[07/22/06 - 12:00 AM]
Live at the San Diego Comic-Con: "Veronica Mars"
By Brian Ford Sullivan (TFC)

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

4:30 pm: So the panel is about to start and we're officially at critical mass in terms of smells and humidity. Must... focus...

4:32 pm: Hey kids, clips! Actually a pretty cool montage appears of various "Veronica Mars" scenes to date including my personal favorite: Veronica telling Keith - "Dad... your hooker is here."

4:37 pm: TVGuide.com's Daniel Manu emerges to intro the panelists - creator/executive producer Rob Thomas and cast members Michael Muhney, Enrico Colantoni, Ryan Hansen, Jason Dohring and some girl named Kristen Bell.

4:39 pm: Manu asks the panel when/if they figured out the killer this year. "I actually had a real hard time figuring it out this year," says Bell. "But I thought it was kind of brilliant because you never ever see the show keep the killer in the main titles."

4:40 pm: He then asks if anyone on the panel thought it was them, to which an excitable Michael Muhney raises his hand. Bell adds that she played a joke on him and told him the killer was actually Loretta Cancun (a character briefly mentioned in the pilot) and he fell for it.

4:41 pm: Rob on when he knew Beaver was behind the bus explosion: "We were thinking pretty far ahead... but we kind of spent the season week to week figuring out, okay, are we going to give a clue as to the real killer or are we going to send the audience this way or that way. But we knew when we brought Beaver in [in season one] that he was the guy."

4:43 pm: Ryan is asked how his character will react to the revelation his brother was behind the crash: "I think he didn't realize how much he loved Beaver."

4:45 pm: Rob on why Veronica will still live at home this season instead of a college dorm: "The goal of the show is Veronica and Keith together so it would create too many backflips to have her move off to college and drive home every time she wanted to have a conversation with Keith."

4:46 pm: Jason on how his character will handle his father's death: "I think it's actually good for him probably. I think it will maybe open up a new facet for the character to not be under this pressure of his father... to let go of the past and be able to start anew."

4:47 pm: Michael is asked about his character's background and what to expect from him this season: "I do what Rob tells me," he deadpans. "There are many copies of Lamb."

4:48 pm: A late addition! Francis Capra appears after losing the battle to traffic on the 5.

4:49 pm: Rob's first season three tease: "As you all know Veronica goes off to college... I think most of you, if not all of you, will be happy to hear that Veronica and Logan are still going strong. And we're going to have a couple new series regulars on the show: Tina Majorino will be joining us on a full-time basis, and Mac's new roommate is going to be a character named Parker played by an actress named Julie Gonzalo who you might remember from 'Dodgeball'... trust me, you'll adore her. And we have Wallace's new roommate is a character named after the director of our pilot, his name is Piz, and he will be Wallace's roommate and his name is Chris Lowell and you might know him from 'Life As We Know It.'"

4:51 pm: More on the show's new multiple mystery arcs: "Instead of doing one 22-episode mystery, we are going to do three shorter arc mysteries. The good news about it is they're going to be unbroken by repeats or pre-emptions. So our first episode is October 3, it will run nine episodes in a row and we're going to pick up the mystery from episode 16 last year, the serial rapist that's at large on the Hearst campus. And we've got ideas, we actually know what the other two mysteries are... we're going to keep those to ourselves right now. But I will tell you that each mystery will have a very different feel this season. And each of them will be uninterrupted. You are the diehard fans and we love you so much, [but] the thing that you know what we have to do is we have to get more viewers if we're going to have a season four and so what we're trying to do is give the new people coming to the show more in points so they don't feel like they've missed five episodes and they can't catch up all year. So we're also going to really play up the mystery-of-the-weeks this year - not to the detriment of the ongoing mysteries - but I'm really trying to punch those up and make them very promotable."

4:53 pm: Time for fan questions. First up, Rob is asked about what ratings they'll need to make sure they do a full season instead of 13 episodes: "I know that you all know that we had a 13-episode pick-up, which I would tell you... it means nothing. It's semantics. It has a little to do with budgeting and booking directors but in terms of whether we're going to end at 13 or whether we're planning on ending at 13, it's really, honest to God it's irrelevant. If we come on and we do a good number we'll be on all year. If we come on and we don't do a good number they may cancel us after four. That 13 means nothing to the network except pay-or-play deals on directors which is more information than you can possibly need. Nobody knows what numbers to expect [on this new network]... but here is the rule of thumb I would use for determining whether we're doing well or not: if we come on and hold most of the 'Gilmore Girls' audience, the network will be very pleased; if you see a steep drop from the 'Gilmore Girls' number, they're going to be much less pleased; and if we go up from the 'Gilmore Girls' number, they will build a Kristin Bell statue in the lobby."

4:55 pm: Rob on if we'll see Alia Shawkat or Michael Cera again: "We did really want to bring back Michael Cera, [but] he took a movie so we'll have him at least in the additional episodes because he's already booked, but we did just, as of Friday, book Alia Shawkat."

4:56 pm: Rob on if we'll see Charisma Carpenter again: "You will see her in episode one as a matter of fact."

4:47 pm: Rob, after seeing a fan wearing an "I Love Dick Casablancas" T-shirt, shares a story about the CW's new standards and practices department vetoing a line in which Logan says to Veronica, "Guess who I saw on campus?" And Veronica says, "Who?" And he says, "My BFF Dick." Apparently they thought it could be interpreted as something else. In response, he e-mailed them a picture of his 65-year-old high school teacher mom wearing said T-shirt as well as a link to the Google search for "BFF" which returns several "best friends forever" references as well as a "Bush Family Fortune" listing.

4:49 pm: A fan tells Kristin that he apparently lives in her old apartment and that he got a package addressed to her. Believe it or not, he turns out not to be crazy - he produces the package, which in turn was sent from Kristin's agent.

4:53 pm: Kristin pimps her upcoming movie "Fanboys," due in the first quarter of next year, by showing off stickers on her chest and butt that say "I Break for Wookies."

4:57 pm: A fan - and my new hero - asks if there's a chance we'll ever see Rob's short-lived series "Cupid" on DVD: "There are not... I would have been more hopeful a year ago, I had heard rumblings about it and then a few weeks ago I got an e-mail virtually assuring me that they were not thinking about it, had no plans to do it. It's a drag. I was doing okay until they released 'She Spies' and now... I was hoping with the success that Jeremy's had on 'Entourage' and the success of 'Veronica Mars' that they would think about it. Unfortunately it's a different studio and they appear to have no plans for it."

5:01 pm: On if we'll ever see someone else - such as Logan - narrate an episode instead of Veronica: "It's a really interesting idea," Rob says. "But if we don't put Veronica in the first scene of an episode, the network freaks out."

5:04 pm: Rob on if we'll ever see a "Veronica Mars" movie: "If anyone would give us the money to do it. I had a conversation with Joel Silver, my partner on the show... [who said] it's hard for movies based on hit shows to get made and a low-rated UPN show... it's hard to sell."

5:06 pm: Scoop! Rob shares that one of the sticking points in a new overall deal he's negotiating with Warner Bros. Television is the book rights. Being a novelist himself and having started out writing novelizations of "X-Files" episodes, he wants to make sure no cheesy books come out under the "Veronica Mars" brand.

5:08 pm: Rob on Veronica's upcoming college experience: "I think unlike a lot of college freshman, she doesn't have a lot of growing up to do. She's done most of it. There will be different elements, one of the things that's been sort of the bread and butter for the show the past couple seasons have been the hard-line social strata of Neptune... as the pilot says you're either the child of a millionaire or you're the child of someone who works for a millionaire. It's going to be less stratified on college... there are going to be clumps, there are frat boys and student publication people and the students of color organization... there's going to be a whole lot of fiefdoms around the campus rather than 'us and them.' I think that will present new challenges for Veronica, new ways to interact socially. I think she's going to feel less like an outsider."

5:11 pm: Rob spills some details about the second episode: "A crime happens after a sorority rush party, and episode two Veronica goes undercover during a sorority rush."

5:12 pm: Kristin on what she hopes happens this season: "I'd like to see Veronica get a little more vulnerable based on her own decisions. Because I feel like she's had so much heartache and had so much thrown at her that it makes her vulnerable... I would like to see her drop her guard on her own accord a little bit and sort of see how people react to that."

5:13 pm: Rob is asked what's different about working for the CW instead of UPN and if we can expect the darker elements to remain intact: "It doesn't look like that's going to change much for our world in terms of what material we get in and what material we can't get in. I know that our audience frequently marvels at the things that they suspect we slip into the show. If you saw the standards and practices notes you would find it remarkable the things that they cut out of our shows that we don't even understand why they're being pulled from our show... The network really wants us to be a good companion piece to 'Gilmore Girls' and they've had a couple thoughts on storylines that were too dark. To their credit, the studio has really defended our show which has been wonderful. They're nervous, but they haven't told us not to do anything yet."

5:16 pm: Francis adds that they'd never see a guy like him on "Gilmore Girls."

5:18 pm: A fan asks for Kristin to sing a song from "Reefer Madness" and if we'll see her sing again on the show. No dice on either front. But we will get to see Dick dance in a Speedo during the season premiere.

5:20 pm: A fan asks Rico, and I'm not kidding, if he'd rather be covered in poo or eat a small piece of poo. After some deliberation he elects for the former. That's Comic-Con for you folks.

5:22 pm: Rob says the clip package we saw at the beginning of the panel was actually the presentation tape given to the CW executives to pick up the show.

5:24 pm: TWoP gets a shout out!

5:25 pm: Rob on the fans' hatred of the Jackie character and if that caused him to make any changes: "Her arc with Veronica, in terms of starting out as somebody prickly who we didn't like and growing into a pretty solid relationship, that was really the intention. The vitriolic response to her probably forced me to give her nicer moments than I would have otherwise done. And in a way, I feel like I sold out a little bit and... I'm not particularly proud of [it]."

5:27 pm: Ryan is asked about his background in musical theatre, which is followed by Kristin egging him on to do his Michael Jackson impression. And he does it, which includes a standing backflip. Seriously, you can't make this shit up.

5:30 pm: Finally, Ryan gives a shout out to his and his wife's charity Invisible Children.

5:32 pm: And it's a wrap for Saturday. We'll see you back tomorrow for "Jericho" and "Blade: The Series."

  [july 2006]  


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