Last Saturday night, I experienced my second True Blood PaleyFest event. I attended the True Blood panel discussion in 2009 which was a blast, but what a difference two years have made.
In 2009, the Paleyfest was held at the Arclight Theater Cinerama Dome in April during the filming of Season 2, and we had only seen Season 1 at that time. While True Blood was a successful show then, it was still brand spanking new and somewhat in the background of the media's attention. However, our group of Billsbabes were die hard fans of the show even then and couldn't wait to finally get to see the cast in the flesh on the stage. At that event all of us were in the third row and wearing Billsbabe shirts. One of us even got to ask a question and then we were all asked to stand up. That event was not only a fun and wonderful time, but it was also my first time ever in Los Angeles and the first time that many of us had ever met.
Fast forward to March 2011; True Blood is a huge hit and what a phenomenon it has now become. I live in the LA area now and was lucky therefore to be able to join the other Billsbabes and go once again to see the cast on stage. I was glad that this time there were over 16 of the cast members included. It was great to see them all since True Blood is truly an "ensemble" show and dependent on all of it's cast members.
Our group, of "Billsbabes" numbered 10 and although we couldn't all sit together inside the theater this time, we stood in line together most of the day having lots of fun meeting fellow other Truebies. When we first arrived, early in the morning, not many other fans had showed up at this point, so our place in the line was primo. I walked the line several times during the day and was able to catch a couple of interviews from fans as seen below in this video:
As the day progressed, our excitement grew, and when it got closer to 6pm, when we were to be let into the theater, we were totally ready for it to begin. As we entered, we immediately all ran to find the best seats. Some of us were in the front orchestra section and others were in the rear orchestra. We would have loved to sit together, but the tickets sold out very quickly and it just wasn't possible. Most of us wore Billsbabes shirts so we did give a good showing from our group throughout the audience.
The show started late, but certainly didn't disappoint. After the normal introductions from Paley, Alan Ball was introduced and he presented a compilation clip of the first three seasons and a bonus scene from Season 4. He mentioned that the scene was not sound mixed or in it's final stage, but we all enjoyed seeing it none the less. The brief scene from Season 4, centered on Pam (Kristin Bauer) and a reunited Hoyt (Jim Parrack) and Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) confronting a group of protesters picketing Fangtasia. Here it is below:
After that, moderator, TV Guide's editor-in-chief Debra Birnbaum, came on board and she asked for cheers for Team Bill, Team Alcide and Team Eric. The cheers from the audience was decidedly in favor of Eric, but the cheers for Bill and Alcide were also quite loud.
Each of the 17 cast members and Alan Ball were individually introduced. They included Kevin Alejandro, “Jesus Velasquez”, Marshall Allman, “Tommy Mickens”, Chris Bauer, “Andy Bellefleur“ Kristin Bauer van Straten, “Pam De Beaufort“ Nelsan Ellis, “Lafayette Reynolds” Ryan Kwanten, “Jason Stackhouse” Todd Lowe, “Terry Bellefleur” Joe Manganiello, “Alcide Herveaux” Stephen Moyer, “Bill Compton” Anna Paquin, “Sookie Stackhouse” Jim Parrack, “Hoyt Fortenberry” Carrie Preston, “Arlene Fowler” Alexander Skarsgard, “Eric Northman” Sam Trammell, “Sam Merlotte” Rutina Wesley, “Tara Thornton” Deborah Ann Woll, “Jessica Hamby” and Alan Ball, Creator / Executive Producer. That stage was really crowded, but it was so nice to see all of the cast members highlighted for their fine work on the show.
All the cast were delightful and very animated in their responses. It was a really "funny" show and we were all transfixed by the interesting comments and questions. I enjoyed every minute of it. You can see video of the entire panel discussion, but clicking here.
One of the funny moments was when the moderator asked each of the cast about their fan experiences and Chris Bauer told a really funny story. While on vacation in Mexico, he thought a fan had recognized him and was coming up to him to talk about his role in True Blood when in reality it was someone who just wanted to tell him that he had bird "poo" on his shoulder. Nelsan Ellis talked about a fan wanting him to sign her "boobage", as he put it. These are just a few of the many endearing, as well as funny moments, in the show.
One very cute moment was when Stephen Moyer was asked for the umpteenth time to say "Sookie". He was able to put a new spin on it making us all laugh. In this video below, we see how he said "Sookie" to Anna and her reaction is priceless:
Stephen Moyer and Alexander Skarsgård seem to be really good buddies:
Notice the affection expressed between them
when they meet on stage, awwwww! Definitely soul mates.
photo above as seen on askarsswedishmeatballs.tumblr.com
Steve makes a grumpy sad face when Alex talks
about Eric losing his memory in the upcoming season.
We also got some really good tidbits about the filming and as well as some Season 4 scoopage:
- Alan Ball confirmed that Gary Cole and Fiona Shaw will guest star, and that there will be more new characters introduced including some witches, some shifters, a new werewolf, “a couple of humans and a child.”
- Sookie has always been independent, but the way she reacts to things will be different in season 4. Evidently her faerie trip will change her in some profound ways.
- When asked about Bill’s betrayal of Sookie and how that affects their soulmate status, Alan Ball had some interesting comments. First of all, he mentioned that Sookie “perceives” it as betrayal and it will be difficult to come back from it, and he wishes they had 17 seasons to explore everything. So do I!
- Alex talked about Eric getting amnesia and that we’ll see a different Eric this season. He won’t be the human-hating violent vampire we’ve seen before, and may even be shocked/disappointed at the things he has done.
- Alan also made a very sweet comment about it being difficult to view Bill and Sookie as anything but soul mates since that’s what they are in real life.
- Bill and Queen Sophie-Anne have a bite-off to begin season 4. There will be a third participant in the fight, but who? When asked if it was someone on stage, Alan Ball answered something like “in a way.”
- Stephen Moyer was asked if he was interested in directing and although he probably won’t be directing an episode in season 4, he hopefully will someday.
- Deborah Ann Woll said that while Hoyt and Jessica ended season 3 happy and in love, it probably won’t stay that way. Per Alan, characters are only allowed to be happy for a day.
- Stephen referred to the sex/rape scene with Lorena in Season 3, and that he had issues figuring out why Bill would go there. After speaking with Alan about it, he figured out that it was the only power he had over her – “she can fuck him over, but he can fuck her.”
- Props for Stephen to coining the awesome term “fuckpuppet” (which supposedly Mariana has now).
- Marshall thinks Tommy should adopt Terry and Arlene’s demon baby. I’m not sure he’d be a good influence, but it might be fun to watch and see.
- Bill and Sookie aren’t the only soul mates in town – Eric and Lafayette might be giving them a run for their money!
Anna remained mum on what might happen with Sookie and Eric in season 4, and was also asked to compare Alcide with the vamps in her life. She said that Alcide can be out and about during the day, and he’s very warm. However, he has his own baggage – namely Debbie Pelt, a psycho ex who wants to take Sookie down.
After the show ended, the mad "crush" to the stage began, and what a crush it was. I did a full story about the crush at the stage, which includes the famous "Saga of the Naughty Billsbabe Thong", and can seen by clicking here.
Many, many more photos can be found in the The Vault Photo Gallery.
After the stage crush, when we managed to get out with our lives, and believe me I mean, "get out with our lives", we all went outside and headed around the corner where the limos were parked. We were hoping to get what we didn't get at the stage crush since often some of the cast sign autographs and take pictures on their way to the limos. We had heard that Marshall Allman came outside after, but we missed him. We were able to see Stephen and Anna, since they both stayed for quite awhile signing and posing for photos, as shown in the video below. Kristin Bauer also came out and signed for the fans.
You can see several of our group including Kell, who got a birthday wish from Anna, Dina, Tutu, ThelLou, Filmchick3 and me in the video below. Most of our group got their pictures and autographs and I even got another hug. Be sure to look for my special "Billsbabe Weekend" post which is coming soon to AllStephenMoyer.com.
It was a wonderful night, and the cast and all those at Paley were awesome. Since the theater was completely full, I want to praise all for making it so organized. The crush of the stage was a bit much, but I am glad that the fans had that opportunity to get really close to the stars. And, the cast of True Blood has to be the best and most wonderful group of people there is. I have met most of them personally, and I have nothing but praise for their generosity and spirit. It was very apparent, and as Stephen said, "there is a lot of love there".
Thanks to all who donated information for this post, including ThelLou for helping me to recall the Season 4 scoopage, and for her video of Stephen and Anna. Thanks to Skarsgardfans.com for their images and to askarsswedishmeatballs.tumblr.com for the wonderful animated photo above. Also thanks to all the Billsbabes who donated photos, especially Filmchick3. And finally, a big thank you to Sarah and Susan for doing the fan interviews. If I neglected to mention you, it wasn't intentional, so please email me and I'll be sure to add you as a contributor.