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April 18 2007

A Conversation with Joss Whedon '87: Things and Stuff. Those lucky Wesleyan graduands and alum get to go a seminar by Joss in May. He'll be talking "about his career, thoughts on education and work, his life at Wesleyan and future plans, plus anything else the audience wants to ask".

Cheers to Amanda for the heads up.

Every time I have to hear that Joss is actually younger than I (Hamilton '85) I feel meek and insignificant all over again.
I like the subtitle.
Their mini-bio mentions Alien Resurrection but snubs Serenity? Tsk, tsk!
Yep, bet Joss'll love seeing that on there, talk about a well realised script, career high-point etc. etc. Or, y'know, the other thing ;).

(and just the sound of a Jeanine Basinger's 'Binswanger' award made me smile, well deserved though i'm sure it was ;)
Hey, I live near Wesleyan. Think I could pass off as "other family member" of a Wesleyan senior? *attempts to look distinguished-like*
(outing myself as a Wes grad) I had already planned on going back for reunion this year! So squeelish!
I hope this will be recorded and made available somewheres.
A transcript report from someone who goes would be nice. (Looks pointedly and expectantly at Zannadoo. ;-)
I'm going to this too! My brother-in-law graduates from Wes this year and since I dragged him along to several pre-screenings of Serenity from Vegas to San Diego, he is making sure I get to attend this seminar :)
When I first read this, I understood Wesleyan to have perfected a time travel machine, and were offering (alumni & friends only) the chance to go back to '87 and talk to a pre-Buffy, pre-Serenify Joss, and I thought, "OMG (I totally think in IM-abbreviations and emoticons), OMG, academia wicked rocks the Casbah."

How disappointing to find out the more prosaic truth from their website...

It's part of the program "Voices of Liberal Learning" - *giggle* (They said the other L-word.)

"Join this creator of cult figures who will talk about his career, thoughts on education and work, his life at Wesleyan and future plans, plus anything else the audience wants to ask."

Wow, that's a pretty sweeping statement they've made on his behalf. Now, my friends, would be the time to ask him stuff about Goners - though he doesn't want us to pre-chew on it 'til the flavour's gone - because he has to talk about anything we want to ask.

'Course, I guess "talk" don't mean "answer", do it? And the man can talk the hind legs off a whatever without actually revealing anything...

[ edited by QuoterGal on 2007-04-18 23:09 ]
I suppose that means he can refuse to act out his Wonder Woman script, after all.

Rats. Foiled again.

In seriousness, I do like it when these kinds of events allow more interaction with the audience. It's always more interesting that way.
I suppose that means he can refuse to act out his Wonder Woman script, after all.

I don't think it'd be the same without Morgan Freeman anyway.
Now, to hatch a plan to become a Wesleyan "friend"...

Who do I send cookies to?
Someone really should be able to correct the omission of Serenity on Joss's resume. Come on people, the script won a Nebula award!!
Not to mention that Joss & Serenity received the 2005 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation - Long Form in August, 2006 at LA Con IV, the 64th World Science Fiction Convention.

But maybe this is the 1987 version of Joss, in which case Serenity has not yet been written or produced.

No, then none of his credits would exist yet, so we're right back where we started.

Damn, keeping the timelines straight and not creating time-travel anomalies or glitches gets really complicated...


[ edited by QuoterGal on 2007-04-19 18:39 ]
newcj - Will do my best to be there so I can give a full Whedonesque report! :)

QuoterGal - Reunion weekend is always like a time machine, so seeing a 1987 version of Joss is always a possibility. Reality returns when the hangovers are over.

Shey - I wouldn't take too much offense over the Serenity omission, the alumni office blurb writer probably didn't have a clue. They probably used old copy from the last time he was on campus.

Salty Goodness - I'll look for you in line. It's on Saturday at 2:00pm. I recommend planning on being at the CFA at least 2 hours ahead. The new cinema is beautiful and big, but I am sure it will be crowded.
Mudblood77 is going to this. She promises to ask about Goners if they have a Q&A. :)

And she's taking her camera. :D
I went to was wonderful fun, as expected.

Joss began by sharing his thoughts about Keanu Reeves as an actor; sounds like an odd way to start but it was quite lovely. He explained how Keanu has mastered his own career by embodying a rare and authentic style all his own typified by a sense of compassion for humanity and a subtle detachment. He shared a story about when he was "fixing" the script for Speed and working with Keanu on the character, how Keanu had spent some time with detectives and law enforcement to get a sense of the character and he said he was struck by how polite they were. How they all used "sir" and "Ma'am." Joss was impressed by how Keanu objected to certain lines and actions in the script because they seemed outside of what the character would truly do. He explained how Keanu's choices of roles has been indicative of his style and how he has kept his private life private. He described Keanu as having an international appeal both by his "pretty" and by his multi-ethnic aesthetic. Ultimately, Keanu is the perfect Neo.

After Joss talked about this he opened it up for questions about anything. I didn't take notes but a few things stood out as being significant to me anyway. When asked what he felt was his best work ever, he said without hesitation "The Body." When asked about the quality of television today he made a comment that "nothing on tv has ever been as good as Battlestar Galactica." :) When asked what medium he likes the best of comics, movies, or television he said he is definitely more fond of tv and having the time to develop the stories and characters and said he really misses tv.

As for Goners, he did say that he submitted a full script and would find out in a few weeks if he will be shooting it this year (!!!!!) And finally, news to me and very exciting, when asked if he was going to start a comic of Angel S6, he said no but that they were putting out a 12-issue comic series that takes place after Not Fade Away. coming soon.....

Very much fun, sorry I didn't get to say hello to any whedonesquers who might have attended! I was in the 3rd row with hubby, brother and sisters in law and my adorable 18 month nephew.
I think I might run this as a front page item, it deserves to be seen by more.
Very interesting. Thank you,saltygoodness. If you think of more, don't hesitate to add to your report.

...and what about the others who were there? Reports? Anyone?

And thanks Simon, good idea to put it on the front page.

ETA: Oh yeah, comments should go on the new thread back on the front page. This is what happens when you sign on half asleep...

[ edited by newcj on 2007-05-27 06:12 ]
Newcj you are a doll. Thanks for your sweet thanks and call for more detail. Okay, I'm back to my hotel room and ready to go to bed but have so much more to share...

Someone asked Joss what his ideal cast would be in any movie and he said if Daniel Day Lewis and Emma Thompson were in it, all would be well. love :)

Another question: someone asked about his time on Veronica Mars and what it was like to be on set on that show, and he said that VM was one of the most original, authentic, creative shows ever and he was proud to be on it, and he said that it was actually pretty hard work being an extra with only a few lines. He was super proud and happy that some people compared it to Buffy.

He was asked about his work on the Office, and he talked extensively about how it was a phenomenally different show in that the collaboration and dynamic interaction between the actors and writers is truly unusual. He said that several of the actors are actually writers that have been "forced" to act, and that the computers on set are actually working computers so that the actors forced to work in the background on scenes are actually able to do some real stuff online. He said that when they shoot, they say something like "Screens safe!" so that the actors have to put the Dunder Mifflin logo up and hide whatever they are doing on the computer. He said that Steve Carrell is truly the most talented and inspired improv actor that he's ever known because he's truly dedicated to the character and the show so he isn't just trying to get the best lines for himself, but rather he elevates every other character with his suggestions and work on the character. Many of the lines and jokes that his character makes are straight from Steve himself. Joss had a blast working on that show and it was a COMPLETE coincidence that the ep he worked on was one that had vampires. He was a little embarassed about that but then when they had the live bat on set he was smitten because the bat was adorable and called 'Gary". (I can relate as I find bats to be wildly charming :)

Joss talked a bit about the economics and culture of television and the ebb and flow of the industry and how Buffy was on at a time where people weren't paying attention (as opposed to Firefly.) He said that give the state of movies and TV right now, things will eventually (soon?) crash economically (the model of one movie-star making bazillions of dollars to carry a movie can't last) and perhaps the more real stories will be able to slip in like he did with Buffy.

He briefly mentioned that he had blogged recently about his passionate feelings about women's rights (sidebar: I really wanted to clap at this point but didn't want to draw attention to myself--I'm such a coward!) and he said it was a weird experience and he didn't know if he would ever blog again like that (I hope he doesn't feel that way because of the volume of commentary on this site; I found it very compelling and an important dialogue regardless of the different opinions and thoughts that emerged.)

I can't remember much more right now as I'm warmed with good red wine and exhausted after a long day and night of dancing and celebrating. I did have a sweet conversation with Joss and we touched on several subjects from how I first met him (showing him a potential shooting location for Serenity) to how he is the reason I stepped foot into my first comic book store EVER a few months ago and am really enjoying Buffy S8 (he said he is having a blast with it--and a big reason was because Dawn is a giant :)

Anyway, gotta get to bed, just wanted to add some more...will probably double-post on the other comments page...

Thanks for that comprehensive report, SaltyGoodness. It sounds like a great time and lots of in depth answers to people's questions.
So much appreciation for the reports! Real live chances to hear Joss speak are rare and I hope I get the chance too one day. Again, many thanks from those of us who couldn't attend.

Joss, if you ever feel compelled to blog again as you did about Dua Khalil, please do. After I read your post, I chose a lecture on feminism for my international students and they spent four days working with the material and doing a little web research of their own. They found sites like Amnesty International with almost no help from me ("Google the term 'violence against women' if you're not sure where to start"), and statistics they found revealing unequal protection by courts and law enforcement were surprising to them. When you suggest your fans take action, they can and will in whatever way works for them.

ETA: And I KNEW my Keanu Reeves fascination wasn't silly fangurl stuff. Critics just don't get him, but smart folk do.

[ edited by April on 2007-05-27 14:20 ]
Thank you, thank you, Salty Goodness! Wonderful reports. I wanted to go so much -- we live a couple blocks from the university -- but my insomnia struck this week and I was too exhausted to be in public.

A few hours after I finally fell asleep the fireworks started and with the BOOM BOOM BOOM I was up again. It gave me a nerdy giggle to think Joss is likely somewhere nearby watching the spectacle.

I'm going to shut up and stop embarrassing myself now.
Being another Whedonesquer at the panel, I second what SaltyGoodness said. (SaltyGoodness - I was in the second row center in the last seat on house right.)

The Keanu panel was very interesting. I think we all were surprised by how Joss took a topic - which in some ways we were all expecting to be a joke - and created some interesting insights - both about Keanu as an actor and as an example being the type of person who can have a positive influence on the Hollywood machine. By looking at how Keanu embodies a sense of “otherness” (not stereotypically male, having a feminine aspect to his presence, having different intonation, speech patterns, and physicality from what you would normally expect from a Hollywood Action Star), you start to see that it allows people to identify and connect with him as an “everyman” – which is why he is so successful in his performance as Neo in the Matrix. Joss also commended Keanu for his sense of integrity - as a movie star not running after fame, but willing to choose projects that he wants to do, that he believes in. The Hollywood culture is built by those who work in the industry as part of it. The Importance of Being Keanu is that if more people in the industry were thoughtful about their work as an artist, their integrity as a person, their substance as storytellers – rather than chasing fame or that next mega-blockbuster movie – the culture of the Hollywood industry could change for the better. (At least that was my take from it)

Joss was incredibly kind and friendly, staying after the panel to sign autographs and talk with people. I did not know him while I was at Wes, but (setting aside my Whedonesque admiration aside) through seeing his genuine kindness and the sincere interest he took while talking with people, he is the kind of person I’d want for a friend – which only makes me admire him more.

I’d write more, but I’m a bit exhausted from staying up until 3:30 am – due to Joss unexpectedly dropping by my co-ed literary society at 1:30 am and spurring an impromptu dance party from great 80’s dance music off of his ipod. Let’s just say that there were great dances of Joy!
Gah, best dance party ever! Thanks so much for the details, guys, I just love the vicarious living:)
So, this thread has two different locations, as I discovered kind of by accident. I thought that when an item on the front page had a "More" at the end of it, clicking on the "More" would take you to the comments page, specifically to any additional info that the linker had added to his or her front-page post. All the comments on the link would appear after this (that is, there'd be no need to go to a new page in order to read the comments). At least this is what happens with many other front-page links. I'm not entirely well-versed in such things.

But with this Joss-at-Wesleyan item, when you click on "More" you go to a different page with a lot of wildly entertaining comments and reports. Go there! If you haven't already ...

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