It’s a Wrap on the Nikita Set

So today marks the last day of filming on the set of Nikita. I poured a lot into my first letter to the cast and crew back in March when we didn’t even know if we’d get a fourth season, and I had intended on only adding to that initial post for today. But I didn’t realize how much more I had to say…so here we go again (heh).

To be honest, I’m kind of in denial about them filming the end. I have been in denial the past couple weeks with the cast tweeting about the last episodes. I think I teared up just seeing the title of 4×06, Cancelled. I mean, REALLY?! How does that one word so simply encompass the show? Holding meaning within the Nikita universe, but also a tongue-in-cheek and sad reference to the state of the show after being on the bubble (also, the title of 4×05!) all these years. SO MANY FEELINGS!

I know it’s a little silly, at 25, to feel sad about a show filming its final scenes, but I’ve never been SO INVESTED in a show like I have Nikita. The closest I ever came to being this invested was Fringe, The O.C, One Tree Hill, and Chuck (yes, I do have very varied tastes in television shows), but looking back, my fan level for those didn’t come close to how I am with Nikita and this amazing cast. I don’t want to say that Nikita changed my life because it seems a little heavy-handed, but I definitely hold a special place in my heart for this show. As I said in my letter, I never realized how important it was for me to see Maggie, an Asian-American actress be the lead in a network TV show, and on top of that, see an Asian-American writer in Albert, also co-executive produce the show. I still don’t know what I’m doing with my life as far as a career, but they inspire me to at least try and find something that would allow me to work in the hard, sometimes infuriating, but ultimately satisfying world that is the entertainment industry.

For over three years, I tried to meet them in Toronto, and go figure my closest contact with them would be at the final San Diego Comic Con panel, where I got up the nerve to ask a question (however random it was), knowing that it was probably my only chance to talk to these guys. I suppose I did sort of meet Lyndsy immediately following the panel, but my interaction with her was cut incredibly short, that it barely counted (plus I had no photographic proof of it!) Thinking about it, I obviously wanted to meet the cast because I admired them so much and just wanted to be a fan, but I selfishly also wanted to get to know them beyond the glimpses we get from Twitter and interviews. Alas, I never got the chance – but hey, at least they acknowledged my existence at SDCC! (Gotta hang on to those little things…)

Thanks again for all your hard work all these years: Maggie, Shane, Lyndsy, Aaron, Devon, Noah, Melinda, Lyndie, and all the former cast members and guest stars. Thanks also extended for the creative geniuses behind the show: Craig, Albert, Carlos, all the producers involved, and writers. I’m going to miss all of you being in Toronto, working on my (and a lot of other peoples’) favourite show. I wish you all the best in your future projects and can’t wait to see the end product of your hard work on these final 6 episodes. Please come back and visit Toronto, regardless of if it is for work or not, and we’ll be more than happy to welcome you back! Just, THANK YOU for everything!

And you know what, a special shout-out to all the other Nikita fans out there! We might not have been able to get The CW to give the show more episodes (or seasons!), but we helped get it this far! No one can say that we weren’t a dedicated bunch! And when these final episodes air, let’s show everybody else who weren’t watching Nikita the past few years, what they’ve been missing out on!

Now, excuse me, while I try not to cry over the end of filming. (Full disclosure: tears were already shed writing this post.)

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A First-Timer’s Account of San Diego Comic Con 2013 – Day 2

My reason for being at SDCC, the Nikita cast.

My reason for being at SDCC, the Nikita cast.

For years, I have wanted to go to the infamous San Diego Comic Con. The ultimate nexus of all things pop culture. This year, thanks to my cousin agreeing to go with me, I made my way. This is the account of my 4-day experience at the center of all things nerd.

DAY 2
Friday was the day that tested me. My cousin and I went our separate ways that day, as she went to tackle Hall H to see the Veronica Mars panel, and I tried my hand at the double whammy of the Nikita signing and panel. It was an early morning to get to the convention centre for the WB autograph signings. I had read a tweet the night before saying to get in line at 6:30 A.M; turns out that meant they were going to start the ticket raffle for your chance at wristbands at 6:30. I didn’t stand a chance. After finding out that all the wristbands for the Nikita signing were taken, I still stayed in line in hopes of maybe getting something else. My plan B, C and D were all gone by the time I reached the door. Lesson learned for next year!

Early morning shot of the Hall H line wrapping around the pier, while I was waiting to get into the WB autograph signing raffle

Early morning shot of the Hall H line wrapping around the pier, while I was waiting to get into the WB autograph signing raffle

With my attempt at getting autographs a bust, I made my way over to the lineup for room 6BCF, where the Nikita panel would be taking place. While in line, I met a fellow Nikita fan who had done the Con before, and helped me in my quest to properly meet any of the Nikita cast members. The unfortunate part of lining up so early ahead of a panel you want to see is that you’ll be sitting through panels you didn’t necessarily have in your plans. On the flip side, by sitting through these other panels, you get exposed to different things you didn’t know about. The panel I took in while waiting for Nikita was Stan Lee’s World of Heroes. Yup, I got to see Stan Lee in person. Also, did I mention that I was sitting in the second row?! World of Heroes is a YouTube channel featuring a multitude of different shows, and obviously with a focus on the nerd. For me, it was really cool to see/learn the type of programming and videos on YouTube that you wouldn’t necessarily have known about. I mean, it’s YouTube – there are A LOT of videos.

Stan Lee's World of Heroes panel

Stan Lee’s World of Heroes panel

After Stan Lee, was my moment of truth – the NIKITA panel! For three years, I have tried and failed miserably to meet the cast in Toronto (and the rare time that they’ve filmed in Cambridge), so to sit no more than 10 feet away from my favourite people ever was a big deal! I was sitting there in awe of being in front of Maggie, Shane, Lyndsy, Aaron, Melinda, Noah, and Craig. I was so excited to hear them talk and just be in their presence that I almost didn’t know what to do with myself. And then they started asking for fan questions. Let’s remember here that I am an awkward person, who doesn’t talk a lot. Before the panel (I’m talking days), I tried thinking of one REALLY good question I could potentially ask. While in that panel, my sense of fear of embarrassing myself started sinking in. Then at some point, I got up the nerve and just said to myself “F*ck this! I’m going up there! This will probably be my only chance to talk to them!” The fear and panic came back when the person in front of me essentially asked the same question I was about to, so I had to think quickly on my feet. Let it also be known that I sometimes don’t do well under extreme pressure (it’s why I always hated tests in school). So there I was standing at the mic, trying to get my words together to talk to this cast whom I have complete love and respect for. This is what went down:

Me: “Hi my name is Thi. I’m actually from Toronto and I have been dying to meet you guys for three years…”

Lyndsy (I’m fairly certain. It all seemed so surreal to be talking to them and to have them even acknowledging my existence): “And you came all the way here to see us?! Aww! ”

Me: “YES! I came here to see you!”

Melinda: “Don’t worry we’ll be back Monday!”

Me: *laughing nervously, trying to collect myself* “So we know you guys obviously love hanging out together offset, any favourite memories from behind the scenes? Offscreen?”

To which Aaron answers first by saying they’re all just on Twitter when they’re not filming and then Lyndsy and Maggie start talking about all the dogs around set. After asking my question, I stepped to the side to hear their answer and not really knowing what to do I started going back to my seat before they even finished. (Toldya I was awkward…) When the panel ended, lots of people rushed to the front to get autographs/pictures from the cast before they left. My new friend on the other hand, rushed me to get out of the panel room. I wasn’t sure why but I followed her anyway. Turns out she was leading me to the door where the cast was exiting the panel room and heading into a break room (I think that’s what it was because they weren’t in there for long?). Before I knew it, Lyndsy was standing right in front of me, and just as I was going in for a picture with her (which she was totally nice about), Jeff Tobler, their PR guy rushed her away saying that they were on a tight schedule. So we waited by the break room for the cast to come by again and when Maggie came through, my friend yells out “Can she [pointing to me] get a picture? She’s the one from Toronto!” We could honestly see Maggie thinking about it, but then she had to apologize that she couldn’t because they had to go and were being rushed out to meet with press. I understood but at the same time, I couldn’t help but think “Screw the press! You’ve got fans here who want to meet you!” (I am sorry to all those critics/journalists/members of the press whom I respect dearly. I was being a selfish fan.)

Maggie Q, Shane West, Lyndsy Fonseca having a laugh. Have I mentioned how much I love these guys?

Maggie Q, Shane West, Lyndsy Fonseca having a laugh. Have I mentioned how much I love these guys?

Aaron Stanford, Melinda Clarke, Noah Bean, creator/EP Craig Silverstein

Aaron Stanford, Melinda Clarke, Noah Bean, creator/EP Craig Silverstein

The whole Nikita experience behind me, I parted ways with my friend and made my way to the line for Ballroom 20, the second largest panel room. I knew ahead of time that there was no way I’d make it into the Agents of SHIELD panel (too popular for its own good, being a new show and all lol), but waited out the length of that panel to get in for what came after it. As expected, as soon as SHIELD let out (which I honestly was disappointed to not get to see that pilot), I made my way into B20 and settled in for a row of consecutive panels. The Following was first and they started it off by showing a video clip of the final minutes from the season finale and what happened after the screen went black, revealing the fate of Kevin Bacon’s Ryan and Natalie Zea’s Claire. I’m not one to spoil things for others, but I must say just seeing that end moment again, I had the same feelings I had when I watched it the first time. Then seeing it fully play out? That was a great bonus. What I love about seeing these panels is that you get some sense into not only what’s ahead for the next season, but also how the producers and cast felt about the previous season. After it’s highly buzzed about pilot episode, anyone who saw the show through its first season run can attest to a feeling of exasperation that the FBI were always a couple steps behind Joe Carroll and his cult. Executive producer Kevin Williamson admittedly said that he recognizes that the FBI were a little dumb last season and promises that in season two, with a one year time jump, the show will focus less on the FBI and more on the characters.

L-R: James Purefoy (who made a "surprise" appearance), Valorie Curry, EP Marcos Siega, Kevin Bacon, EP Kevin Williamson, Shawn Ashmore

The Following panel. (L-R): James Purefoy (who made a “surprise” appearance), Valorie Curry, EP Marcos Siega, Kevin Bacon, EP Kevin Williamson, Shawn Ashmore

After The Following was a panel that I was really excited about, and that is for Almost Human, a new show from Joel Wyman, J.J. Abrams, and Bryan Burk. The panel included a screening of the pilot (which for the record, it is totally awesome to get to see something months in advance), followed by a short Q&A. My initial thought on the pilot is that like the Fringe pilot, it isn’t perfect but it certainly sets up everything needed to continue on with the series and hooks you in. Wyman even said himself that the show came about partially because he “wanted to keep Fringe fans happy.” Watching it, you do get the sense that the show was created by the same people who worked on Fringe, between the futuristic sci-fi elements and the mixture of procedural and mythology, with a dash of humour/light moments, but it is its own show. The panel talked about how the show will examine all things technical, but that for the series to work, everything comes back to the human condition, and seeing how human beings deal with the relations of the future. I would highly recommend seeing this show when it premieres in the fall.

L-R: Writer Naren Shankar, Lili Taylor, Minka Kelly, Michael Ealy, Karl Urban, EP/Creator Joel Wyman

Almost Human panel. (L-R): Writer Naren Shankar, Lili Taylor, Minka Kelly, Michael Ealy, Karl Urban, EP/Creator Joel Wyman, Moderator Damian Holbrook

Breaking from the typical show panel, next up was TV Guide’s Fan Favorites panel, their yearly tradition of bringing stars of a multitude of shows, new and old to just talk. When this panel was initially announced for this year, among the panelists were Yvonne Strahovski, Candice Accola, and Katie Cassidy, whom I was really excited about seeing (especially Yvonne!), but as it came closer, others were added and those three were unfortunately not going to be on the panel. The final crew of panelists included: Blair Underwood (Ironside), Henry Ian Cusick (The 100), Emily Bett Rickards (Arrow), Giancarlo Esposito (Revolution), Kristin Bauer (True Blood), Tyler Hoechlin (Teen Wolf), Danai Gurira (The Walking Dead), Clark Gregg (SHIELD), Julie Plec (EP of The Vampire Diaries), and Joseph Morgan (The Originals). As far as the panel itself, it was fun hearing all these actors talk about their various characters and what not. Some fun moments:

  • Clark Gregg knowing very well of the audience in front of him; elicits cheers just from dropping names (of people, shows, movies) – Buffy, Firefly, Thor, The Avengers, Much Ado About Nothing. After a while, he had to stop himself from talking, just so time wasn’t wasted on us cheering at everything he said ahaha.
  • Kristin Bauer, who is honestly, always a fan fave, talks about how relationships are tested this season on True Blood. Seeing how well it worked out for Clark, she decides for good measure just to namedrop Alexander Skarsgard (It worked. We cheered.)
  • Giancarlo Esposito decides to use his time to plug the premieres of Revolution and Breaking Bad, and briefly talks about his return to Once Upon A Time, where his character Sidney will be going back to that world to win back Regina.
  • Stating the obvious, moderator Debra Birnbaum of TV Guide asks Emily Bett Rickards if her character Felicity has a crush on Oliver – “Come on, Oliver Queen. Stephen Amell.”
  • Blair Underwood, there to promote his new NBC show Ironside comes to the conclusion that “Maybe we should add some vampires or zombies”
L-R: Blair Underwood, Henry Ian Cusick, Emily Bett Rickards, Giancarlo Esposito, Kristen Bauer, Tyler Hoechlin, Danai Gurira, Clark Gregg, Julie Plec, Joseph Morgan

TV Fan Favorites. (L-R): Blair Underwood, Henry Ian Cusick, Emily Bett Rickards, Giancarlo Esposito, Kristen Bauer, Tyler Hoechlin, Danai Gurira, Clark Gregg, Julie Plec, Joseph Morgan

Last panel of the day (for me) was the Joss Whedon panel. Turns out, Whedon does this every year and it is pretty much him answering fan questions for an hour. Fun! I honestly didn’t take many notes during the panel, because I (like everybody else) was very much basking in the presence of awesomeness. I mean, this man gave us the legacy of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Dollhouse, and then moved onto to pretty much controlling the Marvel movie empire when he directed The Avengers. If us nerds needed to name someone as our master/king/god, Joss Whedon would probably be it (to be fair, it’s probably a toss up between Whedon and Stan Lee, but that’s another discussion). But I digress, it was really cool to hear Whedon talk so openly answering fan questions like that. Among the topics brought up (from what I can recall):

  • Since tackling a Shakespeare adaptation, after the heavy action of The Avengers, what other film genre would Whedon like to take on? Anything, except the family drama. And yes, that does include a musical (outside of Dr. Horrible). Dance battle over a special effects action sequence? Why not?
  • On whether he’d revisit Wonder Woman (Whedon, at one point in time, wrote a script for a new WW. Nothing was made of it.)? No. He doesn’t like going backwards, and would much rather go forward doing other things.
  • On the topic of remakes/adaptations – He thinks that Hollywood needs to get more creative, put out more original content. Realizes the irony of that, being someone who just did The Avengers and Much Ado About Nothing, but talks about how if they keep going on this cycle of remake of a remake, they’re gonna run out of movies to remake.
  • On whether he can actually be a feminist, without being female – He doesn’t care. He thinks feminism is more about equality, rather than a perspective. Awesome words from the man who has given us so many strong female characters in pop culture.
Joss Whedon, no big deal...VERY BIG DEAL!

Joss Whedon, no big deal…VERY BIG DEAL!

[UPDATE] After much prodding by Nikita fans, The WB has finally uploaded the panel in full. So I get to remember my full on awkwardness forever.

An Open Letter to the Cast + Crew of Nikita

To the cast and crew of Nikita:

I cannot remember the last time I was completely on board with a show from the very beginning. When The CW had announced that it was picking up Nikita to series, way back during Upfronts in 2010, I had this innate feeling that the show was going to be special. I had never seen the previous incarnations of the character and story, so it was all new to me. My penchant for TV shows featuring strong kick-ass female characters (see: Alias‘ Sydney Bristow, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Fringe‘s Olivia Dunham, etc.) hooked me in immediately. Oddly enough, finding out that the show was filming in (and around) Toronto was almost revelatory, since I wasn’t use to knowing about my favourite actors or celebrities being somewhat close by, thereby elevating my excitement.

Speaking of the cast, where do I even begin with you guys?! You all are such a talented bunch and a little underrated if I do say so. Lyndsy Fonseca, I only knew from How I Met Your Mother and Desperate Housewives, but as Alex, you’ve come into your own as an actress. Devon Sawa, one of my favourite movies as a kid was Little Giants, and it has been great to see you move up from a recurring guest star to series regular as Owen. Shane West, my early teenage years were filled with your movies, like Whatever It Takes, Get Over It, and A Walk to Remember, but I also remember when you were on Once and Again, ER, and now Nikita – you just continue to surprise. Melinda Clarke, I was a huge fan of The O.C., so I got very excited seeing you as part of the cast (and since Amanda lacks a last name, I’ve come to sometimes refer to her as Amanda Cooper-Nichol, the perfect amalgamation of my two favourite Melinda roles/characters). Also, a special shout-out to the casting department for bringing on actors whom viewers might not have been familiar with or haven’t seen in a while, but have come to love greatly: Aaron Stanford, Noah Bean, Dillon Casey, Lyndie Greenwood, Xander Berkeley, Peter Outerbridge, and all the wonderful guest stars…Then there’s Maggie, who in this humble TV fan’s opinion, was one of the best casting decisions ever.

I am first generation Vietnamese-Canadian in my family. Growing up under the influence of American television, I quickly grew accustomed to not seeing Asian actors in Hollywood entertainment. As terrible as it may sound, I kind of accepted that fact and considered myself a wary fan of pop culture, knowing that it wasn’t a wise decision to completely idolize a specific actor or musician. But then as I wrote essays for some of my Sociology classes in university, talking about minority representation or gender representation in the media, I didn’t realize how important those topics were to me. Just as I graduated university, Nikita comes along with Maggie in the role, and man do I ever wish I could have written a full essay for my classes on the show. I had seen Maggie do small supporting roles in movies like Live Free or Die Hard, Mission Impossible 3, as well as New York, I Love You, among others, so I was familiar with who she was. To cast her as the lead of this gem of a show, it got me excited beyond belief and was just so inspired. I by no means have any intentions on becoming an actress myself, though I would love the opportunity to work in the industry, but to say that I felt proud seeing an Asian actress (who just so happens to also be half-Vietnamese) in a lead role of a TV series would be putting it lightly. I have nothing but complete respect and total admiration for Maggie.

The show wouldn’t be what it is without all the talent behind the scenes, so please allow me to give thanks. First and foremost, Craig Silverstein: thank you so much for bringing new life to this character of Nikita. As I have said before, I was not that familiar with the previous versions of the show and the characters, but you are the reason everyone is here now. Thanks are extended to executive producers McG, Danny Cannon, Peter Johnson, Carlos Coto, Albert Kim, and David Levinson. To the many other producers involved with the show: Marc David Alpert, Andrew Coville, Kalinda Vasquez, Jim Hilton and Amanda Segel – thanks for keeping the show together and being awesome. All the writers on the team, you all are crazy talented at what you do; keeping us fans glued to the edge of our seats with wonderful storytelling, plot lines that feel fresh, real mature relationships and unexpected twists and turns, you guys just never cease to amaze us. The directors that have worked on the show do nothing but add a sleek, almost movie-style finish to the episodes, making each new episode all the more exciting, and that goes along with everyone who does the sound editing, cinematography, and special effects. Last, but certainly not least, a VERY special shout-out to all the crew members working those long days and nights with the cast, everyone else behind the scenes who sometimes don’t get the full recognition they deserve – from lighting to the boom operators, everyone involved with the fight sequences and stunts, hair and make-up, wardrobe, those working in the production office and the PAs – please know that your hard work is appreciated BEYOND BELIEF.

To The CW and Warner Bros. Television, thank you for putting this show on the air and all us fans can only hope that you renew this amazingly wonderful show for many more seasons. All this talent, both in front and behind the camera, are so worth it.

Though I can only hope to one day be able to meet you all in person, give you a hug, maybe buy you some coffee, and personally thank you for all that you’ve done (and I’ve come in close proximity on several occasions of your on location shoots in Cambridge and Toronto), this letter will have to do. Again, thank you for working so hard (especially on those Fraturdays!) to give us this fantastic, yet incredibly underrated show. You are all AMAZING! Love you guys!

One of your biggest fans and supporters,

Thi Ky

First close call with filming. Feb. 14, 2011, crew in Cambridge to film part of episode 1x18 "Into the Dark"

First close call with filming. Feb. 14, 2011, crew in Cambridge to film part of episode 1×18 “Into the Dark”

Nov. 7, 2012 - Cambridge for episode 3x10 "Brave New World"

Nov. 7, 2012 – Cambridge for episode 3×10 “Brave New World”

Nov. 12, 2012 - Waterloo Airport for episode 3x10 "Brave New World"

Nov. 12, 2012 – Waterloo Airport for episode 3×10 “Brave New World”