From the Managing Editor: Reflections of a Burbank Survivor
From the Editor-at-Large: The Night of the Hard-Core Nutballs
From the Editor-in-Chief: Cheers and Jeers
From the Managing Editor: Reflections of a Burbank SurvivorThere is something special about the Convention experience. Attending the 1st ever Creation Xena and Hercules Convention last year in Burbank was one of the most fun times of my life. It was all-new. Meeting fellow fans, the Xenastaff and of course, seeing Lucy for the first time. This year Burbank Convention was totally different - just as fun and special, only the new-ness has worn off.
In the past year I had the good fortune to attend three other Xena Conventions/events in addition to Burbank. One of the dearest things to me is the relationships that I have developed with other fans.
Lucy Lawless' appearance this year in Burbank has created a lot of buzz. Mostly for what we didn't see. To my own eye, she seemed tired and a bit restrained. Whenever she would start to get excited she seemed to repress it. It's hard to explain. Lucy was kind, respectful and gracious; as always.
Hudson Leick seemed to be the Belle of the Ball. Hudson knows how to play the crowd - fluctuating between acting and sincerity. She also provided the Con with some of it's most touching moments. As when she posed with a teenage boy who is currently attending Hudson's old high school, going so far as to jump off the stage to find him after his mother said he was too shy to come up.
Danielle Cormack reminded a lot of us of Hudson last year. Danielle was nervous and a little overcome by the fan response. But she pulled through like a trooper and had the crowd eating out of her hand. One thing I've noticed about the Kiwi actors is there is not an ego among them. They are truly grateful and appreciative of the fans and the support they've received her in the states. Creation Cons seem to be a little difficult for them to handle, specifically because they would love to do a one on one. If someone would like an autograph... then they want to give it to him or her. Same thing with photos, etc. Kevin Smith particularly seemed to have the hardest time with this. Kevin is the sweetest, friendliest, most down to earth guy you would ever want to meet. You could tell it was absolutely ripping him up not to be able to sign autographs for those people in the question line who asked (granted, these people should not have asked. The Creation "Schedule of Festivities" specifically stated "Please do not ask to come on stage, give a gift or tell the guest you love them: we all do, that's why we're here! All of that wastes precious time that we all have to share with guests.")
The Xenastaff was out in full force at the Con as well. Steven Sears was not scheduled for an appearance, but was wandering around the show floor both days. He was very accessible to fans; signing autographs and answering questions. Probably the toughest question was posed during RJ Stewart and Liz Friedman's talk on Sunday. A fan asked Liz how she - as a woman - could justify the use of rape (The Deliverer) as "character advancement". Liz was thoughtful and serious with her answer. She does not consider what happened to Gabrielle to be rape. Liz stated that she felt the real violation of Gabrielle was when she killed Meridian.
The biggest bummer of the Con for me was missing Michael Levine's talk on Saturday. According to the schedule Creation was handing out, he was supposed to appear on Sunday. Well, Mike and John Kretchmer switched days! No warning or announcement was made - at least that I heard. So I was off having lunch while Mike was talking and - this is the part that kills me - showing unseen footage from THE QUEST! That is my favorite episode and I would have done anything to see that! Note for next time: never trust the Convention Schedule.
Editor Rob Field is one of my favorite Xena-staffers. He tells great stories, answers questions as honestly as possible and he always brings his blooper reel with him. Rob was another one who was accessible to all both days of the Con.
Rob Tapert took to the stage seeming reluctantly. He admitted to having read some fanfic, all but came out and said that Solan was going to be killed and danced around saying whether this was really going to be the last season of Callisto (Hudson pretty much confirmed this during her talk saying that Callisto's time had come.).
Hercules fans were in attendance as well. A little testy too, I might add. It seemed to be their goal to remind everyone that this was supposed to be a Herk Convention too. They were also up in arms about the seeming lack of Hercules merchandise compared to the Xena merch. Gee... sounds like the Xena fans last year! The story goes that the Herk stuff just does not sell, but these fans just didn't buy it.
In the end, the Convention was incredibly successful; with Creation saying that next year would most likely be moved to a bigger facility. Wherever it ends up next year, I'll be there. Along with thousands of other Xena fans!
24 January, 1998
From the Editor-at-Large: The Night of the Hard-Core NutballsMy boss tells me I should consider contributing something to this section every month (which is her polite way of saying "Write something!"), and since I'm stuck at home digging out under yet another heavy snowfall, this is as good a time as any. It's also convenient for handy material, having recently returned from what is perhaps the "Xena event" of the year -- the Burbank convention. There will be a substantial report from me regarding Burbank in the "On the Road" section later this month, but that is more a factual account of events, while this section allows me to "wax opinionated".
Some people went to Burbank to see specific guests or stars. Some people were happy to see what the latest merchandise on offer would be like. Some people came because their partners, spouses, or significant others dragged them along. A few came because they "had" to (journalists, reporters, and the like). Some came to meet friends they only see at such events, and/or make/renew acquaintances. Most came for a combination of reasons listed above.
They came from all over the world. Most states were represented, as were many other nations. I spoke to people from Germany, France, Canada, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand, but there were many, many others represented. All ages were represented (I spoke to a gentleman in his 80s who was here solely because he was a Xena fan), both sexes, all races, all income groups and all lifestyle preferences.
And all of them at Burbank had one thing in common -- Xena or Hercules . In a way, it was very like a family reunion. Regardless of who your favourite character is, what your favourite episode is, what scenes you like or dislike the most, or what angst you suffer because of upcoming stories, everyone could talk about Xena and Hercules .
Some dressed the part, some spoke only in lines and phrases from the show, some displayed their factional preference with numerous badges, pins, or identifying marks, but my experience was that almost all of them were nice, polite, and courteous. All of us knew, consciously or subconsciously, that we were there because once upon a time Rob Tapert and his "family" called Renaissance Pictures took a chance, worked hard, and came up with two shows and a host of characters that we have come to love.
I have seen enough of how Renaissance works to say with confidence that it is a family of sorts. Everyone I have had the good fortune to speak with has been pretty comfortable with that analogy. Sure, sometimes they fight or squabble or disagree, but for the most part, they overcome those differences, and they are a group that works well and hard together and that certainly shows in the finished product.
Similarly, I have found myself to have become a member of a sort of extended family as a result of attending these conventions. Burbank was my [counts off on fingers] sixth Xena convention or fest. In the course of attending these conventions, I have met several people that I see only because of them. Some of these people have become very special to me. I care about them, much as I would care about a family member. And indeed, they are family of a sort, a family of Xena fans that I am only able to see in person when an event draws us all together.
Why Xena and not some other show? I will leave that to people better qualified to answer. All I know is that a show about friendship, personal strength, struggle to overcome adversity, and self-redemption is something that found a place in my heart, and in gratitude, I shall continue to try to give something back to others as best as I am able. Xena reminds me that the quest to better myself never ends. And I wouldn't want it to.
24 January, 1998
From the Editor in Chief: Cheers and Jeers
Cheers!Whether you love it or hate it, you have to admit that Renaissance Pictures is delivering a rather unorthodox third season of Xena: Warrior Princess. This is good! Trust me!
Jeers!The slips into scatological or near-scatological humor is not a good sign. They have gone over the line in insipid and otherwise "low" humor in these last three episodes (KING OF ASSASSINS, WARRIOR... PRIESTESS... TRAMP, and THE QUILL IS MIGHTIER). Hey guys (and gals), it's tasteless, just makes you look like a bunch of drunk frat boys, and we know you can do better... we all have at least three tapes each of the first two seasons which got by with only a couple of questionable punchlines. It's okay to have them a couple times a year, but not at the frightening frequency they are showing up in the third season comedies. Ouch! Please don't aspire to "Animal House" when you already have attained the respect of your audience for "smart" and clever writing. Why not spend your time on actually writing funny stuff, and not taking low shots and insulting not only your audience but yourselves as well.
Cheers!The staff in attendance at the Burbank Con was very cordial and open to lots of fan comment. I am always impressed with the outreach that Renaissance does do with the fans. They continue to be one of the most open and appreciative productions with their fandom.
Kym Masera Taborn
26 January, 1998