THIS IS A RE-POST OF A STORY I WROTE BACK IN 2009 FOR HOLLYWOOD TODAY ABOUT THE L.A. STARGATE CONVENTION. IT GOT A LOT OF FLAK AND COMMENTS (WHICH I'M INCLUDING.) IT GOT PICKED UP ALL OVER THE INTERNET AND WAS CONSIDERED EXTREMELY CONTROVERSIAL. REALLY???? I STILL FIND THE WHOLE THING QUITE HUMOROUS.
BTW, THE EDITOR OF HOLLYWOOD TODAY ADDED THE WORD "SEX" TO THE TITLE THINKING IT WOULD INCREASE GOOGLE HITS. WHAT HE DIDN'T KNOW WAS IT'S THE WORD "STARGATE" THAT ATTRACTED ALL THE HITS...
Sex not Stargates Brings Fans to SG-1/Atlantis Expo
November 12th, 2009 · 25 Comments
Love in a Wormhole: SG-1/Atlantis Convention
(my original title)
By Alicia Hollinger
What brings a worldwide audience from as far away as Australia, Germany, Brazil and England to a sci-fi convention? Fascination with high tech gadgetry, wormholes and aliens? No, not this time. It’s the hot guys.
An audience of predominantly middle aged women gathered the weekend of Nov. 6-8 at the Los Angeles Marriott at LAX for Creation Entertainment’s Official Stargate SG-1/Atlantis Convention for a chance to melt at the sight of the Beatles of Stargate — hotties Michael Shanks, Joe Flanigan, Ben Browder, and perhaps the Ringo of the group, Paul McGillion.
Stargate SG-1 ran for 10 years from 1997-2007 and Stargate: Atlantis for five, 2004-2009. Two Stargate movies were released directly to DVD and a third may or may not be in development, depending on whom you talk to. Word is MGM is having problems financing the project. The new controversial SGU Stargate Universe has just begun its run with mixed reviews.
Although not a particularly large group, the convention attendees were certainly an enthusiastic one. And very willing to shell out money for their obsession. Most attendees opted for the sold-out Gold Pass going for $379, which included preferred seating, free autographs and photo ops normally going for $30-$70. Auctioned autographed Stargate banners went for as much as $425; one woman spent at least $1000 on auctioned goodies — banners, and T-Shirts and memorabilia, oh my! Private lunches, breakfasts, and cocktails with a 15-person limit went for up to $500. As they say, sex sells. Although…
Despite their hotness, the Stargate cuties are all very married with children. When asked if he was a flirt, Joe Flanigan dodged the question saying “My wife might get pissed off if she thinks I’m a flirt” and right on cue received a phone call from her that he answered on stage, thrilling the audience with this peek into his private life. While shooting in Vancouver for five years, the dedicated husband flew home to Malibu every weekend to see his wife and kids.
Michael Shanks had his daughter in tow who piped in from the audience, “Dad, you’re such a dork!” and later pointedly refuted the accusation that she was responsible for chocolate pudding cups left in his trailer that led to a naughty prank on co-star Christopher Judge. Shanks joked that his favorite guest appearance was on the TV show Andromeda and didn’t have to explain to the giggling savvy audience that’s where he met his wife, actress Lexa Doig. Perhaps intimidated by all the estrogen in the room, he looked up to the ceiling and exclaimed “I love you sweetheart!” The fact that they appeared to be nice family guys just somehow made them seem even more appealing.
The big elephant in the room was the subject of the new TV series SGU Stargate Universe. Michael Shanks has openly panned the show, claiming the drama was forced and the characters were made to look like petulant children. He conceded that he did, however, like the visual effects, camera work and photography and the actors were really giving their all. When he put the question out to the audience to get their opinion, audience members screamed out, “It’s too dark,” “It’s boring,” “Too many characters,” “It’s slow paced,” “We don’t care about the characters.”
One of the funniest but most off-color speakers, Robert Picardo, referred to the series as “Stargate Galactica,” which got a huge laugh from the audience. Writer-producer Martin Gero, aware of the current fan reaction, urged them to hang on, give it time, and promised it will change and be more similar to the Stargate series the fans know and love. He explained that “the birth of a new show is super difficult” and felt they “had to reinvent the gate and make it fresh.” He continually begged the fans to stick with it. The fans most likely will.
As well-loved as the Stargate actors are, they are struggling to find the type of work they seek. Although virtual Beatles at the convention, TMZ would probably walk right by them on Robertson Blvd. All surprisingly funny and quick-witted on stage, they may want to look into careers in stand-up. However, when asked what type of role they would most like to play, oddly none picked comedy.
Fans were most interested in the stars’ funny private stories, juicy tidbits, on set pranks, and answers to questions about careers in the entertainment industry. Flanigan revealed that he wished he could have directed episodes of Stargate: Atlantis, but the Canadian tax laws prevented him from doing so. He joked “I would have become Canadian just to shoot an episode.” He said “If I were directing, I feel maybe there’s an arrogance, a cockiness that I have. I feel like I could do a good job because I see people don’t handle actors well. At all. They don’t understand them, they don’t understand how they think… There are a lot of technocrats. Especially in television.”
Michael Shanks had the audience laughing over complications with his costume on upcoming episodes of Smallville as Hawkman. “The wingspan is 13 feet. When I turn, I knock crap over. I hit people in the face. It’s twice my height widthwise. Good luck other actors getting in that shot.” He revealed a bit of frustration with the early incarnation of his Stargate SG-1 character Daniel Jackson, who he felt was “too often the brunt of the joke like the Kenny character (in Southpark) who gets killed at the end of every episode and we all laugh.”
Photo-ops with the actors were a huge big deal. Eavesdropping on the fans, there was no talk of alien races, time travel dilemmas or arguments about quantum physics, just gleeful exclamations of: “Oh my God, Ben (Browder) is such a hunk!”, “Joe (Flanigan) was sooo nice!”, “Michael (Shanks) hugged me!” This is a sci-fi convention???
But it’s more than just the hot guys that bring these women back year after year. One new fan who just started watching Stargate SG-1 reruns a few months ago told Michael Shanks she watches marathons of the show with her kids for hours and hours, forgetting everything else. She gushed, “You guys become part of my family. It was pivotal for us to experience that, go on journeys with you. Thank you very much!” To which Shanks replied “Thank you for sipping of the Stargate Kool-Aid.”
All in all, the Stargate convention was a true love-fest. “It’s a happy world,” fans say. “We all get excited about something we all love. The actors are genuinely nice and so entertaining, and really funny!” Debra Selle, a recent breast cancer survivor, is using her love of Stargate for a good cause, auctioning off autographed Beanie Babies to raise money for breast cancer awareness: http://www.avonwalk.org/goto/debra_selle “A lot of my best friends I met through these conventions,” Selle says. “We become friends for life.”
Who knew that a Syfy Channel TV empire about people going through a wormhole to fight off evil aliens could leave one feeling so warm and fuzzy?
AND NOW FOR THE COMMENTS. YIKES!
25 RESPONSES SO FAR ↓
1Aurora // Nov 12, 2009 at 3:29 pm
“Eavesdropping on the fans, there was no talk of alien races, time travel dilemmas or arguments about quantum physics, just gleeful exclamations”
Never been to a convention, but am a female fan of the Stargate show. I suspect if you’d asked these starstruck fans a question about alternate universes or alien races, you’d have gotten an earful of complicated character analysis and comparisons of various mirror universes SG-1 and SGA have encountered.
The female con contingent may be enjoying the “pretty” view of cast and have meeting celebrity nerves while in line, but make no mistake, a lot likely also have that “geek” gene in spades.
2MissedLAThisYear // Nov 12, 2009 at 3:30 pm
Thanks for all the news, and it’s fun to read the perspective of a convention “newbie”, which you seem to be. Yeah, the cons are about meeting the actors more than dissecting the finer points of the shows’ mythology, although that goes on too, in the impromptu hotel-room watch parties. Very interesting that Gero was begging people to watch Universe. Maybe if they hadn’t acted so sure they had a hit on their hands, fans would cut them more slack.
3sheryl berwick // Nov 12, 2009 at 4:42 pm
I WAS there this year , my first one, and it was truely a wonderful time. Not just for the actors, but also making great new friends which I will now have for life. One of the best experiences ever. Sheryl Berwick
4ro // Nov 12, 2009 at 5:18 pm
“and perhaps the Ringo of the group, Paul McGillion.”
It’s a shame these guys have trouble getting other gigs. Seems there’s still that stupid distinction between “sci-fi actors” and other actors.
5Negolith // Nov 12, 2009 at 5:20 pm
As a 42 year-old female fan of the show, it isn’t solely the “hot guys” that drew me to my first Stargate con in Chicago in August, though that was a plus. It was the chance to meet other fans, people I’d talked to on the internet, other fanfic writers such as myself, and wow – what a diversity of people. Stay at home moms, artists, an anatomy professor, a grad student in Middle Eastern studies learning to speak Farsi, insurance agents, government employees, professionals – all fans and all incredibly articulate and intelligent. Had you bothered to actually attempt a real conversation with the people you were eavesdropping on, you would have been surprised, methinks.
The one thing about the stars of Stargate that makes them so appealing to ALL (female and male) of their fans isn’t their looks – they fully understand that it is the FANS that have made them a success, and you can tell they genuinely appreciate them. Unlike the creators of the franchise, or the writers, whose own elephantine egos make them think anything they slap the Stargate name on will be followed faithfully and without question and expect the poor delusional sheep, er, fans to lap up regurgitated stale story lines and one dimensional boring characters…. Ahem. Lost my train of thought … oh, yes, the actors. Listening to them tell their stories and answer questions was a wonderful treat, and that they do these events is awesome. They could be divas, and refuse to humor the geeks and freaks, but they don’t, and I would imagine it’s in a way a personal thank you to the people who support them. And one we fans appreciate.
And besides, how many spandex or pneumatically enhanced babes have shown up in sci-fi over the years to appeal to the guys, huh? S’only fair us ladies get some eye candy, too.
6ceramicat // Nov 12, 2009 at 6:17 pm
Not just the hot guys, really they can be found anywhere. I work in the entertainment industry. I went to meet other fans I met online and for a Geek Girls weekend out! How often do we get a chance to leave our husbands at home with the cat and kid just to have a great time away? No that often. I love SGA & SG-1, as well as other Sci-Fi, the hunks were just a nice plus.
It was so nice to meet so many new people, the people I met online and to forge new friendships. I can’t say that about a lot of the people I’ve met in Hollywood. Sci-Fi actors are some of the nicest people I’ve run into in the industry, which I believe is because they have such loyal fans.
7Jenny // Nov 12, 2009 at 7:06 pm
Make no mistake, those same gushing fans could argue about the finer points of the show for hours if prompted. Those kind of discussions are usually left other venues though. Photo sessions are for indulging that inner pre-teen girl, not for serious conversations about the specific workings of quantum mirrors.
8Domino // Nov 12, 2009 at 7:09 pm
Sex, not Stargates sells the article…
I wish you had spent more than a few hours and spoke with some actual fans instead of eavesdropping on conversations. If you had actually talked with a few fans you might have discovered a broad variety of cultures represented, as well as occupations. You might have discovered what fun these cons are as well as found that the fans come to see each other.
You also might have discovered that there was another fandom meeting there. Farscape was celebrating it’s 10th anniversary and the fans of the show and stars came out in droves and with much enthusiasm. There are a few fans that are probably upset at what you wrote as they are neither middle ages or female.
I challenge you to actually attend a con for more than the few hours you did. You will get a more in depth story and even find some inspiring ones. They were there if you’d only looked.
The fans of Stargate and Farscape are enthusiastic, intelligent, caring, and are a lot of fun. We love our stars and crews of the shows. But, we come together for more than just that.
We are like a family and the cons become one giant family reunion. We would be meeting together even if the stars didn’t come. They understand that and even stated that in the panels; how wonderful they think it is that we include them in our “get togethers”.
I challenge you and any other journalists to attend a con, ‘talk’ to the fans (not just eavesdrop on conversations), and write an true article of what these cons are about.
9Jerry // Nov 12, 2009 at 9:30 pm
Loved SG1 and Atlantis, watched the first 3 episodes of SGU, and quit as it is too dark and depressing, the action and fun is gone, if MGM wantsa me back as a viewer, they can cancell this crap and make a show after the pattern the first two set, fun adventure, a touch of humor, and guest spots from the origanal cast as they can, even bringing one of the shows back would work ok!
10John // Nov 12, 2009 at 10:32 pm
It’s quite apparent that whomever wrote this article made the same assumptions as the creators of the Stargate franchise. Too bad you had to eavesdrop on other people’s conversations and didn’t feel the stronger urge of showing respect to those people by actually engaging them in true conversation. As they say, those that eavesdrop don’t usually get the entire story… and considering reporting on the “why they are there” is the entire subject of this article, you got it all wrong.
Perhaps next time ASK the fans something truly intelligent. Next time just ASK them anything at all, considering you’re supposed to be reporting “facts” and not perceptions. I, for one, am not a middle aged female and I had a great time conversing with the SGA and SG-1 ACTORs at the Chicago convention and I rarely fall over myself to meet a hunky guy of sci-fi.
Did you bother to ask any of the convention goers their actual thoughts about the show or science of the show itself? No, apparently not. You took a few “star struck” comments and wrapped every Sci-fi fan into a little ball of close-mindedness which in itself is sort of funny considering the open-mindedness one requires in order to dream or imagine such things as wormhole travel, planetary exploration, quantum physics, astrophysics… it seems to me the only person who saw “the hot guys” as the only reason to be there, was you.
I know that I spent hours each night of the con viewing different episodes with newer fans who had tons of questions about the science of the show as they tried to catch up quickly with the 13 year veterans. I even managed to turn one person onto the show who had attended simply as a companion to her sister. By the time she left the con she was craving to see the entire seasons and she went there not knowing anything at all about the Sci Fi show. She did say though that it was the down-to-Earth and open personalities of the actors she met that weekend that made her want to support them.
I think that alone says a lot more for the sci-fi genre than anything else you or the technocrats of sci-fi television ever could. It’s the ACTORS and the FANS who truly appreciate each others support and loyalty. Afterall, we are all we have.
11kris // Nov 13, 2009 at 4:06 am
I think it is great that you even went to a convention, however, maybe you should have been a bit more thorough, as most of us fans that go to conventions go to see each other and be entertained. Yes, I admit it, most of the gentlemen in sci-fi are good looking, and a large amount of the fans like to look at them, but even if they were unattractive, we all would love to meet them. There are few actors who will go out of their way to make their fans happy like at sci-fi con’s. If you had stayed for the whole convention you would have seen a crowd of people sitting in the lobby of the hotel saying goodbye, and not a star in site.
I have met some amazing people at conventions, friends I will have for the rest of my life. Sci-fi fans tend to be open minded about everything, disability, race and all other stigmas go own the drain at a convention, as all are seen as equal. The respect you get from con-goers is what society should be like all the time.
So , while you did get a little bit of info from your short stay at a convention, mayhap next time you will stay longer?
12Elyse // Nov 13, 2009 at 6:01 am
Overall, I liked the article and realized it’s not an indepth look into fandom, but a ‘fluff’ piece on conventions, but thank you for recognizing that us ladies do appreciate actors in the scifi genre (not everybody swoons over Tom Cruise).
As some fans pointed out, the fandom base is very ecclectic and rather intelligent. We all may act silly and gush at cons, but back in the ‘real world’ we’re doctors, lawyers, physics majors, even folks who work in the entertainment industry. We do cons for fun, as the lady in the last paragraph of the article pointed out.
Thanks for giving the Stargate Atlantis folk some press time. They sure deserved it as I enjoyed watching them in the five years the show ran and hope that we get the promised movie.
13Villy // Nov 13, 2009 at 8:20 am
While the article amused me to a point, and I did enjoy the look into the con, I have to echo the general response and say this is a rather unfair spin on it.
We are not all dim-witted bimbos. With SG-1, I happened to come across an early episode on sci-fi one day, and was fascinated by the archealogical spin, especially the Egyptology. It sucked me in, and my then-fiance had a copy of the original movie, and that was that. It wasn’t the guys, though I grew to love nearly each and every character.
I do understand this was meant to be a light piece, and agree with Elyse that it was great to see the Atlantis people get some press, I think it is quite misleading. Never underestimate the level of geekism in a female, simply because she happens to enjoy an atractive male.
14trupi // Nov 13, 2009 at 9:52 am
I don’t think the writer was calling any of us bimbos and was in fact very nice and was talking to quite a few fans and not just eavesdropping. It is quite usually for the majority of the attendees at a sc-fi con to be women (been attending different sci-fi cons since 1974) I know I’m not there only for our guys but their good looks, is icing on the cake. But she should have commented, ( as she was told) how close as friends so many have become and how we use these cons as gathering points. Perhaps that would be the subject of her next con article. I was just happy that someone came out and wrote on our shows.
15Mary // Nov 13, 2009 at 10:29 am
I didn’t attend the Stargate convention, but I did attend the Farscape convention held on the same weekend and at the same hotel and that you failed to mention. I came to see Ben Browder, Claudia Black, Brian Henson and other stars of the series, but mostly I came to see my friends, some of whom lived locally while others traveled from across the United States. We all bought the ‘cheap seats’. And while a few opted for autographs and photos, the majority of us just came to hear the people who had worked on a series we loved and that had brought so many of us together, discuss it.
It’s clear from your piece you went into the con with, at worst, an agenda or, at best, some antiquated notion of who attends cons, why attendees are there and what we all talk about. I’m rather shocked that, as a journalist, you failed to speak to a single attendee. Perhaps if you had you would have been enlightened as to the fans feelings about the science and themes of the series. Or how many in attendance were disappointed that no female cast members from Stargate or Atlantis were present.
Are the male stars of the series attractive? Certainly. But the actors are also liked and respected for the work they did and their willingness to relieve their experiences while on the shows. Personally, I love that so many are willing to share their true feelings about the Stargate universe rather than simply tow the company line.
As a 37 year old professional woman who has been a sci-fi fan since seeing Star Wars at the age of 5 and as someone who is incredibly grateful for the friendships I’ve made through various sci-fi fandoms, I find it insulting how dismissive you have been towards almost everyone involved with last weekends convention.
16Hella // Nov 13, 2009 at 12:16 pm
I was in this convention and love it. Hot guys are nice to see, you are right, but not the only reason why we join there. Most of this middle age women you met take conventions as the opportunity to meet with their online friends, other women like them who share their same sense of fun.
Some conventions have become a friendly reunion of forum mates and a perfect example was the Farscape con held simultaneously with the Stargate one. People there keep attending year after year to spend some days with their friends AND enjoy actors appearances and all the other stuff.
That is why people from far away countries as myself attend cons like this.
17RS // Nov 13, 2009 at 12:57 pm
This was a nice article, and I particularly appreciate the pic of Joe Flanigan as I believe he’s an actor who’s worthy of a lot of attention, but … (and you had to know the “but” was coming) …
It’s been a while since I’ve been to a con, but I have to agree with the folks above that you missed a great deal of the “experience.” William Shatner had a single perspective of cons until he decided to delve deeper into them. The result, his book “Get a Life,” would have been good research material for you as it’s an in-depth exploration of Sci-Fi fans and what draws them to the fandom. He came away from that experience respectful and awestruck.
I didn’t get into Stargate: Atlantis for the pretty, though that certainly didn’t hurt. I was drawn to the relationships between the characters and to the series-long story arc that showed how we so often mean well when exposed to new cultures, trying to “fix” them, but only succeed in messing them up even more. This series is a good life lesson that we should not only NOT assume that we know best, but that when we do mess up, we still need to stick around and do what we can to help.
That this lesson is shown with all the caring and drama and snark of SGA is a tribute to the writers, actors, and everyone else involved in the show. It’s a work of art that has meaning, and that is what draws me to the show — and to the fans who see the same things I see.
Again, I thought this was a good, well-written and fun article, but I challenge you to become an even better journalist. Go. Borrow the Shatner book from your library. Read it and learn. Then go to another con and join Sci-Fi fans everywhere to see how they’re open to new experiences, new thoughts, different ways of living, and who are seeking to make their life and other lives better.
18MissedLAThisYear // Nov 13, 2009 at 4:48 pm
I don’t quite get all the angst here. Yes, she portrayed fans as a bit shallow, but she could have been a lot more cruel in her portrayal. God knows other writers/skit-writers have been! I’m looking on the bright side
19Pat // Nov 13, 2009 at 6:57 pm
This article is so funny. Come on, it is news hat women, even middle aged women, enjoy looking at attractive men?? I’m over 50, not dead.
Sci fi is the most intelligent entertainment on tv, and it is the characters and their adventures that attract us, and if the men are hunky, all the better!
Why is this any more news worthy than the fact that sci fi has always had scantily clad women, pushing the boundaries of what was proper – FOREVER?
Give me my sci fi adventure, and leave the eye candy like the whipped cream on my sundae.
20Cleo // Nov 14, 2009 at 2:36 am
Hot guys… sure… but if these ladies are anything like me–and given that they are fans of the same show I am, we have that much in common, at least–then they didn’t just go to the con to ogle the actors.
See, I attended my first ever Dragon*Con this year, scraping together funds from my summer job to purchase Greyhound tickets and con membership, and bunked with a fellow D*C-goer who needed another roommate to split the hotel bill. Joe Flanigan, Ben Browder, and Paul McGillion were there, but my favorite of the “Stargate hunks”, Michael Shanks, had to cancel due to filming commitments.
Yet I still went.
Why? Because I knew D*C would also be attended by at least a dozen other women I had come to know through fandom over the last six years. I never purchased any photo ops, didn’t get in line for any autographs, but I still came away a winner.
I have a glossy 8×10 photo signed by each of those dozen-or-so ladies, and a 4×6 group photo of those dozen-or-so smiling faces.
THAT is the heart of Stargate fandom.
21Lynn // Nov 14, 2009 at 4:38 pm
I have been a Sci Fi fan from the age of 9. This was my first con and I went with my 21yr old daughter. We had fun and will go next year. SG and SGA were shows we could watch as family. SGU is not. It is also boring and it’s attemps to be edgy feel to forced. I noticed that SGU recieved a cool response at the Con.
22Penny // Nov 14, 2009 at 5:20 pm
I tried to get tickets to the Stargate convention when Richard Dean Anderson was one of the guest. Needless to say they were sold out. The original Stargate cast held the show together. I wish MGM would concentrate on a 3rd movie with all the original cast. Richard Dean Anderson was the glue to the Stargate franchise. He built it and made it work. He also still has loads of fan who want more of him on the screen. Mike, Amanda, Chris and Rick worked magic and with a perfect christmatic affect on their audience. Maybe Wright and Cooper need to concentrate on the 3rd SGl movie a little more. SGU is Ok but I don’t plan my day around it.
23E // Nov 14, 2009 at 5:24 pm
I’ve attended 4 Farscape cons and have always felt the attendees were warm, funny and as madly in love with the show as I am.
I don’t fault the writer of this article–I actually didn’t find it dismissive of the fans or fandom. On the contrary, it was a bit of an outsider look, showing that what you normally expect from a con (geeky teenage boys discussing non existent technology) is really a group of middle aged women ogling actors (yes, we do that) but also thoroughly enjoying the friendships they’ve made.
I think the writer was also quite favorably inclined towards the actors themselves.
For the record, I’ve heard Claudia Black say she’d love to do comedy and she’s darned funny onstage.
Lighten up, folks. It’s only an article.
24Kari // Nov 17, 2009 at 8:42 am
This was my first convention, too. I thought it was so much fun! And many of my impressions were the same as the author’s. I thought the actors were really funny and the fans were all really excited and wonderful. It was a friendly group and very welcoming to a newbie.
25 Alicia Hollinger // Nov 17, 2009 at 2:36 pm
Wow! Just got back from a weekend out of town to all this controversy! The reason I wanted to attend and cover the Stargate convention in the first place is because I AM a big fan of the show and the cast. And I have a geek side — I’m actually into quantum physics, alternate dimensions, wormholes, etc.. And I know that many other women are too. But, I honestly believe if the cast wasn’t so hunky (yes, AND funny, personable, and entertaining,) it would not have attracted as many women as it did.
Some of those who commented apparently didn’t read to the end of the article where I talk about how the women become good friends for life, and how one fan enjoyed watching marathons with her kids. Also, to retaliate to one comment, one doesn’t have to be a “bimbo” to be into hot guys — one can have a brain and sex drive!
It’s great to see how much passion there is about the show, and if you read the article again, hopefully you’ll notice that I wrote it with what I consider to be a quite positive spin. Hey, I even bought a Stargate SG-1 cap, that I wore over the weekend while out of town!