Friday, July 17, 2015

#JennAtSDCC: Comic-Con, Thursday Edition (In Desperate Need of All the Coffee)

I left San Diego Comic-Con with a lot of things. I left with new friends. I left with a lot of memories. I left with amazing photos. I also left with a double ear infection but that's beside the point. So since I know you all are eager to hear all about my escapades and read about the panels and interviews, let's get to it!

I arrived in California wild-eyed and also ready to sleep. I had been at work all day, flew from Orlando to Phoenix (where my outbound flight had been delayed so I literally ran fifteen -- FIFTEEN -- terminals in order to make my connection, which I only made BY MERE SECONDS and because the pilots were right in front of me) and then from Phoenix to San Diego. Even though I was exhausted (I had been up since 6 AM EST and arrived in California 3 AM EST the next day... YEAH), I was really excited for the weekend. I met up with the amazing ladies from 4 Your Excitement who so graciously hosted me during the weekend (Emmy, Ilene, Jamie, Adrienne, and Melissa), and managed to get three hours of sleep before I was up and ready to face Thursday!

Thursday schedule:
- CBS Presentation (12-3:30 PM)
- CBS roundtables (4-5:30 PM)
- MTV Fandom Awards (8-11 PM)

I got to the convention center relatively early so that I could stand in line and receive my press badge... and as it turns out, the line was moving so quickly that I ended up waiting a grand total of two minutes to receive mine. Huzzah!


After obtaining my press pass, I had to venture over to the Hilton Bayfront hotel to the 29th floor of the CBS presidential suite in order to get my panel pass. My friend Rowell was SUPER helpful before Comic-Con in informing me about these -- I already had press room approval and was told by him that panels will release panel passes to the press so that they can sit in reserved seating. It makes sense: most panels were directly after press rooms and the networks didn't expect press to have to stand in line and try to make it into the panel. This was a guaranteed way to have a seat at the panels you wanted. Rowell had the privilege of getting a lot of different panel passes, so that's my goal for next year!

A rule of Comic-Con: you won't get anything if you don't at least ask.

Anyway, my trek to the hotel was successful, I obtained my pass and was in desperate need of ALL the coffee (a running theme of this weekend) so I headed to the closest Starbucks... which just so happened to be under the Bayfront hotel and Star Wars-themed. I kid you not. They played the movies on televisions inside and outside of the store, while a barista with Princess Leia buns served guests.

Coming from Florida, where the weather in July is 97 degrees with 100% humidity, San Diego was an absolutely beautiful treat. The days were warm when you were in the sun, but it was absolutely gorgeous. Thursday night was actually kind of chilly. Anyway, I will never tire of views like these:

My first stop of the day was the giant CBS panel. I learned a lot and enjoyed it thoroughly. CBS brought one new show (Limitless) and four existing series (Extant, Under the Dome, Zoo, Scoprion) to Comic-Con, so we got some inside scoop into each of them during the block. Here's one thing that is certain: CBS certainly remains loyal to its former stars. CSI veteran Marg Helgenberger was on the panel because she's a recurring character on Under the Dome. Hill Harper, formerly from CSI:NY, is a series regular on Limitless. And James Wolk, whose comedy The Crazy Ones was cancelled, is the lead on the summer series, Zoo. CBS may cancel shows, but at least they like to keep their former stars on their network!

And honestly, I was talking to someone during the weekend about the network -- CBS consistently has the #1 comedy and drama on television. That's impressive. The Big Bang Theory and NCIS are huge for them, and the network -- say whatever you want to say about it -- understands what works and what doesn't for them. They've perfected the art of the procedural and the multi-cam comedy. More power to them.

So here's what I learned during my time spent with CBS:

Extant panel highlights:
  • Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Halle Berry are absolutely adorable. They doted on each other the entire time they were on the panel.
  • Notable quote: "Write the thing that you would really want to watch."
  • Halle Berry said that Extant addresses evolution and discovering how your life is affected by it.
  • Notable quote: "I'm so tired of that [shouting "spoilers!"] THE REST OF THE WORLD DOES NOT HAVE TO BEND TO YOUR VIEWING HABITS." - Chris Hardwick, dropping the mic on people who are obsessed with calling out spoilers.
  • Halle Berry echoed what Kathy Bates said a few days later in a panel: "Television is where it's at right now. The best things are on TV."

Under the Dome panel highlights:
  • I don't watch this CBS show. In fact, there are a lot of shows whose panels I sat through during Comic-Con that I don't watch. I want to check them out now... mainly because they have attractive lead male characters. I'm shallow, what can I say?
  • Notable quote: "I usually don't use this language... but things are gonna get BANANAS." - Tim Schlattmann
  • Notable quote: "The good shows resonate with you... [when they make you really root for characters]." - Tim Schlattmann

Zoo panel highlights:
  • Comic-Con is home to a lot of sizzle reels and highlight reels. The one they played for Zoo was really good and really engaging.
  • Notable quote: "I'm more scared of my fellow actors than the animals." - James Wolk, looking at Billy Burke
  • Notable quote: "Billy, did you read Twilight?" "I DID NOT READ TWILIGHT." Billy Burke, becoming my hero. He was absolutely hilarious at the panel and has such a dry, biting sense of humor.
  • The cast talked a lot about working with the animals and how the show has to respect them and their process. Particularly, the panel talked about the most challenging creatures to work with (bears) because they fell asleep while filming. And when that happens... there's nothing you can do!

Limitless panel highlights:
  • We got to see the pilot for Limitless before the panel. I honestly had no idea what to expect, going into the screening, but I definitely emerged on the other side much more intrigued and prone to watch than I had been. I've never seen the film but I can honestly say that I wasn't lost, so if you haven't either, no worries. The plot is easy enough to follow and there may only be two points in which you're a little confused. This isn't a spoiler necessarily (since he's been spoiled in trailers and sneak peeks), but since the show focuses on Brian -- Jake McDorman's character -- we got an appearance by Bradley Cooper in the pilot. He's also an executive producer on the series and the other EPs attested to how involved he was. Limitless has a pretty solid start -- it's funny (because Jake McDorman is absolutely a star in this role and can sell me anything), has an undercurrent of great heart, and fantastic Sherlock-ian visuals and graphics. The director of the pilot is Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer) and I learned a lot about his choices throughout the panel that will make me intrigued to re-watch and pick up on subtleties I didn't notice the first time around. All in all, B+ start to the procedural.
  • Jake McDorman noted that he was really excited to play two different versions of the same character and that at some points, it felt really like he was playing two separate characters altogether.
  • Marc Webb's ultimate fun in directing anything is being able to unearth the emotional layers in characters.
  • There was a really interesting discussion toward the end of the panel of the implication that this show supports drug use since Jake McDorman's character is high on a pill and able to solve crimes and fight the bad guys. The EPs tackled the subject really well by saying that the show doesn't condone the drug use -- we clearly see the negative effects the drug has -- and it opens up a larger question as to whether or not what Brian is doing is right (because he's doing good in the world but is high while doing it). 

Scorpion panel highlights:
  • We were treated to the stunt and gag reels that will be on the DVD!
  • There's going to be a special 90-minute episode of Scorpion after the premiere of Supergirl in October. It features a very special guest star, too.
  • Eddie Kaye Thomas purposefully didn't wear his hat in a scene as Toby because he wanted the audience to know he had hair.
  • Notable quote: "Translating emotion is different than saying 'I don't have emotions.'" - Elyes Gabel, discussing Walter's emotional development this season
  • As a parent, Robert Patrick had the most fun exploring the parental relationship between Cabe and Walter in the first season and navigating their ups and downs.
  • Eddie Kaye Thomas noted that he loves how Walter and Toby have absolutely no idea how to navigate their own love lives.
  • EP Nicholas Wootton talked about the balance between the action, procedural, comedic, and romantic elements in Scorpion and noted that paralleling the emotional/camaraderie stories is what makes the action/procedural parts worthwhile.
  • Eddie Kaye Thomas was terrified of Robert Patrick when they first met.
  • The cast revealed that there would be more Super Fun Guy and that there would be a tie-in to Supergirl!

After the panel ended, Rowell, his friend Travis, and I headed across the street to the Bayfront where the interviews would be taking place. Once there, I immediately felt a momentary sense of being overwhelmed (roudtable rooms are loud, in case you didn't already know that). I was at a table with Rowell (OMFGTV), Rebecca of ShowbizJunkies, and Tina from TV Goodness, among others. I'll talk more about the press room when I post the transcribed interviews, but for now know this: interviews are only as good as the people around your table. And the people around mine were great and asked really good questions which made the entire experience (my first roundtable experience) really good and comfortable.

Here are a few photos from the interviews:

The cast of Under the Dome (from right to left: Marg Helgenberger, Colin Ford, Mike Vogel)

James Wolk and Nora Arnezeder of Zoo!

Scorpion's Elyes Gabel and Katharine McPhee

Jake McDorman and Hill Harper of the new CBS show, Limitless

We ran over a little bit in the press room (totally worth it though because we did have really good conversations with talent and EPs) so I practically trotted back to our room because Emmy, Melissa and I had to freshen up and change before the MTV Fandom Awards! We headed over to Petco Park where the network really went all out:

There were no particular press perks that we obtained (there were specific red carpet perks that we were not privy to), but we had a blast nonetheless. MTV provided us with free rides, a ticket each for free food and one free drink (we opted for cheap wine). Plus, there was a lot of swag being given out. Free Doritos, Kit-Kats, and samples of Neutrogena makeup. I'm still using my free mascara sample and honestly, it's working really nicely.

Emmy (orange), Melissa, and me at the MTV Fandom Awards!

We picked a spot on the grass to set up camp and ate our food while waiting for the awards to begin. The show was taped on Thursday night and didn't air until Sunday, but there was surprisingly not an embargo on content. Emmy and I took full advantage of that, tweeting the winners from our respective website's accounts. Tyler Posey and Bella Thorne hosted the awards (Tyler is a delight and Bella is cute, but not my favorite host of all time.) One thing Emmy and I were really surprised about: the presenters and hosts (and musical guests) dropped a LOT of curse words. It was jarring only when we wondered how they would edit to cut out or bleep the content.

Nevertheless, we had fun, were handed giant MTV glowsticks and enjoyed watching the presenters give away awards to some of our favorite shows and actors. Among the winners: Best New Fandom was presented to iZombie (and Rose McIver gave the award away to a fan); Ship of the Year was bestowed upon Arrow's Oliver/Felicity (which you all knew because you BLEW UP OUR TIMELINES. Have we mentioned how much we absolutely LOVE and adore you guys? Literally before we tweeted it, Emmy and I said: "3... 2... 1... KABOOM" and waited for the influx of retweets and favorites. Again: Arrow fandom? They get stuff done.); Feels Freakout of the Year went to Pretty Little Liars which was weird. The show also featured an In Memoriam where we recognized some of our fallen TV characters.

All Time Low (... Melissa, Emmy, and I were thoroughly bored during this portion and mostly confused because we had NO idea they were a thing) performed and so did Flo Rida (Emmy and I danced the entirety of "Low" and belted the words to "The Wild Ones" while jumping around in the grass. Here are some more fun photos from the night!

I am really a 26-year old child with a glow stick.

The iZombie cast accepting their award

Ashley Benson and Tyler Blackburn accepting for PLL

The Originals cast

Mr. and Mrs. BAMF themselves, Orlando Jones and Lyndie Greenwood are the ONLY people who should ever present Ship of the Year


After the awards, we were all thoroughly exhausted and decided to leave early (our final swag? MTV folding chairs, especially useful for sitting in long lines) so that we could rest for the following day. And thus ended the first day at Comic-Con! It was a long day, but not an intensely busy one which I was very grateful for. Stay tuned for more of my recaps as I bring you all the scoop from San Diego. :)

Cosplays of the Day - Thursday:

One of the first cosplays I ran into at the con on Thursday was this adorable family of Twelve, Clara, and their little Eleventh Doctor son. Seriously HOW CUTE.

I knew it would be a good sign when I ran into The Arrow (and Canary) at the MTV Fandom Awards!


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