minutes that they have in their day, I want them to feel like they are appreciated.
Anna Torv (Olivia Dunham)
Press question: Do we get to see more of your superpowers next season?
Anna Torv: I know for sure that we will.
Press question: Are they going to have a darkness to them?
AT: Oh I hope so! I want Olivia to get darker, I think. I kind of like the dark Olivia the most. I like the episodes where something personal has happened to her, like when she was taken and had her spinal tap and she came out and she was ready to kill someone. Or when she was killing people in her sleep. I like her darker.
Press question: How long have you been living in the United States, and have you been hanging out with any of the other Australian actors here?
AT: I didnt live in the States at all until I did the show, so Id been over and visited a little bit, and had met with agents to see if I could get representation, but I never lived here until I moved to New York for the show. I moved over a year ago. I dont know any of the other actors, I missed out on all of that, because we were based in New York. I heard that they have all these barbecues and things like that.
Press question: So is Australia still home for you?
AT: Yeah. I go back every break I get. I love Australia!
Press question: Do you get used to the hectic, frantic work schedule a show like this requires?
AT: Yes, I think you just do get used to it. And itsI love it when I get to do physical stuff, which I dont get to do a lot of, actually. I think it looks like I get to do more than I actually do. But really, I dont get to do that much! No, Id like to do more of that, sure!
Press question: How are the scenes shot with Leonard Nimoy at the end of last season going to play into this season?
AT: No, I do know, but I cant tell you. But you do get to find out. So you do eventually see the rest of that scene, but in a really cool way, actually.
Press question: Do you have anything thats happened to you like that in your past like Olivia, from your childhood?
AT: You know, someone just asked me that! No, theres nothing that I can think of! Im sure if I really thought about it, but no.
Press question: Can you talk a bit about your hobbies and lifestyles and what you like to do?
AT: When Im not working! [laughs] Well, Im from Australia, so I surf, and I grew up near the beach and we always had horses. I love riding horses! I keep trying to get them to do something where Olivia gets to go jumping or something. I dont know, I hang out. Im a homebody.
ScriptPhD: Are you excited about where Olivias relationship with Peter is going, and can you talk about working with Joshua and your guyss dynamic?
AT: Well I know! Everyone keeps saying whats going to happen with Peter and Olivia? And Im like, Did you watch the first season? He started picking up my sister! Im not sure where I want them to go. I just read an episode that we havent started shooting yet, were about to start shooting next week, and Olivia starts to see Peter a little bit differently. And I think its kind of fun! I cant say anything more. Thats it!
Press question: Can you talk about being glamorous on the show and yet, still playing a strong woman character?
AT: I dont know, I think they dont write her glamorous, but weve always beenlike when we started with the pilot, we were always adamant that its TV, so nothings really realistic, but you can do your best. Like she doesnt wear a lot of lipstick and I dont know. You do what you can.
Press question: What have you loved about her vulnerability aside from a lot of the action that youve gotten to see?
AT: I love the episode where she dreams, which was where she starts having these dreams where shes killing these people and then she finds out. I love that because I thought it was a really beautifully written episode, and I thought it was one of my favorite bits of Fringe, and I personally loved the shadowy, secretive, dark, whats going on stuff. It also was where she found out about the early experiments and Walter did that to her. I loved that because through a lot of the first season, I felt like there wasnt a real personal connection with Olivia and Walter and now, all of a sudden, theres something there beyond just what we were experimenting on.
Press question: And will that come into play this season?
AT: We havent gone back to it as intensely as we did at the end of the last season, but its definitely still there and I think it will pop up again.
Press question: Is there an awkwardness to your and Peters relationship now when youre working on cases because you know that?
AT: Sometimes, yeah. Sometimes.
Jasika Nicole (Astrid Farnsworth)
Press question: I heard rumors that we are going to see more of Astrid in the season to come?
Jasika Nicole: If you heard it, and I heard it, it must be true! Astrid, youll get to see a softer side of Astrid. She was often the person put up against Walter because they were so differentthe young, the old, the new technology versus the old, book-savviness and everything. So we would have these funny quips, but shes more than just that. I think that her purpose, at least in this season, is more than just providing some comic relief and one-line quips. And so she has this really fantastic scene that we filmed the other day with Walter where you get to see their personal relationship. You get to see why they click and work so well together. Its not because she rolls her eyes at him all the time. Which she does, thats certainly a part of her, but shes also much deeper than that. Im hoping that you get to see more than thather connecting emotionally with the other characters on the team.
Press question: let me just say this. It is so great to have a person of color have such a smart and intelligent role. You dont see that on television
JN: And how!
ScriptPhD: And that its not a big deal! Its just a part of who she is, but it doesnt have anything to do with her abilities.
JN: Yeah, totally! Its like, You got into college?!
Press question: What are we going to find out about Astrids history and how she got to the place she is?
JN: You know, these are all questions that I dont have answers to, and Im hoping that they do get answered at some point. I want to know why she decided to become an FBI agent and where did she come from and I want to know those things. I wish I could say for sure that yes, its going to happen, but I will say that we have brought another person into the Fringe world. Her name is Megan Markel, and she plays an FBI agent, and she is also bi-racial. Lets talk about that. Its awesome! And I was so excited, because it wasnt like, Oh we can only have one. Oh we cant have more than this one actress. Like you said, it was no big deal. Heres this gorgeous woman on the show, and shes really, really smart too, and shes an FBI agent, its just awesome.
Press question: I think its great to have people like you on the show, because science and technology are becoming so wide-spread and its a wide demographic, its great to show that anyone can really be a part of this world. What integrated storylines can you talk about given what youve already shot?
JN: Thank you so much. With this new character, and I cant speak about her too much, obviously, but were actually going to start talking about the aspect of religion, and how you balance that out with science, which has kind of been a battle of ideologies for a really long time. So we start to address that in this season. Weve only completed three episodes, so we dont know how far its going to go, but I really like it, because its really exciting! What do you do with your faith that you have grown up with and is a huge part of you, and then how do you combat that against these things that are happening and all this death and destruction? You hear that someone is in charge of it and its not the God that youre familiar with, so I think thats a really cool thing that were starting to incorporate into this season. I have no idea where its going to go.
ScriptPhD: Reading the scripts and seeing the science material, do you ever just geek out? Normally as an actor, normally you dont get to do stuff thats this heavy and technical. Do you ever just get to thinking about some of the issues that the show raises and it bleeds into your own consciousness?
JN: Absolutely! Oh yeah! I do a lot of Googling, because theres a lot of words that I am completely unfamiliar with. Like, I dont know WHAT that is! But I think Im most intrigued by the idea of there being this other universe because what theyre saying with that is that as a person, you make decisions in your life, you have all these choices, and you make a decision. But you can also make the decision that you didnt make, and so there is a world in which you exist where you made that decision. And a world where you exist and you made this decision. So it might not even be one parallel universe, it could just be tons and tons of them for every single choice that you made that is not this one, but it was that one. Which is kind of like looking through a mirrorit just goes on forever and ever! And you think about what kind of person you would be. And I guess that at some opportunity, theyre going to get to meet themselves and see what kind of person they would be if they did this and that. I made that up, I dont know if thats true.
Press question: Can you talk about your work schedule, given that your character doesnt appear all the time?
JN: I think most people are pretty jealous of me. I have kind of the perfect scheduleI come in and I work for maybe two days a week, and then I just have the rest of my time to myself. And thats been super-important since we moved to Vancouver. Were in this new city, and we want to explore, and see what Vancouver has to offer. I got a bike, I can ride around. Its been a nice transition for me, because if I had been like Olivias character, and thrust into this situation that was completely foreign to me, and then having to work 15, 16 hours every single day for 10 months, that has really got to make you a bit loopy. And I didnt have to deal with that. I just had to deal with my own loopiness that I had from the beginning.
Press question: When did it finally dawn on you that you had a successful show and that this was real?
JN: You know what I think it was? I think it was when the observers started showing up in real life and not on the show, and I was like, OK, theyre trying to make this like a brand, kind of. Hes at this game, at NASCAR, and it didnt have anything to do with the show, they would just be filming him and putting him out there to promote this whole idea. And I thought that was kind of huge and really neat! Maybe next, well have Afro wigs [to promote the show].
ScriptPhD: This is kind of your first big break-out role. Is it weird for you when people recognize you?
JN: Its weird. But you know, no one creepy or scary or anything has come up to me. Its only been the nicest, sweetest, most complimentary people. So its weird to be recognized, but then you have this really awesome conversation and they tell you their theories about the show, and you tell them yours, and then you part ways. Its great. It hasnt interfered in a negative way at all, which is great.
Joshua Jackson (Peter Bishop)
Press question: How has the move to Vancouver to shoot the show affected you?
Joshua Jackson: Well, Vancouver is my hometown, so in its way, its moving home for me. Personally, its actually not difficult at all. Inevitably, it changes the urban-ness of the show. It doesnt change the urban nature of the show, but the West Coast of Canada is very different than Brooklyn, which is where we shot most of Season 1. So that changes a bit. Theres a certain bittersweetnessand this is all behind the camera stuffeventually the television becomes the people who make it. Moreso even than the actors or the writers. It becomes a machine, and the cogs of the machine are all of us sort of doing our bit and putting in. And to move the show, we had to lose 100 people, 140 people actually, who were employed on our show. So theres a certain degree of bittersweetness, because without their hard work, we dont get to Season 2. And in a just world, you dont repay that hard work with a pink slip. So I feel a bit guilty that Im going home and thats fine for me, because for other people that is not fine for them.
Press question: Is it still home for you, in a sense, or have things changed since youve been away?
JJ: Have you ever been to Vancouver? Nobody leaves Vancouver. Its paradise. It wasnt until I moved to North Carolina, and was in a discussion with somebody who will remain nameless because I dont want to bag on her hometown, but it wasnt until I moved to NC and started working with somebody and they said, God Im so happy to be away from home! that I realized some people dont like where they grew up. Vancouver is paradise! Its a perfect, perfect place, especially if youre an outdoorsy person. Its heaven, so
Press question: But its been getting bad press about the drug wars at the moment, no?
JJ: [laughs] Yeah, I know. Have you been in downtown LA? East Hastings is a legitimately bad neighborhood. Its on par with any of the worst neighborhoods that Ive been in anywhere on the planet. But if youre not a moron, youre probably not going to get involved in a drug shootout. Or if youre not an addict. So there are many ways to not get involved in a drug war between the Triads and the Hells Angels.
Press question: To get away from the real world and to get back into our favorite virtual world [laughter], we started to see Peter bringing in a bit of his underground connections, his underground connections for the end of last season, so are we going to see more of that next season, or is it more of you using your heightened superpower?
JJ: Sha-na-na-na-na-na! I think we spent the better part of the first season why it was specifically that Olivia Dunham needed to be the leader of the Fringe world. What we didnt dowe talked about it, we hinted at itbut we never really saw what Peter was outside of this world, because we never visit him outside of this world. Hes always assisting and investigating hits. Then, you get to the end of the first season, and Peter becomes invested in this world. And now he starts to use his powers for good rather than evil. And, he starts to invest this very shady knowledge that he has and his personal immorality. He doesnt have a moral attachment to things being good or bad. He is presented with a problem, he comes up with a solution, it doesnt really matter if he breaks some eggs along the way. And I think hes sort of figuring out his humanity as the second season is going on.
Press question: Can you talk about Peters relationship with Walter and how will that be developed?
JJ: Well, for myself, and I say this as an actor and not a person on the show, for Josh the actor, the most important relationship on the show to nurture and maintain is the Walter-Peter relationship. John Bishop and I spent a lot of time talking about where we are in the season, and pushing and pulling, and John is an endlessly inventive guy. And we work well together. So theres always this state of play on set. That being said, that huge reveal about Peter not being one of us at the end of the first season is inevitably going to lead to a breakup. So until the breakup, I think you want to see these guys become closer and closer and more and more into a healthy father/son relationship and then poof.
ScriptPhD: Josh, can you talk about when you first got the material. This is very different from work youve done in the past, especially with the science. Talk about how you reacted viscerally to the show when you first got the script, and what about this really drew an appeal for you as an actor?
JJ: Well, the initial script, which I guess isnt too surprising given who the writers were, read much more like a film than a television show. It was a two-hour pilot, so it was long, but incredibly in-depth, and with all of these multi-layered story points where things were not as they seemed and I just thought it was really well-done and well tought-out. And having worked in television before you also have to see how this idea behind the pilot could spin out 40, 60, 80 to 100 other ideas that could be interesting. And I think this group of guys has a pretty good track record with being able to do that. And Im a sci-fi head, so
ScriptPhD: You are? How cool!
Thats right folks, you heard it here. Joshua Jackson is a sci-fi geek. See? Science is awesome!
Moderator: Kate Hahn (TV Guide)
Panelists: Anna Paquin (Sookie Stackhouse), Stephen Moyer (Bill Compton), Alan Ball (creator/executive producer), Nelsan Ellis (Lafayette Reynolds), Rutina Wesley (Tara Thornton), Sam Tremmell (Sam Merlotte), Michelle Forbes (Maryann Forrester), Alexander Skarsgard (Eric Northman) and Deborah Ann Wolf (Jessica Hamby) and Charlaine Harris (author)
Kate Hahn: I want to introduce myself. Im a writer for TV Guide, and Ive worked with Alan and the cast quite a bit, I worked with them for the TV Guide cover story and am thrilled to be here. We are going to kick off tonight with very special announcement from Alan Ball.
Alan holds up True Blood: The Drink to wild applause from the audience.
Alan Ball: True Blood: The Drink is a reality now. Those of you here at the panel last year know that its a very specific makeup. We couldnt make up synthetic blood, so instead we used a nice mixture of Chateau La Feet Rotschild with blood of hemophiliac royalty, Viagra, Vicodin and vodka. and ecstasy. Unfortunately its illegal. All kidding aside, though, there is a True Blood drink available September 10th. And its basically blood orange soda from all-natural ingredients. Just in time for Season 2 of True Blood.
Kate Hahn: Anna, Sookie has gotten in a lot of jeopardy and will be in more trouble as Season 2 progresses. How has she changed this season?
Anna Paquin: After last season, she is stronger, tougher, shes been through a lot, shes grown up quickly, and she tends to get herself involved in situations she cant control, in which case it is good to have a vampire boyfriend. As far as portraying her, Im just trying to imagine going through that in two weeks, and find myself in these situations. But thats my job.
Kate Hahn: Stephen, Sookies being admired by multiple vampires. Hypothetically speaking, if something were to happen between Eric and Sookie, how would Bill respond?
Stephen Moyer: Its hard to get away from that rangy Swede at the end of the table, but Im not sure Bill would roll over and just let it happen. Hell fight his hardest and not be quite as polite as hes been up to this point.
Kate Hahn: Weve seen really big changes with Tara. What is your take on how shes changed as more of her softer side has come out?
Rutina Wesley: I like playing the softer side of her to show her vulnerability. I call her a hard flower, because of the fact that shes so tough on the outside but has this really soft inside, and I think its nice for everyone to see that part of her. She wasnt taken care of before growing up, and this season shes being taken care of by Mary Ann which is a nice change for her.
Kate Hahn: Alan, there is lots of action in second half of season based on the preview we just saw. How do you balance all the action and the emotions of this show?
Alan Ball: I make a joke about a sign we should have in our writers room that says Its about the emotions stupid. Without that, all the action and other craziness wouldnt have a heart and soul. So, we just work really hard to always remember who these characters are, what their passions are, what they need and are fighting for so that the other stuff has an emotional foundation. Its one of the reason I responded so well to the books, do the same thing on the show.
Kate Hahn: Mary Anne is the source of a lot action on the show. Michelle, the fans here know you from other shows in the sci-fi genre, wher eyou have portrayed powerful women. Why does this genre in particular lend itself to these women and these characters?
Michelle Forbes: I think ultimately sci-fi as a genre offers lots of freedom to see a future [where gender is irrelevant], and I spoke about this with Mary McDonnell a lot on BSG, shes a goddess by the way, sci-fi takes cliches out of our minds and were able to have a lot of freedom of thought. Its a forgiving genre, and especially on our show, grounded in emotions. True Blood is creating an entirely new love for these genres.
Kate Hahn: Nelsan, everyone loves Lafayette. [wild cheers] But Lafayette is having some post tramatic distress disorder these days, hes having quite a time with what has happened. How has his worldview changed since the basement incident?
Nelsan Ellis: His hustle is supreme, but in this case, hes figured out it wont work for him to get him out of the situation, so hes definitely rethinking his hustle and might stop doing it. But well see.
Kate Hahn: Charlaine, you and I have talked before, and something that came up was your reaction to seeing your novels visually on the show. You said When I first saw True Blood, I had to cover eyes about some scenes. Can you elaborate on that?
Charlaine Harris: HBO sent me a copy before premeiere, and watching some of the scenes, I went Ahhh! And then I called my husband and said, Honey were gonna have to move.
Kate Hahn: Sam, weve talked about how your character has been unlucky in love, and he has a lot in common with Daphne, but things may not be going well between the two of them. Is he gonna finally find a nice girl?
Sam Tremmell: Well, he gets a bit lucky with Daphne. Hes a magnet for abuse this year, hes just trying to get by. His journey this year and in years to come, is really sparked by his meeting with Daphne and what she teaches him. He has to decide whether he regrets it.
Kate Hahn: Deborah, this is your first big gig in the industry. Youre not that far out of USC. And youve mentioned that this cast has been helpful in the transition. What scene have they helped you with in mentoring, if you can remember one in particular?
Deborah Ann Wolf: I tend to be a nervous person in general, and am actually nervous right now, so just know that Im picturing you all in your underwear. But I remember shooting Episode 4 and I was really sick with a 104 temperature and no voice. I felt like a total failure in terms of disappointing Alan with my performance, and was doing a scene with Steve and Anna and Jim. They said Dont worry, you can be quiet during our sides, and I somehow managed to squeeze it out. Their moral support helped me through. [Collective audience awwwwww]
Kate Hahn: Alex, Eric is smitten with Sookie, but no matter what happens hes drawn to her. Why?
Alexander Skarsgard: Well look at her! Im sorry Stephen. Erics been around for a long time, 1000 years. Hes gotten to the point where hes kind of over humanity by now. Hes seen it all. He thinks humans are pathetic and naïve and yet, despite that, theres something different about her but he cant put his finger on what excites him. Hes curious, and of course, he wants to explain that and see what happens.
Fan: Charlaine, will season 2 affect the plots of the Sookie novels?
Charlaine Harris: I just signed a contract for three more Sookie books, so that will give us up to 2014. I dont think Im affected by the show because those are past books that theyre plotting from. And Im way beyond that now, things have really changed in the plot. Erics got a different maker from the maker on the show. But I hope you see that as a different opportunity for two entertainment experiences.
Fan: Alexander, your characters gone from dark to vulnerable. How has that come about and will it continue?
Alexander Skarsgard: Well, at the beginning hes just in one little sequence on the show, his is not really a huge part, hes just the evil vampire leader and then takes it back into the dark. I always had to defend him, that he really does have a good side to him. But season 2 has actually been great because Ive gotten to show that. He is a bad ass, but Im just happy to get to do different layers and go deeper and show theres more to the character than that. He doesnt care for a lot of people and a lot of vampires either. The ones he cares about hes very loyal to.
Fan: For Season 3, what are you excited to do?
Alan Ball: Im just looking forward to the fact that there is a Season 3. Partially because I just love working on the show so much. Im excited to start exploring some of my favorite parts of the book. We have wherewolves for the first time. Im definitely interested in Russel Edgington and the Mississippi vampires. Debbie Pelt, I think shes kind of awesome. I cant put Bubba into the show without it being cheesy, though, because you could never have the real Elvis.
Fan: Alan and Alex. Pink spandex. Yes or no?
Alex Skarsgaard pulls up his pants to reveal that hes wearing a pair. Wild cheers from audience.
Alan Ball: Id planned not to, but maybe youve changed my mind.
Fan: Based on the preview we just saw, was it me or was that blond hair behind Sookie?
Alan Ball: I have no idea what youre talking about.
Fan: Alex, whats it like to go from the entertainment industry in Sweden to America?
Alexander Skarsgard: If this was in Sweden this would be in a barn with 35 people and about 25 of them would be named Skarsgaard.
Fan: Alan, how you make musical choices for credits?
Alan Ball: Bad Things by Jason Everett that was a placeholder for the temporary title credits wed made for HBO, and I didnt know that song very well, I just randomly picked whatever country western tune I could find through iTunes. And later on, when we were constructing the credits, we wanted to use a different song, but when we went back, nothing ever worked as well as his song. For the end credits, we work with a music supervisor named Gary Calamar who also worked on Six Feet Under, and he brings us interesting choices. Sometimes a writer will put a choice in the script, other times we cant use it because of money, other times Gary brings other options. Ultimately we try to pick what is appropriate with lyrics and what works musically for the emotion that it sells.
Fan: Sam and Regina, what about a rekindling of flames for your characters?
Sam Tremmell: Id be excited about that.
Fan: Stephen, you will always be my Prince Valiant. Do you have any other projects going on right now?
Stephen Moyer: Thanks for Prince valiant reference. What shes referring to is that I had to have a ridiculous mullet in 1997, and ride around on crocodiles. Ive got a movie called Tribes of October, and Im waiting to finalize that, and Im doing a British film called Flutter about gambling.
Fan: What aspect of your character do you like and dislike the most?
Anna Paquin: What do I like about Sookie? I like that she says what shes thinking, I admire that. She jumps in and gets involved even though it gets her into trouble. She means well. What do I not like? Well, if shed been written as an unnatural blonde, I would have nice dark roots and my hair wouldnt be shorter due to all the split ends, because Im a very fake blonde. But other than that, Sookie and I get along great.
Fan: Will the love triangle between Eric, Sookie and Bill play out on screen as in the books?
Alan Ball: Yes.
Fan: Has any aspect of the portrayal of your character been influenced by the books?
Anna Paquin: I read them rabidly leadig up to my audition, as I wanted to know as much as I could to prepare myself for playing the character. I felt that the Sookie on the page in the script was like the Sookie in the books. Its hard to unmarry the two. But ultimately the portrayal comes down to my interpretation and the directors and their input.
Alexander Skarsgard: I read the first five books to learn about the characters, but at some point you need to take control of the characters and leave the books behind you. We have a path and we stick to it but its certainly nice to get background information.
Stephen Moyer: One thing about our writers that is incredible, every time they see you play something that works, they think, Well, if that worked so well, what if we put them in a completely different place and see what happens? If weve seen them react to this, how do we see them reat to that? And it becomes more complex to play the role.
Fan: Will Jessica be more of a handful for Bill?
Deborah Ann Wolf: As much as theyll let me.
Fan: Alan and Alex. Talk a little bit about the dynamic between Eric and Lafayett and Eric and Goddard.
Alan Ball: Obviously theyre gay lovers and spend the summer together in Fire Island. Eric and Lafayette. Their relationship is one of fear by Lafayette towards Eric for good reason, whereas Eric is intrigued by Lafayette may have plans for him in the future. Eric looks at Godrick as Godrick talks about them: father, brother, son. He is the most important person in Eriks life, hes known him ever since he was born as a vampire, so theres tremendous love there. And its not necessarily romantic. The relationship between a vampire and his maker is deep, you cant really understand it.
Alexander Skarsgard: That has been fun to shoot, because up until that point, Eric has been an entrepreneur, but this was on a personal level for him, going to Dallas for love and has nothing else to gain.
Fan: Question for the vampires on the panel. Anyone ever have a fang malfunction during shooting?
Deborah Ann Wolf: Well Ill tell you, the hard ones stay in well, but the rubber ones fall out easily, so its kind of tough to be cool when youre immortal.
Stephen Moyer: I spent the first two months with indentations in my mouth because the hard ones are really sharp.
Rutina Wesley: Yes, they are. [audience laughter]
Fan: Are you going to keep Jessica as a rebellious teenager or let her grow up a bit?
Alan Ball: One great thing about an extended series, you dont have to define a character in the same place, they can grow up. I hope the series has a long life. I hope to keep everyone in their basic character as they grow. But you can expect evolution in the characters.
Fan: Deborah, is Jessica going to have a love interest?
Deborah Ann Wolf: I hope so.
Fan: Alan, will you ever have a one half vampire/human combinaton? Like a hybrid baby? [Loud boos from audience.]
Alan Ball: What? A one half vampire baby? No! In our show, theyre either full on vampires or theyre not vampires.
Fan: Charlaine, where do you get your inspiration for your books?
Charlaine Harris: I was gonna say the tabloids. Inspiration is a word I dont trust. Writing is work and what I do is work. Some days I pull my own hair for ideas, and you wouldnt want to be around me then. Its just that the work takes places in my head. My contract has a deadline and if I waited for inspiration, my editor would be pretty mad at me. So I just flex my fingers and I say, Whos coming to Sookies house today?
Fan: Charlene and Alan, what kind of demographics make the show a success?
Charlaine Harris: We aimed for an adult audience and I think weve hit that target.
Alan Ball: One of the great things about the beginning of the show before it had aired, HBO had tested the pilot, and it tested really high with adults of all sorts. The women love the romance and the men love the sex and violence. And since the show has aired, we have learned that it really does have wide appeal. There is a really large audience for this show. It goes across a huge spectrum.
Fan: How do you feel True Blood has impacted your career?
Alan Ball: It ruined it. Im dead in Hollywood. Its been really positive. But I tend not to focus on that aspect of it. This is the most fun Ive had in a job. Its a lot of good people, very talented, everyone is onboard to making the show as good as it can be and watching it. Im the luckiest guy on earth.
Fan: Charlene, how involved are you in the series?
Charlaine Harris: Alan and I have a working relationship. I dont tell him how to make the show, he doesnt tell me how to write the books.
Fan: Michelle, what attracted you to the role?
Michelle Forbes: Any time youre offered an entrance where youre standing naked in the middle of the road naked with a pig, you dont say no.
Fan: Any hilarious experience during filming?
Nelsan Ellis: Oh, so many. One episode in the future features a dancing naked dude who is 300 pounds. That was pretty hilarious. Theres one take where he fell. That was hilarous.
Fan: Charlaine, with regards to vampire blood, whats the difference between doing V and drinking the blood.
Charlaine Harris: The age of the blood. V is from a younger vampire. Getting it from the vampire is always a much better experience.
Fan: Alex and Steven, are ou ever going to counter Godrick in a season?
It was great fun to watch the True Blook panel backstage and chat a bit with the stars of the show (Michelle Forbes, in particular, was a delight, and the ScriptPhD is a huge fan of her work on In Treatment), but the unquestioned, indesputable highlight of Comic-Con for me? Meeting and chatting with my screenwriting hero, Academy and Emmy Award winner Alan Ball. From American Beauty to the masterpiece that is Six Feet Under, Alan has redefined the cinematic experience on the big and small screen, and challenged his audience to engage in a deeper level of thinking and processing his material. Thanks, Alan, for being so very gracious and stopping by my way.
We ended an exceptionally busy and rewarding Comic-Con Saturday in an intimate press round table with the stars and producers of Discovery Channels hit science series MythBusters. For those of you who have not yet had an oportunity to check out this show, and are fans of great television science that entertains, its not too late to jump on board. In each episode, Jamie and Adam, aided by costars Grant Imahara and Tory Belleci, use basic elements of the scientific method to test the validity of various rumors, myths, movie scenes, internet videos and news stories in popular culture. Its entertaining, explosive (sometimes literally!) and you get to learn cool science. Whats not to love? In fact, stars Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage announced today at Comic-Con that they will be appearing on the September issue of Popular Mechanics. Fans can visit this site to enter to win one of 10 signed copies by the MythBusters themselves. Our discussion with the cast helped answer lots of behind-the-scenes about how the MythBusters episodes are filmed, where they get their source material and just how do they do that?!
From the Press Room: MythBusters
Press question: How did this all get started and how did you guys all find each other and say, Hey! Lets make a TV show out of having fun and blowing up stuff!?
Adam Savage: Well, its not our idea. Actually, the original MythBusters creator found Jamie and I in the Spring of 2002. He was looking for special effects technicians to host a show based on busting or proving urban legends.
Jamie Hyneman: And his idea was to not just have us talk about these things but to replicate them and the fact that we build all sorts of unusual things was appropriate for that.
AS: And so Jamie gave me a call, asked me if Id be interested in hosting it with him because he didnt think he could quite hold the show on his own
JH: I figured Id find someone that was a little mit more of a ham than I am. And maybe we could bat it back and forth a little bit and it seems to work.
AS: So we shot the first pilots in the summer of 2002, and shot the first season in 8 months in 2003, 13 episodes, and then Discovery wanted 30 in the next year, and we had killed ourselves doing 13 episodes in 8 months, 6 days a week, 10 hours a day. So they said, Maybe we need some more people to help bust myths. Lets kill some other people! So we brought in Tory and Carrie and Scotty Chapman, who was in that second season. And then Scotty left after the second season, basically because she wanted to do her own thing. She didnt like the amount of time that doing television took. Since Jamie and I had worked with both Grant and Tory, Grant was somebody that wed been thinking about for a long time that we wanted on the crew, and Id called Tory when Id called him and I said, Dude, its Adam call me back! Im gonna change your life.
Tory Belleci: Well Ive known these guys for over about 15 years. Jamie actually gave me my first job out of college doing model making. And then Adam Id met up at ILM [Industrial Light and Magic]. He used to walk around like he had a TV show before he had one. Hed be walking around cracking jokes. I did this thing once where I took an X-acto knife blade, I snapped off the end and I glued it to my hand and put a little fake blood. He and I were working together on a model, and I kind of reached over and went, Hey Adam, can you hand me that? And freaked out. He was like, Ahhhh! And then he goes away and all of a sudden I hear everybody in the other room laughing their butts off and I walk in and he has taken a whole bunch and snapped them off and glued them to his head. And hes like, Heyyyyyy!
AS: Cant let a good idea go to waste!
Grant Imahara: I remember Tory and Adam and I were working on Matrix: Reloaded and Adam came in one day and said, Hey! Me and Jamie got this gig! Im gonna be flying in this lawn chair with all these balloons. And I was like, Heheh, youre crazy! So he left. And then Tory and I were working on Van Hesing about a year later and he was like, Hey! Im gonna join Adam and Jamie, its gonna be great! And I was like, Hehehe, youre crazy! And about a year after that I joined them. Im crazy too.
Press question: Favorite myths? Maybe that youve done on the show and or favorite that you have yet to doideas that are growing.
JH: Well, favorite myth, hands down, for both Adam and I (I think) is Lead Balloon. Interestingly, it doesnt involve any explosions or weapons or anything like that. But itswhen you think about what we were able to pull off, the lead that we were using was .0001 in thickness, it was about like working with wet toilet paper, and yet we were able to build a balloon that was 14 feet across, weighed 28 pounds and it flew. And so what you have to do to pull that off is walk it through entirely in your head. And thats how we design things. I think our greatest joy, even above all of this, is the design. Its just a thrill, because a lot of the stuff like that hadnt really been done before. And its like an adventure. Its like climbing Mount Everest or whatever. For us, maybe its an adventure in our head, but its still an adventure that we dont know how its going to turn out and its just thrilling.
AS: You lie there awake at night thinking through to tomorrows build, and thinking through, like, all the possible outcomes, including the one which took us a while to learn, which is what if nothing happens? Which is often one of the most dangerous situations that you can have. Push the plunger, dynamites live, nothing happens. Its one of the most upsetting
Press question: Yeah, that was a question I had, particularly when I watch one of the more perilous episodes, which is are there ever episodes that dont make it to air?
AS: Its rare. There is one story that we started working on that we stopped working on. And we wont go near it again. What we were working with was just too dangerous and too unpredictable. And the second part is actually more important. The unpredictability is what made that story undoable. But I think thats pretty much the only time thats happened from us. Have you guys [Tory and Grant] hadyou guys had a real problem with train suction, I remember.
GI: Train Suction took a long time. It took over a year to do and the reason is simply that we had to find a company that would work with us on allowing us to be that close to a moving train. A train moving at very high speeds.
AS: And then it was also a year spent not saying, Could you get sucked off if you get too close to the train? [laughter] Finding the right way to say that was difficult.
Press question: Can you talk about the bullet experiment? You talked about it on the panel.
AS: So, bullet drop versus fire, its a physics thought experiment that if you drop a bullet and fire it at the same instant in time, both bullets will hit the ground at the same time. Not including things like curvature of the earth in the equation. Its something that weve always had on our list. When we get into these physics thought experiments, its one of my favorite things. Fertile territory. Things like airplane in a conveyor belt and swimming in syrup. We spent an entire day using a camera that filmed at 5,000 frames per second just making sure the bullet release was happening at the same time as the bullet leaving the gun. And that was the resolution that we needed to be able to watch these things happen simultaneously. An entire day doing that. And then an entire day finding the consistency of where our bullets would land so that we could know what our target zone was and what we could look for. Getting into that kind of percision over those long distances with things like guns is thrilling, but it also took a tremendous amount of mental effort to work through the thing repeatedly, work through the protocols so no one is where they shouldnt be. Firing guns is never entertaining to me. Its always, sure when youre standing on the firing line and firing an MP-5 it can be a really fun experience, but youre working with a crew, youve got to get the footage in, youve got to be safe, everyone has to be behind the line. And we all take that stuff super, super seriously.
JH: That particular story was also a good example of, you dont really need to know how to do that. Its kind of like, what practical use is that? Probably none. Its the process, though, of what we had to go through that we had to figure out that intrigues us. Its an exercise. Its another tool in your arsenal to apply to anything. It answers questions someplace else that you may not be aware of.
AS: And just like Swimming in Syrup and Airplane on a Conveyor Belt, we know for a fact that no ones done it. Weve done a lot of experiments that we know other people have done. Weve built a lot of research and our researchers are phenomenal. But then there are the ones like this, that we know when we do the final experiment full-scale, no ones ever tried it before. Were way out on this edge. Maybe not an edge of utility, But it is very thrilling for us to be doing that. Knowing that when someone sees this episode, when a physics teacher sees this episode, he doesnt just have to say its so.
JH: Theres also another prime example of that, and that was Polishing a Turd. [laughter] I mean, you absolutely dont need to know how to do that.
AS: But weve all done it professionally. We found polished earrings made of poo, didnt we?
JH: But its about the process, and you find things along the way. We get a kick out of doing things that are so unlikely, like that. One of the things that were gonna be taking up here before long is a poo special. I think they were wanting to call it an excrement extravaganza. And this was another example that maybe you dont need to know how to this, but when you start to look into it, for example, I had been fascinated with hybrid rockets that use pretty much any hydrocarbon along with nitrous oxide or some other oxidizer to make rocket fuel. So I wondered what are all the hydrocarbons that we can possibly use. Obviously you want it to be a dense one, and I went through the list, and I realized that poo is a hydrocarbon and made up of stuff that might be usable as fuel. And, it sounds ridiculous, but when you start to look into it, which I did, I found out that NASA had done quite a lot of testing on this because youre going to Mars and youve got some people on board and where theres people theres poo. What else are you gonna do with it? You might get away with recycling your urine, but the poo is a little bit different.
AS: I think you can only eat it twice before it loses its nutrition. [groans]
ScriptPhD: Getting away from poo for a moment, I have a little two-part question about your source material. Can you talk about the process that you undergo when you choose the next myth or the next source material. And then, what is the difference between the material that just interests you because its cool and the material that you think is interesting and is feasible to build an episode around?
AS: Well those two things are inextricably linked. Because the show is built on all of our interest levels. I think whats successful about the show is that were actually having a good time. And what were having a good time doing is not just blowing stuff up or getting to wear neat costumes, its primarily getting to satisfy our curiosity. So really the primary driver, and where a story is going to go, is what are we interested in doing? So our producer, who is the guy who goes up to Discovery and says were going to do a poo special and its going to go roughly like this, and well look at that story and we might say, Yeah I know when we first started this was the thing, but Ive done some more research and actually this is a more interesting direction. Lets go in this direction. Because we know that when were interested in a direction, that footage is going to be more compelling.
SPhD: And what are the places that you go to to derive this stuff? Is it where your curiosity normally takes youarticles, journals, the internet?
AS: Well, Ill give you an example. On Twitter, shortly after I started posting regularly, someone Tweeted a myth that said, Dirty versus clean car as a myth. Dirty car gets better gas mileage, because the dirt has a golf ball-like effect on the surface of the car and allows it to slip through the air. Dimples, in other words. And I knew, because Ive sat next to Jamie on countless plane trips where hes bent my ear going I dont know what the golf ball effect is, and why dont planes have little golf ball dimples, and so on, and Im thinking, knowing that [Jamies] interested in that, the moment I heard this myth, it cascades into a story that I know is going to interest me. I know its going to be fascinating because we log these little things, these little trips, and we talk about them all the time. Weve sat on planes where the guy behind us has said, You guys really talk like this in the world! [laughter]
Press question: what are Torys and Grants and Carries roles in the planning of the episodes? Where do they come in?
TB: We have our own team. So [Jamie and Adam] have their own stories and then we get a whole list and we do look through them and ask, What do you guys want? What do you want? And if were really excited about a story, well say Oh what if we did this! What if we added this? and we start building and then theyre like, Yeah, you guys are psyched about it, run with it! And then if its entertaining, we have to ask if theres going to be enough to make it scientific and entertaining at the same time. And we do these story meetings where we just sit around and brainstorm about how were going to test this, or what if we added this or so on, and it just grows and builds.
Press question: So you guys [Jamie and Adam] are the cover guys, but theres a real honest division of labor between you?
AS: Those are totally separate stories, yeah.
TB: But every once in a while, well get a story where theres a cross-over.
AS: Also, theres stories where these guys will do preliminary work on and well pick up years later and ask how they did, or well be doing something that they did and well ask them how they did that.
JH: A good example, if I can interject, was one that I believe has aired, which was See-Saw Saga. Both teams worked on this, and when I first saw this story, I went through it and said, first off, while its gruesome (because it involved a skydiver whose parachute didnt open) it also was funny because he lands on a see-saw and a little girl gets launched up to ten stories in the air and walks away from it safely. Here, when you start to look at that, I start to see a lot of interesting stuff because the impact that this guy is creating is a lot of science, terminal velocity and its likely going to break the see-saw and all that stuff. Theres a lot of physics to consider here. The rig that we eventually try to do, shows that even if it didnt happen, or couldnt happen, we would try to make it happen. And the engineering involved with that was quite involved. We used CAD, we used a lot of high-end materials, we were able to invent something that hadnt been made before. It was really quite cutting edge in its own way. And so theres all the elements that you could possibly want in an episode in that one thing: humor, science, a lot of challenges, a lot of complexity and depth in the process.
AS: But also I have to say, and I think one of the things you were getting at, is its not like we get lists of things from a producer to go and do. The producer, Dan Tapster, will outline a whole season, because Discovery has to buy off a whole bunch of stories. But those outlines are the faintest of sketches. The actual construction process, the actual design process of an experiment, is driven by the team that is doing that experiment. So its so much more than being on-camera talent, and I think thats one of the reasons that the show is still getting the same ratings it was getting six years ago. Were still engaged and I think I can speak for all of usafter 168 hours of programming, were still having more fun now than we ever have. We feel consistenly more of a sense of ownership of the material as we go, as we get better at doing this, as we get better at spotting stories and chasing down these paths. The experimental designs just get more and more fun.
TB: We actually got a criticism from our producer, and he was like, You know when an explosion happens (and we were looking at some past episodes), try not to triple orgasm, try not to do that. If its something that interests you, great, but not this over-excitement. And we looked at each other thinking, We actually were that excited! You cant hide your emotions.
GI: Were involved with the design process of how to bust a myth, of the mechanical rigs. I think that if we werent, you wouldnt be able to see that on camera, because were not actors. So, its hard to give the impression that youre involved if youre not involved. And so youd like to be involved, I like to do my own research, I find the best way to sound like you know what youre talking about is to actually know what youre talking about.
AS: Well, I think its the thing I see when other networks attempt to replicate MythBusters style of show. What I consistently see is hosts that arent engaged with the material. And in fact, when I watched shows that I like, its hosts that are engaged with the material. It has nothing to do with the material itself.
SPhD: Can you offer any examples, obviously without calling someone out?
AS: I dont wanna name names, because I dont want to trash other shows.
JH: An example that goes indirectly at this is one of the things I never see on any of the other shows, as far as Im aware, are tangents that sometimes go off in a different direction and when that happens with us, its because we have come up with some sort of a seed of an idea, and we start to go into it and then we find interesting things along the way. A lot of times, well do a right turn off in some obscure direction, because we are fascinated. Its like, Wow, who knew that this would happen? and Im curious about it. And fortunately, production has learned to appreciate that this makes for something that actually has more depth to it. Its not just picking a subject and linearly following it and busting the myth and thats what its all about.
AS: Ill give you a good example. One of the best informed to me, of the MythBusters offshoots, is ESPNs Sports Science. Thats a terrific show. I love watching it. But I think that what they spend a half hour on would take us six minutes of screen time to explain and demonstrate. There arent really hosts of that show. They have an outline and they methodically go down it. And they shoot down their targets as theyre going. And I think Jamie is absolutely right. Its those tangents where you get thosebecause to us, the soul of the show is just these two guys on a Sunday in their garage. What would they do?
SPhD: Well as a build-off of this answer, and your previous comment, Tory, about the mix of the science and the entertainment, who do you view as your audience? Because there are a lot of spin-offs and theres a lot of material available now. Do you sort of feel like theres a certain demographic that is there, and then you tailor the show to them, or do you have an idea, you go with it, and its a wide spectrum of people who will come?
JH: Yes, were actually just having fun and screwing around. It seems to work. And yes we will be premeditative about it in the sense of my previous example with the see-saw thing. We can see certain elements in it that make for a clear trail of a good story. Its got all the makings and well make sure that we have that balance in it and make it into a composition that way, but as far as tailoring to an audience? Its pretty much were just believers in the honesty of the approach. Were just having a good time, were exploring, its an adventure for us to do what we do, and while were aware that the cameras are there, at least in my case, its just a pain in the ass. I would say get out of my way.
AS: One of the surprising and impressive things about the show is the feedback we get from kids saying its interesting, parents saying its interesting, our kids like the science, science teachers saying that their Thursday morning class discussions are the liveliest of the week because of what happens on our show the night before. The National and California Science Teachers Association have made us honorary lifetime members. But what we love saying is that if wed set out to make a show that was educational, we would have failed miserably. Its not by design. We understand that that is the case now, and yes, we can look down the throat of a narrative and say, yes, lets bring in this element, and lets bring in this here, and then in the middle of that demonstration, something really remarkable might happen. Well go down a different path. Most shows, like Bill Nyes and those types of shows, are demonstration shows. They describe a concept and then they demonstrate it. We are steadfastly not a demonstration show. Were an experimentation show. Because we dont know whats going to happen when were setting up to do something. Sometimes we do, but honestly, the largest proportion of the time were surprised.
JH: A lot of times, we think we do and it turns out that we dont. And that, for us, is the best thing because it means that we learned something in the process. In my sense, the biggest excitement and bonus of doing this show is what I personally learned.
AS: Im not going to give you the result of Dirty Versus Clean, but the result was so shocking to us that we literally just sat there and giggled on camera. We were totally wrong and so were all the experts. Its great!
Press question: Have you gotten any interesting feedback from academic scientists?
JH: All the time. We get insulted about things that weve done, we get questions. A lot of time the inquires are just, What kind of material do you use or where did you access it? But weve had pretty much any scientific institution that you can name has contacted us in one way or another with some kind of inquiry.
AS: Its not like we actually engage in discussions where theyre like, We think you got this experiment wrong. Actually, I think theres a real clear understanding in the scientific community that these arent publishable results were coming up with. But what they see that were doing thats a benefit, is that were doing things like, were showing you that we were wrong about our intuition. Were showing you that the experts helping us to make wild-ass guesses were wrong. Were showing that science is this very messy process. Well spend an entire episode realizing weve been asking the wrong question. And thats really important, that people see that science isnt guys in white lab coats going, Its just as I expected!, its people going, What do we do now?! Where do we go from here? We got this result and I have no idea where to put it. To show science as such a creative process.
Press question: One question that isnt in your bios. Which of you has the most degrees piled up?
GI: Electroengineering. A degree. Bachelors of science.
Press question: And second question. Have you done a do-over episode yet?
AS: Oh, weve done dozens of do-over episodes! There are a lot of stories weve gone back on with new data, new material, new information. Because fans will absolutely spell it all out for us when they think weve got something off. And if its enough material for us to come up with a different conclusion, and I love that! Im always saying, Wouldnt you love to watch the History Channel, and have them air a disclaimer saying You know all those Nostradamus documentaries weve been wasting your life with? Turns out its all crap! Sorry!
Press question: Adam, you mentioned in the panel, somebody asked about Bigfoot, and doing an episode about that, and you said, Were not into proving negatives. Can you talk about that?
AS: Well, if you are going to tackle ghosts, youre going to have two outcomes: youre either going to find a ghost or youre not. If you dont find a ghost, that doesnt mean they dont exist. All youve done is proved that you couldnt find a ghost. Theres not much thats scientific in that. Youve just demonstrated the negative, you havent demonstrated the positive.
JH: Thats the super part in supernatural. There may be something there that doesnt fit within science or things that you can test, things that you can wrap your brain around other than being able to say, Well, we werent able to find anything. While we are at times coming up with results that are not definitive, well thats most of the time, weve got a sample size of one or sometimes three, if were lucky. It doesnt mean that were going to go off on wild goose chases after things and make statements about stuff that is out there.
SPhD: Right down the line, favorite episode to date?
TB: My favorite episode would probably be Red Flag to a Bull.
AS: For me, its Lead Balloon.
GI: Probably the Wanted myth, where we tested the curving of a bullet. The experimental design was really fantastic.
I know youve been waiting for it, folks! The Day 3 Comic-Con Costume of the Day. Today was a very tough call. Compounding the fact that Saturday tends to be the busiest day at the Con, it is also the night of the annual Costume Masquerade Ball, so it definitely brings out the creativity. Our pick is a graphic designer whose costume took over two hours to put on, with some very neat results:
Please come back tomorrow as we close out a relatively relaxed last day with two amazing final panels (the inimitable Dr. Who and Supernatural) and our first visit to
Hell on Earththe always packed convention floor. Good night!