By Sandra Kraisirideja
With roughly two weeks to go before Comic-Con begins, the programming schedule for Thursday has been released. There is always more to do than time so I’m just going to focus on the presentations in Hall H and Ballroom 20. For the uninitiated, Hall H is a 6,000-seat convention hall that focuses on upcoming movie releases. Ballroom 20 is a slightly smaller venue, seating 4,200, and is home to television programming. It’s possible to sit in either Hall H or Ballroom 20 for the entire day and not be bored.
Entry lines form well in advance, especially for Hall H, when attendees line up as early as Monday for a seat. Due to the extreme popularity of these two venues a playback of the presentations from both rooms will be rebroadcast in Room 25ABC from 8-11 p.m. on Thursday. This is the first time this programming is being offered and it’s a nice option for those who want to check out other presentations during the day. Keep in mind the playback will not include any film clips or footage that was shown.
Wednesday is preview night and only one presentation is scheduled. This is also a great time to roam the Exhibit Hall as it is far less crowded than any other day.
“Twilight” returns to Comic-Con on Thursday with the presentation for “Breaking Dawn: Part 1.” The Twi-Hards have been known to camp out beginning on Monday to secure a front row seat in Hall H. The level of intensity brought by these fans blows all other fandoms out of the water. If you plan on being in Hall H during this presentation ear plugs are highly recommended. Expect a lot of snarky tweeting by movie bloggers who don’t cover “Twilight,” but who may have to sit in Hall H to wait for the other presentations.
If you can skip the “Twilight” panel the hall will most likely clear out quite a bit afterward. The next big panel that day will be by 20th Century Fox, which will showcase its 2011 and 2012 titles. Possible films that will be covered include: “Rise of the Planet of the Apes;” “Prometheus,” directed by Ridley Scott and written by Damon Lindelof and Jon Spaihts; “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter;” “Glee: The 3D Concert Movie;” and the re-release of “Star Wars: Phantom Menace” in 3D.
Entertainment Weekly will host another “Visionaries” panel on Thursday with Jon Favreau and Guillermo del Toro about the future of pop culture. It’s possible the directors will show some footage from their projects but the “Visionaries” panel is typically an in-depth discussion with filmmakers.
In Ballroom 20 the most-anticipated event will be the “Game of Thrones” presentation, which is already the number one event being scheduled by attendees, according to SCHED. Anybody who wants to see this presentation should be prepared to wait in line as early in the morning as possible and to sit in Ballroom 20 all day in order to save a seat.
Fan favorite Sarah Michelle Gellar returns to Comic-Con to plug her new TV show, “Ringer,” and this falls right before the “Game of Thrones” presentation so Ballroom 20 will be packed to the gills. Later in the day Showtime returns to Ballroom 20 with footage from “Dexter,” “Shameless” and “Homeland.”
With “Twilight” and “Game of Thrones,” Thursday promises to be an epic start for the 2011 Comic-Con.
Programming for Wednesday night, excerpted from the Comic-Con website:
6-9 p.m. Special Sneak Peek Pilot Screenings: Alcatraz, Person of Interest, The Secret Circle, and Supernatural: The Anime Series— Comic-Con and Warner Bros. Television proudly continue their annual Preview Night tradition with exclusive world premiere screenings of the pilot episodes of three of the most highly anticipated TV series pilots of the 2011-12 television season — Alcatraz, Person of Interest, and The Secret Circle — as well as Supernatural: The Anime Series, the first-ever anime adaptation of a U.S. television series.
Alcatraz –From executive producer J. J. Abrams (Super 8, Fringe) and showrunner Elizabeth Sarnoff (Lost) comes Alcatraz, a chilling new drama revolving around America’s most infamous prison and onetime home to the nation’s worst criminals. The series stars Sarah Jones (Sons of Anarchy), Jorge Garcia (Lost), Jonny Coyne (Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life), Parminder Nagra (ER), Santiago Cabrera (Heroes), and Jason Butler Harner (Fringe), with Robert Forster (Jackie Brown) and Sam Neill (Jurassic Park). Abrams, Bryan Burk (Super 8, Fringe), and Sarnoff are executive producers; Steven Lilien and Bryan Wynbrandt (both Kyle XY) are co-executive producers. Alcatraz will premiere in midseason and air Mondays 9/8c on FOX.
Person of Interest –Jim Caviezel (The Thin Red Line), Michael Emerson (Lost), and Taraji P. Henson (Hustle & Flow) team up in Person of Interest, a thought-provoking crime action-drama from The Dark Knight’s Jonathan Nolan and J. J. Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions (Super 8, Fringe). Set in New York City, with all of its multifaceted elements of justice (cops, criminals, corruption), this procedural centers on an ex-CIA agent, presumed dead, who partners with a mysterious billionaire to prevent violent crimes. Kevin Chapman (Rescue Me) also stars in the series, which is executive produced by Nolan, Abrams, Greg Plageman (Cold Case), and Bryan Burk (Super 8, Fringe). Person of Interest is from Bonanza Productions Inc. in association with Bad Robot Productions and Warner Bros. Television. The series will air Thursdays at 9/8c on CBS this fall.
The Secret Circle — The ordinary becomes the extraordinary in The Secret Circle, a romantic drama full of mystery, intrigue, and danger from executive producer Kevin Williamson (The Vampire Diaries) and based on the book series by L. J. Smith (The Vampire Diaries). The series chronicles the story of a young girl who discovers not only that she is a witch and part of a secret coven but that she is the key that will unlock a centuries-old battle of good versus evil. Britt Robertson (Scream 4), Thomas Dekker (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles), Gale Harold (Queer as Folk), Shelley Hennig (Days of Our Lives), Phoebe Tonkin (H20: Just Add Water), Louis Hunter (Out of the Blue), Jessica Parker Kennedy (Valemont), Ashley Crow (Heroes), and Natasha Henstridge (Species) star in the series, from executive producers Williamson, Leslie Morgenstein (The Vampire Diaries), Gina Girolamo (Alloy Entertainment), Andrew Miller (Nothing), and Richard Hatem (Supernatural). The series will air Thursdays at 9/8c on The CW this fall
Supernatural: The Anime Series — Warner Bros. Television’s hit series Supernatural (Fridays 9/8c, The CW) makes history this summer as Supernatural: The Anime Series is released in the United States, the first-ever live-action series to be reimagined in Japanese anime style. Inspired by the U.S. series’ sensational following oversees, Warner Home Video Japan and renowned animation studio Madhouse — working with the full approval of series creator Eric Kripke — produced the anime series, which mirrors the story arc of Supernatural’s first two seasons, providing supplemental stories ranging from prequels and spinoffs to untold tales that fit within the Supernatural mythology. The all-new, 22-episode animated series will be distributed July 26 by Warner Home Video on Blu-ray, DVD, On Demand, and for Download.
Here is the full line-up from Hall H:
11:15-12:15 The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1— Summit Entertainment presents a sneak peek at the highly anticipated next chapter of The Twilight Saga. This is a must see for fans interested in the story’s final chapters. You’ll see exclusive footage from The Twilight Saga Breaking Dawn Part 1 and be treated to a filmmaker and cast Q&A session providing details on the first half of the epic two-part finale.
12:45-1:45 Animation Showcase— Sony Pictures Animation plunges Hall H into a 3D animation universe with previews of upcoming films with Aardman, the home studio of Wallace and Gromit, as they make their first trip across the pond to Comic-Con to present a first look at two of their upcoming animated feature films:
Arthur Christmas — The 3D, CG-animated family comedy Arthur Christmas, an Aardman production for Sony Pictures Animation, at last reveals the incredible, never-before seen answer to every child’s question: “So how does Santa deliver all those presents in one night?” The answer: Santa’s exhilarating, ultra-high-tech operation hidden beneath the North Pole. But at the heart of the film is a story with the ingredients of a Christmas classic — a family in a state of comic dysfunction and an unlikely hero, Arthur, with an urgent mission that must be completed before Christmas morning dawns. Producer Peter Lord and co-writer Peter Baynham discuss the animated film
The Pirates! Band of Misfits — In the 3D, stop motion-animated The Pirates! Band of Misfits, Hugh Grant, stars in his first animated role as the luxuriantly bearded Pirate Captain — a boundlessly enthusiastic, if somewhat less-than-successful, terror of the High Seas. With a rag-tag crew at his side (Martin Freeman, Brendan Gleeson, Russell Tovey, and Ashley Jensen), and seemingly blind to the impossible odds stacked against him, the Captain has one dream: to beat his bitter rivals Black Bellamy (Jeremy Piven) and Cutlass Liz (Salma Hayek) to the much coveted Pirate Of The Year Award. It’s a quest that takes our heroes from the shores of exotic Blood Island to the foggy streets of Victorian London. Along the way they battle a diabolical queen (Imelda Staunton) and team up with a haplessly smitten young scientist (David Tennant), but never lose sight of what a pirate loves best: adventure! Director/producer Peter Lord will be live on stage to talk about the movie.
2:00-3:00 FilmDistrict Studio Panel— FilmDistrict, the new studio that brought you Insidious, celebrates two upcoming features: Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, a Guillermo Del Toro production starring Katie Holmes and Guy Pearce, and Drive, directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, starring Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Ron Perlman, and Christina Hendricks. Exclusive footage will be presented and a Q&A will be held for both films.
3:15-4:30 20th Century Fox— At past Comic-Cons, 20th Century Fox has previewed Independence Day, X2, Avatar, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. You won’t want to miss the excitement this year, as Fox presents first-looks at some of its most-anticipated pictures of 2011 and 2012.
4:45-5:45 Robert Rodriguez’s Quick Draw Productions— Be the first to get a sneak peek at Robert Rodriguez’s upcoming films. Robert presents Quick Draw’s new slate featuring special guest collaborators. He will also show exclusive material from his latest top-secret project.
6:00-7:00 Entertainment Weekly: The Visionaries: A discussion with Jon Favreau and Guillermo del Toro on the Future of Pop Culture— EW moderates an in-depth conversation with Jon Favreau (Cowboys & Aliens) and Guillermo del Toro (Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark), two filmmakers at the forefront of bringing geek culture to the masses and making blockbuster art out of pulp fiction. They will discuss their inspirations, their current work, and how they strive to put a personal stamp on blockbuster entertainment. Plus: How is new technology changing the way stories are produced and viewed? And what do they think the pop culture universe will look like a decade from now? Moderated by Jeff “Doc” Jensen.
Here is the full line-up for Ballroom 20:
10:00-11:00 Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe— For fans of USA’s hit series Burn Notice who’ve always wanted to know what happened before Sam Axe (Bruce Campbell) teamed up with Michael Weston and Fiona, Comic-Con attendees are invited inside the USA made-for-TV movie Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe, debuting on DVD exclusively at Comic-Con! The Burn Notice prequel chronicles what turned out to be the last military mission of former U.S. Navy SEAL Lieutenant Commander Axe and the expedition that took him from the jungles of Colombia to sunny Miami Beach. Go one-on-one with Bruce Campbell, star of Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe, and Burn Notice creator, writer, and executive producer, Matt Nix.
11:15-12:15 Covert Affairs— For the first time, TV’s sexiest spy show, USA Network’s Covert Affairs, comes to Comic-Con! Spend some time with stars Piper Perabo (Annie Walker), Christopher Gorham (Auggie Anderson), Sendhil Ramamurthy (Jai Wilcox), Kari Matchett (Joan Campbell), Anne Dudek (Danielle), and Peter Gallagher (Arthur Campbell). Executive producers Doug Liman, Chris Ord, Matt Corman, and Dave Bartis also join the panel, moderated by the one-and-only Oded Fehr. Fans will get an insider’s look into the action-packed world of Covert Affairs. Besides having questions answered about the exciting current season, fans will view exclusive video content featuring a sneak peek at upcoming episodes. There will also be surprise giveaways for audience members!
12:30-1:30 Psych— Calling all Psych-o’s! USA Network’s Psych is back at Comic-Con with another hilarious panel featuring the stars and producers behind one of cable’s most popular shows. Moderated by Psych’s resident morgue-dweller and fan favorite, Woody the Coroner (acclaimed actor Kurt Fuller), the one-hour panel will be full of surprises and face-time with series stars James Roday (Shawn Spencer), Dulé Hill (Burton “Gus” Guster), Maggie Lawson (Juliet O’Hara), Tim Omundson (Carlton Lassiter), Kirsten Nelson (Chief Karen Vick), and Corbin Bernsen (Henry Spencer). Joining the cast are Steve Franks (creator and executive producer), Kelly Kulchak (executive producer) and Chris Henze (executive producer). The cast and creative team will share secrets and stories from the set as well as answer questions about the show. Expect exclusive videos, surprise giveaways, live performances, and an extended preview of Season 6 episodes screened only for Comic-Con fans!
1:45-2:45 Ringer— Sarah Michelle Gellar makes her highly anticipated television return in the gripping new thriller Ringer, as a woman who, after witnessing a murder, goes on the run, hiding out by assuming the life of her wealthy identical twin — only to learn that her sister’s seemingly idyllic life is just as complicated and dangerous as the one she’s trying to leave behind. Be the first to see an exclusive sneak peek at the new series about family secrets and stolen identities, followed by a panel discussion with series stars Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy The Vampire Slayer), Ioan Gruffudd (Fantastic Four), Nestor Carbonell (Lost, The Dark Knight), Kristoffer Polaha (Life Unexpected), executive producer Pam Veasey (CSI:NY), and co-executive producers Nicole Snyder (Supernatural) and Eric Charmelo (Supernatural).
3:00-4:00 Game of Thrones Panel and Q&A session— Based on the bestselling fantasy book series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin, HBO’s Game of Thrones concluded its 10-episode debut season on June 19. The series, executive produced and written by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, follows kings and queens, knights and renegades, liars and noblemen as they vie for power in a land where summers span decades and winters can last a lifetime. Some of the cast featured in the first season and appearing on this panel are (in alphabetical order) Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Ser Jaime Lannister, Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister, Kit Harington as Jon Snow, and Jason Momoa as Khal Drogo. Moderated by George R. R. Martin, who also serves as a co-executive producer and writer on the series.
4:15-5:15 TV Guide Magazine: Fan Favorites— TV Guide is back with an all-star panel for the fans! Moderated by editor-in-chief Debra Birnbaum, Fan Favorites features your favorite talent from your favorite shows — in front of the camera and behind the scenes. Panelists include Nestor Carbonell (Ringer), Johnny Galecki (The Big Bang Theory), Jorge Garcia (Alcatraz), Leslie Hope (The River), Zachary Levi (Chuck), Joe Manganiello (True Blood), Julie Plec (Vampire Diaries), Matt Smith (Doctor Who ), Kevin Williamson (Vampire Diaries), Deborah Ann Woll (True Blood), and others.
5:30-7:30 Showtime : Tired of Ordinary Television?— This year at Comic-Con, Showtime saves! The casts and creative forces behind Dexter and Shameless give sneak peeks into the new seasons. And be the first to see an exclusive look at the new Showtime original series Homeland.
Dexter — See the exclusive world premiere of the new season’s trailer, then moderator Ralph Garman (KROQ entertainment reporter) will preside over a revealing interview and Q&A session with the stars and executive producers, including Michael C. Hall (star/executive producer), C. S. Lee (Masuka), David Zayas (Batista) , guest star Colin Hanks (Peter Jackson’s King Kong, Roswell), and more. Also appearing are executive producers John Goldwyn, Sara Colleton, Scott Buck, and Manny Coto.
Shameless — Come party with the cast and creative team behind the hottest new Showtime original series, Shameless. If you thought your family was dysfunctional, wait ’til you meet the Gallaghers. Get the inside scoop on what’s in store for the new season as Mike Schneider (TV Guide Los Angeles bureau chief) leads an interview and Q&A with stars William H. Macy (Fargo, Jurassic Park III) and Emmy Rossum (Day After Tomorrow, Dragon Ball: Evolution ), plus more, along with executive producer John Wells (West Wing, ER, Southland).
Homeland — This fall, the war on terror comes home in the new Showtime original series Homeland from executive producers/writers Howard Gordon (24, The X-Files) and Alex Gansa (24, The X-Files, Numb3rs), starring Claire Danes (Terminator 3), Damian Lewis (Band of Brothers, Life), Mandy Patinkin (The Princess Bride, Criminal Minds), and Morena Baccarin (V, Firefly). Comic-Con favorite Morena Baccarin will make a special appearance to introduce exclusive footage from Homeland.