Beantown Is Geektown

02-Nov-09 2:22 PM by
Filed under Potpourri, Star Trek, Star Wars; 4 comments.

The passing of Halloween means the holidays are nearly upon us — but if you're a geek in Boston, then there are far more significant festivities headed your way. The biggest and best celebrities of science fiction will be coming to Massachusetts for three different events this month:

• On Saturday, November 14th, the touring "Star Wars In Concert" comes to the TD Garden for both a 3:00 PM matinee and an 8:00 PM performance. The concert is described as "John Williams' breathtaking score from the epic Star Wars saga … performed by a live symphony orchestra and chorus, accompanied by a stunning video montage on an enormous LED screen." Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) has been narrating this concert, though it's unclear if that's only at specific venues. Us Bostonians are no stranger to hearing Mr. Williams' soundtracks performed live, as the composer is also the director emeritus of the renowned Boston Pops Orchestra and often serves as guest conductor, but a dedicated concert to this particular score is a rare treat. Tickets are $32.50, $52.50, or $72.50, plus applicable taxes and fees.

• That same weekend is the New England Fan Experience (NEFX) sci-fi convention. Star Trek headliners include Bostonian Leonard Nimoy (Spock Prime) as well as John de Lancie (Q), though the former will be available only on Saturday, competing with the aforementioned Star Wars concert. Online tickets (via a Web site that is remarkably reminiscent of a GeoCities page) are available through November 6th for $45 each, or for $50 at the door.

• NEFX 2009 is held a week earlier than in 2008, avoiding the conflict that occurred last year with the annual Super Megafest, traditionally held the weekend before Thanksgiving. That means this year, you can attend NEFX one week and Super Megafest the next! The latter is held in Framingham, less than a half-hour west of Boston. The expo — which features an unusual amalgam of sci-fi actors, comic book artists, TV show stars, and pro wrestlers — will this year present Brent Spiner (Star Trek's Data), Ray Park (Star Wars' Darth Maul and, more recently, G.I. Joe's Snake Eyes), and James Marsters (Buffy's Spike). In addition to signings, each star also has a half-hour Q&A session, though the schedule is unknowable prior to the event: an email from its coordinator informed me, "No, panels will not be posted on the site. Most celebs will do Q&A sessions both days. However sat is probably the better day to see more Q&A sessions." Last year I happened to show up just in time to see Jonathan Frakes; otherwise I would've been out of luck. The actual show floor is quite small but packs a lot into it. Tickets for the entire November 21-22 weekend are only $20.

Though the two conventions offer cheaper admittance than the orchestral concert, they also have the most potential to drain your allowance, based on how many celebrity autographs you want to go home with; typical fees range from $20 to $50 or more per signing. This will be my third Super Megafest, and I usually budget $100 for at least three autographs.

If you'll be attending either the Star Wars matinee or the Super Megafest, be sure to say hello to Showbits!

Fanboys' Rebellion

03-Nov-08 10:35 PM by
Filed under Star Wars, Trailers; 4 comments.

Star Wars has inspired some fantastic fan films, from Chad Vader to Ryan vs. Dorkman. As artistic and engaging as these creations are, they are usually limited in their budget and scope; few are more than a few minutes in length. Meanwhile, more ambitious projects, such as Heart of an Empire or 5/25/77, never see the light of day.

Finally, a feature-length film inspired by Star Wars will get a nationwide theatrical release — thanks in no small part to a cast that includes Kevin Smith, William Shatner, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Kristen Bell, Seth Rogen, Ray Park, and Superman Returns' Jimmy Olsen, with Kevin Spacey producing. The first trailer for Fanboys brings to life every geek's hopes and dreams:

Although I'm not always a fan of either Seth Rogen or Kristen Bell, this star-studded film looks like a ton of fun for anyone who knows Star Wars and Star Trek as well as the typical Showbits reader. A healthy dork is one who can laugh at himself, and I suspect I won't be alone in counting myself among that crowd come Fanboys' opening night of February 6, 2009.

(Hat tip to ComingSoon.net)

A Super Time at the Megafest

20-Nov-07 10:33 PM by
Filed under Celebrities, Potpourri; 9 comments.

Despite my geekiness and enthusiasm, I've never felt the motivation to pursue the objects of my affection by attending a convention. But when Super Megafest promised to deliver a bevy of cult icons to my backyard, Hiphopguy23 and I couldn't resist.

My past experience with conventions came at the now-defunct Electronic Entertainment Expo, a trade-only show of the gaming software industry. Those events spanned multiple football fields and were packed with blaring televisions, free giveaways, and celebrity promotions. There, simply by standing in line for an hour each, I'd gotten the signatures of such stars as John de Lancie, Nicole de Boer, Robin Shou, and Wayne Gretzky.

I'd fortunately not been to E3 for awhile, as otherwise those experiences may've made for even more unrealistic expectations of the Megafest. This primarily sci-fi convention filled a large hall at a Sheraton hotel, its adjoining corridor, and one nearby conference room. It was a good size that required at least an hour to take in, but it was not anywhere that one could get lost. The variety of unique and exclusive products could entrap a fan for hours with DVDs, toys, shirts, guitars, and especially comics — but Hiphopguy23 and I weren't there to spend money.

Unfortunately, expense was another area in which E3 and Super Megafest differed. Whereas celebrities were paid to endorse a vendor's products, here their sole purpose was to supply fans with autographs… and so those fans became their financial backers. A personalized glossy of Adam West went for $50; other actors' costs were more reasonable, but charged extra for a photo of the fan and star. Though as a convention newbie I accepted the reality of the arrangement without much distaste, I still had to wonder why an actor like Ray Park, who currently has five projects in production, would need this income.

Ken Gagne & Ray ParkI hope this observation does not reflect poorly on the actors, as I was honored to meet each and every one of them. Mr. Park kindly took the time to talk to me about his work on The Descendants, a series he hopes, but does not expect, to see available next year. He even did me the honor of a free photo.

Margot Kidder was similarly amicable. Though no star had a line longer than five minutes, I was disappointed to see her so underwhelmed with fans that she had time to be reading a book about the history of the CIA. So I chatted with her about Superman Returns. "I liked it, though I think it wasn't aimed at kids," she commented, "so I think they missed the mark in that regard. But I liked it." Another fan, looking at the glossies of her work on the Christopher Reeve films, asked if she missed those days. Her answer was either self-evident or profound, depending on the age of the audience: "I don't have to miss those days; I remember them."

But it was the two other stars who were the highlight of my day. I hadn't gone to the event wanting Helen Slater's autograph, but of all the actors at the show, she was the least what I expected. Whereas all the other actors have gotten older since their prime, this former Supergirl, now singer/songwriter, has hardly aged a day. I was surprisingly nervous to approach her, as the last woman to make me bashful, another female celebrity, was a very long time ago. Rather than a color photo of her in Kryptonian garb, I chose to have signed a black-and-white glossy of Ms. Slater as she is today. I almost can't stand to have it mounted on my wall, as she far outshines the others I keep there.

Just as powerful an addition to my collection (of both autographs and memories), but in a very different way, was Larry Storch. I grew up on the comedy of F-Troop, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Dobie Gillis, and others that were clean and funny, derived from true situational comedies. Nowadays, shows like Seinfeld are built on nonsense concepts with characters who are hateful, unrealistic, and insulting — but back when shows had theme songs with lyrics, the writing and acting were far cleverer. Larry Storch as Corporal Agarn was one of several people who exemplified for me the potential of acting and comedy, both of which I now pursue myself on theater stage. To shake his hand and tell him what he meant to me was a golden moment.

Hiphopguy23 did not get that chance with George "The Animal" Steele, who cancelled due to the popular affliction of wrestlers: poor health. But I think we both had a good time at our first such convention and considered every dollar well-spent at this one-in-a-lifetime opportunity.


[Hat tip to GeneD. for informing me of this event!]

Son of Dorkman

01-Oct-07 11:18 PM by
Filed under Trailers; Comments Off on Son of Dorkman

After stumbling across the excellently-choreographed Ryan vs. Dorkman Star Wars fan films, I started watching for more from the dynamic duo of Ryan Wieber and Michael Scott. Hearing their interview on Geekza was cool, but I wanted to see more.

I found it when I subscribed to Scott's YouTube channel, as shortly thereafter, he posted this teaser trailer:

It's a live action adaptation of the Dark Horse comic book The Descendants, which doesn't seem to be a widely-distributed publication; the best source of information I've found about it is its MySpace page. We can gather more from watching the trailer, though.

First and most important, it features Ray Park, who deserves any role he wants after his enjoyable performances as the short-lived Darth Maul and the evil mutant Toad. Second, the trailer exhibits some great special effects, but something about their nature that I can't put my finger on suggests homebrew — like that of a high-quality fan film instead of a professional studio. Backing up that intuition is the fact that many other sites are reporting this venture is intended to be a Web series. But from co-director Scott himself comes the admission that its ultimate format is to be determined:

We're trying to get funding for the full project, but we don't know yet what form it will take. At this point in the negotiations with certain groups, it could become anything from a theatrical feature to a TV miniseries to a collection of webisodes posted right here on YouTube. It's up in the air at the moment.

So there remain many questions about this project, but based on the directors' portfolio and what I've seen of this latest collaboration, I hope the answers are positive. IMDb suggests we won't be seeing the fruits of their labor until 2009, which should be enough time to get The Descendants the green light it deserves.