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TWILIGHT Comic-Con Panel Makes the Young Girls Go Wild!! And Capone goes deaf watching it happen!!

Hey everyone. Capone at Comic-Con here. Although this is my first time at this event, I had a pretty good idea what to expect at the panels, but nothing quite prepared me for what I'm guessing is an atypical event here. The panel for TWILIGHT was louder than any rock concert I've ever been to, with each of the cast members being greeted by a slightly younger-than-normal audience of several thousand adoring, mostly female fans of the book by Stephenie Myer. The result of the nearly hour-long panel was partial deafness for me. It may got without saying, but let me say it anyway: my interest in this film is limited. I know plenty of people of all ages (and all female) who have read the book and had a wide range of reactions. But for now, let's accept that there are a whole lot of people looking forward to this film about young vampires in love. Two things intrigued me about TWILIGHT going into this panel: the fact that Catherine Hardwicke (THIRTEEN; LORDS OF DOGTOWN) was the director; and young star Kristen Stewart, who plays the heroine Bella. Hardwicke is a skilled filmmaker who knows how to tell convincing stories about hormonally charged young people, so she seems well suited to make a film about a sensitive vampire named Edward (Robert Pattinson) and Bella. Stewart has been a gripping young actress since I first spotted her as Jodie Foster's child in PANIC ROOM. In last years INTO THE WILD, she played Emile Hirsch's love interest. I'll have short interviews with both very soon, but let's talk about this panel first. Screaming. That's all I really remember. Every time the face of one of the male actors on the panel was flashed up on screen, there was screaming. So much screaming, in fact, that I think it freaked everyone out on stage. It didn't help that during the Q&A (all of the audience questions came from, you guessed it, ladies) a couple girls took the opportunity to let Pattinson know how hot he was. Some people after the panel said Pattinson looked baked, but to me he looked deeply embarrassed by all of the attention and lust being shot his way by the entire audience. Aside from Pattinson, Stewart, and Hardwicke, the panel also included author Myer, and actors Cam Gigandet (from NEVER BACK DOWN, who plays evil vampire James), Edi Gathegi (recently on "House" as Laurent), Rachelle Lefevre (Victoria), and Taylor Lautner (as Bella's best friend Jacob). Lautner was also clearly a fan favorite, probably because he's so damn good looking, it makes me mad. The panel began with an extended scene from near the end of the film, in which James terrorizes Bella using a video camera and a lot of brute force. She is saved by Edward, and the two get into a fairly brutal physical battle. The scene actually played well, and not just to the choir. The fight was fairly bitchin' and James really looked like he was on the verge of causing Bella some serious damage. The beginning of the scene almost plays out like a rape in the making, and that added a level of tension to the sequence. James tosses her around a dark room, and eventually gets right in her face with the camera and asks her to show him fear as he declares her "very visually dynamic." When Edward breaks up the moment, the crowd went nuts. But who am I to judge? I did like it when Stewart said that she "got off" on the physicality of the chosen sequence. Normally, I'd try to give you a detailed account of some of the highlights from the panel and audience Q&A, but when you're dealing with people who ask questions such as, "Boxers, briefs, or nothing?" to male cast members, I think I was doomed not to get any revealing information from this event. The one interesting elements to the discussion occurred when the topic of doing the sequel came up. In a weird move, pretty much everybody connected with the film only signed to do one movie, so contract negotiations are probably in the works. Most of the actors seemed game to be in future films in this series, and Hardwicke certainly seemed to enjoy her time making the film. But apparently nothing is set in stone. One question was asked about on-set surprises, and Stewart told an interesting story about an improvised moment when she stuck her finger in Edward's mouth and said something like "Have a taste." She wasn't sure if the ad-lib would make the final film, but based on the slightly orgasmic reaction to her telling the story, Hardwicke should probably consider using it. I guess what is bugging me more and more about TWILIGHT isn't the film or the story. I'm always up for a decent vampire tale, or even a lame one sometimes. But the whole unveiling of it seems so packaged. I realize that's sort of the point of these panels, but the overwhelming interest in the film (as evidenced by the sheer number of reporters who swarmed the actors and filmmakers after the panel) seems to be based on the popularity of the books. And because of the chiseled nature of the actors, the young-girl fan base has already decided the film will be "amazing." The film has become a cultural phenomenon with hardly a frame of footage being out in the general public. Seeing the scene screened at Comic-Con makes me perhaps a little more hopeful that the film won't injure my eyes as I watch it, but these little girls need to calm the hell down. Or maybe the fault is mine. Maybe I need to get with the program. My touchstone here are the Harry Potter films. I've never read those novels, but I truly enjoy the movies. Maybe I'll cross over the side of teen angst, forbidden young love, and studly vampires one day soon. I have until December to figure that one out. -Capone

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