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10 Things We Learned from This Year’s Saturn Awards


Marvel Studios

The Saturn Awards is the coolest awards show in Hollywood. In the past, A-listers as big as Steven Spielberg, J.J. Abrams, Sam Raimi, Zack Snyder and Guillermo del Toro have hung out casually with press so we could ask them any questions we wanted. Why are the top filmmakers in Hollywood this loose for one night and one night only? It’s because the Saturn Awards are the one place where famous and successful nerds can feel safe.

The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films gave their 40th Annual Saturn Awards last week on June 26. While the Oscars and other major awards shows continue to snub comic book movies and genre shows, everyone is welcome at the Saturn Awards. The winners and nominees dressed up in formal attire, but cosplayers were admitted to party with them. It’s the only showbiz celebration where you could witness Michael Myers stalking cinematographer Dean Cundey on the red carpet as a homemade Captain America tried to protect everyone in attendance.

On the red carpet and in the press room with the winners, I got 10 scoops in a single night. See, the Saturn Awards are such a celebration of the movies and TV shows we love, everyone who’s there wants to talk about them. I don’t have to beg anyone for an interview. We’re all in it together.

10. Ernie Hudson Still Wants In On Ghostbusters 3.

Poor Ernie Hudson, the one original Ghostbuster who probably most wanted to do Ghostbusters 3. Since Bill Murray clearly didn’t want to do it and now Harold Ramis has passed away, the new version of a Ghostbusters sequel is about a new generation of busters. Ivan Reitman, who will produce Ghostbusters 3, says he’ll still have cameos from those actors who want to play them. Hudson is game and has his own pitch for what Winston Zedmore is up to these days.

“I’d love to see my character be the director of the franchise,” Hudson said. “I’d love to be a part of it but it’s Hollywood and you never know. I’m having a meeting with Ivan Reitman in a few weeks just to see where it is. I saw him at the opening of Draft Day and he says it’s definitely happening, so I’d love to see what they’ve got on their brains.”

9. The Salem Season Finale Could Bring About The Apocalypse.

Seth Gabel, The Count on TV’s Arrow, was at the Saturn Awards representing his new show Salem. If you haven’t caught up on WGN America’s new witchcraft series, you still have time. The first season finale is in July and they’re coming back for a second season. Gabel warned us that the cliffhanger could be dire.

“We know the end of season one is going to culminate in The Grand Rite either having been completed or not,” Gabel told me on the red carpet. “Either way, it’s about to go down. I’m doing everything I can to stop it. If The Grand Rite and The Malum actually meet and gets released, all hell will literally break loose. So I need to stop that. If it were to be released, we’d have to deal with that [in season two].”

8. Syfy’s Newest Show Has Already Been On for 3 Years…Just Not Here.

The Saturn Awards are the perfect place for Syfy Channel to premiere their new series. Emmett Skilton, of the new show The Almighty Johnsons walked the red carpet to tell us about the premiere on July 11. Except it turns out there’s already been three seasons of The Almighty Johnsons. It’s a New Zealand show, so if I like what I see on July 11, I’m just gonna order the DVDs.

Skilton told me that the Johnsons are a family in modern day New Zealand. He plays Axl Johnson, who finds out on his 21st birthday that he is the reincarnation of Odin. That’s Anthony Hopkins in the Thor movies, but he’s also been in a Norse myth or two.

“In the first episode itself, I’m struck by lightning,” Skilton said. “In the consequent episodes, my character finds out his true powers when he’s having sex with a female and he thinks he might’ve killed her. He ends up fighting Thor who is a goat farmer in the rural part of New Zealand. He also wakes up as a woman one day because Odin was known for his shapeshifting abilities. We have Loki as our bad guy. It’s a coming of age story about a boy trying to find his way in the world as a man. He has those difficulties, one of which is females. Part of the bad guy side of things in our show is that there is a bunch of goddesses trying to stop the gods from doing what they do as well. One of the characters is Bragi and he finds his Idun, which is the goddess of apples. There’s a huge throughline with one of the brothers hating the other because of stealing the other’s girlfriend.”

7. Halloween Complete Collection Blu-ray Extras Detailed

Anchor Bay’s release of the Halloween: 35th Anniversary Edition won the Saturn Award for Best DVD/BD Classic Film Release. They’ll just have to do this all over again next year, because the September 23 Blu-ray release of The Halloween Complete Collection Blu-ray will be the definitive set, at least until the next Halloween movie comes out.

The 10 film Blu-ray set includes the first five films, the Miramax/Dimension parts 6-8 and the Weinstein Company produced Rob Zombie remakes. Malek Akkad, son of the late producer Moustapha Akkad, figured out all the licensing rights between different studios. On the red carpet, he told me about some of the extras to expect, including a completely different cut of Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, in Blu-ray quality.

“We have the infamous producer’s cut for the first time ever,” Akkad said. “Brand new transfer, it looks amazing. You’ve got tons of extras, new hour-long behind the scenes documentaries on 4, 5, two featurettes on 6. It’s jam packed. There’s new interviews with cast members that you haven’t seen in 20-25 years. There’s new behind the scenes on set footage you haven’t seen. New stills. This thing is packed. It’s six full discs of extra material.”

I personally like Busta Rhymes kickboxing Michael Myers in Halloween: Resurrection, but I might be in the minority there. For his cinematography of the Saturn Award winning Halloween, Dean Cundey faced off against Michael Myers on the red carpet. He made The Shape wait while he talked to me about the original film.

“I think one of the great rewards for me in working on Halloween was the fact that it was very thoughtfully done,” Cundey said. “Unlike a lot of films I had been working on prior to that, low-budget films where the director used the camera to capture actors talking and things blowing up. John was very thoughtful and wanted to use the camera to tell the story, which is exactly what I wanted to do. So I really enjoyed the whole creative process that we did.”

6. The Final Season Of Haven Might Not Be The Last.

Syfy Channel series Haven, based on the Stephen King short story The Colorado Kid, is coming to an end in its fifth season. It’s really two seasons in one though, as they’re doing 26 episodes, twice their usual number. (So already that’s really a fifth and sixth season). Eric Balfour is happy to go big and go home, but even he said they could always change their minds.

“Most of our contracts are up at the end of this run, so there’s nothing official,” Balfour said. “But, we are looking forward to using these last two seasons that we’re shooting now to bring this whole thing full circle. You never know, if it’s just doing great, the show could go on. It’s easy to reshoot a scene, but we’re all I think in the mindset that this is going to be an exciting way [to end]. It’s a really neat thing to know there’s a finish line. A lot of shows don’t get that opportunity to go, ‘We’ve got two years, two seasons to plan for how we want this thing to end.’ I’m of the opinion that I think it would be a really neat time to do it and honor the fans of the show and give it a really amazing sendoff. I’m of the personal opinion that it’s time to, just because we have the knowledge that we can do it now. We’ll see.”

5. Malcolm McDowell Won The Life Career Award.

A big honoree of the night was Malcolm McDowell, who won The Life Career Award at the Saturns. When the clip real focused on A Clockwork Orange, Star Trek: Generations and Halloween, it’s easy to see why. If there was a clip of Tank Girl in there, I missed it, but they did show Caligula. Of course, the screen legend never thought of himself as a science fiction actor.

“No, you’re not science fiction actors,” McDowell told me in the winner’s room. “You’re actors period, in a science fiction movie. There’s no specialist. To be an actor in a science fiction thing is the same as doing any other genre movie.”

Even the landmark Clockwork Orange, a portrayal of ultraviolence in the future of London, wasn’t really a sci-fi movie. “75% of the movie is shot present day in 1969. It’s just that the opening was so revolutionary at the time, the whole look was so staggering. Of course now it’s been copied a million times. How many videos have you seen with Bowlers, eyelashes, codpieces? At the time, it was so startling, people sat there in total silence. They didn’t leave the theater after the movie finished and it really upset a lot of people.”

4. Revolution Season Three Plans Revealed

NBC’s Revolution will not be back for a third season. It looks like the lights finally went out for real. Wait, wait, I have another one. The Revolution will no longer be televised! The late NBC series’ Saturn Award win for Best Network Television series, tied with Hannibal, may be its last hurrah. Producer Rockne S. O’Bannon, of Farscape himself, told us what the third season of Revolution would have been about.

“The third season was going to get very deeply into the nanotech story and go into a really interesting science fiction direction which was of great interest to me,” O’Bannon said. “The nanotech which was behind the blackout in the first place but as we developed in season two, the nanotech was taking on a certain self-awareness. What I found really interesting was nanotechnology is something that’s totally in our future. It was very much present time. The nanotech was going to be a character. It was an entity that we had to deal with.”

3. NBC’s Constantine Will Do the Hunger Demon Story

Matt Ryan in NBC’s Constantine

Don’t feel too bad for Rockne S. O’Bannon. He’s now got a job on the upcoming Constantine TV series. We watched the Constantine pilot earlier this month, so O’Bannon was able to give us a scoop about what’s coming up later in the show’s first season.

“One of the stories that we’re doing presently is the Hunger Demon story,” O’Bannon said. “That’s what we’re hoping to do in the early part. It won’t be in episode two. It’ll be a little bit farther down the road, but one of the good things about the Constantine comics is they have such absolutely fascinating standalone stories. The series we want to do, there’s certainly a continuing story that threads through it, but it’s also a show that you could really watch and enjoy on a week to week basis which is very much like the comic books. We’re trying to stay as faithful to the comic book that we all fell in love with and all love. NBC and Warner Bros. are very anxious for us to do exactly that.”

The pilot got a lot of things right, like having Constantine be British and a former inmate of Ravenscar undergoing ECT treatment. One of the things it got wrong was moving John Constantine to Atlanta, where the show is being filmed and taking place. Neil Marshall, director of the pilot, was on the red carpet at the Saturns and told me he didn’t plan to keep the show in Atlanta for long.

“Hopefully it’s going to be kind of a road show and we’re going to move around a bit,” Marshall said. “So I don’t think it’s going to be set in Atlanta for the whole series.”

2. The Walking Dead Episode “The Grove” Came With A Warning

The Walking Dead star Melissa McBride won the Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress on Television. When she came back to the winner’s room, I asked her about the season’s landmark episode “The Grove.” You know the one with the two girls? Yeah, that was intense. McBride told me the script for that episode came with a warning, although that’s par for the course on The Walking Dead.

“They kind of do that with all the episodes,” McBride said. “’Heads up, this is a heavy one.’ Yeah, they let me know that there was going to be some particularly difficult material.”

She agreed with me that “The Grove” was a landmark episode though. “Absolutely a landmark episode for myself as the actor and for Carol. It just forced so much on her to make these very difficult decisions. I think it’s bringing a whole different self-awareness for her.”

Since showrunner Scott M. Gimple told Larry King he thinks The Walking Dead could last more than 10 seasons, I asked McBride if she agreed. “Gosh, I think that would be awesome. It’s totally possible. The comic books are still going on and always introducing new characters. The threats are always there and the world is getting worse, so people are going to die and we’re going to meet other people along the way. It can go on and on.”

1. James Gunn Asked Joss Whedon About Thanos.

Guardians of the Galaxy

Okay, here’s the biggie of the night. Kevin Feige accepted the Saturn Award for Best Comic-to-Film Motion Picture for Iron Man 3. He wasn’t doing any interviews that night, but the presenters of his award were the director and star of his next movie, Guardians of the Galaxy, James Gunn and Michael Rooker.

I asked Gunn how Guardians would fit into Marvel Studios’ Phase Two plans. By now we all know that Thanos will be in the movie, with the voice of Josh Brolin. Gunn told me he had to coordinate his Thanos with the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

“We had a little bit of Thanos’ minor plans that we had to deal with but other than that it was pretty much open to do whatever I wanted to,” Gunn said. “I mean, we’re creating the cosmic universe which hasn’t existed in the Marvel [Cinematic] Universe so it’s kind of the first time we get to play in that field.”

Thanos was introduced to the MCU in The Avengers. Gunn said he talked to Joss Whedon personally to make sure he didn’t contradict and future plans for Thanos.

“Listen, I talked to Joss a lot about Thanos and what our plans were, what we were going to do with him in the future,” Gunn said. “There was a lot of that.”

Also by Fred Topel

The Comic n00b View – The 5 Things NBC’s Constantine Gets Right, 5 It Still Doesn’t

10 Things This Comic N00b Learned About The Flash From Watching The CW Pilot

10 Things We Learned From The CBS Summer Press Day About Extant, Under the Dome and More

10 Things I Learned About The Sega-Nintendo War From Console Wars

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