True Blood at PaleyFest 2011: A Fan’s Perspective

March 15, 2011 by  

Wow! I went to PaleyFest 2011’s True Blood panel, and I’m still blown away by how amazing it was! It felt like the entire cast was there (all major characters were well represented), including the brains behind the show, Alan Ball. I should also mention that this Paley Fest panel actually took place at Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills, rather than at the actual Paley Center, which has far fewer seats.

The panel started late, and opened with a clip package from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Those of us in the audience who are/were Buffy fans cheered and clapped at this, since it can be argued that True Blood is the vampire show that took Buffy’s place on television and in film history. Afterwards, Alan came back to the podium to share a special clips package from True Blood seasons 1, 2, 3, and a special unfinished clip from season 4! The clip featured Jessica, Pam, Hoyt, and followers from the Fellowship of the Sun who were protesting in front of Fangtasia. Hoyt was a good boyfriend and defended himself, Jessica, and their relationship to the protesters. He told them that he felt he was a better Christian than they were because of the love in his heart, rather than the hatred. It was a beautiful scene, and I can’t wait to see the finished version when Season 4 finally begins this summer!

Right after that, the panel and it’s attendees were announced. My ears are still ringing from all the cheering for the cast! As shown in order in the photo below, there are 18 total people on stage. From left to right, they are: the moderator of the panel, Alan Ball, Anna Paquin (Sookie Stackhouse), Stephen Moyer (Bill Compton), Alexander Skarsgard (Eric Northman), Rutina Wesley (Tara Thornton), Sam Trammell (Sam Merlotte), Marshall Allman (Tommy Mickens), Ryan Kwanten (Jason Stackhouse), Chris Bauer (Andy Bellefleur), Carrie Preston (Arlene Fowler), Todd Lowe (Terry Bellefleur), Jim Parrack (Hoyt Fortenberry), Deborah Ann Woll (Jessica Hamby), Nelsan Ellis (Lafayette Reynolds), Kevin Alejandro (Jesus Velasquez), Kristin Bauer van Straten (Pam de Beaufort), and Joe Manganiello (Alcide Herveaux). Please click on the image of the cast to see a larger, cleaner version.

A majority of the panel focused on basic questions and answers, though lots of detail came out about the stars, their characters, and the future of True Blood. One of my favorite moments was when the actors all shared about their most embarrassing/awkward fan encounters, and Joe once again shared his story about a fan who asked him to lick her. Though the debacle has been shared before, the way in which Joe presented it had the audience groaning, laughing, and in my case, blushing furiously while trying not to laugh. Another favorite was Chris Bauer’s story, which ended up being a case of someone who didn’t recognize him, but instead told him that he had bird excrement on his back while at lunch with his wife. The audience howled at the story!

The story that I most appreciated came from Anna Paquin, and it wasn’t so much of a story as an experience she’s had several times over. Anna described how amused she is by fans who come over to say hi to her and Stephen Moyer, only to ogle Stephen and then pretend to be interested in Anna as well. Anna made the audience smile appreciatively after saying that she totally understands and is actually pretty okay with fans ogling her husband.

Several spoilers were spilled, and a couple of my favorites were very minor. When the moderator asked each actor who they hadn’t worked with yet but wanted to, Rutina and Kristin said that Tara and Pam should meet. Alan Ball confirmed that Sookie’s best friend and Eric’s right hand woman will meet in Season 4. The audience was ecstatic from the news and the cheers echoed quite a bit in the theatre! Once confirmed, Rutina and Kristin looked at each other and smiled.

Another spoiler I liked came from a question about what animals will be seen in Season 4. Of course, some are obvious, like dogs, wolves, and a few panthers. One that’s not so common? An alligator. When Alan confirmed that particular new creature, I was stunned to say the least. It leaves me curious as to why it might be important to the series.

One other comment made in the panel really made me think. When a fan asked if Bill and Sookie are still soul mates after everything that’s happened, the response was yes, but it will take a long time for them to get back together. While continuing to answer the question, Alan referred to Bill’s actions against Sookie as a “perceived” betrayal. That definitely leaves the show open to possibly have a flashback where we see what happened from Bill’s point of view, rather than just seeing what happened to Sookie and her take on it.

Aother sort-of non spoiler was about Jessica and Hoyt. We knew their relationship wouldn’t be easy (which was shown by that special clip aired at the panel), but I’ll be very upset if anything happens to them. I find them to be one of my favorite couples on True Blood, and they’re just so cute together!

Of course, a lot more was said, with hints for fans to not expect to see Niall yet (my fingers are remaining crossed that David Bowie will somehow play the part), more clues about Arlene’s evil baby, new shifters on the horizon, and some very important wiccans. Season 4 is going to be awesome!

To get a bit of a feel of what the panel was really like, check out this video clip that the Paley Center posted on their website:

Anyways, after the panel closed, fans rushed the stage to talk to the stars and get autographs. I became trapped in the throng, which was quite uncomfortable, but I did get to talk to Carrie Preston about her film That’s What She Said and tell her how excited I am to see it when it comes out. I also spoke to Todd Lowe as well as Alexander Skarsgard for a moment (he was very sweet to everyone and stayed later than almost all of the stars who were signing). Just when I figured that I couldn’t have any more luck, Sam Trammell came over and I got to speak with him as well!

As always, I came with gifts for a few members of the cast, but I was unable to deliver them to the stars by hand. Instead, one of the people at HBO took them from me and handed them out backstage. Kristin Bauer confirmed that she got my gifts, so I hope that everyone else did too.

I gave Kristin a pillow I created that was inspired by her character, Pam. (Though you can’t see it, the actual pillow within is made of a black fabric with silver spider webs on it in honor of Pam’s tough-as-nails-persona. The pink case is in honor of Pam’s favorite color.) I also gave Kristin a t-shirt I’d made previously that says Ravenscroft/Stackhouse 2012 on the front and ‘Pam for President’ on the back. (At the time I made the shirt, Pam’s last name had not been changed.) I also created a similar shirt for Anna, which says ‘Sookie for VP’ on the back. The final gift I brought was for Alan Ball. He too got a pillow, but that one was directly inspired by True Blood.

Kristin Bauer van Straten’s Pillow


Alan Ball’s Pillow

The True Blood panel at Paley was absolutely fantastic, and I still can’t believe I was lucky enough to get to go!

(Image Credits: Isis Nocturne)