Thursday, July 23, 2009
Live from Comic-Con at the San Diego Convention Center, Beth Accomando gives us an update on the events, people, stars, crowds at this annual festival of popular culture.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH (Host): I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. You're listening to These Days in San Diego. And in case you didn’t know, the San Diego Comic-Con 2009 gets underway today. There are literally tens of thousands of people waiting to attend the four day event, and one of them is our own film critic, Beth Accomando, who is on the line from the downtown convention center. And good morning, Beth.
BETH ACCOMANDO (KPBS Film Critic): Hey, good morning to you.
CAVANAUGH: Hey, what’s going on down there?
ACCOMANDO: Oh, it’s insanity already. I just went out by the line for Hall H. It is incredibly packed. I mean, I’ve never seen it this crowded. There are people packed in from the end of the convention center all the way to the new Hilton Hotel. And talking to people in line, most of whom are TwilightMOMS waiting for the “Twilight” panel. Apparently people are paying extra to get rooms at the Hilton with a view of Hall H, not a view of the bay but a view of the line at Hall H so they can tell when to get up and get in line.
CAVANAUGH: Oh, my goodness. So – I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything like that. Now what is the mood like? There’s so many people, is there aggitational – are people a little exasperated?
ACCOMANDO: No, there’s a – I mean, I’ve waited in long lines myself down here and the thing is when you wait in line for a panel or for something you’re really interested in, chances are the people in line with you are as passionate about whatever it is you’re waiting for as you are. And in talking to some, I met the same TwilightMOMS this year that I had talked to last year and, basically, last year nobody knew anybody in line, about eight or ten of them became friends, this year they got in line, now they’re fan – you know, now it’s like about ten or twenty of them are friends. They stay in touch online. So, you know, it’s a real sense of camaraderie out there and, I mean, I haven’t seen anybody, you know, stressed or annoyed, at least not in the lines I’ve been to. It’s kind of a, you know, it’s the intensity of the whole experience where – I mean, these women have brought like air mattresses and sleeping bags and pup tents and games and drinks and their husbands are doing Starbucks runs for them and they have a hotel room at the Hilton so they can do bathroom runs at like 1:00 a.m. in the morning. So everybody seems to be in a pretty good mood and just really excited about what’s coming up.
CAVANAUGH: Now for the uninitiated, Beth, you have to tell us, what is a TwilightMOM?
ACCOMANDO: Sure. “Twilight” is a series of books by Stephanie Meyer that has just recently been made into a film. It’s a teen vampire story. The book was marketed to young audiences but a lot of girls who were reading the books, their moms started to read the books and got hooked on them and kind of felt like, gee, you know, they may be marketed to teens but adults like them, too. And so a group of these moms, who are, you know, women in their, I don’t know, twenty – I mean, thirties and forties, formed a group that has – I believe they have a website now and it’s kind of this online group of people who are the older fans of the “Twilight” books and movies.
CAVANAUGH: I’m speaking with our film critic, Beth Accomando, who is down at the convention center on this first day of the San Diego Comic-Con. And, you know, Beth, we always see the photos of people who dress up for Comic-Con. Are there a lot of people in costumes?
ACCOMANDO: Yeah. The big day for costumes tends to be Saturday because that’s the masquerade day and although the people going to the masquerade don’t reveal their costumes early, it’s the day that everybody kind of feels like they want to show off. But, no, there are a lot of people in costumes as usual. A lot of, you know, crossplay, which are the anime and manga characters that a lot of fans dress up as. I have been seeing, because Tim Burton is doing a panel on his “Alice in Wonderland,” there have been quite a few “Alice in Wonderland” characters walking around. I have seen that, and there was an amazing costume and I’m not sure if it was an original costume or based on some film that I’m not aware of but it was like some sort of giant pumpkin head and I couldn’t catch – he had a badge that said something like Monster Commuter or something so…
CAVANAUGH: So and how many people are walking around with costumes? I mean, in – percentage of the crowd?
ACCOMANDO: I would say probably maybe like ten percent or something, not a huge number. You know, I think a lot of people try to portray Comic-Con as like, hey, it’s this place where everybody is in costumes and people are dressed as Klingons and stuff but there are – the majority of people are not, for a variety of reasons. I mean, for one thing to get a costume that really looks good, it takes considerable effort. And if you’re walking back to your hotel, back and forth to your hotel room or taking a long trek and sweating and stuff, maybe you don’t want to be in that really big costume…
CAVANAUGH: All day long, right.
ACCOMANDO: …with that headgear and stuff and not able to breathe on the convention floor.
CAVANAUGH: Well, what are some of the highlights of today’s events?
ACCOMANDO: Well, like I said, Tim Burton is going to be here for a Disney panel talking about “Alice in Wonderland,” his new film. And I’m really excited about a South Korean director named Park Chan-Wook who has a panel late this evening at 6:30. His film is called “Thirst,” which is a vampire film with a twist. It’s almost kind of like a film noir story of betrayal and deceit and with vampires kind of in the background. So that’s something that I think is really fun. And, of course, I’m a huge Monty Python fan so Terry Gilliam is going to be here. He’s talking about his latest film, which is “The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus,” and that’s the last film that Heath Ledger was shooting before he died. And so it’s a film where they had to complete the role with other actors it in, people like Johnny Depp and Jude Law and Colin Farrell, and so he’s going to be here presenting on that film and if you’re a Python fan or a fan of Terry Gilliam, that’s a great opportunity to see him. Another panel that’s probably getting a lot of attention is the James Cameron “Avatar” panel. And if you’re a fan of Comic-Con, there is a great series of panels looking back to the history of Comic-Con. This year’s the 40th anniversary. There’s a book that’s out on the 40 years of the convention, and they’re doing panels. I think it’s focusing a decade at a time on memories and how it’s changed and people who’ve been a part of it. So that’s a lot of fun, too.
CAVANAUGH: And I’m wondering, Beth, what did you tell us, are you actually on line waiting to get into the convention center?
ACCOMANDO: No, I’m – I’ve already been to like about ten places before…
ACCOMANDO: …9:00 a.m. But I’m sitting outside of Hall G right now. I’m trying – I was trying to find a place so it was relatively quiet. I was over by the Capcom booth which probably has the best tee shirts of the convention. It’s a Resident Evil tee shirt where it’s got the Resident Evil logo on the front but if you pull the shirt up while you’re wearing it and lift it over your head, there is a face of a zombie underneath. And people are waiting two hours in line to play Resident Evil 5 to get a shot at this tee shirt. And I was over by that booth and, literally, it was so noisy you couldn’t hear anything so I moved out of the hall so that you guys could hear me. And, of course, as you can tell, I’ve already lost my voice.
CAVANAUGH: Beth, I’ve got to let you go but…
CAVANAUGH: …I thank you so much. Have a good time.
ACCOMANDO: I will. Thanks a lot.
CAVANAUGH: Okay. KPBS is following every move of Comic-Con with blogs and special features. Check out the latest on our website, KPBS.org.
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