Well, we all survived “The Following,” which wasn't a bad panel, even if the crowd ran out of questions very early. My full “Following” live-blog is here.
Now it's time for “Sons of Anarchy.” We did a “Sons of Anarchy” panel at TCA press tour less than a week ago, so we'll see what new details we get today…
We've got an hour of this and then “The Strain.”
So let's get our “Sons of Anarchy” on…
12:33 p.m. Whoops. We're falling a bit behind! “Sons” has only an hour-long block, while “The Strain” is set for two hours, since they're showing a new episode pre-panel…
12:38 p.m. They're having technical difficulties, but eventually they'll show us the opening scene of the season. First? We'll introduce our panelists and we have EVERYBODY: Drea de Matteo, Niko Nicotero, David Labrava, Dayton Callie, Theo Rossi, Tommy Flanagan (wearing shades and an awesome hat), Mark Boone Jr. (wearing a killer Mark Boone Jr. costume), Kim Coates, Katey Sagal, Paris Barclay and Kurt Sutter. Huh. Charlie Hunnam was supposed to be on satellite and then he was supposed to be here. “89 percent of my family think that this season will kill me,” Sutter says, responding to EW polls suggesting that fans assume EVERYBODY will die this season. Boring.
12:44 p.m. Charlie is on the East Coast “doing a really important service for Vogue magazine,” Sutter cracks. Hunnam has sent a video. He sends his regrets, but he's getting a massage and a back rub from Mark Boone Jr. and Tommy Flanagan, which is confusing, since they're here and he isn't. Hunnam thanks the fans, as Kim Coates comes rushing in with a drink, that gets thrown in his face. “This Charlie Hunnam saying thank you, I love you, good night and good luck,” Hunnam says. Sorry, but that was just weird. “It was written by Charlie Hunnam himself,” Barclay says.
12:47 p.m. The first question is for Kurt and also involves the stupid EW poll. Is Jax's fate decided or could it still change? “I'm really bad at math. Numbers confuse me,” Sutter says. He adds that he knows where he wants the hero to be emotionally and thematically at the end of the season, but he's keeping “a loose grip on the story process.” “Much to the chagrin of my production team, I like to back up real tight to production,” Sutter says. He's in post on Episode 4 and finishing writing Episode 7.
12:49 p.m. Are any of the actors hoping for a great “Sons of Anarchy” death? Nope. When the heck did this show become a show about people who die? Isn't there more to the show than that? Sigh.
12:50 p.m. What has been Barclay's strongest reaction behind the camera? Barclay says it was a scene he didn't direct, but it was Opie's death. “All of us were crushed along with Opie,” Barclay recalls. He says the actors and crew were all responding in the moment. “That was the moment I thought 'Sons of Anarchy' is real. This is not just a show,” Barclay says. Coates says that all of the actors showed up for Ryan Hurst to do his last shot as Opie.
12:50 p.m. Theo Rossi is incredulous that 86 percent of people think Juice is going to die. “I expected at least 95,” he says. Rossi doesn't think anything on the show is too violent, because it's all organic to Kurt's world. “Every single thing that we've ever done has made sense,” he says.
12:53 p.m. Walton Goggins is returning as Venus and Charlie teased at TCAs that Tig will be getting some this season. So what can Kim Coates say about working with Walton? They didn't want to see Goggins' hair and makeup trials beforehand. “Literally all of us guys saw Venus Van Dam on that day and there was no acting required,” Coates says. “It's great when she's on set,” Coates says. “I'm semi-erect just thinking about it,” Sutter says.
12:55 p.m. “I think Gemma has always showed vulnerability,” Sagal says, promising that the character will be even more multi-layered this season. “Ultimately she's always about 'What's the best things for the kids,'” she says, but she promises that what comes from that “pure motivation” goes awry.
12:57 p.m. Drea de Matteo is asked about working with guest star Courtney Love. “I know that Courtney came on, but I haven't filmed anything with her yet,” de Matteo says apologetically. But Sagal worked with her. “Courtney did a very good job,” Sagal says, adding that she looks very different from what we've come to expect.
12:59 p.m. Stephen King wants to know if Bobby will ever do his Elvis thing again? “I don't know. That question cannot be directed at me,” Mark Boone Jr. says. “I tried to put it into Season 6 and it just, with the nature of everything that's going on, it just didn't feel like Bobby would take the time out to go to Tahoe,” Sutter apologizes. The same will be true this season as well, alas. He laments that it has been a long time since he has been able to work in that side of Bobby's character. Boone has more to say about his “exile” last season, but he enjoyed being reunited with the class when Bobby's true motives were revealed.
1:00 p.m. What are the dos and don'ts of interacting with Tommy Flanagan on Twitter? “Everyone's so beautiful and wonderful and sweet and cuddly,” Flanagan says. “I get nothing but love.” Oh. And what will Chibs be up to this season? “The writing this year is pretty phenomenal,” Flanagan says. He gets to do some great stuff with Coates, Hunnam and Boone. “This season's fantastic. We're on Episode 6 and I'm loving it,” Flanagan says. Everybody seems to be implying we're going to see “a lot more of” Flanagan. Nude scene, apparently.
1:02 p.m. “I think we're gonna break a lot of hearts this year,” Labrava says, but he can't tell us if we're going to see more of Happy this season.
1:03 p.m. They've fixed the video, so now we're watching the opening montage, which is preceded by a long, long recap package from last season's shocking developments. The season begins with Jax beating somebody up in prison. It's all set to a cover of “Never My Love” that Shazam can't identify. Juice is doing guilty push-ups. Unser is visiting Tara's grave. Yeah. Jax is doing some unfortunate things in jail. Nero is sharing beers with The Mayans. The porn stars are doing what porn stars do. Yeah. Jax may be just a bit messed up and he's performing some icky dentistry in the hoosegow, sans anesthesia. Plus, he's carving something disturbing in a fellow prisoner. Hmmm.
1:09 p.m. Niko Nicotero is an actor on this show. He's asked to do an interpretative dance for his thoughts about Rat this season. He just kneels in prayer.
1:10 p.m. “Every year, I wonder what plan he's got for me,” Callie says of Sutter.
1:11 p.m. If they could take one thing from the set when the show is over, what would it be? “I'd take my wife,” Sutter says. “I'd take you, too,” Sagal says, adding she'd also like Gemma's shoes. Coates wants “Spike the Bike.” “Charlie,” Mark Boone Jr. says. “The love of my brothers and my sisters on the show,” Flanagan says. “I was gonna make a joke and now he says that,” Rossi says. “I want to take my trailer home,” Callie says. “It isn't want I want to take. It's what I'm taking,” Labrava says, referring to his friends and family and education. Nicotero wants to take his boots. “I wanna have him stuffed and put over my fireplace,” de Matteo says of Dayton Callie. Barclay pays tribute to Kurt Sutter. “I've gotta say I'm really really grateful that Kurt decided to take us on this trip,” he says. Kurt is clearly emotional as the whole cast and much of the audience stands for him. Sutter's glasses are off and he's rubbing his eyes. It's a nice moment.
1:15 p.m. “Thank you. I'm verklempt,” Sutter says. “I echo that.” He refers to how they're all “one big, f***ed up family.” “I love everyone at this table and we have an amazing crew. The thing I'm most grateful for is I walk through our set and I know that everybody wants to be there and everyone's really grateful and everyone likes to show up for work. And that's the gift for me, so thank you,” Sutter says. Then he changes course.
1:17 p.m. “We are having serious conversations about our prequel,” he teases. They've moved on from comic books to full “Sons of Anarchy” novels. It will release this fall and it's available for pre-order. The story takes place after Season 4 and follows Jax, Opie and Chibs getting into trouble with The Russians. The book is called “Bratva.” “If you care to continue to partake, check out the novels,” he says. If people buy the book he wants to be like William Shatner and that he “will continue to flourish as a guy who has other people write stuff and slaps his name on it.”
1:19 p.m. First audience question: What will they do to fill the void after the show ends? Will they have a spinoff? “There'll be no spinoffs,” he says. “As I said five minutes ago, clearly you're high — as you all should be — that to me, the most interesting thing about our mythology is the origins,” Sutter says. He doesn't know if it'll be a full-on series. It may be a miniseries. And they're going to let the thing rest for a couple years before that.
1:20 p.m. Will they address Jax's vengeance immediately or gradually? “It's the most proactive our hero has been throughout the entire series,” Sutter says. He notes that Jax is a deep thinker and is often reacting to chaos. “This season he comes out sorta with blinders on, singular in purpose and is driven,” Sutter says, calling him “the inciter of chaos.” He adds that in the first four episodes, “Charlie's just f***ing killing it.”
1:22 p.m. Will Kurt be doing features after this? “Funny you should ask…” Sutter says. His script “Southpaw” is currently being shot. “It's different for me. I'm not used to being rewritten. I'm not used to people improvising,” he admits. But he's been doing rewrites nightly. He acknowledges that in features, the director's vision has to be serviced and he's learning to give up control.
1:23 p.m. Looking back to the beginning, what were their favorite scenes to do? Sutter's favorite scene was Otto being raped at the start of Season 6. Barclay jokes that the Hunnam short was his favorite scene, comparing it to the fun that they have on set. Then Paris more seriously refers to Gemma's revelation in “Balm,” which remains my favorite part of the show by a wide margin. “I can't watch that without tearing up today,” Barclay says. Nobody else answers for some reason.
1:25 p.m. Winnie the Pooh asks if Katey and Theo would have a threesome with him. They discuss whether or not the sex would be in the Pooh suit or not.
1:26 p.m. Another try at the “favorite moment” question, this one asking for “shocking moments.” Theo's most shocking moment was Venus' first appearance. “What we did see was a lot more than what I expected,” Rossi says, claiming there were testicles flying everywhere. Sagal remembers a scene from Ireland, specifically Gemma putting the gun to the baby's head. “I have three kids,” she notes. “And they're really well-behaved,” Sutter jokes. She praises the baby actor for wailing at her and giving her what she needed. Kim's daughter in the pit is somebody's most shocking scene. Coates just likes seeing episodes. And several people agree that there's a very shocking scene coming.
1:29 p.m. A questioner asks for an orgy and gets cut off. Laaaaaame.
1:30 p.m. Last question: “Yes, you can f*** me in the a***,” Sutter tells the questioner, who doesn't actually have a question. Sigh.
1:31 p.m. Kurt Sutter closes with his annual trivia, from the “Sons of Anarchy” trivia game.
1:31 p.m. First bit of trivia: Which high-ranking member of the Gallindo cartel buys SAMCRO's entire stock of guns? Somebody knows the answer, but we can't hear it. Oh well. She gets a t-shirt, whoever she is and whatever she answered. The t-shirts were made based on Sutter's outrage at Google. “I Follow The Idiot Prophet” they say.
1:33 p.m. Who kills Keith McGee? This time I can hear that the answer was Clay.
1:33 p.m. An alleged easy one: Which character serves as Club Secretary for the first four seasons? Bobby, but the answerer doesn't know Bobby's last name.
1:35 p.m. And a hard one? What is the first name of Hector Salazar's aunt who was kidnapped by Bobby? “Don't just make up Latina names,” Sutter says. Somebody knows the answer, but again we can't hear. Sutter accuses them of Googling it.
1:35 p.m. Last one: In Season 3, what does Clay say Charming will turn into if Hale is elected mayor? Suburban Disneyland, apparently.
That's all, folks…