Comic-Con 2011: 'Dexter's' Manny Coto on Harlan Ellison, Tights and Cloning William Shatner

The executive producer is still touched by fans' reaction to his work on "Star Trek: Enterprise."
Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images
Manny Coto

With hundreds of thousands of people attending San Diego Comic-Con every year and the July 20-24 event kicking off this week, The Hollywood Reporter chatted with the big names in television to discuss their favorite memories and tips for attending the annual event. THR’s Live Feed will talk Comic-Con with actors, writers and producers in the days leading up to the event so check back soon for interviews and the latest news on panels and screenings.

Manny Coto
Geek Cred:
Dexter, 24, Star Trek: Enterprise, The Outer Limits
Comic-Con panel: Dexter (Showtime presentation) Thursday, 5:30-7:30 p.m., Ballroom 20.

THR: What’s one thing that stands out from your first Comic-Con?
I’ve been attending on and off since the ’80s. My first panel was for 24. But I do remember walking down one aisle and finding Harlan Ellison, one of my favorite sci-fi writers, standing there, describing in great detail his recent open heart surgery and showing the scar. The fans just kind ate it up.

THR: What’s the best thing a fan has said to you at Comic-Con?
I ran Season 4 of Star Trek: Enterprise and the best thing I hear from fans is, “Your season of Enterprise was the best season of all the Star Treks,” which always makes my heart warm. I started off as a Star Trek fan, and to be able to work on the series was a great honor.

Comic-Con 2011: Full THR Coverage

THR: Who throws the best party?
The Showtime one is my favorite. Last year with Dexter it was just a great party. It's a great atmosphere, on top of the roof, overlooking the city. And I can smoke cigars up there, so that was fun.

THR: What makes for a good presentation?
Remember that the fans want to hear inside stuff about the series; they don't want to hear gripes and grouses about your personal life. What they really want to hear is how the series gets made, and how you interact with your fellow cast members. Throw out as many interesting tidbits as you can about how the series actually functions and works. It's also always nice to have funny stories to tell while you're up there. I think a lot of times people go up there and just don't remember that we're there to entertain.

THR: What questions do you recommend fans not ask during panels?
"Why did you screw up Season X?" "What were you thinking when you wrote that episode?" Keep it positive.

THR: What tips do you have for Comic-Con first-timers?
Don't dress up unless you look good in tights. Do a real self-appraisement of your physical state: "Do I really look like Captain America or like someone's nightmare version of Captain America in this outfit?" There are kids there, and you want to leave people with a positive experience. So a real kind of self-awareness of your own body physique and type, and try to use as much deodorant as possible.

THR: What panel would you stand in line all day for?
I would wait in line for anything to do with Doctor Who. And Ray Bradbury.

THR: If you could create your dream panel, who would be on it?
It would be William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Jon Voight, Kiefer Sutherland. A little something for everybody.

THR: Have you ever dressed up?
No, but I have dressed up my child. Last year, he was 1 and he went as Captain James T. Kirk. He had a little Kirk onesie and he actually looked like what you would imagine a young Kirk: he has blond hair, and he looked very Kirk-like, and he got a lot of photos.

THR: If you could be a writer on any other show besides Dexter, what would it be?
Doctor Who. My fantasy is, if I wasn't on Dexter I would move my family to London and work for the BBC on Doctor Who.

THR: If you could reboot any show, what would it be?
I would reboot Star Trek, with a young William Shatner. We clone William Shatner: If I start now, in 15 years, we'd have a young Kirk. Someone's has to talk to Shatner to give up some DNA before he dies because it's not that far away in terms of geekdom. Fifteen years is not a long time, 15 years will be here before we know it and we could have a young Captain Kirk. Do you think my wife would agree to carry it to term? That's interesting. Honey?

THR: What are three things you would do if you ran someone else’s show?
I only watch a few things right now: Doctor Who -- and I wouldn't change Doctor Who for anything -- Game of Thrones and The Killing. Three things I would do for Game of Thrones: I would a), not kill Sean Bean; b) Not kill Sean Bean; and c) get winter here a little sooner.

THR: How will Edward James Olmos figure in to Dexter this season?
He’s going to rock Dexter's world in a way similar to Season 4. Dexter is going be up against a villain that he hasn't quite faced. He's gotten over Rita's death, and he's back to his old self. So the wry sensibility is back but also we're taking the show to the next level, and it's going be quite a firestorm season.

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