Thursday, December 18, 2008

Exclusive Interview: Clinton McClung talks The Dr. Horrible and Buffy Sing-alongs

In case you've been living under a rock, Dr. Horrible's Sing-along Blog will be getting the actual Sing-along treatment at New York's Paley Center this Friday at 7:30 PM. Who better to host the event than Buffy Sing-along founder, Clinton McClung? Buffyfest had the good fortune to interview Mr. McClung a scant few days before the festivities begin.

Buffyfest: Let's recap - we here at Buffyfest were devastated when the awesome Buffy Sing-along came to an end. Can you tell us anything now about the rights issue that caused that tragedy?

Clinton McClung: Unfortunately, most of what went down was between Fox and the Screen Actor's Guild, and I wasn't privy to any of the specifics. But, from what I've gleaned, the popularity of the Buffy Sing Along lead SAG to investigate the theatrical screenings, and they didn't think they were being appropriately compensated by Fox for that revenue. With potential strikes looming, and other business issues to deal with, Fox decided to simply pull the rights for doing our shows (and all other television programs that were being presented in cinemas for admission, like Firefly and Family Guy) so as to avoid a potential legal fight.

Buffyfest: We were actually at the Sing-along at the IFC center when MTV was there covering it. The show got so much publicity and fame, how was that for you?

CM: It was insanely fast. I didn't have any grand scheme to start doing Buffy shows full time, it was just a fun hobby. And then I got sucked up on this crazy roller coaster ride. The MTV piece lead to more exposure and more media coverage, and within a month I had theatres all over the country contacting me because they wanted to do a sing along. Since I had done some theatrical booking in the past, I had those contacts and was able to make the show happen in more places than just New York. I spent the summer traveling the country and meeting other Buffy fans, and every single show was so filled with this feeling of camaraderie and love, it was really incredible.

As for personal fame, that really wasn't a factor. The show wasn't about me at all, I was just the one who happened to be getting it started. When I would promote the show I would always use "we", because I didn't make it happen by myself. It is a sing along, and without the audience participating and being excited and really getting into it, the screenings would have been kind of "blah". Plus, I had the NYC cast that were all volunteers, and Buffy fans in pretty much every city who helped with the shows.

Buffyfest: How many shows did you get to do before it closed?

CM: We did one weekend a month at the IFC Center for almost a year, and played 22 weekends is other cities. In total, we had over 16,000 attendees.

Buffyfest: Is there a chance to ever get the Buffy Sing-along back?

CM: I haven't had any progress in working out a deal with Fox to make the show happen again, but I'm unfortunately working from "outside the industry", so I just haven't had the power (or money) to get anyone to seriously talk to me about it. That doesn't mean I'm going to stop trying!

Buffyfest: How did it feel to have Joss at the LA event? Had you met before?

CM: I didn't know Joss was at the show until Marti Noxon brought him on stage. I didn't know she was at the show until near the end when one of the ushers whispered to me that she would like to come on stage and say something. So it was a completely awesome surprise on both counts! I had never met or spoken with Joss before (though I had "emailed his people" as they say), but I knew he knew about us. Scott Allie, the editor of the Buffy comics at Dark Horse, came to the show in Portland and told me that Joss wanted him to "check it out" and report back. I didn't know that meant he would want to come.

Anyway, I haven't spoken with him directly other than that night. He was very gracious on stage and thanked me personally for making it happen, which was very sweet. I read many reports that said he had a great time and loved the use of the party poppers, though obviously the "Shut Up, Dawn" was not something he really liked (it was also something that we were phasing out of the show).

Buffyfest: How did you get involved with the Paley Center for the upcoming Dr. Horrible Sing-along event?

CM: I worked with them earlier this year when they did a screening in NYC of the Buffy reunion panel in LA. They screened Once More With Feeling beforehand, and even though it wasn't a "sing along", I did help them promote the show and threw in a few moments (we took over the front row and did an impromptu dry-cleaning dance). They lined up the Dr Horrible screening as a benefit for the Paley Center itself, and knew that I have been talking with Mutant Enemy about doing some sing alongs. So they asked if I could help to make something special happen at this screening. That was less than a month ago, so this has all happened really fast!

Buffyfest: What is your favorite scene or song from Dr. Horrible?

CM: The opening number "My Freeze Ray" is still my favorite because it had such a perfect lead-in, that quiet pause from Billy just before the song starts. Plus, it gets stuck in my head every time I go do laundry. Also, the reveal of Bad Horse still kills me. And that very last shot of Billy staring into the camera just grabs my drama spot and won't let go. I won't ruin the ending for anyone that hasn't seen it, but I will say to those that are critical of the ending that the final shot is the point of the whole darn thing!

Buffyfest: Care to share any inside secrets for this Friday's event?

CM: I have been mulling over sing along ideas for Dr Horrible for a while. Even the first time I watched it my mind was racing with how fun it would be to see with an audience, and what kind of interactive activities we could do. So, I made a list of moments, found some props, and there we go. I don't really want to spoil any of it ahead of time...but there won't be a cast or anything like that. This show will be all about the audience, and the experience of finally seeing Dr Horrible all big and shiny and with a huge group of happy, roaring fans.

Oh, and I know there was a Dr Horrible sing along in LA on Halloween, which was a huge event and raised a ton of money for homeless charities. This screening is much smaller in scope than that, and I purposefully didn't look for any details on what Whedonopolis did for that show because I didn't want to steal anything. There were still some overlapping ideas (shrubbery!), but this is just the first experiment in doing the show sing along style over here on the East Coast.

The Buffy Sing Along continued to evolve and change and grow - and was getting to the point where it was going to start becoming its own complete thing that would have the same basic structure but would be different in every city, with its own casts and local flavor (a la Rocky Horror). I hope the same will happen with Dr Horrible!

So that's it for now, thanks so much to Clinton for taking the time. There's more to come, though, look for part 2 of this interview after the show. Visit for more info about the sing-alongs. We'll see everyone at the show tomorrow night!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just my luck to be flying to the east coast the day after this event! I may not have been accepted into the Evil League of Evil, but watch my application and more at Bad things are coming...

Fury of Solace
Doing evil so you don't have to
Somewhere in Los Angeles