Who was the VIP who elicited such thunderous cheers Thursday afternoon at Comic-Con? Was it Johnny Depp? Had George Lucas suddenly strolled into Ballroom 20?
No, it was only Bruce Campbell.
Average folk may not place the name, but Campbell knows how to whip the Comic-Con faithful into a lather. When the lantern-jawed actor — beloved by horror fans through his work in Sam Raimi’s campy “Evil Dead” series — strode onstage at a panel for USA’s spy drama “Burn Notice,” an audience of 4,000 or so erupted in thunderous cheers.
“I love you, Bruce!” one man screamed after the applause died down. Campbell, who plays a comic supporting role as the womanizing private eye Sam Axe on “Burn Notice,” promptly strode to the lip of the stage and beckoned the fan to accept a couple of dollar bills in mock payment — a shtick he repeated with several other well-wishers, including one who suggested that the show needs more Campbell.
Campbell lovers may soon have their prayers answered. According to network insiders, USA is talking with Fox, which makes the series, about producing a straight-to-DVD prequel that would cover Axe’s adventures before his attempts to help his best friend, blacklisted spy Michael Westen (played by Jeffrey Donovan, who did not appear on the panel and was, as it happens, arrested earlier this week on suspicion of DUI). No deal has closed yet but it could happen this year, these people say.
Creator Matt Nix and other panelists were asked about the possibility of a “Burn Notice” feature film.
“We’ve entertained the idea,” Nix said. “We all start thinking, ‘Wow, we should crash two helicopters into each other. Maybe we need a movie budget.’ “
Campbell promised that anything with the “Burn Notice” brand would never rely on CGI effects. “Matt just blows [things] up,” the actor said. More cheers from the crowd.
Alluding to his “Evil Dead” past, Campbell predicted that the writers would create a spinoff called “Dead Notice.” This drew more huzzahs and whistles from the crowd.
In fact, Campbell drew applause and laughter for virtually every word he uttered, sometimes just for arching an eyebrow. Not surprisingly, this left fellow panelists groping for attention.
Marveled recurring guest star Jay Karnes: “It’s like watching a rock star work the crowd!”
– Scott Collins