This morning in Dallas, Texas, shortly after the start of the second day of the first ever FedCon USA, the show was cancelled. At 11:14 AM (Central Time), after the first Saturday guest (John Billingsley) finished his appearance, the show MC came out on stage announced that the convention was closed due to poor attendance.
This morning the second day of Fedcon USA started off with John Billingsley (Phlox – Star Trek Enterprise) and his wife Bonita Freidericy (who guested on Enterprise) entertaining the crowd with thoughts and anecdotes on Star Trek Enterprise as well as jokes about Billingsley’s Enterprise cast mates. As their appearance was finishing up with Q&A, FedCon USA MC Richard Anderson came on stage and told the crowd “we have no choice but to cancel the remainder of the event." Billingsley and Friedericy stayed on stage after Anderson’s announcement and vowed to "stay until all questions are answered."
Anderson cited the lower-than-expected attendance, saying organizers "were hoping for people to show up" and again repeated "we have no choice." When asked if they would finish up with the planned guests for Saturday, Anderson said "It’s over as of 10 minutes ago." Anderson did say that convention goers would get a full refund. Those who bought their tickets at the event were able to get their refunds immediately but those who bought in advance were told they would get refunds "at a later date." Anderson noted that FedCon USA organizer and founder of Trek United Tim Brazeal (who was not at the event due to illness) would "go into personal debt" to pay back all attendees.
As of noon Saturday the main hall and the dealers room have been closed, but the autograph room remains open (and will stay open until 4PM). Some of the guests including Connor Trinneer (Trip Tucker – Enterprise), JG Hertzler (Martok – DS9) and Robert O’Reilly (Gowron – TNG & DS9) are in the autograph room signing for the fans. Hertzler and O’Reilly are in costume.
O’Reilly and Hertzler in the Autograph Room Saturday
(with Mary Czerwinski of DVD Geeks)
FedCon USA is no FedCon Germany
FedCon Germany is known for putting together some of the best organized and largest conventions in the world, but apparently this event was ‘FedCon’ in name only. Billingsley told the crowd "this has nothing to do with FedCon Germany…I think that was frankly somewhat misleading." Anderson informed the crowd that FedCon Germany, who had licensed the name to Brazeal "pulled out in January." Friedericy apologized to the audience saying "I’m so sorry, so sorry for you all." Mark B. Lee of FedCon Germany has written a statement on the FedCon USA Board noting how FedCon Germany discontinued their association with FedCon USA back in January.
Autograph Room at FedCon USA Saturday
Friday: Relaxed start – first signs of trouble
Friday night FedCon USA started off with a relaxed party atmosphere. Attendees mingled with celebrity guests like Connor Trinneer, Garrett Wang, J. G. Hertzler, and Menina Fortunato. The intimate setting allowed everyone to relax and interact on a level that is rare at conventions. The opening ceremonies were highlighted by an appearance of stormtroopers from the local 501st legion, and John Billingsley jumped in as ringleader, crashing the other introductions and pouring drinks for everyone on stage. Late at night, one cast entertained with a live "Rocky Horror" in the main convention room while Billingsley and his wife Bonita serenaded and danced with the crowds at a separate party. However, the first signs of trouble were also evident Friday night, with some of the ‘confirmed’ guests not showing up, including Anthony Montgomery (Travis Mayweather – Enterprise), Aaron Douglas and James Callis (Chief Tyrol and Gaius Baltar on the new Battlestar Galactica).
You can actually read comments directly from Douglas about the reasons he did not show up on the FedCon USA Forum. Douglas cites how the con never came through with promised plane tickets and makes it clear that he and Callis are not happy with Brazeal and the FedCon USA organizers and apologizes to the fans.
Friday night at FedCon USA
UPDATE: FedCon spokesman explains what happened
Chuck Ballard, Tim Brazeals’s son and on-site organizer and spokesperson talked to TrekMovie.com about the demise of FedCon USA.
Interview was conducted by DVD Geek’s Mary Czerwinski (aka ‘TeleVixon’), reporting from FedCon for TrekMovie.com.
TrekMovie.com: Where was the breakdown?
Chuck Ballard: I don’t think we were too ambitious. The biggest matter was disorganization. Tim is very smart, but we were spread thin, and some areas didn’t get covered.
TrekMovie: When was the decision made and was it your decision to close the convention?
Chuck Ballard: Yes, this was my decision…Last night, I was going to call it, but the hotel wanted to work with me to keep it open. We ran some numbers last night, and [the hotel’s] administrative staff were trying to make it work. This morning it fell apart. If I try to keep carrying this on, it’s going to hurt more people – not so much the fans, but the talent. John (Billingsley) has really stepped up to bat.
TrekMovie: Does Tim [Brazeal] know you cancelled it?
Ballard: At this point, he knows. Tim knows he’s the fall guy and a lot of people are going to hate him, and I feel for him. I’ll try to help him as much as I can.
TrekMovie: There are rumors that a lot actors didn’t get their plane tickets in advance and that is why they are not here?
Ballard: A lot of the actors had to cancel. I think [the talent coordinators] just waited to book the flight until they have confirmation. You never know. A week or a month before they may have to pull out.
TrekMovie: Have they been compensated for their time – are they getting their rate or a reduced rate?
Ballard: Everyone as much as possible. Not everyone has gotten paid.
TrekMovie: Can you resurrect this con–what about the future?
Ballard: As for other conventions, Tim’s done.
That says it all
John Champion is reporting from FedCon for TrekMovie.com and DVD Geeks. DVD Geeks (which John produces) is a fan-oriented DVD review and commentary show on the America One Television Network. For more information check out DVDGeeks.TV