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HERC Spent Last Night With TEAM WHEDON!!

If I could make the title of this piece any length, it would read “Herc just spent Saturday Night with Team Whedon, the cast of ‘Angel,’ a ‘Buffy’ regular and a couple hundred other ‘Angel’ fans!!”

It was FUN! The occasion was the “Angel” evening of the Museum of Television and Radio’s 18th annual William S. Paley Television Festival at the Director’s Guild Theatre in Los Angeles. They screened “Darling Boy” (in which Angel met the human Darla) then convened a panel.

On stage were “Angel” creators Joss Whedon and David Greenwalt, writers Marti Noxon and Tim Minear, and cast members David Boreanaz, Charisma Carpenter, Alexis Denisof, J. August Richards, Elisabeth Rohm (Kate Lockley), Stephanie Romanov (Lilah Morgan) and Christian Kane (Lindsey McDonald).

What follows is my version of the highlights (If you were there, please feel free to elaborate or correct any inaccuracies in talkback. The rest of you, please forgive all the bad grammar, missing words, misspellings et al; for reasons I daren’t explain, Herc’s really under the gun tonight.)

1) Asked if he minded not winning Emmys, Whedon said, “I’m hanging out with these guys! Who cares about Emmys? I would love to win Emmys and wear them about my neck, but considering that we’re making a show about vampire hunting, I think the level of recognition we ARE receiving really speaks to the amount of talent on this stage.”

2) Talk got around to “Buffy’s” huge cast of regulars. Whedon jokingly said, “I’m killing them off.” A nervous voice from the audience cried “Killing them ALL off??” The voice turned out to be that of Alyson Hannigan. Whedon assured Hannigan that they “would never, ever kill off Willow.”

3) Carpenter said she likes to go to the Emmys “as if I WERE nominated!” Josh joked that Emmy security would descend upon her with shouts of “Get her away from Mr. Sorkin!”

4) Someone asked Whedon how he defined “a soul” and how Angel (a vampire with a soul) differed from the soulless vampires (like Spike). Whedon posited that soulless creatures can do good and souled creatures can do evil, but that the soul-free are instinctually drawn toward doing evil while those with souls tend to instinctually want to do good. So there you have it.

5) Whedon said that the character of Angel (by the time he got his own series) was intended as a metaphor for an alcoholic in recovery. Angel, like many recovering addicts, is making amends for what he did “under the influence.”

6) An audience member asked where Angel got all his money. Whedon joked, “He robs. We’re not going to SHOW that.” When the same person asked where Angel gets his clothes, Whedon shot back, “Clearly at one shop!”

7) Someone on stage revealed that Christian Kane (Lindsey) had a great singing voice and would be singing on the show before season’s end.

8) A horrified Carpenter revealed that for the next “Angel” to be shot, she would be appearing in a bikini.

CARPENTER: Seriously, it even says in the script, “Bend over more!”

BOREANAZ: I’ll wear your bikini. (Huge laugh.) Seriously, I’ll wear a bikini and sing karaoke till I’m blue in the face.

WHEDON: Boy, did YOU just create an arc for your character!

9) CONFUSED AUDIENCE MEMBER: When will Buffy remember or realize that she slept with Angel?

WHEDON: When the rash … (Laughter stopped Whedon before he could finish.)

10) Whedon, while explaining how real-world “disasters” can create major major plotlines, revealed that Spike and Dru were supposed to return to Sunnydale together in season three. The Spike/Dru breakup that persists to this day was created to cover for the fact that Juliet Landau was doing a movie at the time and wasn’t available for that episode.

11) Whedon also said much of the long-term plot is planned well in advance, but sometimes the writers just suddenly decide to bring back characters who were created weeks or months or years previously because they fit.

12) Several of the writers, including Whedon and Tim Minear, did not mention AICN specifically, but did say they were addicted to internet postings about the show. Tim Minear said it was impossible to stay away and that he can usually cite the number of hours and minutes since his last glimpse at the message boards. “There’s praise,” said Whedon, “and then there’s MORE praise. And after a while it’s like ‘I invented television!!’ It makes me say to my wife, ‘Why don’t you think I’m cooler??’ It does affect the way I think about the show – in moderation.”

13) Someone (Minear? Greenwalt?) casually revealed that the last three episodes of the season would take place somewhere besides Los Angeles. Someone else on the panel yelped “Spoiler!” Which got a big laugh.

14) An audience member asked why the nerdy billionaire wasn’t on the show anymore. Whedon said they wanted him back but the actor wasn’t available. “We loved him,” said Whedon. “He was in ‘Office Space’ so we thought he was the coolest thing in the world!”

15) Whedon confirmed that he made “The Body” because he own mother died several years ago and he “had some things to say” about the experience.

16) Carpenter unexpectedly asked one of the best questions of the night:

CARPENTER: Why didn’t you close her [Joyce Summers’] eyes?

WHEDON: To make it worse.

Carpenter also stopped everything to express what sounded like genuine awe for Hannigan’s performance in “The Body.” This brought perhaps the evening’s biggest audience reaction.

17) Whedon also revealed that Mutant Enemy purposely tries to make sure when there’s a really dark “Buffy,” it’s paired that night with a lighter “Angel,” and vice-versa. The rationale, said Whedon, is “They’re SO gonna need this.”

18) Carpenter remembered one time on the “Angel” set when Whedon was deep in thought and she asked him what he was so preoccupied with. Whedon explained he was trying to figure out what happens in the seventeenth episode of season two. “We were shooting episode five of season one at the time,” she marveled.

19) An audience member asked if there was an encyclopedia of demons for staff use. Joss offered that David Greenwalt kept track of the demons. “Names,” retorted Greenwalt. “I just come up with the names. Usually something with a 'k' sound.”

20) Tim Minear (I think) told a story of an accidental crossover. Minear (I think) was helping build the Darla arc and wanted to do an origin episode for Darla, but when he took the idea to Whedon, Whedon said, “Well, that’s fine, except that same night we’re already doing Spike’s origin story on ‘Buffy’” “Then we looked at each other.”

21) A very funny moment occurred when one clueless audience member (obviously dying to mate with Angel) asked Boreanaz if Angel will ever be romantically involved with another mortal. At this point, Whedon and Minear simultaneously moved to the edges of their chairs, their eyes locked on Boreanaz as if dying to find out.

22) Whedon concluded by saying how excited he was to do that evening’s event and how pleased he was to get through an entire evening without one of the questions being “Isn’t that the new show on Fox?”

God doesn’t want you! But I still do!

I am – Hercules!!

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