One in a series of evenings and special screenings presented as part of The Paley Center for Media’s 26th William S. Paley Television Festival in Los Angeles. Held this year at the Cinerama Dome at the Arclight, the festival celebrates the excellence and diversity of American television and is dedicated to television’s creative community. This evening honors "True Blood,” a drama series based on the “Southern Vampire Mysteries” book series by Charlaine Harris about the quirky residents of a small Louisiana town where a young waitress – deemed a freak because she can read minds -- falls in love with a vampire.

Craig Hitchcock (executive director, The Paley Center for Media in Los Angeles) offers opening remarks before acknowledging William C. Paley, son of the festival's namesake. Next, he introduces Stuart Levine (managing editor, Daily Variety), who serves as the evening’s moderator. After telling about the show’s history, Levine sets up a montage of clips from the show’s first season and a preview of season two.

Clips include: Sookie telling her grandmother about meeting Bill the vampire; Sookie being saved by Bill after Mack and Denise Rattray nearly kill her; Jason trying to interfere with Sookie and Bill’s courtship; Bill romancing Sookie and forcing himself not to bite her; Tara flirting with Sam; Sam admitting to Sookie that he’s a shape-shifter; Lafayette giving V-juice to Jason; Tara telling Lafayette that she’s sleeping with Sam; Jason dealing with the horrific aftereffects of a V-juice overdose; Sookie meeting the nefarious Eric; Sookie and Bill fleeing Fangtasia when the club is raided; Sookie forcing Bill to bite her; Arlene telling all at Merlotte’s that Sookie is sleeping with Bill; Tara getting an exorcism from Miss Jeanette; Bill attacking Sam when he misunderstands Sam’s actions toward Sookie; Sookie rescinding Bill’s “invitation”; Bill getting incinerated by sunlight as he attempts to save Sookie; Sookie and Sam burying Bill’s body; Bill’s mysterious return to Sookie; Sookie and Bill arguing after Sookie defies Bill and takes Jessica to see her family; and Sookie being followed through the woods and attacked by a new horror.

Next, Levine introduces the panelists: executive producer/creator/writer Alan Ball; and cast members Alexander Skarsgard (Eric Northman); Carrie Preston (Arlene Fowler); Nelsan Ellis (Lafayette Reynolds); Rutina Wesley (Tara Thornton); Sam Trammell (Sam Merlotte); Ryan Kwanten (Jason Stackhouse); Stephen Moyer (Bill Compton); and Anna Paquin (Sookie Stackhouse).

The panelists touch on such topics as: why producers thought that Charlaine Harris’s “Southern Vampire Mystery” books would adapt well to a television series; Ball deciding to go back to HBO after achieving mega-success with “Six Feet Under”; the audition process for each of the cast members; if Ball had his own list of actors he wanted to cast; actors’ favorite scenes from the show; how much of the series is filmed in Louisiana; the evocative acoustic music meant to make the scripts more “offbeat”; how the character of vampire king Eric became a “cult phenomenon”; liberties that are taken with Harris’s books; how the characters will be evolving in season two; why Trammell was forced to continually run naked in “beige-colored jazz shoes”; actors being “upset” by being part of so many grisly scenes; physical injuries suffered by cast members; Ball’s changing mindset about improvising on set; when the cast and crew realized that the show was “a hit”; how playing the gay Lafayette affects Ellis’s home life; and the lessons Ball learned on “Six Feet Under” which he brings to “True Blood.”

Questions from the audience then lead to a discussion of the following topics: what the actors like most about their characters; how the new character of Maryann will be “more trouble than anyone can possibly imagine”; if the show will have a limited number of seasons, correlating with the books’ plots; how the actors react to the nudity required in the scripts; what “truly” constitutes the dirt in which the actors playing vampires get buried; the “heartbreak” experienced by Ball and the cast when Lois Smith’s character of Gram was murdered; and the hardship of trying to define the show’s demographic.


  • DATE: April 13, 2009 7:00 PM
  • RUNNING TIME: 1:33:11
  • COLOR/B&W: Color
  • CATALOG ID: 100005
  • GENRE: Seminars


    • Craig Hitchcock … Host
    • Stuart Levine … Moderator
    • Alan Ball … Panelist
    • Alexander Skarsgard … Panelist
    • Carrie Preston … Panelist
    • Nelsan Ellis … Panelist
    • Rutina Wesley … Panelist
    • Sam Trammell … Panelist
    • Ryan Kwanten … Panelist
    • Stephen Moyer … Panelist
    • Anna Paquin … Panelist
    • Charlaine Harris
    • William C. Paley
    • Lois Smith