Pictures from this convention are available here.
Quick summary - This convention was the best Slanted Fedora convention to date, and the hotel chosen to host it is the best location yet. 10/10 stars.
Now, on with the show ...
Friday - 1:30p - Arrived at the hotel and checked in. It appeared the room hadn't been cleaned yet and I checked with the maid, who was just down the hall, and found out the room had been empty for almost a week, and still hadn't been touched. She came in and roughly 1/2 hour later it was spotless ... She was extremely thorough. However, when she was done, I tried to use the phone in the room, only to discover I couldn't get an outside line. According to the front desk, they disable the phones when there isn't a guest in the room, and they "forgot" to set mine up.
3:45 - My room is just outside the elevator on the 10th floor (room 1005), and the con itself is held on the main floor, just outside the elevators ... How convenient is that?! Well, I went downstairs to get signed in ... Unfortunately, Dave didn't have the Bullpen tickets ready yet and we had to wait nearly an hour while the equipment was set up, tickets printed, etc. While we were waiting, Dave invited us in anyway and we staked out the dealer's room, photo tables, con room, etc.
When the Bullpen tickets (I'll explain this in a bit) were ready, I got my assignments ... My seat was on the Right side, Row G, Seat 3, and for the second year in a row, I'm at the VIP table for the dinner!
Now, a little backstory ... On the website, Dave said there would be at least one surprise guest who had a tie in with Kansas City, and had at least one sci fi credit. Just a week or two earlier, Rittenhouse Archives released a set of trading cards for the original Trek series, called The Quotable Star Trek: The Original Series. One of the cards was signed by Mary-Linda Rapelye, who was in the episode "The Way to Eden", as one of the "space hippies" ... I have a habit of checking out stars' credits when I get an autograph so I knew she was from KC. I made a guess that she would be appearing, and it turns out I was right. She was a surprise guest; she had been at the Grand Slam convention the weekend before and stopped in to ours on her way home.
Jim didn't know it yet, but I got an 8x10 of her signed to him. He was quite happy when I gave it to him on Monday. Ok, back to the con ...
Mary-Linda was on two soap operas after Trek, One Life to Live from 1979-1980, and As the World Turns from 1980-1985. One thing we learned about soaps is that whenever a head writer creates a character (such as Maggie Crawford Andropoulos on As the World Turns), they get paid a royalties fee each time that character appears on-screen, even after that writer is no longer on the series. As a result, whenever head writers are replaced, you'll find that many of their characters are written out.
In one massive sweep, they lost five main characters, including Mary-Linda's, but the characters didn't get "goodbye" scenes. For example, Mary-Linda was eating at a restaurant, went into the bathroom, and never came out. None of the characters asked "Hey, whatever happened to Maggie?", there was no resolution at all. Apparently, this is quite normal in soap opera land. Mary-Linda jokes that she's still in the bathroom, waiting for a new head writer to bring her back.
Now ... Jerry Doyle was scheduled to appear, but he has a new radio talk show that runs on the weekends, and his producers would not allow him to leave the area to attend the convention. In fact, he was supposed to be at a comic convention in KC the weekend before and they wouldn't allow him to go to that one either. It's ok, I saw him two years ago, and I'm sure I'll see him again.
Next on stage was Aron Eisenberg, who spent most of his time making the audience laugh at Omaha, Arkansas inbreeding, Lawrence (aka "Snarf"), Kansas, and Wal-Mart.
LeRoy from Iowa had a good old time, what with "fat women and mad cows" ... Yes, Aron had a field day with this, all in the spirit of fun.
Next came Casey Biggs, Robin Curtis, and Hallie Todd. The main subject was Robin, talking about Googling herself. She found a porn site that claimed to have naked pix of her .. She even paid $2.95 to access the site. Of course there were no nudes of her, just pix of her as Saavik from Star Trek.
Sadly, she forgot to cancel and got stuck with a charge of $40 for a monthly membership to this porn site!
Casey was surprised at the number of websites (2,800, he said - I found over twice that when I searched) which mention him. He enjoyed knowing he played a part in the lives of all those 2800 people. Well, here's 2801. :P
They were joined by Dee Wallace Stone, who talked about a movie she had made overseas, in which she and her castmembers were trapped in a small elevator underground.
As they left the stage, Max Grodenchik took the stage and gave a stunning musical performance. In the vein of Robert Picardo, Max takes old standards and re-writes them as if his character Rom were singing them. He's very good, too ... It would be nice if he had a cd out. He may not have the most powerful lungs in the business, but he's entertaining, and that counts for a lot!
After an hour or so, Dave took over for some last-minute announcements, then sent those of us with Bullpen tickets to the party upstairs.
Ok, now a bit about the various levels of available tickets ...
General Admission is 10 bucks, and lets you into the convention for one day ... Does not give you any autographs, but allows you to shop in the dealer's room and listen to the guests, etc. It's a good deal if you are on a budget, or are only there for one guest. You can buy autographed pix from the guests for $20 each.
Convention Reserved is $100 ... This gives you a reserved seat in the first 10 rows as well as autographs from all the advertised (10) guests. You have to provide whatever you want signed, or you can buy pix for six dollars each. It's a pretty good deal for me, as I have lots of scripts and I like to get them signed.
Dinner Theater is $100. It does not let you into the convention, it's only if you want to attend the dinner theater after the convention closes on Saturday night. This year's play was Bleacher Bums, written by NYPD Blue's Dennis Franz and Joan of Arcadia's Joe Montagne ... Even for someone like me, who doesn't pay attention to sports at all, it was entertaining ... especially when John D'Aquino started saying Robin's lines by mistake.
Next is VIP/Reserved for $200 ... This includes everything in the Reserved seating plus the Dinner Theater, and you get the seats closest to the stage and center (unless you're like me and ask for something towards the back ... I'm strange that way).
Something new this year was the Bullpen party, which is an extra $100. It's limited to 100 people, and you have to have a ticket to the con, at least General Admission in advance, to purchase. For the 100 bucks, you get autographed pictures of all 6 guests, plus a picture of yourself with the 6 guests, also signed by all 6 (that's 12 autographs), plus perks ... Hang out with them in the suite after the show Friday night, breakfast with them Sunday morning, souveniers, cocktails Saturday evening, and dinner with them at the dinner theater Saturday night - we had Dee Wallace Stone with us!
Back to the con ... In the party, the alcohol flowed freely, with Coke products available for those of us who don't drink ... It was an excellent opportunity to mingle with the guests in a much more intimate atmosphere. I dind't stay long, only about a half-hour, although I heard from a few con-goers that the party was still going strong at 2 am.
Robin Curtis ... All of the merchandise relating to the Saavik character has the image of Kirstie Alley on it ... The toys, magazines, everything, but she still signs stuff with Kirstie's likeness all the time. They've never met, but Robin wishes Kirstie the best and was glad to follow in her footsteps.
Dee Wallace Stone is from Kansas City ... She talked about being on the Lassie series. The idea for this one came from one of the producers, who found out a descendent of the original Lassie was still alive and created a series based on this dog. Unfortunately, this new Lassie was not a "show dog", and had never had the training the original did. As a result, he (yes, all the dogs who played Lassie are male) was ... unpredictable. The second script had a complicated shot where Dee had a pair of socks, which she passed to another person, who passed to another, who passed to another, who passed them to Lassie, who would then put them in the washing machine. Lassie was afraid of socks. He was also afraid of balls. The third script was entirely about Lassie working around basketballs. It was at this time they knew the series was doomed.
Universal, which produced the series, didn't actually have the rights to Lassie. When the people that did have the rights came to Universal and asked for 10 percent of the profits, Universal wouldn't pay and the series was cancelled.
When asked if she had any stories about Dudley Moore (they worked together on 10), she said that for years, she had tried to hold a spoon on her nose, a trick some people do with ease ... Dudley took it upon himself to teach her how to do it, and she can still do it to this day.
12:00 noon - The Bullpen party stood in line to enter the BoardRoom, where we took pix with the Bullpen Party actors (Hallie Todd, John D'Aquino, Douglas Arthurs, Dee Wallace Stone, Greg Evigen, and Elizabeth Dennehy). They were to be signed tonight and handed out at breakfast in the morning.
At the same time, Mary Kay Adams, Robert O'Reilly, and JG Hertzler took the stage. I went back in after the pic was taken, in time to hear JG talk about how he got the role of Martok. I heard the story 2 years ago, so I didn't miss anything. :)
Robert has 3 sons - 7-year old triplets, and has been auditioning for roles, but hasn't had any lately, except for a guest spot on Enterprise.
Mary Kay lives in New York City. She's just completed a two-year training program and in June she will be taking her final exams to become a sign-language interpreter.
JG flew Delta this morning and they lost his luggage. He jokes that with his hair and light skin, he's almost Amish, which is funny as he's part African-American.
He is currently playing Death of a Salesman in Rochester, playing a ghost. Before that, he was in Hamlet as ... a ghost.
JG put together a short film that spoofs Animal Planet's Crocidile Hunter, called "Reptile Hunter"; Robert plays a character called "J.G.".
J.G. talked a lot about Air America, the new Liberal radio network. He is putting a demo tape together to audition for it ... As far Right as Jerry Doyle is, J.G. is that far left. Go J.G.!
Going on after the Klingons were Greg Evigen, Mary-Linda, and Elizabeth Dennehy.
As always, Dave held an auction, and the prices were ... unusual. Signed cast photos of TOS and DS9 didn't even reach a hundred dollars each, yet TNG and Voyager both reached at least $400.
I met up with Cori here ... She's a lot of fun, even if she does have an unhealthy obsession with Robbie McNeill. I wouldn't know anything about obsessions, though. Maggie Egan, Claudia Christian, and AdamJ are infatuations, not obsessions. *cough cough, wink wink*
Next up, a DS9 reunion with Aron Eisenberg, Max Grodenchik, Casey Biggs, Mary Kay Adams, Robert O'Reilly, and J. G. Hertzler.
Casey talked about getting the role of Damar on Deep Space 9. His agent called saying the casting director of Star Trek wanted him to come in and audition for a new character they'd created. When he got the script, the character only had two lines ... "They're within range sir" and "Fire". There were any number of actors who were auditioning against him and he thought "How many ways can I possibly say 'they're within range sir, fire'?". But he did it, and left. He got a call from his agent saying they wanted him to come in for a call back. He asked "Why are they having me in for a callback on two lines? I don't get it." But he went in and was told he had the role.
Upon arriving for an early call on set, he found out the role required prosthetics, something he hadn't known before. He didn't know what a Cardassian was. He spent 3 hours getting "gook" all over his face, when the director came up to him and said "You know, the producers have big plans for this character." He said he had no idea this two-line bit character would end up staying through the end of the series. Among other memories: He hated the Cardassian drink "Kanar". It's actually Caro corn syrup. That's it. And he had to drink this stuff. Finally one day, he went into the production office and said "Here, you drink this stuff" ... They changed the formula for "Kanar" - and it was pure maple sugar syrup.
And then there was the day he was sitting in the makeup chair next to the actress playing Tora Ziyal (the third actress playing this character!) when the script for the next week's episode was sitting on the table in front of him. While getting the makeup applied, he started reading it, and turned to the actress and said "I get to kill you next week!" No one had told the actress, or Casey, what was going to happen, and she left the makeup area in tears.
While talking with producer Ira Steven Behr, he asked why there were so many callbacks and such for just a two-line bit character way back in the beginning, and Ira told him that they had written the character specifically for Casey. Ira had seen Casey in an Imax movie called Alamo: The Price of Freedom, where he played William Barret Travis. Ira had been so impressed by the acting in that movie he'd created Damar just so he could have Casey on the series.
Garrett Wang followed, and his shower stories and Kate Mulgrew impersonations killed!
During the autograph line, Dave revealed the other surprise guest's name - Danny Pintauri, best known as Jonathon on Who's The Boss?, and who also starred with Dee as her son in Cujo. He wasn't able to make it in, though, as it's the last week of the play he's appearing in, and they added extra shows. Sad, I know, but nothing could be done about it.
The dinner started at 7 ... Now, I haven't really ranted much about the hotel food served during past shows, but here I'm going to. Two years ago, the Doubletree served chicken that couldn't even be called "rubber chicken" - it was still in its tar stage. Last year, the hotel served what some politely called "pasta" ... there were two varieties ... It was either so over-cooked it was mushy, or undercooked and crunchy. The Hilton at the Airport served the best hotel food I've ever had .... It was chicken and rice, with salad, cheesecake, and not only was the food tasty, it wasn't microscopic either. I'd rate it a 15/10!
Dee shared our table and talked about a sitcom pilot she just shot. It definately owes something to Will & Grace and Queer as Folk. There are two young men who meet and fall in love, moving in together ... The father of one of them is an Archie Bunker-type conservative, but he falls on hard times and has to move in with them. Across the street (or next door? I can't remember) are two lesbians who are friends of the gay couple. Dee plays the mother of one of them ... After moving in with his son, Dee invites them over for dinner, and she becomes his romantic interest. It's being self-financed, meaning it hasn't been ordered by a network, and the producers are shopping it around to the networks. Let's all cross our fingers, shall we? :)
At 8, the play started ... 9 of the guests in Bleacher Bums, which I talked above at the beginning. If you get a chance to see it, I encourage you to do so. It's smartly-written, and well-acted, not to mention funny.
Roughly an hour later, the play ended and Karaoke started. It was hosted by Robert O'Reilly and J.G. Hertzler, who portray the Klingons Gowron and Martok. I have already created a page for it, including the names of the people singing, the song titles (in order), and pix of all but one group (the same person did two songs in a row). You can visit that page here.
Sunday - The time changed so we lost an hour. Even with ending at 1 am (technically 2 am), I was up late and slept right through the alarm. I got downstairs at about 10:45, in time to see Mary Kay. Cori, Carol, Chris, Chris's sister, and I spent the day shopping and listening to the guests on stage.
Dougie (Douglas Arthurs) came on and talked about filming StarGate. He played Heru'ur, the Goa'uld System Lord. One of the great parts was the body suit they have to wear. They have to bend over and have the suit put on in pieces ... If they put it on while standing up, the suit falls off. Speaking of falling off, there is a device they wear, jewelery on the hand (you can see it here) ... well, unless it's glued down with "spirit gum", any time he moves his hand, it flies off.
One of his best friends is Alex Zahara, who plays a few characters on StarGate. I know him best for playing Dulann in Babylon 5: Legend of the Rangers; he was also Ezekial in Jeremiah.
Dougie can be seen this summer in the Pitch Black sequel Chronicles of Riddick.
After this, I picked up the Bullpen Pic. It actually turned out pretty well. It's one of the few pix I have with me and stars that doesn't look horrid!
The autographs with Dwight Schultz went by quickly; he wasn't able to personalize, as I mentioned already, and I heard (but did not get confirmed) he signed over 500 items in less than an hour.
He is a very busy man, with acting, writing, and a new radio show on Dark Matters Radio.com. He was a fan of the original series, and desperately wanted to be on Trek as an alien with a prosthetic. His friend Whoopi Goldberg suggested he be on TNG, but he thought he'd never get cast. But he did! His agent called, breathless, saying the producers had sent him a script and asked if he would play the character of Barclay. Before reading the script, he had images of a huge prosthetic, being some strange alien of the week, getting a call at 2 am to sit in the makeup chair, and then he got the script, and read that his character was ... a nerd.
At first, he was very disappointed, as he was playing just a regular guy with problems; no makeup or anything. And then he read the script again, and realized the character really was a fan on the bridge of the Enterprise. While conversing with the "real" Picard and crew, he had speech problems, he was overexcited, he was, well, a geek. But on the holodeck, while interacting with "characters", he could be himself just as fans are with fanfiction and the tv.
Something he learned about the male regulars ... They don't wear the full costume while they are working. Right before they start rolling film, the actors would raise their arms and crewmembers would put the costume tops on them, they'd film, and as soon as the director would call "cut, print", they'd raise their arms up and off the costumes would go.