Whoosh! Online Edition Whoosh! On The Road

MAY 31, 1998

Special to WHOOSH!

By Marilyn J. Cristiano
3,409 Words
Copyright 1998 held by author


The Convention Begins

[01] I had a front row center seat at "The Official Phoenix HERCULES/XENA Creation Convention" on Sunday, May 31, 1998. Now, life just doesn't get better than that for a Xenite :). Ok, ok, I guess getting don't in the Pepsi contest would be better than that! Being an alumnus of the First and Second Burbank Conventions, the San Francisco Convention, and now the Phoenix Convention, I have to say that I really love the positive energy I feel at the conventions. I wish I had a dinar for every time I have said, "I am as much a fan of the fans as I am of the show." I enjoyed so much meeting fellow fans who have become new friends. The Phoenix Convention was a total high for me. I am going to go through the program and share some of the highlights with you. Be aware that there will be some episode spoilers as well as some 98/99 Season spoilers for both HERCULES and XENA... you have been warned!!!!!

[02] The convention took place in a very large ballroom at the Civic Plaza in downtown Phoenix. I would say that half the seats were filled. Before the program started, lots of folks bought memorabilia-like pictures, T-shirts, and magazines in the merchandise area located in a room at the back of the ballroom. Sharon Delaney (HERC and XENA Fan Club President) was kind enough to show us a few of the photos from the next several months of photos for the Creation photo club (great shots coming up). Then Sharon took some pictures with us.

Sharon Delaney
Sharon and Xena Fan Club members

[03] One fan who was buying merchandise had an extraordinary tattoo of Xena on his back. The tattoo is at least twelve inches tall and deep and is a wonderful black and white picture of the Warrior Princess' face from the middle of the breast plates up. The chakram surrounds Xena's very determined facial expression. The fan had cut a round hole in his T-shirt to display his tattoo! He mentioned that the tattoo was made from a picture he bought at the Burbank Con in January, and that it took ten hours to do.

[04] The program started around 1:30 PM with Creation's music video salute to Xena & Gabrielle: "Sisters are Doing It For Themselves," and then Sharon Delaney spent about forty-five minutes showing slides of HERCULES and XENA episodes from last season and a few from the upcoming season. Sharon also conducted a question and answer period. Later in the day, Sharon conducted another question and answer period. I am going to share some of the highlights from Sharon's presentations and break it down into HERCULES-related information and XENA-related information.

Sharon Delaney
Sharon Delaney

[05] Sharon Delaney said her three favorite XENA episodes are THE DEBTS (52 & 53/ 306 & 307), A DAY IN THE LIFE (39/215) and REMEMBER NOTHING (26/202). Her favorite HERCULES episode is ...AND FANCY FREE (H67/408).

Sharon Shares Some HERCULES Highlights

[06] Sharon explained that the writers of HERCULES killed Alcmene because they felt that the death of a parent was something that people had to go through, and that the episode could help adults and children cope with their loss. She also mentioned that Paul Robert Coyle did not include Callisto's sister in ARMAGEDDON PART 2 (H73/414) because he forgot she had a sister, and no one else remembered either; he was rushed to write a HERC-light episode and did not have time to go back and view the previous episodes. Also, Xena, the Conqueror was named after Kull, the Conqueror. Sharon went on to say that the dialogue during the cake fight between Xena and Aphrodite in STRANGER IN A STRANGE WORLD (H64/405) was ad-libbed; the director just said, "Ok girls, have at the cake."

[07] Sharon also made some comments about Season Five. Sharon noted that Dahak is coming back to HERCULES. She didn't have any details though on how this was going to happen. She mentioned that Zeus will not be appearing in the first thirteen episodes of HERCULES, so Sharon did not know if Zeus will be coming back. Looks like there will be a "day in the life" HERCULES episode titled JUST PASSING THROUGH, and Autolycus will be in the ep. We are going to see Hercules and Iolaus bathe in this one.

[08] Sharon showed some slides from the Season Five HERCULES ep titled FAITH, that was directed by Michael Hurst. Tony Todd and Nebula will be in the episode. Sharon did not know whether Tony would be playing Cecrops or another character and did not know if FAITH would be the season opener. Looks like Hera will not be in any of the first thirteen episodes of season five. Apparently Hercules is going to Norway and Ireland. A Celtic Goddess is going to appear, and she is going to be trouble. Sharon also noted that we will see more of the half-human side of Hercules as opposed to the half-God. Seems TPTB want Hercules to go up against Gods because mortals are not challenges to him.

Sharon Shares Some XENA Highlights

[09] Kevin Smith was unable to rehearse the tango sequence in THE BITTER SUITE (58/312) with Lucy Lawless because Lucy sprained her knee getting off Tilly (Argo). Kevin had to rehearse with a dance instructor a foot shorter than Lucy. All ended well as Lucy's knee healed in a week, and Lucy was much easier to dance with because of her height.

[10] In FORGET ME NOT (63/317), the river with the ice in it was actually warm water with dry ice, and the river with the fire in it was cold water with fire, so Sharon noted that Renee O'Connor had to do quite an acting job because she had to shiver in the hot water and freeze in the warm water.

[11] In FINS, FEMMES AND GEMS (63/318), Gabrielle was originally going to be obsessed with Xena, but they could not make it work. Sharon also noted that she thinks there will be two seasons (second and third) of XENA bloopers included with kit number two of the Creation XENA fan club, and one of the bloopers will be Lucy with the "twin" fish on her hands from FINS, FEMMES AND GEMS. One of the fish flops over, and Lucy Lawless says that she can make it stand up. Sharon also mentioned that she has seen pictures of the final scene of Xena and Gabrielle in FINS, and that they look like they are arm wrestling, so Gabrielle's hand definitely moves over to Xena's hand as the screen fades to black.

[12] In Sharon's interview with Renee O'Connor, she told Renee that fans were calling the opening scene in THE BITTER SUITE "the Gab drag." Sharon said that Renee just dissolved into giggles. She said that Renee told her that she filmed the "vengeance" part of the scene where she was hoisted up in the air by Xena before the drag behind the horse scene, and consequently before she saw the footage of how badly she was hurt. She said that if she had seen what they had done to her, she would have acted a little more dead in the ending of the scene.

[13] Sharon also showed a couple of slides from the Season Four XENA episode titled KEYS TO THE KINGDOM that Bruce Campbell directed. One shot was of Autolycus and Joxer or Jett (not sure which because it looked like Ted Raimi was in Jett's costume) and one shot of Meg holding a baby. Sharon made it clear that this would not be the first episode of season four! In fact, she noted that it would be the sixth or seventh episode shown in Season Four.

[14] Xena is going back to China, so we will be seeing Borias again, and Caesar and Cleopatra are both coming back to XENA. Also, we may be seeing more of Mel and Janice. Sharon said that the latest she had heard about the Sappho episode was that it was on hold. Originally Lucy Lawless was going to play Sappho. Then, k.d. lang expressed an interest in playing Sappho and wanted to write a song for the episode. In the meantime, Universal was looking into marketing a XENA dance CD that would include k.d.'s song. Well, it seems that MCA Records, which is owned by Universal, did not want to produce the CD, but Polygram records did want to. However, Universal did not want to have the "competition" produce the CD. Meanwhile, it seems that Universal is negotiating to buy Polygram.

[15] Further news is that there are no plans to bring the Callisto character back. Sharon noted that TPTB are working on a pilot that Hudson Leick may star in, and that they were working on a pilot that would star Bruce Campbell. She wasn't sure if the Hudson vehicle and the Campbell pilot were one and the same. Sharon speculated that there are at least three fourth season episodes in the can. Sharon also mentioned that AMAZON HIGH has not been sold yet. She said that the premise is that a present day high school girl goes back in time and ends up with the Amazons.

[16] It looks like the Series Two Topp's XENA trading cards are going to include autographed chase cards of many of the characters. Sharon noted that the hiatus for XENA this year will be mid-September to the beginning of November. Renee O'Connor will possibly do one or two Creation conventions from mid-October to late-October either in Houston, Texas, Austin, Texas, or Orlando, Florida. Sharon also said that on the next call sheet after Lucy was married, her name read Mrs. Robert Tapert; after that she was named Lucy Lawless again.

Contests and Auction

[17] At approximately 2:15 PM, a music video salute to Ares was played immediately followed by a HERCULES and XENA Trivia Contest. Lots of prizes were awarded and great questions were asked and answered. I was impressed with the knowledge of the Phoenix crowd! Then, the Herc and Xena "Saturday Night's for Fighting" music video was shown followed by XENA bloopers (no new bloopers for those who were at the Burbank '98 convention). The music video salute to Hercules was shown followed by the HERCULES and XENA No Minimum Bid Auction. In this auction, merchandise that is sold by Creation is auctioned with the idea that bidders will be able to purchase items at below the retail price. I was really surprised at how many bidders continued to bid until the retail price was hit; some bidders did get some nice bargains though.

[18] One of the highlights of the convention and a terrific crowd pleaser was a spur of the moment a cappella performance of "The Love of Your Love" from THE BITTER SUITE by Lisa Lunsford, a singer-songwriter from Houston, Texas. I had a pre-convention party at my house in Phoenix, Saturday night, and had the good fortune to meet Lisa and her friend and traveling companion. Lisa played the guitar and sang many of her original songs for us all. She also sang "The Love of Your Love" to us with me playing the part of Gabrielle. Well, near the end of the auction, Lisa came up to claim an item she had bid on. I was sitting up front with friends of mine who were at the party. I started screaming, "Lisa, get up on stage and sing!" My friends also chimed in encouraging Lisa to do so, and she was granted permission to sing. One more item was auctioned off, and then Lisa bravely took the stage. She sang beautifully, and the crowd absolutely went wild!!!! It really was a magical moment in convention-going history for us all. Watch for this woman; you may be buying her CDs or attending her concerts in the future!

Lisa Lunsford
Lisa Lunsford sings "The Love of Your Love" to the utter delight of the audience.

[19] At approximately 3:30 pm, the music video salute to Gabrielle was shown followed by another question and answer session by Sharon Delaney. We then were all delighted to watch Creation's music video salute to Xena. Next, at approximately 4:00 pm, came the costume competition. Wow!!! The Phoenix fans really came out for this one!!! Lots of wonderful Xena and Gabrielle look-a-likes, a great warlord, a terrific Autolycus, and a wonderful Xena dressed in Xena's high priestess outfit from THE BITTER SUITE. There were two adorable little girls dressed as Xena. I really am impressed with the little ones who enter, they have such poise! One of the highlights from the contest was a group of six very tall and imposing men who call themselves "The Dragon Slayers." The spokesman for the group said that they were Xena's former lieutenants, and that they were there in search of Xena to bring her back to their side. They really did look like they just walked off an episode of XENA. My friend's two little kid's who were sitting in the front row had very wide eyes when these warriors took the stage. My favorite was Carie dressed as Xena. You may remember him from ET and Dick Clark's Bloopers and Practical Jokes Show. He flew in from the Northwest to be at the convention. Autolycus won second place, and there were two first place winners: "The Dragon Slayers" and a pair of Xena and Gabrielle look-a-likes.

Carie dressed as Xena and his biggest fan. Ya just gotta love it!

Robert Trebor Takes the Stage

[20] After all of that excitement, clips from the shows, Creation's music video salute to Iolaus, and the HERCULES bloopers were shown. Then the highlight of the day took place. We watched Creation's music video salute to Salmoneus, and then Robert Trebor was introduced. Robert was charming and witty as always. I wish I had his energy. I am going to share with you some of the highlights of his talk.

Robert Trebor
Robert "Salmoneus" Trebor greets the audience

[21] Robert seemed genuinely happy to be back in Arizona again. The last time he was in Arizona, was in 1991, when he was shooting UNIVERSAL SOLDIER with Jean- Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren. He mentioned loving the towns of Sedona and Jerome.

[22] Robert is going back to New Zealand, July 5, for another HERCULES episode. He is going to play three different characters in the same episode. He has no plans to be on XENA at this time.

[23] To the audience's delight, Robert gave us a bit of information about the wedding of Lucy Lawless and Robert Tapert. He said that Father Chuck, the priest who married them, asked Lucy and Rob if they of their own free will had agreed to get married and be there at the ceremony, and they both said, "yes, we do." Father Chuck then turned to the audience and said, "Could you all hear that? I don't think anybody could hear that. I'll ask again." Father Chuck asked again, and Lucy and Rob said, "yes, we do," so everyone in the church could hear them.

[24] When asked whether he enjoyed playing Salmoneus in HERE SHE COMES... MISS AMPHIPOLIS (35/211), Robert said that he enjoyed playing opposite Lucy Lawless who played a very dishy blonde, and that he enjoyed singing in the episode. Robert told us that we could find all of his film credits at his web site (http://www.cyberramp.net/~lnmorris). This is also the site where you can find information on joining Robert Trebor's fan club.

[25] He was asked if we would ever see any development of Salmoneus' background, Robert told us that a scene from the HERCULES second season episode CENTAUR MENTOR JOURNEY (H36/223) that was cut explained that Salmoneus was an orphan. Hercules lashed out at Salmoneus telling him that he could not relate to his grief over the death of Ceridian (Hercules' centaur mentor) because he was an orphan. The premise then would be that Salmoneus developed his skills as a salesman because he had to fend for himself at an early age. Since he could not fights as a child, he had to learn to talk his way out of things.

Robert Trebor
Robert enjoyed answering questions, and the audience loved him

[26] Robert said that he is most proud of his work in the XENA episode THE GREATER GOOD (21/121). The audience clapped enthusiastically in appreciation for Robert's work in that episode. Robert noted that the episode gave him a chance to be both comedic and serious. He especially likes the scene in which Salmoneus thinks Xena is dead. In order to do the scene well, Robert asked Lucy (after rehearsals and before they were about to do the take) to please open her eyes and let him look at her for about ten seconds in silence before she closed her eyes. He said that, during that time, he imagined Lucy dying, and that that helped him to bring up the appropriate emotion for the scene. In fact, in the first few takes, he was in tears. The director asked him not to cry in the scene because that emotion was to be saved for Gabrielle. So, in the next take, he was more restrained. Robert went on to say that his three favorite HERCULES episodes are THE FIRE DOWN BELOW (H22/209), THE OUTCAST (H18/205) and UNCHAINED HEART (H13/113).

[27] Robert said that he was inspired to be an actor at ten years of age when he saw the Jack Lemmon film THE DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES. His parents did not originally want him to be an actor, but now they are very proud of him.

[28] Salmoneus and Autolycus will be seen together again in an episode. Robert noted that if he has to play a woman again, he needs to get paid a lot more money because he has a lot of body hair to deal with, so playing a woman was no fun. When asked if Hercules and Xena were going to get married, Robert said, "as my good friend Bruce Campbell would say, when monkey's fly out of his b*tt."

[29] One of Robert's favorite Salmoneus lines from a XENA episode is "Those boots, that leather, those legs, XENA!" from THE BLACK WOLF (11/111). Robert said that he rewrote the line with the writer's permission. He feels that comedy comes out of logic, so he felt it just made sense to say the line that way. He wanted to say, "those thighs," but he said he could not say that. The original line was "Those boots, that leather, XENA!" Another favorite Salmoneus line from a XENA episode is "Proud Warrioress... I will miss you." Robert said he wrote that line as well with the writer's blessings.

Robert Trebor
Robert Trebor entertaining the audience

[30] Looks like there may be a T-shirt available featuring Salmoneus, Autolycus, and Joxer. A woman was wearing one who said she purchased it in Santa Barbara. Robert said that he is involved with the XENA or the soon-to-be-released HERCULES trading card games.

[31] Here's what Robert Trebor has coming up. Robert told us that he has done about thirteen or fourteen conventions. He said that he knows that the reason he has a job is because of the fans, so he very much enjoys spending time with the fans. Robert will be in Las Vegas, June 14-18, at comic book stores signing autographs. He will be going to Amsterdam to promote the Wizards of the Coast role-playing XENA game. From there, he will be going to Munich, Germany, (I think to do some interviews). He then goes to Telford, England, September 4-7, for an appearance at the CultTV Fest and then on to Surrey, England, September 12-13, for an appearance at the First HERCULES/XENA Symposium. Robert then moves on to Zurich, Switzerland, to star in Neil Simon's CHAPTER TWO. He will be rehearsing in September and performing in October. He noted that he is a theater-trained actor, and he hasn't played a major part in a play in twelve years. He is looking forward to performing continuously without a director saying cut every two minutes. In fact, he said that two minutes is a long take. Actors typically work in twenty to twenty-five-second bits and pieces. Robert hopes to do more XENA and HERCULES episodes. He is also looking at an independent feature film to direct. The story is a romantic comedy along the lines of WHEN HARRY MET SALLY and SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE.

[32] After Robert's talk, he signed autographs and took pictures with all comers. It was wonderful to be able to thank him for his wonderful work in person. While Robert was signing autographs, Creation's "Picks for Top Ten Villains of HERCULES and XENA was shown.

Robert Trebor
Robert Trebor with some of his fans

[33] A good time was had by all. My friend Hope Wilson's seven-year old daughter Melissa summed up her Phoenix Convention experience when she said to her mother: "Mommy, this is the best day of my life."

[34] My thanks go to Creation for another wonderful convention experience!


Marilyn Cristiano Marilyn J. Cristiano

Marilyn lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and teaches speech communication at a community college. She is a fan of "Xena: Warrior Princess" because she is inspired by the portrayal of two intelligent, strong, and independent women of great courage who love one another. These women are not perfect; they make their share of mistakes, but they are driven by a passion for serving the greater good. Marilyn also loves the action, comedy, and drama of the stories that are told.

Favorite episode: ONE AGAINST AN ARMY (59/313)
Favorite line: Xena: "Even in death, Gabrielle. I will never leave you." ONE AGAINST AN ARMY (59/313)
First episode seen: HOOVES AND HARLOTS (10/110)
Least favorite episode: KING CON (61/315)

Whoosh! On The Road