Whoosh! Issue 88 - April 2004

BURBANK CON REPORT 2004
By Sarah Packard
Content © 2004 held by author
WHOOSH! edition © 2004 held by Whoosh!
22,725 words

Page Three



Friday, January 30th

[19] Friday morning began for Laura and me with our hotel wakeup call at 9 am...it took us a few hours to both shower, get dressed and made up, etc. On Friday I wore my scarlet "Love is a trick that nature plays to get us to reproduce" chakram-heart t-shirt (the one Beckie bought for me at the Brooklyn con!); a lot of people were wearing it that weekend, especially since it was available at the $5 table! I also wore my dangling silver sword earrings, which drew some praise. Laura and I knew breakfast would be a good idea, since we wouldn't have a chance to eat properly again for a while...however, the hotel's ONE restaurant ("The Daily Grill") had stopped serving breakfast at 11, which was about when we got downstairs, and all the lunch stuff was a) way expensive, and b) all meat! (I'm a vegetarian). Grrr...one of the problems with the Burbank location all weekend was the lack of stuff nearby - NO restaurants within walking distance, and Laura and I of course didn't have access to a car. I had brought a few little snacks for during the con days - a granola bar for each day and some little packs of peanut butter cracker sandwiches. There was also a gift shop in the lobby that had some snacky items. Still, it was not good for actual *meals*. After much deliberation, we ended up just grabbing food at the little cafe counter in the lobby; I had a good onion bagel from there for my breakfast Friday and Saturday. The guy at the counter even accidentally didn't charge me for my orange juice, lol! :)

[20] While in the lobby, we actually ran into our other 2 roommates, who were just arriving at the con, Stephanie and Heather. (Neither Laura nor I had met Heather before...) We gave them a room key so they could go get set up, and we headed over to the convention center shortly before noon, I think. (The con events started at 1:10, I'm not sure when they let us in...) There was already a line forming outside to get in of course - one of the recurring themes of the weekend was standing in lines! Lines for everything...it got to the point where if you saw a line, you just got in it. :) We were standing behind a group of grrls from the UK who had matching t-shirts they'd made, with pics of Danielle Cormack from her cabaret of "The Vagina Monologues" (at the London con)! At least when they opened the doors, I got to waltz right in since I already had my wristband (Laura had to wait to get her gen admission ticket)...I browsed the merch again, using some more cash from the ATM to get the rest of my photos (Alison Wall, Charles Keating, Murray Keane, and Bobby Hosea). I also got 2 photos of Renee; one as Gabrielle (from "The Deliverer," a facial shot that was just gorgeous), and her *brand new personal headshot* which was simply breathtaking!! They didn't have that one at registration; when everyone saw it in the line on Friday hearts skipped a beat. Renee was tan with long blonde hair and an intense, sensual expression...the people around me all grabbed a copy of that one as soon as they saw it, and Annie just about had a seizure, she was so in awe. :) I considered getting the official 2004 convention t-shirt (white, with a collage of all the stars at the con and Lucy and Renee), but it was $25 and again I think I was out of cash...

Ze stage, ze stage!
Stage fever

[21] When I went into the actual auditorium/ballroom for the con itself, I was struck by how small it was...I mean, relatively small, for such a "big con". I guess the audience has gotten smaller; I know at the 2001 one they had thousands of people there for Lucy and Renee! The size of this one was more like a regular con, not at all what I was expecting...granted, it was more wide than long so it looked smaller that way too...still, it was a bit strange to finally be at the big one and for it to have shrunk somewhat. But I guess that's a good thing, because it made it more intimate...still, there's something to be said for the excitement of being in a packed house of Xenites. I strolled up to my seat, B20, which was 2nd row center, 2 seats away from the center aisle (perfect)!! :) It's funny, people in gold often keep the same seats year to year (an option you can take during the con weekend, if you buy your ticket for next year), so as soon as I came to sat down, the woman to my left was like, "Where's Laren?" Lol...I explained he couldn't come and had sold me his ticket. On my right was another older woman named Rose, one of the "Pink Ladies"! The Pink Ladies are a bunch of women from the NY area who come to the cons in the Pink Ladies jackets from Grease...hers had Danielle Cormack and Claire Stansfield's autographs on the back. Beckie and I had just seen them at the Brooklyn con in August, and I remember them from the 2001 NYC con and maybe others too...She was the sole Pink Lady, and seemed to miss her friends. She was also aghast at the small size of the crowd. Laura was sitting way back in gen admission, and Annie and Kathy were right in front of me! Molly was further back in gold, but Annie let her sit in her seat when Hudson was onstage, sweetie that she is. :) Kathy and Jaz were working the con, they sat in various places...and Katie and Skip were towards the back of gold.

[22] Finally the con kicked off around 1:30, with a Callisto music video I think. I can't remember which one they showed though? It wasn't "Maniac," and I don't think it was "Bitch" either? Hmm, not sure. Maybe they didn't show one, actually. Hudson Leick was late because she'd been stuck in LA traffic. It was very odd having Hudson as the very first guest, since normally she comes on at the end of the day at a con (they save the best for last, heh heh), but it was definitely a good start to the weekend!! When Hudson came out, flashes were a-poppin' as usual, me using Laura's digital camera. (She lent it to me since she was so far back, and since my non-digital cam kinda sucks...thanx Laura!) This time around Hudson wore one of her typically dazzling (and skimpy) outfits - a sparkly gold bra top and matching skirt with a big slit in the middle. Her hair was very long and curly/wavy, and she noted with pride that it was all her own hair this time (it's been growing out)! Very sexy, :) The outfit got auctioned off at the end of her Q&A as always, this one went for $1,000 (for the James Ellis Foundation)!

Hudson-as-mermaid
Hudson Leick plays to her adoring fans

[23] I didn't take notes at this con (like I used to in days of old), cuz a) I was lazy, and b) I wanted to just concentrate and enjoy the proceedings...plus there were just too many guests to document every Q&A. Anyway, Hudson seemed maybe a little less wild and crazy this time around, I think cuz it was still early in the day for everyone...someone asked her to do the Callisto scream (as someone always does), but she said she'd do it later and never actually did. *shrug* A woman asked her to reprise her bit of comedy about all the zodiac signs that she'd done onstage in Brooklyn, and she admitted that she makes these things up on the spot and doesn't remember. :) But she decided to give it a go and quickly went through the signs again, with much innuendo...a lot of the crowd of course had not been in Brooklyn and laughed just as much. She also got asked about what she's doing now, and she said since it's pilot season she is gonna try to get some TV gig(s) - when she mentioned she'd like to get her own series, everyone cheered! :) Stephanie asked her what it was like working with Eliza Dushku (since she was in the pilot of "Tru Calling"), and just as I predicted, Hudson was like Eliza who? Lol...I remember someone had asked her that in Brooklyn too. I guess she didn't bond with Eliza really, she even pronounced her name wrong in Brooklyn I think. She did say she loved playing a character who was almost normal for a change, and suicidal instead of homicidal (it's a start!), heh.

[24] When asked about her yoga practice, she said that she gets up at 4 am every morning to do a spiritual ritual involving yoga and chanting and such...and everyone in the audience was like, we'll get up at 4 to do yoga with you! (Alas, it never happened, not that I know of at least. :) ) She didn't want to talk about the yoga retreats though, she didn't wanna sound like an infomercial and advised people to ask someone who'd been to one instead...she also reminisced about the Xena cruise, and told the story of the ice cream they kept eating (with sprinkles, which they rationalized because the sprinkles were "protein"!) onboard. Tony, a Hudson fan I'd seen at cons b4 (he's arp on the Hudson Leick Online forums), came up at the end, I forget why...and while he was there Hudson had him talk about the yoga retreat experience since he'd been on some. He of course gushed about how wonderful they are, for the mind, body and soul, and how yoga has changed his life (and how if it can work for him, it can work for anyone!). I never talked to him during the weekend, but I did recognize him and apparently he recognized me as well. :) Everyone at these cons starts to become really familiar, even when you forget their names (or never learn them), especially since this was my 8th time seeing Hudson!! She never disappoints, that's for sure...and neither do the outfits! ;)

[25] Hudson's autograph session was right after her Q&A, too...thankfully being in Row B meant I didn't have to wait TOO long to get my auto's all weekend (although Row A was pretty long)...even though it was near the beginning, though, they were already kinda rushing Hudson along through the session, and she was going with it. I was a little disappointed, cuz when she got to me she didn't even look up at first, just scrawled her signature on my Callisto pic...but finally she did look up as I was about to go, recognized my face (and the Pink Lady woman next to me), smiled and said it was good to see us again or something. :) Still, I had a lot of things to tell her, and didn't get a chance until the charity breakfast (and even then she was hurried along too, sigh). Oh well. Tis one of the drawbacks of the big con; when they're signing for like thousands of people they can't take as much time with everyone. Or if they do, things get a little bogged down...

[26] During the Hudson Q&A, they started this fan "panel" onstage, it was supposed to be a debate about who was the real hero of the show, Xena or Gabrielle...with one woman arguing for each side and audience participation. Except, people weren't really paying attention (and many were in the auto line!), it was hard to hear, and so it just became kind of a mess...which is a shame. I think if it had been held at a different time in a small room, there might have been real discussion. Although, the nature of the debate is kinda problematic - you see, I personally think they're *both* the hero, so I agree with both sides! The woman arguing the Gabby side was Cheryl Ande, who is a poster on the Chakram list (well, Chakram-Refugees now), so it was cool to see her in person. :) Everyone always looks so different than I imagine from the Internet! After the panel kinda fizzled, they went ahead and brought out Alison Bruce, while I was still in the Hudson auto line, arghh!! I made it back to my seat just in time though, I don't think I missed too much...
Melosa takes on the masses
Alison Bruce

[27] This was Alison's first con appearance, and I think even her first time in the U.S.?! (She's a Kiwi, naturally...) She was much shorter in person, which surprised and amused fans who were expecting a tall Amazon woman. She also had her real hair (also dark brown, but shorter), unlike the Melosa wig. (She also wore wigs as Talia and Kahina!) She seemed very down-to-earth, talking about her kids and all her acting gigs in New Zealand. She reminisced about that fight with Lucy Lawless in "Hooves and Harlots" among other things. At the very end of her Q&A someone asked her to sing (another recurring theme of the con :) ), and she obliged, doing a Maori funeral song a cappella. It was quite beautiful, really, and she does have a good voice even though she didn't seem to think so! I think people were still getting autographs but that song commanded everyone's attention and applause.

[28] After Alison it was time for intermission, finally! I probably just wandered around some more...I never really had lunch that day, just the little snacks I'd brought. When the show started again (after an auction in the next room over; Katie got auto'd Lucy and Renee plaques!), they screened the brand new film from the Xenaversity gang - the Xena "silent movie" sequel, a western! (Yeeha! :) ) It featured Xena and Gabs on horses, with Najara as a baddie, Kevin Sorbo's evil Herc as the Sheriff of "O'Shamrock", Eve as a saloon girl/prostitute, and gap-toothed Tyrella as the big bad. Very funny stuff, the crowd loved it. :) (And everyone started singing "Happy Trails To You" after it ended, since they'd used that song in it...) Oh, and by the way, Sharon Delaney from the Creation official Xena fan club was at this con! It was my first time finally seeing her in person, so that was cool...she sorta acted as an emcee onstage from time to time, along with Gary and Adam from Creation. (Anita Ellis from the Ellis Foundation was around all weekend as well...) She kept us updated with the latest Xena news, too.

[29] The next guest up was Missy Good, the famous fanfic writer/novelist turned writer for the show! She always has her devoted fans, the "Merpups", at every con it seems...I'd seen her at cons as an attendee before, but never onstage, so that was interesting. She just talked about what she's working on now, about the Xena cruise, her other job(s), etc. Also very laidback and low-key, like any other fan...I don't think she really got asked that many actual questions. And then it was time for Danielle Cormack, woo-hoo!! I am a huge Danielle fan, she's one of the first stars of X:WP that I reeally got into...and I've seen most of her films, no small feat considering they're all kiwi and aussie flicks and hard to come by in the States! Anyway, when she came out (after the traditional "She's Got The Look" Ephiny music video, which I hadn't seen in years, yay!) we saw that she'd dyed her hair black (or else very, very dark brown) - I think it was reddish in Brooklyn? She also had it down quite long, but it was in a braid and almost straight-ish. She joked about how she can blend in easier this way, instead of being the crazy curly-haired blonde woman. :) She was wearing a long simple blue dress.

[30] As usual, Danielle was her funny, vivacious self, and even more hyper than normal - as she explained, she'd gotten some mints at Fry's nearby, and didn't realize they were caffeine mints! And she'd been sucking on them all day and was addicted! :) Laura commented later on how she didn't realize Dani was so wacky and hyper. She's always a joy onstage...this time she told a long story about an agonizing experience she'd had flying out here (quite the long flight from NZ!)...she'd gotten bumped up to first class (and was very excited about it), but ended up spilling wine on the crotch of her outfit right before she had to go on!! (So much for looking like a first-class passenger...) She ran to the bathroom and tried to wash her stained pants in the sink...while trying to dry them under the hand dryer, they announce that her flight is boarding! So she had to run onto the plane with her jacket around her wet, stained pants...once they finally were mostly dry, the woman next to her knocked over a bottle of water and spilled it all over her pants again!! So she had to sit on the plane with uncomfortable wet pants...everyone groaned with sympathy. It was like the ultimate horror story. She also raved about how great Fry's is, and how she bought a bunch of dvd's - someone asked her which ones; I know there were some old movies, but I can't remember, argh! She joked about how she tried to find some of her own movies but couldn't! She also lamented that there didn't seem to be anything to do in Burbank (the crowd agreed)...
Livia screams!
Adrienne Wilkinson

[31] Adrienne Wilkinson (again, a last-minute replacement for Ted Raimi; which made Laura happy, as she's a big Adrienne fan!) came out next (following the Livia/Eve music video "Walking On Broken Glass"). Adrienne looked amazing, although maybe a bit skinny! She had very short dark hair, and wore this long black top over blue jeans, it kinda showed her midriff a little. She looked very classy and pulled together, very professional! Her Q&A was all professional too, you can tell she's gotten used to doing cons now and knows how to interact with the fans. One fan was dressed in an incredible handmade Livia costume! I got a picture of her, she was in the costume competition on Sunday as well...and her middle name is actually Xena, no kidding! :) She asked Adrienne a question, I can't remember what though. Adrienne mentioned that she's gonna be going in soon to do commentaries for the Xena Season 5 and 6 DVDs (sweeeet!!!), and actually asked us to let us know if we had anything we wanted her to address or mention on those! I thought that was so cool...and I was surprised and pleased to hear that they are full steam ahead with the rest of the DVD sets, Season 3 comes out next week but apparently they're already working on the rest! The other stuff she talked about wasn't really news to me (I'd seen her before and heard all the Livia stories, I think). I believe she did the Livia scream at one point. :)

[32] Something about Adrienne that really impresses me is that she actually remembers the names of almost all of her episodes, and details too! She really seems like a fan herself...come to think of it, she did talk about a few things I hadn't heard before. Like the big scary torture collar the Amazons put on her in "Path of Vengeance," she laughed about that and how she was actually the one moving around and the Amazon actresses just picked up the slack on the ropes...and how it didn't have spikes on the *inside*, just the outside, so it was actually kind of a dorky device, heh...the writers/directors told her it was supposed to have them on the inside, just not visible...she also told a funny story about her final scene, when Eve is walking off into the distance. Apparently Lucy ad-libbed an (inaudible) comment "And stay outta trouble!" (since X & G of course always had to end up rescuing Eve from something), and they all totally cracked up...so even though it's this touching goodbye moment, if you look very carefully you can see them all giggling.

[33] The autographs with Alison, Danielle and Adrienne were next...that took quite a while. None of them personalized (neither did Hudson, by the way), but they did take a bit of time to talk to people...Adrienne was first, I told her how much I'd enjoyed seeing her cameo on "Angel" last season, and how cool it is that she has her own Angel trading card! (She mentioned how she liked that they even mention her Xena role on it...) With Danielle, I complimented her on her hair I think, and said I was looking forward to the cabaret. (I wanted to ask her about her recent made for TV movie, the one on a ship where she plays a security guard, cuz I wanna see it and dunno if or when it's gonna be on, or if I missed it! But there wasn't really time to get into it, alas...) For Alison, I told her she was one of my favorite Amazons (she agreed that Melosa was a damn good role), and thanked her for coming all the way from NZ to be with us!

[34] The trivia competition took place during autographs I think...the Livia girl (Jillayne?) was one of the competitors onstage. The panel actually did good this time, and won prizes! :) I couldn't think of any appropriately challenging questions this time around, alas...I answered a couple, but got them wrong...I still think I was right though (didn't Joxer say they were from Athens in "Lyre Lyre"? They said the answer was Corinth, but I'm still not sure...hmm). They also showed a ton of fan-made music videos...this year they had a music video contest, with dozens of winners, so they were showing the winners all weekend. Alas, hardly any of the winning people were actually *at* the con to receive their award and gift certificate, but we enjoyed watching their creations. Some of them were simply amazing; my personal faves included: the Xena/Gab one set to Amy Grant's "How The Years Go By," one to a great song called "A Woman's Touch" (most of the entries were big X/G subtext lovefest vids :) ), a Joxer one to Offspring's "Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)", a Xena one to a song called "The Girl All The Bad Guys Want" (how apt!), another touching X/G one to a song called "Beautiful" (not the Christina Aguilera song, mind you), a funny one to "Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better" from Annie Get Your Gun (it was a Xena vs. Gabby one), and the excerpt from the famous fan creation 'The Bitter Treat' - the "Peas vs. Boar" song. Basically they took scenes from the musical episode "The Bitter Suite," but made up totally different lyrics about food and sang them over the music instead, with subtitles...so the "Peace vs. War" song turned into a battle between boar-eating warriors and peas-eating villagers, lol..."You and me love boar, it's the meat we most adore!" "There's no finer way to die, than a pea shoved in your eye!" :) I'd heard of "The Bitter Treat" before (I think whoever made it did so years ago!) but had never actually seen it, so that was fun...

[35] And that was the end of the con day (whew)! :) We didn't have tix to the villainous happy hour, so Laura and I just went back to the hotel...I was STARVING by this point. Unfortunately, the hotel restaurant still had nothing I could eat (grar)...and delivery food like pizza would take too long (we had the cabaret to go to that night)...I called so many places. Finally I gave up and ordered room service; on the late night menu they had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and they said I could order it even though it wasn't late night yet. It came to like $9!! :( It had a heaping side of fries, but still! It took like a half an hour to get it, too...but I was desperate. Laura shared my fries, it wasn't bad... Stephanie and Heather came to the cabaret also, even though they weren't very into the con really. I went over there earlyish; it started at 9, although I think it was late, and of course there was a line outside as usual! We got little blue program fliers that said "The Merry Muses of Melodia" and had the performers - Hudson Leick hosting (alas, no dance routine from her this year :( ), and Adrienne, Danielle, and Tim Omundson (Eli, who was just doing the cabaret and not the con oddly enough!) singing. We sat in our regular seats, so I was back in B20, armed with Laura's camera again...

[36] Hudson came out first of course, and in a totally different outfit! It was this extremely short (as in, barely covering anything ;) ) rosy Chinese dress, with a short black bob wig. And she brought up her chihuahua, Griffin, aww! :) (She made a joke about fried dog being on the menu...) She was a bit more *Hudson* than in her Q&A - i.e. very flirty and flamboyant. She seemed to enjoy being in the hosting role, especially saying "ladies and gentlemen". :) She would kinda clown around before and between the performers...Adrienne was up first, wearing the same outfit she wore to the con. She seemed kinda nervous, but the crowd cheered our asses off after each song, to the point where she was like, "I love you guys! Can I take you guys everywhere with me?" :) She did maybe 3 or 4 songs, including "One Fine Day" and "At Last"...she really does have an excellent voice, although she made a few little flubs here and there. (She had a backing track of music, good quality.) She seemed to really get into the performing, despite her nerves.

[37] After Adrienne, Danielle took the stage, in a tee and jeans, wearing rock star black sunglasses (which she eventually took off). :) She was more of a rock-star performer too, and very sexually suggestive! Her songs included "Tainted Love" (yay!), the obligatory Janis Joplin ("Take Another Little Piece of my Heart"), and "I Will Survive"...during which Hudson came back out and danced all around the stage with her, it was so cute!! :) Hudson was mouthing all the words too (or maybe singing, I couldn't tell), she just couldn't resist being a part of Danielle's energetic performance. Dani really brought the house down! She did also do one sweet, soft ballad, during which she sat on the edge of the stage, and was accompanied by some guy on keyboards. Finally, the last performer was Tim, who was wearing a suit and looking very dapper. He talked a bit first, especially about Ted and passed along that Ted really wished he could be there. He wasn't cuz he had gotten a job on a film that weekend, and we learned from Tim what film it was - "The Grudge," the Sam Raimi movie with Sarah Michelle Gellar! Cool! :) Tim read this funny letter Ted had written for us, in which he, as Tim, apologized profusely for not being able to fill Ted's shoes. He also plugged Tim's role on "Judging Amy".

[38] Tim's act was quite different; he croons oldies like a modern day Sinatra...he told us how he had once worked as a singing waiter at a Johnny Rocket's here in L.A., and how traumatic of an experience it was. So, he wanted to exorcise those demons by finally singing a bunch of the old songs he had to sing there - and this time he was gonna smoke and drink, like he wasn't allowed to there! :) So he got out an actual cigarette and lit it, and smoked and drank some whiskey or something while he sang, lol...he did gems like "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" and "Sailing", all very smooth and lounge-y. It was awesome! On Saturday one of the auction items was a photo Steve Sears had taken of Tim singing in another con cabaret, and he looked very Rat-Packish indeed. Tim got a standing ovation at the end, along with the others...the cabaret ended a little early for my taste (it wasn't that much over an hour really), oh well. It was still a kickass show. :) And after that we went to bed!





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