A Fan’s Report of the 2008 Paley Festival

[Article by Andrew Kern]

[Introduction from MikeJer]

First off I’d like to thank forum contributer Andrew Kern for the following material (below) from the 2008 Paley Festival Buffy reunion. He was able to attend the event and bring back comments, pictures, and, yes, an mp3 recording of the entire event! He kindly asked if I would mind putting up this content on my site, and of course I said heck yeah! His original forum post can be found here. So without further ado, here’s his report!


[Article]

I just got back from the Buffy reunion at the Arclight Cinerama Dome. Here are some real quick comments, put down at random as I think them. I’ll write something more when I get a chance.

  • The evening began with a showing of Once More With Feeling, which was really cool to see on a big screen. But for whatever reason, people weren’t singing along. I was literally the only person around me who was, so my magnificent 4 note range was on display for all. I think the hardcore fans were all in the bottom level. There were people lining up last night to be first in line.
  • Actually, no, it began with a clip from the soap opera SMG was in before BtVS. It was hilarious to watch. It was funny to see how overwrought and artificial it seemed compared to BtVS.
  • I didn’t realize it, but I had actually bought two tickets. I sold the extra to an enthusiastic young fan who grew up watching Buffy. I was just going to sell it for face value but she insisted on doubling it – so I attended for free.
  • AH, ED and DB weren’t there. No reason was given. I didn’t really care about DB but would have really liked to have seen the other two.
  • JW was late because he was filming his new musical.
  • Seth Green is an enormously funny guy. He busted out a couple dozen off the cuff and really funny comments. I don’t think he said anything which wasn’t funny. I haven’t watched Robot Chicken but I’m definitely going to check it out now.
  • NB seemed to be remarkably like his character. He basically spoke in quips.
  • SMG was very gracious in her appreciation of the fans, at one point saying that the lack of an Emmy means nothing compared to all the love the fans have shown, and continue to show, BtVS. She talked a lot about how great everybody involved in the show was. She basically came across as genuinely sweet. She says she really misses the family-like atmosphere of the Buffy set.
  • SMG didn’t know about the recent sexual experience of Buffy in Season 8 until right before the program. JM found out on stage, then asked if Spike was going to be brought back as a gay vampire. SMG mentioned that the Buffy/Spike first sex scene of Season 6 was voted the hottest scene in TV history, which generated a big (and somewhat Jerry Springer-esque) cheer from the audience.
  • I felt CC was kind of dissed by the moderator. I don’t think he asked her a question, and she didn’t really get a chance to say anything. She got skipped over for the “what are you doing now” question.
  • SMG didn’t mention her recent films when asked what she’s been up to, but only spoke about her charity work for CARE.
  • Though he made some really good opening comments, I didn’t think the moderator was very good. He didn’t really ask great questions and didn’t follow up when interesting things came up. And he let some really good comments from AB about the Willow/Tara relationship get sidetracked by other panelists.
  • JW said that Oz will be making an appearance in Season 8 at some point. I don’t know if that was already known but it got a big cheer.
  • At point the question was asked “after everything, who is it: Angle or Spike?” But the moderator again let things go off topic immediately so there wasn’t an answer.
  • JW was asked about doing a Buffy movie. He basically said he’d love to but that an awful lot of stars would have to align for it to happen. Similarly, with doing a Broadway musical of Buffy – though he said if it ever happened it would be a whole new thing, not based on OMWF.
  • JW said some things about the comic Fray, but I’ve never seen it so I couldn’t really follow what he was saying.
  • EC didn’t say much, but she revealed the secret behind her remarkable monologue in The Body – she really, really had to pee.
  • David Greenwalt was effusive in his praise of SMG, saying she could do anything they threw at her and do it perfectly right away. He made a very funny comment about writing for Buffy being about putting down all of your pain and fear and then forcing really attractive people to say it all. He said JW couldn’t play 3 chords on a keyboard before he started writing OMWF.
  • SMG said her friends felt really bad for her when she was signed for BtVS b/c it was a mid-season replacement on a new network. They told her that “next year” she’ll get a better show.
  • A comment from SMG was behind the decision to not have any music on The Body. Evidently, she did a scene and JW said “that’ll be great when we put music behind it,” and SMG said something along the line of using music as crutch.
  • Unbeknownst to her, JW and others sometimes referred to SMG as Jimmy Stewart because of her ability to embody the same kind of Everyman presence.
  • EC was dressed in a kind of showgirl/1940’s detective outfit, and recently got married.
  • MT was terrified of singing in OMWF. She got tonsilitis before the filming and was hoping she’d get out of having to sing but she got better.
  • Seth Green was wearing a black velour jacket and looking quite handsome. I’m the others were all looking good too but I didn’t see most of them close up.
  • Everyone loves Kristine Sutherland. JW said she’s the most under-appreciated member of the cast.
  • When asked what she misses most about BtVS, AB said “making out with hot chicks.” And she said the “real” reason why she didn’t come back in CWDP in Season 7 is because she wanted to have lots of sex with Marlon Brando before he died.
  • Marti Noxon made a joke about wearing underwear that very few people seemed to get for some reason.
  • The only episodes specifically discussed were OMWF and The Body, but I don’t remember more about what was said.
  • JW has nothing but Steven Sondheim on his iPod. JM likes to listen to old Blues (Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, etc.).
  • JM is quite self-deprecating about his musical abilities, and had to be encouraged from the audience to even talk about it.
  • A number of the writers were in the audience – Jane Espenson, another guy I recognized from the DVD extras and some others. They were asked to stand at one point and they got a big round of applause.
  • SMG mentioned that both her and MT were raised by powerful women, so it was very hard for them to do The Body b/c it made them think about losing their own mothers.
  • Tom Lenk was in the audience. I got my photograph taken with him. I didn’t see anyone else from the Trio.
  • AB is freaking gorgeous.

The panel was a little short I thought, only a little over an hour long. As soon as it was over, there was a mad rush to the stage to get autographs. All the panelists stayed for a little while, but by the time I got there most of them were gone. I got JW to sign the booklet from the Chosen One DVD collection, so I’m happy. I almost got AB to sign it as well, but she left before I could get there. Those two, along with Seth Green and Marti Noxon were autograph signing fiends, only stopping when they were dragged away by handlers. They would pose with anyone who asked. CC was also signing for a long time, too.

Some additional comments. I just checked the audio and it seems to have turned out okay, though some of it’s unclear. The guy next to me had a loud laugh so he drowns out some of it. Haven’t listened to it all the way through yet, so this is just more stuff from memory:

  • The moderator did ask CC a question, about whether it was the right time for Cordelia to leave BtVS and go to AtS. She said “yes” and not much more. David Greenwalt commented that AtS would not have worked without CC, that she “balanced” DB.
  • I think the exchange between JW and SMG about music as a crutch was during a scene from Crush. It wasn’t clear if that resulted in a rethinking of how to do The Body or if that’s when he started conceiving of how to film it.
  • SMG was also very scared about singing on OMWF and said she was hoping maybe she’d be turned into Buffy the Rat again so she didn’t have to. NB misheard her and thought she said Buffy the Rap, and there was some joking about SMG rapping in OMWF. She said there’s no way she’d do a Broadway musical Buffy, even though JW says he daydreams about doing one all the time.
  • The moderator mispronounced Tara’s name. And he had the nerve to call himself a “buffyholic.”
  • SMG said Season 6 was hard for her to do. She had come to identify with Buffy so much and looked up to her, so it was difficult for her that Buffy became so lost and unheroic.
  • JW said originally Season 6 was going to be a really funny season in response to the seriousness of Season 5.
  • JW said The Witch was a seminal moment for BtVS, the episode that set the course for how dark and painful the show would be. SMG pointed to The Pack as the same thing.
  • In response to the “Angel or Spike” question, SMG said “well, he’s sitting on stage.” NB said, “based on the comic, I’d say Willow.” That was SMG’s first thought when she heard about Buffy’s lesbian experience in Season 8, that Buffy and Willow had hooked up.
  • SMG said it was fun playing JM’s sex slave as the Buffybot (she didn’t elaborate on why), and that Hush was the hardest episode to shoot for her. I think JW also said that Hush was the most difficult episode to shoot, that it was really difficult to get the rhythm right without dialogue.
  • Seth Green said OMWF made him cry, but he might have been kidding.
  • David Greenwalt said his favorite movies are Serenity and The Godfather.
  • AB likes to listen to Steve Earl (who happens to be one of my favorite songwriters as well). She’s writing a series of books.
  • I don’t know if he was kidding but David Greenwalt said he isn’t in the business anymore, but would come back in a second if JW called him.
  • NB made a joke about a future project about “Xander the One-eyed Monster.” Seth Green commented that that’s the real monster haunting high schools.
  • AB said she had no idea when she signed on that Tara and Willow would get together, but after just a couple episodes their chemistry became obvious. Even the crew were saying, “you two really have a thing going.” Seth: “A thing we’d like to watch.”
  • JW threatened to quit if WB cut out the kiss from The Body, the only time he used that threat.
  • Tom Lenk was very sweet. I caught up with him as he was leaving and after he’d been mobbed by people for a good 30 minutes and he still smiled and posed with me.
  • Did I mention that AB is gorgeous?
  • As I was walking to the event, I saw a young woman wearing a white prom dress with a black leather jacket over it, ala Prophecy Girl.
  • Several people in the audience didn’t really ask a question but instead spoke of how much the show meant to them, that it helped them grow up and become the people they are today. I wish the Q and A had been longer.
  • As near as I could tell from my vantage point, everybody seemed to very happy to be together on stage.

For me the highlights were SMG, JW and SG. SMG was very sweet and engaging, and it was great to hear her talk at length about how important the character, the show and the fans are to her. JW was, well, JW, and SG is so casually funny. I wish the panel had been longer, which would have given EC and others more time to speak. I also wish I could have gotten there earlier to mingle more with other fans before the event started. And of course, I was hoping there’d be some kind of announcement about a Buffy movie, but alas.

Some more comments, on the showing of OMWF at the Buffy Reunion.

  • Based on what I heard, the overall favorite song is “I’ll Never Tell,” the fans really want Buffy and Spike together, EC is the favorite singer, and there remains an ocean of lustful feelings towards JM.
  • While it was a shame people weren’t singing along, people were clearly enjoying it. There was a lot of laughter and cheering. It really was a treat watching it on a huge screen with an auditorium full of fans. Parts that were particularly great to see on a big screen: the dancing in “I’ll Never Tell,” all the overlapping voices/video of “Walk Through the Fire,” and Spike in “Rest in Peace.” To state the obvious, it would be so cool to be able to watch the entire series in such a venue.
  • There was a big cheer when SMG starting singing “Going Through the Motions.” A lot of laughter throughout “I’ve Got a Theory,” with one of the biggest cheers after EC’s “Bunnies.”
  • Another big cheer for “Mustard,” along with “Parking Ticket.”
  • Not much reaction to “Under Your Spell,” except when AB started levitating. “I’ll Never Tell” got a really big cheer at the end.
  • Big laughs at SMG and JM’s reactions when he started singing “Rest in Peace.” Big (and clearly largely female) cheer when JM did that little “hmmm hmmmm” and gave his patented Gaze of Smoldering Intensity.
  • Another big cheer at the first appearance of Sweet after the combusting tap dancer, but then not much reaction until “Walk Through the Fire” and Buffy kicking down the door to The Bronze.
  • Everyone was dead silent during the “Heaven” part of “Something to Sing About.” Then came another really big cheer for Spike coming to the rescue.
  • Biggest cheer of the night for the kiss.
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7 thoughts on “A Fan’s Report of the 2008 Paley Festival”

  1. [Note: Zaphe posted this comment on December 17, 2009.]

    Mike since your were there first hand, could you please tell if it was JM who said that JW didnt write many of the episodes? JW seemed to be really offended by it.

    Also JM seemed to be really subdue during the whole thing, did audience notice that ???’

    thank you again for your wonderful site and it helps enjoy the series so much more 🙂

    Like

  2. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on December 17, 2009.]

    Zaphe, I was not there. If you read the author at the top or the introduction, it states that Andrew Kern was there. I just put this up on his behalf.

    Like

  3. [Note: Seán posted this comment on November 19, 2010.]

    I know this isn’t by you Mike but what does the acronym ED stand for? I was thinking it was a mistake and the writer meant ASH (Anthony Stewart Head)?

    Like

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