Visiting Heroes and the Closer: The Fun of Hanging With Showbiz Winners
There's something about hanging with the cast of a TV show which has just become a hit.
New to the perks and trappings of fame, they are mostly eager, excited and enthusiastic. Not yet jaded by fame or warped by petty jealousies, they are well aware the ride of their life has begun, and they are determined to enjoy every moment of it.
That's what it felt like to bask in the company of the cast of NBC's Heroes today, during a special set visit arranged especially for the TV Critics Association. Fresh off a stellar freshman season and eight Emmy nominations, the team exuded an almost contagious good spirit, taking TV writers through their make-believe world.
Think David Caruso would bother leading a bunch of schlubby-looking TV writers through the autopsy room on CSI:Miami? But Greg Grunberg -- mind-reading police officer Matt Parkman, for those keeping score -- was like a giddy schoolboy showing off the comic book drama's intricate sets, including the moody loft where future-seeing artist Isaac once worked (scoop: Peter Petrelli keeps up the franchise) and an Irish bar which shows off the increasing international flavor of the new Heroes.
Noah Gray-Cabey (Micah Sanders), Ali Larter (Niki Sanders) and James Kyson Lee (Ando Masahashi) joined us for the tour, taking time to explain their personal connection to the sets -- Grunberg notes his character spends lots of time in the dark office of Mohinder Suresh, with a host of new characters, for reasons he can't explain -- and to the special effects used.
"I'm a huge fan! I sign autographs for myself!" enthused Grunberg, explaining why he seems so jazzed. "How else would a geek like me get on a magazine cover? There's this subculture out there and they're in the majority, people who appreciate this genre. It's like a restaurant; you get one shot. They're a smart audience and if you give them what they expect, they won't keep coming back."
Cool things I learned: some of the smallest touches in Heroes episodes, like the endless cubicles in the office where Hiro once worked, are added by computer effects technology; Zachary Quinto (Sylar, left) is not about to dish on rumors he's the new Spock in the "prequel" revival of Star Trek; Grunberg originally auditioned for the role of Peter Petrelli played by Milo Ventimiglia; since the actors playing both Petrelli brothers have come to promotional events, those characters must not have died the way they seemed to in last season's finale; and even Noah Bennett's pretend house is cooler than mine.
Earlier today, we paid a visit to Kyra Sedwick's The Closer, hanging out in the broad squad room that the detectives use to dissect their various crimes. The whole cast was on hand for critics to question and fawn over, with Sedwick perched on a table in her character's office, surrounding by a buzzing horde of tape-recorder-wielding TV writers.
I spent much of my time with once of my favorite characters actors, J.K. Simmons, who now mostly gets recognized for this gig or from playing J. Jonah Jameson in the Spider Man movies. My favorite role of his, however, was seeing him play the murderous neo-Nazi Vern Schillinger on HBO's explicit prison drama Oz.
Then I learned something that really made me pause: Simmons is actually a family man who turned down offers to star in a series for the toll it might take on his kids. And he coaches two little league teams.
Can you imagine Schillinger teaching your little boy how to hit a baseball?
"Mostly, the parents see J. Jonah Jameson," Simmons said, laughing. "And none of the 9-year-olds are big OZ fans."
Scoops here: Sedgwick is filming a movie with the Rock where she plays a sports agent; we will soon meet Brenda's father on screen and he's going to be a tough daddy; and Cory Reynolds (Det. David Gabriel, left) is so hot to star in a movie about the black Green Lantern, John Stewart, that he wears a watch with the Lantern symbol and has an envelope sitting on Gabriel's desk with a Green Lantern stamp on it.
"Nobody's ever seen Superman with a black face," said Reynolds, who noted he was meeting later today with the folks who hold the copyright to the Lantern character to show them a script he wrote. "And the best thing, is that he's powered by his will. Isn't that an amazing example?"