Recap: Dr Horrible Sing-Along and Joss Whedon Q&A benefit for 826NYC


Joss Whedon and Buffyfest, sadly minus Michelle

Joss Whedon hosted a Dr Horrible screening last night in New York City and Bitsy and I were there! This was all to benefit 826NYC. Joss showed up and worked the entire line outside, signing things and taking pictures. Once inside...well just check out the video below, which was Joss's intro of the evening:


The crowd was great, Dr. Horrible looked better than ever on the big screen and the singing was loud and rambunctious. Joss was just a few seats down from us and was also singing along. Ira Glass led the Q&A portion of the eveing right after the screening. What transpired was a very interesting interview of Whedon, indeed. I'll try and recap as best I can. (Please know that this was all shorthand and not entirely complete):

Dr horrible makes me sad. - Joss Whedon

Ira Glass: Are you knocking off Sondheim?
Joss Whedon: I knocked off Penny!

Joss spoke about the song "Slipping" originally being called "Rebuttal" and that he definitely takes cues, particularly from Sondheim. See the entire beginning portion here (Thanks, Lyssa!). He then spoke a bit about being inspired by films.

JW: When I was doing "Amends"...the thing that unlocked it for me was watching The Last Temptation of Christ. Just the emotional pain of what this guy had to do because it's right.

IG: What kind of stupid shit can you get away with in a Musical?
JW: "Deltoids of Compassion" might be the greatest thing I ever wrote. Musicals bring the broadest jokes, the loudest cry. Cursing in musicals is 10 times funnier.

They mentioned that Joss directed the Emmy bit that aired last night.

IG: Where did Moist come from? Is there anything else to say about a character like Moist? JW: You're underestimating the power of "damp". He comes from the mind of Ben Edlund.....So did Bad Horse which he pitched for Angel. Ironically, that horse was in episodes of both Angel and Dollhouse. We've used this horse 3 times!

In reference to Neil Patrick Harris's opening monologue in Dr. Horrible:

IG: Is he ad-libbing at all?
JW: (jokes) Never! (then coyly) I'm not as controlling as I uuuuused to be. I'm a "control enthusiast."

IG: (in response) It's an amazing monologue to watch. Is it take 50?
JW: I think it's take 4. Or maybe 6. It's a long monologue. I thought "It's a lot to ask of an audience"...but it's an internet musical! It's free!

In the clip below, Joss talks more about the opening monologue and then about the financial aspect of Dr. Horrible:


Joss would give us absolutely nothing about the Dr. Horrible sequel except that "Penny's still dead". See for yourself:


When Dollhouse came up, Ira Glass' first question was "Did Dollhouse feel like a Joss show?" (People in the audience proceeded to scream "No!")

JW: It did at first. Even the first pitch seemed territory uncharted, but at the same time natural. These stories are "me" stories.

Joss spoke about Eliza's acting saying "Eliza is capable playing someone who is actually classy." instead of just tough. He mentioned a bunch of roles she's played and Bitsy then shouted "Bring it on!"

JW: the "Bring it on" girl is both tough and conservative.

JW: [Dollhouse] became just a scoach too whore-y. Never had a better meeting, everything was great, then they [FOX] said "so they're kinda like prostitutes and that's not ok" Word came down that it wasn't ok. I wanted to make a show thats about feeling bad about feeling good or good about feeling bad. Fantasy is just that, fantasy. FOX wanted to back away from these implications. Every episode is ridiculously hard because the central core has been ripped out just enough, that we're constantly dancing around our own premise.

JW: I only do ensemble shows ...you don't hire Olivia Williams for exposition.

IG: You're about 6 episodes in the season now?
JW: About halfway through yeah.....and we've written 2 of then too! (laughs)

Regarding the episode "Epitaph One":

JW: We didn't want a Firefly where it's "interuptus" but we also didn't want to close the book. Plus, we also had FOX which needed another episode (and me thinking it eventually would air). We couldn't do a clip show, showing the pilot would be stupid. We could do this fast. It would be a bottle show. A bottle show means "let's shoot on the set we have, we've run out of money."

[Apparently another example of "Bottle Show" was the Angel episode "Spin the Bottle" - all shot on the Hyperion set.]

Ira Glass seemed baffled by the fact that a Whedon show always has strong women but with an older "dude" that she needs. See below for that conversation:


They spoke a bit about Joss's father:

JW: Since the day I started writing he's been nothing but supportive.
IG: What does he say about the fatherless characters on your shows?
JW: It doesn't come up....were WASPS! (laughs) My relationship with my older brothers and father was tough, but over dinner we spoke about it one day and that was it. "This always bothered me, "well this always bothered me", "Good talk." But the damage was done (audience laughs) and I get to give it to all of you.

Glass had a question about the art in the Buffy comics. Apparently his wife noticed that when the comics started, the boobs on the women matched those of the original actresses. But now, "the boobs are getting bigger".

JW: I've always been pretty specific about the breasts in my comics. I probably shouldn't be saying this. (laughs) But there's a certain form they're used to drawing and they revert back and I don't notice.........so is Willow like stacked? (audience laughs)

They got into Joss having a hard time with being a leader:

JW: My version of being nice is avoiding conflict, not telling the cast what they do wrong and then firing them. (audience laughs) I write about being a leader...making a decision that makes you less of a person. I find it fascinating in Mal, the later seasons of Buffy, in Adele. For me, it's really hard.

He had a hard time with a leadership role he had in college, then he found he could lead people with kindness.

IG: What happened that you realized you weren't having a firm enough pimp hand?
JW: Were not talking about Dollhouse. (audience laughs)
IG: So were you trying to be their friends?
JW: Yeah, it was cool and then it got messy. It always gets messy.

IG: What would've happened if Firefly had continued? (someone screams, "IT WOULD'VE BEEN AWESOME!)
JW: It's hard to talk about. Recently, I was going over a scene with Mal in a bar at the end of an episode and I actually got a little teary...then I wake up from that daze and I realize that's never gonna happen.

Glass tries to press what this "lost" Firefly scene was about.

JW: Intimate things and I have a few if them... I'm not going to share. Had the show continued, I'll tell you one thing, Wash would've been alive! (Applause)

IG: Is TV a good place right now to make interesting work?
JW: Getting harder for networks and the way people are entertained is changing. I didn't think I was gone from TV for that long but so much has changed. What they refer to as a "6 act structure," or what we refer to in the writers room as an unholy mess, it creates false act breaks. Someone says "pass the salt" cut to commercial. Really? The salt? Can't you just not pass it? (audience laughs)

JW: They tried with Dollhouse and Fringe shorter commercials...which meant 10 more minutes of show, which was prolly the most crippling decision they could've made. But they're out there trying different stuff. The most interesting venues right now are AMC, HBO. For me there was this little golden era of television. Little places that no longer exist called the WB and UPN...indie TV. Janet Jackson's nipple caused the FCC problems and the whole culture seemed to retract. "No side boob." Every week we get this note. "no side boob" Ira responds, "Really?"

IG: A question that might be embarrassing...Do you go back and watch old episodes of your own shows?
JW: It is embarrassing. After my wife would go to sleep I'd put Buffy in (slyly motions the dvd player closing).
IG: Which ones would you watch?
JW: The ooooones directed by meeee. (audience laughs) It's funny, cause it's true. (more laughs) The reactions would surpise me, though. It watch "Restless" and think "that's good", I'd watch "Hush" and eh...it's not all that.

Ira's final question was a pretty awesome one, regarding half a dozen Reavers vs. half a dozen Vamps. Check that exchange out below:


Here are some more photos of the evening:

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