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Leverage CON-con Day Three — The Girls, The Guys, and the Stairwells.

March 28, 2010

When I last left my blog post, I was on my way to the Saturday evening banquet of the first official Leverage CON-con convention in Portland, OR. It was in the same large ballroom at the Governor Hotel as the cocktail party had been. Lots of round tables with lots of chairs encircling them, white table cloths and even whiter cloth napkins. I found my Browncoat/Firefly Fan friends and we were joined by a couple from LA and a mother and her two teenage daughters. When signaled, your table could go to either side of the room and take your dinner from the buffet tables that had been set up. Salad, pasta, chicken, fish or beef – your choice. I have been to less than five hotel banquets in my life, so far, and can say that Jake’s Catering has by far the best food.

Andy Lange and his band performed, as did Storm Large. I like Andy’s music and picked up his CD from the dealer’s room – his song “Not Sure Yet” is featured at the end of the Leverage Season 2 episode “The Beantown Bailout Job”. I think Storm has an incredible voice, but I’m not fond of the lyrics. The sound was also turned up incredibly high (for me), so I spent some time just hanging out in the back of the room.

I thought of leaving the banquet a few times, but saw Apollo Robbins walking the room. Nothing fancy or showy, just walking from table to table, talking with folks, sometimes sitting down. Since I had missed his panel, I hung out, waiting to see if he was going to do a set. Eventually it was too late and too loud for me, so I got up to leave but was stopped at the door by Ava Do who said Apollo was getting ready to work his magic on the crowd. We talked a bit (she advised the Leverage gang on the fortune-telling aspect of season 2 episode “The Future Job”), but it didn’t work out for Apollo to do his thing, so I went up to bed.

Mark Sheppard
Mark Sheppard

Which brings me to Sunday, the last day of the Leverage CON-con. Up early enough to snag breakfast and a tall chai latte from the Starbucks and make it into the main programming room to see Mark Sheppard. If you have seen any genre TV in the last 5 years (Firefly, Dollhouse, Battlestar Galactica, Chuck, CSI, Burn Notice, Monk) you have likely seen Mark Sheppard. He shared the stage with John Rogers (creator, writer, show runner and executive producer for Leverage) and it was amazing fun. They are each dynamic individuals; put them on stage together and it’s non-stop stories and banter.

The next panel was The Girls: Gina Bellman (Sophie) and Beth Rieisgraf (Parker). We heard about Beth’s audition and Gina’s past acts on the British TV show Coupling. They took a lot of questions from the audience and the audience policed itself very well regarding the quality and content of the questions. These actors are our guests and we should treat them with respect.

For the next several hours (yes, hours), I was sitting, standing, or walking the stairwells. This was where they kept the people lined up for the various photo-ops. A common option at media conventions, a photo-op is your five seconds of fame, standing beside the actor of your choice, getting your picture taken which is then either printed on site, or mailed to you as a photograph and/or an electronic file/jpeg. Unsure whether or not this would be the first or the last Leverage convention, I paid for photo-ops with everyone together (the group shot) and each actor individually. This meant a lot of time in line, in the stairwell.

I just want to insert a side comment here – no matter what you do, you cannot please all of the people, all of the time. This event had some issues, as does every convention. Being Sunday, being in the stairwell which was a concrete shaft that essentially had no air flow whatsoever, and being an activity that involved walking up and down several flights of stairs several times, some people were not happy.

Overall, I think what was pulled off in the five months that was available to coordinate this event was fabulous. Having worked on the other side of the convention/audience line, it takes a tremendous amount of work to create something like this, and most conventions have a year to do so. Could it have been organized better? Yes. Did I have fun? Yes. That’s good enough for me.

Once I was finished with the photo-ops, I hurried back to the main program room and assumed I would see the closing ceremonies. It was well past time for them, which meant there wouldn’t be a Boys panel (Timothy Hutton, Christian Kane, Aldis Hodge). Much to my surprise, all three actors walked out on stage. And sat and talked and joked and took questions for over half an hour. This is after they had been photographed and flashed in the face for the past 3 hours. I greatly appreciated their time, and so did everyone in the audience.

Closing ceremonies had every cast and crew member on stage to a standing ovation. It was the end of the first official Leverage CON-con event. I sincerely hope they have another one next year.

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Heidi Berthiaume

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