[03/06/11 - 12:21 AM]
Live at the Paley Festival: HBO's "True Blood"
By Jim Halterman (TFC)

Please note: As a courtesy, please do not reproduce these comments to newsgroups, forums or other online places. Links only please.

7:24 PM - Night two of the 28th Annual Paley Festival at the Saban Theater in Los Angeles starts late but a clip from the 1997 pilot of "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" appeases the anxious "True Blood" fans.

7:29 PM - The Paley Center's Betsy Scolnick introduces TV Guide's Debra Birnbaum as our moderator for this evening. Debra wastes no time in getting the crowd riled up by asking if the excited crowd is Team Bill or Team Eric in terms of who should be with Sookie. (Based on the volume and screams, Bill should be worried.) Debra invites series creator Alan Ball to come out to the podium. (Note: There are 18 empty chairs on the stage so pretty much everyone is here.)

7:33 PM - Alan says "We are so honored and humbled to be here" and introduces a compilation clip including a rough season four clip featuring Pam, Jessica and Hoyt confronting protestors outside of the Fangtasia bar. Fun stuff.

7:49 PM - Debra introduces the entire cast - Joe Manganiello (Alcide)! Kristin Bauer (Pam)! Kevin Alejandro (Jesus)! Nelsan Ellis (Lafayette)! Deborah Ann Woll (Jessica)! Jim Parrack (Hoyt)! Todd Lowe (Terry)! Carrie Preston (Arlene)! Chris Bauer (Andy)! Ryan Kwanten (Jason)! Marshall Allman (Tommy)! Sam Trammell (Sam)! Rutina Wesley (Tara)! Alexander Skarsgard (Eric)! Stephen Moyer (Bill)! Anna Paquin (Sookie)! Alan Ball! (The entire introducing of the cast takes nearly seven minutes!)

7:58 PM - Debra starts off the panel asking the actors who they don't get to work with much and would like to. Kevin Alejandro says he'd like to see Jesus work with Bill or Eric. "Anyone except this guy," he says gesturing to Nelsan, who plays his love interest on the show. Ryan would like to see Jason mix it up with Arlene. Sam Trammell says he'd like to work with Kevin Alejandro more.

8:01 PM - Rutina says she'd like to see some Tara and Pam scenes, which Kristin agrees would be fun. Alan Ball smiles and says, "You will." The crowd goes berserk.

8:02 PM - Debra asks Alan who we might see get together this season and he sets the tone for his cast of not giving too much away at all about the upcoming fourth season.

8:03 PM - Debra asks Joe if Alcide is finally over his Debbie, his dangerous ex, and he promises that we haven't seen the last of Debbie. In his words, she's "at large." Should be interesting...

8:05PM - "Pam dresses for every occasion," says Kristin about Pam's great outfits. Kristin would also love to see some flashbacks with Pam and Eric in the past.

8:08 PM - Debra wants to know from Kevin if we can we trust Jesus. Alan lets out a maniacal laugh as Kevin answers, "Trust him as much as he can." Does Nelsan think Lafayette can trust Jesus? "He has him under a spell," Nelsan explains with a grin.

8:09 PM - Nelsan gives props to the show's costumer Audrey Fisher for the great T-shirts she finds for Lafayette to wear, including the one that simply said, "Bitch."

8:10 PM - Hoyt and Jessica are a couple in the beginning of the new season but Deborah Ann warns, "Fairy tales can't go on forever." The crowd sadly groans. "I think they see something of a similar struggle in one another," explains Deborah Ann about why Jessica and Hoyt are drawn to each other.

8:12 PM - Chris Bauer talks about how Andy was left with a huge amount of V and will be more than a little tempted to try it. "V has a lot of properties that Andy didn't know about," chuckles Chris, commenting on the three to four hour erections that come from taking it. Big laughs from the crowd.

8:15 PM - Ryan talks of the irony that Jason is "not the sharpest tool in the shed but has been bestowed this sensible authority" as a cop. He says intriguing and "watchable" things are coming in the new season. "Watchable things? That's what you give me?" asks Debra, looking for a bigger tease than that.

8:16 PM - Ryan also says it's hilarious "that if anyone wants a super power it's Jason. The fact that he wants to have a power so badly and he can't is good comedy... he's just a good ol' boy."

8:18 PM - "Slim," says Sam on whether his character Sam will find love but he says it may be with someone on the stage. Sam looks to Alan for what he can say: we get a maybe out of them.

8:19 PM - Tara may finally find some happiness and stability in season four. "It's kinda cool where she goes," Rutina says of Tara, who left Bon Temps at the end of last season. Where specifically did she go when Tara drove off intending to leave forever? Rutina will only say "Away." (Yes, they've all been taught too well how to talk to the public!)

8:21 PM - Alex says that "Eric is very innocent and doesn't know who he is" in the new season. However, he isn't without people who want to be by his side. "Eric needs help...lots of friendly people in Bon Temps," he hints. 'What we're doing now is so different,' says Alex on the amnesiac Eric we'll see in the new season. 'He is completely lost and discovering a lot'

8:24 PM - Alex teases that there's a great Bill/Eric flashback coming up but, alas, that's all the details we get.

8:25 PM - Debra can't resist and asks Stephen to say "Sookie." Of course, Stephen obliges and does it in the same breathy, passionate way he does weekly on the show.

8:26 PM - When someone from the cast isn't available for the script table reads, Alan often steps in and reads lines in character, which the cast unanimously seems to love.

8:27 PM - Stephen hints at a "bite off" between Bill and the Queen (played by the absent Evan Rachel Wood). Alan adds that they aren't the only characters involved in the fight scene. Juicy!

8:29 PM - On the twisty head sex scene last season between Bill and Lorena (Mariana Klaveno) last season, Stephen and Alan talked a lot about the decision to have Bill twist Lorena's head during sex. "I got to have my own 'fuck puppet' on shooting the scene," says Stephen. "It was an amazing day" shooting it. Stephen also admits to having some directing ambitions but he will not be directing any "True Blood" episodes this season.

8:33 PM - "I don't know if I said anything at all," muses Anna [correctly] after she talks at length about where Sookie is headed in season four without really revealing anything.

8:34 PM - Anna talks about the plus-side of Alcide in that he doesn't turn to charcoal in the daytime (like Bill) and he also has "that nice warm thing going for him" but, as a werewolf, he also "comes with some baggage." What about Eric? Anna says he has "consistently shown interest" but as to whether we'll actually see them do anything, she only says, "You never know!"

8:38 PM - Gary Cole will be coming up on the show in the new season as well as Fiona Shaw as a witch. There won't be much of the stunting guest casting but Alan does admit there will be some witches, vampires, shape shifters, a new werewolf, some new humans and a child in the new episodes coming this summer.

8:39 PM - As for the theme of the fourth season, Alan says, "it's about the duality of existence," but then fesses up that often he'll talk about the theme of the season but it's clear he really just wants to make a fun and entertaining show. Other themes he's cited in the past include "man versus nature" and "the terrors of intimacy."

8:42 PM - Alan talks about deviating from the Charlaine Harris books in that since the books are in Sookie's voice they have to veer from the books to give the other characters stories of their own.

8:43 PM - Are Sookie and Bill coming back together? "It's not going to happen fast," says Alan.

8:44 PM - The audience gives a round of applause to Denis O'Hare, who played Russell, the Vampire King, last season. Even though Russell was buried alive in cement at the end of season three, don't be surprised if the character reappears sometime in the future. "We specifically made the choice not to kill him," says Alan.

8:45 PM - Weird fan requests? Joe says that a woman at last year's Comic Con asked if he would lick her since werewolf saliva is supposed to be a fast healing agent. (He didn't do it and security had the woman removed.) Alex was offered money to go to Ohio and marry a woman's daughter. "I did it, of course," he jokes.

8:46 PM - Anna admits that she loves watching when fans pretend to be interested in her but only to get closer to Stephen (her real-life husband).

8:48 PM - The floor is open for a Q&A from the audience. One fan asks if author Charlaine Harris will be doing a cameo this season and Alan reminds them she already did one in season two but they'd love to have her do another if she's in town when they're shooting.

8:51 PM - A fan thanks the cast for entertaining her with the show but specifically thanks Alex for helping her get through a rough time. She asks if she can give Alex a thank you note that she wrote to him. Alex jumps up and gladly takes it from her. Awwwww...

8:52 PM - A fan asks about mastering the Louisiana accent and Stephen (who is British) talks about how he got it right from the start. He says the Louisiana accent is "a beautiful accent to do." He likens it to a really comfortable suit.

8:54 PM - Nelsan says one of his favorite lines is when Bill says to Sookie, "I can smell the sunlight on your skin." Alan reveals that that line was taken directly from Charlaine's book.

8:58 PM - Stephan explains that while most of the time the actors stick very close to the script Nelsan's Lafayette sometimes comes up with things on his own like calling everyone "hooker."

9:00 PM - That's a wrap from the "True Blood" panel at the Paley Festival. Brian will be back on Monday covering the "White Collar" panel.

And for more PaleyFest coverage - past and present - visit our Paley Center topic page.

  [march 2011]  


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