Here is the much anticipated day one report from the “Salute to Supernatural” convention in Chicago. I must say, so far it’s been quite an event and it’s only getting started.
This was a surreal experience from the word go. The day started by me getting up at 4:30 am. Considering that I'm a night owl who rarely turns in before 1 am, I only see one 4:30 a day and AM isn't it. Fueled on a coffee-and-power-bar high and armed with well loaded iPod, I made it to the hotel 7 1/2 hours later, and easily an hour of that was in Chicago traffic.
Check in was easy and while waiting I talked to James, one of Creation's faithful volunteers. He's done about nine or ten of these events for Creation in Chicago, and does a great job of not letting the riff raff in. He mentioned that so far Fangoria has been the craziest (about 1,000 people winding through the hotel in line), but Sunday here, when Jared and Jensen arrive, will be pretty nuts too. He also said there's no Star Trek convention this year because people have lost interest. He hopes for next year though, when the new movie comes out. I must say, that news surprised me.
The first speaker went on at 12:35, and it was Gabriel Tigerman, who played the ill-fated but loveable goofball Andy in season two. He's a very funny and charming guy and his panel was a lot of fun, even though the ballroom was barely half full. Here are some of the things we learned from his panel:
• He's working on an indie film written by him and a friend, greenlit for March 2009.
• He got married six weeks ago.
• He didn't take the news well (in a joking way of course) that he's no longer the only character other than Sam and Dean to drive the Impala since Bobby just drove it in "Yellow Fever." He accepted it with grace though, saying Bobby was "in good company."
• Contrary to rumors, there was no discussion with Eric Kripke to bring Andy back. In an amusing story he told the driver while filming "All Hell Breaks Loose Part II" that his character was getting killed off. The driver asked if the body would be salted and burned. When Gabe replied no, the driver told him "oh, then you're good."
• He got the common asked pranks question (that Jared and Jensen are notorious for pranks), and said he'd never been a victim.
• When asked what actor or director he'd work with, he said Pauly Shore. Ask a strange question, get a…
• His favorite episode? “Simon Said” of course. He didn’t die in that one.
• He let out a strange rant against Time Warner Cable, which in the end was meant to make a point he doesn't have Showtime and has been catching up on Dexter with Netflix. I actually understood his pain on that one.
• His favorite scene – Dean telling the truth in "Simon Said" and him driving off in the Impala, "which is no longer special."
• He addressed an issue that his wife saw on that site we won't mention over whether Andy was a rapist, (aka, scoring chicks through mind control). His answer was a pretty solid "No!" (the answer was lighthearted, so he didn’t take offense and found it funny).
• He originally auditioned for the part of Neil and didn't get that part. He was called back for Andy later.
• In what is my favorite story, he had to ride to the set in the back seat with Jared's dogs (Jared was in the front seat). They apparently got more of his coffee than he did.
• He also fears spiders and sharks, and told a gruesome tale of his wife microwaving a spider when she was young. Guess what? They don't explode.
• He got the stranded on a desert island question (which character would you be stranded with) and he said Bobby, so they could share driving the Impala stories. Then, in the best answer of the panel, he said that according to fanfiction, he should be hanging out with Chad (Lindberg, who played Ash). That got me rolling pretty good.
There were several fan videos shown and by far my favorite was the comparison of Dean Winchester to Fox Mulder and Sam Winchester to Dana Scully. I have to admit, they’re onto something. The similarities pointed out between the two were spooky. I’ll have to find out it that one’s on YouTube somewhere.
There was a trivia quiz contest in which fans in the audience got to ask a panel questions. I’m proud to say I stumped the panel with my question, which I’ve asked before on this blog. Needless to say, they haven’t read my stuff! The question: what are the only two episodes in which the Impala did not appear? Someone in the audience got it right though and won a nice prize.
Steve Carlson did a panel and aside from hearing him talk about how he’s working on a new album and a musical I missed what he said, I had to step away to get some room arrangements taken care of. He performed a concert last night, and then closed out the evening swallowed by the karaoke crowd. He’s a very popular person at these cons.
The most entertaining part of the day though came courtesy of Richard Speight Jr., who played the Trickster in “Tall Tales” and “Mystery Spot.” He also had a key role as Skip Muck in Band of Brothers, which he talked about in fascinating detail.
This was his first appearance at a con and his panel was outstanding. He was a natural with the crowd, which were out in larger numbers for him. He was funny and gave interesting answers with fascinating detail. He’s had some great acting experiences and it was a treat to hear him share those with us. He even answered my question! Here are just some of the things he talked about:
• He was in Ernest Goes to Camp at an early point in his career (high school actually) and was asked what it was like to work with Jim Varney. He called him an “interesting dude.” Apparently Jim told him how to win at a knife fight (slash, don’t stab), and he drove a DeLorean.
• He was asked what embarrassing Weekly World News story he’d like to be a part of. The basic gist features scantily clad cheerleaders.
• My question: what was it like doing the scene in “Tall Tales” in the auditorium when Jensen was getting beat up by those gorgeous women. He said it was the easiest scene he’d ever worked on because he just got to sit there and watch. Jensen was the one getting thrown into walls by the stunt people, and was doing his own stunts in that one. It was a very long scene to choreograph, but it was a lot of fun. The only downside for Speight was he had to eat a lot of candy bars, but he couldn’t feel sorry for Jensen either, since he was getting handled by two gorgeous women. He felt like clapping after watching all that mayhem, and then found out he could because it was in the script, so he did.
• He talked further about “Tall Tales,” since an ice storm in Vancouver delayed filming. The worst delay was on the alien abduction scene, which was repeatedly postponed. His favorite prank in the episode was the alien probing.
• He talked about his time on Jericho, and how he got teased on the set one time over a fight he had with the sandwich lady. He said it was a great show to shoot.
• He talked at length about his time working on Band of Brothers, probably because there were a lot of questions about it. He actually got to meet Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, who arrived by helicopter at the set one day. He even once got to do a reading with Tom Hanks. He did a boot camp in London to prepare for the show and worked with veterans to gain some experience for the movie. He shared some funny stories about his time in London (like watching the Brits try to play basketball) and said that Donnie Walberg (a NKOTB fan asked what it was like working with him) was very down to earth, quiet, yet had a bizarre sense of humor. He was impressed how he has made the transition from boy band to acting, despite the fact (jokingly) that “the constant dancing got old.”
• He shared a fantastic story with us about getting to know the real Skip Muck’s family. It took a while, but he tracked down a niece in Tonawanda, NY whose mother was Skip's sister. She had no idea he was featured in the Band of Brothers book or film. She also had no idea how he died. Once they read the book, they shared his personal letters and artifacts, and even found his old girlfriend who hadn’t seen him since he shipped out. She gave the family the junior wings he sent her, and they managed to get his medals reinstated. It was really quite a fascinating story, and far better to hear him tell it. Hopefully the whole story made it on YouTube.
• Right now he’s shooting an episode of Life and found that Sarah Shahi played the Woman in White in the pilot.
• He was asked numerous questions about Supernatural and confessed when asked (although we all had to promise we’d keep this among friends, so don’t tell anyone on the show) that the only episodes he’s ever seen of Supernatural are the ones he was in.
• In “Mystery Spot,” he admits that the last confrontational scene with Sam was the most difficult to film, because it went from messing with him to not kidding around. His favorite Dean death was the bad taco. He also said it was a real honor to work with Kim Manners, and loved what the writer did with the script (Jeremy Carver) in the episode.
• He’s never tried a Purple Nurple, and didn’t know it was a real drink.
• He didn’t have to audition for the role of the Trickster, because he knew Robert Singer from a WWII pilot he did with him. He thought he was playing a janitor, and only through reading the script at the last minute (another detail to keep among friends), did he find out it was a “God” janitor.
• Someone asked him (even acknowledging he doesn’t know much about the show), how he’d like to see things end for the Winchesters. His clever answer, “I hope they win.”
• He got asked the traditional prank question, but his answer was great. He wasn’t pranked, but (again, among friends, for Jared doesn’t know this), he was invited to watch the Cowboys game in Jensen’s trailer. He went, but got the trailers mixed up, he knocked on the door, and thought he heard a muffled “come in.” He opened the door, and two huge dogs came charging at him. He slammed the door shut in time. He quickly figured out that was Jared’s trailer.
The final part of his panel was the best though, for Gabriel Tigerman’s “niece” (explained later to be his friend’s daughter) started asking him questions, thanks to “Uncle Gabe.” She asked what his favorite shows are. He said Law and Order: SVU and 30 Rock. She said she’s seen Law and Order: SVU but not the other one. He questioned (jokingly) how the child would watch something that features routine molestation but hasn’t watched the comedy. After several cute exchanges (again, this better be on YouTube), he asked her what her favorite shows were. She said The Hills, for she’s a huge fan of Lauren Conrad and got to meet her. Richard had a great time running with that one, even saying “OMG, I can’t believe you met her!” He concluded the session by telling her “I think you’re the caboose on this train of fun.”
I Finally Meet Everyone
For me though, the real thrill of the day, and what took up most of my time, was finally putting faces and live bodies to the fans that have been my Internet friends for the last year. It felt like a family reunion and it’s like we’ve known each other forever. I confess, this is the first time I’ve met Internet friends. They are every bit as great in person as they are in a forum or email chain. We waited in a long line for literally hours to get autographs, but I didn’t notice. Everyone I met in line was fun, outgoing, easy to talk to, and we talked about far more than our love for Supernatural. Everyone came from a different place (I met a few people from Australia, and just about every state in the US was represented), and from different walks of life, but we all connected somehow just because of a TV show. It really blows the mind.
For the first time since college, I was in a bar until last call. Several fans retired to the hotel lounge, where apparently karaoke is a tradition at this event. I sat in the bar, drinking, talking, and watching with intense amusement these fans dancing and shouting along to the songs that were being horribly butchered by whoever dared to take them on. I’m sure I’m going back tomorrow night.
This experience so far has solidified the long held belief in my mind that these are truly the best fans in the world. No negativity here.
More coming tomorrow, where so far it’s looking to be an equally wacky a day.