5:09 p.m. "Fringe" didn't leave that many empty seats in Ballroom 20 for the inevitable influx of "True Blood" fans. I wonder if that will impact that tone of the panel, or if we're about to get a straight-up infusion of vampire devotees. Because that would be tremendous. It's not that I expect this to be "Twilight: Part II" (panel-passion-wise), but there had better be a sufficient amount of shrieking.
5:24 p.m. "We are very happy to be able to announce that True Blood the drink is actually a reality now," is Alan Ball's big announcement. Ummm... Ick? "Obviously we couldn't make synthetic blood for human consumption," Ball clarifies.
5:26 p.m. "It's actually a very tasty blood-orange soda," Ball finally admits. OK. See? That I'd drink. It'll be available September 10 in time for your finale viewing parties.
5:28 p.m. A preview reel of upcoming scenes set the crowd all a-squeal. There's a war a-comin' it would appear. We can also await cowboy vampires, more of that critter with the horns, and some MIGHTY unusual changes to Tara. The loudest screams are for Eric and when Bill tells Sookie "Trust Me." And, in our final shot, we see Evan Rachel Wood, face covered with blood. The Vampire Queen says, "Care to join me." It looks like some bloody high drama to come.
5:29 p.m. Cast introductions. It's Anna Paquin's birthday, but the men get the loudest cheers.
5:32 p.m. "She's growing up pretty quickly," Paquin says of Sookie's evolution. "I'm just trying to imagine what it would be like to go through as much as she went through in the two weeks our last season covered.
5:32 p.m. "I think it's very difficult to get away from the rangy Swede at the end of the table, but I'm not sure that Bill is just going to role over and let it happen," Stephen Moyer says of Sookie's possible chemistry with Alexander Skarsgård's Eric. The crowd is happy when Moyer says that Bill may not be so nice. They also like hearing him talk with his native British accent.
5:32 p.m. "I actually make a joke about us having a sign in the writers room that says 'It's the Emotion, Stupid.' We don't actually have that sign," Alan Ball says, continuing to insist on the importance of actual emotions to ground and give a foundation to "the other stuff."
5:34 p.m. "I think the genre gives a lot of freedom to see things that might be possible in the future," Michelle Forbes says of the proliferation of powerful women in genre projects. "It takes a lot of the cliches out of our minds and gives us a level of freedom... It's just a very forgiving genre."
5:35 p.m. Everybody loves Nelsan Ellis. How has Lafayette's world view changed this season? "Well, I think Lafayette's hustle is supreme and he's figured that it's not going to work for him to get him out of this situation," he explains.
5:36 p.m. I wish the moderator would stop talking about how she's written about "True Blood" before and talked to all of these people before.
5:37 p.m. I'm not sure I knew what Charlaine Harris looked like or sounded like. She sounds exactly like I'd have expected her to. She might look a bit different.
5:38 p.m. On Sam's lack of luck in love, Sam Trammell says, "Sam's a real magnet for abuse this year. In a lot of ways. I'm just trying to survive this year."
5:38 p.m. Deborah Ann Woll is a fellow Trojan. And she's pretty fabulously beautiful, even when she admits that she's nervous and picturing all of us in their underwear. She thanks the cast for their moral support in helping her break with her theatre training. Right now, it looks like she's thanking Alexander Skarsgård for his support, mostly.
5:39 p.m. Why is Eric so drawn to Sookie? "Well, just look at her... I'm sorry, Stephen," Skarsgard says. He explains that Sookie is changing the way Eric views humanity and this excites him. Skarsgard's accent is absolutely impossible to parse. It's five things at once.
5:42 p.m. Harris tells us that she just signed a contract to write three more Sookie Stackhouse books. "I don't think I'm that affected by the show, because those are post books that the current plot is hooked to and I'm way beyond that now," she explains, noting the changes in the book. "I hope you all see it as a great opportunity to have two different entertainment experiences.
5:43 p.m. Has Eric become vulnerable this season? And how did that happen? "He is badass, of course, but I'm just happy to... As an actor you can't play the same note for two years. You have to show different layers and go deeper," he says. "He doesn't care for a lot of people, or vampires, but the ones he cares about, he's very loyal to."
5:45 p.m. "I'm just excited that this is a Season Three, even though I don't think it's been officially announced, but it will be soon," Alan Ball says. He says he's looking forward to werewolves and the Mississippi vampires and the character of Debby Pelt. He says, once again, that he can't figure out a way to put Bubba in the show, because it would take us out of the universe, having an Elvis impersonator in the show. The fans STRONGLY disagree.
5:47 p.m. Is there a thing about Eric in pink spandex?
5:48 p.m. Everybody's questions are for Alexander. "If this was in Sweden, this would be in a barn without 35 people and about 25 of them would be named Skarsgard," Eric says, regarding the transition from the Swedish entertainment industry to Hollywood.
5:51 p.m. Wait. Do people actually want to see Sam and Tara together again? "I'd be psyched about that," Trammell says.
5:51 p.m. Stephen Moyer is saluted for an appearance as Prince Valiant. He's amused and embarrassed, adding, "I think some of it's on YouTube as well."
5:52 p.m. What about their characters do they like or dislike the most? The questioner asks everybody, but the moderator wants only one to answer. "I think that she says what she's thinking, even if it's not always a good idea. I like that," Paquin, the designated answerer says. Paquin says that she wishes she didn't have to be a fake blonde. "But aside from that, Sookie and I get along great."
5:54 p.m. Another question for all of the actors. Have their portrayals of the character been influenced by the books? "I felt that the Sookie that was on the page and the script was very much like the Sookie in the books, so it's very hard to unmarry the two," Paquin says. Skarsgard also read the first five books, but says that at some point, you have to make the character your own, to find a path and stick to it. Moyer adds that the actors have influenced the writers to play to their strengths, which has changed the characters in small ways, giving the characters new colors.
5:57 p.m. How much more of a handful will Jessica be for Bill? "As much as they'll let me," Woll says.
5:58 p.m. "Obviously they're all gay lovers and they spend the summers together on Fire Island," Ball cracks regarding the dynamic between Lafayette and Eric. He clarifies that Eric may have plans for Lafayette that we'll hear more about in the future. The relationship between Eric and Godric is "father-brother-son."
6:00 p.m. Teasing jokes about the vampire teeth produces a moment of couple-y cuteness between Moyer and Paquin.
6:01 p.m. Ball says that Jessica needn't necessarily continue to always be a petulant teen forever, if the show runs long enough. "I think everybody's going to go through some changes. The changes have to be organic. They can't just come out of left field."
6:03 p.m. A questioner asks about a half-vampire/half-human baby and the crowd begins yelling "That's 'Twilight.'" Ball looks confused and says, "Ummm, No. In our show, vampires are either full-out vampires or they're not vampires at all."
6:06 p.m. Ball on the show's demo makeup according to early HBO testing: "The women love the romance and love story and the men love the sex and violence and I thought, 'How unusual. That never happens."
6:08 p.m. "This is the most fun I've ever had on a job," Ball says, explain how "True Blood" has impacted his career."
6:09 p.m. Harris on her relationship with Ball, "I don't tell him how to run the show and he does not tell me how to write the books."
6:09 p.m. "When somebody offers you a role when you're standing in the middle of the road naked with a pig You don't say no," says Michelle of what drew her to her role.
6:10 p.m. Harris explains why getting blood fresh from the source is better than just doing "V."
6:11 p.m. The last question is a dud and the "True Blood" panel is over. Thanks for reading!