Posts Tagged ‘dragoncon’

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…)

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

FanHistory is off to Dragon*Con!

September 3rd, 2009

Well, at least one of its representatives is :)

I’m leaving today for Dragon*Con, where I’ll be all weekend working the Spacial Anomaly Gallery table in the Dealer’s Hall (location F13, if all goes according to plan.) You can also check out some of my artwork in the Art Show and Print Shop.

I’ll try to post some updates throughout the weekend, though my perspective will be fairly limited during the day to a vendor’s point-of-view. Please feel free to stop by my table during the weekend if you are there, I’d love to say hi, sell you some goodies – and of course, talk about FanHistory!

DragonCon is coming! Are you excited yet?

August 26th, 2009

I know I am! DragonCon is the largest annual convention that I attend regularly (as an artist, vendor, and also just a “plain” fan). This year I’m especially looking forward to getting to see two of my old favorites from The A-Team, Dwight Schultz and Dirk Benedict, who will be there. I’ll be curious to know what they’ve got to say about the latest rumors around a new movie, such as the possibility of Chris Pine taking on the role of Murdock.

I know there’s also going to be an effort to stage the largest “Thriller” dance in tribute to Michael Jackson ever, which ought to be a scream (in more ways than one).

If you’re going, please be sure to find the Spacial Anomaly Gallery table in the dealer’s hall to stop by and say hello! And remember, as always, your help in sharing your experiences at the con here in the wiki during and after the con are always appreciated.

The high cost of conventions – when will it become TOO high?

July 8th, 2009

This morning I read an interesting blog about the increasing costs of conventions, which posed the question, “How much is too much?” As in, at what price do fans begin to balk and refuse to keep paying? Will they ever do so, or will they keep shelling out whatever amounts of money conventions and big name guests expect them to?

The blog was questioning this matter because it was just announced that Patrick Stewart would be appearing at this year’s Dragon*Con in Atlanta–but that he would be charging $200 per photo-op. This appears to be a record high price at such an event, although not a complete anomaly in the science fiction/media-convention industry where autographs, photo-ops, and just seeing the main-draw celebrity guests have become premium ticket items. Leonard Nimoy has been charging $65-75 an autograph lately, and attending his panel at a recent convention in Florida cost you $125-250 EXTRA, above the regular admission price of the convention. Mark Hamill is reportedly charging $100 per autograph as well, and the upcoming TwiCon for Twilight fans has caused some controversy over their prices and autograph policies. Within conventions there are no set prices, so a guest charigng $20 per autograph could be sitting next to someone charging $60–and many fans won’t know that price until they’re in line and ready to buy.

Is it all just getting to be too much? To the casual fan, I should imagine so. The days of spending $25 to get in to a convention for the weekend, attending all events, and getting at least one “free” autograph from each of the main guests seems long gone, at least on the celebrity/for-profit con circuit. The convention industry is starting to remind me a lot of the concert industry, with prices skyrocketing and the best seats only going to those with the fattest wallets (remember those Torchsong Chicago auctions for front row tickets that sold into the thousands of dollars?) Just like many music fans can only afford to go to small club shows these days and support local bands, maybe saving up to go to one big concert a year (and if they’re lucky, being able to even GET a ticket better than the nosebleeds), con goers are having to be more picky and choosy in what conventions they can get to–if they bother still attending at all. Meanwhile the smaller, independent fan cons can barely afford media guests if they want them–or if they can, those media guests charge high prices per autograph, giving none away for “free” to attendees, still increasing the cost for everyone.

And it’s not just the fans who are suffering. When attendees are nickled and dimed for every aspect of the con experience, paying out what can easily add up to hundreds if not thousands of dollars on photo-ops, autographs, guest banquets and cabarets, they have less left to spend on the independent artists and vendors who used to rely on the convention economy for their livelihood. Is the diehard Patrick Stewart fan who just spent $200 on that photo going to have anything left to go to the artshow and bid on a piece of fanart of Jean-Luc Picard? Or a Star Trek fanzine? Or an original book of science-fiction stories from a small-press publisher? What about the convention charities, which often depended on attendees opening their wallets to give to a good cause?

Con attendance is already suffering as airfares, gas prices, and hotel costs rise with every year. Many fans can no longer attend like they used to, and with things like autographs now costing so much, I can imagine the situation will only get worse. It becomes a downward spiral of rising prices and diminishing returns for all involved, and seems to fortell to me yet another ringing of the death knell for conventions as many fans once knew them. All we may be left with soon are a handful of “mega”-events that come with mega-pricetags for all attendees, and a few remaining small scale conventions which only serve local fan communities, unable to support or reach out to a wider audience in fandom. And that’s a change that makes me sad to contemplate.

First there was Torchsong Chicago. Now there is TwiCon…

June 11th, 2009

What is it with conventions and problems with their guests of honor lately?  Guests haven’t not been able to attend.  Expectations for attendance by the masses regarding the guests of honor have been off the mark.  High prices for tickets lead to expectations that concoms don’t seem to be able to meet or convey effectively to avoid disappointment.

Two conventions have dealt with this recently.  First there was Torchsong Chicago. Then there was TwiCon. Below are extracts from both articles on Fan History to convey the problems both conventions are suffering:

Torchsong Chicago:

There was also mixed reaction from the risque antics which John Barrowman apparently got up to during his satellite-link appearances in both the Q&A session and the Cabaret.[21],[22],[23] There were later requests from John not to post/share some of the more raunchy aspects of what went down publicly, for fear of negative backlash from the British press, and again, some fans reacted negatively, feeling they were being manipulated.[24],[25] It was also pointed out that the video feed was copyrighted and the con management did not want photos of the feed posted due to copyright concerns.[26] Accusations of jealousy were made over some of these issues of requested silence and non-posting of photos.[27]

TwiCon:

In 2009, the cost of membership was listed as $255/person.[1] On June 9, 2009, it was announced that only one “free” autograph would be included with the membership, and attendees had to reserve their free autograph of choice in advance (beginning June 19). There would be a limit of 2 autographs and one photo-op per attendee, and each guest would only do 65 photo-ops. Many fans were upset by this announcement, feeling they had been mislead on how the autographs and photos would be handled and given the cost of membership to the convention.[2]

What is going on with conventions these days?  Have people become used to the idea of megaconventions like DragonCon and ComiCon in San Diego?  Do high costs of running these events drive up the expectations to the point where they are not managable?  Did the connectivity of the Internet just make the drama involving conventions easier to access?

Whatever the reasons, this sort of convention drama is not going to go away any time soon.  If you’re attending a convention, look at issues that attendees at other conventions have dealt with.  Be prepared and have some sort of plan in case of a worst case scenario.   Know your rights and understand refund policies before you purchase a ticket so that you don’t get any surprises like the people attended Torchsong Chicago and those who will attend TwiCon.

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