PaleyFest 2011 honored the HBO smash-sensation TRUE BLOOD on Saturday night at the Saban Theater in Beverly Hills. With a line round the block and the entire auditorium brimming at the seams, fans excitedly awaited a glimpse of the stars and hoped for some inside scoop on what to expect when the series returns next summer.
While the notoriously tight-lipped cast were careful not to rouse any ire from their watchful executive producer Alan Ball, it was clear that everyone had a great time teasing what they would like to see, hinting about what is upcoming next season, and sharing a bit about what they love about the show.
With loud applause and ear-splitting screams to greet the sexy cast, sixteen cast members and Alan Ball arrived on stage to start the up-roaring evening. Besides creator/producer Alan Ball, in attendance was: Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Alexander Skarsgard, Rutina Wesley, Sam Trammell, Marshall Allman, Ryan Kwanten, Chris Bauer, Carrie Preston, Todd Lowe, Jim Parrack, Deborah Ann Woll, Nelsan Ellis, Kevin Alejandro, Kristin Bauer van Staten, and Joe Manganiello.
With such a large number of cast on stage, questions tended to invoke a lot of good-spirited, teasing and fan-baiting to see how the audience would react.
The first question of the night was a softball to warm everyone up, with the moderator asking each cast member who they have not yet had a chance to work with and who they would like to work with.
Not even hesitating, Kristin Bauer van Straten coyly tossed out, “I think Jason and Pam would be hysterical.” Followed by Kevin Alejandro who slyly said, “I’d like to work with Stephen or Eric. Anyone but this guy (humorously indicating Nelsan).” Then feeling frisky, Deborah Ann Woll added, “I think Lafayette and Jessica would have a lot to talk about.” Prompting Jim Parrack to admit, “I guess Alex — so I can see why everybody screams so much.” That response nearly brought down the house! Then Rutina Wesley mischievously said, “I think I would like to see some Tara and Pam action,” which elicited a roaring response. But taking a safer route, Stephen Moyer tossed out, “I’d like to sit at [Terry and Arlene’s] kitchen table and play Trivial Pursuit.” And queen of the ball Anna Paquin merely acknowledged, “I’m spoiled. I get to play with everyone.” She received her fair share of appreciative hollers from the fans for that comment.
Then trying to amp up the already frisky fans and give them a few spoilers, the moderator asked about some of the characters when last seen and where to expect them when the show returns.
Joe Manganiello noted about Alcide’s unstable ex Debbie, “She’s still alive and at large, so you never know.” Joe also shared that because he kind of played his character Alcide as always being a bit grumpy and because Sookie was always roping him into her outrageous adventures, he kind of played the role like he was the “Winnie the Pooh” character Eeyore. Thus, after a trip to Disneyland, his co-stars Anna and Stephen brought him back a stuffed Eeyore which Joe now keeps on his bed at home. (It was harder to tell which was the bigger softy in this story: the love birds who bought him the Eeyore, or the guy who keeps it on his bed. So cute!)
Kristin Bauer Von Straten also shared that Pam’s magnificent wardrobe and outrageous sense of style continues throughout the next season as Pam always makes sure to dress for every occasion. Kristin also would love to see some flashbacks to Pam and Eric’s adventures in the past, as she thought those may prove interesting and illuminating.
As far as what is next for Jesus and Lafayette, Nelsan responded to the question of whether Lafayette can really trust Jesus, saying, “I think I can. I do. He has me under his spell, so I have no choice but to trust him.” But Alejandro then playfully responded, “Never trust anybody too much.”
Then talking about the young lovers Jessica and Hoyt, Deborah Ann Woll revealed that there may be a few bumps ahead. In fact, she teased, “The fairy tale can’t go on forever, but maybe the reality is better than the fairy tale?” She explained, “I think they see something of a similar struggle in one another,” but that familiarity and comfort may also lead to tension. Jim wisely kept silent on the matter and merely cryptically smiled.
Likewise on the situation of the ongoing romance and relation with Arlene and Terry, Carrie Preston candidly shared that she knows that Arlene is concerned about her baby because of who its father may be. She said, “Certainly, in Arlene’s mind, there’s good and there’s evil and if you are a serial killer, you are evil.” To which Todd Lowe added that maybe there is still the issue of paternity to be resolved, which may make things a bit easier. Carrie then added, “Last we left it, the baby was on-board and we’ll just say that that problem grows exponentially.
Then, in the world of Andy Bellefleur, Chris Bauer noted that Andy’s awakening interest in the illegal vampire-blood substance “V” will lead to a whole world of problems for him. He laughing said, “V has a lot of properties that Andy didn’t know about.”
Ryan Kwanten, playing Jason the ladies-man of Bon Temps and new law enforcement recruit, shared, “I think it’s kind of hilarious that this guy who’s not exactly the sharpest tool in the shed has been bestowed this sense of authority and, if anybody should not have a sense of authority — should not be wielding a gun — should not be looking after an entire village of meth addicts — it’s Jason Stackhouse.” So with that will surely unleash some future hilarity and sticky situations. Ryan also noted that upcoming for Jason are “good things — intriguing things– and hopefully very ‘watchable’ things happen!”
Marshall Allman who plays Tommy, Sam Merlotte’s younger brother, was the dark-horse of the night keeping all the secrets, but still charming the fans with a tale of how his grandmother referred to his show as “vampire porn.”
Slightly less reticent, but still holding his cards close to the vest, Sam Trammell would only share that the chances of Sam Merlotte finding love this next season is, “Slim — looking at the record — but I’ve got another shot. I’m at bat again.” Then noting the sad state that Sam endured last season, Sam said “He had a bad day — it was a bad week — the whole season. [But] I think he’ll sober up.” (To which Alan Ball added that in TRUE BLOOD, no one is allowed to exist in a state of peaceful happiness for more than one episode — it is just not as fun to write and the audience won’t sit still for it.)
Rutina Wesley was similarly reluctant to talk about what Tara will be doing when the show returns. She would only reveal, “We’ll see a new Tara. I think it will be very surprising where she’s been and what she’s been up to. I think she’s a lot more stable and that’s good. She may find some happiness.” She also noted, “It’s kinda cool where she goes.”
Not feeling at all encumbered talking about what is next for Eric, Alexander Skarsgard was a fount of information. He confirmed right away that Eric’s amnesia will have a big effect next season. He shared, “[Eric] doesn’t know who he is anymore — 1000 years of resentment for humanity is just gone — he’s very innocent… [He] needs help.” He added, “What we’re doing now is so different. This powerful character is just gone. What we’ve built up over the last three years is just gone and it’s lot of fun, because it’s the polar opposite of who Eric really is.” But Alex is clearly delighted with the change of pace, as he happily noted, “This is just a blast — what we’ve been shooting now — because he is lost, completely lost and he discovers a lot. He doesn’t know who he is. He knows he’s a vampire, but then he slowly finds out stuff. Like ‘Oh, did I do that?’ and ‘I killed those people?’ ‘Oh, really.’ That’s not easy to hear and it’s definitely a struggle for Eric, not knowing who he can trust and who’s a friend and enemy. He’s very vulnerable.” Alex also said to be on the look-out for a pivotal flashback involving Eric and Bill early next season, as well as perhaps a visit or two from Eric’s maker, Godric. (Alan Ball confirmed the reappearance of Godric in one form or another, as he explained, “One of the great things about having characters who have been around for hundreds and thousands of years is you can go back and you can see them at a different point in history. Or they can appear in people’s dreams. Vampires dream, too.” Then Alan cheekily added, “Or they might have been cloned.”)
Stephen Moyer, not feeling as candid as his co-star, returned to a more cautious approach in describing what to expect for vampire Bill next season only noting that there will be an entanglement with The Vampire Queen, played by Evan Rachel Wood. Stephen revealed, “There is a bit of a bite-off. There’s a bit of a fight, bit of a bundle and… things happen.” (To make sure the fans understood the heightened implications, Alan added that Bill and The Queen are not the only characters involved in the fight scene.)
Then, when it was her turn to share a few teasers, Anna Paquin vaguely said, “Well, [Sookie] disappears into this soft, warm fuzzy light with Claudine, and she comes back . . there’s some stuff that’s different.” Then hearing what she just said, Anna laughingly said, “I don’t know if I said anything at all!” She then explained that the glowing hand powers make an appearance in an upcoming script, which she made a point of emphasizing is actually called, “microwave fingers” — but that Sookie does not have control over that ability yet because it is so new to her. Anna noted, “She’s still very new at this fairy stuff.”
While the whereabouts of Sookie Stackhouse may be a mystery, Anna was a bit more forthcoming about the trio of men in Sookie’s life. She slyly noted, “There are certain things going for the different men in Sookie’s life.” Working in Alcide’s favor, Anna assessed, “[He] doesn’t turn into a ball of charred fire during the daytime and Alcide has that nice warm thing going for him, which is a plus. But Alcide comes with some baggage, which is less of a plus, namely an ex-girlfriend who wants to kick the ever-loving *bleep* out of Sookie. That’s a minus.”
As for the 1,000 year old vampire itching for some Sookie love, Anna reflectively shared, “Eric’s a little problematic for Sookie. He’s caused her some trouble. He seems to be looking out for himself a lot of the time. Every once in awhile, he proves himself to be disarmingly on her side. So it’s a bit confusing — and he consistently has shown interest, which might get acted upon. I mean, you never know. I guess you’ll just have to watch.”
But, for now, the love story of Sookie and vampire Bill is not all wine and roses. Sookie feels betrayed by Bill’s actions last season and is not willing to forgive and forget. Alan Ball revealed about a possible Sookie and Bill reconciliation, “It’s not going to happen fast.” They have a long journey ahead and it is likely not to happen very quickly — hopefully, 17 years (or television seasons) if Alan’s wish were to come true. But not wanting to put a complete damper on the fan’s expectations, Alan confessed, “It’s hard not to think of them as soulmates, when they’re soulmates in real life.”
Alan also explained that Season 4 is about “the duality of existence.” Trying to shed further light on what that means, Alan explained, “We don’t really think in terms of themes. I do, each season, come up with a stock answer, but I so respect and admire the hard-core fans that are here tonight that I’m not going to lie to you. We try to do a show that’s really amazing and fun and surprising and where you care about the characters and you care about what happens to them. Now I’ve told some people at HBO, perhaps, that theme of the season is ‘Man vs. Nature.’ Perhaps I said to someone earlier at the beginning of this project that it was about The Terrors of Intimacy… But I think the theme is ‘True Blood,’ More ‘True Blood.'” And that was the answer everyone was looking for as the room erupted with a roar of approval!
Spoilers ahead . . .
Then for those who are looking for a few spoilers, a sneak peak of Season 4 including a rough-cut scene where Jessica and Hoyt are leaving Fangtasia and are accosted by a rowdy bunch of protestors. While Pam and Jessica are forced to stand helpless by and watch, Hoyt is goaded into a scuffle with one of the protestors as another protestor video tapes the incident. It becomes a showdown over those who simply want to abide by the Christian values of love versus Christians who only live with hate in their heart. Hoyt believes his values are stronger and worthier as his heart is full of love. Unfortunately, this inciting viewpoint only leads to an outright physical confrontation — and what looks to be a very bad outcome for Hoyt.
In addition to this, next season be sure to watch for upcoming appearances by Gary Cole and Fionna Shaw, as a Wiccan witch, and perhaps a return appearance by ex-Vampire King Russell Edgington, played by Denis O’Hare. To which Alan helpfully explained, “We specifically made the choice not to kill [Russell]. I don’t know when he’ll be back, but there are definitely plans to bring him back… And he is gonna be pissed!”
So Season 4 is going to not only offer vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters, and witches, there will be a new baby on the way — and a whole lot of the characters making decisions about where they want to go next.
In the end, Alan acknowledged this about TRUE BLOOD, “It’s for the fans — we just want to have this fantastic, escapism, emotional, sexy, romantic, terrifying journey with them — because that’s really fun.” And Season 4 is guaranteed to offer all of that. If the past three seasons are any indication, the hot-blooded world of Bon Temps is only about to get steamier, sexier and more seductive. Things are about to erupt yet again as the boiling point is reached. And you will want to be there!
Tiffany Vogt is a contributing writer to The TV Addict. She has a great love for television and firmly believes that entertainment is a world of wondrous adventures that deserves to be shared and explored – she invites you to join her. Please feel free to contact Tiffany at Tiffany_Vogt_2000@yahoo.com or follow her at on Twitter (@TVWatchtower). Tiffany also writes as a columnist for NiceGirlsTV.