Comic-Con 2007: Open for business

  • 21comments
comicon_header_tv_new.jpg

We're sitting here waiting for the Lost panel to begin. Got here an hour-and-a-half early and STILL DIDN'T GET GOOD SEATS! Stay tuned...
Posted Jul 26, 2007 3:46 PM PDT

As a first-time Comic-Con attendee, the thing I worry about most is the sunny San Diego weather. It's the middle of the summer and it's gorgeous. The NFL loves to hold the Super Bowl here in February because they know the weather will be gorgeous, for crying out loud.

And it gets me wondering: What will happen to the flocks of pasty nerds who descend on this beach town? Is there enough SPF in southern California to keep the Sun's UV rays from lighting the thousands of geeks on fire?

Hollywood better hope so. These nerds, geeks, dorkwads, Poindexters, and Melvins are the best thing to happen to Tinseltown since...well ever. Take a look at the list of the 50 highest-grossing movies of all time (let's just forget about the whole inflation business for a second), and you'll find only a handful that wouldn't figure into the Comic-Con equation. It's no wonder film execs have dubbed Comic-Con "Summer Sundance."

If Wednesday's "preview" night was any indication, this year's Comic-Con is going to be a very full house. Available only to "industry professionals" and those who signed up for a three- or four-day pass, preview night was already a logjam of fans. Early guesstimates at the convention's total attendance hover around the 150,000 mark over the four days, and it's already obvious that the show is headed in that direction.

Inside the San Diego Convention Center, booths are already buzzing, cameras are already flashing, and geeks are already gawking at the hundreds of booths set up. It's wall-to-wall eye candy for sci-fi, fantasy, and cartoon geeks. Here, Bart Simpson shares real estate with Boba Fett, Battlestar Galactica is neighbors with The Boondocks, and Harry Potter hangs with Heroes.

What started merely as a few comic book fans gathering together in 1970 has definitely turned a new page. While comics are still the grounding force, the floor space is now dominated by television shows, movies, video games, and more.

The floor is yet to be overrun by fans in full costume--always one of the highlights of the show--but a few of the hardcore were already posing for pictures. Thursday should bring a whole new crowd in full getup, something everyone should look forward to.

There's plenty more to look forward to as well, especially for the television fan. Thursday evening, Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof will be talking about the upcoming season of Lost before going into radio silence. Friday, the executive producers of 24 will be on hand to discuss the future of Jack Bauer. Saturday is dominated with panels featuring the casts of Battlestar Galactica and Heroes, and Sunday features 4400 and Jericho sessions.

Stay tuned to TV.com for coverage from Comic-Con, and don't be afraid to let your freak, nerd, dork, and geek flags fly. Science-fiction and fantasy is the new cool.
Posted Jul 26, 2007 3:46 PM PDT

Beowulf: in your face!

New 3D motion-capture technology makes Robert Zemeckis' upcoming CG epic an eye-opener.

While most Comic-Con attendees would say that the action really begins on Thursday, there are a few preshow events that go down Wednesday night. The show floor opens up for a special preview on Wednesday night, and the hardcore fill the aisles, browsing booths and getting signatures from the artists who arrived early.

The media, however, gets wind of some special events, and this year's prize catch was a special screening of Paramount Pictures' Beowulf. Held in a theater a few blocks from the San Diego Convention Center, the event was hosted by comic-book author Neil Gaiman (Sandman) and director Roger Avery (Rules of Attraction, Killing Zoe), both of whom penned the script for Beowulf. The footage we would see would be the same footage they had seen for the first time only a week ago.

Each seat came with Elvis Costello-like glasses that looked like nothing more than weak sunglasses, but become a moviegoer's best friend when the film begins to roll. The film is in Real 3D, a new technology perfected by director James Cameron that harkens back to the old Vincent Price days, but with an updated sophistication. This is how it works--a series of alternating diagonal lines that emit different paths of light...or something. It's all a bit over my head; all I know is it looks cool, and I'm fine with that.

The source material is the oldest known tale written in the English language, and standard fare in high school curriculum. The two have wanted to make the movie for years, and began writing the script over "cheap beer in Mexico" in 1997. The two were an instant fit, and eventually Robert Zemeckis became attached to direct the film.

As for the product so far, Avery said, "It was like someone reached into my brain and pulled out a stylized version [of my story] I had never dreamed of."

From the initial looks we got, it appears that the one-million-dollar-a-minute project is worth it. Spitting images of stars Anthony Hopkins and Angelina Jolie pop out from the screen thanks to the same motion-capture process used in Polar Express.

Two trailers and the second reel of the movie--about 20 minutes in length--were shown. The portion of the movie we saw showed Beowulf after he defeated Grendel (played by the nutty Crispin Glover), and his subsequent rise in the ranks of legend. Beowulf, knowing you can't beat a demon with normal weapons and armor, is shown in the buff. To keep the movie's PG-13 rating, Zemeckis framed the shots Austin Powers-style, hiding Beowulf's johnson behind spears, other actors, and other phallic objects.

The last portion of the reel introduces Angelina Jolie's character, a shape-shifting demon who is Grendel's mother. Thankfully, the shape she takes for the movie is one of digitally-enhanced buxomness--this hottie is going to inspire a ton of tattoos. While not 100 percent nude, Jolie is certainly 99.99999999 percent nude, with high heels that protrude directly out of her flesh. Yeah, it's hot.

Beowulf looks destined to blow some minds, mostly because of the impressive technology. Like how Jurassic Park was a benchmark for cinematic special effects when it was released, Beowulf looks to be the first to usher in advanced motion-capture techniques and in-your-face 3D tech for moviegoing generations to come.
Posted Jul 27, 2007 4:34 PM PDT

The Saturday slaughter

It has been years since I last left reality, it seems. On the other hand, hours pass like gas at a retirement home--swiftly. I'm pretty sure it's Saturday, also known as the biggest day for Comic-Con 2007. If Thursday was painful and Friday was murder, Saturday is downright genocide.

The theme of the day is get to where you want to early. I spoke to a girl the other day who swore she was going to line up outside at 3 a.m. this morning in order to get into the Heroes panel--which was taking place at 12:45 p.m. I saw her today, and she was about twentieth in line. I guess she should have woken up earlier.

She was one of the lucky ones though. Thousands of fans packed Ballroom A and suffered through a Bionic Woman panel just to get good spots for the Heroes panel, and thousands more were left dry. Comic-Con has officially outgrown the San Diego Convention Center, and Heroes has officially impressed me.

The NBC show should have been in the Con's largest venue, Hall H, but instead hundreds hoping to see the panel were shut out and stuck in line. It was definitely a mistake on the show organizers' part, and if the security's dazed looks were any indication, it was also a total surprise.

Thank the sci-fi lords then that I have a little word called "press" written on my badge. Thanks to NBC, I managed to sneak into a press session with the show's cast just before the panel. Interviews were limited, but I was fortunate enough to speak with who I consider to be the biggest in the entire--Zachary Quinto (check back later this week for the video). My thoughts? He's nice. And he's about to be crushed by sci-fi fandom.

Around the room, everywhere you looked were cast members. Adrian Pasdar, nice to meet ya. Greg Grunberg, pardon me. Hayden Panettiere, what's up? It was a fan's dream to see these actors in the flesh, and all those rumors of them being really buddy-buddy are most certainly true. Grunberg was wearing a "Milo is my Hero" shirt and having the cast sign in.

A few other notes upon seeing the actors in person: Milo Ventimiglia isn't as short as everyone says he is. Or he was wearing platforms. I saw Ali Larter's rump before I saw the rest of her. That woman throws more curves than Barry Zito (translation--"baby got back"). And I swear, Hayden is the most photogenic person in the world. I've had the opportunity to snap shots of her twice in casual situations, and there isn't a bad picture in the bunch.

Following the Heroes panel was a Battlestar Galactica panel, and thanks to media credentials, I was able to get my Battlestar fix without suffering through lines or a Bionic Woman panel. In a room just out of sight of all the mayhem, Sci-Fi Channel (bless those guys) held a small press conference with the women of Battlestar Galactica.

Not a whole lot of news from the BSG panel, but I'll post some notes anyway. The final Cylon won't be outed until later in the season (duh), but someone felt compelled to ask anyway. Expect the news in the back half of the final season. "Razor," the much anticipated two-part season four premiere, will be promoted on Sc-Fi with a series of short two-minute "webisodes" for the six or seven weeks before the show airs, which tell a bit of backstory. In the DVD release, the webisodes will be included integrated into the entire show.

Other bits of info--the actors are beginning to steal things from the set for mementos, Katee Sackhoff has hoarded all of Starbuck's metal dogtags, and creator Ron Moore says they won't be able to tell all the stories they want to before the show retires next season, but they will still go out on top, which is exactly what he wants.

For the men keeping score at home, in person the bronze medal went to Tricia Helfer, and Katee Sackhoff and Mary McDonnell tied for the gold. Am I seriously developing a crush on Mary McDonnell? I am officially ancient.

It's off to a few more panels, including The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Smallville, and The Sarah Silverman Program.


Posted Jul 28, 2007 7:05 PM PDT

Sarah Connor vs. Sarah Silverman

The late Saturday panels featured discussions about a pair of women you don't want to mess with--the Terminator-terminating Sarah Connor from The Sarah Connor Chronicles and doody-talking Sarah Silverman from The Sarah Silverman Program.

The Sarah-fest was kicked off with a screening of the Sarah Connor Chronicles pilot followed by a brief question-and-answer session with the crew and cast.

With a room full of Terminator fans, the lights dim and the show begins playing on a large screen.

The following are some brief real-time notes on the show and the following panel, cleaned up for clarity's sake.

No way. The Sarah Connor Chronicles pilot just started off with the whole "oh no something horrible happened...OH WAIT! It was just a dream!" shtick. The panel moderator introduced the show by saying that this wasn't another According to Jim. It's true, even Jim Belushi wouldn't stoop that low.

Still, a few nukes and Terminator getting his skin ripped off wins over the crowd. Or at least Fox's employees which been planted in the audience.

Terminator teacher just shot up a classroom trying to kill John Connor and on his way out said "Class dismissed." Hey buddy, leave the stale one-liners to Ahnold! It only works with a broken accent.

If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.

It's panel time. I just overheard someone say that Thomas Dekker, who plays the young John Connor and is dressed in a sleeveless Tales from the Crypt shirt and an Axl Rose-like headband was "an emo car accident." Ding! We have a winner!

Oh my god! Summer Glau was that little girl from Firefly!?!? I am officially ancient.

Richard T. Jones earlier said it's really hard to follow Summer, as she's pretty much a rock star here. She's a geek magnet for her work on Firefly, and inevitably all attention focuses on her. And he's right, multiple times during the panel, conversation starts with him and eventually veers towards talking about her. He loves it though.

Later that evening, Sarah Silverman and cast and crew from her show presented their panel in the same room. Get ready for the laughs!

The show begins with clips from the upcoming season, which debuts October 3 on Comedy Central. Sarah, ever the socially conscious actress, will tackle the sensitive topics of abortion, race relations, and D&D; in her second season. And she'll do it by having abortions, putting on "blackface," and stopping terrorists with the help of her dice-rolling nerd friends.

Then it happens--the greatest thing to ever happen at Comic-Con. The moderator of the panel comes out, and it's...Zack Galifianakis. This is already the best panel ever to panelise at Comic-Con.

The jokes are fast and furious. The cursing is raw and plentiful. It's degenerate humor spewing forth from the mouths of incredibly intelligent people. And it's &*@%ing hilarious.

Then it happens. They begin taking questions from the audience.

I have just spent the last three days walking amongst the most hardcore fans. I have sat in the panels of cult TV shows. I'm walking amongst Trekkies, Losties, Buffy-ies, and Heroesies, and they pale in comparison to the obnoxiousness of the fans who are attending this panel.

Each person who approaches the microphone is acting as though it's an audition, trying to tell jokes and buddy up with the crowd. And the heckling begins... first from the audience, then from the panel. Even with Zack Galifianakis reminding everyone that this is a panel about the show, the questions--actually mostly statements--come from left field.

Everyone wants to get into Sarah Silverman's pants (and her sister's, Laura, who is also on the show). It's painfully pathetic, and it goes on for the entire show.

Sarah's fans aren't fans. They're full-blown stalkers.

Still, the panel takes it in good humor for the most part, cracking jokes and occasionally making fun of the fans (who deserve it). Galifianakis begins giving the questions a score, Steve Agee belches into the microphone repeatedly, and swear words fly about the room. It's simultaneously a low-point and a high-point of Comic-Con, and I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.

At the end of the panel, which has revealed virtually nothing about the show, Sarah plays one of Agee's short films. She can't quite remember what's in the minute-long short, and asks, "Is it inappropriate?"

Brian Posehn replies, "It's totally inappropriate!" in the way that only Brian Posehn can.

The film, titled Halloween, involves a masked Agee waking up and realizing it's Halloween, then masturbating to the thought of candy, jack o' lanterns, and other holiday traditions. Yeah, it's inappropriate.

Galifianakis then assures the children in the crowd that Agee was just "alphabetizing his testicles." That, my friends, brought it back to high point.


Posted Jul 29, 2007 1:35 AM PDT

Comic-Con '07: A company of Heroes

Like a rock concert or religious revival, the Heroes panel drew fanatic loyalists and plenty of whooping and hollering.
Posted July 31, 2007 6:16 PM PDT

Comic-Con '07: Bionic Woman breaks out

David Eick and others show off NBC's new sci-fi show and explain casting changes; actors chime in on new roles.
Posted July 31, 2007 5:41 PM PDT

Comic-Con '07: WB's Batman, Legion of Superheroes

A new Superman and a new group of friends are in store for the next seasons of the two popular animated series.
Posted July 31, 2007 4:55 PM PDT

Comic-Con '07: Rebuilding Jericho

The Jericho panel at Comic-Con turns into a lovefest, with fans, cast, and producers thanking each other endlessly.
Posted July 31, 2007 12:41 PM PDT

Comic-Con '07: Pimping Daisies

Producer Bryan Fuller and the cast of Pushing Daisies delights an early-morning crowd.
Posted July 28, 2007 11:04 AM PDT

One hour with 24

The producers and writers of 24 discuss the present, past, and future of the show...in real time!
Posted July 27, 2007 8:56 PM PDT

Comic-con 2007: Torchwood Panel

Panel for Doctor Who spin-off touches on some serious topics, including sexuality and race.
Posted July 27, 2007 8:49 PM PDT

Comic-Con '07: The Lost panel

Producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse break their silence and talk Lost with rabid fans; a special guest and a new clip highlight the panel.
Posted July 27, 2007 8:35 AM PDT

Heroes Sylar to live long and prosper

Heroes' Zachary Quinto cast as young Spock in J.J. Abrams' Star Trek film; Nimoy also returning.
Posted July 26, 2007 4:33 PM PDT

Heroes to save games

French publisher unveils game based on NBC freshman drama, details action adventure based on ABC's Lost.
Posted Jul 26, 2007 1:31 PM PDT

ABC reveals Lost Shocker

Who'll be coming back to the island this fall? Find out here! (spoiler)
Posted Jul 26, 2007 10:06 AM PDT

Like TV.com on Facebook