Entertainment Weekly intern Vlada Gelman is covering the Paley Fest for The Ausiello Files. Here’s her report from last night’s Vampire Diaries panel.
Spoiler Alert: Fans were treated to the next new episode, “A Few Good Men,” airing March 25. O.C. grad Melinda Clarke makes her debut as Matt’s mom and she doesn’t hide her disdain for Matt’s “rebound girl” Caroline. Elsewhere, Damon gets sucked into a bachelor auction with the Real Housewives of Mystic Falls. The showdown between Damon and Alaric reaches a crescendo at the auction as the truth about Damon’s involvement in Isabel’s death comes out. Meanwhile, Alaric and Jenna grow closer, but the whole “your dead wife is the mother of my adopted niece” thing throws a wrench into their budding romance. As Elena grows closer to the truth about her mother, look for flashbacks to shed light on Isabel and Alaric’s ring. Additionally, two mysterious new figures will be introduced and there will be multiple deaths and revivals. We also haven’t seen the last of Anna and her mother Pearl.
More Spoilers: As if getting an early look at the next episode wasn’t enough, the producers also brought along a trailer featuring scenes from several upcoming episodes. The highlights: Stefan gets taken by some revenge seekers; Damon and Matt’s mom get very close; and some random stranger calls Elena “Katherine.”
Respecting Your Predecessors: Series creator Kevin Williamson worried that Vampire Diaries might be compared to another popular vampire franchise. “I don’t want to do this — this is Twilight,” Williamson recalls thinking when he started reading the L.J. Smith books that the series is based on. But executive producer Julie Plec urged Williamson to keep reading and he soon discovered Diaries was really more about the town. “Oh, it’s Dark Shadows,” he realized. Still, the show is careful not to tread too closely to Twilight. Nina Dobrev (Elena) said she once called the producers because a line of dialogue was too similar to Bella’s “Say it!” line in Twilight. The show also shares a director and a special effects team with that other vampire series, HBO’s True Blood. Williamson said they task the special effects team to do the opposite of what they do for True Blood.
Deep Thinker: “I think Stefan needs to stop analyzing,” said Paul Wesley, who’s excited by what the rest of the season holds for his character. “The layers become complex. He’s hiding something.”
Do the Time Warp: The writers are currently working on another flashback episode. The entire cast loves doing the flashback episodes even though Dobrev’s corset attire is painful.
Unlikely Inspiration: Somerhalder drew inspiration for his character from a legendary film actor after blowing his network audition. “Kevin said, ‘Damon is Cary Grant,'” he recalled. “I think Damon secretly wants to be Cary Grant.” Meanwhile, Plec gave Dobrev some simple advice for playing Katherine: “Think Damon.”
Are You Ready For a Cliffhanger?: Williamson revealed that the final episode of the season will feature seven to nine “teases.” “We really want to go out with a bang,” he said. The second half of the season will also feature a new device that’s “going to top” the vampire compass, according to Plec.
Team Damon: When asked if Elena has a crush on Damon, Plec replied, “This is the question of the entire series.” She added that Damon will realize his crush on Elena before she’ll realize her crush on him. “They’re becoming sort of unlikely friends and that’s a slow road,” Williamson said of the pairing. As someone who hates humanity, Damon will go on an interesting journey when he grows closer to Elena and is forced to look at his own humanity.
Taking It Off: Williamson and Plec, weary of going overboard with the nudity on the show, had a 20-minute debate about whether Wesley should be shirtless in an upcoming scene in which he’s hanging upside down. The verdict? He will be. Somerhalder joked that he calls the writers up and begs them, “Can I please get naked in this episode?”