Filling the time until we get the winners of the Olivier Awards, I thought I’d rescue a couple of comments on the whole “Con Business” from the obscurity of the comment section. They were made by Comic Business Expert Extraordinaire Mimi Cruz aka my Shrine Fairy. Mimi has been working behind the scenes of the mother of all cons, San Diego ComicCon, and others for many years and has a true insider’s view of how the cons work for attending celebrities. This is what she had to say in the comments on last week’s post that cited from a German newspaper article about HobbitCon 2015.
Let’s look behind the curtain…I’m not sure if this aspect of the celeb con has been discussed; conventions pay the celebs a fee to attend. The bigger the celeb, the bigger the fee or sometimes it’s just travel, hotel and food. (Which in itself is a hefty price as well.) Their participation is used to promote the con and sell tickets. The fees in question are varied, while other celebs attend for PR obligations when they agreed to work on a film. Some use the convention circuit to sell their head-shots and photo-ops and they make their living that way if they don’t have other work. One year Angelina Jolie was promoting Tomb Raider and last-minute, day before, asked to propel from a helicopter onto the roof of the convention center. She wanted to do it, but it was deemed too risky by con management/insurance. I don’t believe she would have been paid to do that particular entrance, but it would have been way cool if she could have. Another year, director, Robert Rodriguez set up (with permission) a Taco Truck in front of the convention center to promote his film, Machete, and the actors in the film made and served up tacos to the con attendees for free. It was a great publicity stunt and the actors had in all likelihood agreed to do publicity long before they knew they would be working in a hot taco truck in the middle of July. I have scheduled some celebs for comic store appearances or library lectures with the stipulation that if they have the opportunity to work in a film/tv show, they will have to cancel. But in those situations, we were not paying an appearance fee. I think it isn’t about any of them not wanting to do a con, but what ‘work’ is involved. If they have a film they are working on or if they do not. They know they have to get out there to publicise themselves and that is how they get more work. If they are not working on a film, attending a con can generate immense publicity. I am not talking about just being seen by 6000 people sitting in Hall H asking you questions from a floor microphone, but the press room set-ups where the celeb in question sits and is interviewed by dozens of reporters one right after the other for hours. I have set up interviews like that in SLC and it is so much easier than taking the person in question from place to place for interviews. Although some insist on wanting them in studio, just depends. But the person in question is usually exhausted after a few hours because it can be intense. To those wimps, I usually tell them to toughen up and keep going. Just kidding…or am I 😀 As a frequent comic con worker, it is hard-ass work, Kathy Jones got a taste of that last year. I know lots of people who attend these crazy events for fun and never go back. Celebs can (not the ones that usually attend to get their comic stuff and just wander around like the rest of us unwashed to buy what they want from the various booths) have it easy if they want to not fight crowds too; they can be met escorted with or without security, driven on golf cart type vehicles from place to place. Phone or text me endlessly for drinks and food while I’m trying to work. Yeah, it can be a lot of stress for them. At this point in my life, if it wasn’t work related, I wouldn’t do it anymore because the price of fun (like a few hours with people I enjoy) is more and more costly. Especially when some celebs crap all over you or dogpile on you at the podium in front of a large audience trying to get their movie clip shown. I didn’t want to work in this industry to work with celebs… [To get back to why Armitage did not attend HobbitCon:] Erm…maybe Mr A was just busy, that is my guess 😀
Thanks for that, Mimi. I take from your insights that appearances at cons is hard work for actors, and I suspect it is very much dependent on the personality of the individual actor if and how much they enjoy participating fully at such an event. I have enjoyed watching the antics of McTavish, Hunter, Brophy and Co – and I hope they’ll continue entertaining their fans for a while in that same vein.