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7:07 p.m.: The lovely Kristin Veitch of E! is here to intro the panel and the episode to be screened - "Return to Sender." The understatement of the year would be to say she's a fan of the show and/or excited to be here.
8:03 p.m.: Kristin returns to bring out the panelists: Daniel Cerone (co-executive producer), Clyde Phillips (executive producer), Sara Colleton (executive producer), David Zayas (Angel), Lauren Velez (Lt. Laguerta), James Remar (Harry), Erik King (Sgt. Doakes), Jennifer Carpenter (Debra) and Michael C. Hall (Dexter). MIA: Julie Benz (Rita) and C.S. Lee (Masuka).
8:07 p.m.: Sara Colleton on how the show came about: "It started with a review that caught my eye in the New Yorker and I went out and bought the book. I talked to my partner John Goldwyn about it and we both had the same reaction which was that it was a genre story that delivered on a genre level but that it had sort of an emotional underpinning and an examination of humanity that we thought was immediate and original and really something that would lend itself to an unusual series."
8:10 p.m.: Michael C. Hall on the similarities and differences between Dexter and "Six Feet Under's" David Fisher, considering both characters regularly deal[t] with dead bodies: "I always like to say I'm more on the supply side now." Adding, "Dexter's more of a go getter."
8:13 p.m.: Sara on the "Oz" connection through the cast: "Only after the casting did I even realize that. It is so strange that it evolved that way but no it wasn't [intentional]."
8:14 p.m.: Michael on the Dexter/Rita relationship: "She's the perfect person for Dexter. She has two kids so her focus is as a result not exclusively on Dexter. It takes a bit of the pressure of. And it's one of the primary sort things Dexter builds for himself to present to the world the impression that he's a normal person. And I think as it starts to get threatened by the re-emergence of Paul, her ex-husband, and that structure starts to crumble. It's really the structure that Dexter creates to give the impression that he's human and when they start to crumble his humanity emerges in a way, which is interesting. And it is definitely the primary sort of way for that to happen."
8:15 p.m.: To which Daniel Cerone adds, "Rita represents Dexter's humanity or at least his hope or our hope for Dexter's humanity. Because he's the ultimate ironic and tragic character. [Because] if he ever becomes fully human, it would be his destruction, because he couldn't live with himself for doing what he did [if he] developed a conscience... But there is that part of us that is rooting for Dexter and sees ourself in Dexter and what he's trying to do. Knowing nothing else about him and what he does in his off-hours, she sees the goodness. And that's sort of the constant irony we play with as writers."
8:18 p.m.: Scoop! Clyde Phillips reveals they start shooting season two on May 21 for a September 30 premiere date. Daniel also dishes on the new season's theme: "The big challenge beyond the pilot on this show was, 'What's the next episode?' Beyond tracking this killer, we had to find reasons to root for him... The most effective thing we used [The Ice Truck Killer] for was to learn about Dexter emotionally. Because he took Dexter on an emotional journey... in the Ice Truck Killer he saw someone he could reach out to and maybe understand him. And that was really the theme of our first season was sort of that search for connection. So going into the second season, we think we have something equally compelling which is basically Dexter's search for meaning. 'Who am I?' and 'What's my purpose here?' And ultimately that's going to come down to questions of good and evil. One of the funnest parts of the show also is watching people justify why they like the show, why they root for this guy. It's a fascinating [thing]. I think it tells much more about the people than it does about Dexter because Dexter's basically amoral. He does what he does because he has a need to kill. And we tend to I think impose our moral values on him when really he's just acting without conscience. He's a psychopath and that's what he does. But this season we want to bring that question to the forefront of 'why is he here?', 'who is he?', 'what is his purpose?' And that will actually be our guiding light this season."
8:23 p.m.: Clyde on getting to the heart of Dexter's character: "In the pilot it said that he's empty inside and we learn in breaking stories and learning [about] the character that he's definitely empty inside but he's not all the way empty inside. And one of the analogies we use is he's like the coffee press - everything's been pushing down because of what he's been through in his life... He's had an extraordinary history. But occasionally something will get to him and something will bubble up in that coffee press and it's some emotion of affection or love or anger. We use it particularly with his feeling for children. And Daniel and Melissa wrote the last episode and he has to make this decision between his blood brother and his non-blood sister. And he chooses Deb. And I think it is the compilation of those moments I think what makes the character of Dexter so attractive to everybody."
8:25 p.m.: James Remar on the Dexter/Harry relationship: "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Every one of us develops a code we need to live by, we have to develop some kind of direction in life. And we all have a killer inside of us. And in the audition I did initially, Harry confesses to young Dexter that 10 years ago he'd have him put away but now [he] sees things differently. And based on the circumstances that he found the kid under and his age and what he sees things and how he's become embittered... he takes a different path. I don't think it's that unusual. How do I justify playing this is if the guy's actually sane? And it's going to [sound] very unpopular but, dads send their boys off to kill all the time. And the circumstances that he found him under were quite horrific and he fell in love with him and that love was unconditional."
8:29 p.m.: More scoop! Daniel says C.S. Lee (Masuka) will be made a regular this season.
8:31 p.m.: Kristin asks about the actors' fan encounters. "If anybody yulps I know that they've some skeletons in their closet," Michael jokes. "I get a lot of 'I'm watching you motherfather,'" adds Erik King. David Zayas also shares an experience where someone in a supermarket came up to him and asked, "Dude, what's up with your wife?" Jennifer Carpenter says she happened to be at a WWE event where literally every wrestler professed their love for the show to her. Taking the cake though is Daniel, who says his daughter told him one of her classmates was dressing up as Dexter - and it took a second for him to register she mean Dexter from "Dexter's Laboratory."
8:35 p.m.: On the show's more gruesome aspects, Lauren Velez says - "I dealt with a head once and it was heavy and it was really weird. In the plastic bag, it really looked terrifying. Once I took it out it was fine but in the plastic bag is was really..." - causing Clyde to cut in with - "We want that back Lauren."
8:41 p.m.: Q&A time. Someone asks how much the second "Dexter" book will influence the second season. The short answer: it won't. "We're basically going to continue on our line with the arcs that we set up," Daniel responds.
8:44 p.m.: A fan touts the show's very detailed opening sequence. "We went through this thing frame by frame," Clyde says. "[Like] can we get the blood drop a little closer to the drain in the sink, whatever it was. There was lots of footage that we shot that we didn't use."
8:47 p.m.: Michael on what it's like to work for cable: "It certainly is nice to work the cable schedule. I guess initially when I was doing 'Six Feet Under' we would do 13 and then it changed to 12 and that's sort of become the standard length of a season. As a result you can sort of see the light at the end of the tunnel a little earlier. You're not working like 10, 10 and half months. Basically [it's] a six month shooting schedule. You can sort of wrap your mind around the whole thing. And I think as a result the writing is of a higher quality. It's not a diluted. I've never worked a network schedule but I would be nervous about it having been spoiled for all these many seasons."
8:52 p.m.: Daniel on the differences between the end of season one and the end of the first book: "The climax of the novel was essentially... first of all we don't meet the Ice Truck Killer until the last couple chapters and he's sort of sprung upon us. And sprung upon us [that he's Dexter's brother]. We wanted to go for the suspense of it and lay that character into our world, get as much as we could out of that. But in terms of the finale, in the book it was - 'is Dexter or isn't Dexter going to kill his sister?' - and I don't think anybody who watches the show would believe that, would have bought that or thought that was a true climax. It was more [for us] - 'will he kill his own brother?' His search over the course of the season has been for connection and he finds not only is there some else out there like him, that understands him, but it's his own blood, a true blood brother. Will he kill that person?"
9:01 p.m.: Daniel on the surprisingly positive response from the critics: "We were prepared for... just being ravaged by critics, potentially just based on the subject matter. The show was so universally well received that there was a column in what was it Newsday, that was actually taking the critics to task for loving the show so much."
9:02 p.m.: Even more scoop! Sara says to look for the first season on DVD shortly before season two premieres.
9:03 p.m.: And that's all folks! See you tomorrow once again.
COMING FRIDAY: FX's "Nip/Tuck."