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"Can you believe this, not even ten o'clock and we've already run out of yacks bile!"
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June 24 2008

FedCon USA "Star Trek" con with Buffy/Angel guests canceled midway through. This is in no way affiliated with the German FedCon event. Guests included John Billingsley ("Angel's" werewolf expert Dr. Royce) and his real-life wife Bonita Friedericy (Cordelia's dress shop boss on "Buffy" and Jasmine's assistant Patience on "Angel").

Clarification on this report: I'm told by someone who was there that Mr. Billingsley meant that the organizers should stay until all of the questions for *them* were answered (from a cursory read, it seems as though the report could be interpreted as though he meant staying until all questions for him and Ms. Friedericy were answered), although Mr. Billingsley, Mr. Friedericy and a few other actors did remain to hang out with the fans.

[ edited by Shapenew on 2008-06-24 22:03 ]

mark lutz was supposed to be there too.
I'm surprised this is just making it here. I was one of the people who was about to get in the car and head down when I got the email that it had been cancelled, not even mid-con, on Saturday morning. The FedConUSA boards from that weekend have lots and lots of dirt, as you might imagine; Aaron Douglas from BSG was particularly vocal.

And, to clarify, the FedCon people in Germany are not at all happy about what happened when they loaned their name out.
Yikes, I feel for the folks that went, especially those that travelled any distance.

In fairness, it doesn't sound like there's anything underhanded happening, just extremely poor organisation and it also sounds like John Billingsley and his wife are both extremely classy people that played a very straight bat (i've liked him in everything i've seen of his but it's always nice when the real person matches the affection you feel for his or her characters).

The organisers are making all the right noises about personal sacrifices to refund people's money, let's hope that a) that's not necessary but b) if it is they're as good as their word.
I'm also surprised that this just now showed up here. It's been going around since it happened on several boards.
From the mouth of Chief Tyrol, before the forum got closed:

NOTHING, I mean NOTHING has been done to get me a flight!

Tim has not even called my agent. If he was so concerned about getting us there, apparently his only job, why didn't he call my agent, give her a credit card number and tell her to call the travel agent?
Why not call a travel agent and say, "Book these guys flights to Dallas."
Why not call me and say book yourself a flight and have the travel agent call me for a credit card number?
Why not tell me to go online and pic a flight and email him the details?
Why not delegate to someone who has the capability to book a flight?

You posted on the 10th at 10am that Aaron and James were once again coming.
It is now the evening of the 12th and NO ONE has called with flight information, contact information, convention information, itnerary... nothing...... nothing.

Stop lying to the people.

You had no intention of bringng James or I to this con.

You used our names to sell tickets and now you are trying to pass the buck around enough so that people will just forget.
Ask any fan who has read, heard or watched what I have to say about the outstanding people over at Creation con and you will realize that I never forget.

You Tom may be the best guy in the world but you are mixed up with some ........

Save your own face, come clean and be honest.

Tim has blown it for Fedcon USA.

You will never get anyone from BSG, Erin Grays office or any actor I have ever met or will meet in the future.
I will tell this tale at every interview I do, every con I go to and every fan I meet on the street.

This is beyond poor. This is an abomination.

Have a nice weekend

This is total Bullsh*t
I have never spoken to Tim. I have never emailed Tim until tonight when i responded to a PM. I left him a voice mail the other day but it was not returned.
He has had our contracts for a long time.
Tim NEVER EVER contacted my agent and told her that he could not bring us. She has been waiting by the phone in her office since Monday waiting for him to return her calls, waiting for him to clear his full voice mail so she could leave another message, waiting for him to return an email.
If Tim had told her we were not coming a while ago, why the FRAK would I be on here looking for a flight or some kind of information for the past 3 days? Do I not have better things to do on set than run to my trailer to see if Tim has called Erin with a plane ticket for me?

James and I had our names removed from the site before we were even asked if we could attend or if there would be any issues preventing us from attending. We started the last two episodes of BSG this past Monday. The schedule for those episodes came out on Friday the 6th. Our names were removed from the site at the beginning of last week, somewhere around the 2nd. In what clairvoyant world does this man live in that he could know mine and James' schedule before the AD's, before the producers, before we have even had a readthrough? This is utter BS.
I was informed that my name had been removed by fans asking why. I said, I had no idea and that I thought I was still going. I had Erin Gray, my convention agent, look into why our names had been removed.
The convention was then told that we were in fact still available and hoping to go.
The names were replaced on the 10th at 10am. This is when we began the waiting game for tickets.
We were not replaced between the time our names were removed and replaced and if we were why were our names taken down in the first place?
And then when you realized that you could not afford to bring us and the "replacements" why did you leave our names up on the site and why are our names still running, tonight!!!, in radio ads for the con for the weekend?
As for the class of airfare.... my god how do you even come out with that one?
I asked for a flight with Alaska Airlines or an Alaskan partner. Erin has this email with my request. A first class ticket which is absolute common practice with actors traveling to cons. Tim claims that I am contracted for a business class ticket and James a first class ticket. On Alaska it is the same damn seat. There is no difference between first and business. Some airlines call it business and some call it first. It is the same seat. Yes James and I wished to travel together, that is what friends typically do.
If the airfare got too high for you why didn't you purchase the tickets 3 months ago when we agreed to come? Buy a refundable ticket in case the actor cannot show up. You save tons on tickets buying in advance. Is this new information?
The ticket I specifically asked for, an Alaskan first class/business class ticket from Vancouver to Dallas costs $1604.40 with 2 weeks advance purchase. If you bought it right now, at 2:25 am leaving in 7 hours and returning on Monday it costs $1604.40. Where the frak are you getting $6,000? I didn't realize that Dallas was in Australia.....
Come on man, these people are not stupid. 1600 bucks.... you have screwed this up for $1600?
You cannot put this on me, James or my agent. I will be on here everyday till this con is done to refute whatever BS you people drop on me, my agent, my good friend James or my fans.

This is disgusting.....

end quote
You know, I enjoy conventions. I don't get to go to them much, but I think there should be a better structure.

Perhaps have 4 main conventions in Sci-Fi (spring, summer, winter, & fall). I mean, come on, every August Trekkers everywhere head to the Hilton in Vegas to chat with the generations of Star Trek, ride the rides, eat at Deep Space 9, gamble, see the museum... it's a perfect venue, and it works. Once a year, in August.

So, that's the fall. Now we just need something for the winter, spring, & summer.

IMO, instead of having 30 medium conventions that last a weekend, have 7 that are amazing! Full of awesomeness! Like Comic-Con, but that's for comics and we're not talking comics.

Pool the efforts, get a better structure, and make it have such a bang that no one would consider going anywhere else, even the actors.

Thanks, Succatash, for posting that.
I read about this 10 days ago. As one of my favourite sites said " FEDCON USA: Making Flanvention look Good".
Well... I don't know if I would go that far.
But, I do feel for those convention goers. Hope they were able to pull together and make the best of a bad situation for themselves.
I feel incredibly sorry for the guests and the attendees. It must have been so unpleasant for all of them. Also I ♥ Mr Billingsley . I liked him as an actor before but he's dead on in my book now.
" FEDCON USA: Making Flanvention look Good"

Has the makings of an annual Flannie Award given to the crappiest convention disaster.
Korkster, that's a bit like saying, "Why don't all the countries in the world pass the same laws and the same schedules?" I guess there would be benefits to this on some levels, but some countries don't like other countries' laws and getting *all* of them to agree on *anything* is ... well, best of luck to anyone making that attempt. Fandoms are like separate countries, as are conventions. All I can say is, I'm glad no fandoms or conventions have nuclear capability (that I'm aware of, anyway) :)

As to Mr. Billingsley and Ms. Friedericy -- wonderful people on all levels from everything I know about them.
Pötterdämmerung went nuclear *dies*. So many fan fights could have settled through the use of tactical nukes.

But enough of my overactive fan imagination. I thought John was the best thing in Enterprise as well.
Has the makings of an annual Flannie Award given to the crappiest convention disaster.

Do things like this really happen so often? I don't go to conventions, but this and Flan sounded pretty lousy all around.
What a clusterfuck. This sort of thing inspires in me no real desire to spend money on traveling to a convention, let alone the money for passes, etc. The attendees may get their passes refunded but what if they traveled from another country? How do you bounce back from that financially and what happens to trust. The actor who posting about his situation praised Creation Con, which I've also read negative things about, but they seem to deal fairly with the actors. I guess in a way, you do take your chances but I think fans expect the people who run these events to run them like a real business and with integrity, not like a crapshoot (i.e., if FedCon USA had any inkling they were spread too thin before the Con started, they should have just shut it down). Where is the long-range planning?

All rhetorical questions of course. My friend Michele hadn't even left Seattle for Flanvention when she found out about the abrupt cancellation and ended up going anyway and having a great time. But that banding together for the good I'm betting is the exception, not the norm.

I feel bad for everyone left disappointed, actors and fans alike. Yeah, John Billingsley ROCKS!
Once a year, in August. So, that's the fall.

August is in the fall now? When did that happen? I thought it was still in the summer.
I seem to remember some thread somewhere about this whole FedCon USA debacle also mentioning this JumpCon thing, which seems like a rather ambitious endeavor and over which I've already heard conflicting opinions. Anyone know anything about it?
Korkster, that's a bit like saying, "Why don't all the countries in the world pass the same laws and the same schedules?" I guess there would be benefits to this on some levels, but some countries don't like other countries' laws and getting *all* of them to agree on *anything* is ... well, best of luck to anyone making that attempt. Fandoms are like separate countries, as are conventions. All I can say is, I'm glad no fandoms or conventions have nuclear capability (that I'm aware of, anyway) :)
Shapenew | June 24, 22:14 CET

Shapenew, you make me sound like Alliance. And, in this case, I don't mind. At least they have organization.

I just think by combining efforts, we'd pull more money, power, & support. People could order the covention halls, and run the chats. And, yes, they may run like separate countries, but some still play nice in the UN. Agree on the hall & the date, and then divy up the rooms. From there, if Lost fans want to run their rooms a certain way, go for it. If Whedon fans want to run their rooms a certain way, who's stopping them? Of course, the "board" would have a representative of each "fandom" to speak their piece. They'd be doing what they're doing now to get actors, but with the demand being higher than the products, it'd be less likely to be turned down.

Structure can kill, but not in this case. We could all run something a hundred different ways from Sunday, but if we don't reach an agreement, there won't be a Sunday.

Plus, who's not a fan of more than one thing? I would love the day where I wouldn't have to make multiple trips to see all of my favorite things- they'd all be under one roof, for one week. Splendid! Balls, concerts... a lot can be done with this, people.
So like PAX for fandoms?
For me, Invisible Green, school began in August. I never saw it as "summer". That was over by the end of July. And, if I lived south of the equator, wouldn't December be more like summer?

If it helps, fine, August is summer.
So like PAX for fandoms?

The G-Paxilon Hydrochlorate that we added to the air processors? It was supposed to calm the population, weed out aggression.
Now I'm picturing Reavers in shoujo anime cosplay. Thanks guys.
"About a tenth of a percent of the population had the opposite reaction to the PAX. Their aggressor response increased beyond madness. They have become...well, they've killed most of us. And not just killed -- they've done things."

I think the percent is just a little high, if we're talking fandoms - but yeah, they've done things, bad things.
Yeah, Sunfire, that's exactly what I'm talking about! Thanks for providing the link; I've never heard of PAX before (not a gamer).

But, my brother is, and I know there's some "haters" out there regarding different systems. But if they can all convene to pull THAT amount of people (37,000 growing!), for gaming, why can't we do the same? And, check out all of the support from the companies!

I should tell my bro about that... next year. He'd love it. :)
And, for QG, b!x, & Lady Brick, I had the same reaction (which at first made me a bit upset). Then I actually looked at the link- it goes to Penny Arcade eXpo. You may give me a hard time about what I think seems to be common business sense, but you can't tell me that the gaming PAX don't know what they're doing. Cuz they do, and it's working.
The G-Paxilon Hydrochlorate that we added to the air processors? It was supposed to calm the population, weed out aggression.

No that's oxytocin.

But if they can all convene to pull THAT amount of people (37,000 growing!), for gaming, why can't we do the same?

Whoa, hold up. A) They're internet celebrities and B) they're comic creators running a business based on their fan following. So the parallel here is if Joss Whedon decided to throw a convention and make it part of his job (with some staff) to manage it. Penny Arcade is employing several people beside Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik nowadays. They started on a shoestring budget, and they're still making small change compared to the gaming companies they make jokes about, but they have definite logistical abilities that I don't think a volunteer group of fans could match. I think a fandom version would need to be much smaller, just with a similar idea.
onetrub!x - I have not heard much about this JumpCon it did look good, until they announced the fact that Fernando Martinez is working with them. Now I would not touch this event with a 10' pole. For anyone else who may need to be reminded who he is, he was the one who did the Buffy cons for Vulkon. After being asked by numerous people, he told a group of fans that a Firefly convention would be a joke cause no one would pay to see them. I can also tell you he would talk about fans and some of the actors behind their back to other fans and on the boards he was on. Of course maybe that's just my pov or then again maybe it's not.
I know this is about the FedCon thing, but since that deal is what led me to stumble into Jumpcon discussions, I have to say that the Jumpcon people seem to respond to questions by customers the same way the Booster people used to respond to its customers about Flan 2. For the sake of balance here is JumpCon and here are its critics.

[ edited by theonetruebix on 2008-06-25 00:20 ]
I can't read through all of the links for times' sake, and keeping in mind I don't know the people involved, but it struck me as excessively precious to refer to the Director or whomever is running that event as "the emperor" (the message from the office staff telling the fans how hard they were all working). Me, I like knowing the actual names of people I'm talking or referring to in that kind of a situation. It was interesting to note that this organization is putting on 41 events this year. At least that's how it read to me. Be careful, I guess, is all I can say.
I've never even heard of Jumpcon. But if were a customer, then yeah, I'd be very nervous right about now.
I don't think "run by amateurs" is the problem. I've only ever gone to one media-genre convention (a small Forever Knight con, pretty nice) and whatever else I know I learned by reading this blog.

However, science fiction conventions of the original kind, for _readers_ of science fiction, have been going on since the 1940s. They range from little regional events to WorldCon, which sells out the largest hotel in whatever big city is hosting it that year. Most of them are run by committees of amateurs. Their celebrity guests are authors, not actors. And they don't have these kinds of meltdowns AFAIK.

Is it a difference in the business model, or the in the cultures of print vs. media fandoms, or something else?
I've been going to science fiction conventions for almost twenty years, mostly fan-run, of assorted sizes. I usually attend five or six a year. The first one I attended for a weekend turned out to have not actually sent travel tickets for most of the guests, and the organizers, I heard, ended up in jail. However, since then, that has proven to be an anomaly. Even so, we had fun that weekend. I did hear of one recent local anime convention that closed down part-way through the weekend. Other than that, attending conventions has been one of the great pleasures of my life. I have two scheduled for July.

This sort of thing is very rare.
It occurs to me that there is a way for an organized fandom to minimize the number of conventions that fall apart because of financial shenanigans or mismanagement. It would take some work, but it would put the power of the Internet to bear on upgrading the standards expected of organizations that put on these cons either for fun or for profit.

What if a group of fans who are experienced in organizing and running cons were to draft a set of standards for con organizers, standards that include periodic public reporting of finances and a place where announced guests can easily confirm or deny that they have agreed to appear and that their transportation has been arranged? Organizations that agreed to abide by the accord would post that fact on all their publicity (like a "dolphin-safe tuna" label). Fans would start looking for the compliance seal as insurance against being ripped off and would choose to spend their money at those cons rather than the noncompliant competition.

Pretty soon, if a con didn't have a "we pledge to abide by the XXX Accord" on their publicity, customers would be asking them how come.

Not for profit cons would probably be the first to adopt the standards, but for profit companies might be willing to comply with basic financial reporting if it gave them a marketing advantage. Any groups that claimed to be in compliance but weren't would quickly be exposed and denounced on the interweb.

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