Archive for the ‘Posts by Sockii’ category

The A-Team movie trailer, and my immense fannish squee

January 12th, 2010

Post by sockii (Nicole Pellegrini)

In the last two decades, many old television action/adventure favorites have been resurrected for the big screen with varying – but often poor – results. I Spy, Dukes of Hazzard, Starsky & Hutch, The Mod Squad, Wild Wild West…the list goes on and on. Very rarely do fans of the original series find much to celebrate in the movie adaptions, though occasionally (such as with Mission: Impossible and The Fugitive), they manage to launch a new franchise or find success by presenting something different enough from the original to avoid too close comparisons.

So now it’s finally The A-Team‘s turn. There have been attempts to bring the series to the big screen since at least the mid-90s but never did the project make it off the ground before. As a die-hard fan of the original series, I’ve always been incredibly skeptical of the potential for a movie adaption to work. So much of the show’s original charm was due to the perfect cast and their on-screen chemistry, as well as its perfectly ’80s camp sensibility. So how could a modern-day adaption have a chance to succeed?

I began to come around to the idea of the new movie, however, after seeing some early cast photos. The new cast seemed to have the look. You couldn’t not find it at least a little campy, with the van lurking in the background, and Liam Neeson’s Hannibal grinning around his cigar. When I heard Dwight Schultz was on board for a cameo and had given a thumbs-up to Sharlto Copley’s interpretation of Murdock (my favorite character), my hope grew further.

And then last night I got to see the Teaser Trailer for the film for the first time, and I have to confess, I got goosebumps from the opening familiar – yet just slightly different – drummed intro. I felt myself grinning in a strange kind of fannish delight and excitement I haven’t felt for a long time.

Because this was my fandom – in many ways my first fandom – and here it was, coming back. Not as it had been in 1983, no, but there was Hannibal and Face grinning and scheming; B.A. and his van (and welding! And the van bursting through fences!); Murdock’s familiar drawl, and I felt for a moment like that ten year old kid who first fell in love with that show and those characters all those years ago. It was actually not unlike the fannish “squee” I felt upon first seeing The Police hit the stage again, after so many years, that other early but crucial fandom of my teenage days.

I’m not saying I’m 100% sold on this being the best movie ever or anything like that. But I’m excited. I’m hopeful. I feel a bit like I imagine many long-time Star Trek fans may have felt in anticipation of the 2009 movie which re-imagined the series and seemed to bring life back into the fandom. I want to see the same thing happen for The A-Team. Now I can’t wait until June to see how their plans come together.

Review: Chris Campion’s “Walking on the Moon: The Untold Story of the Police and the Rise of New Wave Rock”

December 17th, 2009

Review by sockii (Nicole Pellegrini)

As a die-hard fan of The Police, I was looking forward to reading this recently-published book about the band.

Unfortunately, Chris Campion’s Walking on the Moon: The Untold Story of the Police and the Rise of New Wave Rock is, quite simply, the most negatively-toned rock “biography” – and I use that term very lightly in this case – I can recall ever reading. While there is some interesting information contained within its 300 pages, each of those pages is so thoroughly laced with such glaring disdain on the author’s part for his subject matter, one is left truly puzzled over what motivated him to write the book in the first place. Is it pure sour grapes over the success of a band whose music he clearly dislikes, a band whose popularity he can’t understand unless dismissed away as the result of clever, aggressive marketing and the political climate of the time? Is it just a cheap shot at trying to cash in on the band’s name before buzz over their reunion tour fades away?

I’m not sure. What I am sure of is that Campion has put considerable time into researching his subject, if only to make sure there is no negative comment ever made about the band or its members, nor any questionable or scandalous incident about them, that he misses including.

The negativity starts subtly, but begins to creep in through even the simplest word choices used to describe the band members, their associates and their actions. Andy Summers “fumes”, “whines” and “sneers” throughout the book, painted by Campion as an intensely bitter man of questionable skill as a guitarist, clinging desperately to The Police as his last chance at stardom after failing to make it earlier in his career. Stewart Copeland is portrayed as a spoiled youngest child, an immature “frat boy” type, a pothead whose drumming is only referred to by Campion when he can bring up criticisms of Copeland’s time-keeping. Sting is a cruel egotist who Campion spends considerable effort trying to psychoanalyze, repeatedly referring to his Catholic upbringing and mother’s infidelity as the root of his many problems. Miles Copeland III is focused on nearly much as the band members themselves, illustrated as the ruthless force behind their success through his promotion and marketing schemes – even as all of his problems with other acts and artists (and later the Police themselves) are thoroughly detailed. The only one who gets off relatively unscathed is Ian Copeland, “the only good one of the bunch”, supposedly. Oh, and of course any of the band or Miles’ associates through the years who were interviewed directly by Campion so that they could air their personal grievances, including Cherry Vanilla, Jayne Country, Nigel and Chis Gray, and members of the band Squeeze.

Those looking for any real analysis of the band’s music? Look elsewhere. Campion has little interest in doing so beyond taking shots at Sting’s lyric writing and discussing the struggles they had in the studio, recording. Those hoping for good details on the three band members’ post-Police careers? Not to be found here. Sting is given the greatest focus, but mostly so he can be taken to task for everything including his poor acting, profiting off of black music and musicians, his dubious charitable causes and also his financial and personal relationship woes. Stewart is mostly dismissed except for Campion going into great detail over criticism of Copeland’s opera “Holy Blood and Crescent Moon”. Andy’s solo years barely merit two pages of coverage, primarily devoted to Campion mocking his photography as “little more than nicely-composed snapshots printed in black and white to give them a semblance of artsiness.”

The band’s reunion tour is briefly covered in the last chapter, primarily rehashing details well-covered in the press already and here used to further Campion’s argument that the band had no real impact on music except as an extreme marketing success story. He repeats much of his earlier criticism of the entire new wave movement, which has been almost as central a subject of the book as the band it’s advertised as being about. What he seems completely unaware of – or chooses not to acknowledge – is the lasting influence the band’s music has had on generations of musicians who have followed them. The Police made solid pop-rock music that was well-crafted and featured musicianship that was inspired, and inspiring. Whether they were as groundbreaking or revolutionary as The Beatles or Elvis Presley is not and should not be the question, nor the only meter by which their merit as musicians should be measured.

Looking through the notes and sources at the end of the book leaves the impression that Campion was quite thorough in his research, as previously noted. But he was also careless and sloppy. He makes numerous small mistakes that devoted Police fans are sure to pick up on, and it leads one to cast doubt on the veracity of all matters presented in the book as a result. For example, he gives the wrong date for the band’s final concert of the reunion tour at Madison Square Garden (August 9, 2008 when in fact it was August 7, 2008). He also claims they came out on stage in Police uniforms for the show, which was untrue; Sting donned a Police hat at the beginning of the show but that was it. He makes mistakes about which songs were cut from the second leg of the reunion tour and which ones were added. All minor details, yes, but it adds up to contribute to this reader’s poor impression of the work as a whole.

He devotes little effort to covering the fandom for the band, except again where he can potentially derive the most scandal and shock value from it. For instance, he devotes a page to the “bizarre” phenomenon of “slash fiction” about the band, misrepresenting bandfiction‘s roots and showing his lack of understanding of the genre and its motivations as being something undertaken by “female groupies”. That said, he does seem rather taken by the work of FanHistory’s own administrator, sidewinder, describing her fiction as “extraordinary” (in fact it seems to be one of the few things in the entire book he has any positive words for!) The only other times he talks about the fandom at all is when he can bring up kerfluffles and incidents such as Stewart’s infamous “Disaster Gig” blog post, and an incident involving a Police website set up by Miles Copeland that was accused of cheating money out of fans until the problem was addressed by Stewart and Andy. Perhaps given how little Campion seems to understand about the band’s popularity, it would have done him some good to actually interview some fans of the band to get their perspective, instead of trying to force his theories and hypothoses onto them.

Which in the end is all a shame, as a good book thoroughly covering the band’s complete history without an obvious agenda and bias would be much appreciated. This book simply isn’t it. One is much better off reading the respective autobiographies of each of the band members, and looking to find the truth somewhere in the middle of their individual recollections and points-of-view.

Review: Strange Things Happen by Stewart Copeland

September 29th, 2009

Strange Things Happen: A Life with The Police, Polo and Pygmies by Stewart Copeland hits bookstores today, September 29. Review by Nicole Pellegrini (sockii)

* * *

I feel a little bit like pulling a Jedi Mind Trick here to start off this review. Or that perhaps Stewart Copeland has pulled one over on all of us readers, or that he should do before the angry shouts and rampant confusion surely begins.

Police fans looking for, at long last, Stewart’s definitive statement on The Police?

*handwave*

“This is not the book you are looking for.”

As far as I see it, Stewart made his definitive statement on the early Police years with Everyone Stares: The Police Inside Out. (You can read my original review of that film in my archives.) If you’re expecting much more here, you’ll be disappointed, although there are a few brilliant gems of observation that slip through the cracks when and where you least expect it.

Diehard Stewart fans–the self-proclaimed Nutters and Snarks–looking for deep personal insight and a detailed history of Stewart’s life and all his various projects?

*handwave*

“This is not the book you are looking for.”

Stewart Copeland is not here to divulge all his secrets, nor dish the dirt on his past relationships, musical or personal. If you’re looking for either type of information, you’ll be highly disappointed (go read band mate Andy Summers’ book “One Train Later” instead). What Stewart is here to do is share some stories with us, and most of these stories are quite lighthearted and fun in their nature and tone. They’re the kind of stories you’d share at a dinner party to good friends, people who will get all the in-jokes and references you’ll be making. It’s no wonder that when Stewart first shared some of these stories on his website, it was in a section of the site entitled “Stewart’s Dinner Tales”.

But if you’re looking for a traditional autobiography? Seriously, listen carefully to me, right now:

“This is not the book you are looking for.”

* * *

Structurally? Strange Things Happen is kind of a massive hot mess. It’s divided into four sections: Stewart’s early life (where he sticks The Police); immediately after The Police; the years 2000 – (roughly) 2007; and lastly the reunion tour. I found myself oddly reminded of a Kurt Vonnegut novel as I read through it all, with the various chapters jumping here and there through time–some very short, some longer; the narration from Everyone Stares stuck in-between the prose as a substitute for a developed chapter on the Police’s early years.

However this jumpy shatter-shot structure seemed to emphasize the surreal nature of some of these events and adventures Stewart describes in his tall (drummer) tales. How does one go from being at the top of the world with The Police to seeking out pygmy tribes in Africa? Playing polo matches against Prince Charles? Becoming a reality show “celebrity”/villian? It’s a wild life story that probably could have filled several volumes if described in detail, but that’s not the intent here. We get the highlight reel instead–and with Stewart’s clever prose and eye for pertinent, well-chosen detail, a great deal is often revealed in just a few words or sentences.

Some Police fans seem put off by the fact that The Police (v 1.0) is dismissed so quickly in the book. I think the important points Stewart wants to share about that time were, again, already made in his movie and then emphasized in the brief chapter that follows here, “Police Rule”. He doesn’t talk about the band, his bandmates, the creative (and other) tension between them. He talks about the disorientation of being The Rock Star, an idolized one, and the effect it has on one’s mental well-being.

It was getting claustrophobic. Privacy deprivation is something like sleep deprivation. The love that surrounds you becomes vexatious.

I often wished that I could merely turn my collar up and shun the light.

But Police fans really should relax and take a deep breath, as they get more than enough about the band in the last section of the book. Again mostly snippets from here and there as the reunion tour rumbled along, it is an enjoyable look into the machinery of the band: rehearsing and road rituals, major tensions and how and where they were resolved; what brought out the best and worst in each of them as musicians (and individuals) and why it was painfully, clearly obvious that there could never be a “new” Police album after all of this was over. As far as individual incidents go, I especially enjoyed the chapter “Raging Kumbaya”, Stewart’s story of hanging out with Rage Against the Machine as well as the section in the “Toast in the Machine” chapter on what happened when Sting and Les Claypool crossed paths.

* * *

The book’s Afterward, entitled simply “The Green Flag”, apparently seems troubling to some members of Stewart’s fandom and is getting very mixed reactions so far. I personally find it a very suitable ending in its ambiguity and the quandary presented. The afterword is placed side-by-side in the book by a full-page picture of Stewart with his wife and family, with the caption “This is who I really am”. The message is not very subtle, I don’t think: “I am not a superhero (Halloween costumes excluded.) I’m just a regular family guy who has had some strange things happen to me.”

The story of The Flag has been told well by others elsewhere, and will continue to be told by the fans who participated in its travels for years to come. (Goodness knows, whenever I can finally find the time to edit together my book of fans’ recollections from the tour, that story will be told many times over!) But fandom is a funny thing. I spend a lot of time thinking about and writing about fandom, having been involved in various ones for most of my life. Fandoms very much are communities which develop their own rules and rituals, symbolism and language, as Stewart hints at here in the Afterward. And they can develop an almost religious fervor about them. Fans converge at conventions and at concerts, often donning ritual gear and costumes to identify themselves in a crowd and feel united. Fandom can by joyous; sharing in a common love for a band, artist, film or tv show can be great fun. Yet it can also turn ugly very quickly and harmful quite easily, both for the members of that fandom and for those at the center of all that attention. Everyone Stares certainly gave many of us a first-hand view of what it could be like to be in the middle of that kind of fannish mania and attention, and one gets the sense that Stewart is rather cautious about anything that could encourage or set off that crazed adulation again.

Which is not to say I necessarily believe that Stewart “reads” the Flag as such. But I do get the feeling that there’s a sense of caution in embracing it too closely lest it get out of control–for those waving the Flag as much as for him. Throughout the book, we’ve read his stories of what it’s like to try to find a normal life in the aftermath of being The Rock Star one time around. And as much as he may have enjoyed the ride this second time during the reunion tour, there’s an understanding of where taking it too far can lead.

“The folks at the concerts aren’t bowing down so much as rising up in exultation, but I’m just saying that I have an idea of what it feels like to be a golden calf.”

It’s cautionary in tone as much as it is a loving (well, I think so, anyway) acknowledgement of this “nutty” fandom that Stewart has, which he’s long been more than generous with supporting and encouraging for these many years.

In the end, this is a book I’m very happy to be able to add to my collection of materials related to The Police and the members of the band. At times it’s frustrating, at times it’s hysterical, and some times it’s utterly brilliant. It’s another piece to the puzzle that is/was The Police that probably has no solution nor answer, but a piece I’ll enjoy going through again from time to time for a good chuckle and to mull over in my mind–like any good dinner tale that deserves retelling amidst the best company.

An A-Team movie finally coming together?

September 20th, 2009

Post by sockii.

Proposals and scripts for an A-Team movie have been going around for over a decade, but now it finally looks like it’s going to happen for real. The main cast seems set: Liam Neeson taking over George Peppard‘s role as Hannibal Smith; Bradley Cooper in Dirk Bennedict‘s role of Templeton Peck; Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in Mr. T‘s role of B.A. Baracus, and now Sharlto Copley in Dwight Schultz‘s role of H.M. Murdock. Jessica Biel is also apparently in the cast as an ex-fiance of Peck now hunting the team, and Watchmen‘s Patrick Wilson will play a CIA operative on the hunt for the team.

The story and characters will be updated so that they will be Iraq War veterans instead of Vietnam vets; what else will change or stay the same remains to be seen, though early pictures show an A-Team van much like the original’s.

As a die-hard A-Team fan for many decades, my feelings about the project have been mixed from the start. I read an early script for the project back in the 1990s which was truly dreadful, bearing virtually no resemblance to the characters and tone of the original series. But at this point I have to admit to at least a little curiosity of what will come about now that the film is genuinely going to happen, with an expected release date of June 11, 2010. I’m a big fan of Liam Neeson, although I don’t quite see him as Hannibal Smith without some major changes to the character. Murdock was always my favorite character so I’ve always been highly resistant to the idea of anyone other than Dwight Schultz in the role (Jim Carrey was long a rumor, but apparently “too expensive” for the project and I’m glad for that). Yet Sharlto Copley seems like a potentially good choice based on what I’ve seen of him so far after his breakout performance in District 9. That said, a lot of the longtime A-Team fans I know are decidedly not enthusiastic about the project, no matter who is cast in the roles because it won’t be the team they know and love.

If the film is successful – which of course is no guaranty – I’ll be curious about the effect on the fandom, which has been steadily chugging along for decades with a low profile but fairly continual stream of fanworks production. Will there be a separate fandom that develops for these new interpretations of the old characters, much as what happened with the Star Trek movie this year? Will the popular slash pairings change or be the same (if there are any slash pairings that take off?) Will there be conflict between the new and old fandom, or will the old fandom try to capitalize on the newfound interest in the A-Team and try to welcome new fans in to explore the world of the original series?

It should be interesting to see, and l’ll be following news about the new film with great interest as it develops.

Dragon*Con – the overall con report

September 11th, 2009

Post by sockii.

Yesterday I posted my report on the Dirk Benedict & Dwight Schultz panel at Dragon*Con. This is my day-by-day summary of the convention as a whole.

Thursday, September 3
For once, vespapod and I were leaving early enough that I could hopefully get some dealer’s room and artshow set-up done today. Our plans, however, were nearly thwarted when the radiator in his car went BOOM on the way to the airport! Fortunately we had time to spare to get the tow truck to pick up the car, catch a cab, and not miss our original flight.

We arrived in Atlanta about 2pm, got our bags, got on MARTA, and headed straight to the Marriott Marquis so I could begin dealer’s room setup. My annual, lovely neighbors, Chimera Publishing, had a surprise for me since I’d gotten there early: an extra table! We had to squeeze it in “L”-ways in my table space, but I was hopeful that the additional display area would be beneficial to sales. I did basic set-up and then went to check into my hotel, the Wyndham, where I’d scored a room through the great dragonconrooms community at the last minute. We still had some time to kill before art show set-up would begin, so we headed out for an early dinner at Benihannas. The place is usually too packed to even try to get in once the con officially begins, so it was nice having a chance to have a pleasant dinner before the crowds descended.

Registration line at DragonCon

On our way to the Hyatt, we saw that the registration line was not just out the door at the Sheraton, but stretched well around two blocks! Afterwards I heard that people stood in line for upwards of three hours to get their badges, and the line was even closed early Thursday so some folks had to get right back in it Friday morning. A friend of mine commented that it was far easier to just pay the extra money at the con to buy her badge than to preregister – that the on-site pay line was only about a half-hour long. Me, I’m glad for my dealer’s passes: no lines, no waits, just show up on-site and get my badges! How easy is that?

Vespa helped me with artshow set up and by that point we were done for the night. It had been a long, stressful day, so we headed back to our hotel, had a couple drinks at the bar, and then called it a day.

Friday, September 4
For once I didn’t have to get up at the crack of dawn to do table set-up, so we had a leisurely breakfast at the hotel and got back to the Marriott about 10am to finish my table set-up. I was pleased with how much I was able to get out on display with my extra space, and was well ready for the room to open up at 1pm.

Spacial Anomaly Gallery table setup

vespa had a panel to go to right at 1pm, which was fine as Friday sales are usually pretty slow. This definitely proved to be the case: lots of crowds roaming through, but most people were just looking, perhaps mentally making notes on what they would like to come back for later (if they had the money after buying photo sessions and autographs.) vespa returned and then I left for the Dirk & Dwight panel, as described previously.

The room closed at 7pm. My numbers were a little low compared to Friday’s for last year, but I was still optimistic. I met up with a friend and we all had dinner together at Azio, a pretty decent (if pricey) Italian place, and then crawled the Marriott, checking out the costumes, posing for photos with everyone from R2-D2 to Jack Sparrow, and then hanging out at the Marriott bar until exhaustion took over.

Cylons invade the Marriott!

Saturday, September 5
Saturday came and I was hoping for big sales – last year it was my best single day of the con. Unfortunately, this year it would be my single worst day. The dealers room was quite often dead, and what people who were there didn’t seem to have much money to spend. I talked to a couple other dealers who were experiencing the same thing, although some others seemed to be doing ok. After talking to some friends and other folks, though, we decided that the slow sales were perhaps due not just to the slow economy but the huge amounts of money people were paying for autographs and photo sessions with the three main guests this year: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy and Patrick Stewart. It was $200 to get a photo with Patrick – and that’s before getting an autograph on it, too! I know a lot of people were balking about these prices before the con, saying they weren’t going to pay it, that it was unfair…and yet, the lines were continually back out on the street for their photosessions and I know a lot of people who DID pay the price. And stand in hours-long lines after lines not just for the photos, but then to see these guests in their panels.

So I really think that all contributed to the slower sales for dealers. It’s kind of a Catch 22: you want big name guests to draw attendees to the event, and yet if they are TOO popular and their autographs TOO in demand, those numbers don’t necessarily translate into better sales for the vendors.

At the end of sales hours I was feeling pretty bummed out, for certain. vespa and I had dinner on our own at a sushi place a little off the main track of foot traffic and spend a little while checking out costumes that night. But my heart wasn’t all that much in it at that point. I had paid and posed for an official shot with Dirk & Dwight that evening, so the one thing I was looking forward to on Sunday was seeing how my photo turned out!

Sunday, September 6
Sunday we got to the Marriott about 9am, as I was eager to pick up my photo which was supposed to be ready at that time. That was when I learned that Froggy, the guy who did the photo sessions, had had virtually all of his equipment stolen that night! The lock to the storage room had been broken and someone stole the camera equipment, AND the laptop with all of the photos stored on it. Fortunately, the Dirk and Dwight pics had been printed the night before, and the theives had not stolen any of the already printed pictures – whew! But I felt really bad for the folks who were now going to have to either get a refund or try to get their shots retaken, now would not receive digital copies they’d paid for, etc. Not fun, and given their system for tracking who asked for/paid for what is a little loose and confusing, I wonder how they actually managed to sort it all out.

Still, my picture turned out really great so I was happy.

After re-setting up for the day, vespa left to go to one of the Dukes of Hazzard panels, which he said was a lot of fun as there was only about 15 people there, so they could have a real conversation instead of a large group talk. I then headed out for a break from the table, debating whether I’d go to a wikipedia talk or to Dirk Benedict’s solo panel. On the way there, however, I was distracted by a woman in an AMAZING H.M. Murdock costume. Even more amazing, it turned out we were long-lost friends from our mutual days in Xena fandom. So instead of the wiki panel I ended up catching up with her for about a half hour. We then wandered into Dirk’s talk, but I have to confess I was getting a little bored after about a half hour and slipped out to head to the Walk of Fame and see if Dwight was there.

He was, and I got my picture from the day before signed. This time we had a little more time to talk and I mentioned I was friends with John Glover, a former classmate of Dwight’s from Towson. That set off a really fun conversation. After that, I checked back at my dealer’s table – still pretty slow – so I went back to the Walk of Fame once Dirk’s panel was up so I could get his autograph on my photo as well. He commented on how much fun they were having during the photos and it definitely shows!

Dirk, sockii and Dwight

After that was done, I pretty much stuck around my table save to hover in the artshow when bidding closed at 6pm. Sales there were ok – I moved about 2/3rd of the paintings I brought, even if mostly at minimum bid, and my mom did similar on her jewelry which I was agenting. Print shop sales were kind of slow for me, however. After that it was time to close the dealer’s room for the night. We met up with a local friend for a nice dinner at a nearby brewpub. After that, we were kind of too tired to do any more hotel crawling, so we called it an early night. Sales were still way down, though I was at least out of the red. I didn’t sleep that well, however, trying to scheme how to pull the con more into the black for me on the last day.

Monday, September 7
Mondays are always crazy for me at Dragon*Con. First I had to rush over to the Art Show to get a check-out number at 9am. I got there early, which was a good thing as they started giving out numbers early as well. I would be 6th for checkout at 4pm, which was good. Got back to the dealer’s table and, once vespa was set up to handle sales, I had to run stand in the line to buy my table space for 2010.

This line took soooooo long. I was in it for about an hour, as the only people moving fast were those paying in cash. Finally they added an extra helper to take checks, and I handed over my money anxiously – despite the poor sales this year, I am going for broke next year and paid the extra money for a second tale. *gulp* Guess we’ll find out in 2010 if it pays off…

vespa was ringing my cell yelling at me to get back as soon as I could. Sales were picking up, and to help that along we started doing some big discounts…30% off everything…it really helped even if it cut down on the profit per sale. With the push to move merchandise, at closing at 5pm (and combined with my art show sales), I estimated I was only down a couple hundred dollars from last year’s tally. Not great but I’d live with it. I got my stuff out of the art show and we did the mad pack-up, which took about 90 minutes. Made it to the airport with about three hours to spare before our flight.

I was completely exhausted and so was vespa. It was a long, long weekend and it’s taken me a good three days after the fact to begin to feel back to normal at all. I always feel like Dragon*Con is an endurance race, and by the end I want to sleep for about a week solid. I also don’t want to see many human beings for a while either as the crowds get really, really old, really fast. Even so, we managed to have a pretty good time and I’m going to look forward to next year’s con. Though you might hear me hoping that next year, they won’t have such big name headlining guests…!

*

If you’re thinking about checking out Dragon*Con for yourself in the future, be sure to check out my Guide to Dragon*Con.

Dragon*Con panel report: Dwight Schultz and Dirk Benedict

September 10th, 2009

Post by sockii (Nicole Pellegrini)

I only made it to one full panel at Dragon*Con this year, and that was the A-Team “Reunion” Q&A with Dwight Schultz and Dirk Benedict (actually, it wasn’t much of a Q&A, but I’ll get to that later…)

I had to rush to get to where the panel was located in the Hyatt from my dealer’s table in the Marriott. I was surprised that, when I got there about 10 minutes before the panel was to begin, there was a HUGE line to get inside! I really didn’t expect that for an A-Team panel. Nevertheless, the room was fortunately a fairly large one (seating 200 maybe, and it did fill up) and I was able to score a single seat fairly close, in about the 5th or 6th row. Much to my amusement, as I was sitting down the woman next to me pulled out a blue baseball cap. I then noticed her tan pants and converse sneakers, matching my own, and discovered that I was sitting next to a die-hard Murdock fan, much like myself.

An H.M. Murdock fan at Dragon*Con

Dirk and Dwight came out a few minutes late to an enthusiastic response from the crowd. They were both lively and in good spirits, their off-screen camaraderie as evident as always. Indeed, they talked for some time about their off-screen friendship and how that was rather rare in Hollywood (a place Dwight described brilliantly as being full of “malignant narcissism”), and also how that had been strengthened during a time after the series’ end when Dirk was going through a bit of a personal crisis. They talked a lot about the beginnings of the A-Team: how Dwight was “fired” after the pilot episode and then re-hired after the screening results came in; how Dirk was supposed to get the part of Templeton Peck from the start and what it was like to join the show after the early filming had been done; what it was like first meeting George Peppard and what he and Mr. T were both like off-screen. Much of this wasn’t necessarily new information to anyone who’s seen Dirk and Dwight at cons before, but they are always fun stories to hear them tell: and both Dirk and Dwight do some hilarious Mr. T impersonations!

Dwight Schultz and Dirk Benedict

They also talked about practical jokes played on the set, and some of the difficulties in the later seasons with Peppard and T that lead them to take on larger parts to carry the action and dialog (Peppard and T would only work 10am – 4pm, so Dirk and Dwight would go on late into the evening to fill in extra screen time as necessary.) On a more personal level, Dirk talked for some time about leaving Hollywood and why he had decided it was more important to be a full-time father to his boys than continue pursuing an acting career. This got a loud round of applause from the audience, as did Dwight’s mention that he had been married to his wife, former actress (now a therapist) Wendy Fulton, for 27 years.

The two of them talked for so long that there was only time at the end for maybe a half-dozen questions or so. I don’t remember the specifics of what was asked too well, although one person did bring up the James Bond-spoof episode The Spy Who Mugged Me, which got Dwight to do his great Sean Connery impersonation for a little bit. There was some mention of the potential A-Team movie but both expressed doubts it would ever really get filmed as there has been talk about it for so long, with so many different scripts proposed, and both were skeptical about the tone it would take. A number of people (myself included!) spoke up with thanks for The A-Team being their “first fandom” and the entire reason they were still in fandom today, which was really nice to hear. I managed to get in a brief question at the end for Dwight as well, asking if his talk radio show would be making a return any time soon, which he answered no, except for some fill-in positions, and deferred from going into any further detail during the panel since he didn’t want to/have time to get into politics there. Oh well; I wanted to ask because I wasn’t sure I’d have a chance to get away from my dealer’s space later in the weekend to catch him on the Walk of Fame.

They finished up soon afterwards and did mention they were heading right over to the Walk of Fame to do some autographs. So after checking in at my dealer’s space to make sure things were going ok there without me, I dashed over to the Hilton to get in line. Dwight recognized me right away and apologized for not answering my question further during the panel, so we talked then a little bit more about his talk radio work, what had become of “Dark Matters” and working with Don Ecker; how he was doing fill-in work at TRN on occasion and was still hoping to get a full-time/syndicated show in the future. I didn’t want to hold up the line too much longer (and later went back on Sunday to talk with him some more about other things) but I did get him to pose with me for a photo.

Dwight Schultz and sockii!

I also went to get Dirk’s autograph and a photo after that as they were seated right next to each other. Dirk’s line moved verrrrrrry slowly as he is quite chatty with people (and a lot of Battlestar Galactica fans were there asking him all sorts of questions.) He was nice as well, though I find Dwight a little more directly engaging and easy to talk to (as you come up to his table, Dwight gives you a big smile and reaches out to shake your hand. He really seems pleased to meet each person that comes to see him, instead of just doing this thing for the money.)

So that was my big A-Team adventure for Dragon*Con! Later on I posed for an official “staged” photo with both guys, and caught part of Dirk’s solo panel, but Friday was definitely the fannish highlight of the con for me. As an A-Team fan who had only had the chance to see Dirk and Dwight separately before, and neither for at least ten years, I was really thrilled to see them both here and hope that they will come back and do Dragon*Con again in the future (and hey, next time give Dwight a solo panel! I’d love to hear him talk more about his other genre work…)

*

To learn more about Dragon*Con and attending the convention in the future, check out my Guide to Dragon*Con.

Canonical URL by SEO No Duplicate WordPress Plugin