Comic-Con: DAY 2 Coverage


Greetings! Day 2 of Comic-Con was a very scaryspecial occasion: Official Star Wars Day. Yes, the personal hygiene was questionable and the light sabers were many, but the ScriptPhD soldiered on to bring you our coverage of as much science entertainment content as you can pack in one website. Today we start by putting the science in science fiction with the special 10th Anniversary Farscape reunion panel, including information about their new DVD box set release and upcoming projects. ABC’s electrifying new science-fiction serial thriller FlashForward provided a world premiere sneak peek of the first 15 minutes of the pilot and a special guest surprised the audience. Our press room coverage from Day 2 includes some phabulous physics with CBS’s Emmy-nominated Big Bang Theory, including a one-on-one interview with Emmy nominee Jim Parsons, who talked to about his journey into science and preparation to play a science geek, and Bones, including interviews with star Emily Deschanel and showrunner Hart Hanson. We also have our daily Comic-Con Costume of the Day and the Light Saber Count Tally. Stay along for the ride with Click “continue reading” for more!

Farscape: 10th Anniversary Panel
Moderator: Keith R.A. DeCandidio (author of official Farscape Comic)

Panelists: Brian Henson (executive producer/director), Rockne O’Bannon (creator/writer), Ben Browder (John Crichton), and Claudia Black (Aeryn Sun)

Farscape panel:  (from left to right)

Farscape panel: (from left to right) moderator Keith R.A. DeCandidio, Brian Henson, Claudia Black, Ben Browder and Rockne O'Bannon

Farscape: 10th Anniversary Panel
Moderator: Keith R.A. DeCandidio (author of official Farscape Comic)

Panelists: Brian Henson (executive producer/director), Rockne O’Bannon (creator/writer), Ben Browder (John Crichton), and Claudia Black (Aeryn Sun)

Brian Henson: Thanks for coming everyone. We are primarily here to announce our special 10th Anniversary DVDs being released thanks to the efforts of our new distribution partners. November 17th is the official release date, with lots of new material previously not available. We heard from fans that what is most missed is Farscape: Undressed, and we actually only aired it once. So it’s really nice to make it special and it will be a part of this box set.

Keith R.A. DeCandidio: In fact, you have 29 commentaries on specific episodes. So there’s lots of commentaries and documentaries, 90 minutes of deleted scenes. What about the webisodes though?

Brian Henson: The webisodes are really good creative work. Rockne has been working with Ricky Manning, and they’re going to be great but it’s a tough time to finace things. We’re working on raising money, but we are poised to go on with them as a project and Rockne has been working on the comic books in the meantime.

Rockne O’Bannon: I’ve been honing a suitable story that can be done on the web in 4-5 minute segments, and it’s been tough, because the original was ambitious even for television. We wrestle constantly with a story that we’re excited about.

Brian Henson: What we’re trying to do is approach webisode opportunities from a unique perspective, not necessarily a linear one, not interconnected, but where you get a piece of an important puzzle as you watch each one. That is the initial launch of the next big part of Farscape, and it’s very ambitious. It is the continuing story of Crichton and Aeryn and their son. And if you keep up with the comics, there are characters being introduced in those that will continue into the next chapter as well.

Rockne O’Bannon: First we started the webisodes [as follow-up material] and then the comics came along, and it’s the perfect interstitial material. Comics are definitely an important part of the equation.

Keith R.A. DeCandidio: We’ll start with some web questions first that were sent in. David Leslie asks Ben and Claudia, what was your first reaction to acting with creatures from the Henson creature shop?

Claudia Black: Well, to be honest, we didn’t know what we were getting into. The Henson involvement was exciting. I’ve always been a big fan of muppets, great production value, and I find them interesting.

Ben Browder: I didn’t know what they were going to do. My first audition was at Henson’s old offices, surrounded by Kermit. I just wanted to be with the frog. I didn’t realize it was going to be Rigel.

Brian Henson: Rock and I had been working on this together for four years before production actually started. And there was lots of work involved. The show is very innovative, a sci-fi tone with a new energy, lots naughtier, and pushes the limits beyond what people had previously done on television. When Ben and Claudia joined, we only had drawings of different episode ideas. In a lot of ways, it was psychotically ambitious to have new ideas for each episode [in terms of expense and sustainability]. Rigel and Pilot were the first two puppets built in London, the rest were built in Australia. I was personally always impressed with the Farscape cast. Because they must take it very seriously in order for the idea to work. The characters must be sincere and believe in the world, but with Farscape, because we have a lighter tone, very comedic, particularly with the creatures, you need to treat them with respect. And Ben and Claudia in particular, were taking them seriously and yet having fun with it at the same time!

Rockne O’Bannon: I remember in the early days, it took a few episodes to get comfortable, and once you could touch Rigel, it helped you make the whole thing that much more real.

Ben Browder: And the puppeteers themselves were okay with it. You didn’t WANT to touch Rigel, but you did want to hit him. I remember the first episode I hit him, Season 1, episode 6. And I asked the puppeteer for permission, which he gave, but we didn’t tell the director of the episode, so we filmed the scene and I nail Rigel in the back of the head, he goes down and before they called cut, we hear this “Oh my Goooooooood! Not the puppet!!!!!!” We realized that the puppet cost $1 million to make. I thought I was going to lose my job. You realize the appeal of the puppets pretty quickly when my children walked into the room with me, and engaged in a 30 minute conversation with the puppets. They never realized that Johnny was even there.

Claudia Black: And every year I made the bet that because [the Farscape plan] was so ambitious, we weren’t getting picked up, and every year I was wrong. They were able to create these really emotional scenes with rubber, to get these emotional reactions out of puppets.

Brian Henson: With rubber, leather and latex! No wonder we’re at Comic-Con!

Fan question: What’s your favorite line from anything in the show?

Rockne O’Bannon: Picking a single line is tough. But I am really proud of [the swear word] Frell. I was waiting in the airport at Salt Lake City on my way to Thanksgiving, and writing the scene for episode 9, and needed a curse word. So for me it was the invention of the word Frell.

Claudia Black: Same here! I thought it was a sticker. Every other episode we were like, “Can we use Frell? Can we invent more unique swear words?!”

Ben Browder: My favorite line. “CAN I GET A HELL YEAH?!”

Audience: Hell yeah!

Claudia Black: “Can you help me find a place to seize your soul?” They wanted me to test that character, and I did the line spontaneously when we taped, and watching the reaction on Ben’s face, it was the first time you’ve ever corpsed on set. It was so fantastic!

Brian Henson: For me, it’s like an ocean. How do you pick your favorite drop of water? There was so much Farscape! My favorite part was the romance between Crichton and Aeryn. That relationship and the performances that these guys did was what moved me the deepest. Which is weird because I’m the creature guy. And when Aeryn smacks Rigel’s head was such a surprising moment and always makes me laugh!

Claudia Black: I remember doing a lot of the B stories with Rigel early on and I remember telling Ben, “Hey! You’ve got to get your hands on Rigel, it makes a big difference.” I didn’t realize he was going to be real, and here he comes with an entourage of six people at any given time. So dealing with him and his entourage and pretending that they weren’t there was a challenge.

Brian Henson: What you don’t see is that when there’s a Rigel scene, underneath him is a group of three people, and a rolling chair. So to get to Rigel, you have to make a plan, otherwise you’ll step on people’s faces and fingers. But it is funny. If you were to just zoom out 10 millimiters [they would be there onscreen].

Keith R.A. DeCandidio: Online question from Jonathan Schwest from LA: What was your most formative experience on Farscape, that made you feel like THIS is the reason I took this job?

Claudia Black: Watching that video [retrospective at the beginning of the panel] was it. I cried. I can’t believe what we managed to achieve. I think you had to film it overseas, where the tax incentives were, which means working with Australian crews, which are cheaper. [laughter] But originally, the plan was to block shoot multiple episodes at a time.

Brian Henson: Yes, the original plan was to have an ensemble cast and make simultaneous episodes, but we realized the driving relationship was Chricton and Aeryn.

Claudia Black: I turned around and said to Ben one day, “This is a love story.”

Rockne O’Bannon: For me the feeling really hit home when we were doing the Peacekeeper Wars, the fnal mini-series, when we were doing the birth sequence in the water. I thought, wow, it’s a gunfight, all our characters are gonna die, Aeryn’s having a baby, and Chricton is going to be delivering it, and they’re gonna get married and it’s gonna be…. funny! That’s when I realized, “Wow look at what we’ve done. After four years, it was just the Farscape way. We’ve gotten to a place and a show where we’re really stretching the limits of what we can do.”

Claudia Black: I was grateful for that water birth scene a few years later, when I birthed my first baby, because I did have it in water, and it wasn’t nearly as painful as for Aeryn. I remember thinking, “Huh. I’m tougher than Aeryn.” [laughter]

Ben Browder: My formative moment? My paycheck! First paycheck, I looked at it, and thought, “Ohhhhh the rent! Baby’s gonna eat today!” Why did I take that job, I don’t know. No, all kidding aside, it was near the end of Season 1, it occurred in stages. The first time I worked with Rowan Woods, episode 9 season 1, was a turning point for the series and what we were capable of. And then the two-parter where we introduced Scorpius. All those developments through Season 1, we were able to fail gloriously and succeed in surprising ways. It didn’t happen in a flash, but if you look back at more than one clip, you get very overwhelmed. It’s ten years! It’s still beautiful and well-crafted today!

Rockne O’Bannon: What’s amazing is that the clip reel was of material we’d made only in the first season, and just looking at the scale of what we accomplished just in one season, tribute to all the artists, Aussies who embraced it and threw themselves at it. My formative moment was starting development with Brian in 1993, and looking at shopping it to a network and looking for a network deal. And we both looked at each other like, “How do we do this?” We had four scripts, but the pilot itself was overwhelming.

Brian Henson: Sci-Fi (now SyFy) was terrific. It was their first show that they picked up as an original series, and that was a big risk for them. I know people are upset with them for eventually canceling us, but it was a big deal to even run us for 4 seasons.

Fan question: Would you ever consider a sequel or a spin-off?

Brian Henson: We’ve thought about it, but we’re most excited about continuing the story as is. The Farscape universe is a very rich one, very well developed. We’re excited about launching the next chapter. We’ve discussed a lot of different options, but now we’re most excited about the next chapter. “Puppet Up” is this puppet show that’s rated X, that we do in secret at the Avalon Theatre in Hollywood, to train the puppeteers. We were thinking about a “Puppet Up” mix with Farscape!

Very special fan presentation: Hi, I’m Craig Glendave from the Guiness Book of World Records. This is a book full of psychotically ambitious people. I have one preview copy of our upcoming book for you and your certificate. This is for “Most Visual Effects in a TV Series”. You have seven days to do one episodes, with 40-50 visual effects per show. In one season, you gusy do a motion picture’s worth of effects. Welcome to the Guiness Book!

A fan presents Brian Henson with the orinigal copy of the Guinness Book of World Records for next year, featuring Farscape.  (Apparently, Claudia is super excited about this.)

A fan presents Brian Henson with the orinigal copy of the Guinness Book of World Records for next year, featuring Farscape. (Apparently, Claudia is super excited about this.)

Keith R.A. DeCandidio: Another web question. If you had a chance to go back in time, what would you change and why?

Claudia Black: Personally, I’d redo the first six episodes, because it was like a teething or a birthing process for me, because everyone was helping me shape the character, and for me, the seminal moment was when I took ownership of the show and I felt like I owned Aeryn. Up until then, I didn’t have a comfort level with Aeryn. I hit my stride by episode seven.

Rockne Obannon: For me, it was in the pilot, seeing the first few shots, and in comes the footage of Ben and he’s wearing like a jet fighter helmet. And we are like, “OK that’s not an astronaut helmet” so we would like to put on something different on him, but it reminded us to write great dialogue for him because he might be hidden by the helmet.

Ben Browder: I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m not smart enough to know what thread to pull, because of what could unravel. Because all the things we did badly, we got better the second time. Like the terrible beards! That was my own beard, by the way, for you online haters saying that it was the worst fake beard you’d ever seen.

Keith R.A. DeCandidio: Any final comments?

Brian Henson: Thank you for coming. You, the fans, are the reason we continued, and kept us alive. We’re still dedicated to Farscape and keeping it going. You guys have been so supportive for really unusual shows, and that keeps television going!

Ben Browder: So we’re all going for drinks afterwards…. Brian is buying, tell your friends!

[ScriptPhD note: I have never watched Farscape. Yes, I am hanging my head in shame, and yes I realize it’s a staple of science fiction television. But though I covered this panel because their material is so appropriate to our site, I must say, the clips and the energy exuded by the panel, clearly conveying their chemistry and camaraderie, made me an instant fan. I plan on going through the box set immediately. Maybe this will help me get over losing Battlestar Galactica]

From one great moment of science fiction past, we moved to the science fiction future, with ABC’s exciting new fall series Flash Forward. Comic-Con featured the first public footage of the first two acts of the pilot and the introduction of a very special cast member.

Flash Forward
Panelists: Brannon Braga (24), Marc Guggenheim (Eli Stone), David Goyer (Batman Begins), Joseph Fiennes (Shakespeare in Love), John Cho (Star Trek), Courtney B. Vance (Law & Order) and Christine Woods (In Plain Sight).

Flash Forward panel:  (from left to right)

Flash Forward panel: (from left to right) Brannon Braga, Marc Guggenheim, David S. Goyer, Joseph Fiennes, John Cho, Courtney B. Vance and Christine Woods

The panel began with an introduction and world premiere of first two acts by executive producers and writers. As a note, is going to be covering and reviewing the entire pilot as part of our fall television preview. Think of this as a tease! But in the meantime, we have a transcript of the panel discussion featuring cast and writers.

Marc Guggenheim: Well, the concept for our show is based on a book entitled Flashforward by Robert J. Sawyer, and I remember my wife came to me and said this would make a great movie, but we subsequently moved into a house, and buried in the boxes a long time after, I found a copy of the paperback and started exploring it again. Then I talked to my friend Brannon. The big thing in the book is that the conscious shift is 21 years in the future, but we chose six months as more interesting. By the end of Season 1 we will have caught up with all the flash forwards. And I know what you’re going to ask. Do we have a plan for after Season 1? We do.

Moderator: And the story is building up to a big date, April 29th.

Marc Guggenheim: Yes, and this event is so big that this will be split up into two days.

Brannon Braga: What you didn’t see yet, is that every man, woman and child has a vision of the futuer six months from now. That’s 6.8 billion potential stories that you can tell! Great syndication package! Because of that, we saw great potential for stories but also something that’s universal.

Courtney B. Vance: I’d like to go all over the world. [laughter]

Marc Guggenheim: That will look like a green screen to you, Courtney. In all reality, we will be going all over the world during the show. Every person is a potential character, and every type of story will be told in the series: funny, sad, romantic, tragic.

David S. Goyer: Every episode will have at least one flash forward that is procedural mingled with our ongoing characters’ flash forwards.

Moderator: There are lots of mysteries embedded going forward. Moving forward, what are the episodes driven by? What’s the right balance of drama and human?

Brannon Braga: Well, Joseph Fiennes’s character has seen some things in his future that drives the investigation [as to why the blackout happened]. That is the overarching story of the series. But we’re also interested in the human drama element. What imprisons people by their visions going forward?

David S. Goyer: If you want the muscular procedural, there is that aspect through Joseph’s character from all these clues he’s dug up six months from now. Every image has already been figured out and they appear briefly on that board that you see flashes of with pieces of the puzzle, if you want to pause your TiVos. Part of it is that we started writing the first half of this, and then second half after WGA strike had eded fourteen months later. So that pause in between gave us time for lots of planning. But there is also tons of human drama involved in the show. If you knew everythng about your life would be different six months from now, would you do everything differently?

Marc Guggenheim: It’s another opportunity to elicit character, which is our mantra in the writers’ room. Even the guns and pyrotechnics are ultimately tied into character drama. Our show’s tone is as wide as its scope.

Moderator: You talked about LOST and it being a big inspiration for you. How did that play a role?

David S. Goyer: Nothing will be the new LOST, but our show ended up at ABC. We wrote a spec script and there were multiple bidders and I was friends with Damon [Lindeloff, writer on Lost], and the bottom line is that LOST was a genre-breaking show: daring, challenging. We figured that if ABC was that courageous with them, they’ll be courageous with us. And we pitched them a fairly excessive plan. We know the shot Season 1 ends on, we know how the season and series ends and they said, “Holy shit!” Literally, that’s what they said. The basic plan is that in order to tell the story we need as little as three seasons, and it could go out to…

Courtney B. Vance: Raw hide… 21 seasons!

David S. Goyer: We had a big plan and we didn’t know if it would work out.

Moderator: This is your first time on TV Joseph. Why did you want to do this?

Joseph Fiennes: I actually came to LA for a meetig on another project, and on the way to the airport I got a phone call and a script [for Flash Forward]. I knew of David’s work, but read the script and thought I had to do it. It was a combination of brilliance and smooth talking that landed me here. It’s been an extraordinary change of events going to TV, but I must say through the scripts and the process behind the series, I think that it’s so much more exciting in many areas than film. Film can be generic and structured, three act arc. You sort of predict what you’re going to get. Here there’s a different shape that is possibly like Raw Hide, going on forever.

David S. Goyer: There’s a cute story from the pilot of Joseph taking out this gun. And we showed him how to shoot a gun, since when we see him in the movies, he is usually on a horse in pantaloons. In the middle of it he did this ridiculous James Bond action role, and he threw that in because he was so excited.

Moderator: John, how’s your summer been?

[audience cheers]

John Cho: Summer’s been good. Had a film called Star Trek, and it feels so good. We went all over the world, it was a real privilege to travel with all those people. I didn’t get to meet everyone while we were filming, so it was a good chance for everyone to get to know each other

Moderator: How challenging is it to bring this to life? When all you have is a flash of the characters’ future and the writers give you little to work with.

Courtney B. Vance: I find it liberating to be in a series that is flashing 21 years in the future, I get residual checks for 21 years. I get the chance to work with these guys as youths and we will grow old together. I look forward to seeing my children go to college. In all seriousness, it’s a great group of people. I have been trying to hook up with another series for a while since Law and Order, so I was exhausted from that trek. My manager told me to go in on Saturday to see the writers of this new show. So I went in and met with them, and it was a life-changing meeting. I’m pleased and proud to be a part of this 21 year saga.

Christine Woods: This is my first series so that’s exciting. But it’s fun to go to work and have it be reactionary. You don’t know what’s going to happen, and sometimes they give you clues, but I think it’s cool to not know what’s next with less to think about.

David S. Goyer: I have a funny story about Christine. She has these three tattoos on her arm, and she auditioned and we loved her but couldn’t ever remember her name. So when we went to cast, I was like, “I want three circles. Where is three circles?” She became Three Circles for a month.

Christine Woods: I actully got more work after the tattoos because people remembered me.

Moderator: Lightning round. David, next Batman fim.

David S. Goyer: We’re still trying to think of the lamest Batman character. We’re BatMusing.

Marc Guggenheim: Green Lantern is happening, we’re filming in Australia. So look for it in January.

Brannon Braga: Loved the new Star Trek movie. And yes, I think we’ll absolutely see another reincarnation of Star Trek on TV again.

Marc Guggenheim: What you guys don’t know is that after Kal Penn joined the White House, John had a choice between doing this show and joining a non-profit for Sarah Palin.

John Cho: Yes, we would have been providing guns for every underprivileged child. [laughter]

Fan question: Some characters don’t have a flash forward.

David S. Goyer: We will be bringing that into the storyline.

Fan question: David, you work a lot in features, are you going to stay invovled with this show?

David S. Goyer: I co-wrote episodes 2 and 3. You know, in the past, I’ve flirted a lot noncommitally with TV, but I love this project so much that I signed a contract for the first season no matter what.

Fan: Has Robert J. Sawyer been involved?

David S. Goyer: He saw the pilot, he loved it, and he’s our science advisor on the show.

Brannon Braga: we planned the show with him before we even started writing, because certain things are different from the novel. But if you see his blog, he’s totally cool with it. We’re starting a new fan resource for the show:

Fan question: What caused the global blackout?

Marc Guggenheim: Rush Limbaugh farted. It’s a big ass, think about it. We know, we know, we knew before we started the show, but we’re not gonna say.

David S. Goyer: A master plan is important if you’re going to do a heavily serialized show that catches up to a certain date. The audience smells a rat if they think you’re making it up as you go along. We were able to get ABC to hire our writing staff well before we shot [to begin planning everything out], but if you are going to be true to the fans, you have to know where you’re going. Thus, we are able to lay in a lot of easter eggs, and aha moments that connect to seasons later on, well beyond even Season 1.

Fan: You imply that even though people know what their future is, they can’t change it because you’ve planned it out.

David S. Goyer: Part of the fun of the show is subverting expectations. A lot of people think we’re treading water until April 29th, but there’s a lot of game changers that happen early on. So… just watch the show.

After showing some rather funny clips of Sonya Walder (Penny Widmore of LOST) in her Comic-Con costume had she been here, the producers introduced the worst-kept secret in Hollywood… Flash Forward cast member Dominic Monaghan, whose mysterious appearance seemed to be as brief and mysterious as his character. [He did get a standing ovation from the audience, though.]

Dominic Monaghan joins his new cast mates from Flash Forward onstage a Comic-Con.

Dominic Monaghan joins his new cast mates from Flash Forward onstage a Comic-Con.

Dominic Monaghan: My character’s name is Simon and that’s all I know. I don’t know if I’ll be on LOST again. I’m not really sure if anyone ever dies on that show.

David S. Goyer: We’d planned Dom’s involvement even before we started the pilot and he’s a game changer character that fucks things up a lot.

Fan qestion: Christine, what does your tattoo mean?

Christine Woods: It’s nothing too secret. Just a combination of femininity, presence, it’s my own little power symbol.

ScriptPhD note: spent time in the press room with the cast and production talent of Big Bang Theory and Bones and we were thrilled to be able to ask the actors and writers about the science in both shows. We will post pictures for now, but promise to have a full transcript of our roundtables up by next week, including a surprise one-on-one interview with a showrunner from one of your favorite dramas. Because of the time-consuming nature of transcribing interviews for each show, and in order to bring you the most out of our coverage this week, we simply cannot get to it all. Rest assured, however, that we got tons of great scoop on both shows, and promise that the wait is scintillating and will be worth it!

From the Press Room: The Big Bang Theory

Big Bang Theory star Simon Helberg in the press room

Big Bang Theory star Simon Helberg in the press room

Big Bang Theory star Kunal Nayyar in the press room

Big Bang Theory star Kunal Nayyar in the press room

Emmy nominee Big Bang Theory star Jim Parsons in the press room

Emmy nominee Big Bang Theory star Jim Parsons in the press room

Big Bang Theory star Kaley Cuoco in the press room

Big Bang Theory star Kaley Cuoco in the press room

Big Bang Theory star Johnny Galecki in the press room

Big Bang Theory star Johnny Galecki in the press room

[Complete transcript of our conversation with Kaley Cuoco and Johnny Galecki coming soon!]

From the Press Room: Bones

Bones star Emily Deschanel and creator/executive producer Hart Hanson strike a pose for

Bones star Emily Deschanel and creator/executive producer Hart Hanson strike a pose for

[complete transcript coming soon]

Our Day 2 Comic-Con Costume of the Day was a no-brainer, hands down. The instant winner:

It takes a strong man to wear those tights with those anteannae... in public.

It takes a strong man to wear those tights with those anteannae... in public.

However, if you disagree, you can find all of the costumes we chose from, and complete Day 2 picture roundup, on Facebook page. And last, but not least, we were counting light sabers all day from dedicated Star Wars fans, and our final tally came out to: 75. A paltry sum against such dedicated masses with whom the Force was, this I know. But apparently this year, Comic-Con contained all of their Star Wars activities and celebrations to one room. Sadly, I wasn’t in the place to be…

And may the Force be with you, good sir!

And may the Force be with you, good sir!

See you later tonight for Day 3 coverage of Comic-Con!

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