Tuesday, November 01, 2011

My coverage of True Blood S4

True Blood: Drama at its sexiest
By Raymond de Asis Lo L.A. Correspondent (The Philippine Star) Updated November 01, 2011 12:00 AM Comments (0) View comments

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Joe Manganiello, star of the HBO series.
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MANILA, Philippines - Are you ready for more sex — wild and uninhibited sex on primetime television? You better clear your calendar on Nov. 3 and make sure that by the time the hour hits 10 p.m. on Thursday night, you are already lounging on your favorite loveseat or your comfy couch or, better yet, on your bed cuddled with your partner because HBO Asia is set to debut the fourth season premiere of the blockbuster supernatural series True Blood, the sexiest drama to ever grace the cable network.

Forget about the pubertal vampires on The Vampire Diaries or the lovesick Edward Cullen of Twilight, the vampires in True Blood are adults — and they act like one. They are violent but they love to make love. No limits, well, sort of.

“I think that part of the joy of the show is pushing those limits,“ series creator Alan Ball told the set of foreign journalists present during the show’s Los Angeles junket in early August. “In terms of body parts, actors have limits on what they are willing to show but in terms of violence, I think it’s probably what is possible, what we can do with prosthetics and how much it will cost.

“I don’t think you can get pornographic and I think there is a point where violence just becomes gratuitous and I don’t think we’ll ever do torture porn. I don’t like movies like Hostel where it’s all just about sadism.”

Based on the bestselling Sookie Stackhouse series of novels by author Charlaine Harris, the series is set in a fictional Louisiana small-town and tells the story of Sookie, portrayed by Oscar-winning actress Anna Paquin, the girl who had the gift of reading the thoughts of other people and who would later fall in love with a vampire.
The first and second season of the series told the story of how Sookie fell in love with the vampire named Bill Compton, played by Anna’s real-life husband Stephen Moyer, and how she became the object of desire by another vampire, the elder Eric, played by Alexander Skarsgard.

The third season revealed that Sookie’s telepathic gift was no accident. She is a fairy. And, not only that, she also discovered that her best friends are witches. There was also a new character, a werewolf, played by the hunky Joe Manganiello, thrown in the mix. But everything that took place during season three was just a prelude to the explosive fourth season.

“Nothing ever works out for anybody on the show,” cautioned Alan, however. So fans of the hit series, even if they are familiar with the fourth book in the series calledDead to the World, are still in for a lot of surprises.

There are many challenges in adapting and spreading a 400-page book into 15 or more one-hour episodes and Alan said he is primarily concerned about telling a good story that services all the characters in the book that fans have grown to love. But as much as he was pressed for details on the much-awaited shower scene between Eric and Sookie this season, Alan just wouldn’t budge. “We decided to do something a little different with it,” he said. “If you just try to pull off the scene as in the book, I don’t think you’ll ever be able to do it the way people imagined it — without descending into pornography — so what we did is we definitely have a shower scene but it goes to an unexpected place that is new and, yet, at the same time, very satisfying. I am pretty sure people will be very happy with our version of the shower scene.”

But for the show’s main star, Anna, the main challenge is to not disappoint the fans of the books.

During the junket, Anna also expressed her excitement about the show’s forthcoming season and how her character finally gets to be her own person. “I think that she’s taking a step back from being a damsel-in-distress and from being at the whims of other people.”

Anna Paquin and Joe Manganiello 
The gap-toothed Australian actress was pleasantly chatty and friendly in person. She burst into Hollywood in 1994 as a young acting prodigy from New Zealand who wowed the fierce critics at Cannes and won the hearts of the Academy. True Blood was her first foray into television and she caused another sensation with the steamy love scenes that she agreed to do. The little girl from The Piano was finally an adult and people embraced her transformation.

“It was impossible to imagine how big the show was gonna be,” she said reflecting on how the show made her become a cult-like figure among the show’s devotees. She recalled how fans mobbed her during a trip she made to the annual Comic Convention (a gathering of self-proclaimed nerds) and was astonished when she saw how many girls came dressed up as Sookie. She also had encounters with fans that are angry with her for breaking up with Bill.

But ultimately, Anna is just thankful to be a part of a show that’s groundbreaking in every level. The show encouraged diversity and championed the female identity — but the series really made its mark with its tasteful and provocative sex scenes, which are essential in a show that celebrates the individual through marked sensuality and sexuality.

“Even though my character didn’t have any sex scenes in the first few episodes, I always got a pretty good idea that it was gonna get pretty raunchy pretty quickly,” she disclosed. “But that’s the least of things I worry about. I mean, any girl would want to look good in front of the camera, like ‘Does my ass look fat?’ but not like, ‘Oh, my God! Someone’s gonna see my naked body!’ It’s not among the issue!”

And she sees no reason to worry because she has her full trust on her producer. “Alan is a good person and a smart man. He’s not exploitative. He can push the boundaries really far without anyone feeling like they are being specifically being taken advantaged of.”

How about the much-awaited shower scene between Sookie and Eric?

The actress just kept mum. Smiled knowingly before teasing that her character and Eric has already shared a kiss before — but it was in a dream. “Why?” she asked, “We still do it when we shoot even if it’s only a dream!”

Now, that shower scene could be close to real. Be sure to watch. — With reports from Anselmo Manosca

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