Comic-Con 2007: Universal Focus/Rogue, part 1

Neil Gaiman and Henry Selick kick things off by announcing a special screening of some early footage from Coraline, their new stop-motion collaboration. It'll be later in the evening at a nearby theater, and passes can be had at the Rogue booth. Those sitting in Hall H all day at the actual panels are out of luck. They couldn't have just shown us a little bit here? Nahh, make us wait in line all over again for something else.

Tidbits: the voice cast includes Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Teri Hatcher, Ian McShane; plot involves "people with button eyes who want to eat other people's souls."

Balls of Fury had a funny presentation last year, and since the movie still hasn't opened, Ben Garant (director) and Thomas Lennon (cowriter/costar) are back, along with the lead actor Dan Fogler (character name: Randy Daytona), who has that Jack Black vibe, but probably comes cheaper to the studio than Jack Black.

Balls of Fury is a "ping-pong martial arts romantic wire-fu comedy" that takes its basic structure from the "secret martial arts tournament" type of movie epitomized with Enter the Dragon and familiarized in the '80s by various Van Damme movies and video games...but with ping-pong instead of kickboxing.

Thomas Lennon comes out in a spandex leotard painted like the German flag. "I'm sorry, I thought we were doing this in character." Garant asks why he would think that. Lennon says because he (Garant) called him last night and said it would be in character. Garant explains he called back right afterwards and changed his mind.

Lennon says he's been walking the convention floor in the costume. "Dude, I was made fun of by a guy dressed like, movie Daredevil...This might be gay, but it's not new Affleck Daredevil."

Garant: "Dude, I think that was Affleck."

A clip is shown of our hero Randy Daytona's first match in the tournament, presided over by Christopher Walken, decked out as a gay Asian villain.

Randy's foe is a big scary black dude played by (of course) Terry Crews, who yells 'This is Freddy Fingers, HAAAAAA!" Walken echoes the "Haaa!" Crews does that up-and-down pec-bobbing thing he does. Randy wishes him luck, and Crews goes "Blow it out yo ass BITCH!"

The match begins, and involves some pretty hilarious uses of bullet-time. Randy wins, of course, at which point Walken's right-hand woman Aisha Tyler blows a poison dart into Crews' neck to kill him.

Our hero is shocked. Walken explains: "Duh...what part...of 'sudden DEATH'...Didn't you undahSTAND?" Then he starts grinning, and pinches Randy's cheeks. End clip.

Lennon asks why they didn't show a clip of him in the leotard from the movie. Garant: "We wanted to, but the head of Comic-Con said no, it was way too gay."

Audience question: "Will there be a giant CG dragon in Balls of Fury? Because it was left out of Reno 911."

Lennon: "It's on the special Dragon Version of the [Reno 911] DVD...It also has an extended Brokeback Mountain scene with that cute little boy from Eragon."

Audience member: "I'm a huge fan of The State." Lennon: "So you're a recreational marijuana user then?"

The State ('90s MTV sketch comedy show starring Garant and Lennon) will be out on DVD October 20th. It has everything, including "things that we cut from the show that suck balls really bad."

It was fun for actors like Cary Hiroyuki Tagawa and James Hong, who've been in actual martial arts movies, to do "the retarded ping-pong version of the film."

Christopher Walken apparently has a prank he likes to play on set where he'll buy a birthday cake from Ralph's, and sit around looking sad until someone asks what's wrong, then he says it's his birthday. He did this three times.

Cedric Yarbrough of Reno 911 steps to the question mic next, and asks why his TV costars hired Terry crews for the muscular black man role instead of him. Lennon says it's the ambidextrous pecs, with Yarbrough accepts.

Walken memorized the entire script a month in advance, and performed the whole thing for them in his trailer. He told them "Don't change a word" in the script, which they took a sa compliment, but it turned out to be a threat. One line was changed after Walken memorized the whole thing, and he went ballistic.

That one line involved Walken's character saying his email address...Lennon says that Walken was confused by the "@" symbol -- he'd never seen it in that context before.

A fan asks if Lennon and Garant are going to be out on the floor later. Garant: "You mean, like, passed out drunk?"

They announce a raffle for a ticket to the Hollywood premiere. The number is announced, and James Hong comes running out yelling "I won! I won!" he strikes a few threatening poses from Big Trouble in Little China. Then challenges Lennon to a ping-pong duel at the premiere. Lennon responds, "Any time, any where. And you've already said when and where."

One of the questioners is a girl in a Slave Leia costume who is basically naked. The panelists keep asking for her to come back, because they want to ask her a question. Finally she does, and they ask "Why does it take 1000 years to digest in the Sarlacc's stomach?" To her credit, she gives a reasonable answer involving a slow metabolism.

James Hong starts caressing Dan Fogler's face. They start dancing. Then they fall over.

If the movie's as much fun as this panel, it'll be worth paying for.

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