After Kevin Smith came the Universal panel. They started out with a horror movie called Slither, which looked thoroughly unpleasant. Then again, I'd rather clean the grout in my shower than watch a horror movie, so what do I know? The panel included Nathan Fillion (whom most of us were excited to see because of Serenity), Michael Rooker, Gregg Henry, Elizabeth Banks (in other words an entire cast of Hey It's That Guys), and director James Gunn, who just happens to be the brother of Sean Gunn, a.k.a. Kirk on "Gilmore Girls." (And, in further news from the Department of Totally Random, Gunn on "Angel" was supposedly named for Sean and James, who have each worked with Joss Whedon in the past.)
James Gunn, Elizabeth Banks, Nathan Fillion, Michael Rooker and Gregg Henry suck precious time away from the Serenity panel
Anyway, we were all just waiting for the Serenity panel, which came next. As soon as Joss Whedon stepped out on stage the room went wild. He introduced the entire cast (minus Alan Tudyk who's doing Spamalot) one by one and Nathan Fillion hammed it up by exaggeratedly holding each of the female cast member's chairs out for them. And then poor Joss completely forgot to introduce Jewel Staite, and had to be reminded by the rest of the cast that she was still waiting backstage. She strutted out, pretending to be totally pissed, and Joss went down on his knees to beg her forgiveness in front of everyone.
Overall, it was a terrific panel. Everyone in the cast is a lot of fun and really seemed to get on well. They were all teasing one another and joking around as if they actually enjoy being together, although some of them seemed a bit melancholy that they're done with the movie now. Nathan Fillion and Gina Torres were the funniest, Summer Glau was very shy and sweet, Jewel and Morena Bacarin acted like best girl friends, Sean Maher seemed to get on with Jewel and Summer just as well as his character gets along with their characters, and, surprisingly, Adam Baldwin appeared to be the most sincere of the lot, and made several moving speeches about how much the movie means to him and how appreciative he is of all the fans.
Ron Glass, Morena Bacarin and Jewel Staite
Sean Maher, Summer Glau and Adam Baldwin
Gina Torres and Nathan Fillion
Rather than try to recall all the highlights (which were many), or transcribe the jokes (which were also many) from memory, I'll just direct ya'll to a transcript of the panel, which can be found here. I think there are some video clips floating around as well, if you care to look for them.
Joss on the big screen
Unfortunately, because the Slither panel ran over, the Big Damn Heroes only got about 40 minutes. But before they wrapped up, Joss showed us a clip from the movie, which looked totally kick-ass, and made me wish even more that it was September.
A somewhat blurry view of the whole cast
After that was the Sony presentation, which kicked off with a trailer for The Exorcism of Emily Rose that had been rejected by the MPAA (possibly for being too clichéd and derivative?). Then was the panel for Underworld: Evolution, and again the fanboys were rendered soft in the head by the presence of the beautiful Kate Beckinsale. Except this time Kate's husband, director Len Wiseman was sitting right next to her, so it was even creepier.
Kate Beckinsale--so pretty
Oh, and Scott Speedman was there too, looking as delicious as ever. I actually liked the first Underworld, but this one looks kinda lame. Although, based on the trailer, there are at least two nekkid orgy scenes to look forward to, so Mr. Sus gave it a tentative thumbs up.
Scott Speedman--even prettier
Then was The Fog panel, with Maggie Grace, so at least we got to see someone from "Lost." They showed a clip that didn't really interest me (Tom Welling ("Smallville") and Selma Blair are also in the movie), but did demonstate Maggie Grace's mad screaming skillz. All that screaming she does on "Lost"? Amateur stuff compared to this. That chick could medal at the Scream Olympics. Also, when asked what attracted her to this project she said that the shower scene with Tom Welling was a big factor. Heh.
Maggie Grace--thinking about Tom Welling in the shower?
The last (or what was supposed to be the last) Sony panel was for Ghost Rider, which the audience was pretty excited for, given that it's based on a wildly popular comic book. Director Mark Steven Johnson (the poor schmuck responsible for Daredevil), star Eva Mendes, and Marvel's Avi Arad were on the panel (Nicolas Cage, who stars in the movie, was not).
The clip looked okay, and from the audience response I guess the fanboys were satisfied, or maybe they were just too busy oogling Eva Mendes' breasts to pay attention. (Best question of the panel: "You're so pretty, where can I get a cool hat like that?" referring to Eva's Ghost Rider hat.) There were also so many references to "Hell Bikes" and "Hell Chains", etc., that M and Mr. Sus and I started adding "Hell" to beginning of everything to amuse ourselves. Me: I need to go to the Hell Bathroom. Mr. Sus: Can you pass me the Hell Trail Mix before you go? M: Does anyone want to use my Hell Blanket?
And then Sony announced their big surprise, which was not, as everyone was hoping, the identity of the Spider-man 3 villains (a question Avi Arad dodged), but turned out to be a visit from director Rob Cohen. Uh huh. The dude that made The Fast and the Furious and XXX. Be still my heart.
Cohen came out and told us all how pleased he was that so many people had shown up to see him promote his new movie, Stealth. To which we collectively rolled our eyes, because, dude, your appearance was a surprise, no one in this room is here to see you. And if we'd known you were coming? We'd probably all be in the lobby buying hot dogs. He screened a clip from Stealth, which we all struggled to care about.
After that, though, he introduced the cast, which meant that we got our second Academy Award winner of the day, in the form of Jamie Foxx, along with Jessica Biel and Josh Lucas. And everyone did kind of go nuts then, because they were pretty damn excited to see Foxx, even if he was promoting a crap movie that has almost zero appeal to Comic-con goers.
Rob Cohen and Jamie Foxx
They took a bunch of questions, most of which were directed to Foxx (who, blessedly, did not do the "Hey! Oh!" thing, even when some folks in the audience tried to start it up). The best moment, though, was when someone asked Foxx why he'd chosen to go from a great film like Ray to "a movie like this." Everyone on stage looked incredibly uncomfortable, while everyone in the audience snorted with laughter, because that was totally what we were all wondering, but didn't think anyone would have the audacity to actually say out loud in front of the director.
Josh Lucas, Rob Cohen, Jessica Biel, and Jamie Foxx
Finally, the Sony parade of stars was over, and it was time for the King Kong panel. It started off with a lovely video greeting from a slim but shaggy Peter Jackson, introducing the trailer and a very rough two-and-a-half minute clip from the big fight sequence between Kong and a family of T-Rexes. The shots in the clip bounced back and forth between animatics, blue screen, and rough CGI, with just a few completed effects shots, but it still looked absolutely amazing and the crowd went absolutely apeshit. Then they introduced Adrien Brody (Academy Award winner number three!), Naomi Watts and Jack Black, and the crowd went apeshit all over again.
Adrien Brody, Naomi Watts and Jack Black
The cast did a Q&A, during which it became glaringly apparent that most of the audience was only interested in Jack Black (or J.B., as he is affectionately known to his Tenacious D fans). Adrien Brody and Naomi Watts, meanwhile, had the humbling experience of being mostly ignored in favor of their less A-list costar. One guy stood up and complimented Naomi Watts and "James Brody," before saying, "But this is a question for J.B..." Adrien Brody looked all affronted and shouted, "Come on, that guy was in Jaws!" But he was laughing and actually seemed pretty good-humored about it. He looked a little less good humored a few minutes later when another doofus got up and said, "They told me not to use any profanity or ask Jack Black a question, so I wanna ask that dude on the left (Brody), when the sh*t is the next D album coming out?" Poor Adrien Brody.
James, er, Adrien Brody
Someone else asked J.B. if he'd written a song about Kong and Black confirmed that he had but declined to sing it for us (probably because he was already feeling bad about how much attention his Tenacious D stuff was getting during what was supposed to be a King Kong panel). But Adrien Brody, obviously quite familiar with the song, started a drumbeat on the table, which Naomi Watts and the audience immediately took up, and J.B. finally launched into a hilarious song about the giant ape.
Last, but definitely not least, was the Tenacious D concert, which was the biggest audience draw of the day. Reportedly, the line of people futilely waiting to get in stretched around the building. But we were safely ensconced in our awesome seats with a terrific view of the stage. It was a typically fantastic show, including some covers, some old favorites and some new stuff from their upcoming movie, and because J.B. had heard that the one-day convention pass cost $35 (which many folks shelled out for just to see the D), they played for almost an hour rather than the originally scheduled 30-minute set.
Finally, twelve full hours after we'd lined up for the first panel that morning, we stepped out of Hall H and back into the sunlight, cringing and wincing like Gollum coming out of the Misty Mountains.
To be continued...
(Up next: Richard Taylor! Richard Taylor! Richard Taylor! And Karl Urban!)