#SDCC15: Salem Renewed for a Third Season; Hear from the Cast and Co-Creator! - Dread Central
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#SDCC15: Salem Renewed for a Third Season; Hear from the Cast and Co-Creator!

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There’s sneaky, and then there’s really sneaky like the powers-that-be behind WGN America’s “Salem.”  Roundtable interviews were held this afternoon with cast members Janet Montgomery, Shane West, Seth Gabel, Ashley Madekwe, Elise Eberle, and Iddo Goldberg and co-creator/writer/executive producer Brannon Braga (his cohort Adam Simon arrived too late for us to chat with), who told us they were “waiting to hear” about a renewal for a third season but were “very optimistic…”

Well, that optimism paid off because as soon as we started typing up our report, the following press release arrived:

The magic continues for WGN America’s original, breakout hit series “Salem,” with the announcement made today at Comic-Con International: San Diego by the cast and creative team that the supernatural thriller has been renewed for a third season. The captivating one-hour drama, from Fox 21 Television Studios and creators and writers Brannon Braga and Adam Simon, boldly reimagines the infamous 17th century witch trials in colonial Massachusetts in a world where witches are real, but they are not who or what they seem to be. The third season will begin production in Shreveport, LA, later this year for a 2016 debut.

“Salem” Season Two averaged over 1.1 million Total Viewers and 545,000 Adults 18-49 on a Live + 7 basis on Sunday nights. During its Season Two run, the highly sought-after series more than doubled its Live + 7 performance among Total Viewers, vaulting +117% over Live + Same Day and ranking among the top five time-shifted original dramas on cable this season in percentage lift.

To that news we say, “Hell, yeah! Bring on Season 3!”

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Now, as far as what we gleaned during our interviews, we started with Elise and Iddo, who kicked things off with praise for the show’s makeup department, which is headed up by Matthew Mungle. Elise explained that to make her “burned” look seem real, she had a whole suit covering her body that she wore for the first few episodes.  From start to finish, it was a 3-1/2-hour process.  Iddo joked that they had two makeup trailers, one “regular” and then the “fun” one, where all the crazy effects were born.

Speaking of crazy, Iddo said Season 2 just got “crazier and crazier” when compared to Season 1.  They wanted to “encapsulate the feeling of real horror” with people bathing in blood and such, and then we meet the devil!  Every character is just so “f’d up” and dealing with their issues… they are all “really messed up.”  When asked if maybe Isaac will now become a full-fledged witch hunter himself, he said his arc from here on is going to be different… a slow road.

Next we sat with Mr. Sneaky himself, Brannon Braga, who somehow managed to keep a straight face any time a potential third season was brought up.  He did say that Season 2 was “the most enjoyable season of TV” he’s done in his career.  When we asked if, going forward, “the boy” might become the focus, he said that no, he will remain a “part of the fabric of the show” but kept mysterious.

We had to inquire as to what exactly was going on in that final scene of S2 when John drank Mary’s blood and seemingly killed her, and Brannon said it was an homage to Romeo and Juliet.  It was also along the lines of the Huntsman/Snow White fairy tale when he gives the queen an animal heart instead of Snow White’s.  He hinted that John left just enough blood to keep her alive.

He was asked about potential guest stars to fill the huge shoes left by Stephen Lang and Lucy Lawless, and he said they’re trying to avoid stunt casting and haven’t made any determinations in that area yet.  Joe Doyle is returning as Sebastian, who is “the real villain” of the piece, according to Braga.  He elaborated a bit on “Salem’s” genre roots, explaining that it is “a horror show, but deeply romantic.”  It can get “almost corny” at times, but it also shows us “things you could never imagine.”

We wondered what’s in store for Anne now that she’s gone over to “the dark path,” and it sounds like she’ll be another villain for the town to contend with… one who “wants things her way.”  As for poor Cotton, he’s basically the “new George Sibley” and “in deep trouble,” but Braga said he’s working out a few different scenarios to get him out of his predicament.

While mapping out S2, Braga and Simon conceived the blueprint for S3 at the same time with the things they weren’t able to get to yet so they already have a vision of how the season will lay out.  It will, of course, involve John and Mary and how to bring her back in a way that’s not “cheap.”  For a look back at S2, check out this video put together especially for the Heathens:

Next up were Ashley and Seth, who were both left in quite a pickle at the end of S2, Tituba with her eyes pecked out and Cotton with a mouse shoved down his throat.  Ashley said now that she’s been “outcast by the devil” himself, she’s happy to live in the woods and fend for herself for a bit… assuming that the character manages to survive her ordeal.  When asked about the horror element of the show, Seth said he loves that most of it is practical, rather than CGI. Regarding his character, he described Cotton as a “receptive man” but still ignorant about women (obviously!), and he’d like to see his “suffering manifest in some way” so that viewers can experience it with him.

Lastly, we had a bit of time with Janet and Shane, and she described their love story as “so poignant, a push/pull” that’s full of “miscommunication… tragic… and sort of impossible.”  Neither of them can live in society anymore… either alone or together.  But they’ll be teaming up to deal with their son.  Janet said they can never get him back now since “the devil is in him” so the “only thing they can do is kill him.”  She is curious to see “who Mary is” now that “her whole objective has changed.”

We closed things out by asking the two star-crossed lovers what their “dream team” of guest stars might look like, and she stole our heart by immediately picking Sigourney Weaver (are you listening, WGN?) along with Paul Giamatti, while Shane chose his former “Once and Again” co-star Billy Campbell, who’s a big fan of period pieces.

We should have more info on Season 3 once filming resumes so stay tuned!  In the meantime, follow “Salem” on Twitter and YouTube (@SalemWGNA), and also be sure to “like” the series on Facebook.

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Amazon Developing Stephen King’s The Dark Tower TV Series

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The Dark TowerIt’s been a while since we brought you guys an update on the planned TV series based on Stephen King’s The Dark Tower book series.

But today it looks like we have confirmation via Deadline that, “Amazon… is developing a slew of high-profile titles, including The Dark Tower…”

The series is being developed by Amazon as part of their bid to move into bigger budgeted spectacles ala their recent acquisition of the rights to The Lord of the Rings.

No further info is available at this time but we will keep you up to date as we hear word on Amazon’s “The Dark Tower.”

Are you excited about this series? Let us know below!

Synopsis:

Roland Deschain (Idris Elba), the last Gunslinger, is locked in an eternal battle with Walter O’Dim (Matthew McConaughey), also known as the Man in Black. The Gunslinger must prevent the Man in Black from toppling the Dark Tower, the key that holds the universe together. With the fate of worlds at stake, two men collide in the ultimate battle between good and evil.

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Rutger Hauer Says There Was No Love and No Soul in Blade Runner 2049

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I don’t know about you, but I dug the hell out of last summer’s Blade Runner 2049. I found the film to be a tonally perfect addition to the Blade Runner universe and appreciated how it built on the story established in the original film.

That said, there are some out there that aren’t fans of the sequel – most of all, it seems, is the original film’s baddie, Rutger Hauer.

Recently, Hauer spoke with THR and didn’t hold back on his dislike of the new film.

“I sniff and scratch at it,” Hauer says. “It looks great, but I struggle to see why that film was necessary. I just think if something is so beautiful, you should just leave it alone and make another film. Don’t lean with one elbow on the success that was earned over 30 years in the underground.”

He continues: “In many ways Blade Runner wasn’t about the replicants; it was about what does it mean to be human? It’s like E.T. But I’m not certain what the question was in the second Blade Runner. It’s not a character-driven movie and there’s no humor, there’s no love, there’s no soul. You can see the homage to the original. But that’s not enough to me. I knew that wasn’t going to work. But I think it’s not important what I think.”

Wow, don’t hold back, Hauer. Tell us how you really feel!

I’m kidding. And while I don’t agree with Hauer on this particular issue, the man has more than earned the right to think it IS “important what [he] thinks.

Do you agree with Rutger Hauer on Blade Runner 2049? Let us know below!

Synopsis:
Thirty years after the events of the first film, a new blade runner, LAPD Officer K (Ryan Gosling), unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what’s left of society into chaos. K’s discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a former LAPD blade runner who has been missing for 30 years.

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Ash vs Evil Dead Set Visit Part 2: Learning About Kelly, Pablo, and Brandy

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If you haven’t read through the first part of my set visit for the third season of “Ash vs Evil Dead”, make sure to do so here.

After walking through the halls of Brandy’s high school, the sperm bank clinic that has been seen in the trailer, Brock’s house, and the streets of Elk Grove (all through the magic of set designs), it was time to sit down with stars Dana DeLorenzo and Ray Santiago, who told me about their characters Kelly and Pablo through this season of “Ash vs Evil Dead”! Oh, and there’s also a lot from Arielle Carver-O’Neill about her character Brandy as well, because who can resist hearing from Ash’s daughter?

After finding out that Dana, who is from Youngstown, Ohio, is a fan of the Ohio State Buckeyes, our interview nearly ended. After all, your boy is a Wolverine, through and through, and anyone who knows sports rivalries knows that Buckeyes and Wolverines don’t get along. That being said, we managed to put aside our differences so that I could learn a bit about Kelly and what she’ll be going through this season.

I really loved Kelly’s journey in season one and two. It was very exciting to play because, in a way, it mirrored my own as an actor coming into a franchise like this. Just like Kelly was dragged into this fight against evil and was caught completely off guard, it was very similar to the actor struggling for 10 years. I was living in Los Angeles working at a bar when I got this job. All of a sudden I’m being thrown into this with this incredible franchise, with the amazing producers of Rob Tapert, Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell, where a franchise that’s built upon one man, a lone wolf as we’ve said, who is the star of this show and now he’s going to have sidekicks, that was terrifying as well! But it was really cool because I feel like I got to grow with Kelly and every time Kelly did something new, it was me doing something new,” DeLorenzo explains.

Expanding on that, DeLorenzo starts telling me more about Kelly and how she specifically changes through the upcoming season, saying, “At the end of season two, there’s the parade. And if you look, you can see that Kelly isn’t happy. Kelly is the smart one of that trifecta, the ghostbeaters. She knows that evil is not gone for good, which brings us to season three. Now that she’s tasted blood, she’s constantly chasing that high. So, at the start of season three, Kelly is a warrior without a war. She wants to stay on her game for when evil comes back. Her journey for season three…evil paints Kelly in a bloody corner and sets up her to fail where she can’t do what she does best, which is kick evil’s ass. She’s put in these catch-22 situations that she can’t fight her way out of without someone she cares about getting hurt. I think fans will be shocked at her transformation [this season].”

The theme of family running throughout this season of the show is not lost on DeLorenzo, who recognizes that Kelly’s ultimate purpose throughout this series is called into question through events that she wasn’t able to elaborate upon. However, she did tell me, “It was always about protecting and staying by the side of Ash and Pablo because they are not her family by blood but they are her family by bloodshed.

When describing the ghostbeaters, she calls Ash the “brawn”, Pablo the “heart”, and Kelly the “brains”. Later, as I sat with Arielle Carver-O’Neill, I asked what Brandy represents, to which she stated, “the hope”. “They all become very protective of Brandy and are very supportive of her journey,” Carver-O’Neill explains.

I asked her to envision a world where a fourth season is confirmed and how she’d like to see Brandy’s role expanded. Pondering this for a couple of moments, she then told me, “I’d like to see her find herself a bit more. I think just because she’s a teenager, you go through that journey at that age where you are figuring out who you are and your parents, either consciously or unconsciously, play a large role in that. For her, she only had her mum and then she found parts of herself in her dad. But she’s got a lot of growing up to do and I think that’d be really fun to explore how she goes about that.

For Santiago, the character and evolution of Pablo throughout the series has a very personal meaning for him. “As a kid, I grew up watching horror films and I always wanted to be the hero saving people from the monster and I always wanted to be the person chased by the monster. I think, in this show, I have the opportunity do that every day as Pablo and I’m one step closer to becoming the superhero I wanted to be as a kid,” he states.

As for his evolution, Santiago sees Pablo as going from a pushover in the first season to someone very important and potentially very powerful in the third season. “We’ve seen Pablo go from this naive guy [in the first season] that’s pushed through the ringer to last season and…the Necronomicon and Pablo have an undeniable relationship that will never end. As we move into this third season, Pablo sees things differently. He’s not just tormented by his visions of darkness, we see that he may not be just a sidekick but also psychic! We’re going back to his family and we callback to his roots. Perhaps it wasn’t just a coincidence that he met Ash and that he himself was always destined to be somewhat of a Jefé. I think season three is where we see all that coming to fruition. He’s not just along for the ride, he’s become an integral part of the team.

Part III of our set visit coming soon!

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