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October 4, 2015

Fan Expo 2010 Day 3: 'Brokeback' Borgnine, Life After 'Heroes' and Shatner is the Sh%$

by Aaron Broverman, posted Aug 30th 2010 10:15PM
It's the last day of Fan Expo for another year and the crowds are still lining up around the block, but at least there's a little more space on the convention floor, since some people opted to take it easy and stay home. In fact, it was so much easier to move around I was able to pack in two extra panels today.

The little kid in me always wanted to know what happened to Adam, Black Ranger from ' Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers.' It just so happens the actor who played him, Johnny Yong Bosch, was leading a workshop called 'Voice Acting 101,' as he is now an accomplished voice actor for various anime series and video games. He explained his vocal techniques for switching from adult to younger characters, how to make a demo for potential auditions and how to pitch the mic to reduce the boom.After that bit of entertainment, it was time for William Shatner's one-day-only appearance at the Expo, so I gathered with the Trekkies to witness him. Shatner was given Space Network co-hosts AJ Fry and Teddy Wilson to guide him through audience questions, but given the old hand that he is, he didn't need them and left them standing on stage awestruck for much of the presentation before they finally left him to it.

The Canadian actor opened with behind-the-scenes tales of his time as a guest at the 2010 Olympic closing ceremonies in Vancouver and relayed that he was standing next to Wayne Gretzky when the final torch wouldn't rise. "I recognized a little bead of sweat above his lip -- in acting terms, that's called flop sweat. He had an ear piece and there was someone in his ear going, 'No, no, no yet Wayne. Wait for it Wayne, wait for it. It's going to go up, wait, wait, wait.' It sounded like he was using Viagra."

TV Squad Hits Fan Expo!

Eventually, he took questions from the audience. I asked Shatner what journalistic techniques he's picked up from doing his 'Raw Nerve' celebrity interview show and 'Aftermath' -- a show that examines the lives of newsmakers after they make the news. "What is interesting to me is, what's the truth of an event? There's your version of events and someone else's, but how do you find the truth of something that's happened? It's an eternal question and for me, that curiosity is my impulse in both 'Aftermath' and 'Raw Nerve'. I don't have an agenda and maybe that's what makes the people come."

He also touched on his experience doing a sitcom for the first time, on the upcoming Twitter-feed inspired 'Sh$# My Dad Says.' "A laugh is a delicate, mystical, ephemeral, cobweb thing -- it's brain surgery. If you don't know the words intensely, you don't get a laugh and if you don't get a laugh on a situation comedy... pfft!"

The next hour saw Space producer Mark Askwith in conversation with Sendhil Ramamurthy, who played Dr. Mohinder Suresh (a part actually meant for a 55-year-old man) on 'Heroes'. It turns out he's actually back to work after the show's cancellation; he stars opposite Piper Parabo in 'Covert Affairs' on the USA Network. It was a role he got while shooting seasons 4 and 5 of 'Heroes.'

'Heroes' eventual demise didn't surprise anyone, and Ramamurthy says he saw the writing on the wall when his character started transforming into a bug in season 3. "I fought against it, but when you're the actor, in the end you have to say what's written for you. I went in, expressed my concerns and it didn't go my way." He found a fun silver lining in all the stunt sequences and physical acting he was able to do, but seven hours in the make-up chair, when the rest of the cast rolls in three hours later, wasn't fun at all. "All the actors saw we were getting cancelled and started looking for new jobs. I mean c'mon, Nikki/Tracy/Jessica? It was all just too confusing."

Fear not Heroites, there will be some sort of wrap-up to the story for the die-hards. "I don't think it'll be a movie or miniseries.Tim talked to us and we'd all love to do it, but we've all moved on to new shows and I think co-ordinating schedules would be next to impossible. I think, more realistically, you will see the end as a graphic novel. I hope [the characters] end up being heroic and saving somebody."

From TV hero to big screen legend, Ernest Borgnine was next on my list. During his Q&A he took the time to respond to a Los Angeles Times article that argued he shouldn't get his SAG Lifetime Achievement Award because he refused to see or vote for 'Brokeback Mountain' during the 2006 Oscar race. He explained the situation to the audience, saying:

"Wait a minute, I made a boo-boo somewhere along the line. I didn't go to see a certain picture because I said, 'If John Wayne were still alive, he'd be rolling in his grave.' I didn't care to see it because I'm more interested in women than I am in men. I got nothing against men. What the hell? Everything is everything, but you know, to each his own. Do they have have to say, 'Oh because he didn't see this picture, he doesn't deserve recognition?' Who cares? It's up to you. If you want to see it as a person, fine. I understand the acting is very good, but you're within your right to say, 'No, I don't care to see it.' There are some of my own pictures that I don't care to see either."

He also revealed that he got more money than Frank Sinatra in 'From Here to Eternity.' Borgnine said Sinatra was paid $150,000 for the Academy Award-winning performance, while the 'Marty' star walked away with $700,000 for his debut role. Someone in the audience asked him what his most physically challenging role was. "I was going to say working with Shelly Winters," he responded. "She'd drive you to drink in desperation. I came in one day and studied my lines diligently. Then, she comes in and she says, 'Oh, I've had a terrible night.' It's not from not drinking and going to sleep either because she drank and everything else and had a ball all night long, so she didn't know her lines. 'Can you help me with my lines?' she said. 'Oh okay, I'll help you,' I said. So I helped her and by the time she knew all her lines, I didn't know mine. I tell ya, she was a horse."

At 93 years of age, it was apparent that Borgnine was still full of vinegar. It was the perfect way to end three days of star-studded geekdom of the highest order.

(But just in case this on-the-scene reporting gig doesn't work out, I made sure to cover my bases and attend 'How to Break into DC Comics', hosted by DC's senior vice-president, Dan Didio. That way, If I ever find I'm not cut out to be a journalist, I can write comic books starting at $40 per page.)

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