Saturday for the Geek Girl group was "take it easy" day. The only day we weren't in line before 5AM and slept in. First stop of the day for me was the Expo floor, to do some strolling, shopping, costume spotting, and general playing around. Was also trying to hunt down a few people I knew would be there, but with no luck. (Estimates of 100K people attending and I don't bump into the 2 I'm looking for? What are the odds?) But I did get to pick up some comics and such, and made a girl envious of the Global Dynamics Eureka shirt I was wearing. Good way to spend the morning!
Part of the reason Saturday was my kick back day was that there were two panels I was hyped about, and all my focus was on them. The first was a genre TV writing panel, composed of writers I admire (and many I follow on twitter!) including Javier Grillo-Marxuach (Lost, The Middleman), Jesse Alexander (Heroes, Lost, Alias), Jose Molina (Castle, Firefly), Robert Hewitt Wolfe (The Gates, DS9, Dresden Files), Charles Murray (V, Criminal Minds), Sarah Watson (Middleman, Parenthood), Ashley Edward Miller (Fringe, Terminator SCC), Steve Melching (Clone Wars), Steve Kriozere (NCIS, VIP), and Mark Altman (Castle, Elvis VanHelsing). Great group, and as Sarah Watson observed, rather representative of the gender split in most writers' rooms right now. (Which is another reason to adore Eureka even more! Girl power!)
The panel kick started with ideas that never go to air, and a hysterical pitch from Jose Molina about an episode of Firefly that went something like this. Crew takes a job, goes to make the deal, bad guy turns out to be a 9 months pregnant evil lady. They have to shoot her to get away, but Simon being his awesome self saves the baby. Cue a "Three Men and a Baby" Firefly style. They of course get the baby a new home, but turn a profit doing so, also in true Firefly style. (Seriously, Firefly was canceled long before its time!!)
Next they talked the craziest network notes, and I had to write a bunch down, because they were too funny to believe. For example, on an episode featuring an evil twin, a note was sent back reading, "This is great! Who are you thinking is going to play the evil twin?" In another, following the description of a murder where the victim was stabbed with a stiletto, the note read, "Does he have to be killed with a shoe?" When the question turned to the serious end of dealing with the network notes, the panel noted that if there's a note that something isn't working, then it isn't working! Fix it in your own way though, don't treat the suggestion from an exec as the "how to" on editing. They also noted that notes that read "Explain this" or "Clarify" were the polite way of saying "Please dumb this down!"
On the subject of break-in advice for young writers, my favorite by far was this:
Sarah Watson: Be a girl!
Other valuable advice included writing and reading to excess (check), always be working on projects, be it spec, pilot, novel, or essays, be professional, be polite, but be tenacious and confident. Consider getting a Canon 5-d or 7-d and shoot your own project and bring it to the web. If it worked for the House season finale, the little Canon cameras that can are definitely good enough for beginning pilots and webisodes! Crank out material, always focusing on character first before building the world rules, then go back and make sure you color in the lines with those rules without sacrificing the great character stories. Because the best FX are two people having a tense conversation in genre TV. Also, this may stop your budget people from shooting you. Do your homework and know what's out there- vampires are flooding the market, so shy away from the fangs and glitter, girls!
It was a great panel, with some absolutely hysterical advice, and if you're interested in the twitter-sphere, here's the handles for the writers listed above. Javier Grillo-Marxuach (OKBJGM), Jesse Alexander (globalcouch), Jose Molina (JoseMolinaTV), Robert Hewitt Wolfe (writergeekrhw), and Ashley Edward Miller (ashman01).
After the Genre TV panel, I slipped over to the panel before "Eureka" and "Warehouse 13", which was a Cartoon Voices panel. If you have an open slot in your Comic-Con schedule, and this is at that time, run, don't walk to it! A group of some of the best voice actors in cartoons doing a somewhat dirty and hilarious version of Cinderella as a cold reading? Hilarious!
Next came the Warehouse 13 panel, moderated by Eureka's Neil Grayston. Good fun, with Eddie McClintock making his entrance by doing a lap of a section of the audience and high-fiving fans. The panel reassured fans that CCH Pounder is not a scary woman and that she's actually hysterical to work with on set. We'll learn more about her character, Ms. Fredricks, int he upcoming season according to the panel, and there's a little one sided romance in the works for poor Artie. They also talked a little about the artifacts being "science not yet understood" and not supernatural, which is how they see it co-existing in a universe with Eureka, which is a pure science show.
Eureka's panel followed the "Warehouse 13" panel, moderated by the lovely Allison Scagliotti. The panel kicked off with the extended trailer for the new season of "Eureka", and an interesting little new clip that caused the audience to completely freak out. Mid-trailer, a very distinct and familiar voice says, "Hey, Carter. Miss me?" In his usual tailored suit and cocky smirk, was Nathan Stark (played by Ed Quinn), definitely appearing this season in some incarnation or another! The fans were so excited the entire next clip with Neil Grayston and Allison Scagliotti was lost under the cheering, and Jamie Paglia had to repeat it, because it turned out to be a Comic-Con shout out that got lost in the excitement over the return of Nathan Stark.
The panel confirmed that the new rebooted Eureka is here to stay. As Jamie Paglia put it, "The network asked, 'so when is it going back to normal?' An we said, 'Uh, it's not?'" This was met by a lot of enthusiasm as well, which bodes well for the show, given that the idea of rebooting pretty much everything was a pretty big gamble! Paglia also confirmed that both Colin Ferguson, Joe Morton, and Salli Whitfield-Richardson will be directing episodes this season, with Colin Ferguson's episode involving a Eureka rocket trip to the moon! Fargo, we now know, is in charge of GD, and as Grayston laughing observed, has access to every single button now!
James Callis talked a little about joining the cast of "Eureka" and said that he hadn't been looking to stay in sci-fi genre TV, but the opportunity -- time traveler, fish out of water, and the show itself-- were just too amazing to pass up. The major casting announcement for Eureka was that Felicia Day (Dollhouse, The Guild) will be joining the cast for Season 4.5, along with some further episodes for Wil Wheaton.
I chatted with "Eureka" writers Eric Wallace and Ed Fowler after the panel, largely because I wanted to stop and say thanks, because they were both writers who spent time talking to me when I was an intern and hit the strike lines with them back in 2007 and were very encouraging of my efforts. Surprisingly, Eric recognized my name from the blog and even gave me a suggestion of a radical out of the box idea for how to get hired into a room that I plan to try. I mentioned how much I loved the episodes and the reboot, and was told to hang on, because there's even more amazing stuff on the way.
After the panel, we had dinner with friends at the Hilton, and had one last little crazy surprise or two during our time at the Hilton. We saw Chevy Chase, Simon Helberg, several members of the cast of "Community" and "Supernatural"'s Misha Collins while we were there! I was thrilled we saw Collins because I'd committed to the hard choice of "Castle" over "Supernatural". Okay, I kid, it wasn't really a choice for me, but the rest of the geek girls agonized over it and ended up choosing "Supernatural".