'Confederate' Producers Defend HBO Sci-Fi Slave Drama: "The Concern Is Real"

Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are still in the process of wrapping up their epic fantasy drama for HBO. But ever since Wednesday, when HBO announced that it ordered a sci-fi series from the duo set in alternative timeline where slavery still exits, the prolific pair have had to turn their attention to their next project and more specifically the controversy already surrounding it.

Titled Confederate, the drama chronicles the events leading to the Third American Civil War. The series takes place in an alternate timeline, where the Southern states have successfully seceded from the Union, giving rise to a nation in which slavery remains legal and has evolved into a modern institution. The story follows a broad swath of characters on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Demilitarized Zone — freedom fighters, slave hunters, politicians, abolitionists, journalists, the executives of a slave-holding conglomerate and the families of people in their thrall.

The project almost immediately drew criticism across social media for its depiction of present day slavery.

In an interview with New York’s Vulture, Benioff and Weiss, along with fellow Confederate writers, African-American husband-and-wife team Malcolm and Nichelle Tramble Spellman, defended the project and urged those upset parties to wait until the episodes actually premiere, which is not expected for at least a year if not more.

“It’s just a little premature,” Benioff said about the initial “outrage” surrounding the series. “You know, we might fuck it up. But we haven’t yet.”

The Spellmans, who will both also exec produce the drama and work in partnership with Benioff and Weiss, were more vocal in their defense, pointing to specific slavery related imagery that will not be depicted in Confederate.

“This is not a world in which the entire country is enslaved. Slavery is in one half of the country. And the North is the North,” Malcolm said. “The imagery should be no whips and no plantations.”

Nichelle said the time to truly judge the show would come on its premiere night, and not before, as work on the series will not begin until Benioff and Weiss are done with their work on Game of Thrones, which still has one season left to air after the current seventh season.

“I do understand their concern. I wish their concern had been reserved to the night of the premiere, on HBO, on a Sunday night, when they watched and then they made a decision after they watched an hour of television as to whether or not we succeeded in what we set out to do,” she said. “The concern is real. But I think that the four of us are very thoughtful, very serious, and not flip about what we are getting into in any way. What I’ve done in the past, what Malcolm has done in the past, what the D.B.s have done in the past, proves that.”

Benioff and Weiss are no strangers to controversy and criticism despite their massive critical and commercial success on Game of Thrones. Among many other topics, the series has been criticized for its depiction of violence, its depiction of violence against women more specifically, and its depiction of race, which Weiss also addressed.

“We know that the elements in play in a show like Confederate are much more raw, much more real, and people come into them much more sensitive and more invested, than they do with a story about a place called Westeros,” he said. “We know they are different things, and they need to be dealt with in very, very different ways. And we plan, all of us I think, to approach Confederate in a much different spirit, by necessity.”

At another point, he also defended the show’s premise as being based in an alternate history, one in which the North did not win the Civil War and thus, the two sides engaged in a second Civil War in the late 20th Century before becoming on the verge of a third in the show.

“It goes without saying slavery is the worst thing that ever happened in American history. It’s our original sin as a nation. And history doesn’t disappear. That sin is still with us in many ways,” Weiss said. “Confederate, in all of our minds, will be an alternative history show. It’s a science-fiction show. One of the strengths of science fiction is that it can show us how this history is still with us in a way no strictly realistic drama ever could, whether it were a historical drama or a contemporary drama. It’s an ugly and a painful history, but we all think this is a reason to talk about it, not a reason to run from it.”

However, Malcolm also pointed to the current administration as a reason why the topics brought up in Confederate may need to be discussed again in depth. “People have got to stop pretending that slavery was something that happened and went away. The shit is affecting people in the present day,” he said. “But everyone knows that with Trump coming into power, a bunch of shit that had always been there got resurfaced.” 

There is no premiere date yet for Confederate.

Read the full interview on Vulture.

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Marvel's 'Inhumans' Debuts Footage at Comic-Con, Reveals Ellen Woglom's Character

7:32pm PT

Chris E. Hayner

After keeping her character a secret, Ellen Woglom was finally able to spill the beans on her ‘Inhumans’ role at San Diego Comic-Con and that wasn’t the only surprise.

With Marvel’s Inhumans heading to IMAX theaters across the country before it premieres on ABC in September, the cast and creative team arrived at San Diego Comic-Con ready to give fans their first look at the new series.


Not only did they answer fan questions but new footage was shown that introduced attendees to the world of Inhumans. Interestingly, executive producer Jeph Loeb also revealed, at long last, what role Ellen Woglom is playing on the series.


For one reason or another, details about Woglom’s role have been kept under wraps. However, Loeb explains she plays a woman named Louise who is “from Earth but has some special knowledge.” While she doesn’t have special powers, she has been exposed to Terrigen Mist, a substance that alters Inhuman biology. The substance has appeared on Earth, causing Black Bolt (Anson Mount) to send his cousin Triton (Mike Moh) to investigate and rescue any Inhumans.



It’s unclear how major a role Louise will play in the series but both Loeb and Woglom were quick to note she’s essentially the only character on the series that doesn’t have superpowers.


As for the footage shown, ABC brought a few scenes from the first two episodes, both which will be shown in IMAX, to give an idea of the scope of the series. The first, which features Triton looking for Inhumans on Earth, took full use of the IMAX capabilities with establishing shots of the jungle that were beautiful. Once the scene focused in on Triton’s action on the ground, the visuals weren’t quite as stunning. The fans in attendance loved what they saw though, showering the panel with applause.


The second scene was what Loeb likes to call “the dinner sequence.” It’s here that the characters of Inhumans get the chance to shine. As the royal family gathers for a meal and Maximus (Iwan Rhoen) harshly questions his brother Black Bolt about sending Triton to Earth in the first place. At this point in the story, the Inhumans believe Triton to be dead. It’s here that the show introduces the sign language Black Bolt uses, which only Medusa (Serinda Swan) can understand.


Next was a clip that takes place during a coup carried out by Maximus. As he takes his brother’s throne, Maximus orders his men to capture or kill both Gorgon (Eme Ikwuakor) and Karnak (Ken Leung). It’s this scene where the Inhumans (finally) get to show off their superpowers. This is especially important for Karnak, as his power is his brain and its ability to look at every event he’s involved in strategically.



It should be noted that while this coup may seem like the act of an ultimate villain, and Maximus is definitely a villain in this story, he believes his actions are the right thing to do for hit people. It leaves Medusa stuck in-between the two brothers, as the royal family of Inhumans falls apart.


Finally, a clip was shown of Medusa’s hair in action. When the first look at the character was revealed, the internet had a field day mocking her long red locks for not looking particularly real. While the wig looks questionable when Medusa isn’t using her powers, seeing it moving as if it has a mind of its own is something else entirely.


Given the scope producers are aiming for, its clear they are taking full advantage of what IMAX offers for the first two episodes. According to Loeb, over 600 effects shots are featured in those first two hours alone. Likewise, director Roel Reine said they had to create a new lens for the IMAX cameras just to capture the picture as he envisioned it.



And just to send the crowd home happy, Loeb delivered one final look at the series, an extended trailer that will be attached to IMAX screenings of Christopher Nolan’s highly anticipated World War II saga Dunkirk. The trailer included new looks at several characters plug footage of the gigantic CGI pitbull Lockjaw in action.


Inhumans premieres in IMAX on September first before debuting on ABC on Sept. 29.

Watch the new InHumans trailer:

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Orlando Jones Officiates 'Star Wars'-Themed Wedding as Syfy Opens Pop-Up Chapel at Comic-Con

The ‘American Gods’ star — who was ordained — is officiating legal weddings and vow renewals at Comic-Con. ‘Sharknado’ star Ian Ziering also renewed his vows with his wife, Erin, on Thursday.

By the power vested in him by the Universal Life Church, American Gods star Orlando Jones pronounced Melissa and Esteban Martinez man and wife in a Star Wars-themed ceremony at San Diego Comic-Con.

And yes, it’s all legal — the actor and self-professed geek really got ordained, the couple really got a marriage license, and they really said “I do” in front of TV stars, Syfy employees and fellow fans during a ceremony at the cable network’s pop-up wedding chapel in San Diego’s Gaslamp District. 

The San Diego couple recently celebrated their 10th anniversary. “We already considered ourselves husband and wife — we’re dedicated to each other,” the groom told The Hollywood Reporter before the ceremony. “But then this opportunity came up and we thought, ‘Why not make it official?'”

The groom, who is a Star Wars fan, was dressed in a Han Solo-inspired suit, while the bride wore a Poe Dameron-inspired dress, naturally. 

The couple attended their first Comic-Con together seven years ago after bonding over Harry Potter and other shared nerdy interests. They’re both fans of Jones’ work, from the movie Double Take with Eddie Griffin to his recent dramatic turn on Starz’s American Gods. And, of course, they both love the fact that Jones is as big a nerd as his fans. “It’s always great to realize that the people you see on TV are as human as us,” the groom said. 

The ceremonies continue through Saturday as part of Syfy’s all-out 2017 Comic-Con strategy as network celebrates its 25th anniversary. That also includes drumlines, a karaoke bus, cosplay makeup stations, 15 panels and three nights of a live show hosted by fellow nerd fave Zachary Levi. The romantic gig is also something Jones has wanted to do at Comic-Con for years, as he identifies with the passion of the fans he’ll be uniting in happily ever after during the weekend.

“Marrying fans at the Syfy Geek Chapel is the most spectacular thing I’ve ever done,” he tells THR. “Everyone follows the same path to fandom: You read or watch a story unfold as your heart races, you laugh, you cry, you fall in love and become a fan. I will forever be in Syfy’s debt for not only partnering with me and my Cosmunity app, but boldly going where no network has ever gone before. Celebrating 25 years of Syfy by putting fans center stage and sharing in one of the most magical moments in a person’s life pays more than lip service to the idea that #ItsaFanThing.”


The sunny wedding space, which is sandwiched between a steak restaurant and a taco shop, will be open Thursday, Friday and Saturday afternoons and comes complete with lush greenery, benches for guests and a station of accessories (including bouquets, bow ties, veils, and the most essential wedding accouterment: lightsabers). 

And the Comic-Con love didn’t end after the Martinez ceremony. Sharknado star Ian Ziering surprised his wife, Erin, and proposed that they renew their vows. The couple took advantage of Jones’ new status as an ordained minister and re-tied the knot with their children present. (There were no reports of flying sharks.)


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'Legion' Cast, Creator Offer 10 Things to Know About Season 2

Creator Noah Hawley and the cast of FX’s psychedelic Marvel drama assembled in San Diego to look back on the past and ahead toward season two.

For most of his life, David Haller believed he was crazy. So did everyone else. The troubled young man spent years weaving in and out of different forms of treatment, from outpatient therapy to full-on hospitalization. It’s only thanks to the sudden arrival of some like-minded (or at least like-type, if not quite like-minded) individuals that David finally saw the truth: He’s not crazy, he’s a mutant — and quite possibly the most powerful one in the world.

So … now what?

That’s the crux of season two of Legion, the FX drama series based on the character of the same name from Marvel’s X-Men comics. The series comes from creator Noah Hawley (Fargo) and features an all-star lineup of actors, including Dan Stevens as David. And, starting with season two, there’s a new actor in the mix: Saïd Taghmaoui, most recently of Wonder Woman, who is also known for roles in Three Kings, American Hustle and the fifth season of Lost.

Taghmaoui’s upcoming turn on Legion was revealed Thursday during the show’s official panel at San Diego Comic-Con, the first time the series has attended the convention. Castmembers on hand included Stevens, Amber Midthunder (Kerry), Bill Irwin (Cary), Jeremie Harris (Ptonomy), Rachel Keller (Syd), Jean Smart (Melanie) and Aubrey Plaza (Lenny). Producers Jeph Loeb, Lauren Shuler Donner and John Cameron were in attendance as well, in addition to Hawley.

When the first season of Legion wrapped, Jemaine Clement’s Oliver Bird hit the road alongside Plaza’s Lenny — or more accurately Amahl Farouk, the Shadow King, who lived inside of David’s mind since the mentally fragile protagonist was a young boy. Now, Taghmaoui is getting his shot to put a stamp on Farouk as well. How will his casting impact the show, especially with Plaza delivering such a breakout turn as the Shadow King in season one, and Clement set to get in on the fun as well in season two? In that regard, Hawley made it clear: “It’s going to be a trio with Aubrey and Jemaine Clement.”

Here are other highlights from the panel:

• Season two will consist of 10 episodes, up two from its freshman run. 

• Will Syd feel more proactive heading into season two? “It’s all about an exploration of who am I and what am I capable of, and how do I reckon with something I thought was wrong and made me sick, but I can now use to help people and deepen a relationship she feels strongly about,” said Keller.

• On what’s going to happen to David following his abduction at the end of season one: “He went on a little ride in that little ball. That will obviously take him some place, and he’ll have to get his way back to the others.”

• Hawley on the future of David and Syd’s romance: “This is an epic love story between two people who can’t physically be together. If season one was the honeymoon, in season two we’re going to explore how this actually works.”

• In terms of how Hawley settled on the Shadow King as the show’s key villain: “They’re taking something that should be action and turning it into something so much more interesting. That always stuck with me: Xavier defeated this guy, went off and had a kid. It always seemed to me that it was an interesting thing we could build into where at first you think it’s Division 3 and it’s the plucky rebels against the empire. And as we’re getting ready to fight the empire, we see David’s memories and learn he’s not mentally ill. The real enemy was within him. I thought that was very subversive.”

• Will we see more of David’s youth in season two? Hawley’s answer suggested a focus on other characters’ backstories instead: “We know his story pretty well now, but we don’t know everybody’s story really well now, so I think there are other people we may see where they came from and how it brought them to this moment.” Could that explain how Taghmaoui will be involved in the show — via Shadow King flashbacks? “It could be,” said Hawley. “We’ll get our money’s worth out of every character on the show. I have a slight character issue. I like having a lot of them.”

• What about a Professor X sighting in season two? “We’re working on it” is the resounding non-answer we’ve all come to expect at this point. Someone dressed up as Tina from Bob’s Burgers asked more about Xavier: If he shows up, will it be the Patrick Stewart or James McAvoy version of the character? Hawley’s not sure at the moment. “I don’t know yet what that would be,” he said. “It depends on who would do it. If we reach that part of the story, is it funnier if it’s the young or the old one? It could be great if you’re older than your dad.”

• Now that he’s rid of the Shadow King, will David be more stable now? Hawley said it might actually lead to some very bad decisions: “Now he has to face up to the fact that without that thing in him, he’s like everybody else — he has good ideas and impulses, bad ideas and impulses. It might be interesting to see his hubris: ‘I’m a hero, so everything I do is heroic.'” Stevens concurred: “There are still a number of issues inside this man’s head.”

• What does everyone want to see for their characters in season two? Plaza wants to ride a horse, Smart wants to tango with Oliver and Stevens’ request is … well, pretty fair: “Can I get out of the orb?” Hawley’s terse reply: “Not until you eat your vegetables.”

• Hawley ended the panel with a bombshell announcement: He’s developing a movie with Fox that Comic-Con attendees might be especially interested in. “Two words,” he said. “Doctor Doom.”

Follow THR.com/Legion for news, interviews and more coverage of the show.

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'Timeless' Team Celebrates Resurrection, Teases "Complicated" Season 2 Dynamics

“Together, we changed history.”

It sounds like a line ripped out of an episode of Timeless, NBC’s time-traveling drama, but it took on a whole new meaning Thursday at the series’ San Diego Comic-Con panel.

The panel came two months after the show was axed and then, shockingly, un-canceled by NBC. Despite spending much of its first season on the bubble, the series amassed a fiercely loyal fan base that was up in arms over its demise. (Timeless also ranked as the fourth-highest-rated scripted series when all delayed viewing is factored in.)

Despite the show’s high price tag — Timeless hails from Sony Pictures Television and is one of NBC’s few dramas not produced in-house by Universal TV — Sony and NBC were able to come to an agreement for a 10-episode second season that will launch sometime in 2018, either spring or summer. Creators-executive producers-showrunners Shawn Ryan and Eric Kripke reportedly pitched a more family-friendly second season, which also helped incentivize the decision for NBC.

Fittingly, Ryan and Kripke were joined Thursday by stars Abigail Spencer, Matt Lanter, Malcolm Barrett and Goran Visnjic to discuss the miraculous turn of events with a video that showed just how Timeless’ die-hard fans and the fervent #RenewTimeless social media campaign helped resurrect the series and, as the video said, “changed history.” (Watch the video below.)

“The point of the panel is to celebrate you for saving the show, so I think you deserve a round of applause,” Kripke told the Comic-Con audience, which drew enthusiastic applause from the ballroom.

Barrett also celebrated the fans by bringing #Clockblockers t-shirts that he threw to the crowd towards the beginning of the panel. (Fans in attendance were also treated to a sneak peek of the blooper reel from the season one DVD, which will be released Sept. 19.)

When Kripke and Ryan polled the crowd about which fandom name they preferred, not surprisingly “#Clockblockers” easily won over “#TimeFandits.” After the introductory video — set to the opening music of the time-traveling blockbuster film Back to the Future, no less — the cast and creators discussed their reversal of fortunes.

“We had been canceled that Wednesday, so … we started to make peace. You’re starting to go through your grieving process,” Kripke said. (Or “drinking process,” as Spencer jokingly called it.)

“There was no hint. It was Sony, to their credit, and NBC busting their ass behind the scenes,” Kripke continued of the surprise Saturday phone call from the higher-ups at the network. “It was truly out of the blue.”

While Kripke was busy driving his kid to soccer, others (i.e. Spencer) were fast asleep when the good news broke. “I was totally asleep. My phone was off and I woke up, I’m not kidding, to hundreds of texts,” said the actress. It was only when she got an e-mail from Ryan that she truly believed the good news. “It’s truly magical,” Spencer said of the fan campaign to save the series.

Despite the show’s perennial bubble status during season one, Kripke said that didn’t make the writers think twice about how to end season one, specifically the reveal that Lucy’s (Spencer) mom, Carol (Susanna Thompson), is Rittenhouse. “You come in hard, like, ‘No, man, we’re coming back,’ and you write that way,” he said. “To me, that’s the only way you write a show.”

Spencer recalled shooting that final scene, which was also the last scene they shot of season one.

“What was difficult about that scene was … we’re basically wrapping up all of season one and dropping this huge bomb all in the same breath,” said the actress. “I felt very close to Lucy. I felt very overwhelmed, I felt saddened. … It was a lot of emotions and feelings going on and a lot of words to say. Lucy is, unlike me, very verbose,” she added with a laugh.

However, Spencer also embraced the twist because “I love the way that we portray women on the show.”

Looking ahead to season two, Kripke said that reveal will have a big influence going forward.

“Lucy’s mom is really going to be one of the major big bads in season two,” he said. “Rittenhouse does have their hands on the time machine, so that is way worse than Garcia (Visnjic) having his hands on the time machine, and Garcia and the team are kind of, sort of now facing a common enemy, so there’s going to be some sort of complicated, really fraught, messy team-up with that.”

Among the changes for season two is the shooting location, which will move from Vancouver to Los Angeles when production begins in November. “I think that will allow us to tell a few stories that we were unable to tell” in season one, Ryan said. “We definitely have some ideas, nothing sort of set in stone.”

However, one of Ryan’s hopes is to “dip deeper into character” in season two. “We’ll still have spectacle and bigness,” he said, but “I think we’ll just have episodes where we dive deep into the Lucy and Wyatt (Lanter) of it all.”

Kripke also said season two, like much of scripted TV, might be influenced by the current political state of the country, even if he was hesitant about making a political statement.

“The thing that we really found this year, that we really love about the show is we really, like, are very proud that we were able to tell these very positive, really inclusive stories about history, stories about women and stories about minorities and stories about gay people — that everyone contributes to the history of this country,” Kripke said, which was met with applause by the Comic-Con crowd. “I will be the opposite of political in this, but I would say that’s a very good message these days. I would say there’s a lot of doubling down on that in season two.”

He added, “History is for everybody, and America is for everybody.”

Kripke also pointed to Timeless‘ diverse and inclusive stories when asked about the show potentially traveling to the future at some point. “Never say never, but kind of never,” he replied. “It’s rare that the future is done well on TV — you can probably count on one hand or a couple fingers. It’s always bad, and so I don’t think we want to do that. We love the research, we love that it’s historically based. We love that we can represent stories that are diverse and inclusive. God willing, [when] we’re in season seven or eight, ask me again … but I don’t think anytime soon.”

Kripke was, in comparison, more eager to look ahead to the future of the series itself. In the closing moments of the panel, he tasked the crowd of eager fans with helping spread the word about season two before it returns.

“I wish I could say the job was done. … I’m psyched about season two, but I’m also thinking about season three. We’re going to be airing in 2018, and that’s a lot of time off the air,” he said. “Bring new people to the show. The more you can bring people into the time team and we can enlist you all as time team members, the better we’ll be.”

Added Spencer: “Clearly we can’t do it without you. We need you.”

Watch the Timeless Comic-Con video below:

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Comic-Con: On the Scene as Syfy Drumline Brings Iconic Themes to Life

Check out videos of the traveling band playing fan-favorite theme songs from ‘Star Wars’ to ‘Harry Potter.’

You don’t have to travel far to get into the spirit at Comic-Con. Syfy is bringing the nerd fun to downtown San Diego all weekend with its pop-up sci-fi-themed drumline.

If you’re outside the convention center at Comic-Con, chances are good that you’ll spot 14 guys dressed in black and yellow wearing Syfy-branded capes cruising the streets and playing iconic science fiction theme songs. The Hollywood Reporter was on the scene for the official kickoff, and, as you’d expect, it was like a giant party. 

The Arizona-based band Boom played a lively rendition of Star Wars‘ “Imperial March” and as luck would have it, a con attendee dressed as a Stormtrooper happened to be in the crowd nearby. She playfully got into the action and re-created a bit from the sci-fi classic and the crowd cheered as the scene was brought to life. 

“The best way to describe it is pure joy,” Alexandra Shapiro, executive VP of marketing and digital at NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment, tells THR. “It’s like a flash mob meets a marching band. It’s really informal and fun, and they’re playing all the great songs from iconic properties.”

As for how the songs were chosen, Shapiro noted a “geek council at Syfy” was in charge of that.

“We have a slack channel for it,” she says with a laugh. “It’s our sounding board for ideas. [This weekend], we’ve got Batman’s 1966 TV intro theme, Spider-Man, The Imperial March, Star Trek’s original theme, the theme from Flash Gordon, the Dark Knight theme, Indiana Jones, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Trek: The Final Frontier, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Superman the movie, Jurassic Park, Wonder Woman (the original), Back to the Future, Ghostbusters — gotta have it — Pirates of the Caribbean and then the Star Wars main title theme. And we’re only playing the parts that you love.”

The drumline is only one small part of Syfy’s large presence on the ground at the pop culture con this year. “We’re not tethered to one space. We’re everywhere this year,” Shapiro says. “Everything is mobile. Karaoke, trivia trolleys, cosplay repair carts, 17 buses, all with a consistent look and feel. It’s the combination of everything, making sure we reach everyone multiple times throughout their day, making them feel as if we’ve added value. It’s a dawn-to-dusk strategy. That’s how we’ll break through the clutter and leave our mark.”

The network is also looking to make a lasting impression on nerd couples’ lives by holding real weddings in the Geek Chapel, ordained by Orlando Jones. (THR was on the scene for the first ceremony.)

“For years people have been getting engaged here and remember this weekend for life,” she says. “But now for the first time, we’re giving them the opportunity to actually make it official and get married here.”

The main goal going into the weekend for Syfy was to make their new rebranding accessible and understandable to all the fans gathered in San Diego. The cable network is celebrating its 25th anniversary and the big undertaking was designed to tell the fanboy crowd gathered at Comic-Con that Syfy is doubling down on genre fare.

“Comic-Con came at a really strategic time for us this year coming right out of our rebrand debut in June,” Shapiro says. “Our strategy was to come with our brand being the lead force. This is like our coming out party to the fans, and what that means is the new voice, the new personality that is fan first, and our shift to being a brand that celebrates the genre at large and really puts the fan at the center of everything we do. Having that very clear brand filter is what informed everything we’re doing. Everything we’re doing is serving a utility for fans and providing them access in a way that they might not otherwise. And at its core, we’re giving the fans joy.”

That couldn’t be more true. Before the drumline began, I hopped on a trivia trolley to test my nerd knowledge and Harry Potter helped my team win $20 each. Now that’s an economic way to kill some time before your next Comic-Con event.

The Syfy sci-fi drumline will be roaming Thursday-Saturday from 1 p.m.-6 p.m. around the Gaslamp Quarter.

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'Stargate' Revived as MGM Launches Digital Franchise Destination

‘Stargate Origins’ will follow fan-favorite character Catherine Langford.

After a feature film and a number of TV series spinoffs, the Stargate franchise is coming back to life.

Producers MGM have revived the franchise as a 10-episode digital series — Stargate Origins — that will live exclusively on a dedicated subscription-based platform called Stargate Command.

The new series, which will feature 10-minute episodes, will follow fan-favorite character Catherine Langford (originally played by Elizabeth Hoffman) and explore a new chapter in her early history surrounding the portal. Young Catherine embarks on a new unexpected adventure to unlock the mystery of what lies beyond the Stargate in order to save the Earth from darkness. (Watch the teaser trailer, below.)

The new series will be produced by MGM’s Digital Group and entertainment studio New Form. It will be directed by Mercedes Bryce Morgan (Virtual Morality) and written by Mark Ilvedson and Justin Michael Terry. Production is slated to begin in August.

“We saw a need for a definitive hub for the Stargate fanbase to continue to enjoy news and content, both old and new,” said Chris Ottinger, president of worldwide television distribution and acquisitions at MGM. “Stargate Command will open a new door for the community to celebrate and interact with all content in a way that has never been done before.”

Stargate Origins will launch in the fall on the Stargate Command platform. The new digital space will feature content from the franchise’s nearly 25-year history and offer subscribers a behind-the-scenes look at the new series.

“We’ve been eager to revisit the Stargate franchise, and create an all-new story that honors the founding mythos and gives loyal fans more mystery and adventure,” said Kevin Conroy, president of digital and new platforms at MGM. “We view Stargate Origins as a thank you to fans who have been keeping the spirit of the franchise alive for nearly 25 years. With the increasing popularity of digitally native content that can be streamed to any device, MGM is committed to the production of premium linear mid-form content and are proud to launch with Stargate Origins.”

All told, there have been more than 380 episodes of the Stargate franchise that have spanned nearly 20 seasons. Stargate SG-1 is among the longest-running sci-fi shows in U.S. TV history. The original 1994 Stargate feature film grossed nearly $200 million worldwide and spawned three live-action spinoff shows.

The announcement was made Thursday night at Comic-Con during a special Stargate panel.


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'Battlestar Galactica' Would Be "Fundamentally Different" Today, Cast Says at Comic-Con Reunion

In the lore of Battlestar Galactica, there was always something special about the number five. For 2017, two other numbers have pinged on the DRADIS: two and 25.

For the second time this year, creator Ronald D. Moore and members of the Battlestar Galactica cast reunited together on stage to look back on the modern science-fiction classic. First appearing at the ATX Television Festival earlier this summer in Austin, the BSG crew joined forces again Thursday at San Diego Comic-Con, with cast members including Katee Sackhoff (Starbuck), Mary McDonnell (President Roslin), Grace Park (Boomer), Tricia Helfer (Six), Michael Trucco (Anders), Tahmoh Penikett (Helo) and Aaron Douglas (Chief). David Eick joined Moore on the producing side. The reunion coincides with Syfy’s 25th anniversary, an occasion that led to the network’s rebranding and recommitment to the sci-fi genre.

The panel kicked off with a video montage highlighting how pervasive Battlestar Galactica has been in pop culture since the series first arrived — references in Family Guy, Portlandia, The Office and more — before an announcement that a marathon of every episode of Battlestar Galactica will air on Syfy this September. Moments later, the panelists came out to talk about the origins of BSG.

“The original Battlestar had this very dark idea at its core: the holocaust of the human race. The heroes of the show were the survivors who ran off into the night and were pursued by their enemies. If you took that premise seriously … you would have a unique piece of TV,” said Moore, about how the show was crafted in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. “We tried to stay true to the premise of what it was.”

In terms of the show’s overarching plot, Eick weighed in on the idea of having a plan for the story versus evolving their ideas as the series professed. “We wanted enough of a plan to give everyone in the writer’s room a sense we knew where we were going,” he said, while still leaving doors open for certain big reveals, including who the final five Cylons were. Moore described the writer’s room as having an “improvisational style,” one that “built a structure while allowing specific aesthetics to emerge,” according to Eick.

Asked about unexpected plot twists, McDonnell joked that she expected there would be a mall ship on the show, so President Roslin could have more than one suit. On a more serious note, she said the biggest thing was waiting to find out which characters were Cylons.

“That was a lot of tension,” she said. “Emotional tension. Flat-out tension.”

Aaron Douglas, who was one of those actors who became a Cylon, recalled the dramatic story of how he found out he was a Cylon. Production was underway on the 11th or 12th episode of season three, with three months to go before shooting the famous finale in which Chief, Anders, Tigh (Michael Hogan) and Tory (Rekha Sharma) discovered they were the final five. At a party, Douglas accidentally stumbled upon a script that revealed his fate. He was forced to keep the secret for three months.

“We finally get to the episode when we’re going to shoot this,” he said, “I talked to Ron on the phone for an hour and a half. He said: ‘Have we done right by you so far?’ Yes. ‘Do you think we know what we’re doing?’ I do.”

On the subject of playing multiple roles, Park said it was easy at first to play only two different versions of Number Eight: “As I started making more characters, it got so confusing. I realized I had Boomer, Athena and the General all at the same time. It got confusing. I was lucky I had two characters we could flesh out over a number of years, so they felt three-dimensional.”

Helfer weighed in on the same subject, as she had her hands filled with different versions of Number Six. She recalled that before the series began, the writers sent out character bibles filled with back story details to each of the actors. Helfer only had four words to work with: “The machine is woman.”

“Eddie Olmos gets three pages of back story,” she joked, “and I get: ‘The machine is woman.'”

Helfer spoke about one of the versions of Six, Gina, who suffered from PTSD, and was adamant about showing how even robots can suffer from victimization. “That was the first character where we could take a departure.”

Eick praised Helfer for having almost no credits before Battlestar, including as a corpse in CSI: Miami, a pilot guest appearance, and an indie movie. “In other words, nothing,” Eick said. “Talk about throwing an actor into the deep end of the pool. It was miraculous for her to emerge as she did.”

McDonnell weighed in on President Roslin’s political leanings, and how at the time it interacted with President George W. Bush’s administration: “Knowing that Laura wouldn’t be this extraordinary compassionate liberal, and instead getting used to what had to be done, there was a slow letting go of a feeling that this was going to be fun. It started becoming very hard and isolated. One of the biggest things I felt while developing her was isolation.”

“In order to save people and be very clear about it, you don’t get the luxury to enjoy your own visceral responses to life,” she continued. “You have to decide moment to moment how many people will die and how many people will live, and what’s the end game. The end game was life.”

Both Penikett and Trucco weighed in on their characters existing mostly in isolation from the greater series. For his part, Penikett was simply grateful to return to the show after an ambiguous fate in the four-hour miniseries that served as the veritable BSG pilot. Trucco’s debut as Anders, on the other hand, wasn’t as warmly received, recalling what he would read on message boards: “People are specific when they get mean. It’s one thing to go: ‘That frakking Anders character sucks.’ But when they use your name, and they spell it right…”

Trucco said that his increased role was largely due to Moore wanting to stick it to the haters. He put it succinctly: “You don’t like Anders? Watch this, mother-frakkers!”

Speaking toward the show’s occasional bouts of comedy, Moore said writers “naturally like to lighten up certain scenes,” stressing the importance of listening to the tone of one’s cast.

“James Callis who played Gaius Baltar really changed the direction of that character toward humor,” he said as an example. “When I wrote him initially in the miniseries, he was a lot of things — sociopathic, brilliant, arrogant, etc — but I never thought he was funny. James brought a sense of humor to him. And we started writing toward his sense of humor.” Moore and the writers would take that same approach to all of the actors who showed signs of being comically inclined.

The panel then turned to questions from the audience. Trucco was asked about Pyramid, the sport that was invented for the series. He told a story about how he and his cast members were forced to invent the way Pyramid was played pretty much on the spot. He said James Callis would be the best person on the cast to play the sport if it existed in real life.

On their regrets about their time on Battlestar, Helfer offered: “I never got to say ‘frak.'” She then delivered a very enthusiastic “FRAK!” to the crowd. Douglas said he wished he spent more time on “the Cylon sex ship, like James did.”

The panel was then asked how Battlestar would be different if it were on today and interacting with the present political moment. “The crazy unqualified captain,” Eick joked. “Colluding with the enemy would apply.”

“It would be fundamentally different. We wrote the show and made it at a very specific time in the country’s history. We were reflecting what was going on through a science fiction prism,” said Moore. He added that the show would need to take an approach that isn’t “obvious,” one that finds empathy for things that seem unworthy of empathy. 

At one point in the panel, the conversation turned toward the subject of Richard Hatch, the original Starbuck from the original Battlestar Galactica series, who eventually joined the rebooted series as the political prisoner Thomas Zarek. Hatch passed away earlier this year.

Moore recalled meeting Hatch during a convention before the show’s relaunch, where Hatch made it clear that he wasn’t necessarily a fan of Moore’s vision, in the most polite terms possible. After initial hesitation, Hatch accepted the role of Zarek, and the rest is history.

At the panel’s conclusion, Edward James Olmos (Admiral Adama) appeared via video message (his second one of the panel), in order to pay tribute to Hatch, “one of the closest members of our gang.” After issuing words of love and support for his late colleague, Olmos encouraged the crowd to make their appreciation of Hatch known with three rousing rounds of four familiar words: “So say we all!” 

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Comic-Con: Syfy's Great Debate Pits Marvel Against DC, Star Wars Against Star Trek

2:28pm PT

Chris E. Hayner

With some of nerd culture’s hottest debates on the line, John Barrowman, Aisha Tyler and Orlando Jones had plenty to say and sing about at Syfy’s The Great Debate.

Following a refresh of its brand, Syfy is making a huge splash at the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con. In addition to trivia, karaoke and geek weddings officiated by American Gods star Orlando Jones, Syfy also presented a series of panels celebrating fans, including The Great Debate.


Unlike many of the big panels at Comic-Con, The Great Debate wasn’t about showing off new footage or breaking news about upcoming TV shows and movies. Instead, it was a chance for several fan-favorite artists and creators to talk about the things they’re all passionate about, from comic books to their favorite John Williams theme songs.



With moderator John Hodgman (The Daily Show) leading the proceedings, panelists including Jones, Arrow’s John Barrowman, Archer’s Aisha Tyler, Mythbusters star Adam Savage and All Birds in the Sky author Charlie Jane Anders threw down a no-holds-barred and very funny debate, loaded with jokes, memories and plenty of singing from everyone on stage.


Hodgman set the tone right out of the gate, pitting Marvel and DC’s comic book universes against each other, making Arrow star and DC comic writer Barrowman defend Spider-Man and his friends against Tyler’s vocal support of Detective Comics. While jokingly admitting that arguing against DC could get him fired, Barrowman spoke about his love of Marvel comics as a kid — and plenty of sexual innuendo.



Unfortunately for Tyler, Barrowman was able to sway the crowd in attendance and secured the win. He also won the John Williams debate after writing his own lyrics to the Star Wars theme. 



It wasn’t all smiles though, as the crowd loudly booed Savage for admitting he’d wipe Star Trek from existence before Star Wars. And it wasn’t just the audience, as Tyler could not believe he would dare besmirch a franchise she loves. Anders, meanwhile, argued that as much as fans love Star Wars, they need Star Trek. It’s a sentiment that won the crowd over.



Other topics covered included who was the best movie Batman (Adam West) and whether you’d rather have a lightsaber from the Star Wars franchise or a jaeger from the Pacific Rim universe. It was almost a unanimous decision to take lightsabers until Savage stepped in to say he’d much rather have a giant robotic armor suit. Of course, he then sheepishly admitted he owns more than 30 lightsabers.



One thing just about everyone was able to agree on was that Hollywood may be going too far with reboots of beloved properties. Instead, Savage suggests TV and movie studios re-create things that weren’t very good the first time around, like Ice Pirates. That said, Barrowman admitted he’d be in favor of rebooting Firefly if his Torchwood character Captain Jack Harkness could cross over for some some private time with Mal (Nathan Fillion). The event was capped by questions from fans and a surprise appearance by Battlestar Galactica star Aaron Douglas, who appeared simply to make fun of Hodgman.



In the end, The Great Debate was everything Comic-Con is about. It was a group of hardcore fans gathered together to talk about their favorite nerdy topics and everything was done in good fun. Hopefully this won’t be the last time The Great Debate comes to the Con.

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'The Walking Dead's' Comic-Con Deadquarters Is a Superfan's Dream

The sprawling interactive attraction is complete with Greg Nicotero-designed silicon replicas of some of the show’s most iconic images — and a chance to take Lucille out for a swing.

AMC’s The Walking Dead is impossible to miss at San Diego Comic-Con.

As it is every year, the face of Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) adorns badges for the pop culture confab, with the security checkpoints to get in and out of the convention center also featuring images from the zombie drama.

In addition to the show-themed AMC booth on the convention floor, the cable network is also teaming with the San Diego Parks Department for a sprawling interactive attraction dubbed The Walking Dead Deadquarters.



With a line as short as five minutes, the 585-person attraction offers something for everyone. Exec producer, director and zombie master Greg Nicotero re-created some of the show’s most iconic images specifically for the outdoor event. Snap a photo with the bloated Well Walker who nearly gave Glenn (aww, Glenn!) a heart attack. Next to that? The famed Water Walker, who could be a hint of what’s to come of some Comic-Con attendees coping with the blistering heat and humidity in San Diego this week.



And while those are both great, the real prize is the a silicone replica of the hospital doors that Rick encountered in The Walking Dead pilot, which may represent the most iconic image from the show yet.



For younger fans, there’s a Walking Dead-themed batting cage complete with a pitching machine lobbing baseballs at hitters who were armed with — what else — Lucille. Hitters were given a batting helmet and protective goggles and anyone who was able to connect the wooden bat covered with plastic barbed wire to mirror Negan’s weapon of choice was given show-themed swag including board games, t-shirts, action figures and more.



And while there were plenty of food and games, there was also a truck offering free water and soda directly across from a shaded cooling station with plenty of space to take a break from the Comic-Con apocalypse (and charge your cell phones, too).



Other highlights include “Survivor Selfies” where fans can also “meet” life-size figures of Rick, Michonne and Daryl — as well as Fear the Walking Dead‘s Madison. (All created by Nicotero.)

There’s also a Fear bunker — that’s air conditioned! — where fans will encounter a caged Geoffrey and be surrounded by a horde of the infected. (Oh, and you will be surprised by one of the many walkers roaming around the attraction. Don’t take their heads off!)


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