Spysisters Are Doin' It for Themselves: Kristin Speaks with the Cast as Alias Returns!
by Kristin Veitch | Jan. 1, 2005
Finally. Those silly holidays like Christmas, Kwanza, Hanukkah and Chrismakkahwanza are behind us, and we can get on with the event everyone really wants to celebrate. You know what I'm going to say, right? Alias is back. This very Wednesday. Thanks be to Godallah.
And not only is it back, the best gosh-darn (New Year's resolution: no swearing) show on TV has, for the first time ever, a proper--no, make that kick-ass--lede-in, Lost, which also happens to come from my favorite TV genius, JJ Abrams.
No saying what we fans possibly could have done to deserve such benevolence, but I've spent the past month helping little old ladies cross the street to settle the karmic debt.
That said, the pressure is on. Not only does Alias have a new fancy time slot to live up to, producers are well aware that a few of you (tsk, tsk) felt lukewarm about the series' third season. "There were flaws," says executive producer and creator Abrams, "but my gut is that at the end of the day, when you look back when we're in year--hopefully--six or seven, and you say 'Year three really went off track a little,' it'll feel more a sort of bump in this road and a necessary one...I'm thrilled we get to correct our course, and the reaction I'm getting so far is that people are all very enthusiastic about season four."
Count me as one of them. I've had the extreme pleasure of seeing the first 30 minutes of the premiere episode (which sources tell me cost a whopping $3.6 million to produce) and can say this: Alias has never been better. Honestly. Three minutes into the two-hour season premiere, the hairs on the back of my neck were standing up.
Don't believe me? Believe Michael Vartan. "We're cranking out a really good year," he says. "Because we're airing in January, the writers have had that much more time to get ready, and the scripts have been fantastic, with a lot of action. I think it's going to be our best season ever. I mean, you never know until people watch or don't watch, but we have high hopes."
I know the wait has been causing many of you a slow death, so, I am here to help, fellow Alias-aholics. Despite a horrifyingly humiliating run-in with Victor Garber, which yielded absolutely no scoop (we'll get to that), I did track down a few castmembers and can give you the lowdown on what to expect this season. Here's what you can expect...
Vaughn Will Be Hot and Sweaty: Within the first 10 minutes of the premiere, we'll be seeing Michael Vartan's rippling muscles, as Vaughn beats the living crapola out of a punching bag. Sadly, though, he will not be shirtless--a situation buddy Greg Grunberg (Weiss) says was Michael's own doing.
"During that scene they literally were like, 'Take off your shirt!' " Greg says. "And he said to them, 'No!' And I said, 'Dude, come on. If I looked like you, I'd take my shirt off in every scene. I'd be walking around that set naked! My god, I'd be holding all those important faxes between the cheeks of my ass.' "
So, why wouldn't M.V. take it off? "He's modest," Greg explains. "The problem is that he's the greatest guy in the world, trapped in that body, with that face. He's funny and sweet and just the greatest. It's not fair. I wish he were an a--hole. Give me an excuse to hate you, man!"
Okay, the Shirt Stays On, but Vaughn Does Get a Darker Side: "Vaughn's been on a little bit of a darker track this year," Michael Vartan says of his character. "He's got a few problems that he's dealing with, definitely a darker side, I think, which is fun."
As for that biznitch Lauren (who, as I told you, is now frozen), Vartan says, "It's definitely going to be hard for him to overcome the loss and betrayal of all that. You know, typical Alias betrayal and craziness. What else do you expect from JJ Abrams?"
Sydney's Getting Intimate: Okay, so we all know about the hanky-panky with Sydney and Vaughn from those promos. I'm actually talking about other intimate moments, namely those Felicity-esque Syd-at-home scenes we've missed since the departure of Francie (Merrin Dungey) and Will (Bradley Cooper).
"To me, the character was about the girl you know and you love and the office version of her and then the Alias version of her," JJ Abrams tells me. "And last year, the real Sydney became her in her suit. So, I feel we're back to what I think the first year did really well, which was seeing her as a normal girl, as a normal person, as someone you can relate to. It's back to all three facets of her life."
Spy Barbie also be rocking more of the insanely ***y costumes. In the first 15 minutes of the season premiere, she goes through three different hair colors.
Sister Twister: Mía Maestro (Nadia) tells me there's plenty of girl-power action this season, thanks to her pairing up with newfound sister Syd (Jennifer Garner). "We're supersisters on supersister spy missions!" she says. "I've been training a lot and doing a lot of fight scenes...It's coming quicker than I expected. The stunt-coordinator people are so amazing on the show."
When asked the same question, I tried to ask Victor Garber (see below)--whether she is good, Mia replies: "Oh, she's good. Yeah, I don't think Nadia will ever be evil. Of course, there's some little problems...not problems, but little arguments between Syd and Nadia."
And speaking of Nadia...
"Weiss Finally Gets Some!" Greg Grunberg (Weiss)--still my favorite person in Hollywood and still working on a bounty-hunter series called The Catch with JJ--tells me he couldn't be more excited about his role in the new season. "The stuff I'm doing this year is awesome. I have a lot more of the action stuff and character stuff, with accents and going on missions with Jen. And I have love a love interest...Mía Maestro of The Motorcycle Diaries, 'How are you?' All of a sudden I've gone from the joker Joe Schmo on the show to basically, well, let's be honest, the stud."
Mr. Stud explains the series will have more stand-alone episodes this season, while easing up on the Rambaldi mystery. "It's gonna go back to the same show we had season one, and the mandate from the network has been these should be self-contained episodes where you meet a bad guy, and you solve a crime at the end. So, that's exciting. A lot less Rambaldi, a lot more Weissi!"
What he's most looking forward to? "Weiss finally gets some! Weiss is doing the lambada, the forbidden dance, and Mía just kicks ass."
The Music Will Rock: A couple weeks ago, I witnessed a scoring session for the season premiere, in which live musicians perform the episode's score, frame by frame, scene by scene. Let me tell you, there is nothing quite like being in a room with a 32-piece live orchestra, Alias on the big screen and as many chocolate-dipped Oreo cookies as you can eat. (It's how I've always pictured heaven.)
If you've never really focused in on the music of Alias before, I highly recommend you do, as the series truly wouldn't be the same without it.
a d v e r t i s e m e n t
"Obviously, the music is such a character of this show," music supervisor Steve Davis tells me. "And it's really important to JJ that it matches the intensity you see on the screen."
It's also very rare. With the exception of Lost (which Davis also supervises), and a few episodes of Star Trek, very few series orchestrate live music.
Just one more reason to love the bejesus out of these shows.
And a Final Confession I Just Have To Tell You: There are moments in a gossip hound's life that are so serendipitous, so inexplicably coincidental, it's as if the planets have aligned to give you a story.
My recent run-in with Victor Garber was such a moment.
Not three hours after I requested an interview with Alias' ***y Spy Daddy to celebrate the start of the new season, I spied Daddy Dearest in an Italian restaurant at an outdoor mall called the Grove (in Hell-Ay). As luck and coincidence would have it, he was standing right in the very same hostess-stand line I had entered in order to stalk him. (I know--weird.)
Naturally, after that shocking season-finale cliffhanger that suggested he might be evil, I had questions. So, when a hostess informed Spy Daddy she could seat him right away outside and turned around to grab menus, I pounced--skipping introductions, since we had met before--and cleverly (I thought) asked with one brow raised: "Are you good?"
"Yes," he said politely, "outside will be fine, thank you." Then he spun around and followed the hostess to his table.
Yes, ladies and gentletubers. Victor Garber thought I was a hostess. And so, it seems that after three seasons obsessing over this show, I've learned precisely diddly on the world of espionage.
Thankfully, though, despite that failed mission, I have plenty more Alias scoop to share in this week's chat, Monday at 5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT.
I'll also tell you who's going to burn down Vaughn's house and what Greg said about a possible return--you heard me right!--to Lost. Plus, oh yeah, all those other shows, too. (I promise!)
Happy tubing--and happy New Year!
Additional reporting by Korbi Ghoshhttp://www.eonline.com/Gossip/Kristin/Archive2005/050101.html