East Coast Comic Con is a show that has been around for a while, but despite being just 25 minutes from the house, was never really on my radar. That all changed when “Gilligan’s Island” star Dawn Wells was added to the lineup. Dawn could go a local show every weekend, and I’d line up for her each time. So, on Sunday, April 30, I headed down to the Meadowlands Expo Center for my first East Coast Comic Con.
Dawn had no line, so it did not take long for me to get her, which is when I moved on to the cast from “Lost in Space“. I’ve seen this ensemble at shows numerous times over the years, but other than Mark Goddard, never got any of them. They all had $30 combo prices, so I finally acted on it this time around.
Luckily, I was able to get the Lost in Space cast all in a matter of 15 minutes, before their 11:30 panel. I had literally just walked in the door, and still had plenty of cash – so I decided to get photos with two attendees that I had previously only obtained autographs from – Ernie Hudson and Kevin Nash.
I was in and out of this show in an hour’s time. The vendor items were not of much interest to me, although I did spend time looking for a standout piece, but given its close proximity to the house, reasonable prices, and no lines – I would definitely consider returning to East Comic Con in 2018!!!
On Friday night, I attended my 14th Chiller Theatre Expo (I’ve missed just one since I began attending in 2009). It’s hard to believe there are now 14 in the books and that I’m a seasoned veteran, especially since I know there are folks out there who have been to 3x, even 4x more than I have. These intrepid fans are the real inspiration for attending. To think about just how many great stars the Chiller fans have had access to since 1990.
The evening started off on a bit of a sad note as longtime Chiller mascot, John Zacherle aka Zacherley the Cool Ghoul, had passed away peacefully the night before at the age of 98. While Zacherley was in everyone’s hearts throughout the weekend, there was still that never-ending buzz of excitement throughout the halls of Sheraton Parsippany. A rare appearance from Tim Curry, the return of Meat Loaf, Tony Orlando and Dawn together again, a Jaws 2 reunion, everyone’s favorite Jeannie – Barbara Eden, and a slew of TV and movie stars to span the decades.
I walked in the door a minute or two past 5, and began in the Skylands Suite. RK Sports Promotions had brought in three of my wants – Sasha Mitchell, Sonny Shroyer, and Dawn Wells, and I successfully banged out the three of them in around 15 minutes time. By the time I had finished with them, Ted Lange had arrived, and I crossed yet another name off my list. Despite pretty much being a “B-Lister” room, I think there were more household names in here than there were in the Living Room, and far more business transactions. All of the celebrities seemed to consistently have a customer in front of them.
I then moved onto the Livingston Room where the cast of Jaws 2 had taken up shop for the weekend. Other than Tim Curry, I wasn’t really looking forward to this Chiller. The guest lineup was lackluster, and while I always needed a good batch of name, none of them really excited me…until they added the Jaws 2 cast. One of my favorite movies, being able to see six of the cast members in one shot really made the 30 minute drive worth it for me. I was a little surprised with their pricing structure, $40 combos, but I bit the bullet and got them all.
I made a brief pit stop in the Morris Room to obtain some signatures for my buddy Wayne. He needed a slew of Bobby Rydell signatures, as well as May Pang.
The only guest I needed in the Living Room was Academy Award winning actor Martin Landau. Despite being a repeat guest, Landau had a reasonably sized line. After all, he is a living legend. The majority of the guests in the Living Room had absolutely no lines, and it seemed like most vacated their tables fairly early on in the evening.
At this point, I circled back through the hotel to get anyone who hadn’t been at their tables during my first spin around the block. Tonya Pinkins in the Skylands Suite, Telma Hopkins in the Randolph Room, and back to the Living Room for my main man, Caroll Spinney, who makes frequent appearances on this blog.
At some point, can’t remember exactly when, I lined up for the exclusive Tim Curry photo op. Tim was taking his time interacting with everyone, but the line still moved relatively fast and I believe I was done in about 30 minutes. I think the most frustration stemmed from the extremely long wait time for prints to be made ready for pickup. I think everyone waited at least 2 hours for their photos to come out. Tim had finished and gone back up to his room an hour before my photo finally came out of the printer. I’ve been to many shows where prints are available by the time you exit the photo area. Why this operation, helmed by Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory star Paris Themmen, is so far behind on the times, I have no idea, but Paris handled the crowd like a real pro. I guess it’s just hard for anyone to be mad at Mike Teevee.
At the end of the night, I had some time to kill while I waited for the print of my photo op. Cue the impulse buying. I obtained Kyle Labine and Kristy McNichol before the night was through, as well as laying down some money for a few vintage autographs in the Vendors Room.
Before I wrap up, I want to say how great it was seeing Mr. Chiller, Kevin Clement, back at the reign this year. We’re all extremely happy to see him “home” where he belongs. I look forward to attending the Chiller show every six months, and he’s the man to thank for it. And now I impatiently await the next one and the day the guest list starts appearing online…
Just got back from one of my favorite autograph shows, the semi-annual Chiller Theatre Expo held over at the Sheraton Parsippany Hotel. While last year was a hot mess, this year’s Chiller ran smoothly with no bumps in the road, at least none that effected this attendee. As usual, I had a pre-show ticket, got in at 5, and was out by 9. Most of my time was not spent on lines, but rather chatting with friends, some of whom I only get to see a handful of times a year.
Going in, I didn’t really have a game plan. I had a budget and some must-haves, but other than that, there were a lot of good guests at this show. The biggest draws were Academy Award winning actress Tatum O’Neal, WWE Legend Hulk Hogan, the cast of “Happy Days”, and Teri Garr in her very first convention appearance. Prices were pretty steep, and some of the guests thought way too highly of themselves and charged flat-out outrageous prices, but all-in-all, they provided a positive experience and lifelong memories.
I started out in the Troy Hills Room, which for me housed most of the guests I really wanted to see. Following my time in there, I made it around to the other rooms and gathered the remaining handful of signatures and/or pictures that I needed.
Throughout the course of the night, I also obtained autographs of “Soap” star Diana Canova, making her first convention appearance; Jodi Lyn O’Keefe, the dumbwaiter victim of Michael Myers in Halloween: H20; and for my good friend Wayne, “Good Times” star Ralph Carter, and “The Waltons” eldest daughter, Judy Norton.
A special thanks to Kevin Clement and the rest of his staff. As crazy as Chiller is, it never stresses me out. Already looking forward to the next one!!!