Monday, April 16, 2012

"Torchwood" star John Barrowman (right) and his partner
Scott Gill, backstage at C2E2 on Saturday
Why, oh why, did I have John Barrowman sign his banana?

I'm getting ahead of myself.

So, I had a delightful Saturday morning moderating a panel with "Doctor Who" and "Torchwood" star John Barrowman at the Chciago Comic and Entertainment Expo at McCormick Place.

I really didn't know what I should have been expecting, but when I arrived an hour before the panel to tour the space, I was a little overwhelmed by the size of the theater where the panel was to take place.
The empty IGN theater moments before it was opened to fans.
People had already started to line up  for the 11:30 a.m. panel at 9 a.m. After getting a walk-through of what, where and when and how everything was going to go down, I decided to walk the C2E2 floor and try to calm my nerves.

I arrived back at the theater 10 minutes before the panel was to start. I was introduced to both John and Scott. I also gave John a brief run-down of what I had planned: a handful of questions from myself, some questions emailed in from fans and then, finally, a lightning round of questions in which John would be playing for money for one of his favorite charities, Dogs Trust.

Once on stage, Barrowman truly amped up like a supernova. He flirted with me (asking me to play with the banana he brought on stage) and brought one well-built fan up on stage for a show of "guns" (Barrowman had the bigger arms, at least is seemed that way from my vantage point).

"You lucky bitch,” Barrowman told the amused girlfriend of said fan, before suggesting a threesome. “I’ll show you things you’ve never seen before. I could teach you a couple of things, too.”

Barrowman also dared me to play with the banana he brought on stage and wouldn't relent until I stroked it.

At that point, I no longer worried if Barrowman would be offended by the cheekiness of some of my questions. Highlights include:

On whether the Tardis from "Doctor Who" truly is bigger on the inside than the outside, Barrowman grinned and took a moment to relish the innuendo before answering "Oh, yes." At first, he mentioned David Tennant, before quickly correcting himself and actually identifying the ninth Doctor, Christopher Eccleston.

"Don’t even go there," when the crowd shouted in response to his blunder. "I know lots of things that you don’t. Anyway, I’ve had so many Doctors I get confused.”

When asked what Broadway standard best summed out the series "Torchwood," Barrowman obliged by singing a few bars of Cole Porter's "Anything Goes."

Captain Jack Harkness: larger than life both in person and in toy form.

Perhaps the biggest laugh came from his response to the question whether he owned one an action figure of his "Torchwood" character and , if so, how often he played with himself.

“I have both the six-inch and the 12-inch, depending on how often I play with them during the day,” he replied. “Sometimes frequently.”

Barrowman also discussed his upcoming  young-adult novel Hollow Earth (co-written with his sister Carole Barrowman). “It’s a book that we wrote because it’s a book that we would like to have read,” he said. “It’s about twins who have powers and are able to draw whatever they see or copy drawings that they see and bring the drawings to life or put themselves or other people into the drawings. They also communicate through telepathy.”

The book is due out in the States in November. It's already a best seller in the UK. Barrowman indicated they are close to signing a deal for the UK television rights and they have also been approached about film rights, too.

We’re hoping to bring the nove to the screen at some point," he said. A period piece, it's about a

Barrowman also just shot a television pilot for ABC called "Guilded Lilys." A period piece set around a family operating a luxury hotel, Barrowman said it was a bit of a departure from what he is known for.

 “It’s very different from the sci-fi that I’ve been doing and that I love to do, but I wanted to try something different,”Barrowman said. “Fingers crossed. I think it’s something that people will really like, hopefully.”

ABC is expected to make a decision regarding picking up the pilot shortly.

Barrowman and his sister haven't exactly forgotten about "Torchwood," either. Though the fate of the series is up in the air due to Creator Russell T. Davies dealing with personal issues and unable to commit to continuing the adventures, the Barrowmans are currently at work on a novel, tentatively titled Exodus Code, that picks up right after the events of the last series "Torchwood: Miracle Day."

Also up in the air is Barrowman's participation in the 50th anniversary of the "Doctor Who" franchise in 2013.

“I’d be really disappointed if Jack is not involved. But that’s up to  Steven Moffat [the showrunner currently].”

In the lighning round in which Barrowman played for money for Dogs Trust, he faired marginally well. Barrowman's answers, when different, are in italics:

Winter in Cardiff or Chicago (Cardiff)

Fez of Military overcoat (Military overcoat)
Chicago Red Hot hot dog or Haggis? (Red Hot; Haggis "Haggis is a lot thicker than a hot dog," he said. )

John Barrowman in a 2002 production of Stephen Sondheim's "Company."
Sondheim or Webber (Sondheim)
West End or Broadway (Broadway)
Chips or Crisps? (Either; Chips"Because growing up  Scott's [Gill, Barrowman's partner] fantasy was Erik Estrada.” )
A Rose or Guilded Lilys (Lilys)
David "Ten-inch" Tennant

Who would you rather snog: the 10th Doctor or the 11th Doctor? (Correct answer: three-way or "yes, please"; Barrowman advised that DavidTennant will always be the Doctor to him, quipping "And they don't call him David Ten-inch for nothing.")

On the final bonus question, Barrowman needed some assistance from the audience to complete the phrase "If it's not Scottish, it's..." with the correct response "Crap."

"We don't get 'Saturday Night Live' in the UK, I may have to check it out," he said.

For being a good sport, I made a $50 donation to Dogs Trust; Barrowman matched my donation.

Barrowman ended the panel with an impromptu rendition of "The Doctor and I," his spoof set to the tune of "The Wizard and I" from "Wicked." The song can be purchased at the Amazon link below.

Backstage after the panel, Barrowman offered to sign the banana.

The signature reads "MISHA, Enjoy my Big Banana, John Barrowman"

If anybody has any suggestions on how to preserve a piece of fruit, I'm all ears. I suspect I may end up just eating Barrowman's banana.

My friend Michael Sherrin actually waited in line on Sunday to have Barrowman sign a Captain Jack action figure. Barrowman was still in cheeky form on Sunday as the photo shows.

It's a Captain Jack attack: Michael gets an intimate hug from John Barrowman.

Starz or BBC (BBC; Starz; :"Without Starz, we wouldn’t have had 'Torchwood.'”)
Chicago-style deep dish pizza or curry (Deep dish)

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