Archive | April 2016

Anderson Cooper

Whew, the last event of this amazing, fun, but tiresome weekend, was a last-minute signing put on by Walter and the team at Bookends in Ridgewood, NJ. CNN anchor and 60 Minutes correspondent Anderson Cooper signed copies of the new book he has out with his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, The Rainbow Comes and Goes, on Sunday, April 24.

The event was slated to begin at 5, but as I hear it, Anderson began at 4. I arrived around 4:30 and at that point the line was moving steadily and I was done in probably 30-45 minutes. Originally, the rules called for duck-in photos and no personalizations. However, Anderson personalized everything and took really nice photo ops in front of the table.

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Anderson Cooper ~ A true gentleman, and class act. I can definitely see how he attracts such a huge & loyal fan following.

For such a last minute event, this signing was not only a great surprise, but also a huge draw. I believe they were close to selling out when I left, and there was still quite a line with people still arriving.

And with that, my busiest weekend of the year, so far, was over. I clocked out with 26 photo ops, and a slew of autographs for the collection. I’m a bit sleep deprived, but I’ll get over it.

Guiding Light Reunion

After I returned home from The Great Philadelphia Comic Con, I worked an overnight shift at the hotel, went home and got in a few winks, before heading out to yet another signing, my third for the weekend. On this day, Sunday, April 24, I went to the Residence Inn Secaucus for The First Annual Bauer Barbeque, an event reuniting the cast of the now defunct soap opera, The Guiding Light, and paying homage to its most highly rated episode of each year.

Held in conjunction with the annual Daytime Stars and Strikes bowling event, the Bauer Barbeque was a fairly small, intimate event with 7 actors and less than 50 fans. Attending stars included the host of the day, Michael O’Leary, Beth Chamberlin, Liz Keifer, Jennifer Roszell, Jerry verDorn, and Yvonna Kopacz Wright. Anne Sayre, who actually never appeared on GL, but rather As the World Turns, came briefly and did not stay for the meet and greet.

As the luncheon and Q&A portions of the event began to wrap up, I started to mingle with the cast and collect autographs and photos, this way when the event wrapped at 4, I could hit the road and head to another signing. I seemed to be the only attendee with photos for signing, everyone else just seemed to collect photo ops.

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From L-R: Beth Chamberlin (Beth Spaulding), Yvonna Kopacz Wright (Mel Boudreau), Jennifer Roszell (Eleni Andros Cooper), Liz Keifer (Blake Marler), Jerry verDorn (Ross Marler), and Michael O’Leary (Dr. Rick Bauer). In addition to scoring individual photos with everyone, I also got this really nice cast photo op. Seeing as the event was done for charity, I donated for this photo to appear in an upcoming issue of CBS Soaps In Depth in the near future, so keep your eyes peeled.

Having never met any of these stars with the exception of Jerry, I really enjoyed attending this new event and certainly hope to see it return again next year with even more stars. A special thanks to all of the actors, as well as the lovely team from Daytime Stars and Strikes who put it all together.

As I said above, I headed out as soon as I could in order to attend yet another signing…

The Great Philadelphia Comic Con

With a free weekend on my lap and plenty of autograph opportunities in the area, I indulged myself. Competing with Chiller was The Great Philadelphia Comic Con, a large comic con event in Oaks, PA. While Chiller is predominantly adults and celebrity guests spanning the decades, Great Philly Con was geared towards family and included a set of celebrities geared more towards a younger generation. Needing a handful of names, I didn’t hesitate a bit and took the drive out there on Saturday, April 23.

First up was one of my first childhood crushes, Amy Jo Johnson, the original Pink Power Ranger. Amy Jo was the show’s special guest and was signing in a private room away from the main floor. Her line began forming prior to her arrival, but once she came in, it began to move quite quickly. She surprised everyone with table photos, but I had already purchased a professional photo op ticket, so I just got an autograph when I went into her room.

With about an hour left before my photo op with Amy Jo, I got the remaining stars I needed with no lines and plenty of time to chat.

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Kel Mitchell ~ This show’s guest list really defined my childhood, and Kel Mitchell was no exception. If you couldn’t tell from his attire, he was one part of the comedy team Keenan and Kel and appeared in the series of the same name, as well as All That and Good Burger. He inquired about my Kermit the Frog tote bag, which I informed him I have had since he was appearing on All That.

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Tim Rose ~ Tim is the performer inside the Admiral Ackbar costume in Star Wars – Return of the Jedi, Star Wars – The Force Awakens, and rumored to be in the new Star Wars due out in 2017. Not much of a convention regular, Tim has made many appearances this year with the hype of The Force Awakens‘ release.

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Caroll Spinney ~ A dear man and friend, Caroll is of course Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on Sesame Street for 45 years. The 82 year old took a fall at home back in February and injured his left wrist, but it did not interfere with his signing abilities. He signed my copy of I Am Big Bird, as well as a rare, orange Oscar the Grouch Pop Vinyl figure. His lovely wife, Deb, joined us for this photo.

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David Newell ~ Known as Mr. McFeely to generations of children, Newell is now the Public Relations Director for The Fred Rogers Company, which keeps the legacy of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood alive and on the air after all these years. Meeting Mr. McFeely was great, he was such a nice man. I got a signed photo, as well as a signed copy of his documentary film, Speedy Delivery. He also threw in some post cards and Neighborhood Trolley pens.

Lastly, it was time for the Amy Jo Johnson photo op. Unlike the photo op operation at Chiller the evening before, the 8×10 prints of these photos were ready and handed to us within a minute of departing the curtained area Amy Jo was in. Very professional and accommodating for the fans, especially myself, who hit the road as soon as it was in my hands.

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Amy Jo Johnson ~ A childhood crush from the Power Rangers days, who has stayed with me and remained in my heart for all of the years. I cannot believe she is 45, and in fact old enough to be my mother!!! I will never accept that!!! It was a long time coming to meet Amy Jo, and it did not disappoint at all.

Overall, The Great Philadelphia Comic Con was a HUGE show, however, attendance was not nearly what I had expected. It was a fun time, and I hope that if it is held again next year, it is in my cards to attend. Now if you think that was it for the weekend, you have got another shock coming…

Chiller Theatre Expo Spring 2016

As I teased in my last post, the end of April posed to be a great weekend for me, and it was. The weekend kicked off with my semi-annual visit to New Jersey’s flagship autograph show, the Chiller Theatre Expo. I had 14 names on my want list this year, and I headed up for preshow entry as soon as I left work. I got there around five after 5, and it worked great because the preshow line had dwindled down and was moving steadily.

I found my mother already on line for Meat Loaf. She was maybe twentieth in line at most and he was in the room roaring and ready to go. However, as we soon learned, Meat was having full fledged conversations with everyone and it took an hour of waiting in line to finally see him. He wasn’t doing table photos, and I had prepurchased a ticket for his professional photo op later that evening.

After I scored Meat Loaf’s autograph on a Rocky Horror Picture Show 8×10, I ventured into the Living Room where I would score the bulk of my combos for the night.

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Tara Reid ~ First up was this lovely Wyckoff native and star of The Big Lewbowski and the American Pie and Sharknado film series. Tara had a very short line, however I was stuck behind some perverted old man who needed to take a half a dozen different photos with his hands all over her. I got a combo and her signature on a nice bikini shot.

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Nicholas Turturro ~ Nicholas was right next to Tara and had no line, partly because he was in the corner of the room and had little to no visibility. He had very few photos on his table, and I naturally chose the one from Blue Bloods, a favorite of mine.

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Demond Wilson ~ Moving down the line, I got Demond, Lamont from Sanford and Son, a series which still airs daily nearly 40 years after its finale. This was his first convention appearance, and while he was not overly friendly, he was very appreciative of all the fans who came out to see him.

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Robert Pine ~ Appearing alongside his CHiPs costars, Larry Wilcox & Erik Estrada, both of whom I have already met, Robert had the shortest line of the three. To be completely honest, CHiPs means absolutely nothing to me, so I surprised Robert with an 8×10 screen grab from one of his earliest films, Munster, Go Home. He fondly recalled the film, and working with my favorite Marilyn, Debbie Watson.

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Max Baer, Jr. ~ Making a rare east coast appearance was the last surviving cast member from TV’s classic, The Beverly Hillbillies. I have two autographed 8x10s that a friend got me when Max did another show a few years back, so I just got a photo with him. We spoke briefly of his venture into the casino industry and online gaming.

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Ted McGinley ~ Another star making a rare appearance, perhaps even his first, Ted was a fan favorite among the friends I had attend the show this weekend. He took the time to have a conversation with everyone, and we spoke mainly of all the great trips he got to take during his time on The Love Boat. I had a Married with Children cast photo that I started many years ago, which I had abandoned, but I brought it along for Ted to sign, as well as getting a standard 8×10 headshot, a shot Ted can’t remember came from Happy Days or Dynasty.

At this point, the other two names I needed in the Living Room, Judge Reinhold and Rob Schneider, had super long lines, so I went into the Skyland Suite to bang out all of the remaining names on my list, all of whom were in there.

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Piper Laurie ~ I found the Twin Peaks leading lady stationed right inside the room with no line. Piper had many Carrie photos, and even a couple from The Hustler, but only one from Twin Peaks, which is what I went for. Sadly, Piper’s mind seemed to be a bit distant at times, but she was overall very gracious and interested in her fans, asking me what I do for a living and keeping one of my business cards.

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Lynne Moody ~ I got a nice glamour shot from Lynne, who starred in Roots, Knots Landing, General Hospital, and originated the role of Lionel Jefferson’s fiance, Jenny Willis, on All in the Family. She fondly recalled her time on GH and attending GHFCW. And then to my surprise, she grabbed hold of me for this great photo op.

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Dennis Haskins ~ An icon for my generation, Dennis played Principal Richard Belding on all incarnations of Saved by the Bell. Dennis was super cool and friendly, just as one would imagine Mr. Belding to be.

I then realized that aside from Judge and Rob, I still needed Bernie Kopell, who was nowhere to be found. He was supposed to be in the Living Room, but alas, had moved into the Morris Room.

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Bernie Kopell ~ A television icon, Bernie of course starred on both Get Smart and The Love Boat. I was a little taken aback at his frail appearance, but he was still sharp as a tack. He elaborated on a story Ted McGinley told, the time Fred Grandy was severely injured in a taxi cab explosion in Turkey. At the time, Bernie was nearby and recalled the panic that ensued as it was believed it to be a terrorist attack.

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Butch Patrick ~ The Munsters star was a few tables away from Bernie, and I figured it was time for an updated photo op. Butch attends the show usually once a year and it’s always nice to chat with him.

At this point, I went up to the Mezzanine level for the professional Meat Loaf photo ops. Mass hysteria was bound to ensue, so I got up there fairly early to stake a spot on the line. Meat came up about 25 minutes late, and once again, held a friendly chat with everyone who came in for a photo.

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Meat Loaf ~ I have to admit, I was really apprehensive about meeting Meat. I recently read an interview he did where he spoke in disdain of meet & greets, but he was such a pleasant man. He loved to chat with the fans on a variety of topics, and came across to me as a pretty normal guy.

With my photo op out of the way, I jumped on line for Rob Schneider, where my mother was holding a place. Luckily, she had gotten pretty close to the front while I was upstairs, so I didn’t wait very long. I then finished up with Judge Reinhold.

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Rob Schneider ~ Rob has been a defining comedic actor all throughout my life and appeared in so many films during the last 20-some-odd years, so it was a big deal for me to meet him during his first convention appearance. We discussed two of my favorites, Home Alone 2 – Lost in New York, and the 90s film version of The Beverly Hillbillies.

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Judge Reinhold ~ Another pleasant surprise of the evening, I heard stories that Judge did not like having his photo taken, but on this particular evening, I don’t know a fan who didn’t get the photo op. Judge and his wife Amy were awesome. He was so genuinely interested in the fans, and when I told him I grew up watching a VHS copy of The Santa Clause with my grandma almost daily, Amy pulled out an 8×10 screen grab of the weenie whistle scene. The quality of it wasn’t great, so they weren’t offering it on the table for sale, but Judge signed it for free, in addition to a shot of Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

And then it was all over. Another great Chiller in the history books. Personally, this was one of the best ones I attended. The stars were great and with the exception of a few chatty ones with long lines, it was smooth sailing. But if you think that’s the end of fun for me, you’re wrong…

Cameron Diaz

The great NJ staple for autograph collectors, Bookends, has been on a roll lately. Their latest event, an Afternoon with Cameron Diaz, was in cooperation with The Woman’s Club of Ridgewood.

When the event was announced, I hesitated. A Thursday afternoon is hard to pull off for those of us with jobs, but I eventually gave in and bought a ticket a day or so before they sold out. As it turns out, I ended up with the day off, so I was good to go. $35 got you a admission, a signed book, a guaranteed photo op with Cameron, and a free flowing buffet of refreshments.

Cameron came out just after Noon and while they had said she would talk for a full hour, she luckily did not. While the majority of attendees were interested in what she had to say, us collectors just wanted the photo op and to get out of there. Luckily, it did not last the full hour and and the photo ops sessions began. That too went by fast, even with Cameron taking a moment to chat with everyone.

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Cameron Diaz~ (The Mask, My Best Friend’s Wedding, There’s Something About Mary, Shrek, and Charlie’s Angels) discusses her new book, The Longevity Book, at The Ridgewood Woman’s Club on April 7th.

As I always say at this point in my posts, a huge thank you to Walter & Pat and the staff at Bookends, as well as the ladies of The Ridgewood Woman’s Club. It was a day off very well spent!!!

I have a few great projects on the horizon. Fingers crossed, they all pan out and I will be back very soon with many more reports!!!