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

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

7:01 PM - Tonight's archival clip is no surprise - Bryan Cranston (with hair!) as Hal, the off-center Dad on FOX's "Malcolm In The Middle." The 2000 clip shows Hal and the boys fighting off a house full of bats but really shows just how talented Cranston is no matter what he's doing.

7:05 PM - Christy Carpenter, Paley Center Executive VP and COO, steps out to introduce night number nine of the 27th annual PaleyFest and touts the stark and original feel of "Breaking Bad." Christy then welcomes tonight's moderator, freelance scribe David Kronke.

7:09 PM - David keeps it short and sweet and brings show creator Vince Gilligan out to introduce the recap of the last two seasons followed by the third season premiere, which just happens to be written by Vince and directed by Bryan. The audience is beyond excited.

8:04 PM - After the pretty-damn-good season premiere, David returns to the podium and brings out our panel. Mark Johnson! Dean Norris! Bryan Cranston! Anna Gunn! Aaron Paul! R.J. Mitte! Vince Gilligan!

8:06 PM - Dean says that R.J. (dressed in a turtle neck sweater and jacket) looks like Thurston Howell III from "Gilligan's Island." Everyone (including R.J.) laughs.

8:07 PM - Vince on the people praying to a skeleton in the season opener. In the Santa Muerte religion, "death itself does not make distinctions between prayers that are good versus prayers that are bad. You can be a sweet, kind 85-year old grandmother praying for your granddaughter's kidney transplant or you could be a drug dealer praying for the death of a rival."

8:08 PM - Mark on AMC completely agreeing with he and Vince's vision for the show when they first began to develop the show: "We kept pinching ourselves because we thought the shoe was going to drop and one never did so we knew from the beginning that we were at the right place."

8:10 PM - Vince didn't know of fellow-drug-related series "Weeds" (on Showtime) when he was developing "Breaking Bad" or "I probably would've given up on the whole thing."

8:11 PM - The original version of the death of Jane (Krysten Ritter) in season two was to have Walt find her already high but shoot her up one more time to kill her. "The only time we ever got a note was on that episode," Vince said, but the network/studio never said no.

8:13 PM - Bryan says when he read about how Walt was going to, instead, let Jane choke to death instead of help her, "it freaked me out!"

8:15 PM - Bryan on his reaction to reading the opening sequence of the pilot script for the first time: "What the fuck is going on?!" He adds, "It was one of those rare moments when you respond to a piece of material so strongly that I knew I had to get in this fast as I could to try to get this role because the longer I waited, I knew every actor in Hollywood would want it."

8:19 PM - Aaron's initial reaction to the pilot script: "I thought there is no fucking way this show is ever going to see the light of day!"

8:21 PM - R.J. on why he loves the show: "It goes from a happy family dinner to two guys cooking crystal meth in a broken down trailer out in the middle of the desert! It really pushes the envelope. There's no show on TV that I've seen that can bring a family aspect to it next to drug dealers and crystal meth."

[EDITOR'S NOTE: What follows includes comments about the third season premiere so don't read if you don't want to know!]

8:23 PM - Vince on the decision to have Skylar find out Walt's secret: "We figured the show was over when Superman's identity is revealed so we figured this show is over when Walt's wife knows what he does in his downtime. For weeks on end we said 'How in the world are we going to keep Skylar in the dark?' and then we stopped and we said 'We don't. It's bullshit if we do!'" To which Bryan replies, "Hooray for bullshit!"

8:26 PM - Bryan says that he doesn't know what's going to happen with Walt and he likes that. "It's fun to figure out what's going to happen and try to guess and you're usually wrong. [Vince] throws curve balls quite often."

8:27 PM - "Everything she thought was the truth isn't the truth anymore," says Anna on what's coming for Skylar and her fractured marriage to Walt in season three. "Is the fabric of their relationship strong enough to survive or not?" Stay tuned...

8:30 PM - David asks since the show is getting darker, when do you go too far? Vince says maybe they already have since they've lost some viewers due to the stories but they've also gained viewers for the same reason.

8:31 PM - Mark explains the evolution of the series by stating that season one was a good man who makes a mistake. Season two asks the question "Is Walt still a good man?" The third season, he said, is "a completely different animal." He adds that it's also very much a family show, which gets big laughs and then a few more when Bryan says "The Addams Family."

8:33 PM - Dean gets a big laugh by saying that Skylar may be too smart to know Walt's secret but that must mean his Hank (who is still in the dark) is a dumb-dumb.

8:35 PM - "I have no idea where I'm going and it's frightening and exciting at the same time," says Bryan on where the show and Walt are going. He adds that this is an unprecedented series where the lead character is literally going to change from Mr. Chips to Scarface by the end. Vince admits that he doesn't even know where they're going, though he admitted to having a small inkling of where Walt's journey will end someday.

8:38 PM - David asks Bryan if he'd like to see Walt enjoy himself even for half an episode. "It does seem like he needs a break, doesn't it?" Bryan replies. He adds that the ironic thing is that Walt has never been more alive since he got sick and got involved in the drug business.

8:39 PM - While Aaron exclaims "Thank God for the Writers' Strike!" when it's mentioned that if they had been able to shoot the full first season Jesse would have been killed off, Vince clarifies that he knew in the second episode that "it would be a huge, colossal mistake to kill Jesse."

8:43 PM - On the two seemingly evil men that appear in the third season premiere, Bryan says they are brothers in real life and came through casting in Los Angeles. Brother Louis had a lot of tattoos on his body including the word FUCK on one eyelid and YOU on the other. Bryan asked "Did that hurt?" Louis said 'What hurt was the spoon that they had to put underneath the eyelid to do the tattoo.' (Audience groans.) Bryan said he then wasn't worried that the obviously tough brothers wouldn't flinch during a big explosion in the season premiere.

8:47 PM - Q&A time. Vince is asked about developing the show and he says while he loved "The Sopranos," Tony was born into that world but "I like the idea of a guy who is essentially me who is given a reason in the first episode on why he'd do this thing."

8:50 PM - Vince talks about how sometimes plot comes from a random situation such as when, in season two, Jesse gets thrown out of his parents house. The reason? The house had been sold in real life so the writers had to essentially write the house out of the show.

8:51 PM - A fan asks if there will be clues peppered in the show like the writers did in season two? Vince replies, "Because we did it once, we don't want to do it again." Also, how long does he think the series will run to which Vince replies "You don't want to leave the party too late."

8:52 PM - "It was originally supposed to be Carrot Top but he passed," jokes Bryan about how Bob Odenkirk ended up with the role of shady lawyer Saul Goodman. Vince promises that even though Saul isn't in the first episode of the new season there is "plenty of Saul coming up."

8:55 PM - Vince reveals the show was originally going to be set in Riverside, CA but the 25% tax incentive that the state of New Mexico offers was too sweet to pass up. Vince calls it another "happy accident" because he can use wide shots of the landscape like the ones he loves in the films of John Ford and Sergio Leone. Vince says that the landscape is like another character in the show.

9:00 PM - On any concerns that Bryan could carry the show when he'd been known for comedy. "The business has the tendency to want to pigeonhole people into 'he's a comedy guy' or 'he's a drama guy,'" Bryan says, "so we're constantly trying to reinvent ourselves so we can have a well-rounded career." He adds that he didn't expect after seven years on 'Malcolm In The Middle' to land "the role of a lifetime" and thanks Vince for taking a chance on him. Bryan then winds up the night by thanking the fans for the word-of-mouth power that brings people to the show.

9:02 PM - That's a wrap for night nine of PaleyFest. Brian will be covering "FlashForward" tomorrow night.

  [march 2010]  


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