A Tale Of Two Celebs At Fan Expo

Editor’s Note: Last weekend’s Fan Expo was definitely a mixed bag for many of its attendees. Over the course of the week I found myself perusing the Fan Expo Canada Facebook page to see what many of the attendees had to say about their experiences. One topic of conversation that I wound up a part of revolved around the price of autographs and photos many of the celebrities were asking. Christina MacKay was one of the people who I was writing with, and when she told me about her experiences with two Fan Expo guests, I thought it was something Biff Bam Pop readers would find interesting. Here’s her story:

So this year I went to my first Con ever.  I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect.  I assumed there would be long lines, crowds and stressed employees.  Personally, I had a great time, my only complaint about the expo itself being that I wasn’t let in at 2pm as I should have been with my deluxe pass. Even though I spent 3 hours of waiting outside, feeling very annoyed, knowing I had to leave by 5 in order to get in line for Holy Adam West, Batman!  I still met some very cool people who made the time pass much faster, and definitely took the edge off. 

After wandering around the expo for about an hour, I headed off to The Toronto Underground Cinema to gear up and wait in line for Holy Adam West, Batman! where Adam West would show up for a Q&A after a screening of the 1966 film. I have to say, I had been waiting since early July for this night.  I bought advance tickets the day they came out and I could not wait to get a chance to meet him.

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Adam West has been my hero for years. I remember watching the TV show re-runs in the late 80s, early 90s.  At the age of five I was entranced and I actually took the show pretty seriously. Now, in my later years, I enjoy the series for its campy style and ridiculous and unlikely plots – even for a comic book.  I love Adam West, not just because I thought he was a heartthrob back in his caped crusader days – and I totally still do! – but also because, despite the fact that his career really hasn’t gone anywhere aside from Batman and Family Guy, he can make fun of himself.  Little did I know that the fun loving heartthrob image I had of him would be shattered on this particular night.

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As for the 1966 Batman film itself, it was great. Watching with a huge cheering crowd is much more entertaining than sitting in your living room.  The movie skipped and jumped a lot.  I’m not sure if that was intentional, it’s more likely they just had a VERY old copy of the movie, but I say it made for an even funnier film. 

So the movie ends, lights go up and this is where my picturesque image of Adam West goes to crap.  Before the film started we were all told that photography and filming of any kind would not be permitted or West would ‘be very upset’ and would leave.  After an awkward MC got up on stage and did an introduction praising West, it was finally time for the main event.  Lucky me, I had managed to grab third row seats front and centre. After a lengthy standing ovation the audience received the chance to ask their long awaited questions – unfortunately, that turned out to only be maybe eight questions. This is where my disappointment began.  I know West is a bit of an icon and loved purely for the novelty of it.  I confess a small part of my love belongs in that category, but I never expected him to be so money hungry. Family Guy can’t pay that badly, right? 

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Never the less, I am now fairly certain the reason he never takes his shades off is because he’s constantly trying to keep the dollar bill signs that replace his pupils hidden from the public. Of the few questions we were allowed to ask at least a third of those got a response involving money.  When asked if he prefers doing live action vs. voice acting West said “Just pay me”.  Despite the fact that he followed it up with saying he didn’t mind either, that they both had benefits, I can say I believe that there was mostly truth behind his original answer. 

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Not surprisingly he was charging $60 for an autograph at the expo.  Me being ‘economical’, I decided I would hold off and see if he would sign a few autographs at the show – even though I was sure that would never actually happen.  A girl can hope, right?  At one point during the Q&A someone was actually bold enough to ask if there would be a chance he’d do autographs.  We got a sincere and resounding “YES”, followed by “If you come to the expo tomorrow, wait in line and pay $60”.  (I feel I need to super geek out for a second here and quote Futurama, ‘You raised my hopes and dashed them quite expertly sir!’…  Okay, that made me feel a bit better. )

But honestly, I have never been so put off and disappointed by someone I looked up to as I was at that moment. I can totally understand that West is probably under contract and not allowed to do signings outside the expo – where his manager surely gets a large cut – but is it really necessary to be that rude? C’mon now!  The Q&A was, for the most part, fun and interesting to listen to. I’m sure he just thought he was being cheeky, but we paid $25! We lined up for 2 hours! That’s all we get?! We got less than ten questions and half of them with snarky responses.  At this point I made a resolution.  From now on I will no longer strive to make an effort to actually meet my idols. I would much rather live in fantasy land and just nurture my idealistic views of my favourite stars. 

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Thankfully this was changed by someone else later on in the weekend: Lance Henricksen of Aliens and Millennium fame. He’s really the only other person I bothered to try and meet outside of Adam West.  Henricksen was super nice when I got his autograph. I panicked in line and realized I didn’t know what to say to him.  I decided once I saw his tattoos I would ask him about them – common ground, woo!  He talked to me for a bit, personalized my photo and thanked me. I also managed to catch the Q&A session with him on Sunday and I couldn’t ask for a more enjoyable experience. Henricksen was so humbled by his fans.  He answered tons of questions, gave really great answers and told us so many stories.  I have to say, after such a disappointing start to my first Fan Expo, this was a really amazing finish. 

Finally, two things I learned about Lance Henricksen:

1) Apparently, all of his ink is sea related – sharks and sea turtles.  I didn’t realize until after the Q&A, but it might be because his father was a sailor and he was also a sailor before he became an actor. He also had a lengthy math equation on the inside elbow of his left arm. Didn’t have time to ask him about it, but I’m very curious!

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2) The prank scene in Aliens where Bishop does the knife trick with Hudson (Bill Paxton) is genuine.  They had filmed it before, using just Bishops’ hand and it didn’t turn out. The next morning, after the cast wrap up party, James Cameron dragged a hungover Henricksen and Paxton back to the studio to reshoot.  This time though Henriksen decided it would be more interesting if Bishop put his hand on top of Hudsons’. He didn’t tell Paxton about this though, which resulted in a great scene that portrayed genuine fear. Henricksen also trained for this scene with every type of knife he could get his hands on, knowing Cameron well enough to foresee him only deciding right before the shoot which type he would want to use. “I had to be ready for anything!”

4 Replies to “A Tale Of Two Celebs At Fan Expo”

  1. Great account of your experiences. Sorry to hear about the Adam West thing.

    I think that the more of these Cons you go to, the more you become accustomed to those sorts of things, for good or bad.

    Interestingly, I find that the Cons do one of two things for these “stars”: they either bring them down to earth and really humanize them, unfortunately exposing many as a sort of “used car salesmen” or heighten our appreciation for them even more.

    I ran into Henricksen at the Con as well. I was in line to meet an artist (and the line had snaked behind the backdrop curtain-“backstage” so to speak). As he walked by he just nonchalantly said: “Hey guys, how's it going?” and continued on his way. Looked like he was having a good time and into the crowd.

    Yeah, it humanized him but at the same time, made me respect a man I really don't know at all.

  2. Yeah, He was pretty awesome. The look on Henricks face when the crowd gave him a standing ovation at the Q&A was of just pure gratitude. He gave us a heads up 3 questions before he had to leave.. he even stopped to grab a picture with a few lucky fans on his way out.

    Couldn't ask for a more thankful star.

    I had a similar experience as you, but with Shatner while waiting outside for the Henrickson Q&A. I was sitting on thr ground, waiting to get in when I heard a very surly voice asking people to move back. When I turned around I saw Shatner and his posse. He rounded the corner where I was (with all of my stuff spralwed all over the floor.. pretty much in his way lol) and as he stepped over my stuff he looked down at me, smiled, and nodded. I was a little star stuck I'll admit. Shatner can do that. Afterwards I kicked myself for not saying hi, or asking for a handshake. In retrospect, I'm not sure his bouncer/agent would have let me touch him haha, but I suppose I should have at least tried. Oh WELL! I still got to see him 2ithin 2 feet of me and didn't have to pay a cent!

  3. I totally agree with the Adam West comments.
    This isn't the first time he has come to Fan Expo. He was at Fan Expo…… I think about 2 or 3 years ago as well, And he was the same way (ALL ABOUT THE MONEY ) I tried taking pictures of him the first time he was there and security came running up to me and yelling “NO PICTURES” of any sort and I was about 20ft away from him). I stood there for another 5mins afterwards and all I heard from his fans was complaint's about the prices and how RUDE he was. Some people even said they wish they could get there money back. He wouldn't even look at the camera half the time when getting his picture taken with fans let alone NEVER taking off his sun glasses!
    I'm glad I was never a big fan of his and I'm sorry for anyone who is a fan and got let down.
    ):

  4. I met Adam West in 2006 when he came to FanExpo the first time. His rate then was $50 but on the Sunday he lowered his price by $10 for some fans. I have an autographed picture of him answering the BatPhone that I use to remind me to charge my cell.
    The thing is to him it's about missing the glory days and being compensated for it now so it really is the money. That said he rarely gets to see the towns he visits and has to work to make sure every fan has the opportunity to purchase his services which is why they push all the paid autograph and no posing and cut the chat to keep the lines moving. Really sad when you think about it.
    Also sad almost no one visited Ernest Borgnine who was in a wheel chair but did get up and pose by his booth. Jovial and straight forward he answered questions like he never flew the AirWolf helicopter it was all a soundstage.
    Then there was David Blue who started coming down with a cold from all the flying he was doing that weekend to the various shows. He had no control over the fact that Space limited the number of autographs to 50 but treated everyone of those people on a one on one basis. In the end he signed an additional dozen autographs and inspite of the agents at Space (oh that could be a comicbook and sci-fi series) he posed for pictures.
    The Stan Lee autograph line was treated like an assembly line and Stan The Man even tried to reach out to a few of the fans but the con folk were under orders to keep the line moving at all costs. That cost was $40 an autograph and no chat time and almost nothing personalized.
    There was plenty of other good celebs to speak of and with from Ty Templeton to Dave Ross in Artist alley to Adam and And Kubert at their dad's school to the gang at the Archie comics booth to the William Forsythe and Bill Moseley having a little sing along of Oh Canada towards the end of the show on Sunday.
    One of the things that bothered me was the lack of signage or notification to let us know who was or wasn't at the show since Leslie Nielsen canceled as did Joan Collins, Thomas Jane, Peter Facinelli, and a few others also could not make it.
    did anyone notice how the major big screen video games of past years had been cut in half and there were far more automobiles like the car from SuperNatural, the car from Back To The Future, and The Batmobile all there. While that was nice the fact is almost everywhere you went on the show was hurry up and wait in line.
    If you had to bear the heat waiting outside only to come inside to wait in another line you can see why nerves were being frazzled.
    There was some great little gems like when Heather Lanenkamp reenacted her scream from the nightmare series or how Maple and Aliance studios allowed you to have your photo taken for a film postcard. Some of the other bonuses include the Marvel and DC comics studios and their freebie comics and oh those green lantern power rings. Let's not forget the Tron Legacy booth that every hour threw out discs and a half dozen t-shirts. Weird thing is 8 years ago I knew one person who left with over a half dozen shirts free while this year you were lucky to get one. The same goes for the haggling of prices some were glad to do so and some were adamant that the price was set in stone be it costume, toy, game, weapon, or comics, sketch, or autograph.
    Then I saw the guy from the $1 comics pile say to someone with 70 books make it $50 and call it even.
    For the true fan you can usually find a little shine amongst everyone else's gloom. It's part of what being a fan is all about.

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