<p>HBO's 'True Blood'</p>
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HBO's 'True Blood'

Credit: HBO

Comic-Con Live-Blog: HBO's 'True Blood'

All manner of vampire, werewolf and witch talk from Ballroom 20

After a long mid-afternoon break, it's time for a little more live-blogging action featuring the witches, werewolves and, of course, vampires of HBO's "True Blood."

Click through for all the fun...

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<p>Kaley Cuoco and Jim Parsons of 'The Big Bang Theory'</p>
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Kaley Cuoco and Jim Parsons of 'The Big Bang Theory'

Credit: CBS

Comic-Con Live-Blog: CBS' 'The Big Bang Theory'

What excitement will the CBS comedy panel hold? Let's find out!

I've never live-blogged a Comic-Con panel for "The Big Bang Theory" before. But they're usually quite fun. So let's see how this goes... Worst that happens? I won't live-blog next year's "BBT" Comic-Con panel...

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<p>&nbsp;The zombies of 'Walking Dead'</p>
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 The zombies of 'Walking Dead'

Credit: AMC

Comic-Con Live-Blog: AMC's 'The Walking Dead'

What's on tap for Season 2 of the zombie favorite

It's Comic-Con Friday and the line for Ballroom 20 wrapped down stairs, around the Marina and practically to Mexico. 

Up first on my live-blogging docket? A little zombie show called "The Walking Dead."

Don't expect many spoilers, but click through for the full recap...

11:24 a.m. Chris Hardwick is our moderator. He welcomes Frank Darabont, Gale Anne Hurd, Robert Kirkman (loud applause) and Greg Nicotero.

11:24 a.m. Gale Anne Hurd announces that Season 2 of "The Walking Dead" will premiere on Sunday, October 16 at 9 p.m.

11:26 a.m. Once again, "Walking Dead" will be a part of AMC's "Fear Fest" block. 

11:26 a.m. Robert Kirman heard about negotiations with AMC after Darabont and Hurd made the pitch. "You've got to hand it to AMC for being a network that had the vision to try something this crazy." They note the number of networks that didn't have the vision to do this. "And now they all want a zombie show," Darabont cracks.

11:27 a.m. "I was doing the comic and thinking 'Well, I'll always be doing the comic,'" Kirkman says, recalling the years of pitching "Walking Dead" in other mediums. 

11:27 a.m. Chris Hardwick makes it clear that he loves "Dream Warriors," calling it his favorite "Nightmare on Elm Street." Darabont goes into a story of writing the script with Chuck Russell in a cabin in Big Bear. They wrote the script three weeks before "Dream Warriors" began shooting. And now you know!

11:29 a.m. "When I grew up in Pittsburgh, I just assume that everybody loved zombies," Nicotero says. "With this, we were really determined to follow the spirit of the art work and push things further," Nicotero adds, saying that he goes so far as to cast every single zombie performer. There's a zombie school in Atlanta where they train the extras on how to be zombies. That's not a nice thing to call Emory! [I kid. I kid.]

11:31 a.m. "You can shoot me in the face!" Hardick gushes, saying he'd love to play a zombie.

11:32 a.m. Hardwick tells a story about scaring people at a party by loudly explaining how "Walking Dead" was a realistic depiction of a zombie apocalypse. "But you're no stranger to scaring girls away," Kirkman interjects.

11:34 a.m. "It's a bit of pressure knowing that everybody loves the show. And there's expectation now," Kirkman says, adding that those expectations have "empowered us to try harder." Darabont adds, "This year we have a room of writers who know the show."

11:35 a.m. "Partner with the most talented people you can find. Three of them are sitting up here. If you can do that and you have great underlying source material, that's what a producer does," Gale Anne Hurd advises.

11:36 a.m. Comic-Con premiere trailer. Here's what we see: POV shot of Jon Bernthal running. Very intense. And behind him? An army of zombies. He fires a shotgun aggressively. Empty city streets. Flashback to what Rick experienced when he came out of his coma. And the events of last season. We're leaving Atlanta. "The end of civilization... Was just the beginning." We're on the road. "The strain of survival... Takes its toll." Several people from the core group are splitting off. Tensions. An explosion. A breakdown on the road in a traffic jam. And here come the zombies. Lots and lots of zombies. A set piece in a sea of stalled cars. Pretty evocative. Hey, a quote from HitFix! Gotta see if it was my review or Sepinwall's. 

11:42 a.m. It was Sepinwall's review.

11:42 a.m. The cast finally comes out. They all come out together, so I can't tell you who got the most applause. Harwick asks if this is Andrew Lincoln's first Con. He replies, "This is my second Con, but it's still just as scary."

11:44 a.m. "It's the greatest job I've ever been involved in and it just keeps getting better and better," Lincoln says. Sorry, "Love Actually."

11:44 a.m. "You work as hard on a failure as you do on a success," Sarah Wayne Callies says. And yet she still was excited when the numbers came out and they got another season. "They're the best television scripts I've ever seen," Callies says of the Season Two scripts. "The most dangerous things out there are the monsters inside," Callies says of the season's theme.

11:46 a.m. "Every stage of the way, every person I've met... have just only made this better and better and it has been capped by you, because I think that the 'Walking Dead' fans are the best in the world," Bernthal says, calling "Walking Dead" fans the "smartest" and "most badass."

11:48 p.m. "Every script is gold. I'm working with my friends who are so good at what they do and I think you're going to be so thrilled. If you're a fan of the 'Walking Dead' graphic novel, I think you're going to be so thrilled this season," Laurie Holden says.

11:50 a.m. When asked about his character's up-beat attitude, Jeffrey DeMunn says, "I guess he's just so terribly nearsighted he doesn't realize the trouble he's in." Frank Darabont called Jeffrey DeMunn and said, "Hey Jeff, how'd you like to come down to Atlanta to kill zombies?" And DeMunn said yes.

11:52 a.m. "You wake up. You do a tick check.. check for ticks... You just check everywhere... You check for ticks. You go to work. You take it all in. You sweat your butt off and then you go home and do another tick check," says Steven Yeun on his daily routine. Apparently ticks are a major problem on the "Walking Dead" set. "There's ticks where we shoot. And sometimes, you know, they're small. You don't notice them. One of them climbed... my mountain... and planted a flag... right on the peak... of my mountain," Yeun elaborates. Yup. That's just about enough information. Perhaps too much. Maybe.

11:54 a.m. The crowd loves Norman Reedus, who bought himself a big truck that gets him approving glances from "rednecks" down South. He loves Georgia. "I may never leave," he says. And the best part of Reedus' job? "Dude, I run around with a crossbow and shoot zombies in the brain."

11:56 a.m. "Robert Kirkman, you did my podcast a few months ago," Hardwick begins. "Are we plugging your podcast now?" Kirkman interjects. The purpose of the intro is Kirkman's confession that in the event of a real zombie apocalypse, he'd kill himself. "Yeah, I'd jump off a bridge," Kirkman says. Hurd says, "Read the comic book, learn the rules."

11:58 a.m. Any Season 2 teases? "It picks up about five seconds in an overlap with the end of the first season. It's literally them driving away from the CDC. There's not of this bulls*** 'Six Months Later' stuff," Darabont teases.

11:59 a.m. First crowd question is about possible casting on Michonne and The Governor. Robert Kirkman suggests "Ed O'Neill" for both roles, because he wants to meet him. "And my second go-to is John Stamos," Kirkman jokes. Darabont adds, "We're actually having those conversations as we speak."

12:01 p.m. Do any of the actors do their own stunts? "I did pretty much all my stunts apart from taking my horse down. Even the driving and I only learned to drive four years ago," Lincoln says. Jon Bernthal hedges, but adds, "We do as much as we can ourselves. It's an incredibly game group of actors and an incredibly game crew. Best crew in the world." "When you get bruises and cuts, it's like you've earned your day. It's like your war wounds," Holden says.

12:03 p.m. Reedus is asked which is weirder, "Walking Dead" or working on a video with Lady Gaga. "By far this is the best and the weirdest. It doesn't get much weirder than this, so I'd say this one. I love Gaga, though. She's super-cool," Reedus says.

12:04 p.m. What advice does Greg Nicotero have? "Just constantly document what you do," Nicotero have. You have to study what people have done before and what people are doing now. Nicotero got a complimentary phone call from Rick Baker about the makeup on "The Walking Dead," which he called "astounding." 

 

12:07 p.m. "I've done 800 movies, this is one of the best projects, because I get to be with these people every day," Nicotero says.

12:08 p.m. "He is going to blow your mind this year," teases Callies about the performance by the actor playing young Carl this season.

12:09 p.m. Robert Kirkman apologizes for not taking Andrew Lincoln to a Cracker Barrel while he's been in the South.

12:11 p.m. "I think the plan is to get there but it's not something we can rush. We have to take our time with it," Kirkman says of the evolution of Lincoln's Rick versus the evolution of Rick in the comic.

12:12 p.m. The fake blood doesn't taste gross. It's just corn syrup. But the stuff that gives zombies their black teeth takes disgusting. "There are little black puddles all over the set," Nicotero says. They've streamlined the zombie-making process. It only only requires 90 minutes to prep a hero zombie.

12:14 p.m. The last question is about Jeffrey DeMunn and his theater work. "The two disciplines feed each other is the one thing I can say," DeMunn says, noting that doing theater tunes up the memory as well. "They add an energy to each other, but beyond that, I have no idea how 'Death of a Salesman' helps you kill a zombie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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<p>Sarah Michelle Gellar of 'Ringer'</p>
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Sarah Michelle Gellar of 'Ringer'

Credit: The CW

Sarah Michelle Gellar returns to Comic-Con for The CW's 'Ringer'

Fans were also happy to see Nestor Carbonell back
SAN DIEGO - If "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" were still airing today, it would be a Comic-Con institution. Fans would pack the biggest available ballrooms to see Joss Whedon and the Scooby Gang. Even years after its cancellation, "Buffy" fandom still holds a powerful sway over many or most fan conventions and even margin supporting players can draw a crowd for their new projects.
 
Much was made of Sarah Michelle Gellar's triumphant return to Comic-Con on Thursday (July 21) afternoon, but she'd only made one prior appearance and it wasn't even "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"-related, but rather for "The Grudge."
 
"Oh, I love it here. It's like a Super Bowl Weekend of parties," Gellar told an adoring audience gathered ostensibly for her CW drama "Ringer." 
 
While most new shows appearing down in San Diego for Comic-Con are screening their pilots, "Ringer" opted to make its bones with only a brief clip package, choosing to dedicate its panel time to exposition-heavy moderation and to allowing Gellar to be properly adored by the masses.
 
It was a strategy that mostly worked (almost certainly a smarter bet than wasting 45 minutes on the pilot). Highlights after the break...
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<p>Michael C. Hall of 'Dexter'</p>
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Michael C. Hall of 'Dexter'

Credit: Showtime

Comic-Con Live-Blog: Showtime's 'Dexter'

Michael C. Hall, 'Dexter' co-stars and producers spill a few beans

It's been a busy day of live-blogging. Two "Breaking Dawn" press conferences. One really super panel for HBO's "Game of Thrones."

Now? Showtime takes up the whole late-afternoon with panels for "Dexter," "Homeland" and "Shameless." "Dexter" is a Comic-Con staple at this point, but it'll be interesting to see how Con audiences respond to the other two... 

6:15 p.m. Not surprisingly, Showtime put "Shameless" and "Homeland" first, keeping people around until "Dexter."

6:30 p.m. The "Homeland" panel ends with Morena Baccarin taking a picture of us.

6:31 p.m. "Dexter" likes having associated games. This fall, the new game "Slice of Life" will premiere.

6:33 p.m. Time to watch the first trailer for the new season of "Dexter." We start with Dexter getting ready to do his Dexter thing to a religious fundamentalist. Cut to "Person Jesus" as an always-awesome music cue. Brief glimpse of Edward James Olmos. Brief glimpse of Mos Def. Brief glimpse of Colin Hanks. Not sure I got much of a feeling for the season. But it was still creepy.

6:37 p.m. Lame Casey Anthony joke from moderator Ralph Garman.

6:38 p.m. Huge applause for C.S. Lee. He's Harry Tang, darnit. 

6:38 p.m. "I can neither confirm nor deny any involvement in the 'Dexter' television program," says Colin Hanks, who will be playing a character named Travis Marshall. "You're going to see some stuff this season that you have not seen in previous seasons. It's going to be exciting and I may or may not be a part of it," says Hanks, who calls working on "Dexter" a treat

6:40 p.m. Harrison's getting older. "He's a lot heavier," Michael C. Hall says. He says that the actors playing Harrison have learned the concept of "No." Hall says that "a big engine" at the beginning of the season is Harrison evolving from infancy into a little boy. Dexter decides he has to give Harrison some sort of "spiritual grounding."

6:41 p.m. Producer Sara Colleton says that part of this season's journey for "Dexter" and Dexter involves our anti-hero's attempts to define faith. "It's done in true 'Dexter' style, so it's a lot of fun and it's through is prism," Colleton says.

6:43 p.m. Hall says that last season's Lumen storyline allowed Dexter to atone for his guilt involving Rita's death. Hall teases that this season picks up a year later and Dexter is "back to his killing ways."

6:44 p.m. James Remar says that Harry spends much of the season as a sounding board or a Devil's advocate. "Harry's there," he says.

6:45 p.m. "Matsuka loves you too," C.S. Lee says to the pleased crowd. He teases that Matsuka has some interns this season, "women and men." There's a Facebook tie-in to the intern search. Naturally. "He possibly, maybe, probably does get into some trouble with some interns," Lee says.

6:47 p.m. The first audience question is if The Trinity Killer will ever return. The "Dexter" team is confused. "You've gotta pick and choose your ghosts," Hall says, though he admits he'd love to find a way to work again with John Lithgow.

6:48 p.m. Dexter will be concerned that Harrison will inherit certain traits. Which we knew. Or maybe I'm just confusing it with the Arlene's Devil Baby subplot on "True Blood" this season. 

6:49 p.m. "Fortunately, we've achieved a certain amount of cache with the show," says Scott Buck of attracting guest stars.

6:50 p.m. Will they be touching on anymore of the books? They have to answer this one every year. Sara Colleton explains, as she always does, that they only acquired the rights to the first book and that they've evolved their own Dexter from there. "We don't even need the books," she says.

6:50 p.m. Which seasons were their favorites? "My favorite season is yet to come, because Matsuka and Debra have yet to get married," Lee says. Nobody else gets to answer.

6:51 p.m. There's a question that has the entire audience thinking the fan wants Dexter to kill Godzilla. But instead she wants Dexter to kill a general from Burma.

6:53 p.m. "Dexter" is an improvisation-free zone.

6:53 p.m. Is Michael C. Hall concerned that "Dexter" is educating future serial killers? "I don't think the show is any kind of manual," Hall says, pointing out that there are always plot holes. "He obviously has the power of invisibility. He can turn himself into smoke. There's all sorts of things we don't see. No. I don't think the show is any kind of guidebook on how to do it. It's more of a fantasy."

6:54 p.m. "Deb is very smart, but Dexter's smarter," Buck says regarding the obligatory question about whether/if Deb is about to find out about Dexter.

6:55 p.m. Question from East Long Beach, where the show films. Everybody's excited by the names of locations. "We've eaten all the meat off the bone of Long Beach," Hall admits.

6:58 p.m. "I'd like to thank my fellow actors for all of the inorganic pauses Dexter takes," jokes Hall of the character's frequent internal monologues. 

6:58 p.m. "My question is for C.S. Lewis..." Everybody laughs at the fan. The fan seems unaware that anything was misspoken.

7:00 p.m. MOS DEF is in the audience! Asking a question! He's wondering if he can join the panel on stage. I believe he's just Mos now. Anyway, he comes up on stage. 

7:00 p.m. Do people give Hall funny looks at the super market? "I give it back to them and I've gotten a lot of free groceries as a result."

7:01 p.m. What can Mos tell us about his character, Brother Sam? "I could, but then Dexter would kill me."

7:01 p.m. I've heard Hall give the answer about his compulsions, which don't involve actually committing murder himself, at least a half-dozen times.

7:01 p.m. Nobody has an end date in mind for "Dexter." Hall adds, "But that time will come. Everything has to end."

7:05 p.m. Will there be a "Dexter"/"Burn Notice" crossover? No.

7:06 p.m. Lee does Matsuka's funny nervous-laugh and incites the crowd to join in. This is just zipping along. Lots of one-word answers. Or one-laugh answers.

7:07 p.m. Would Lee be interested in Matsuka having a romantic relationship? "Well, according to Matsuka, his ways are romantic," Lee says. An impressive number of questions for C.S. Lee. But nobody has asked him if he's going to return to "Chuck" for its final season.

7:09 p.m. Hall says that although Dexter isn't pining over Lumen, the character's "appetite to connect in a legitimate way" remains intact. Hall notes that Dexter makes his closest connections to people when he's about to kill somebody.

7:11 p.m. "I like to draw from some of my friends who have similar qualities. I won't name them. They know who they are," C.S. Lee says of how he finds his inner Matsuka.

7:11 p.m. Yes, Trinity killed Rita. Apparently some people thought there was ambiguity there.

7:12 p.m. What's the vibe on set? "I've been having fun," Mos says. "I've been having a good time," Hanks says, though he admits that he's done most of his shooting with Olmos and not much with Hall at all. 

7:15 p.m. Wow. A second mention of "Gamer." I shouldn't be surprised. And yet... Hall says he'd love to find more roles with a body-count of zero.

7:15 p.m. Supergirl loves Hall and she was very depressed with Rita died. She asks a valid question: Will Astor and Cody be back? "I think a really legitimate connection has been formed with those kids... They definitely remain within his awareness. I can't say for sure we'll see them, but we'll probably hear about them," Hall says.

7:19 p.m. "I think Matsuka, if he ever found out, he'd be so scared that he'd laugh and pass out," Lee says of his character's possible reaction to Dexter's secret.

7:20 p.m. Hall's secret to keeping the two kids who play Harrison "in the zone"? He drives them around the set in a golf cart. 

7:22 p.m. Mos Def swears and Colin Hanks has to point out the "Some members will be under the age of 18" warning on the back of their placards. Mos doesn't have a placard, so it's OK.

7:23 p.m. Another enthusiastic reference to "Gamer." 

7:24 p.m. An audience member in a Mos Def shirt wants to know how Mos Def got the job. "I practice voodoo," Mos replies. He's joking. The reality? They called his agent and pitched him on a story arc. "All jokes aside, I was really honored and blessed," Mos says, calling himself a fan of the show since Day 1. "If I wasn't up here, I'd probably be out there asking the same questions," Mos says. 

7:26 p.m. "Will Dexter evolve into a lighter or darker character in the future?" Hall replies, "Yes. Both."
 

That's all, folks... 

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<p>Emilia Clarke of 'Game of Thrones'</p>
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Emilia Clarke of 'Game of Thrones'

Credit: HBO

Comic-Con Live-Blog: HBO's 'Game of Thrones'

George R.R. Martin moderates the panel for his HBO hit

SAN DIEGO - Howdy, folks. After a morning detour live-blogging "Breaking Dawn" press conferences over at the the Bayfront Hilton, I've settled into my place in Ballroom 20, where I'll be live-blogging TV panels for the next three days.

Up first this afternoon? "Game of Thrones."

Click through for all of the Season 2 teases and Season 1 spoilers, all as moderated by George R.R. Martin.

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<p>Elizabeth Reaser and some new 'Breaking Dawn' additions</p>
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Elizabeth Reaser and some new 'Breaking Dawn' additions

Credit: Summit

Comic-Con Live-Blog: The Cullens' 'Breaking Dawn' press conference

Elizabeth Reaser, Nikki Reed, Ashley Greene and Julia Jones

We had a change of schedule...

9:12 a.m. Ashley Greene says she's "amused an entertained by the people in the streets." This is not her first Comic-Con, duh.

9:13 a.m. The first thing Ashley Greene did when she was cast was call her parents. "I hadn't read the books, so I didn't really know the scope of what I was getting into," Elisabeth Reaser says. Nikki agrees that it "developed and unfolded," but that none of them really knew what they were getting into. Julia Jones was cast after the first movie, so she knew what she was getting into.

9:15 a.m. What was the last day of being on set like? Well, they all had different last shooting days. Many of the Cullens, in fact, shot their last scenes after director Bill Condon was gone. "It's just so weird to end something. And five movies, I don't think it had hit any of us yet," Reaser says, though she says she knew they'd still be promoting it for several years.

9:17 a.m. "Who knows? Fans are certainly passionate about it, so there's definitely an opportunity for it," Ashley says of the possibility for more "Twilight" stories after this. But Reaser quickly adds that she thinks Stephanie Meyer is done with them.

9:18 a.m. "I think they find some sort of middle ground. They learn to understand each other," Nikki Reed says of the relationship between Bella and Rosalie.

9:19 a.m "The nice part of this being on film is that Alice will live on forever and Alice will always have a piece of my heart," Greene says.

9:20 a.m. Favorite lines? "I was a bit theatrical back then," says Nikki Reed, who claims she didn't realize how funny that line was. Reaser laments that a sexy scene between her character and Peter Facinelli's character was cut from the first movie. "Leah has some awesomely mean one-liners," Jones says of Leah Clearwater.

9:22 a.m. "I was always a fan of vampires," Reaser says and Greene agrees. "I just didn't think much about them. I wasn't a fan, but I wasn't not a fan," Nikki says of her relationship with vampires. "I was nerdy in a totally different way," says Julia Jones. Boo Boo Stewart says he's always been into fantasy stuff. 

9:23 a.m. What was it like shooting the wedding scene? "I always think wedding scenes are weird. You're sitting there watching somebody walk down the aisle, but not really," says Greene, who says that group scenes are her favorite and she compares it to the vampire baseball scene. "I want to tell you how amazing it was, but I can't really tell you anything about it," Reaser teases. "I just thought it was really cold outside," Boo Boo Stewart remembers.

9:25 a.m. How would they like to do Comic-Con if they could wander around incognito? "I thought about dressing up this time and just running around," Ashley says of Comic-Con. "I want to dress up as Batman," says Reaser. "I'd have to go as a zombie... I love Halloween and dressing up," Boo Boo says. "I'd just like to see you guys," Julia Jones says.

9:26 a.m. Is there anything they'd camp out for? "I haven't had something like that and that's why I have a large amount of respect for our fans. It's amazing that they've found something they're so passionate about," Greene says. Reaser says that she'd camp out for the White Stripes, but only if she knew the band was visiting and she could be in a safari tent. Boo Boo says he'd camp out for "Lord of the Rings."

9:28 a.m. "The Egyptians were cool... There were all of these international vampires wandering around," Reaser says of the new vampires in "Breaking Dawn. "There were those nutty Romanian guys. They're outfits were all S&M inspired," says Reed, who also references Lee Pace as a new face she liked. Boo Boo was star-struck by Maggie Grace and not because of "Lost." He apparently was a big fan of "Taken."

9:30 a.m. A Brazilian reporter asks how they liked Brazil. But "only the lovers" got to go to Brazil.

9:31 a.m. Did they take anything from the set when they were don? "I took some socks, but that was only because I needed a pair," Reaser says. "I took American Apparel sweatpants," Greene says. "I took a ton of makeup," Julia says. Reed says she felt guilty about taking things, but Kristen Stewart took Reed's baseball shoes from the first movie and gave them to her. "I took a lot of craft service," Boo Boo says.

9:32 a.m. Julia Jones says she once met at a fan at a con who was wearing a costume covered in feathers and covered in bruises, dressed as Bella... after the wedding night. If you know what I mean. 

9:33 a.m. Elizabeth says it used to freak her out when fans would want to come up to her to talk about "the young mens' bodies," specifically Tyler when he was still underage.

9:34 a.m. That's it for this press conference...

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<p>Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson of 'Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn'</p>
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Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson of 'Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn'

Credit: Summit

Comic-Con Live-Blog: Stewart, Pattinson, Lautner 'Breaking Dawn' press conference

The stars of newest 'Twilight' film and director Bill Condon meet the Press

Welcome dear friends to the "Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1" press conference with Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner and Bill Condon, taking place on Thursday (July 21) morning at the Bayfront Hilton at San Diego's Comic-Con.

In the past, wifi in this hotel has been a nightmare, but assuming it holds up, I'll be live-blogging up a storm.

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<p>After the recording of this podcast, things got violent between Dan and Alan at HitFix's Comic-Con Kickoff Party.</p>
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After the recording of this podcast, things got violent between Dan and Alan at HitFix's Comic-Con Kickoff Party.

Credit: LA Photo Party

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 85

Dan and Alan talk Comic-Con, 'Entourage,' 'Breaking Bad' and more
Happy Wednesday/Thursday, Boys & Girls. 
 
This installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast was recorded on Wednesday evening, but it's posting on Thursday morning, so the timing is all wonky.
 
Sorry about that.
 
It's a packed podcast with discussion of Comic-Con, "Entourage," CBS' "Same Name," the season premiere of "Breaking Bad" (with SPOILERS, obviously) and, of course, "Twin Peaks."
 
The breakdown:
Comic-Con -- 01:15 - 08:40
"Entourage" -- 08:40 - 18:30
"Same Name" -- 18:30 - 27:00
"Breaking Bad" -- 27:15 - 42:15
"Twin Peaks" -- 42:30 - 52:00
 

As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. [Or you can always follow our RSS Feed.] 

And here's the podcast...
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<p>Sarah Jones and Jorge Garcia of 'Alcatraz'</p>
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Sarah Jones and Jorge Garcia of 'Alcatraz'

Credit: James Dittiger/FOX

Take Me To The Pilots '11: FOX's 'Alcatraz'

Midseason drama has a clunky pilot, intriguing premise

[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots.]

Show: "Alcatraz" (FOX)
The Pitch: I guess it's just "Escape from Alcatraz" meets "Lost" with a little "Reaper," but not the funny parts or the Devil parts of "Reaper."
Quick Response: This is another of those midseason dramas -- like "The River" -- that I'm writing about ahead of a slew of fall pilots simply because it's going to be screened at Comic-Con in a few days, so I might as well get my reaction up. If I complained that "Person of Interest" might not be J.J. Abrams-y enough, nobody is going to have that concern with the Liz Sarnoff-scripted "Alcatraz." I thought the pilot was clunky -- lots and lots of dialogue that either repeats things we were already told or articulates things totally self-evident from the visuals -- but I respect its forward-looking clarity. After seeing the pilot, I know exactly what "Alcatraz" is on a week-to-week procedural basis: Which hardened criminal who disappeared in 1963 (complete with flashbacks) will magically appear in 2011, what will his agenda be and how will our team of heroes stop him? [They're kinda collecting lost souls, "Reaper"-style. But only kinda.] And I also know exactly what the ongoing questions of "Alcatraz" are: Where did these criminals go? Who's bringing them back? And why are they being brought back? And which of our characters have altruistic agendas and who's harboring darkness? I can't guarantee that any of the answers to those questions will be worth the effort, but at least this isn't one of those pilots that has me writing, "I liked the first hour, but I don't see what the series is." Here, I was tepid on the pilot, but I have no doubt of how the series should be structured going forward. That's a good thing and a bad thing. The "Alcatraz" pilot feels spectacularly pilot-y, in that it cares more about setting a foundation and getting it set in 43 minutes than it cares about smoothing out the seams, covering up the cracks and finessing characters. I know what "Alcatraz" is going to be as a series because the pilot focuses on *that* over telling a good story in its opening hour. Director Danny Cannon strives to cover a lot of those gaps with flash and nicely rendered production design, especially when depicting both the operational Alcatraz of 1960 and the current tourist attraction. It looks like an expensive pilot. There are people in "Alcatraz" who I really like. As a genius professor with a specific interest in The Rock, Jorge Garcia gets to be funny and amiable without even a trace of Hurley popping up. It's a great role for him. There's an intriguing role for Sam Neill and I'm always happy to have Parminder Nagra on my TV (except when it required me to watch "E.R." in the later years). In the pilot, Robert Forster is utterly wasted, but hopefully somebody will realize that their show somehow landed one of the best character actors in the business and that failure to use him would be a crime. Leading lady Sarah Jones has been really good in disparate roles in the past (compare "Big Love" to "Sons of Anarchy" to "The Riches"), but she's saddled with the worst of the "Well, duh" dialogue in the pilot. She'll be fine if the material is fine. All of the actors will. Having thrown all of these nuts and bolts on the table in Episode 1, "Alcatraz" will have to start building.
Desire To Watch Again: I covered the disadvantages of this kind of premise-driven pilot, but the advantage is that since I know what the series is, I have no nervousness about sustainability in Episode 2. So sure... count me in for another week or two.

Take Me To The Pilots '11: CBS' 'Person of Interest'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's ' 'The River'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's 'Last Man Standing'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: CBS' 'Two Broke Girls'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: NBC's 'Up All Night'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's 'Revenge'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's 'Once Upon a Time'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: NBC's 'Awake'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: FOX's 'I Hate My Teenage Daughter'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: The CW's 'The Secret Circle'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: CBS' 'Unforgettable'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: NBC's 'The Playboy Club'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's 'Charlie's Angels'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: NBC's 'Grimm'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: FOX's 'New Girl'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: The CW's 'Hart of Dixie'
Take Me To The Pilots ' 11: ABC's 'Apartment 23'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: CBS' 'A Gifted Man'
All of last year's Take Me To The Pilots installments.

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