Sunday, February 8, 2009

A Soap with Teeth

From Variety September 2008


Filmed in Los Angeles and Louisiana by HBO. Executive producer, Alan Ball; co-executive producer, Brian Buckner; supervising producer, Nancy Oliver, producers, Alexander Woo, Carol Dunn Trussell; co-producer, Raelle Tucker; writer-director, Ball; based on the novels by Charlaine Harris; camera, Checco Varese; production designer, Suzuki Ingerslev; editors, Andy Keir, Michael Ruseio; music, Nathan Barr; casting, Junie Lowry Johnson, Libby Goldstein. 60 MIN.
Sookie Stackhouse Anna Paquin
Bill Compton Stephen Moyer
Jason Stackhouse Ryan Kwanten
Tara Thornton Rutina Wesley
Sam Merlotte Sam Trammell
Lafayette Reynolds Nelsan Ellis
Andy Bellefleur Chris Bauer
Hoyt Fortenberry Jim Parrack
Arlene Fowler Carrie Preston
Rene Lenier Michael Raymond James
Bud Dearborne William Sanderson
Eric Alexander Skarsgard
Adele Lois Smith

Creator Alan Ball insists, not entirely convincingly, that "True Blood" isn't just a sociopolitical
metaphor for vampirism as homosexuality. Nevertheless, if the popularity of "Twilight" and the Sookie Stackhouse books that inspired this series are any indication, women clearly embrace the romance of guys who suck for more exoticthan-usual reasons, creating otherworldly impediments to true love. So while the show is a trifle hokey, its soapy elements, gothic atmosphere and cliflhanger endings - coupled with Anna Paquin's knockout performance - do reel viewers in, laying the groundwork for what might be the cultish, undemanding romp HBO needs to inject much needed life into its lineup.

Ever since "Dark Shadows," people have sought to perfect the vampire soap, although even a "Shadows" revival failed to find the proper vein. And while Ball - of "Six Feet Under" renown - might seem an unlikely choice to go from chronicling the dead to the undead, he wisely approaches the material with few pretensions.

In the world of novelist Charlaine Harris, whose books inspire this series, vampires have been living invisibly among humans for ages but only felt comfortable emerging from the shadows - essentially, coming out of the coffin - after the Japanese invented synthetic blood (or Tru Blood, packaged in cute little beer-like bottles). Still, there's considerable unease about having bloodsuckers roaming around freely, with humans resisting the push for "vampire rights."
Having participated in the X-Men movies - which set up mutants as another discriminated against minority - Paquin is a marketable choice for a genre audience, but brings much more than that to the role of Sookie, a Louisiana waitress whose psychic ability has caused her to shun romance.

So to her surprise, when a hunky vampire, Bill (Stephen Moyer of "The Starter Wife"), moves into the bayou town of Bon Temps - taking advantage of vampires' recent decision to go public and enter the mainstream - she's instantly drawn to him, as he is to her:

Uncomfortable with knowing the inner-most feelings of those around her, she's blissfully unable to hear Bill's thoughts. Similarly, he senses immediately that Sookie is "something more than human."

Prejudice, however, dies hard, and Sookie's attachment to Bill alarms those closest to her.
The supporting players aren't nearly as interesting initially as the intense bond between Sookie and Bill, though they do keep the first few installments busy, including some nicely gratuitous sex, adventures in the Viagra-like effects of vampire blood, and a tepid murder mystery.
Based on the way women in particular have glommed onto the bodice-caressing aspects of such fare (consider the torch a dedicated few are still carrying for CBS'
"Moonlight"), HBO figures to have a cult hit on its hands at the very least - with Moyer representing the kind of brooding figure many would covet, dead or undead. Special effects are sparing but effective, which should boost male appeal, as will Paquin, who manages to be sexy, vulnerable and mysterious all at once.

How deeply the series resonates beyond that will hinge on how the plot advances and weaves in the secondary characters. Either way, the concept seems like a smart against-the-grain move for HBO, which has already done a phenomenal job marketing it.

If nothing else, nobody will confuse Bill from Bon Temps with "John From Cincinnati." The only question now is whether "True Blood" barely breaks the skin or can tap into a whole new artery.
PHOTO (COLOR): Anna Paquin is the psychic waitress next door and Stephen Moyer the vampire who loves her in HBO's "True Blood." from Alan Ball.
By Brian Lowry

True Blood Writer : Chris Offutt

Interesting post about Chris Offutt ( who seems to be quite the accomplished author) and he actually chimes in himself in the thread and says this :

"Hey man. I wrote Episode 7 of True Blood.
Then quit the weird world of Holllywood.
A cool learning experience, but not the place for me.
I suppose going out there is another thing we Kentuckians do when we leave the hills."

You can see more books by Chris here
**He is listed for both episode 7 and 10 "Burning House of Love" and "I Don't Wanna Know"

I turned on HBO on Sunday night to catch the new episode of Entourage. The channel’s new vampire series, True Blood was wrapping up and the final credits rolled. And I was shocked — and thrilled — to see Chris Offutt’s name listed as executive story editor.

I’m not positive, but I think it is indeed that Chris Offutt, the writer from Kentucky who authored No Heroes, The Good Brother, The Same River Twice, and others. According to the Internet Movie Database, the Offutt associated the television show was born in Lexington, Kentucky and is listed as a novelist and short story writer. So it’s gotta be him.

Offutt lived in Rowan County Kentucky, just a few counties over from where I grew up. He signed my copy of Kentucky Straight with a note that “here’s what we Kentuckians do when we leave the hills.”

The opening pages of Offutt’s 2002 memoir, No Heroes, are about returning to those hills in Kentucky after a lengthy absence.

You can go ahead and forget all your preplanned responses to comments about wearing shoes, the movie Deliverance, indoor plumbing, and incest. You don’t have to work four times as hard because the boss expects so little. You don’t have to worry about waiting for the chance to intellectually ambush some nitwit who thinks you’re stupid because of where you’re from.

You won’t hear these words spoken anymore: redneck, hillbilly, cracker, stump-jumper, weed-sucker, ridge-runner. Never again will you have to fight people’s attempts to make you feel ashamed of where you grew up. You are no longer from somewhere. Here is where you are. This is home. This dirt is yours.

I didn’t get a chance to watch that new vampire show. But I have it set to DVR. If True Blood comes anywhere near the quality of Chris Offutt’s books, then it’ll be worth watching.

Read all the posts here :

True Blood France

What does Joss Whedon think of True Blood ?

Thank you for posting this tid bit.

TVWeek: Vampires are big in pop culture right now. Have you seen “Twilight’?

Mr. Whedon: I saw “Twilight.” And it’s—what can you say? It’s absolutely like crack. It strikes a tweener chord that’s just as loud as the apocalypse. You cannot deny the power of it. It just works. And I sort of like that.

TVWeek: What about HBO’s “True Blood”?

Mr. Whedon: I’ve seen less of it. “Twilight” makes its own rules, as we all do. It takes what it wants and discards the rest but ultimately, it is kind of classical. They’re puffy-shirt vampires in a sense.

“True Blood,” I think, is more what we see in a lot of the comic books, which is, “Let’s deconstruct this and explore what it would be like if [vampires] were really among us.” It’s more postmodern.

TVWeek: Did you watch “Moonlight”?

Mr. Whedon: I did not. I actually don’t love vampires. Anne Rice was definitely a life-changer. It was wonderful. But at the end of the day, I’ve really kind of had my fill.

You know, Buffy wasn’t going to necessarily fight vampires. The idea was always there’s a monster, she fights it. And when I did the Buffy/Angel romance, I thought, “There’s no way in the world I’m getting away with something this cheesy.” I thought, “People are going to laugh at me.”

Over the years, I’ve gotten a better understanding of why vampires resonate so much. I even came up with an idea for a vampire film recently … but then I saw there was this glut, so I thought I better ease off of that. It’s still in my consciousness. But I think I need to spend some time with some Frankensteins.

Watch out Charlaine might be watching you ....

Charlaine posted to her blog today and aside from talking, as she usually does about her own familial and domestic events such as: kids choosing colleges and having a sick pet. She also wrote briefly about the two short stories she is now writing, one for the Mystery Writers of America anthology and the other for a new anthology which she is co- editing with Toni L.P. Kelner called "Death's Excellent Vacation".

We don't know if either of them will be Sookieverse stories ...

But I found it most interesting that she chose to spend her time and used her blog as a platform to discuss what seems to be rampant right now on many of the Sookie Stackhouse /True Blood discussion/ forum sites and that is posters being disagreeable, argumentative and ganging up on other posters. I recently spoke about this too on a recent radio show (you can listen about 4 minutes into the recent Bill's show ) and I received excellent feedback from folks that appreciated what I said and now we see Charlaine addressing the same issue on her blog.

It's interesting to note, that she is most definitely visiting other forums and seeing this kind of behavior.
I do think this behavior is in part due to boredom and us lacking anything new to talk about. One of the things we are doing to combat this boredom while we wait for the new book and the return of True Blood Season 2 on the HBO wiki is that we are getting together a group of folks to read and discuss "Dancer's in the Dark" the Sookieverse novella that Charlaine wrote in 2004. If you'd like to be involved with that discussion send me an email and I'll let you know more. We haven't begun the discussion yet so now is the time to get involved.

So beware when you post...Charlaine might be watching what you say ..

"Speaking of writing long - my moderators have recently become concerned that very long posts call all "conversation" on the site to a temporary halt. We've been emailing back and forth discussing the idea. We concluded that we'd ask posters will keep their messages short and to the point.
Sometimes it's impossible to make your case with brevity, but please give it a try.
As long as I'm talking about posting, I wanted to thank all of you for showing so much respect to each other. I'm proud of this website, and I want all my readers to know it. I hope this website never descends to the level of others I've visited, where one group gangs together to shout down the opinions of another. Respectfully disagreeing is the norm here, and I hope it stays that way. I'm glad you're here, and I hope you visit often."