Hundreds of fans braved pouring rain last Saturday night to see the stars and producers of ‘Vampire Diaries’ in person. The Paley Festival, celebrating some of television’s best shows, showcased the CW’s freshman phenomenon. The largely female crowd screamed like it was a rock concert, not a panel discussion. The impossibly beautiful Ian Somerhalder, Paul Wesley and Nina Dobrev are clearly great friends in real life. Highlights included:
Executive Producer Julie Plec’s belief that those sexist Dodge Charger commercials in which men promise women, “I will watch your vampire TV shows,” was a sign that the show was a hit, since last season there was only one vampire show [‘True Blood’].
Paul Wesley and Ian Somerhalder recounting leaving Nina Dobrov behind in an airport while she dealt with her lost luggage.
A woman wearing a Team Stefan T-shirt who flew all the way from North Carolina for the occasion who made her way to the microphone to flirt suggestively with Paul Wesley and was rewarded with a hug and kiss on the cheek. I had to admire her shamelessness.
Another woman taking Kevin Williamson to task because Joey ended up with Pacey instead of Dawson on ‘Dawson’s Creek.’ Williamson’s hilarious response: she ended up with Dawson in her life forever. She just chose to have sex with Pacey.
Best of all, we got to see the upcoming all-new episode (returning March 25) in its entirety. *Spoiler Alert* Without giving too much away, the action packed hour includes:
Hilariously blatant product placement
Gratuitous Damon shirtlesses
Melinda Clarke (‘The O.C’s Julie Cooper) as Matt’s trashy mother
A bachelor auction
Huge reveals about the identity of Elena’s mother
A poignant exploration of the difficulties of adjusting to 21st century technology after spending over a century in a tomb
I had the opportunity to speak with Executive Producers Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec and the Salvatore brothers, Ian Sommerhalder and Paul Wesley.
Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec
I have a fan nerd question. How could Elena’s blood open the tomb if she is not a Gilbert by blood? Anna said it needed to be Glibert blood.
Plec: Anna just said that as a matter of principle because Jonathan Gilbert was the one who betrayed her mother. She wanted to break her out with Gilbert blood. It was metaphorical more than anything else.
Williamson: It was more that she was just pissed.
How is Damon and Stefan’s relationship going to evolve this season?
Williamson: They have this dynamic where we have Stefan who is always the guy who is trying to keep Damon in check. There’s a dynamic we’re going to get where Damon’s the big brother [looking after him.]
Plec: They share the common interest now which is keep the town off their back. Later in the season another character arrives in town who is very intent on making the town aware of the vampires again so Damon and Stefan who have been at odds really need to work together to make sure their secret stays safe. Oddly enough, Damon decides he kind of likes being in Mystic Falls.
Have you consciously cast guest stars who are already popular with genre fans like Bianca Lawson (Emily, ex-Kenda on ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’)?
Plec: It’s funny, not consciously. I think we kind of realized after the fact that we had Ana Espinosa [Gina Torres’ character on ‘Alias’] and Kendra.
Williamson: I had no idea about all this genre stuff. I knew [Torres] from ’24.’
Plec: We’ve been very lucky. When we ask people if they want to do the show, they always say yes.
Williamson: I love Mindy Clarke. I was a huge fan of Julie Cooper and I loved Madame Heather [her character from ‘CSI’] too. So the fact that she’s on our show makes me skip to to work.
When you developed ‘Vampire Diaries,’ how did you decide what aspects of the books to use and what to disregard?
Williamson: It’s hard because you’ve got a series of books, one writer wrote them, then I’m a writer, she’s a writer, you stick us in a room with a bunch of writers. We’ve got good executives. Everyone’s ideas are floating about so it’s impossible just to hang on to that one person’s ideas. Other ideas get incorporated simply by the process. That’s why we wanted to write the show, because we wanted to add to it. Of course we made changes to make it our own. Hopefully we live up to the spirit of the books and we honor them.
How will the love triangle between Stefan, Elena and Damon evolve?
Williamson: One of the most important things we do is cement the bond between them. That’s what will keep us going for the whole show. We have to earn it.
How is this season going to end?
Plec: Something we took directly from the books which we loved is the anniversary of the founding of the town. We haven’t written it yet, but right now we’re thinking costumes and civil war reenactments and floats. It’s going to be the big event that ends the season and sets things up for next season.
Judging by the flashbacks that we’ve seen, Stefan has a little bit of evil in him and Damon has a little bit of good. Are we going to see some of Stefan’s evil this season?
We’re going to see some complexities and layers that we haven’t seen before. I think that’s just a natural progression of any complex character. I think it would be unrealistic — as realistic as a vampire show is — to not see that.
We thought we were going to find Katherine in the tomb, but she’s still out there. How does that effect Stefan?
It’s kind of like this odd thing where someone’s watching over you but you have no idea if they’re there or not. How aware is she of their presence? Does she still have a thing for Damon? Has she been doing anything manipulative? Is she behind some master scheme? There are so many possibilities.
What’s it like playing a role where you don’t know what’s coming up ahead?
It’s actually amazing. When I get the script I go, “Oh my God! Oh wow!” What I love is that there’s room for progression.
What will Damon do next in his quest to find Katherine?
Kevin [Williamson] said booze and girls.
How is Damon’s relationship with Elena going to progress through the rest of the season?
She’s a pretty amazing girl. If I could just get that damn necklace off her neck and I can make her do whatever I want her to do it will be easy. I don’t know what’s going to happen until then, but at some point I’m going to get that thing off of her.