Home Conventions When a con is crap: Rewind Con and the broken photo printer

When a con is crap: Rewind Con and the broken photo printer

13

While this story has nothing to do with comics, it does have to do with cons, and when people see the word con, they think of the wonderful world of “Comic-Con,” a celebrity filled nirvana of excitement and fulfillment. But it is not always that way. And it seems that Rewind Con, a 80/90s themed boy band/90210 celebrity show, was a perfect example of how NOT to put on a show.

I’ve written over the years of many “autograph cons” that bombed without a nerd factor, and Rewind Con, held November 11-13 in Bloomington, IL seems to have been one for the ages.

I’d heard a little about Rewind Con over the last few weeks but due to other matters couldn’t check into it. When I finally did I found their twitter account removed, and their website lost to Google Cache.  This despite a guest line-up that included a 90210 reunion that was written up on Perez Hilton,  live streaming of panels on Hollywood Life, members of Backstreet Boys, NSync, O-Town and 98º, Alan Thicke and a total of 64 guests from your favorite TV shows of the past. Beyond the first show, five more events were planned, including a Friends reunion con. It all seemed full steam ahead  – what had happened in just two weeks to shut everything down?

 

For the answers I plunged into this epic thread on the Rate That Comic Con FB group. Reading it is like watching a Melrose Place-like soap opera set in the world of running a con. I’m not going to give a chronicle of the whole debacle, but here are some of the juicy bits:

• The event was originally scheduled for September, but moved to November and a new hotel. This led to people not being able to go, and not being able to get refunds. The reason for the move wasn’t clear but some alleged that the show didn’t have the money to pay the first hotel.

• The show seems to have been horribly organized on every level. Perhaps the worst thing is that the celebrity photo up set-up included only ONE PRINTER…which kept breaking. Meaning people couldn’t get their photos with Joey Fatone  for hours…or maybe at all. The original photographer didn’t have a website set up where the photos could be downloaded. A second photographer was eventually brought in with his own set-up, but many people had missing photographs that they paid hundreds of dollars for.

• People paid hundreds of dollars for an exclusive 90210 panel…only to find it was live streamed on Hollywood Life. OUCH.

• There was supposed to be a boy band reunion concert on the Sunday night of the show — odd timing since usually folks go home by then. That is in fact what most of the boy bands  – now MAN bands, let’s be blunt –  did, since no one told them about the concert. The few guests who did show up  did a Mannequin Challenge and turned it into a dance party. For the 15 people who came. A ticket for this event ALONE was $175. However, as pointed out in this lengthy report on the many problems of Rewind Con, it costs a LOT MORE to put on a concert than a party, and autograph bookers are not concert managers, so it’s likely show runners knew all along they couldn’t put on a concert.

• Someone who worked for the show (as an unpaid volunteer) posted that pizzas were promised to  volunteers on Saturday, but never arrived, meaning they didn’t get fed. They didn’t get water, either. Half of the volunteers didn’t show up for Sunday, and I can see why.

• Someone else who worked for the show refuted some of the previous person’s claims and said she was mean and made Tori Spelling cry by being rude to a fan.

• The showrunner was usually nowhere to be found to answer any questions, leaving volunteers to clean up all the messes. But at one point she literally did a “talk to the hand” gesture at someone who asked a question.

• People who paid thousands of dollars for travel and VIP packages were shocked to see that volunteers for the show were sitting in the front row at panels, and taking selfies with celebs — for FREE. But after the privations the volunteers endured, you can’t really blame them either.

• This is how low it got: Patrick Muldoon – forever known as the guy who got his brains sucked out in Starship Troopers – tweeted vague complaints suggested he wasn’t paid.

All of this — and so so so much more – rolled out in the RTCC thread. The big problem above all else is that..no one showed up. While some estimated between 1000-3000 people, others said it was maybe 500. Social media postings show tumbleweed friendly aisles and empty chairs galore.  While this meant that fans who did show up had a lot of quality time with the celebs — who were lovely and gracious despite the problems, by ALL accounts —  it also meant that none of the celebs made their guarantees. 64 guests is wayyyyyy too many for a first year show, especially with so many who have big guarantees. You can see a six figure loss right there.

And indeed, at the very end of the thread, it was revealed that the showrunner, Jaymie  Lashaway is filing for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Rewind Con is dead, although talent bookers posted ominous warnings that we haven’t heard the last about this, presumably over not being paid. Although with a Chapter 7, good luck on that.

SHEESH.

So what can we learn from all of this?

I’d like to note, once again, that this wasn’t a comic con. It wasn’t even nerdlebrities. It was just celebrities.  I’m sure there are successful celebrity autograph shows – especially ones based around specific TV shows or movies – but having some kind of nerdy connection seems to raise the chance of success for these sorts of affairs. Walker Stalker cons and the Heroes & Villains spinoffs are nothing but autograph shows, but they have nerd connections and encourage people to participate by dressing up. They also seem to have, for lack of a better word, more energy, whether it’s from the participatory nature of cosplay or even lowly comics artists sitting and drawing.

I wondered how many pure autograph shows there are and a little googling revealed The Hollywood Show, which is literally an artist alley for people your parents once had a crush on. Interestingly, the site boasts that they have vendors at each show, and the first item available for purchase mentioned is “comic books.” This website also includes the most half hearted endorsements I have ever read, if it isn’t a joke:

“It’s nice to see the faces on the other end of the phone!” – Steve Moriarty upon seeing someone from his agency.

“This is only my second show.  I didn’t like the other one but I’m really enjoying this one and having a great time!” – Richard Roundtree

One can only guess at what horrors the “other one” offered Shaft.

Reading all of this, I also have to wonder…are celebs really so desperate for cash that they’ll go to any first year show no matter how sketchy it looks? I mean, I know Patrick Muldoon isn’t too busy these days, and I feel genuinely sorry that he and the other celebs got stiffed — especially  as they were so nice to the fans at this obvious mess — but doesn’t common sense kick in at some point for the talent bookers? I dunno, is a mystery.

Of course the biggest lesson of all this is to put on a show you need to be organized and have some idea of how to actually do it. We’ve run many many stories in the “When a con is crap” category where people were in over their heads from day one – or else running a con from day one. This isn’t easy money for showrunners. With Wizard tightening its belt and some other shows going away, the whole nerdlebrity economy will see some changes in 2017. But Rewind Con will be only a memory of how not to do things.

 

 

 

13 COMMENTS

  1. I believe The Hollywood Show is the one Mark Evanier references on his blog from time to time, often recounting stories of meeting old friends signing autographs there….

    Or, they’re the last place he saw a certain celebrity before he had to write their obituary….

  2. That sounds a lot like the story of this year’s disastrous Tatsu-Con (formerly Ryu-Kon) that will probably not return to Buffalo next year.

    Eerie-Con turned out much better, but seems to have financial issues that might imperil next year’s convention. I hope not; I thought it was a great local con.

  3. Kansas City Comic Con is starting to inch that way too. Planet Comicon in Kansas City is great, but the other show is horrible.

  4. I started researching the show when I was hearing from people that they were getting refunds after the date and location changed. I contacted the original Hotel and they told me that the reason they cancelled was not due to space issues at the convention said but due to the fact that the convention refused to put down a deposit on the space. It went downhill from there. The promoter actually came on a Facebook page and began insulting people who were asking for refunds. When fans disputed the charges with their credit cards and Banks she threatened to sic lawyers on them. In the end of show that both knew they were going to get 3500 to 5000 fans only in truth Drew about 500. Every single celebrity was owed money when they left that weekend. And now after filing for chapter 7 many of them probably won’t see it. Sadly neither will the people who bought advance tickets to the Dallas show or their so-called Rewind2Friends con.

  5. I was actually a volunteer both days at this con, and can verify that everything above is true. There are a couple of points I would like to clarify though:

    – It was a minority of the volunteers who expected free things from celebrities. Most of us paid for our selfies and autographs. There were a few occasions where the celeb saw my volunteer shirt under my hoodie and refused my money, so I did get some for free, However, I always expected to pay and had my money ready when it was my turn. I’ve volunteered at numerous cons, and there are always the volunteers who do it for the free stuff and celebrity interaction, though. This was no exception.

    – A lot of us did get fed on Saturday, but it was only because one of the volunteers took it upon herself to make a McDonald’s run and use her own money to buy food for everyone. If not for her, we would have been out of luck because we were otherwise forgotten.

    – As stated above, the celebrities were wonderful. Despite the issues, and they were all aware of them, they went above and beyond to give their fans a great experience. I cannot say enough good things about them.

    – There were some Rewind staff members who did try and keep things afloat and help put out fires, so we volunteers weren’t completely alone. However, there was so much going on and so few of them that they were fighting a losing battle.

    The list of issues is a long one – some major (the photo ops disaster, celebs who were invited and advertised but didn’t have booths or banners set up for them, a cash only operation where all of the ATMs in the building were out of cash halfway through the con, terrible choice of venue) and some minor (lack of trash cans, celebs not being given their schedules) – and hopefully other start-up cons can learn from this and avoid some of the same pitfalls.

  6. The event took place in Bloomingdale, IL not Bloomington, IL. The demographics are quite different between the two areas.

    The planning was just not correct and changes to schedules didn’t work edit after edit after edit after edit. This makes it difficult for even the most seasoned volunteers do their jobs.

    I’m not sure who refuted the Tori crying comment, but she did cry when someone (a volunteer) was yelled at in front of her.

    The one printer photo ops had on day one that kept breaking down was a joke. Putting photos in an area that wasn’t near photo ops was a huge mistake as photos were getting stolen and those not stolen disappeared.

    The media coverage seemed more important than anything else.

    All talent was super friendly, kind, and professional throughout the disaster. Even when financial issues were revealed at the end and volunteers stayed because they didn’t know what to do.

    While I’ve heard that pizza arrived on Saturday at some point (more poor planning). That McDonald’s run saved my soul!

  7. I was the DJ for the Convention all weekend, worked 3 full days for them and didn’t see any of the rest of the money I was owed under contract…In the process of suing Jaymie right now. Watch out for people like this, hopefully Karma comes back and does its job!

  8. I went to the Rewind Con on Saturday. The celebrities were wonderful. So nice, so sweet with that said it was horrible. No one knew what was going on – if you asked a question you got attitude. I paid for pics with three celebrities. There was NO organization. I had a pic with Luke Perry and Jason Priestly. We waited in line for the pic with Jason for two hours. They had three different photo ops all lined up together it was insane. When I had an issue the person working the con kept saying this is our first year give us a break.

    I am not surprised they went under they had no clue what so ever how to run something like this professionally and then the worker actually blamed the celebrities – saying they were new to this so they took a long lunch. I am thankful I got my photos – I actually had to go back on Sunday to get them. This is an example of how not to do things.

Comments are closed.

Exit mobile version