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<p>Some folks from HBO's &quot;True Blood&quot;</p>

Some folks from HBO's "True Blood"

Credit: HBO

Comic-Con 2012 Live-Blog: HBO's 'True Blood'

Alan Ball and company discuss vampires, werewolves and more

San Diego - Welcome to hour two of Comic-Con's Saturday (July 14) afternoon sucking, vampire-wise.

I already live-blogged "The Vampire Diaries" and now it's time for HBO's "True Blood."

Get psyched, after the break...

4:35 p.m. OK. This is starting a bit late. I'm kinda rolling the dice on not swapping my batteries now. Cross your fingers that I make it to the end.

4:36 p.m. Alan Ball takes the stage first. "Wow," he says. We're starting with a trailer, mostly sneak peeks of things to come in Season 5. Sookie seems to want to be regular and she seems to want to forget about Bill. Tara seems to be working as a gogo dancer. Jessica seems to be dancing sexy and in bed with somebody in lingerie. Russell seems to get healthier and hammier (in a good way). Lafayette seems to be channeling some spirits. Jessica seems to be kicking some butt. An apocalypse seems to be coming. Or something. That actually looked decent.

4:39 p.m. People are very excited for Joe Manganiello. Excited, but less-so for Ryan Kwanten. I'm excited for Deborah Ann Woll, looking smashing in green. We've also got Sam Trammell, Rutina Wesley, Christopher Meloni, Alexander Skarsgard (not in the program, but extremely well-received), Kristen Baurer van Staten, Stephen Moyer and Anna Paquin (VERY pregnant). And, of course, we've got Alan Ball.

4:42 p.m. The moderator wants to know if the "True Blood" cast has a rivalry with "The Vampire Diaries" cast. "We don't talk about them," Moyer cracks. 

4:42 p.m. Ball agrees that he's enjoying finding new combinations of characters. "It's one of my favorite things about the show is the new chemistry between characters who were maybe at odds before," Ball says. Wesley calls it an "overall joy" to play "a new baby vampire" this season. But what's going to happen between Tara and Jessica after last week's tensions. 

4:44 p.m. Does Anna know the lyrics to "The Pina Colada Song"? "I kinda liked our rewrite of the lyrics," Paquin says.

4:44 p.m. I'm so sick of the word "bromance." But how have Stephen and Alex enjoyed being allies this season? "Yes," Alex says. "We've been struggling with that this whole season," Skarsgard says, noting that they've "had a little bit too much fun together." "I kinda felt, when we were working together, that there's something between them in the past that we haven't seen yet," Moyer teases. Skarsgard suggests that Eric is surprised with how much he's enjoying spending time with Bill. The moderator is eager to hear about how it was for the two actors to spend time in a trunk together. Moyer says, "We couldn't do it without laughing... but we did rehearse it all weekend." "It got a little Benny Hill," Alex says. Moyer and Skarsgard admit that they got emails from Ball having to meet with him and have their wrists slapped. "Who was the best cuddler?" asks the moderator. Yawn.

4:48 p.m. Now we're talking about Pam's wardrobe. I'm not interested in this, but Bauer van Straten says that it starts with the writing. She says her favorite outfit is the one she's wearing at any moment. Sam Trammell apparently has an obsession with a red one-piece from the second season. Everybody finds this weird. "I love that we literally just talked for five minutes about a sequin jump suit," the moderate says. I do not.

4:50 p.m. But now we're talking about Tara's wardrobe and whether Tara is exploring her more leather-y side. Wesley remembers her mother calling her on Monday to praise a bustier she wore. "It's been fun to dress up this year and have them thangs out," Wesley says.

4:51 p.m. Did Joe Manganiello give Rutina stripping advice? The crowd is very excited that the "Magic Mike" star might strip here and not. He does not. "I don't think they make my fireman suit in Rutina's size... But werewolf stripping, I like that idea," Manganiello says. Somehow this ends with Alan Ball standing on a chair and doing a body roll. "I love my job," Paquin laughs as Manganiello walks over and drops money on Ball.

4:53 p.m. Are we going to see Claude, Sookie's relative, stripping? Ball clarifies that on the show, it's more of a burlesque club. 

4:54 p.m. Are things over between Sam and Luna? We're not sure if Luna's daughter is a shifter or a wolf and Sam is trying to figure out how to fit into that family. Or something. 

4:55 p.m. How good are Deborah Ann Woll and Ryan Kwanten at "Rock Band"? It turns out that Ryan practiced the wrong version of "Cherry Bomb." "I practiced a lot for that, actually. the singing was the only thing we did live," Woll recalls. Are they having fun with the Jessica-Jason relationship? "I adore working with Ryan. I think he's the sweetest, most giving actor," Woll says. 

4:57 p.m. Ball suggests that Steve Newlin always had gay potential and that being a vampire just freed him.

4:57 p.m. How does "True Blood" compare to "SVU" for Meloni? "Trying to figure out what's a sex crime on this show is very different," Meloni says. "I'd never even heard as a were-panther," Meloni talks about his expanded horizons. Meloni recalls that he'd been told that one of the Guardians had betrayed him, but he wasn't told which one and he rooted for it to be the kid. The moderator wants to know if it was gross to stake the kid? "It's pretty much the one thing I wanted to do," referring to the staking, not the kid. He refers to it as very intricate and reassures him that "the kid doesn't actually expose." 5:00 p.m. Is Sookie completing her "badass" path this season? "Absolutely," Paquin agrees. "She always gets into some sort of action-y trouble," Paquin says, but she predicts that Sookie probably won't drink any more peach schnapps for a while.

5:01 p.m. Are we going to learn more about the Stackhouse parents? "Yes," Ball says. Will that be flashbacks or dreams? "Yes," Ball says again. We're going to learn more about the parents, what happened to them and the effects on Sookie and particularly Jason.

5:01 p.m. Who came up with the Fairy Club? They wanted to deal with refugee fairies and they decided they would be sensual. They decided to play off the strip club in the books. They wanted to make clear that these weren't Disney ferries. "We wanted to be more adult, more sensual more soft-core porno," Ball explains.

5:03 p.m. Will we get any good sex scenes this season? "Yes. I sexually eviscerate another character in one of the episodes coming up," Manganiello says. Ball promises both "sexy" sex scenes and "wacky what-the-f***" sex scenes.

5:04 p.m. Stephen Moyer directed an upcoming episode. "It was amazing. I got to see Joe naked," Moyer says. "It was a lot of fun and I was very pleased with what we ended up with," Moyer said. "He did an amazing job," Ball says. "All kidding aside, he was amazing," Paquin says. Paquin says that she wants to direct at some point, but she has no desire to direct "True Blood," because that sounds terrifying to her. She also recalls that Moyer directing made her "a widow for one month." Skarsgard is impressed Moyer was able to balance his acting responsibilities with the pressures of acting. "Being an actor himself, he really cares about the actors and the relationships," Skarsgard says. Bauer van Straten calls it "lovely" and says that she goes to Stephen for line readings anyway, even when he isn't directing. Moyer's episode is Episode 8, incidentally. 

5:08 p.m. What does Moyer's episode deal with? "I absolutely adore Sam Trammell. He is an amazing actor and he had one of the toughest jobs in my episode that you could possibly have," Moyer says, praising Sam highly for his understanding of what they needed to get. "It was a blast. It was really fun," Trammell says, adding his praise to the sea of superlatives for Moyer's preparation. Would Moyer do it again? "It's something that I've wanted to do for a long time," he says, noting that he begged Alan and Alan said "No" multiple times before giving in. Ball is making a face like he isn't remembering. Ball says that Stephen shadowed directors on two previous episodes before doing it himself and that he'd heard stories from the crew about how good Moyer was. "That's why we work so well, Stephen, because I always create problems and you solve them," Skarsgard says.

5:11 p.m. People want Alex to be in "50 Shades of Grey." "I haven't read the book. I haven't seen a script," he says. "He's just lived the life," Moyer says. 

5:14 p.m. Very sweet stuff with Kristen Bauer van Straten and Alexander Skarsgard talking about how much they've enjoyed working together this season and how emotional she got while filming the release scene. I have no quoted, because my battery died. All replaced now.

5:15 p.m. "I totally have gotten to recreate Tara, while keeping the essence of Tara at the same time," Wesley says, admitting that New Tara is "a little off." "Her life has been saved, whether she wants to admit it or not," Wesley says. This is not where she'd have predicted Tara would go four years ago. Alan Ball says that they'd already had the story of a young vampire with Jessica, but the goal was to tell the story again through somebody who really, really hates vampires.

5:17 p.m. How gross was the tanning stuff? Gross, but fun, Wesley says. "I thought it was fun to be rotting and give up vanity all together," Bauer van Straten says, recalling her own experience decomposing last season. "I liked that stuff. For three weeks," she concludes. It seems Anna Paquin gets freaked out by the burn makeup, because when Stephen had to do it in the first season, she wouldn't look at him. Kristen says she's kept her ear and her lip from the rotting last season.

5:20 p.m. We're finally opening things up to the audience. Are we going to get a were-tiger? "As of now, there are no plans for that," Ball says, before noting that he's stepping back after this season. I would have much rather heard more about THAT than about Tara's wardrobe. The moderator and I differ on that.

5:21 p.m. Would Meloni return to "SVU" for the finale whenever that happens? "I'm always willing to consider," Meloni says. "There's no bad blood there, so we'll see it as it comes. I don't know. It's still doing OK, I guess," adds Meloni, who doesn't look at ratings.

5:22 p.m. A fan gets Alex's placard and asks if any new romantic relationships are upcoming? Alex signs his card and also signs Chris' card and gives Chris a kiss on the cheek. "That's the new relationship," somebody says. "I can think of three that are going to happen. Three new romances this season. There's also a lot of people having sex, but those don't count as romances," Ball says.

5:25 p.m. What kind of music are they listening to? Woll salutes Martin Sexton. Meloni's listening to Tool. "I'm a big Tool... fan," Meloni says. Rutina likes Deathcab for Cutie. Kristen's listening to her husband. Stephen and Anna have been listening to the Eddie Vedder solo album. Ryan's listening to Angus and Julia Stone. Well... OK.

5:26 p.m. Ball says that there's a chance we're going to see the fairy war. Or a fairy war. Or something involving warring fairies. But he won't be involved.

5:26 p.m. A female fan asks the men to flex for the audience. Cameras rise around the room, including on the panel, where Meloni whips out his phone. "I'm sorry, we're legally not allowed to do that," Skarsgard says. "I won't go anywhere near taking anything off when Joe is part of our cast and, by the way, Ryan," Stephen says. Moyer asks for a handstand from Ryan, who blushes. The crowd begins to clap. Ryan comes to the front of the stage and, indeed, does a handstand and walks across the stage. "Holy s***," the young lady next to me says. 

5:29 p.m. Last question. She asks what has been the most memorable scene or episode. She also says that her mom wants her to take Joe home in a suitcase. "It'd better be a big suitcase," Joe says. Deborah says that Episode 10 of this season is memorable for her. Ryan remembers wearing his He-Man onesie. "It was a very emotional scene for me and Jason," Kwanten says. Joe liked the naked lake scene from last season. "The last scene of our last episode is going to blow people's minds," Paquin says, calling it "a very, very crazy scene." Alex mentions Godrick's death scene and people clap. Kristen mentions her scene of being released. "We work on a show where we get to do the most extraordinary things all the day," Moyer says. This Sunday's episode and the finale are the last Alan Ball episodes and Moyer ends the panel with a round of applause for Alan Ball. The cast stands for him and, eventually, much of the crowd does. He's very touched and gives Paquin a big hug.

5:32 p.m. I know I'm not one to talk, but that was a loooong panel for only 13 minutes of audience questions.

5:35 p.m. Ball, voice cracking, thanks everybody.

That's all, folks...

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<p>The stars (some of 'em) of &quot;The Vampire Diaries&quot;</p>

The stars (some of 'em) of "The Vampire Diaries"

Credit: The CW

Comic-Con 2012 Live-Blog: The CW's 'The Vampire Diaries'

What's next for Stefan, Damon and New Look Elena next season?

SAN DIEGO - Apologies for the midday silence, but the Comic-Con organizers, in their infinite wisdom, decided that duct-taping all power outlets in Ballroom 20 would somehow prevent forest fires. Or something. They also decided that the convenient water bottles keeping attendees from getting dehydrated were a bad idea. And they had volunteers going through the aisles in Ballroom 20 telling people to put away cell phones that weren't even turned on.

Sigh. 

Comic-Con, kids.

Anyway... It's time for Comic-Con's Vampire Weekend, or else least a Vampire Afternoon.

Up first? The CW's "The Vampire Diaries"...

Get ready for the madness, after the break...

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<p>Hugh Dancy will play FBI&nbsp;profiler Will Graham in NBC's &quot;Hannibal.&quot;</p>

Hugh Dancy will play FBI profiler Will Graham in NBC's "Hannibal."

Credit: NBC

Comic-Con 2012: Bryan Fuller on 'Mockingbird Lane' and 'Hannibal'

'Pushing Daisies' creator gets to reimagine Herman Munster and Hannibal Lecter

Through his work on "Wonderfalls," "Dead Like Me," "Pushing Daisies" and even "Heroes" (where he wrote the one episode, "Company Man," that people still look back fondly on), Bryan Fuller has established a reputation as one of the more distinctive, creative voices in the TV business. Yet this season, his two NBC projects aren't original visions, but one reboot and one reinvention of a pair of very familiar concepts.

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<p>The Season 1 cast of &quot;Once Upon a Time&quot;</p>

The Season 1 cast of "Once Upon a Time"

Credit: ABC

Comic-Con 2012 Live-Blog: ABC's 'Once Upon a Time'

ABC's hit fairy tale drama jumps to Ballroom 20 for its second Comic-Con

SAN DIEGO - It's time to get Saturday's (July 14) Comic-Con live-blogging underway. Today, I've got "The Vampire Diaries" and "True Blood" from Ballroom 20, plus a few hours of FOX animation to pick and choose from.

But first, it's one of the few new breakout hits from last season, the fairy tale drama "Once Upon a Time." From the huge ensemble cast, we're scheduled to have Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison,  Lana Parrilla, Josh Dallas, Emilie de Ravin and Meghan Ory on the panel. That means no Robert Carlyle, no Former Bobby Draper and a few other absences. We'll also have series creators Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, who I will endeavor to tell apart.

Click through for the full live-blog...

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<p>This image from 'Rocky 5' is tough to take in the wake of today's wrenching news about Sage Stallone passing away.</p>

This image from 'Rocky 5' is tough to take in the wake of today's wrenching news about Sage Stallone passing away.

Credit: MGM/UA Home Video

Sage Stallone, of Grindhouse Releasing and 'Rocky 5,' has passed away

The oldest son of Sylvester Stallone was only 36 years old

As with many things, the news of Sage Stallone's untimely passing today took me back to my days working at Dave's Video, a laserdisc store that was a major industry stomping ground back in the early '90s.

Sage had an account with the store.  Not his dad, but Sage.  At the time, he was around fourteen or fifteen years old.  He would arrive at the store with his big-ass bodyguard in tow, a guy who also served as his driver, and he'd shop for hours.  He was a voracious film fan, and his interests definitely tended to the obscure.

What blew me away was just how adult he was, even at that point.  It wasn't that smarmy over-precocious kind of adult, either.  Sage carried himself like he was much older, and in conversation, he was just a rabid film lover, someone who had seen at least as much as the older film nerds I knew.  He was constantly on the hunt for some rare title, and any time he could cross a film off his huge list of "things I want to see," it was a major accomplishment.

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<p>Jodie Foster was all smiles during her first appearance ever at the San Diego Comic-Con to help promote next year's science-fiction film 'Elysium'</p>

Jodie Foster was all smiles during her first appearance ever at the San Diego Comic-Con to help promote next year's science-fiction film 'Elysium'

Credit: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP Photo

Matt Damon and Jodie Foster are Comic-Con virgins no more thanks to 'Elysium'

Neill Blomkamp's first since 'District 9' looks like another mind-bending treat

SAN DIEGO - The first year that HitFix covered Comic-Con, one of the highlights was an early screening of "District 9," which we absolutely adored.  Small wonder one of the most anticipated moments of the convention for us came today when director Neill Blomkamp made his triumphant return to the event with seven minutes of next year's science-fiction action film, "Elysium."  As a sign of just how far he's come in a mere three years, in addition to Sharlto Copley, he also was joined by Matt Damon and Jodie Foster, both new to Comic-Con this year.

Based on the footage he put together, fans of "District 9" have reason to celebrate.

Blomkamp took the stage first, joining KROQ personality Ralph Garman, who hosted Sony's entire event today.  Blomkamp sat down and addressed the audience directly.  "I'm here to debut some footage.  I have this thing where I try to be as honest as I can.  I feel like I belong out there with you guys.  I feel like I'm a fan.  There's an element of salesmanship that makes me feel a little distanced as a fan.  The idea of launching footage here feels honest.  I like it because it's fans.  I'm okay with it."  He paused, looking around at the 6000 people packed into Hall H, and smiled.  "You guys want to see it… right?"

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<p>Zac Brown Band</p>

Zac Brown Band

Zac Brown Band's 'Uncaged' opens up at No. 1 on Billboard 200

Frank Ocean's digital only release also slated to open high

Zac Brown Band’s  “Uncaged” will handily bow at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 next week, while Frank Ocean’s “Channel Orange” gets off to a surprisingly strong start.

“Uncaged” will likely sell up to 230,000 copies, according to Hits Daily Double, with “Channel Orange,” which became available on iTunes a week before its planned release, will surpass 130,000 for No. 2.

The drop off is steep for the No. 3 spot with Chris Brown’s “Fortune,” Maroon 5’s “Overexposed” and Justin Bieber’s “Believe” all targeted to sell between 45,000-50,000 to vie for that spot.

Similarly, it’s still too close to call for No.6 with Linkin Park’s “Living Things,” Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream,” and Adele’s “21” all moving around 40,000 copies. That leaves One Direction’s “Up All Night” likely to hold the No. 10 spot.
 

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<p>&quot;Breaking Bad&quot;</p>

"Breaking Bad"

Comic-Con 2012 Live-Blog: AMC's 'Breaking Bad'

Ahead of its premiere, the Emmy-winning drama takes Ballroom 20

SAN DIEGO - Why the heck is "Breaking Bad" at San Diego Comic-Con?

Because smart people attend San Diego Comic-Con and smart people love "Breaking Bad."

That was easy.

The Emmy-winning drama, two days ahead of its fifth season premiere, made its first-ever Comic-Con appearance on Friday (July 13) night. 

How was it received? Click through for the full live-blog...

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"Today"

"Today"

Credit: NBC

Elton John to tell Matt Lauer why he wants more kids on 'Today'

The singer says he was 'the luckiest person in the world' for avoiding AIDS

 

Next week 'Today' will make another play at recapturing morning show domination by airing an interview between Matt Lauer and Sir Elton John. The interview, which will promote John's memoir "Love Is the Cure: On Life, Loss and the End of AIDS," will air in two parts; Tuesday, July 17 and Wednesday, July 18. In the chat, prerecorded in England, John talks about his struggle with drugs, alcohol and bulimia and discusses coming out about his sexuality.

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<p>Anna Kendrick almost melted down from all the cute on display in Hall H during the 'Paranorman' panel today.</p>

Anna Kendrick almost melted down from all the cute on display in Hall H during the 'Paranorman' panel today.

Credit: Jordan Straus/Invision/AP Photo

'Paranorman' makes a strong showing to open Friday the 13th in Hall H

Creepy new family stop-motion film from Laika has style to spare

SAN DIEGO - Things may have gotten started with a few communication glitches, but once "Entertainment Weekly" writer Dave Karger took the stage to moderate the "Paranorman" presentation, everything else ran smoothly, resulting in a frequently funny and raucous glimpse at the new stop-motion animated film from Laika Studios.

It seems appropriate that the Friday the 13th programming would begin with this odd hybrid of horror and comedy aimed squarely at a family audience.  Karger brought out a full panel of guests, including producer/lead animator/president/CEO Travis Knight, the co-directors of the film, Sam Fell and Chris Butler, and three of the actors who contributed their voices to the movie.  Kodi-Smit McPhee, who voices Norman, was last onstage at Comic-Con when I moderated the "Let Me In" panel a few years ago, and he's changed a lot since then.  Anna Kendrick plays his older sister Courtney in the movie, and she was very sharp and funny during her time onstage.  Finally, Chris Mintz-Plasse got cast against type here as Alvin, the school bully.

Chris Butler was the one who initially imagined this project, and he says he did so almost sixteen years ago.  The actual production of the film got underway a little over three years ago, and in that interim, Butler's been continuously playing with the idea of the film, a zombie movie for kids.  He's one of those filmmakers of a particular age who is looking to pay tribute to the films he grew up with like "The Goonies" and "Ghostbusters."  He originally pitched it as "John Hughes meets John Carpenter."  It all grew from there.

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<p>Emilia Clarke of HBO's &quot;Game of Thrones&quot;</p>

Emilia Clarke of HBO's "Game of Thrones"

Credit: HBO

Comic-Con 2012 Live-Blog: HBO's 'Game of Thrones'

George R.R. Martin moderates a discussion of HBO's hit drama

SAN DIEGO - While some of the original panelists have departed and other panelists have been added, the great thing about HBO's "Game of Thrones" is that no matter which stars are able to attend, they're bound to be *somebody's* favorite.

Click through for a full live-blog of Friday's "Game of Thrones" panel, which is sure to have many teasing hints about the show's upcoming third season. I assume they'll keep spoilers to a minimum, so I'll try to do the same!

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<p>Two-time Oscar nominee Samantha Morton will serve on this year's Venice Film Festival jury.</p>

Two-time Oscar nominee Samantha Morton will serve on this year's Venice Film Festival jury.

Credit: AP Photo

Venice jury includes Samantha Morton and Marina Abramovic

A diverse selection of eight artists to serve under jury president Michael Mann

I confess that when the press release unveiling this year's Venice Film Festival jury landed in my inbox today, it brought me up a little short -- I hadn't quite realized that the festival, which I'll be covering here at IC for the fourth consecutive year, is only a little over six weeks away. Yep, that's how close the fall festival season, and all the feverish awards talk it brings with it, is: enjoy the peace of summer while it lasts, folks.

That slightly sobering realization aside, the press release brought good news: in keeping with Venice's recently acquired reputation as perhaps the most adventurously programmed of the big three European festivals, this year's jury -- expanded this year from the usual seven members to nine -- is a suitably contemporary and eclectic gathering of artists. It was previously announced that Michael Mann (whose daughter, Ami, competed at the fest last year with "Texas Killing Fields") will preside over this year's Competition jury, marking the third year in a year in a row that an American director has had the honor: Quentin Tarantino and Darren Aronofsky precede him. But he's to be the only Yank at the table, with his fellow jurors coming from Britain, Israel, Argentina, Hong Kong, Serbia, France, Switzerland and, of course, Italy.

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