or How Deb Took A Trip To Florida For A Very Specific Reason

….. by Sisterdebmac

Friday, 1/26/2007

I arrived in Orlando a bit after 1 pm. Too early to check into the motel. So I drove directly to the Orange County Convention Center to register for Saturday and Sunday while there were no lines. It’s a huge complex of four concourses and it was very confusing. I couldn’t find the printout I brought that said which of the concourses FX was in. I called my boss and she looked it up for me online, the North Concourse. I went in and registered with their very weird system where you type in your contact info in a bank of computers and then they give you a ticket to go buy your tickets!

I asked the woman who sold me my tickets who was running the show and as it happened, he was sitting right there, Mike Hertz. He was talking to a couple of staff members so I waited until they were done and when he got free, I said, “I hear you’re the man in charge.” He saw my original photo Fanboys t-shirt and said, “Hey, Fanboys t-shirt already. I’ve never seen that picture. I’ve seen the one with the light saber, but not the masks.” I told him who I was and that TeeJay designed the shirt, and how that pic with the logo is all over the Internet now.

I gave him our business card with my cell number on the back and told him that I wanted to ask him if he knew who I should speak to about scheduling a little bit of interview time with Chris. I told him Chris knows us. He said, “I’ll see him tonight and I’ll give him the card. But I paid an ungodly amount of money to get these guys here and the schedule is tight. There’s no way in hell you’re talking to him at my show. If he wants to set something up with you like a breakfast, that’s up to him.” 🙁

I left there feeling pretty crappy, like this guy was going to block me at every turn. But still I sat in the dumpy motel room, hoping the phone would ring. Like I told Mike, I believed that if Chris knew I had come down for the show, he would try to find a way to talk to me. No call ever came.

Strike one : I thought Mike was kind of a dick. :-\

Saturday 1/27/2007

I dragged my butt out of bed and got to the con right at opening time. Inside, I immediately looked for a schedule because the program had nothing.

Strike two: There was absolutely no schedule of events at this show. Because there basically was no show. No schedule of panels by the great guests there. Nothing of the sort. This thing was just a giant toy dealer room with autograph tables. Some guy did a presentation called Anime That Doesn’t Suck. But who knew? There was no schedule. :-\

Adam Baldwin, who has a ton of genre things to talk about, like Independence Day, The X Files and Angel didn’t have a panel. I’ve been a fan of that dude for 27 years. Since My Bodyguard. I would’ve loved to see him do a Q&A.

William Katt, who was The Greatest American Hero after all, and could’ve packed out a room didn’t have a panel. Why? There’s a fantastic new ultimate collectors DVD set complete with cape that they could’ve plugged by maybe auctioning one off for charity or something. Man, it would’ve been cool to tell Bill in front of other fans how dearly I adore his Pippin with Ben Vereen, and the album he released in the 80’s. It was genuinely good, kinda progressive. The song, “China” is fantastic.

Lance Henricksen who is genre didn’t have a panel. I would’ve loved to quiz him about whether he thought Millennium’s second season under Morgan & Wong was the very best the show had to offer, as I do. Or to have asked him how much freakin’ fun he had shooting Near Dark.

And here’s Strike three – the price of $20-$25 per autograph. :-O

Wow. This whole thing was the suck, so far.

I don’t know how it worked with all the guests, but I finally got the lowdown on our gang from Terry who was Chris’s minder at the table. They would sign their pics and our stuff too for $20. That was actually not a terrible deal really. But he did say that it was up to the guests how many they would do. The only real blockbuster line at the whole show was Kristen Bell’s. For her, you had to take a numbered ticket. And I think you were limited to one signature.

The first auto session started at 10:30. I saw them coming through the curtains behind the tables and bent down to get my camera. They came out — Sam first, then Chris and the girls, and I heard Chris say, “Hey, she’s got a Fanboys t-shirt.”

I stood up and said, “It’s me.” And he grinned and said, “Heeey, Deb.” I walked up and stuck out my hand and he took it and pulled me in for a scruffy peck on the cheek. I didn’t mind the fuzz one iota.

We talked for a bit. I told him that I’d asked Mike about scheduling an interview and that I knew their time was tight. He said he would absolutely talk to me. I told him I was there all day so whenever he could do it was fine. We both figured it would probably be when he was finished for the day, but of course he had no idea when that would be.

So OK, there were apparently no panels. But he did say that they were going to show a ten-minute highlight reel from the movie and have a Q&A. “Is that a panel?” he asked me. Hee. But this is his first con, after all, y’all. Give him a break. Yes, that’s a panel. Woohoo! But of course, he hadn’t been told when it would be. He went backstage to see if he could find out, but the best he could get was “maybe one o’clock”. Man, this thing was a disorganized mess. Unless you were only there to buy or sell.

It could be so much more than that. Really.

I told him I hadn’t rushed in there to be first in line, it just happened that way. He said, “I guess nobody wants to see me.” Awwwww. I told him, “No, there was another girl here and she’ll be right back. But mainly it’s because there’s no schedule anywhere to let people know when you guys were coming out.”

Before the lines could get cranked up, I gave Chris the letters that TeeJay and Anne had sent for him. They wanted to say a little something since they couldn’t make the trip over from Germany for the con, so they put together brief one-pagers. I got a few pics of him actually reading them.

People started showing up for the lines pretty quickly once word got around that they were open. So I stepped back and gave way to the paying customers. For a while, I hovered and took pictures. I told him to stop me if I was bothering him. He said, “No, no, it’s fine.”

I spoke to a lot of people in his line. Most were into SW. One guy was a huge Kiss fan and loved Sam for being in Detroit Rock City. He was a very cool dude. I think he got everybody’s sig on the group pic. I found a few hardcore Chris fans and gave them all business cards and chatted them up about how they got into him. Mostly Joan like us, but the girl who was second in line has been into him since Pasadena! She hasn’t seen everything though so maybe she’ll come see us and partake of our clips.

Also very cool was a trio of girls who were having trouble convincing one in their group not to be so nervous about talking to him. (Sound like anyone we know? These three could be us. Heehee.) I know one of you is our new friend, Courtney but I’m afraid I don’t know who all was who. Let me know and I’ll update this report. I told them all how sweet and down-to-earth Chris is and after a little while, they finally went up. You guys were so cute!

And then there was Natalie. I met her in his line.

Natalie is Chris’s biggest fan. She’s 11, I believe. Correct me if I’m wrong, Nat. She was at FX with her mother and her sister. She was absolutely sweet and adorable and she made a huge impression on Chris. And me.

As the lines waxed and waned, I wandered around the dealer room a bit aimlessly for a while. Then, I decided to call TeeJay in Germany despite the cost and tell her that things had taken a drastic turn for the better and Chris said he’d happily give us another interview. While I was talking to her, Kyle came out and he saw me and smiled at me as I told her, “Here’s Kyle.” And, I don’t know, the open way he greeted me just made me think, put TeeJay on the phone with him. So I just walked right up and handed him the phone and said, “Here, talk to TeeJay.” And he did. Chris cracked up. She can fill in what was said in that conversation…

[TeeJay: Well, I was a little dumbstruck at first, but that only lasted two seconds, then I started babbling. LOL! I asked him if he remembered me (yes, he did) and he asked how the website was going (it’s going great). He told me he loved the Fanboys t-shirt design I made (Deb was wearing one) and that they were gonna show a 10-minute best-of from Fanboys later. He said he’d figure out a way to get that to us for our website (Really? Awesome, Kyle, please do!!). Told him to let Deb give him one of our business cards with all our contact info. There was some talk about Frosty from collider.com (whom we had contacting Kyle a few times for us–thanks again, Frosty!) and the IESB.net guys (apparently one of them is a big Chris fan as well). Then we said our goodbyes and he hung up on me! Kyle!! Don’t do that, I was gonna talk to Deb! So I called her back and that was it. Too cool!]

I hung back and tried to take more pictures of Chris and his fans and I checked back with him a couple of times to see if he’d heard anything more about when, and more importantly where, the panel was going to be held. Nada. Finally, he told me at about 11:30 that it would be at noon but he still didn’t know where.

During some of the lulls in the line, I chatted with Chris and Terry. I showed Chris the AD wristband, told him about winning it on eBay. He got a giggle out of that. I told him about the sticky spot I found on it and asked if they’d had to tape it down because it flies off. It flew off of me Thursday night when I started wearing it for good luck for the con. He confirmed that they had. And that it was specifically in that scene where he and Dominique Swain are arguing and he’s tussling with her and even draws his fist back at her.

I also talked to Sam Huntington and Matt Perniciaro and showed them the embarrassing Stormtrooper mask photos I brought of everyone and TeeJay’s hilarious morph of Chris into Young Spock. They laughed their butts off at that one and promised to razz him about it later. 🙂

I couldn’t get anywhere near Kristen Bell of course. She was mobbed, as I expected. Her minder told me that she’d signed for 370 people by the time the first 90 minute session was over. And her line never died down. Kyle never stayed put anywhere for too long. He didn’t sit at his place at the signing table much. Mostly, he hung out with Jaime King. Are they an item?

Finally, they announced at 11:45 where the Fanboys panel would be. I went straight there and got a spot on the front row. I was on the wrong end of the table though. They introduced Chris last and he sat on the opposite end.

Still, I recorded it. Parts of it are not so great. Some of it is excellent. Kyle did most of the talking even though he begged us to make the actors do it. Sam and Kristen were really funny. My favorite moment was when Sam said he made more friends on this movie than anything he’s ever done. Chris just kind of wrapped himself around Sam and wouldn’t let go for a comically long time and I tried to get a pic but I didn’t manage.

It was all a hoot! 😀

Someone stole our question about whether any of them are obsessed with anything like the characters are and they busted Jay out as a GI Joe nut. Kevin is into sports, but also SW. Of course Kyle is crazy for SW. Sam matter-of-factly informed us of what he’s into, “Porn.” Everyone cracked up. They teased him that he brought his whole collection down to New Mexico with him. He said he had six suitcases full and he brought his braille stuff “for Marquette.” Another big laugh. And Chris said, “I like to feel.” My face hurt from laughing.

They were trying to get Kevin’s phone to ring so he could show off his Chewie ringtone and Chris decided to call Jay. He played Jay’s outgoing message to us over his mic. I couldn’t hear it well enough to determine what it was, but people laughed at it. If anyone knows, fill me in. Then, Chris counted to three and we all yelled, “Hi Jay!”. Chris then quickly said, “Call me later,” and hung up. Too funny. Wonder what Jay thought of that? Kyle did say that both he and Dan were off on film shoots but would much rather be at the con because they’re both that nerdy. :-))

Natalie and her family sat beside me at the panel. They were just so endearing. I invited her to hang out in the interview if I could arrange it. Sorry we didn’t get to meet up and get you in there with us, Natalie. You’ll hear Chris talking to his escort about you, in the interview. He planned to go looking for you when we finished so he could talk to you some more. Gosh, I hope you visit the site and post for us sometime what you thought of your day at FX. And whether or not you and Chris got to talk.

Mr. Mike closed the panel after about 45 minutes. Right before he could lead the gang out, Chris told me that he was going to try to find out the schedule for the rest of the day. They all went for a potty break. I had some water from the fountain nearby and waited. When he came out, he headed right for me, but Mike called him over. I though, oh great. But Chris talked to him for a minute and came back to me. Mike actually looked over at us standing together and smiled at me as Chris told me that they were going to sign for another hour, have lunch and then sign till about four. He said he’d talk to me as soon as he could. I smiled back at Mike. I couldn’t help thinking, “See, told ya he’d try.”

Now, he totally could’ve been a jerk about it, but he didn’t bother us. Thanks Mike. I get that you’re wary of people bugging your guests or taking time away from their job for the day which is signing for dollars and plugging their movie. I hope you saw that I didn’t do either. 🙂

When Chris went back to his table, I walked around the dealer room some more and and then back over to the signing tables. I really wanted to see if there were any fans there I could talk to more than anything. I did take some more pics though. Twice, Chris literally jumped over the table to take pics with people. Once for an older woman in a wheelchair. And once for a little kid.

When they went to lunch, I tried and failed, to eat something myself. The “hot soft” pretzel I bought was ice cold and the cheese was gross. I threw it away and decided to walk the dealer room again and actually look at the merchandise this time, even though I can’t afford any of it and hate “window shopping”.

I saw a familiar name over one of the tables — Jerry Ohlinger’s Movie Material Store. I used to buy all my movie stills and lobby cards from them. A decade before the Internet. By calling them up long distance or sending them a letter via snail mail. I’ve been collecting since I was 12. Discovered Ohlinger’s when I was about 16.

I had a great, long conversation with the folks who rep the shop. We talked about my lifelong collecting and my fascination with the movies of the 1940’s. Turns out the we had a lot in common in that respect, as well as my affection for Roddy McDowall and Robert Mitchum.

I told them about Fanboys and Chris and learned that they’ve actually had requests for Chris stuff. We exchanged business cards. I think were going to end up exchanging links as well. That would be a coup for us!

I wandered back to the signing tables after a while where I met a lovely young lady named Victoria. She wants to break into the film business. She’s a writer and she wants to work in film production. I told her about my time in the game and tried to give her some ideas about how to get her foot in the door. We talked for so long that her very handsome husband got bored and wandered off.

When they had to go, I decided to call Elaine and tell her how things were going because the last she heard was Friday night when I was convinced that Mike would stonewall me all the way. After we talked for a while, Chris’s line died down to nothing again and he motioned me over. I let her go and went to talk to him. He asked if I was ready and I said sure. He let me backstage and was going to have me sit with him at the signing table but security showed up and said nobody’s allowed back there. He said OK, we’ll go to the green room.

He left me back in the bullpen where Kyle and Jaime were talking and went to tell Terry he was taking a break. BTW, what’s backstage? Trays of fruit, bottled water and hand sanitizer. Lots of hand sanitizer. LOL!

We headed out with a boy who looked about 13 following. He told Chris, “You have to have an escort everywhere you go.” “OK,” Chris said. So he went with us to the green room. You’ll hear his walkie talkie go off as we get started. He left after a bit.

We were having a nice chat when the kid came back with a note for Chris about Natalie. Before too long, the other two people in the room — staff who were taking a break — left and it was just us.

He gets really quiet and Adamy on me then and I move the recorder closer and turn it up a little…

It was a cool interview and afterward, I cracked him up with our funny pictures and he signed our stuff — including both the AD wristband and certificate. I snapped the best picture I got of him all day and he tried to take one of us.

He had no escort back down to the dealer room so I took him. Terry met us just inside the door. He was headed for the green room to tell us that Natalie was looking for us. So off Chris went to meet up with his other biggest fan.

-Deb
January 2007

Photos of the day Deb spent at the con
Click here to listen to the interview Chris gave Deb
Read the transcription of the interview
More talk about the con and meeting Chris on the message board

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