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Elston Gunn Goes To The 33rd Annual Saturn Awards!!

Hello. Elston Gunn here. The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror held their 33rd Annual Saturn Awards show Thursday, May 10 at the Universal Hilton in Los Angeles. I interviewed the Academy's president, Robert Holguin, earlier this year when the nominations were announced. [READ IT HERE!] The organization was founded in 1972 by Dr. Donald A. Reed who respected genre work and wanted to shine some light on it. The Academy is celebrating their 35th anniversary this year and promised to have one of their best shows. It was my first, so I can't compare, but I had a hell of a time. But let me back up just a little bit. I was also fortunate enough to see some of the behind-the-scenes action in the days leading up to the show. While the Hollywood hills were sadly ablaze by wildfire, twin brothers Brad & Kevin Marcus, who produce the show, were constantly on the phone fixing last-minute problems and talking to publicists, finding out if they would have one, two or zero actors from a certain TV show to attend the awards. "I hope to God we at least get one of them," they'd worry. The Marcus Bros., who speak in a fascinating twin shorthand and watching them have a conversation was like watching an Extreme Ping-Pong Challenge, were then moving the physical award statues from one hotel room to the other, trying to decide where they wouldn't be bothered, writing introductions for presenters and showing me the gift bag-stuffing process. Volunteers showed up that night to fill 500 bags full of action figures, books and DVDs, working tirelessly through the night like Santa's elves. The academy is a non-profit organization so these guys and several other volunteers are sweating, not sleeping and getting high blood pressure for the pure love of sci fi, fantasy and horror. It was extremely compelling to see the preparation involved. Thursday evening came with a quickness and before you could blink the red carpet was rolling out, banners were hoisted and wonderful life-size robots were delivered to add some serious sci fi style to the event. Robots were the theme of this year's show and as we entered the reception we walked by a giant Gort (THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL), The Robot from LOST IN SPACE, Tobor (SILENT RUNNING) and Robby, The Robot (FORBIDDEN PLANET) courtesy of Fred Barton, The Robot Man. Celebs came trickling down the red carpet and into the ballroom. Josh Cook and Emmanuelle Vaugier, Katee Sackhoff, Larry Cohen, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Masi Oka, Matt Dallas, Mick Garris, Mitchell Musso, Nathan Fillion, Noah Gray Cabey, Rainn Wilson, Ryan Schifrin, Taylor Handley, Teller, Thomas Dekker, Tim Sullivan, Tom DeSanto, Traci Bingham, Tristan Lake Leabu, Tyler Mane, Andrea Gabriel, Bonnie Sommerville, Brandon Molale and Kim Wolfe, Christa Campbell, Daamen Krall and David Lee Fisher, Danielle Harris and Coby McLaughlin, Danny Trejo, Dean Devlin, Devon Graye, Doug Jones, Edward James Olmos, Masi Oka, Eli Roth, Danielle Harris, Emmanuelle Vaugier, Ernie Hudson, Leonard Roberts, Rainn Wilson, Irwin Keyes and Jenny Church, Jack Coleman, James Denton, Jeffrey Ross, Greg Grunberg, Jenna Fisher and James Gunn, Jennifer Love Hewitt... just to name a few. Danny MACHETE Trejo was shaking hands with Ernie GHOSTBUSTERS Hudson, Masi Oka was chatting it up with Edward James Olmos, Leonard Roberts seemed like a big brother to his TV son Noah Gray-Cabey, Katee Sackhoff and Jennifer Love Hewitt made time for autographs for fans, James Gunn and Nathan Fillion reunited after SLITHER, Rainn Wilson all smiles and sporting a cool scraggly beard, model/actress Valerie Perez, the WONDER WOMAN-looking hostess who handed the awards to the winners, asking me to button the back of her dress. A surreal, positive atmosphere to say the least. The show opened with a beautifully cut "History of Robots" montage on the projection screens that featured a wide assortment of robots throughout TV & film history. (Yes, of course, IRON GIANT was among them. As were others more famous and some rather obscure.) Then, producer/writer Mark Altman (FREE ENTERPRISE and upcoming FEAR EFFECT) delivered the opening remarks where he commended the bringing together of two generations of genre filmmakers in the room, name-checking Martin Campbell and Richard Donner to Eli Roth and James Gunn. Altman then introduced a very special person to explain the voting procedures. The lights went down and the late Dr. Reed appeared on the projection screen welcoming the audience via a clip from a late 1970s broadcast of the Saturn Awards. Altman then introduced X-MEN and TRANSFORMERS producer Tom DeSanto, who presented the SATURN SERVICE AWARD to Kerry O'Quinn, former editor of Starlog Magazine, who said he was proud to help bring attention to the hardworking unrecognized behind-the-scenes artists of genre film and television. The crowd justifiably applauded this and I was proud to feel that this was also something Ain't It Cool News tries to do as well. Composers, visual effects artists, cinematographers and the like are just as interesting as actors, writers and directors. When O'Quinn left the stage, Guillermo Del Toro thanked the Academy for his GEORGE PAL MEMORIAL AWARD in a pre-taped message and said he would be there in person next year. Five-timer host Jeff Ross then took the stage with his co-host Greg Grunberg (HEROES) and witty banter ensued. The two made an interesting combination, playing well off each other. Ross gave Grunberg hell about his weight and being the first male spokesperson for Weight Watchers, made geek and Jewish jokes in Ross-roasting style and also played a SNAKES ON A PLANE-esque clip he made entitled ALLIGATOR IN AN ELEVATOR. Grunberg quipped he was hoping Jennifer Love Hewitt would take home a Saturn to go with her "two golden globes." This joke was referenced throughout the night by a few presenters and BEST TV ACTRESS winner Jennifer Love Hewitt (GHOST WHISPERER) who said Grunberg would love to see how excited her "golden globes" were at the moment. DVD awards were then handed out to GODZILLA, MASTERS OF HORROR, SCI-FI BOYS and SUPERMAN II: THE DONNER CUT, which was accepted by Richard Donner, Tom Mankiewicz and Michael Thau. I really would have loved to have met Donner just to thank him for SUPERMAN and a childhood full of great films, but I thought it was interesting as hell that The Saturns is the kind of place where at the after party Michael Thau was getting approached as much as any of the actors there. Thau told me he's working on a fascinating documentary that should be out in the fall and felt cutting a documentary was more challenging than a feature. Anxious to hear more. Mitchell Musso (MONSTER HOUSE) and a magic tricky Teller presented The Chiodo Brothers and Jim Strain a SPECIAL RECOGNITION AWARD for their imaginative book ALIEN X-MAS, while SLITHER was given the BEST MAKE-UP award and Jack Coleman and Leonard Roberts (both of HEROES) presented BEST SPECIAL EFFECTS to PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN 2. The lovely Bonnie Sommerville took the stage to present BEST MUSIC saying it was scary she was on the GARDEN STATE soundtrack, "scary because I dated the director." The award went to SUPERMAN RETURNS composer John Ottman who said he really wanted to meet George Takei. Next up were the TV Awards, but not before another classic clip of a young Jodie Foster accepting a Saturn Award for THE LITTLE GIRL WHO LIVES DOWN THE LANE. (Jeff Ross then appeared questioning the purpose of the clip asking "Is Jodie Foster dead?") The highlights of the TV Awards included an excited Masi Oka (HEROES) winning BEST TV SUPPORTING ACTOR, Hewitt's aforementioned grace and humor in her acceptance speech, Jenna Fischer and Rainn Wilson presenting and HEROES and BATTLESTAR GALACTICA winning BEST TV SERIES and BEST SYNDICATED CABLE SERIES, respectively. Tim Kring said it was the only award he cared about winning. Wilson was in top form as he said the best Saturn went to the XL Sedan, referred to 24 as "beinte quatro," announced winner GALACTICA as "Dwight Schrute's favorite show!" and tried to embarrass Fischer for being at the Saturns yet only liking SURVIVOR and AMERICAN IDOL. Jeffrey Ross jabbed Greg Grunberg with "Maybe JJ Abrams will take a dump and put you in it." (Grunberg's been in nearly everything Abrams has done.) Additionally, the alluring Katee Sackhoff presented BEST TV PRESENTATION to LIBRARIAN 2, Hayden Panettiere was shown in a clip accepting her BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS award and Matt Dallas won the RISING STAR AWARD for KYLE XY. Edward James Olmos and Sackhoff accepting GALACTICA's award was one of the night's best moments as Olmos eloquently lamented the end of the series, sincerely saying it was the best job he's ever had. Great to see Doug Jones, who was there to accept PAN'S LABYRINTH's BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM AWARD for Guillermo del Toro (who appeared again on video to give thanks). TIDELAND's Jodelle Ferland was there to read the "Winners Not Present" announcement and I heard later from Brad Marcus that she could not have been nicer or more precocious. One of the night's most entertaning moments followed Ferland. Another classic clip projected on the screen featuring William Shatner smoking a cigarette and performing Elton John's "Rocket Man." Hysterical. The room lost it. I don't know if it's on youtube or not but I could see Eli Roth among many, many others enjoying the hell out of that clip. Speaking of precocious youngsters, Ivana Baquero (PAN'S LABYRINTH) accepted on tape for winning BEST YOUNGER ACTOR. HALLOWEEN veteran Danielle Harris (4, 5 and Rob Zombie's remake) and new Shape Tyler Mane presented BEST HORROR FILM to Neil Marshall for THE DESCENT. Nathan Fillion presented the FILMMAKERS SHOWCASE AWARD to James Gunn, delivering a nice speech and showing clips of Gunn on the set of SLITHER. Gunn took the stage, thanked many people, talked about growing up as an outcast in Missouri dreaming up bad things to do to "children with gardening shears" and thanking Jenna Fischer's dad for being distant so "she could accept being with someone who is so fucked-up." The crowd enjoyed that line, too. Michael Rooker even jumped out from backstage to wave to the crowd after Gunn gave him a shout-out. You could tell Gunn was unbelievably excited winning the award. Such a cool, down-to-earth guy, too. Looking forward to the new thriller he's supposed to direct in the early fall from his own script. The classic clips were a nice touch. The last one showed Charlton Heston presenting George Burns with a Saturn Award for his OH GOD performance. Burns said to Heston "You only played Moses." Heston tried to say something cute then Burns without missing a beat said "One more commandment. Don't try to steal my scene." Ernie Hudson and Ricky Ullman were there to give the BEST ACTOR award to Brandon Routh, who was in Kansas and couldn't be there to accept. Portman, working out-of-town, won BEST ACTRESS for V FOR VENDETTA. Martin Campbell, who was there, took home BEST ACTION/ADVENTURE/THRILLER FILM for CASINO ROYALE. The next three awards had kind of a red, blue and gold tint to them. Wonderful to see James Karen there, who presented BEST WRITING to SUPERMAN RETURNS' Michael Doughterty & Dan Harris (Karen used to date one of the writer's grandmother) and BEST DIRECTOR to Bryan Singer, a longtime Academy member and fan and admirer of Dr. Reed. BEST FANTASY FILM went to SUPERMAN RETURNS. Finally, Edward James Olmos returned to the stage to present BEST SCIENCE FICTION FILM to CHILDREN OF MEN. Producers Eric Newman and Hilary Shor accepted. Shor said she had optioned the material eleven years ago inspired by having children herself and would never have imagined years later to win a Saturn for it. And thus ended the show. The hosts were funny, winners were gracious, clips were great, the show was relaxed but organized and not an air of elitism about it. Most importantly, though, genre work was earnestly recognized and honored. It was on to the after party sponsored by Geek Magazine. Hosts Grunberg and Ross were in great spirits as was Michael Rooker who was looking for a random girl who kissed him on the cheek out of the blue. Rooker said he's been to the Saturns a few times before. "I love 'em!" he exclaimed. Again, Michael Thau of SUPERMAN 2: THE DONNER CUT was getting swarmed by people. Tyler Mane, Danielle Harris and Coby McLaughlin were hanging out. ABOMINABLE's Ryan Schifrin was having a good time as was Nathan Fillion. Thomas Dekker was there and relayed his excitement about THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES. Doug Jones who was set to leave very soon for HELLBOY 2 said, "I love Ain't It Cool News. Seriously!" Met a fellow who invested $5 million in an 8-minute trailer (!) and his composer, too. Incredibly nice guys. May soon be doing a piece about them. It was good times. Everyone was so nice and completely supportive of each other. These folks just want to enjoy making and watching good genre work, appreciating what's been done and looking forward to the projects ahead. James Gunn said to the Marcus Bros., "See you next year!" As the country, and the world for that matter, becomes more and more homogenized, as we all shop in the same chain stores, eat the same foods and inevitably lose our regional identities, we will have to continue to rely heavily on genre films, television and publications as a means of escapism entertainment. It will be science fiction, fantasy, horror, and if I may add another, history that will enable us to lose ourselves in stories that will take us to fascinating places and introduce us to interesting characters. This particular academy, their president Robert Holguin and the Saturn Awards recognizes and celebrates that. They fully understand the Carl Sagan quote, "Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere." Many thanks to them, particularly Robert Holguin and Brad & Kevin Marcus. Visit the Saturn Awards website for information on the Academy, how you can join and more.
Complete List of Saturn Award Winners: Best Science Fiction Film: Children of Men (Universal) Best Fantasy Film: Superman Returns (Warner Bros.) Best Horror Film: The Descent (Lionsgate) Best Action/Adventure/Thriller Film: Casino Royale (Sony / MGM) Best Animated Film: Cars (Buena Vista) Best International Film: Pan’s Labyrinth (Picturehouse) Best Actor: Brandon Routh (Superman Returns) Best Actress: Natalie Portman (V For Vendetta) Best Supporting Actor: Ben Affleck (Hollywoodland) Best Supporting Actress: Famke Janssen (X-Men: The Last Stand) Best Performance by a Younger Actor: Ivana Baquero (Pan’s Labyrinth) Best Director: Bryan Singer (Superman Returns) Best Writing: Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris (Superman Returns) Best Music: John Ottman (Superman Returns) Best Costume: Yee Chung-Man (Curse of the Golden Flower) Best Make-Up: Todd Masters, Dan Rebert (Slither) Best Special Effects: John Knoll, Hal Hickel, Charles Gibson, Allen Hall (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest) Best Network Television Series: Heroes (NBC) Best Syndicated/Cable Television Series: Battlestar Galactica (Sci Fi Channel) Best Presentation on Television: The Librarian: Return to King Solomon’s Mines (TNT) Best Actor on Television: Michael C. Hall (Dexter) Best Actress on Television: Jennifer Love Hewitt (Ghost Whisperer) Best Supporting Actor on Television: Masi Oka (Heroes) Best Supporting Actress on Television: Hayden Panettiere (Heroes) Best DVD Release: The Sci Fi Boys (Universal) Best DVD Special Edition Release: Superman II (The Richard Donner Cut) Best DVD Classic Film Release: Gojira (Godzilla) (Classic Media) Best DVD Collection: James Bond Ultimate Edition (Collection 1 - 4) (MGM) Best DVD Television Series: Masters of Horror (Anchor Bay / Starz) Best Retro Television Series on DVD: Adventures of Superman (Complete 6 Seasons) (Warner) The Rising Star Award: Matt Dallas ("Kyle XY") The Filmmakers Showcase Award: James Gunn (Director or "Slither") The Service Award: Kerry O’Quinn (former publisher of Starlog Magazine) The Special Recognition Award: "Alien Xmas" written by Stephen Chiodo & Jim Strain.
Elston Gunn
P.S. Apparently, my cord to upload pictures is an hour out-of-town. Check my myspace page in the coming weeks for pics from the red carpet and after party.

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