Tag Archive: Adam Baldwin


By C.J. Bunce

You can spend your weekend at Comic-Con wandering the exhibit floor looking for mass market collectibles, talking with dealers of original art, talking with writers and artists of current and classic comic books, attend panels and see comic and other creators, TV and movie stars and get the low-down on coming projects, go offsite for parties and studio and publisher events–the biggest problem is doing all you want when there is nowhere close to enough time to do it in.  If you’re in for only a few days, you really have to pick up your pace and narrow down what you want to see.  Since I spent a whole day in panels and did not stay for the entire weekend, any encounters I had with creators and studio celebrities were pretty much based on happenstance this year.  Many creators are now friends, others I gawk at like everyone else from afar.  So who did I see?

First of all, in panels I saw the cast of Community, Firefly, and the new series Arrow, including guys I’d love to talk in person someday–Alan Tudyk and Adam Baldwin, David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel from Bones, and the guy you may know as Bud from Married with Children, David Faustino, who is doing voice work now for Nickelodeon, and he voiced the character Mako as part of the Legends of Korra panel.  As I mentioned earlier in the week, waiting in line allowed me to meet and get a photo with Joss Whedon.

The Soup host Joel McHale, Firefly star Nathan Fillion, former Angel star David Boreanaz and Korra’s David Faustino really stood out as funny guys in these panels–surprisingly quick-witted people who got the crowd cheering with everything they said.

I saw the main cast of the Syfy Channel series Haven during their signing session.  They really looked like they were having a good time–like they really get along with each other.  Also signing in the Sails Pavilion were Richard Anderson, who was the classic character Oscar Goldman from one of borg.com’s favorite borg shows: The Six Million Dollar Man, and Cindy Morgan from the original Tron and Caddyshack.  I hoped to run into Bruce Boxleitner, JK Woodward and Scott and David Tipton but my panel schedule caused me to miss meeting them.

On the exhibit floor I watched Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk) and Kevin Sorbo (Hercules) talk with fans and sign autographs.

Arnold Schwarzenegger was coming into the hall and I staked out a photo op location but his handlers moved him out of the hall so I missed seeing him.

As a Star Trek fan, I was very happy to finally meet and have a nice conversation with Brent Spiner.  He was a great guy who was as nice in person as you’d hope him to be from years of watching his lovable character Data.  I also had a brief chat at day’s end with Levar Burton, also a friendly guy, signing photos of Geordi LaForge for fans.  I’d met Marina Sirtis before so I didn’t chat with her this round, but she was also signing Counselor Deanna Troi photos in the hall.

Earlier this year I reviewed Table Top, a new, fun Web series hosted by Wil Wheaton with the Geek and Sundry creators.  I met him near a Starbucks and shared my feedback with him on his show.  We talked about some of the games and he graciously introduced me to his wife and friends.

Wheaton is truly “one of us” and a really personable guy.  Of everyone at the Con, he is probably my first pick of someone you’d like to wander the Con halls and chat with.  Another show host, Blair Butler was attending the Con from the popular genre cable channel G4.

Of the comic book realm, I met Cat Skaggs, a well-known comic book artist who was signing cover prints to Smallville Season 11 #1 and she sketched a great Green Arrow bust for me.

I also met Neal Adams–a comic book legend who created the look of the Silver Age Green Arrow and I finally was able to add one of his sketches to my folio.  Neal was sketching non-stop for fans just like the newer, younger artists in Artist Alley–a real “working artist” even after all these years.

I ran into my friend Freddie Williams II also, and he also was busy sketching for fans throughout the Con and selling original art from his various DC Comics series.

David Petersen, known best for his Mouse Guard work, was working on commissions for attendees and selling shirts and art at his booth in Artist Alley.  I also lucked into getting a sketch from him and enjoyed talking with his wife, who manned the booth when he was doing signings elsewhere.

I ran into Frank Cho again this year and he said he is still expecting to get Guns & Dinos out soon.  He was selling a great pin-up calendar featuring Brandy and the Liberty Meadows gang.  More on that in future posts.  A nominee for the Eisner in two categories this year, Rachel Rising creator Terry Moore was busy talking with fans.

As with last year, Jim Lee could be found at several panels and signing throughout Comic-Con.

As with Freddie Williams, I met up with several folks from back in the Midwest.  I ran into artist Ande Parks and met his wife, while hanging with Sean and William from Elite Comics and Chris Jackson who runs Planet Comicon.  Parks was chatting with his frequent cover artist Francesco Francavilla, this year’s Eisner cover artist of the year winner, and someone we have talked about here at borg.com all year long for his great cover art.  I ran into Star Trek author Kevin Dilmore twice on the exhibit floor–my third year seeing Kevin at the Con.  It’s crazy how you can be in your hometown and never run into anyone, and then fly to San Diego and see so many people from back home.

Before midnight Thursday night Firefly fans were already lined up for Ballroom 20 at the San Diego Convention Center.  I say Firefly fans not because I interviewed them all, but because it was well known why most of them were waiting in line, despite the fact that the panels in the same room included the cast of the TV series Community, Korra, Bones, and Arrow.  I would wager I was the only person there in line to see the pilot for the new fall TV series Arrow, among maybe 7,000 people by the time the doors opened, who stood in line for the day of panels in the big hall.  I’m a lifelong Green Arrow fan, and I could hardly profess being the #1 Green Arrow fan around and miss the Arrow panel.  But if you’re a sci-fi fan of one franchise you’re a sci-fi fan of all, and I’d received advance press releases about the Firefly reunion and thought it sounded like a big deal so I was really curious about it.  I also am a fan of Adam Baldwin from his My Bodyguard days through Chuck as well as actor Alan Tudyk.

Because it was my first year with Comic-Con press credentials I flew out anyway with friends (sadly without my spousal unit who stayed behind) and met up with my old friend and borg.com writer Jason McClain.  Everyone turned in early Thursday night by my standards.  The bus stop at Petco Field had changed which led me to walk by the front of the convention center and about 200 uber-fans already camped out and many fast asleep around 12:30 a.m. Friday.  After a few weeks of 100 degree temperatures in the Midwest it occurred to me how nice the cool sea breeze felt.  I like to sleep on a firm mattress–the harder the better.  Hmm… how bad is sleeping on cement anyway?  I initially had no intention of visiting any panels this year but figured I’d just hang out in the exhibit hall for the weekend.  Why not see what this camping out at the Con thing is all about?  I headed to my hotel and on the bus met folks on their way back to the center for the Firefly panel.  Nowhere close to feeling like winding down for the night I took a shower, changed into my Friday clothes, grabbed some extra shirts and headed back on the bus toward downtown at about 1 a.m.

One to two hundred more people were in line and I caught up with the people from St. Louis I met on the bus.  I nestled in with my backpack as a pillow under a palm tree on some nice lawn turf.  Not so bad!  New friends Cody and Sam even offered me their hotel pillows.  The night life was surprisingly peaceful, a true Zen moment.  Back in the line everyone was still bustling but gradually teetering on the edge of sleep.  Conversations about where neighbors in line were from and what they did and what they like.  Who they were, what they were doing, where they were going.  Why they liked The Walking Dead.  Why they didn’t like The Walking Dead.  The low murmur of card playing and conversation lulled by the hour until a kid started running down the line at 3 a.m. shouting “Joss Whedon just stopped by the front of the line!”

No one really believed it, but likewise, if Whedon really was there no one wanted to miss seeing him.  People got up one by one to walk toward the front of the line.  A trusting crowd, people left their things behind–the only time you could get away with this in any city on Earth.  Expecting at best to see Whedon with a series of “handlers,” instead there he was talking one by one with folks in the line.  Soon everyone mobbed around him, and what you’d think would be one-off photos with a few fans, he soon was taking photos with anyone who asked, meanwhile autographing copies of Firefly DVDs and Comic-Con badges for those who had nothing else to get signed.  Sensitive to the sleepers, he said he didn’t think he should wake them up.  I (and others) thought they’d feel pretty lousy later finding out they missed seeing him and we walked ahead waking people up.  He leaned in on several people who awakened with looks of not knowing where they were or who this guy was who was talking to them.  It was quite funny to see.  We were all really caught offguard.

At best when celebrities show up to meet “the people on the street” they shake a few hands, have their publicity moment, the camera lights dim and they jump in their car in drive away.   Like when U.S. Presidents who stop their cavalcade to shake a few hands.  In this case, Whedon did something I’d never seen or heard of before.  He went through the entire line and acknowledged everyone, which took at least a half an hour.  And there was no camera crew there.  In fact I have seen no major press coverage of his visit at all.  I and a crew from a Southern California magazine were probably the only thing close to press around.  The energy was palpable.  Exciting doesn’t come close.  This guy just directed The Avengers, the new top selling movie of all time and the best reviewed superhero flick in decades.  He created Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the best vampire franchise ever with a phenomenal fan base in its own right.  But for his past shows he hadn’t done this before.  Firefly, his own concocted western story set in outer space, clearly holds a special place for Whedon.

You can tell from the quiet and nervous crowd laughter that folks were pretty surprised.  Check out this video by one of my 5,000 new friends that I didn’t get to meet, who just happened take footage of me getting a photo taken with Whedon that I stumbled across on YouTube (THANKS, whoever you are!):

And I may look a little presumptious stepping in for a photo but trust me, we all took turns rotating in for a photo or autograph.  That’s what he was there for.  No one asked him typical celebrity questions.  It was all pretty quiet and everyone half asleep.  I did hear someone shout out “How about doing a Wonder Woman movie next time?”

Your own photo with Joss Whedon? Priceless.

The constellations aligned just right for this day, and after Whedon went on to his hotel no one could get back to sleep.  We heard he made this stop to our line on his way back to his hotel after a late ending party.  Not thinking I’d need any technology on this outing I worked with the gang from the SoCal magazine to get photos uploaded and online.  See my 3:30 a.m. photos posted here.  (Thanks for letting me use your laptop, guys!).

My new friends from a SoCal magazine.

And so we waited and talked.  For nine more hours.  And it never got boring.  I didn’t even bring a book to read.  You may have read before about visitors to Comic-Con.  One hundred and fifty thousand like-minded, self-professed geeks and nerds (and all proud of it), you will find no better community anywhere.  Folks watched out for each other.  The convention security staff opened the doors for restroom and water fountain visits.  You can’t imagine a more peaceful assemblage of thousands of people with a common cause–not only having fun for fun’s sake, but believing in being part of something bigger.  I connected with a few great guys from near my hometown in Iowa who sat next to me in the ballroom.  The community aspect came through in what Whedon would talk about during the panel.  “When you’re telling a story, you are trying to connect to people in a particular way.  It’s not just about what you want to say, it’s about inviting them into a world and the way in which you guys have inhabited this world, this universe, have made you part of it, part of the story.  You are living in Firefly.  When I see you guys I don’t think the show is off the air.  I don’t think there’s a show.  I think that’s what the world is like.”

New friend Sam, a high school junior from St. Louis. And that Joss Whedon guy.

Later at the Con I connected with long-time Star Trek chronicler Larry Nemecek (author of books on Star Trek: The Next Generation and the First Contact film) and he thought Firefly’s fan base reminded him of the fan base that kept the original Star Trek series on the air.  And that is all that these fans want–for the series to return–just like those Star Trek fans that ended up being successful back in the 1960s.  Clearly from the series cast, they want the same thing.  If any modern fan base could make it happen I wouldn’t be surprised if it were these guys, many sporting Adam Baldwin/Jayne’s motherly-knitted orange hat, these fans define the fanatic.

Originally billed as a reunion of the whole cast, a few didn’t make it, but it didn’t affect the mood of the crowd.  The panel featured Nathan Fillion (Mal), Adam Baldwin (Jayne), Summer Glau (River), Alan Tudyk (Wash), Sean Maher (Simon), writer Jose Molina, writer/director Tim Minear and creator Joss Whedon.

When Baldwin walked on stage, it was like Elvis or Michael Jackson or the Beatles arrived.  It was a roar like no other and he strode across the stage with a great smile and his arms raised, soaking it all in.  He later pulled out an orange knitted cap, replica to the one he wore on the series as the character Jayne, a hat that he later gave to a girl in the crowd.  Clearly a now-defining prop for Baldwin and Firefly fans, he acknowledged what such a prop could do for an actor.  “This hat is a goldmine.  It’s like a birthday cake in a wasteland,” he said.  He mentioned he auctioned off the real hat for thousands of dollars for a charity, which received applauds from the crowd.

Meeting Whedon earlier in the day made the ballroom event that much more energized.  Many in the crowd said Whedon “was one of us.”  By the end of the panel, nary a dry eye was in the house.  Whatever this Firefly energy and this 10th anniversary reunion was about, no one, including the cast and creator Whedon, wanted this to end.   The first to start getting choked up was series star Nathan Fillion when the cast described why he, the actor, was the right captain for the production.  He said Mal was “the best character I ever played” and “If I can get through this without crying, it’ll look a lot cooler.”  Whedon added “There was never a moment from the time we met when he wasn’t the captain.”

The Q&A was energetic and funny.  A fan asked for each of the panelists to describe their craziest fan story.  Writer/director Tim Minnear responded, “That time we were off the air for 10 years and thousands of fans showed up like it was yesterday.”

“Everything we were doing was for the right reasons, with the right people, that we were making something that was more than the sum of its parts.  That I had the best cast I will ever work with.”  He added in deadpan, “We also had Alan,” referring to actor Alan Tudyk, known for playing hilarious characters like Wat in the movie A Knight’s Tale.

One member of the audience asked if an animated version was possible.  The answer was in the negative but Fillion suggested he’d like to do a radio version and started to make special effects sounds with his hands, and he and Tudyk performed an ad libbed, brilliantly funny scene.

“The 27 people that saw it when it aired loved it,” Whedon said of the series, referring to his fans comprised in large part of people who were much younger when the series first aired and have only seen the series on DVD.

One bit started by actor Simon Maher replayed an old Christopher Walken Saturday Night Live bit, to cheers from the crowd:

Maher:  I think you might have a fever.
Fillion:  The only cure is more Firefly.

Fans who missed the convention would have liked what was probably the best question of the night:  “What if there would have been a Season 2 instead of the movie?”   Whedon answered:  “It would’ve been littler.  Most of the Reavers would’ve been off-screen [dramatizing large actions scenes off-camera with his arms].  I don’t think I would have killed anybody.”  At that point Alan Tudyk’s arms shot up in triumph, causing laughs.  (Tudyk’s character was ultimately killed off in the film).  Whedon continued: “I think we would’ve delved more into the Blue Sun conspiracy, which we had to drop.  And we would’ve learned about Book and about Inara.  For some reason, that’s the question that’s going to make me cry.”

Whedon said he felt bad that the missing actresses from the cast were unable to attend the reunion panel.  Only actress Summer Glau was on the night’s panel, and she seemed to be holding back a lot of emotion.

Comic-Con is over for another year.  I ended up going about 44 hours without sleep.  All worth it.  Time to think about getting tickets for next year.  Costumes to create.  Finding a hotel again.  What panels the show organizers can come up with to top this one.  I think I’ll ask my mom to knit me an orange hat.

To understand why a series like Firefly has such a loyal following, and what fan loyalty is all about, you need only look to Joss Whedon and his visit to a bunch of people on a sidewalk outside a convention center in San Diego in July.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg

Although San Diego Comic-Con International hasn’t posted its programming list for this year’s convention, production companies and publishers are now locking in panels and notifying Accredited Comic-Con press badge holders (including borg.com writers Jason McClain and C.J. Bunce).  The Discovery Communications channel Science just announced that it will reunite the cast of Firefly for the TV series 10th anniversary, which should be a pretty successful panel.  Some of the actors for the series appeared in San Diego last year at the Nerd HQ event hosted by Zachary Levi in the Gaslight District (we’ll release more information on this year’s Nerd HQ line-up as information becomes available).

The Firefly reunion event will take place Friday July 13, 2012 at 12:30 p.m.–1:30 p.m. in Room 20.

Series creator, executive producer and writer Joss Whedon is scheduled to appear along with executive producer and writer Tim Minear and cast members Nathan Fillion, Alan Tudyk, Adam Baldwin, Sean Maher, Michael Fairman and other actors yet to be announced.

Science also announced that Fringe, Dark Matters, and Lord of the Rings actor John Noble will be signing autographs at the Con on Saturday, July 15, 2012, between 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.  Noble will also be on a panel hosted by Warner Brothers on Sunday July 15.  Every Fringe event last year had a huge following, so plan to line-up early if you want to see any of the above events.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

It’s only four days until Free Comic Book Day is here again, and comic book publishers have several interesting issues planned for this year.  Free Comic Book Day is always about getting new people into the local stores to check out all that comics have to offer.  So plan to grab someone and take them in to check it all out.  Use it as your excuse to buy Issue #1 of several new DC Comics “New 52” titles scheduled to be released this week.  Or make a day of it and drag your friends to see The Avengers at your local theater after you pick up your free comics.

Tons of comic book writers and artists–creators we have been talking about all year at borg.com–will be on hand across the country (and beyond) to sign autographs.  Just check out this partial list, including many of this year’s Eisner Award nominees:

Ed Brubaker (Sleeper, Captain America) in Canoga Park, California; actor Burt Ward (Robin from the 1960s series) in Los Angeles; Philip Tan (Savage Hawkman) in Rancho Cucamonga, California; Gail Simone (Batgirl), Amanda Connor (Green Arrow) and Chuck Dixon (Batman, Green Arrow) in Port Richey, Florida; George Perez (Crisis on Infinite Earths) and Greg Horn (Ms. Marvel) in Sanford, Florida; Mike Norton (Battlepug, Green Arrow) in Chicago; Mark Waid (Kingdom Come, Irredeemable) in Muncie, Indiana; David Petersen (MouseGuard) in Lowell, Massachusetts, and Rochester, New Hampshire; David Wenzel (The Hobbit graphic novel artist) in Worcester, Massachusetts; Jason Aaron (Wolverine, Avengers vs X-Men) in St. Louis, Missouri; actor Adam Baldwin (Chuck, Firefly) in Omaha, Nebraska; Francesco Francavilla (The Lone Ranger) in Charlotte, North Carolina; actor Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters, Psych, Law and Order), in Hilliard, Ohio; Jeffrey Moy (Star Trek/Legion of Superheroes) in Madison, Wisconsin; and Nicola Scott (Earth 2) and Ardian Syaf (Batgirl) in Singapore.

And there are plenty of interesting free comic book issues offered exclusively Saturday.  Check out these titles:

   

   

   

   

Definitely something for everyone, and for all ages.

Comic book stores typically have other things planned, too, like giveaways, and specials on back issues, even cake.  More details and a store locator can be found at the official Free Comic Book Day website.  Don’t forget to check it out–it’s just four days away!

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

Zachary Levi (Chuck on the TV series Chuck) took over Jolt’n Joe’s Restaurant in San Diego’s Gaslight District and during Comic-Con weekend he sold tickets to the public to benefit Operation Smile, a charity that helps children born with cleft palates.  Ultimately his “Nerd HQ,” along with selling nerd merchandising for Levi’s new enterprise, was able to collect more than $40,000 for the charity.  Nice work!

Over the weekend, the small venue of about 250 seats hosted members of the casts of Chuck, Psych, and Firefly, including Dule Hill and Adam Baldwin, and chats with Dominic Monaghan (Lord of the Rings, Lost), Scott Bakula, Zachary Quinto (Star Trek 2009, Heroes), and members of his new company, Seth Green (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), and Jared Padalecki (Supernatural), as well as video game companies who co-marketed the event.

We attended the conversation with Scott Bakula and with maybe half the room filled, the intimate setting allowed for a lot of interaction. Unlike a lot of other panels with celebrities, Bakula was just plain fun. You could see that Scott was an actor who doesn’t take himself too seriously, yet he is serious about his craft.

Scott discussed his first major hit, Quantum Leap, and described the changes in special effects technology in that series versus today.  Back then he said he would literally have to freeze in place while his co-star Dean Stockwell would run into place–all to create the image of Stockwell’s character seeming to beam into the frame from the future.  Today, Bakula said that the director would film straight through and add the effects in later.  He said for fun, if you watch old Quantum Leap episodes pay attention to the extras in the background and you will notice they also jerk to a stop as part of the then “cutting edge” special effects.  The greatest challenge (and joy) of the show for Scott was working with an entirely new crew each week (since only he and Stockwell had a recurring role)–including literally thousands of actors–that appeared over the course of the series.

Bakula said he was proud of Quantum Leap and is glad a new generation can watch the series through technologies like DVDs and streaming media.  His favorite episode?  When he just played himself, going back and forth in time, including meeting his own father.

Similarly, Bakula said he enjoyed making the Star Trek series Enterprise.  He said he believed that in any other franchise five seasons would be a successful series, but for some reason in the Star Trek franchise you’re not considered a success if you don’t make it seven seasons.  He said part of the reason could be attributed to the tenor of the show in light of the post-9-11 landscape.  Originally sold as a light-hearted exploration show, the producers did not believe the audience at the time wanted to see escapist entertainment.  Instead the series became darker with more conflict.  While it worked and was more appropriate to the mood of the country, Bakula believe it led to the cancellation of the series.  He said ultimately “it hurt us” in terms of the longevity of the show. 

Bakula appeared earlier in the day on a panel with William Shatner and other former Star Trek captains at a Comic-Con panel about Shatner’s new documentary, where each captain is interviewed about his or her experiences.  Bakula said it’s a little hard not to pick up Shatner’s unique, abrupt dialogue timing after speaking with Shatner for an hour and answered the next question in Shatnerspeak.

Both Bakula and the audience had only just received word that Scott’s current series, Men of a Certain Age (co-starring Ray Romano and Andre Braugher) was cancelled by TNT.  It was clear that even this audience of genre fans followed Bakula in his new series and were disappointed in the news.  Bakula briefly explained how new criteria govern whether a show stays or goes, and that the days of following just one set of Nielsen’s ratings is long past.  With the advent of DVRs and similar technologies, where viewers may not watch a current program for 7 or 14 days out, the calculation of a show’s success is more difficult and arbitrary and ultimately each network has its own criteria.  He said for example, had Men of a Certain Age have aired on the AMC channel, it would probably have been renewed for another season.  He said Men of a Certain Age was TNT’s first in-house drama, and that may have played a factor in the show’s cancellation.

When Zack Levi introduced Bakula, he mentioned Bakula’s most recent genre role, that of his father on the TV series Chuck.  Levi noted the oddity of Bakula standing in the back of the room with Levi’s real dad, Daryl.  This all led later on to a duet from the stage show Godspell (which both had previously appeared in) by Bakula and Levi, both hamming it up in stage show style.

Bakula noted that his first love was the stage, and stage acting was preferable to him over TV and movie work, and his favorite work was any role where he gets to sing.

Bakula’s advice for everyone, actors or not, was far-reaching:  It’s important to stay passionate in your craft, even when your TV show gets cancelled.  Find what you love about acting or what you do and concentrate on that–that the only part you can control is the performance.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com