Booths with scantily-clad women handing out energy drink samples kept people going throughout the entire weekend of fun. There were the usual vendors of comic books (alas, mostly DC and Marvel with few indies), t-shirts, toys, collectibles and the all important art/archival supplies to protect that newly minted celebrity autograph or custom drawing from your favorite comic book artist. Most celebrities were easily accessible for photos, autographs or just a quick chat.
While there I caught up with Whedon-alum Melinda Clarke (Nandi, Firefly) who can be currently seen on CW’s The Vampire Diaries. Melinda just finished filming the pilot for CW’s Nikita, an updated version of the successful movies and 90’s TV show La Femme Nikita. In this version, Nikita goes rogue and someone is trained to replace her. Melinda plays mentor to young female potentials in part by "showing them how to use their wiles to get the upper hand." The show is produced by McG (Supernatural, Chuck, Human Target) and stars Maggie Q (Live Free or Die Hard) as Nikita, and costars Shane West (ER, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) and Lyndsy Fonseca (Daughter, How I Met Your Mother).
Melinda is very excited by the pilot as it takes her back to earlier in her career when she had more action roles (Xena, Soldier of Fortune Inc) and "it’s great to be part of a show where girls kick ass." As for her current recurring role on The Vampire Diaries as decidedly non-maternal hot mess Kelly Donovan, she says her role was actually "toned down" so that her character would have someplace to go in the future. Although TVD shoots in Atlanta and Nikita would film in Vancouver, she wouldn’t mind making the commute if both shows got picked up.
Relatively new to the six degrees of Whedon world, Caprica‘s Scott Porter was also there to meet fans, sign autographs, take photos, and more importantly, shop. Scott (Nestor, Caprica) is a huge comic book fan and HeroClix player and spent his first day at the con perusing the booths for new goodies. Possibly best known for his role as Jason Street on the DIRECTV/NBC series Friday Night Lights, it was also confirmed today by EW that he will be returning to the show in the seventh episode of the 5th season that debuts on DIRECTV this fall. The 4th season premieres on NBC this May.
Also in the works for Scott is the CW pilot Nomads from producer Ken Sanzel (Numb3rs). Nomads is an action adventure drama about young globetrotting backpackers who earn extra money by doing secret CIA missions.
Scott is a lovely fellow and proclaims that (Buffy and Caprica producer) "Jane Espenson is the shit!" I think we can all agree with that!
Buffy alums Doug Jones and Camden Toy were wonderfully gracious as usual to fans and especially to Whedonopolis. (Doug: "I love Whedonopolis!") You couldn’t ask for two nicer people who happen to play some of the creepiest characters onscreen. As reported earlier, they’ve both got several projects in the works. Hopefully the rumors of Doug being in the extremely hush-hush The Hobbit are true!
Jewel Staite sat for an intimate Q&A session with fans (more on that here) and revealed many fun tidbits.
While she didn’t keep many props from Firefly/Serenity, after learning of their cancellation, Nathan Fillion raided the set for goodies, and on the last day of filming Serenity, "he came with a box and started to take things off the wall." Jewel says she took Kaylee’s door sign, the engine room hammock and some bras. "They were good bras!" The only thing she "took away (from Stargate) was ten pounds" as she and co-star David Hewlett "ate and ate" the pastry chef-helmed catering.
In the future she’d like to play villains or have roles in a period piece or action film. Number one on her list is to work with Clint Eastwood, joking that "I’d better get on that" as he’s not getting any younger. She also asked that fans help her get on "Avengers, Castle and V. In that order."
If she weren’t an actor, she’d love to be a sommelier, and a favorite gift to receive is obscure and delicious wine. Another favorite gift is a donation to charity in her name, in particular those benefiting children with AIDS and animals. She’s a huge animal lover despite the fact that as a child her cats kept running away!
Summer films she’s most looking forward to? Iron Man 2 and Sex and the City 2, saying "If Carrie cheats on Big with Aidan, I’m gonna freak out!"
Jewel is an avid viewer of Glee and Lost. Currently, her favorite Lost character is Sawyer, with Hurley and Desmond in close running. She used to love Jack and told a funny story of how she freaked out when meeting Matthew Fox. She was completely awkward and obvious as she ignored the other person she was introduced to and said "Hiiii Matthew!" At the end of her encounter she said something like "Have a good night" and saluted him! Her only evidence of the meeting is a photo that sums it up: she and Matthew are standing next to each other while staring off in different directions looking for help.
After learning she was such a huge Glee fan, I convinced (ok, forced) a friend to give up her "Gleek" button (made by Whedonopolis friend The Button Lady) to Jewel who was absolutely thrilled, and whose husband was a tiny bit jealous.
Also during the con:
Mark Ryan, the voice of Bumblebee and Jetfire in the Transformers movies, revealed to a young boy that they will begin work on Transformers 3 later this year, which made his little eyes bug right out of his head.
Mark is also the author of the graphic novel series "The Pilgrim" which was released in print format by IDW Publishing last week. Drawing upon his experience and knowledge as ex-British military and a WWII history buff, Mark tells a tale of war and the supernatural by weaving together true characters and events from WWII and today, including the history of occultism used by both the British and Nazi forces and modern day espionage techniques.
Stan Lee caused a slight mob scene as he was there to sign only 200 copies of his "Ultimo" comic by pre-order and lottery.
Lightspeed Fine Art presented a Roddenberry themed guest list including William Shatner and actors
from various Treks and Kevin Sorbo from Andromeda. Also featured was artwork from Warehouse 13 star Eddie McClintock whose style is decidedly comic book-like with abstract, whimsical and surrealistic elements, making it a perfect fit for the venue.
There was a whole retro-TV theme with stars from classic Batman (and the enormous limousine-sized Batmobile), classic Battlestar, CHiPs, Hill Street Blues, Three’s Company, and more recent shows Xena, Buffy, Angel and more. Seemingly random celebrities were also there ranging from film legend Mickey Rooney to singer Taylor Dayne.
For movie auto fans, in addition to the Batmobile, there was the DeLorean from Back To The Future and the souped-up Mustang from Kick Ass. For a small fee you could have several photos of yourself taken while sitting in the cars.
Reality TV Row featured famous/infamous people from the best (or worst) of reality TV. Kato Kaelin, Jonny Fairplay, Christopher Knight and his "Leeloo" costumed wife Adrianne Curry, the Suicide Girls and many many others were all there vying for your attention and another fifteen minutes.
The ubiquitous 501st Legion was well represented as were custom droid builders who guided their robots around the convention floor to the delight of many. The guy dressed as Gollum who went about commandeering empty baby carriages and making faces and guttural sounds at children may not have been nearly as endearing, but he was certainly memorable.
All in all, it was an entertaining mix of comic books, costumed characters and celebrities in a very relaxed setting completely unlike the blockbuster madness of a larger convention. In addition to purchasing lots of reasonably priced and downright bargain merchandise, regular folks got a rare chance to have meaningful contact with artists and celebrities they admire. Many of the volunteers, geeks themselves, collected autographs on their neon yellow shirts as souvenirs.
In a perfect end to the casual affair, as I left the emptying arena Sunday afternoon, one of the last things I saw was Scott Porter and his buddies setting up their HeroClix figures for a game. Gotta love the geeks!