Sunday, March 4, 2012

Salute to Supernatural Convention - Burbank, CA March 2-4


Another riotous blast of a convention!

You may have heard that Supernatural (The CW, Fridays @ 9 p.m.) has some of the most passionate, loyal, enthusiastic and supportive fans out there, and conventions like the one held in Burbank, CA this weekend proves that in spades.  I have never missed the L.A.- area con and I was again in my pre-reserved seat for all the action, hilarity and surprises.  (Alas, this may have been my last, as the event is moving to Las Vegas next year - boo! - and not sure I can trek so far, no matter how much I love the show ... and I do!).

Guests this year included (of course) the Winchesters themselves, Jensen Ackles (Dean) and Jared Padalecki (Sam) as well as Jim Beaver (Bobby Singer), Richard Speight, Jr. (Gabriel/Trickster - for my 2-part interview with Speight, scroll down),  Misha Collins (Castiel), Sebastian Roche (Balthasar), Mark Sheppard (Crowley), Matt Cohen (young John Winchester), Rick Worthy (Alpha Vampire), Chad Lindberg (Ash), Gabriel Tigerman (Andy Gallagher), Rob Benedict (Chuck Shurley), Kim Rhodes (Sheriff Jodi Mills), Madison McLaughlin (Krissy Chambers) and director Guy Norman Bee.

I wasn't able to attend Friday's day events but I heard Rhodes, Benedict, Lindberg and last-minute add Tigerman were great.  I was able to see them along with Cohen, Speight, Worthy and surprise guests Tim Omundson (Psych, Deadwood) and Michael Cudlitz (Southland) at the late-night, 60s-themed karaoke party, where everyone rocked out and had a blast.

Saturday's roster started off with Bee, who has directed some of Supernatural's most popular episodes, including "Frontierland," "Hello, Cruel World" and "How to Win Friends and Influence Monsters."  He brought along actor Sam Hennings, who portrayed the legendary Samuel Colt in "Frontierland."  We learned Bee was also a cameraman on James Cameron's Titanic and worked previously with Speight, directing several episodes of his show Jericho.  Most recently he has been directing on Southland.  Questions included differences between shooting Supernatural vs. Southland (two pages on Supernatural can take 6 hours to film; on Southland, 2 pages can be shot is 45 minutes); doing many, many takes (a la David Fincher)  versus just a few (like Clint Eastwood); giving actors the freedom to try things in different takes ("when successful, no matter who's idea it was, the director ultimately gets the credit," he joked); and the pressure to be true to the show and please the fans.

Amazing trivia - Supernatural has had the same Director of Photography, Serge Ladouceur, for every episode except the pilot (141 episodes in all)!

Next we were treated to a hilarious tag team panel with Roche and Sheppard, which took some interesting ... and erotic ... turns (Roche definitely likes to play with the audience and push the envelope).  Both didn't hesitate to take digs at Misha Collins (in good fun, of course) and both did excellent impressions from Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Fave lines/exchanges:

Roche, upon his on-screen death - "I didn't see my crispy wings."

About the aforementioned "erotic" tone of the panel:
Roche:  (to audience): "Your mind is in the gutter!"
Sheppard:  "And you've driven them there."

Regarding fan fiction written about the two, linking their characters romantically:
A fan:  "Because of the way you two talk up there, you ask for all the [slash] fan fiction."

About the swearing that came out during the panel:
Sheppard:  "I have a 12-year-old and a 6-year old ... they TAUGHT me those words!"

And about being character actors:
Roche:  "Character actors are the backbone of every show."
Sheppard:  "We get the best stories."

Of course, Roche didn't leave empty handed:  during an exchange about cockroaches, he misspoke and it came out as "cockroche," to which Sheppard assured him the nickname would now follow him forever ...

We then had a terrific interactive panel with Worthy, Benedict and Cohen with Speight taking lead in a very Donahue-like fashion, heading into the audience to take questions for the quartet, leading with the riotous "In putting this panel together, what four people make the least sense?" Again, things got rather randy at times, but the guys had a blast playing with us.  Questions ranged from their favorite actors, Supernatural episodes, and board games; guilty pleasures they watch; best stunts they've done; how, if their characters are dead, would they like them to come back; what Rocky Horror character would they be; and fave lines they said on the show:

Speight:  "Lucifer, you're my brother and I love you, but you are one great big bag of dicks." ("Hammer of the Gods")
Worthy:  (said dryly) "Ouch. Stop. That hurts." ("Family Matters")
Benedict:  "I am the prophet Chuck!" ("The Monster at the End of This Book") or the one about hoarding toilet paper ("The End")
Cohen:  "Telling the boys to shut up in the car.  Messed up takes on purpose so I could keep saying it to them!" ("The Song Remains the Same")

Next it was fan favorite Collins, who took the stage solo.  But he takes command and doesn't let go, teasing, mocking, playing.  No one is off limits.  He got some weird questions (Castiel's favorite cheese, if he were a wasp, who would he sting?), got to talk about he recent, world-record-breaking online scavenger hunt and his ongoing "random acts of kindness" campaign.  We learned the episode where Bobby died ("Death's Door"), certain NPR news stories and Dead Poets Society make him tear up, that he once worked on a llama farm and that he adamantly disagrees that, despite what has been said online, his spirit animal is NOT a kitten  ("No!  It's a tiger!  Or something ... a wolf!  I feel like my spirit animal should have some say in this.").

When Jim Beaver took the stage, it was to a standing ovation.  After all, his beloved Bobby was lost to us this season.  He admitted, "It's sad to no longer be an active part of this thing."  He went on to say that if his character had continued on, he'd hope for a hook-up with Rhodes' Sheriff Mills; he has no desire to direct or be on Dancing With the Stars ("I'm a horrible dancer.  Then again, I'll do anything for money or smatterings of applause."); and that he has no idea what's been happening on the show or if there's a chance for his return ("once they stop paying you, they stop telling you stuff.  But hey, it's Supernatural ... I'm sure they could figure out something.").  He also had high-praise for Ackles, who directed him in "Weekend at Bobby's".

"Jensen was a wonderful director, all things a director should be:  prepared, skilled, insightful, communicative, in touch." 

That takes us to Sunday, which brought back Jim Beaver and Richard Speight, Jr. for more questions about both working on Justified, eating on camera, difficult props, Tim Omundson's beard ("he's the Chia pet of American television"), their desired superpower, what's really in the liquor bottles on the set (Beaver: "watered down Coca-cola."  Speight: "Realy, Jim?  Not Pepsi?" - Speight, of course, is the pitchman for Pepsi Max), what karaoke songs would their characters sing (Speight: "Love Shack."  Beaver: "Some Enchanted Evening" or "Rock Lobster."  Mash-up possibility:  "Some Enchanted Lobster"!) and if had to, which brother would Bobby kill ("probably the taller one.").

And then ... stars JENSEN ACKLES (JA)and JARED PADALECKI (JP)!!

They never cease to look good, smile and be very personable, down-to-earth and funny.  At earlier conventions, they'd have each come out separately, then end together.  But realizing how well they play off each other, they now do the whole hour together, and it's incredibly entertaining.

There was much granting of congratulations to JP on the impending birth of his son with wife Genevieve (2nd Ruby) - phone was at the ready in his pocket - and birthday wishes to JA (March 1).  At the end Speight presented him with a birthday cake and led the room of 1,000+ people in "Happy Birthday," which ended with both guys smashing their faces into the cake.  Wish I had a picture of that!

Before that there were a slew of questions from fans about their first convention experiences; what they would go back and change about their characters' actions if they could (JA would have Dean not go off to be with Lisa and Ben; JP would have Dean not kill that Ruby-chick ... a wink to not killing off his real-life wife); what happened to Castiel's handprint on Dean's arm ("Lazarus Rising" - cover story: when Cas healed Dean in "Swan Song," he healed everything, all scars, including the handprint; true story: writers and crew simply forgot, so came up with believable cover story to avoid reshoot.); if JP really afraid of clowns (no, actually loved them as a kid; JA, on the other hand, says they creep the hell out of him, ever since the movie Stephen King's IT.

Interesting tidbit:  the young girl in IT was played by Emily Perkins, who played Becky Rosen ("Sympathy for the Devil," "The Real Ghostbusters," "Season 7: Time for a Wedding!")

There was talk about the weird first impression Misha Collins made on them both, what they watch when they can, Dean's compulsive eating and bad costumes, Jensen's soap days (Days of Our Lives), their love and affection for their crew ("They're family," both heartily agreed), why Sam and Dean never seem to learn from their mistakes, and the overwhelming demographic of women who watch the show:

JA:  "What would raise male viewership? Hot chicks.  We had that but it made all of you mad!  You gotta pick your battles.  (in girly voice) 'Get those sluts away from our boys!'  We don't want that." 

When asked if the guys were really laughing at the end of "Plucky Peniwhistle's Magical Menagerie" when JP was coated in glitter:  JA:  "No, we were ACTING.  We're ACTORS."  After which they demonstrated with over-the-top fave laughter.

The hour ended with a touching expression of gratitude by JP to the fans for contributing to St. Jude's Children's Hospital in lieu of sending him and Genevieve baby gifts.  To date, over $27,000 has been raised and fundraising will continue until the baby's birth, after which the couple will match the funds.

These are really great guys. All of these good folks - a terrific, talented, entertaining group of people have worked on this amazing show and we are so fortunate to have even just these few moments to interact with them and see for ourselves how great they are.  They genuinely seem to enjoy what they do, are thankful for what they have and appreciate us for our continued love and support for the show.

Here's to (hopefully) Season 8, a healthy son for the Padaleckis, more money raised for St. Jude's and more conventions in the future (bring in  back to L.A.!!).

Catch Supernatural Fridays @ 9 p.m. on the CW.  New episodes return March 16.

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