PaleyFest couldn’t have picked a better show to fete on its opening night. The 2014 edition of the festival, known as an event where fans can hobnob with their favorite television personalities, opened with a celebration of Veronica Mars, the CW series that was cancelled seven years ago but has been revived as a feature film thanks to the magic of crowdfunding. At last night’s panel discussion, audience goers were treated to an hour-long documentary about the making of the movie followed by a panel discussion with the cast and the show-runner Rob Thomas.
Funded on Kickstater to the tune of $5.7 million (not bad!), the Veronica Mars movie premiered the night before in Hollywood. So last night’s PaleyFest event was a mix of the past and the present, the nostalgia and the now.
To accommodate the growing crowds the pop-culture-palooza is being held at the Dolby Theatre for the first time. “We had to get bigger and bigger theatres,” Pat Mitchell, president and CEO of the Paley Center for Media (which puts on the 16-day fest) said. “This is the biggest one yet.”
You’d be forgiven if you pulled up last night and thought all of Mars’s “marshmallows” (Kristen Bell’s term for the show’s fans) had shown up, only to learn they were there for the premiere of Captain America across the street at the El Capitan. Mars castmate Jason Dohring (who played Logan Echolls) had the same idea. “I thought what a tremendous crowd at PaleyFest! Then my wife and I figured out it was for Captain America,” he said. But plenty of fans turned out to see the cast reunion of Bell, Jason, Enrico Colantoni, Ryan Hansen, Chris Lowell, Francis Capra, Percy Daggs III, Tina Majorino, and creator Rob Thomas.
Thomas surprised the crowd by screening the inspiring, behind-the-scenes doc, By The Fans: The Making of the Veronica Mars Movie. “You’re the best fans in the world,” he said before the film ran. “You’ve been put to the test and you all stepped up in such a huge and unbelievable way.”
Castmate Percy Daggs (“Wallace Fennel”) agreed and told me earlier in the press line, “This is really special. To dig into the diaper and wipes fund is pretty special.”
Then the cast hit the stage for a discussion moderated by Hitflix’s Alan Sepinwall. Everyone’s favorite sleuth, Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell), talked about how she felt reviving the role after so many years: “I was a bit nervous. This was far and away the most effortless I’ve ever felt into a role. There’s always been a little bit of fairy dust on this project.” Other cast mates fell right back into their roles as well. Ryan Hanson (who played dopey Dick Casablancas) replied, “Dick is just a bigger Dick.”