Never Reckoned on this: Spoiler free reflections on Paleyfest

I really feel that I should start this blog post with a few abject apologies. I know I haven’t really posted anything since my return from Scotland. I blame that completely on the effects of #Droughtlander. You know, this funny thing happened over the last few months. I remembered that I had a life before all things Outlander consumed me for the past year. It was nice to have a chance to reconnect and do some things that had fallen by the wayside.

However, now that the end of #Droughtlander is in sight, I’m ready to get back to it. I’ve truly missed writing these posts and I definitely need to get back in the groove before May. Oh, did I not mention that I’m going back to Scotland in May for the OutlanderUK Gathering and more? Don’t worry, it will be fully covered! Not only will I blog it here on GreatScot, but I’ll also be meeting up and spending a week with the lovely ladies from The Outlander Podcast. No telling what hi-jinx we’ll get up to, but I fully expect it to be covered in two mediums!

Up, up and away

Many of you know by now that I usually start these posts covering a trip with a shoe pic (it’s become something of a tradition because of the pics that Terry Dresbach usually tweets at the start of her trips). However, I’m starting my coverage this time with the airport. Sitting around in the airport in Atlanta is not usually that much fun, but I have come to realize that it pays to keep your eyes open around any flight from ATL to LAX. Atlanta has become a very popular location for the TV/Movie industry with the likes of The Walking Dead and Vampire Diaries filming in the area. Knowing this, I kept my eyes open for any celebrities returning to LA and, sure enough, I was not disappointed. As I entered the jet bridge, I realized that actor John Lithgow (3rd Rock from the Sun, Shrek) was only a couple of people ahead of me. Even after boarding the plane and taking my seat (I was lucky enough to be upgraded to business class), I saw several other people who looked familiar but no one to whom I could definitively put a name.

Eventually (the plane was delayed a bit by an equipment change), I took my shoe pic and then we were up in the air and on our way to the land of movie stars. I don’t usually comment on the flight itself, but I’ll make an exception in this case as it was one of the more bumpy flights I’ve ever been on. We had over an hour of pretty constant turbulence. On our arrival into LA, the bright lights were pretty spectacular. I know the picture I took from the plane is a bit blurry, but I think you get the general idea.

Upon arriving, I was lucky enough to have Candida pick me up at the airport and whisk me off to her house. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again (and probably again and again…), the best thing about Outlander is all the truly special people I have met and the lasting friendships that have been forged. It’s wonderful to have such a great home base for this trip and to get to spend more time with Candida. 🙂

The Big Day

After waking up early (thanks to a body still on Eastern Daylight Time), and accomplishing a few work related conference calls, it was time to get ready for the big event.  Thanks to the President being in town to film an appearance for the Jimmy Kimmel show (I’m pretty sure the President is following me as he was in Atlanta two days earlier), we decided we needed to head over to Hollywood well in advance of the 7pm start time for the Outlander Paleyfest panel.

This would probably be a good time to explain Paleyfest for those who may not be familiar. Paleyfest is an annual fundraiser for the Paley Center for Media. William S. Paley was the founder of CBS (a broadcast network in the US) and also founder of the Paley Center for Media. Paleyfest is composed of panel events for selected television shows and it is an honor that Outlander was selected to be included in the event!

OK, back to the day’s events.About 3:15 pm, I called a Uber car (one of my favorite things ever!) and we headed towards Hollywood with me crossing my fingers that we were ahead of Presidential motorcade induced traffic. (I spent many years working in DC and I was well aware of the damage that Presidential travel can inflict). Because of a tragic clash with work schedule, Candida was not able to accompany me to the panel, so my companion for the day was her lovely Mom. Luckily, most LA residents must have heeded the dire warnings of deadlock, because after fighting a tiny bit of traffic on the freeway (trust me, it was no worse than I285 in Atlanta during rush hour), we sailed through surface streets towards the Dolby Theater with our friendly driver pointing out touristy sites to us.

Upon our arrival in Hollywood, we were just in time to meet the lovely Cindy Grantham at California Pizza Kitchen for a few bites and a drink before the evening’s true festivities began. We also had a patio side view of the President arriving to do his taping for Jimmy Kimmel. In between all the chatting and greeting of other Outlander fans who were around, I also managed to get a few pictures. Then it was time to head into the Dolby Theater. This is the same location where the Oscars were held just a few short weeks ago.

Lights…camera…SQUEEEEEE!!!!

Upon arriving at the entrance to the theater just before 6 pm, we were in time to join the orderly line of Outlander fans patiently waiting to enter the theater. (Of course the line was orderly! Thankfully most Outlander fans have lovely manners.) After only a few minutes wait, we entered the theater and then were immediately faced with larger-than-life size posters of our favorite characters. I couldn’t resist getting my picture snapped with just a few of them.

Once finished with our own mini red carpet experience (minus real live celebrities 😉 ), we noticed other attendees ringing the railings looking down the open center of the theater to the bottom floor. This bottom floor is where the actual red carpet experience was. (Well, the carpet was actually purple, but you know what I mean.) If you got a good spot, and craned your neck just right, you could see some of our favorite people working the press line and then making their way back. We caught a quick glimpse of Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe while being jostled by dozens of others with the same goal before we got the bright idea of heading up a floor. We knew we would be a bit further away, but there were far fewer people competing for spots at the rail. Once up, we managed to also catch glimpses of Diana Gabaldon and Ron Moore taking there turns with the press.

Just before 7pm, the House lights flashed and it was time to take our seats. Our seats were in the first balcony of the theater, dead center in the second row. We had a great view of the stage and were thrilled to note there was also a huge screen. Hmmm…wonder what they might show on that? I had been squirming with anticipation all day because although the event started at 7pm, the actual panel discussion wasn’t slated to start until 8:10. However might that time be filled? I had my own personal theory (well personal hope, anyway). It was time to find out!

Sure enough, after the initial welcome by Kristin Dos Santos (of E!), she announced that the time to end #Droughtlander had arrived. Our special treat was an advance screening of Outlander episode 109, titled ‘The Reckoning.” I won’t spoil anyone by putting any details here, but I will say the reaction at that point is best described as ‘the Squee around the Dolby!’ I can’t wait for April 4, when we can talk about the specifics of the episode with the entire fandom, but it was such fun to view the episode with such a large group of loyal fans and listen to everyone sing along with Bear McCreary’s brilliant version of The Skye Boat Song and all the laughter and groans occurring in unison at special moments in the episode.

Special note: When viewing episode 109, make SURE to pay attention to the title card. I am convinced that it was designed as a special treat for loyal Outlander fans everywhere.

After the credits rolled at the conclusion of the episode, it was time to bring the panel guests on stage and one by one, Diana, Ron, Tobias, Sam and Caitriona were introduced and took their seats. I’m not going to describe the panel discussion, as I would highly recommend that you just watch it here for yourself, but it is so wonderful to get to hear all the stories and see first hand the amazing camaraderie that exists between Caitriona, Sam and Tobias. And major kudos to Kristin Dos Santos for the brilliant idea of starting the evening off with a whisky drinking game. (I’m pretty sure Cait won.)

All too soon, the panel was ended and I faced the realization that the evening was coming to an end (or so I thought). As we exited the theater, each attendee was given a gift from Starz of an official stainless steel Outlander whisky flask! How cool was that?

But wait…there’s more!

After exiting the theater, we were standing around rehashing the evening’s events when I noticed a small crowd of people standing by the theater entrance. Never one to let curiosity pass me by, I strolled over to see what was going on. I was thrilled to find that executive producer Maril Davis and writers Anne Kenney and Matt B. Roberts were talking with fans and posing for pictures. I took the opportunity to add my thanks for the brilliant work that they had done so far, as well as the care and attention they take for interacting with fans. Although this is my first (and only) fandom experience so far, I truly think that no other fandom gets the same opportunities that Outlander fans do to interact not just with the stars of the show, but also with so many of the crew. And that goes not just for Maril, Anne and Matt who were at Paleyfest but also for the others like Terry Dresbach, Àdhamh Ó Broin, Liz Boulton and even the Outlander Drivers, who spend so much time making fans feel included and appreciated with Twitter interactions.

Alas, after a few final hugs and goodbyes, it was time to hop in our Uber ride for the drive back home. After a couple of days to reflect, I can say that it was certainly a special day and one that was well worth the effort to get here. I can’t wait for all the Outlander fans who are attending the NYC premiere event to have the same wonderful experience we had here in LA. And I REALLY can’t wait for April 4th (5th for UK fans!) when #Droughtlander will be over for most Outlander fans and we can all start discussing new episodes of the best show out there!

Here’s to the second half! Tulach ard!

4 thoughts on “Never Reckoned on this: Spoiler free reflections on Paleyfest

  1. Excellent post, Mandy! Thank you so much for sharing your experience, and photos with us! We really are a bunch of lucky fans. Outlander Forever!

  2. Thanks for giving us the scoop on the event. I’ll be attending the NYC premiere April 1. I feel a bit betrayed (?) that Paleyfest fans got to see Ep. 109, you lucky fans. I’ll have the same treat soon. I’d love to connect with any fans in NYC before, during or after the premiere. It will be my first time in the Big Apple and my first fan event ever! Get in touch via @labyrinthmrob

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