Pasadena Convention Report

by Erin

Our con trek began at 1:30 pm Friday, when we finally got checked in to the hotel and got over to the convention center. There was a line stretching almost a block for pre-registration. While waiting in line, we met up with Bo, DCL, Marcus, Pam, and Sherrie. We all went our separate ways for awhile when the con started.

The first item on the agenda was the usual music video salute to Xena, set to Tina Turner's "Simply the Best". I don't think they've changed it in four years, so we'll move on.

There was a documentary titled "Favorite Moments with Gabrielle" that premiered next; because we were in the exhibition room we missed out on most of that, but we did see that the top favorite moment was when Gabrielle sacrificed herself (at the end of Sac2) to save Xena. I thought they would have chosen something a little more upbeat, but...

Next we got the music video salute to Eli, set to "Missionary Man". It was quite creative for a music video, especially considering the subject. After the music video, Timothy Omundson (Eli) came out to give his appearance. He was very excited to be up there, he was very outgoing, and didn't look a whole lot like Eli (not surprisingly). He kinda reminded me of Chandler from Friends (for those who are familiar with the character), as far as his mannerisms and sense of humor. Most of the questions he answered involved a joke or two; he said that his character was killed off after Kevin Smith demanded it (apparently the God of War didn't like the butt-kicking that Eli gave him in a previous episode, so he had the butt-kicking cut and then had the character killed off). In case you're wondering, no he isn't serious. He also explained about a practical joke Ted Raimi played on him his first day working on X:WP. Apparently he showed up for the first cast read-through, and Lucy and Renee were very mean to him - hardly looked at him, didn't laugh at any of his jokes, etc. He was kinda crestfallen about the whole thing, since he had really looked forward to working with them. So about 30 seconds after they left the read-through, Lucy and Renee came back in and said they were only fooling with him, and Ted Raimi had put them up to it. He said he got Ted back by having him thrown into a New Zealand prison for four months.

After Tim finished, they premiered the first episode of "Jack of all Trades". Well, the show isn't my cup of tea exactly, but it did fill 20 minutes.

After that was the intermission, so cr and I left to go get something to eat. Strangely, we didn't quite get back in time to see the music video salute to Joxer. Huh.

Then came the celebrity auction, and a video welcome to the convention by Lucy and Renee. They were very nice, and sorry that they couldn't make it, but they were indeed in the middle of filming. Apparently they're continuing the whole "Twilight of the Gods" arc, and all the gods are out to kill Xena's baby, who will be male. Lucy let it slip that the baby was a 'he'. They didn't really give away anything else, tho.

Titus Software came on to pitch their Nintendo64 game "Talisman of Fate". It looked pretty much like a Mortal Kombat-style fighting game, but I could be wrong. I was out in the exhibition hall buying pictures.

Then came the trivia competition, pretty much as usual, and they followed that with the music video salute to Ephiny. The song they chose was Roxette's "The Look", and it fit her very well. I forgot how cute Danielle was. :) After the video, Danielle came out, to a great amount of applause. She was very "naughty" during her talk, and said several things that she said she probably shouldn't. She sang a little song about Ephiny meeting (& "loving") a centaur, and explained that it was partly because "Xena wasn't available". People asked her about NZ cinema, and she mentioned several movies she was in. Apparently she's gotten all the exposure she thinks she can get in NZ, though, and she's thinking of moving to England or the US. People asked her what personal events she uses to draw on for acting, and she said that she trys never to use personal events as an influence, because then it doesn't become personal anymore, it becomes public. She tries to draw a strict line between acting and her personal life.

I think they cut the questions kinda short, so that they could get as many people through the autograph line as possible before they had to seat for the musical cabaret thing. I don't know how many rows got called for autographs, because several of us went out to dinner after we got our autographs. I'll leave it to someone else to report on the musical cabaret (we didn't get tickets, and it was sold out). I heard it was very good, and Kevin Smith, Danielle, Tim, and Joel Tobeck did an excellent job.

Day 2

Well, here we are again. Saturday was a huge celeb day at the con, we got to hear from Joel Tobeck, Meighan Desmond, Jeremy Callaghan, Gina Torres, Victoria Pratt, Jennifer Sky, and Kevin Smith! So without any further delay:

The con kicked off with the same video welcome from Lucy and Renee that they showed on Friday. I looked carefully for spoilers, and here's what I noted:

-Athena is going to be showing up on the show. Lucy said that her character was going to be "bad and sexy."

-Xena's child is a 'he'.

-They're going to be re-visiting the Amazons (whom Lucy also called "bad and sexy.")

-Xena is going to sacrifice someone, but Lucy wouldn't say who

-Xena is back to wearing her "old brown leathers", but I think she got a new set.

After the video welcome, they showed the Xena blooper tape, which as I understand it was the same as the one that came with the Fan Club kit. Lots of funny stuff there, one of the funniest was Renee during ATOTM coming up to the magistrate before the election and saying, "It looks like you're getting a real erection after all." That got quite a reaction.

The celeb they brought out next was Joel Tobeck, aka Strife. He's been acting since he was very young (apparently his mother is in show biz, and she's played Hercules' mother); he liked playing Strife, mainly because he loves working with Kevin Smith (we heard a lot of that during the con). He's involved in several projects, NZ films mostly, and some NZ tv. There are no plans to have him in Xena, but he is supposed to be in some eps of Cleopatra 2525. He's also heavily involved in promoting his musical career at home; apparently he sings and plays guitar.

They brought Meighan Desmond up next; she was very tiny up there on stage all by herself. She was very excited to be there, and very bubbly up on stage. She is 22 years old, although she did say that she was on the Internet the other day, and was on a site called Discord's Domain where they listed her age as 32. She said she aged very well. :) She is unmarried. She has been acting since her late teens, and said the best part about being on the shows was working with Kevin Smith & Joel Tobeck, because they always have a great time. She doesn't immediately have any projects in the works as far as Renaissance goes. All in all, she was very sweet and very gracious, and seemed honestly touched by all the acclaim the fans were giving her.

After Meighan, we got a video salute to Pompey, which really should have been called a video salute to Jeremy Callaghan's characters, Pompey and Palaemon. I couldn't tell you what song they used, since this began a long string of video salutes that used songs unfamiliar to me. Maybe someone else can fill that in. They brought out Jeremy, whose accent immediately sounded different; something I didn't realize was that he was australian rather than new zealander, and the difference came through right away. He was very nice, he didn't goof around as much as Tim or Joel, but seemed very genuine the whole time. Probably because this was his first con appearance, and he said he was really nervous. His favorite character to play was Palaemon; he said that while Pompey was good, Palaemon was a total blast, and he felt really badass decked out in all that leather. He said the costume people really work overtime to make sure you look like a million bucks. He is a new father, his son (?) is just around a month old, and he said he doesn't get much sleep when his kid is around, so when he got into LA he slept for 3 days. Recent projects include a stint on the new sci-fi series Farscape (which films in Australia).

Chrome here: I *really* like Farscape, its probably the best sci-fi currently filming. I asked Jeremy what his character's name is/was on the Farscape episode and after several seconds of making faces, he told me it was Maldur -- or something like that. He'll be appearing in the first episode of second season (probably airing in June as Farscape is on an opposite schedule from the rest of the U.S.). Back to Erin...

After Jeremy, they had the Cleopatra 2525 "kick off celebration". Like Friday, when they premiered Jack of all Trades, they showed the premiere episode of Cleo. I have to say that Cleo looks like it's about a thousand times better than Jack; the writing of the show was decent, the acting was good, and it was just a lot of fun to watch those kick-butt women. :) After the show, they brought the three Cleo women out, Gina Torres, Victoria Pratt, and Jennifer Sky. The three nearly brought the house down, the fans were so excited to see them. Jennifer was sporting a short blond 'do, for her part in Cleo. Very different from the red Amarice locks. All three of them were very glad to be there, and they were very nice to all the fans. Victoria Pratt, in particular, tried to personalize as many autographs as she could in the autograph line later on; consequently, I have a photo of Cyane which says "To Julie, Love Victoria". <SIGH> The three of them were having a great time up there, joking around; you could tell that they like working with one another. Jennifer said that apparently one night she was in the gym working out, and a woman came up to her and said, "Do you know who is downstairs in the gym?!?! Victoria Pratt!!!" Jennifer said she looked at her and said, "No way! She's, like, my idol!" and they ran off to try to find her, but Victoria was gone already. She's a fitness goddess, and a lot of people were coming up and asking questions about fitness routines. They were also asked if there was going to be any subtext in the show; all three of them began rubbing up against one another, and saying, "Subtext? Why, no!" The three women were really a lot of fun to watch.

After that was an intermission, so chrome and I went to get something to eat, and got back just in time for the music video salute to Ares, done to "Bad to the Bone". When they introduced Kevin Smith, he came out in a Goldberg t-shirt; he says that he likes wrestling, and especially Goldberg because he doesn't have a gimmick. He claims he mostly watches wrestling because of his kids, tho. His hair was cut very short, and you could tell that the sides of it were very salt-and-pepper. He says that they dye it black for the show. He said he really liked playing Ares, God of Love; he said that when they first had the concept for the character, TPTB wanted to make sure he wasn't seen as too effeminate, so Kevin was going to play him like some kind of Casanova lounge-lizard, or something. But when Bruce Campbell met with Kevin, he said, "No way, this guy is queer, really queer, you should play him that way!" Kevin did a really good job with a Bruce Campbell imitation, by the way. Apparently at the musical cabaret the night before, Kevin did some songs from Rocky Horror Show, including "Sweet Transvestite". He said that he was offered the Dr. Frank N. Furter role at one point in a production, but his previous committments with Herc & Xena precluded that. He mentioned a few projects he was working on, again mostly names of NZ films which I didn't retain, and he finished a movie not too long ago with Danielle Cormack called "Channelling Baby". I didn't hear too much about it, but apparently it's very depressing. Overall he was very nice, and he seems like a real sweetheart of a guy. He seemed to get really embarrassed whenever anyone would call him sexy. :)

One thing that a lot of people commented on, particularly to Meighan and Kevin, was how impressed they were with New Zealanders who pick up american accents so easily. They said that because so many shows in new zealand are american shows, they really get used to hearing american accents. Meighan in particular said she grew up watching Beverly Hills 90210, and whenever she says something, she thinks, "Now, how would Brenda say it...?"

After Kevin left the stage, they got set up for the autograph line, and showed the new Xena episode, Lyre, Lyre. What can I say except that it was incredibly fortuitous that they had such a great, high-energy episode to show at the convention. We got to see the whole thing before we were called for autographs, and the ep got the whole auditorium rocking. It was great, and I feel fortunate to have been able to see it in a big room with lots of people clapping along to the music. :)

Chrome here: I still think this is one of the best things about going to the con... the energy from so many fans enjoying the show is just incredible! I just wish we could experience this more than once a year. 8) Back to Erin...

Oh, we were fortunate enough to be witness to Bo's girlfriend Chris showing Claire Stansfield her tattoo of Xena and Gabrielle... But maybe Bo should be the one to share *that* story. :)

Well, that's about all for Saturday! I'll leave Bo to wax ecstatic about Victoria Pratt. Keep an eye out for Sunday's report, to be posted soon (if not immediately).

Day 3

Here we are again, after Sunday's festivities. I must say that in some respects, Sunday was a bit of a let-down after the previous day; but there were some incredibly bright spots of the day.

They started off with the Hercules blooper reels, which looked remarkably similar to the same ones they showed at last year's convention. I don't know why they didn't have new ones, unless the fact that they didn't complete a full season had something to do with it. But still, they could have gotten half of last season, and this remaining season. Who knows.

That was followed by a presentation by KNB effects, the guys who do most of the monster and makeup effects on Xena and Herc. They actually do some really great work, on some really major motion pictures. They had a film that they did of the behind-the-scenes work on "The Way" (like Indrajit, Kali-Xena, and Hanuman), and the work they did on "Fallen Angel" (wings. Lots and lots of wings). All in all, they were very impressive. Also, apparently there's an episode coming up ("Fish Schticks"?) where Gabrielle gets hit on the head or something, and thinks she's raising a baby squid with Joxer. They got to do the animatronic squid.

After KNB, Rob Field came on with his usual presentation. He was introduced by a very funny video taken by Steve Sears. Steve Sears, with a hand held camcorder, went into Rob's trailer/office to look for the blooper tape, and not only gets that, but also takes credit cards out of his wallet, and cash from a big Altoids tin. He basically robs him blind, while Rob is asleep at his desk in the corner. Very amusing, actually. Anyway, he came onstage and showed us some filmclips of how they edited the skeleton fight in "Dem Bones". This was apparently a big pain in the ass, because they edited it before the CGI skeletons got put in. They did a really good job, and he showed us the work in progress as well as the finished product. He also showed us some scenes that had been cut out of episodes; nothing riveting, just some Eli scenes which show his street magician-ship. He also introduced the same blooper reel we saw the day before, "for the three people who haven't seen it yet."

After Rob Field, we got a music video tribute to Xena's mentors, specifically M'Lila and Lao Ma. Ebonie Smith, who played M'Lila came out next, and she was very excited to be there. She's been acting since a very young age (like 6 or 8), and done quite a bit of TV as well as feature films (she's been on The Jeffersons, Webster, Family Matters, Living Single, the Lethal Weapon film series, and a few other things). She says that one of her greatest experiences was working on Xena. The thing she loved about it right away was that she had a brief, guest appearance, but they so completely fleshed out the character of M'Lila that she could tell that it was a quality operation. She was very pleased at the character, and how well it was written. She was also impressed by the way they hired a linguist to work with her on her Gaelic, even though most people probably couldn't tell if they did a good job. She said that it was that attention to detail that impressed her about Renaissance. Apparently she recently graduated college, so she's taking more time to pursue her career, acting lessons, voice coach, the whole bit. She's got a very supportive mother who works with her on everything she does, and she says that that's the most important thing when you get into the acting business at such a young age.

After Ebonie, Willa O'Neill came out on stage. People asked her questions about her current, past, and future acting projects. Apparently she runs her own theatre in New Zealand (although she doesn't manage it anymore), and has quite a few projects going on there at any given time. She also starred in a NZ film that is getting shown at the Sundance festival this year, so she was excited about that. She really loved working with both the Herc and Xena folks, and her "dream role" is really a femme fatale character. She said that she has a hard time getting cast, because she has such a baby face that she can't get cast for more mature roles (like people in their twenties).

They were running way late, so Creation cut the intermission and went straight to the charity auction. The item that sold for most at the auction actually wasn't being sold for charity; an authentic prop staff (one of Gabrielle's staves, that was actually used in the show) was being sold, with the money going to Creation. Several (dozen) people were bitching rather loudly about that, but the staff was sold for eight thousand dollars. Not quite the $31,000 that Xena's sword went for, but then again this money wasn't going to charity, either.

After the auction we got to see the music video salute to Minya, followed by the appearance of Alison Wall. She looked *nothing* like Minya. She's apparently been working in NZ theatre and such for quite awhile; she does tv, radio, cartoon voice-overs, children's plays, and such. She's worked closely with Michael Hurst before, which is why he had her cast in "A Day in the Life". Anyway, she seems like an incredibly versatile actress, and I was very impressed by her intelligence and quick wit. Apparently she had a lot of problems working with the goat in the first scene of ADITL, because she was supposed to play the "excited fan", but whenever she would get excited, the goat would get excited, and try to climb all over her. She said she had several talks with the "goat handlers", and apparently goats are herd animals, and they freak out if they don't have a herd. So if you're going to buy a goat, buy two. Alison also likes to think of Minya as such an honest, good-natured character, who gets really easily excited over new things. She apparently also considers Minya the type of character that does things really poorly, but can't help getting excited about it and thinking it's the greatest thing in the world. They don't have any immediate plans to put her back into XWP, but Alison hopes to be able to play Minya again.

After Alison was a costume competition, which featured Alison, Ebonie, and Willa as guest judges. There were some great costumes, and the winners were (in order) Cleopatra, Xena, and Gabrielle.

After the costume competition, they had a video salute to Hercules and Iolaus (done to "You're a Friend of Mine"), and they brought out Michael Hurst.

Now, I know that Kevin Sorbo was the headliner, the big star and all that. But Michael Hurst is a *god*. The man is so passionate about acting, so learned about literature, poetry, and plays, and so genuinely thankful for all the fans out there that it just took my breath away. Whether he's doing stage, directing, producing, or whatever, he's just so great at what he does, and he does it all with such a great, welcoming, friendly air. This is the second time I've seen him at a con (I saw him in San Fran a couple of years ago with Renee), and I have left with such an incredible amount of respect for him each time.

Anyway, Michael shared some of his feelings about wrapping up Hercules, and how it was such a great experience, and left him a little misty-eyed now that it's come to an end. He said he wanted to bring out a friend of his to share it with us, and he pointed toward the right side of the stage, and called for Kevin Sorbo to come out. Kevin ended up coming out the left side, and grabbing Michael and carrying him halfway across the stage. The Q&A session began, after Kevin and Michael talked for a bit about how great the show has been to them. They were asked what their next projects were; Kevin is starring in a new Gene Roddenberry series called "Andromeda". Michael just finished directing a feature film (in NZ, of course), and he's supposed to be directing an episode of Xena in the near future! They were asked what their dream roles were, and Kevin answered Captain <somebody> of the starship Andromeda; Michael answered a Shakespearean hero. The highlight of the day, or actually, the highlight of the whole weekend, was when someone asked Michael to perform a scene from Shakespeare. He seemed almost scared to do it under that kind of pressure, like someone said, "play Hamlet...ok, go!" But he took a couple of minutes to think of a scene, and then gave the most *incredible* performance I have ever seen. He did the "Play's the thing" monologue from Hamlet, and he did such a great job on the spur of the moment. I've seen well-rehearsed productions, large productions, and Michael did a better job than they with his monologue. The entire auditorium was silent throughout the whole thing, and when he finished he got a standing ovation. He is such a talented actor, I'd give a limb to be able to see him star in a whole Shakespeare play.

Chrome here (again): Erin is absolutely correct -- Michael Hurst is an incredible entertainer. You could have heard a pin drop during his monologue. I was hoping someone would ask him to do shakespeare again... after his performance in San Fran, I was really looking forward to what he'd do today. Back to Erin...

Anyway, after a small, but touching video farewell to Hercules, and a brief interlude during the Q&A to hawk some stuff for Kevin's charity foundation, Kevin and Michael said their farewells. Michael stayed around to sign autographs for fans, as did Ebonie, Willa and Alison, but Kevin Sorbo took off. Creation totally f*cked up the autograph line, and people ended up standing in line for about an hour to get autographs. chrome and I have real problems with the way Creation ran that con. But Michael was so great through the whole thing, when chrome thanked him for spending this time signing for the fans, Michael said in a very heartfelt way that it was the least he could do to thank them. Anyway, chrome and I both left there with a great respect for the man's intelligence and talent.

That pretty much wrapped up the con; thanks for reading, everybody, and I hope I've been able to give you some idea about what it was you missed. :)


Return to The AXIP News Archive