It appears that JumpCon is headed for the same kind of meltdown as FedCon USA, but on an even larger scale. JumpCon promoted itself as a new kind of experience with a line up of over a hundred Sci-Fi stars (including many Trek celebrities) to appear at over a dozen different cities during the Summer and Fall. However, TrekMovie has learned their first stop (in Boston) this weekend may be cancelled and that future JumpCons are also in serious doubt.
For months there have been questions in the convention community about whether or not this ambitious project could actually get off the ground. JumpCon was a new company and yet their plan called for the con to ‘jump’ from city to city with an aggressive line up of stars. Each city would have a different line-up but many stars would appear over multiple weekends. The guests included nine Trek series regulars including Conner Trinneer and Nichelle Nichols as well as over a dozen more Trek guest stars. In addition to the Trek stars, other big sci-fi celebs for JumpCon include Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell (from Battlestar Galactica), Kevin Sorbo (Hercules, Andromeda), Claudia Christian (Babylon 5) and many many more.
Stars not planning on going
JumpCon has already cancelled their first two small events and was putting all their chips on a big event this weekend in Boston. Olmos and McDonnell headline the sci-fi stars for Boston, with a Trek celeb line-up that included Trek stars Nichelle Nichols, Robert Picardo, John Billingsley, Conner Trinneer, Jeffrey Combs, and many more. However TrekMovie has spoken directly to all of those celebrities or their representatives and as of now none plan on attending the convention in Boston (or any future JumpCon). All tell the same story, which is that the convention organizers have not met their contractual obligations and problems have persisted for months. Billingsley tells TrekMovie that as of last Friday he had enough and asked them to remove his name from the website (which they did). Last week Bob Picardo announced on his website that he may not go due to the contractual problems which led to JumpCon removing him as well (even though he tells TrekMovie he would like to go if JumpCon just fulfilled their agreement). All of the other guests are still hoping to attend, and are willing to go if JumpCon would just meet their obligations (deposits, tickets, hotel rooms, etc.). The representative for Olmos and McDonnell tells TrekMovie they still very much want to go and have bent over backwards to try and ensure that the fans do not get hurt.
Organizer admits financial trouble
TrekMovie spoke to first time convention organizer Shane Senter, the man behind JumpCon, who admitted that they have had financial problems. Senter actually tried to lay the blame on FedCon USA, saying that one of his sponsors backed out after that convention went under. However this was contradicted by others who tell TrekMovie problems started well before FedCon USA. On Monday night Senter said that he was still holding out hope that a new financial backer would provide the funding needed to pay all of the celebrities and that a deal would come through Tuesday morning. "We are trying to do everything we can to get this resolved, I am just waiting for one phone call," said Senter. However as of Tuesday morning Senter was still waiting and did not sound optimistic, noting, "I am not giving up until I have exhausted every last resource I have, and I am almost on that point." Senter hopes that the situation will be resolved one way or the other some time today, however after delaying for so long many of the celebrity guests are getting concerned about fans getting hurt and more and more are likely to make announcements shortly on their own websites that they will not be attending.
Do they even have the hall booked?
The Boston convention is supposed to be held at the Sheraton Hotel in Boston. Senter assures TrekMovie that they have secured the room and paid for it. However a spokesperson for the Sheraton would not confirm this and stated for now they had "no comment" regarding JumpCon. The Sheraton spokesperson did say that they would get back to TrekMovie to provide more details, we will provide an update if and when that happens.
Unclear if fans will get refunds
Senter tells TrekMovie they had sold 500 tickets for the Boston event (and many more for future events). He said their policy would be to provide full refunds within 14 days to anyone who requests one, but when pressed he admitted that "as of this moment" they did not have the funds to provide the refunds. Senter stated that the funding he is seeking now is for both paying celebrities and dealing with potential refunds. He also admitted that if the Boston convention does get canceled he would likely have to cancel the remaining JumpCons, saying "who would buy from me after this?"
TrekMovie.com will continue to monitor this breaking story and will provide updates as more information comes to light.
UPDATE: Boston JumpCon Cancelled
Shortly after TrekMovie published this article, JumpCon made it official and cancelled the Boston event. In the statement on the JumpCon site, Senter states:
I regret to announce the cancellation of our Boston event. Many factors that needed to come together to make it happen simply did not. We tried everything humanly possible and were unable to overcome the insurmountable obstacles. This is not to say that I don’t take the blame myself, I do. I wanted to see this succeed so badly that I was blinded to some warning signs that should have been obvious. If I have learned anything through this process it’s that running a convention business is far more intricate and fraught with peril than it seemed at the outset. I fully apologize to all the fans who’ve been inconvenienced by this late announcement and assure them that we’re in the process of getting you all refunds.
UPDATE 2: Comment From Star Rep
Erin Gray, who represents Olmos, McDonnell, Nichols and others has sent TrekMovie the following statement on behalf of her clients:
It is with great disappointment, and deep regret that they find themselves in this unthinkable position of announcing that they just don’t see how Jump Con is going to happen. For weeks all of my clients done everything in their power to accommodate Shane Senter at Jump Con, from renegotiating contracts to extending deadlines, all in the hopes of salvaging the Jump Con events. They were looking forward to attending and meeting the fans. However, at this late date, no moneys have transpired and no tickets have been sent. Unless this changes they will not be attending. Although we were in constant communication with Jump Con, and many promises and assures were made, unfortunately, none were kept. Certainly by now, three days before the event, we’d hoped and prayed things would be rectified.
We just don’t feel it’s fair to the fans to keep silent and not let them know what has transpired, or rather not transpired. It’s unfortunate but Jump Con events were the only events in the US that Mary and Edward were scheduled to do this year. Edward and Mary trust the future will provide the perfect event where they can meet with fans and friends and thank them for their support. We are currently looking at other alternatives.
We send our blessings, and apologies,
A final note: Don’t let this sour you on conventions
Although 2008 has two new high profile conventions run into trouble, that should not dissuade people from continuing to attend conventions. As pointed out by John Tenuto in his recent “Conventional Wisdom” column, these kinds of problems are actually quite rare. There are many trusted conventions that people should not worry about, like Dragon Con and the official Trek conventions from Creation. As advised in that column, for new conventions, fans should do some research before buying tickets in advance.