As entertaining as it was to hear about Sarah Paulson being annoyed by Zachary Quinto's between-scenes banjo jam sessions -- apparently, he played "The Rainbow Connection" on a loop -- or the many sex scenes cut from the final episodes of "American Horror Story: Asylum" (Lily Rabe and Mark Consuelos!), we're guessing most people attended or streamed the closing night PaleyFest panel in Beverly Hills, California because they were curious about any hints that might be dropped regarding the upcoming third installment of FX's hit horror anthology.
While creator, executive producer, and writer Ryan Murphy remained his usual tight-lipped self, he did let a few juicy tidbits slip, most notably, next season's supernatural subtitle. The season will be known as "American Horror Story: Coven."
When the moderator assumed that meant witches, he didn't correct her. "Well, [It's about] a lot of things, but covens yeah," Murphy said. "It is a really cool story that we've been talking about it for a couple of years, and this seemed to be the year to do it."
Murphy also divulged that they were taking the show on the road for the first time. First stop: New Orleans. "It's an interesting season because it's the first year we're doing that. It has always been such a soundstagey show. We built the asylum and the haunted house and Jessica's house, but this year we're going to go shoot in a couple of different cities and a lot of cool, real locations. The fun thing about doing this idea is researching the really haunted places in America because the institution is one of the lead characters. We'll have another couple doozy locales." Co-creator and executive producer Brad Falchuck piped up and added, "Yeah, America is f---ed up."
It was also confirmed that Season 3 will continue using the "Orson Welles repertory theater company" casting strategy, which means many familiar faces from the first two seasons will be back, including Taissa Farmiga, Sarah Paulson, Lily Rabe, Evan Peters, Frances Conroy, and Jessica Lange. (All of whom, with the exception of Farmiga, were in attendance at the panel.) The only clue about characters that was given was the description of Lange's role as "a glamour cat."
The show's Golden Globe winner cocked her head, gave her signature sly smile that says "I know more than I'm gonna tell you," and then said, "I don't know what a glamour cat is, but I am excited for it."
They then welcomed a new addition to the cast, Kathy Bates, announced at the end of February at the Saban Theatre stage. The entrance was met with thunderous applause, as was the following Murphy proclamation: "You know I love a good Oscar winner. It's no secret."
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He explained that the seed to hire her was planted early on in the shooting of Season 2. "I have loved Kathy since the first time I saw her onstage, and I love her film work. I was telling Jessica way long ago a little about this season. Jessica and I are always talking about actors she loves. She and Kathy are friends and have done a couple movies. That idea never went out of my head. So I called [Kathy] up and said, 'Will you meet me? I want to talk to you about this part that we shall not name.' She came in and liked the show, so I pitched her this cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs character. I said, 'I know you have a lot going on. We are way, way far ahead but think about it for a couple of weeks and call or write me.' My phone rang an hour later. 'I'm in.'"
Bates jokingly added, "I've always been fast." She also admitted that she'd been scheming with Lange about getting on the series. "I was glued to the first season. I was in New York last summer, called up Jess and [we] got together for a drink. I said, 'Talk to Ryan. Tell him I'll do anything to be on his show.' It all came together. It's just a miracle. I don't know [how this character will compare to Annie Wilkes from "Misery"] until I've gotten in it and walked around in her shoes, but I'm awfully excited."
Fans should be excited, too, as Murphy promised plenty of best-actress battles. Murphy said, "I wanted to see a lot of scenes with Jessica Lange and Kathy Bates going at it, so that's what you're going to see."
At the mention of going head-to-head, Bates recalled fondly a shared scene from "Men Don't Leave."
"I was so excited to be working with her. We got to do a real fun scene at the end of the movie where we got sort of drunk while we were doing it. It was the most fun. So I'm really looking forward to this."
Lange added, "We sat down to do the scene and they brought us iced tea or whatever. Kathy said, 'No, no, no. You've got an Irishwoman and a Finlander here. We're going to really drink.'"