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The 'Twilight' at Midnight Saga: On the scene for the 'New Moon' DVD release

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peter-facinelliImage Credit: Astrid Stawiarz/Getty ImagesI arrive at the New Moon DVD release party in Union Square around 10:15 p.m. on Friday. The line is half a block long. The three girls at the front of the line are named Tiffany, Catherine, and Valerie. They’ve been there since a little bit before 7. I ask them, “Team Jacob or Team Edward?” Neither; they’re sworn to Team Jasper, the Cullen sibling played by Jackson Rathbone. “He almost eats Bella, which is a huge plus,” says Valerie.

Because of the cruel whims of my vile EW.com overlords, I’ve become a minor expert on the Twilight fan experience. Valerie is voicing something that fascinates me about Twilight fandom: there’s a significant Twihard population that hates, hates, hates Bella. How weird is that? I mean, she’s the main freaking character of the series! Sure, Luke wasn’t the coolest part of Star Wars, but you’ll never hear a Wars fan hate on him, even if he says the most petulant line in movie history.

The girls also have some negative opinions about dividing Breaking Dawn into two movies. “They’re getting more of my money. I’m not okay with that,” says Catherine. Note to Summit Entertainment: It’s probably not a good sign when even the pubescent megafans think the two-movie split is a shameless cash grab.

By 10:45, the line has morphed into a genuine Hooverville. People are sitting down on the sidewalk. Men with Secret Service earpieces are handing out blue wristbands. A passing hipster yells “Edward Cullen!” It’s unclear if he’s being ironic. A woman walks up and down the line, handing out flyers for Kristen Stewart’s new movie, The Runaways. She overhears me talking to another megafan, Aroob, who just turned 21. “That’s a good age,” says the Runaways lady. “I liked 21. I’d freeze as a vampire at 21.

Inside Best Buy, I got to talk to Peter Facinelli, who plays vamp patriarch Dr. Carlisle Cullen. Once upon a time, in Can’t Hardly Wait, he looked like a young Tom Cruise. The resemblance is still there, but there’s a slight gravitas, too, and a casualness that seems a bit more natural than Cruise’s ageless grinning.

When asked how he prepares to play Carlisle, Facinelli jokes “I go off and bite people on weekends. I try to eat raw meat.” Get serious here, Peter. “I always looked at him as a proper gentleman. I felt like Carlisle’s voice should be a little bit more velvety, lower-register.”

Having starred in the greatest teen film ever made, does he ever give Pattinson, Stewart, and Lautner any advice about dealing with teen fandom? “I’m very grateful that Can’t Hardly Wait has had such a great shelf life, but it was never a phenomenon like this. People are still fans of it and still quote Mike Dexter lines to me.” I tell Facinelli that there is at least one EW writer who has a poster of Can’t Hardly Wait on their wall. He laughs.

What’s the most challenging thing about playing Carlisle? “He’s very still. To be still on film without being stiff is difficult. You start to overthink things. You’ll be like, ‘Why am I sitting? Vampires don’t sit. Should I be standing? Why do I have my hands in my pockets?’ Carlisle is used to putting on this human façade, always covering something.”  That the vampires in the series are pretending to be human, a kind of performance-within-a-performance, is arguably much deeper than any of the actual story elements in the Twilight movies. Clearly, Peter Facinelli is a genius.

The first 50 fans in line get to come in for a quick trivia session. Facinelli asks the questions, and looks like he’s having a great time. The questions are mostly softballs, like “The Wolf Pack kills which nomad vampire?” Everyone answers every question correctly…except for one unlucky girl, who claims Jacob’s wolf fur is Chocolate Brown. (As we all know, it’s actually Rusty Brown.)

“Get her out of here,” Facinelli jokes.

“I’m Team Carlisle,” she says.

“She can stay!”

When the trivia portion of the night ends, Facinelli goes behind the Best Buy counter and pretends to be a cashier, as the fans walk up one by one to get their DVD. On multiple occasions, after signing the DVD he’ll say, “Thank you for shopping at Best Buy.” It’s pretty funny every time he says it.

There are still about 100 people in line outside. Emily and Courtney are at the back, having just shown up about five minutes ago. Like everyone else I’ve talked to, they hate the idea of two Breaking Dawn movies, and they don’t think 3-D is a good idea. “Everybody’s doing 3-D,” says Courtney. “It’s not always good with every movie.” (Somewhere, Jeffrey Katzenberg is crying.)

They ask me if the scene is crazy inside. “Of course,” I say. “Peter Facinelli is in there.”

“I watched Can’t Hardly Wait the other day,” says Courtney.

“That was like our high school movie,” says Emily. She looks at long line in front of her. “And now we’re totally teenyboppers. Again.”

Originally posted March 20 2010 — 9:44 PM EDT

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