[03/04/10 - 07:00 PM]
Live at the Paley Festival: Showtime's "Dexter"
By Jim Halterman (TFC)

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7:05 PM - Tonight's archival clip features a much-younger Julie Benz in her role as teen dream Babs Nielsen in the short-lived 1991 sitcom "Hi, Honey, I'm Home!" She's come a long way, baby.

7:11 PM - The Paley Center's Becky Levikow welcomes everyone to the fifth night of this year's event and takes a moment to thank Netflix for sponsoring the night as well as gives props to tireless Paley Center Manager, Public Programs & Festivals, Rene Reyes.

7:14 PM - To moderate the evening, Becky introduces E!'s Kristin Dos Santos, who welcomes everyone to the Post-Traumatic Stress therapy session for Dexter fans, referring to the shocking fourth season finale that aired this past December. A diehard fan, Kristin gushes about the recent Golden Globe win for Dexter himself, Michael C. Hall.

7:17 PM - Kristin introduces Executive Producer John Goldwyn to set up tonight's screening - "Dexter" episode #409, "Hungry Man," which was a huge turning point for Dexter's involvement with Arthur (fellow Golden Globe winner John Lithgow) during this past season

8:09 PM - Kristin returns to the stage and introduces tonight's "Dexter" panel - Scott Buck! John Goldwyn! Sara Colleton! Clyde Phillips! Brando Eaton! Desmond Harrington! C. S. Lee! Lauren Velez! David Zayas! Julie Benz! Jennifer Carpenter! Michael C. Hall!

8:14 PM - Kristin does what she says we all want to do and rises to give killed-off cast member Julie Benz a 'gi-normous hug.' How does Julie feel about seeing Rita meet a deadly end? "My role as an actor is just to facilitate the story and I was really just there to help tell the story that the writers are writing and when that story ends, you go." She also says that her first response to hearing Rita was going to be killed off was that "Oh God I just lost my job! How am I going to pay my mortgage?"

8:16 PM - Sara Colleton on the responses she heard about killing off Rita - "Everyone I spoke to after they had to process that initial gut response and their surprise said it felt right." Julie has a faux-shocked look on her face that her on-screen death 'felt right.'

8:18 PM - Kristin asks the producers where they're at with the just-started process of breaking story on Season 5. While most of them stay mum, Sara jumps in and does offer a little information. "One thing we can say is that I think the death of Rita is something that we feel is so awesome that it needs to be honored and the process by which Dexter deals with it will allow the audience to their own catharsis. We're not going to jump ahead. We're going to process it." In other words, no time jump.

8:21 PM - Brando, who played Jonah Mitchell, abused son of Lithgow's Arthur, on working with his on-screen psycho Dad. "At some points I almost wanted to laugh because he was such a nice guy but then he'd become so damn creepy it was almost comedic to me! There were sometimes when he would look at me with those eyes and I'd think 'Oh, no! What have I gotten myself into?'"

8:23 PM - "I had as much fun acting with John as I've ever had acting with anybody," said Michael of the intense storyline with Lithgow. "The darker it was the more hysterical we were with laughter because the relationship was so twisted and it was so delicious." Michael also says that John's great enthusiasm for the work was infectious.

8:24 PM - Since the "Dexter" books had sister Deb (Carpenter) find out at the end of Book 1 that Dexter was a killer, Kristin asks about why Deb hasn't found out on the series. John explains that, "there's a wonderful dynamic that develops between brother and sister on the show and that was clearly something that became for our viewers one of the most enjoyed elements of the show so it just made sense to keep excavating that."

8:27 PM - "If Deb were to know," explains Clyde, "it would hurt the character of Deb in a way that would take away from what Jennifer has created with the character. We love the character." Clyde cites the scene in the fourth season finale outside Trinity's house between Dexter and Deb and described it as 'beautiful.'

8:29 PM - Would Jennifer want Deb to find out about her brother? "Whatever you write, I will do," she says but she admits it overwhelms her to think about it.

8:31 PM - Kristin commends Lauren and David for having their character's growing romance be a bright shiny light during a very dark season. Lauren says, "The storyline developed into this love story between the two of us. It was very easy and safe and lovely and I actually am just hoping there's some huge wrench in the works for them!" David adds that everything that happens from now on will affect the characters professionally and personally.

8:35 PM - C.S. on his often-comic relief role of Vince Masuka - "It's the best situation to be in. Here you have Dexter being all serious and everyone being all serious and I can just throw a wrench in there and it's the best job to have."

8:36 PM - Kristin asks Michael about winning the Golden Globe and if there's anything he'd like to say about his health for the fans. "I'm great," he says, adding that he only has one cancer treatment yet to go and then he'll be finished. On winning the Best Actor in a Drama Golden Globe - "It was a thrill. It was really fun. I'm glad everybody was there and it felt like maybe we all shared the recognition."

8:39 PM - Talking about the season finale where baby Harrison is found sitting in his dead mother's blood and Michael quips, "Hopefully the babies themselves will only have a vague recollection of playing in jelly."

8:42 PM - With Scott having helped orchestrate the amazing series finale of "Six Feet Under," do the producers have an end in sight for "Dexter?" Scott replies "It's far, far away." John adds "We're so fortunate that we're here four seasons later... we never imagined that it would take on this kind of life and our audience would embrace this world the way they have. Thank you." Big applause.

8:44 PM - In coming up with each new season, Sara explains that those decisions begin with Dexter. "We just pick Dexter up where we last saw him and what his psychological mindset is and what his journey has been that year and then take him forward." John adds that each season provides Dexter with a question - 'Can I have it all?' 'Can I be a good father?' and spends the season answering that question.

8:47 PM - Michael on the comedy in the series - "I think Dexter is hilarious - not Dexter the character but the show - and it's fun that while Dexter has learned a lot they still find ways to express his cluelessness."

8:50 PM - The Q&A begins with a question for Michael about the similarities between playing David Fisher on "Six Feet Under" and Dexter Morgan. Michael says "I've been so doubly blessed to have these characters come into my life and step into them and live with them but I think there's a similarity in that I think both characters, in their way, are very self regulating at all times for different reasons."

8:52 PM - Jennifer gives props to Keith Carradine who returned as Lundy last season. "[He] was so amazing on and off camera and the writing was so beautiful. That scene right before he gets shot when he says, 'You were confused and now you're not and we'll figure it out together.' No one has ever offered that kind of support to Deb. I feel like she walks around with all these cords looking for a place to plug them in. He says here and then, of course, the writers kill him."

8:55 PM - A fan asks if Michael and Jennifer, who are now married in real life, face challenges playing brother and sister on the show. Michael says "We're from the inside of it so to us it doesn't seem weird." Sara clarifies that Dexter and Deb are not blood-related so anything that happens between them is just fine.

8:58 PM - The actors share their favorite scenes and moments. Michael says it's the Thanksgiving episode we just screened due to the dinner scene with Trinity's dysfunctional family. Julie says it's when Dexter proposed to Rita. She said they didn't discuss how she'd react but as soon as Michael began proposing in rehearsal, the water works burst for Julie.

8:59 PM - Clyde says watching John Lithgow and Michael C. Hall rehearse the scene where Dexter kills Arthur was like watching a master class.

9:02 PM - Sara says her favorite moment is in the first season when Rita's ex's dealer shows up looking for money and Dexter, using a shovel and planting a tree, wants to hurt him and we (the audience) knows that but he can't due to his code.

9:04 PM - The writing staff is giving a round of applause for their hard work - Wendy West wrote the "Hungry Man" episode we screened tonight.

9:06 PM - The producers say that there were no alternate endings to the fourth season. Sara says that the ending was inevitable. "As the season progressed it became more and more clear where we were headed."

9:11 PM - Michael says that he needs the comedy in the show to act as relief from the darker stuff he does as Dexter.

9:13 PM - What does Michael have in common with Dexter? "I'm not compelled to dismember but I know compulsion."

9:14 PM - And that's a wrap, folks. Brian will be covering "Cougar Town" tomorrow night.

  [march 2010]  


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