My Easter Sunday this year was nothing short of a surreal experience.  Arrow cast members Stephen Amell (Oliver Queen), Colin Donnell (Tommy Merlyn), Willa Holland (Thea Queen), Paul Blackthorne (Detective Quentin Lance), and executive producer Marc Guggenheim made their marquee appearance at WonderCon.  Well, it was supposed to be marquee, but turns out the day kicked off with a very, very big VIP coming to pitch a new film of his set to debut in June, and that managed to create a circus atmosphere at the Anaheim Convention Center arena. 

At 11:00 am, Joss Whedon took the stage to promote Much Ado About Nothing, a little passion project that he has coming out.  The fans lined up in droves, and while all that was going on in the big arena, I was in the adjacent arena press room waiting for the panelists for Arrow

In these press rooms, there’s always a bit of a pecking order.  There’s a giant curtain dividing the room, and video media jockey for position in the press line on one side.  On the other side, there are a set of tables and that’s where us little bloggers and print media go.  That’s where I was when this big event started.  I personally was stunned by the massive turnout by the media at his minor comic con on of all days Easter Sunday, but I think Mr. Whedon may have contributed to that.  Since he was occupied, they’ll get some soundbites for Arrow

Needless to say, those of us print journalists waited a long while before anyone emerged from the other side of the curtain, all the while we heard the vast amounts of noise and flashbulbs going off.  Colin Donnell was the first to appear.  We were the second table in the pecking order (at least at the start) so we got to talk to him ten minutes later.

After than was executive producer Marc Guggenheim, who was rather stoked because just the day before he turned in the script for episode 23.  He was the only guy in the room that knew what was in it.  Nah, he didn’t give away too much, but I always love talking to showrunners.

There was another small wait, and then Willa Holland came over.  I’ll admit, I was surprised how bright and articulate she was!  I’ve been in a lot of press rooms, and usually these supporting actresses are all giggles and light with answers.  Not Willa!  This is a great interview.

It’s right around this time that things started falling off the rails.  Suddenly, our pecking order for second table kind of dropped to fourth.  The noise and flashes on the other side got extraordinarily loud, and I was about to find out why very soon.  In the meantime, Stephen Amell had only just then gotten to the print side, and there was only 15 official minutes left in the press session.  When his first interview at another table took over ten minutes, I sensed we were in trouble.  While he was at the one table, we got ten minutes with Paul Blackthorne, who plays Detective Quentin Lance.  He’s very funny!  No, I didn’t know he was British.  He showed off all of that cheeky British humor for us during our time together

Okay, remember all that activity on the other side of the curtain?  I looked up, and it all started making sense.  While we were waiting for Stephen Amell, the only other person we hadn’t interviewed, this guy was suddenly standing next to us.

Um, wow, why is Joss Whedon here with us little print media folk?  And Clark Gregg for those of you who saw Ironman 2, Thor, and The Avengers (I think he was also in Captain America).  He’s the new star of Whedon’s pilot for ABC, S.H.I.E.L.D.  While this was going on to the right of us, this was happening directly to our left.

Why is he posing for pictures?  He’s supposed to be talking to us!  By this time Mr. Whedon had taken a spot over in the far corner to do one on one interviews with select journalists about I have no idea what.  On top of all this confusion, the dude sitting next to me was miffed that an interview hadn’t been setup with Whedon for him when his media outlet said they did, so he actually stopped Joss Whedon while he was walking by to ask about the interview!  We were all smacking our heads at the table, for everything was getting way too confusing and tense at this point, especially when a rep immediately jumped on this guy to figure out what the hell he was doing.  You don’t talk to Whedon like that!  It should be noted, a few at the table (including me) had flown out long distances for this, some representing bigger outlets, and the mood was getting very tense that everything would unravel and we wouldn’t get the big interview with the star of Arrow we came for. 

Amell then sat down at the table behind us, leaving us to be the only table left to talk to him.  We waited patiently, looking at our watches to tell we were well over time for the press session, but there was still enough time before the panel.  Then it happened.  A large security goon for WonderCon came to our table and told us he was clearing the room.  We had to leave now.  “But, but…we haven’t talked to Stephen.  We’re next!”  The goon was not affilitated with Warner Brothers and didn’t care.  Someone at our table flagged a Warner Brothers rep, and all she did was wave at us across the room, motioning for us to stay seated.  We did, but this invited more security to show up.  They were towering over us now, and looking like they were ready to physically toss us out.  In the meantime, the Warner Brothers rep kept disappearing behind the curtain, leaving us to fend for ourselves with some very burly looking dudes who were threatening us with physical harm. 

I tried to tell one of these goons to talk to the Warner Brothers rep, she was the one that told us to stay, but he didn’t care, because he didn’t answer to the studio.  He answered to another party (I suspect this dude was covering for Mr. Whedon) and our time was up.  Suddenly someone else emerged from behind the curtain asking security to hold on for a second as they were moving toward us, all while Stephen Amell was still talking to the table behind us, and they weren’t facing any kind of altercations.  After another minute the reps disappeared behind the curtain and didn’t come out, and we were left again alone with the goons.  They moved on us again and this time, with no one to defend us, we got the flock out. 

While we sat in the hallway, someone from our table went in to find out what Warner Brothers can do for us.  We’ll talk to Stephen Amell in the hallway if we had to.  There was still time before the panel.  That’s when it turned out everyone had already bailed.  Warner Brothers had apparently taken their talent to the arena and left us high and dry alone with security, no apology or assistance or nothing.  Not even a Happy Easter!  Oh, right, California.  We didn’t even get tickets to the panel!  Luckily, my family saved me a good seat. 

To say that was a massive disappointment is an understatement.  Geez, all that only because I showed up that day to do my job.  I swear, I’ve been in a ton of press rooms, and that was the first time I ever feared physical injury.  All because of this:

Moral of the story, stay away from press rooms on Joss Whedon day.  I swear, I was in a press room with Whedon for Dollhouse at the much busier San Diego Comic Con and I didn’t have these sort of problems.  I still wasn’t in as bad a shape as some of the major outlets at my table, who no doubt had a huge earful for WonderCon for their overzealous security and Warner Brothers for spending all that time and money traveling just to come up empty at their press event.  At least I piggybacked this with a family vacation.  I’m just giving the whole ordeal, especially with security, a MAJOR FAIL. 

The Panel

After all that, with nerves totally shot, I found my family and the good seats they got for me at the panel.  That is one advantage over San Diego Comic Con.  Hall H (or Ballroom 20) is not an arena, the seating is far less friendly to good viewing, and my family haven’t been able to get tickets the last four years I’ve been there.  Even if they did, the lines are so impossibly long they would have never got in.  So here’s where the plus of WonderCon kicked in. 

It was a great panel.  The crowd certainly was thrilled that they were there, but when Joss Whedon is your warmup, that’s a great way to brighten up the mood.  Damian Holbrook at TV Guide was the moderator, and he’s no stranger to doing these sci-fi panels, having been the traditional moderator for the past Fringe panels.  Once again, he seemed very comfortable and at ease with this group, who were being pretty lively.  Here are just a few of the highlights:

  • If anyone on the panel wanted to get any loud audience applause, all they had to do was say “Barrowman.”  Yes, fans are very enthusiastic to see the old Torchwood captain on Arrow.
  • Speaking of Barrowman, Marc Guggenheim promised during the panel a rather shocking showdown in the finale between The Green Arrow and The Dark Archer.  He also said that they saved a lot of the show’s budget to do something spectacular for the final two episodes of the season. 
  • They’re promising more action for Thea and Tommy.  Willa Holland especially wants to pick up a bow and arrow, and Marc Guggenheim teased in the finale she might.  Trust the man who knows the secrets.  Guggenheim talked about a cut scene in which Thea was crushing up drugs with her junior championship archer trophy.  Hmm…who knew?
  • The highlight of the panel strangely for me was when they got Colin Donnell to sing!  I didn’t know he had a song and dance background, for his voice is lovely.  He sung a mock, made up on the fly homage to Arrow to the tune of “Someone To Watch Over Me.”  Something tells me we might be hearing Tommy sing in season two. 
  • Any gruesome injuries on set?  None of the cast have any, but Stephen Amell did break a stuntman’s nose once.  Ouch!
  • For those that didn’t know, Arrow has a digital comic.  They’re actually written by Marc Guggenheim and Andrew Kreisberg.  They plan on running those all through the summer.  Here’s a link to get those:
  • There was a lot of talk both in the press room and the panel about the flashback episode, which will be episode 21.  This one isn’t about the island this time.  It’s about Malcom Merlyn, Robert Queen, Moira Queen and even Walter (man I miss him).  There might also be an appearance by Rebecca Merlyn, aka Tommy’s dead mother, but that was unclear if we would see her or just hear her.  It covers how this whole little dynamic of theirs started.  It takes them to the ill fated voyage of the Queen’s Gambit.

Here’s some great photos taken at the Arrow panel by myself and my daughter, aka my unpaid intern:

{AG thumbWidth=”200″ thumbHeight=”120″ thumbAutoSize=”width” arrange=”priority” backgroundColor=”ffffff” foregroundColor=”808080″ highliteColor=”fea804″ frame_width=”500″ frame_height=”360″ newImageTag=”0″ newImageTag_days=”7″ paginUse=”1″ paginImagesPerGallery=”30″ albumUse=”1″ showSignature=”0″ plainTextCaptions=”0″ template=”classic” popupEngine=”pirobox”}Arrow/WonderCon{/AG}

And that was all!  Arrow will likely be making a return appearance at Comic Con, so by that time we’ll be buzzing about season finale and what’s to come with season two.  Should be fun!


Similar Posts