King Con

Call it loyalty. Call it devotion. Call it complete insanity, but every year thousands of fans flock to California to attend Creation's Official Hercules and Xena Convention, and this year was no exception. 'The Big One' was held in Pasadena over the weekend of the 21st - 23rd of January 2000 and saw a whole host of stars from both Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess, as well as cast of the new show Cleopatra 2525.

There was the usual guest talks and signings, music videos and presentations, competitions and auctions and now a full part of the convention on a regular basis are the celebrity breakfasts and cabarets, where the guests have a chance to show off some of their other talents. And if that wasn't enough the weekend included the Back 2 Back Action Pack premieres of Jack Of All Trades and Cleopatra 2525.

Friday got under way with Tim Omundson, better known as the teacher in the way of love Eli. Bereft of his long dark locks and beard Tim told everybody of the first time that he met Lucy Lawless and Renee O'Connor - they both ignored him! Later he discovered that the two actresses were put up to it by none other than Ted Raimi, who Tim worked with during SeaQuest DSV.

Tim was followed by the premiere of Jack Of All Trades; one of the replacement shows for Hercules. The show gives Bruce Campbell the lead as Jack and the chance to dazzle us with his particular brand of humour that we have come to love in his other roles with Renaissance. He is joined by Emilia Rothschild (Angela Dotchin) who with her own style of wit ensures that this volatile relationship will keep the show fresh and entertaining.<< (Paragraph removed in final publication. Wasn't sure whether that was because my insincerity showed through, or because the show really did suck!)

Finishing up the day was a very enthusiastic Danielle Cormack who greeted the audience in at least a dozen languages before singing a song about Ephiny (with very dubious lyrics) and staging her death sequence the way she would have liked to have seen it. Danielle also gave a sneak preview of what to expect of her new character Rainer in the Cleopatra 2525 episode Mind Games.

Saturday came and brought with it Joel Tobeck (Strife), Meighan Desmond (Discord) and Jeremy Callaghan (Pompey). Joel, no stranger to the convention circuit, proved once again how different he is to his onscreen persona, but can become Strife in an instant should the need arise. Meanwhile Meighan, appearing for her first time, fielded the audience's questions with ease and much more patience than Discord ever could. Jeremy, also making his debut, showed a completely different side to the usual arrogance of his character Pompey, answering questions with thoughtful responses and marvelling over the joys of his new found fatherhood.

Then came one of the highlights of the weekend, the first episode of Cleopatra 2525 followed by a guest talk with the actresses Gina Torres (Hel), Victoria Pratt (Sarge) and Jennifer Sky (Cleopatra). All three were happy to talk about their new roles as well as their previous outings into the land of Hercules and Xena as Nebula (Torres), Cyane (Pratt) and Amarice (Sky). They've promised to deliver the goods in the butt-kicking, bravado and subtext departments, so watch the show and see if they do.

Then came the long awaited arrival of Ares, the God of War himself Kevin Smith. Stepping onto the stage for the loudest cheer of the weekend proved how popular the character is in both shows, and a loveable rogue as well. Answering each question with great care and finishing with a 'cheers mate', Kevin even took time to sign some of his responses for the members of the audience who were hard of hearing.

Sunday kicked off with convention veteran Rob Field. As editor Rob has access to all those 'never to see the light of day' show reels, including bloopers and deleted scenes, plus some examples of how they edit together the more ambitious sequences, like the Xena and Alti skeleton fight from the episode Them Bones, Them Bones.

Then all making their first convention appearances were Ebonie Smith, Willa O'Neill and Alison Wall. Ebonie reminisced about her time playing M'Lila and encouraged the audience to request that the character be brought back into the show. While Willa talked of her numerous roles with both shows, including Gabrielle's younger sister Lila, and of her stage career and the theatre company that she works very closely with. Alison proved quite a surprise as she took to the stage with blonde hair; a stark contrast to Minya's dark hair but the bubbly personality was just the same as she warned aspiring actors about the perils of acting with goats!

Friday and Saturday evenings were reserved for the celebrity cabarets. Friday night featured Tim, Danielle, Joel and Kevin Smith backed by The Bards Band, the Cosmic Orchestra and Solstice, they performed some fantastic covers of rock classics including 'Bad To The Bone'. Meanwhile Saturday had Ebonie, Willa, Gina, Jeremy, Kevin Smith and Michael Hurst joining the bands with Claire Stansfield (Alti) as mistress of ceremonies. A real crowd pleaser had to be Ebonie's alternate lyrics to 'Fever', "Xena had a friend named Gabrielle…" I think you can guess the rest.

For anyone wishing to own a piece of Xena or Gabrielle then the auction was the place to be. Following on the heels of the Chakram and sword, auctioned in previous years, was Xena's boot dagger and Gabrielle's fighting staff, and it could have been yours for a mere $8000.

And for the finale, it was a chance for fans to say a fond farewell to Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. Both Kevin Sorbo and Michael Hurst turned up to mark the occasion and were greeted by a standing ovation. They shared some of their favourite memories and their final moments of the show in true Hercules and Iolaus style, side by side to the end.

A weekend of great entertainment. What more could you ask for? Well if the welcome video that they sent to the convention was anything to go by then Lucy Lawless and Renee O'Connor would be my guess!