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Hollywood Xpo, or What Are 'Heroes' Doing at My Hotel?
October 17, 2010  | By Bill Brioux
 

Set phasers for stun! That's what it felt like to wander into the convention lobby at Southern California's Universal Hilton this weekend and discover it was the home of something called Hollywood Xpo.

The Hilton, parked next to Hollywood's Universal Studios, has been home to TCA press tours in the past and worked as a base of operations for my quick tour last week through a few of the studios in the Burbank area. I'd never heard of Hollywood Xpo, which ran Friday-Sunday at the Universal Hilton, but they had a crazy little lineup of guest stars, 100 by their tally.

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Marvel Comics founder Stan Lee was comin' atcha Saturday. You could pay your $30 and get wristbanded into a Q&A session with Stan the Man. Several original Star Trek actors also beamed aboard, including Walter Koenig, who hosted something called "Stars Night Out." This deal included a dinner with Koenig and -- get this -- second man on the moon Buzz Aldrin! (This guy will go to the opening of an envelope.) Koenig's Star Trek colleague Nichelle Nichols was also working Hollywood Xpo. A table stacked with her DVD was conveniently placed near the door of the dealers' room.

Nowhere near this thing: Shatner. He's still working.

Because the original Trekkers are dropping off, even sons of Star Trek were boldly going to this thing. Eugene "Rod" Roddenberry, son of the creator of the series and Majel Barrett, was booked for the Xpo.

There was also something called a "Star Trek: Of Gods and Men" reunion. Koenig, Nichols and a few various Star Trek series stars, including Alan Ruck, Grace Lee Whitney and Tim Russ, were also beaming down. ST: The Next Generation dudes Jonathan Frakes and Michael Dorn were likewise in on the celebrity cash grab.

The "stars" were not all from Star Trek or even sci-fi. Elvira: Mistress of the Dark, who is 70 now, was haunting the Saturday show. Everybody from Laraine Newman (original Saturday Night Live cast) and Erin Moran (Happy Days) to Kevin Sorbo (Hercules) and Catherine Hicks (7th Heaven) also apparently need your cash.

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The list goes on: Billy Mumy, Mark Goddard and June Lockhart (Lost in Space) were here. Even a bunch of Ferris Bueller folk -- Edie McClurg and Cindy Pickett. For those with longer memories, Stan Livingston (My Three Sons) was in the house.

Beyond the celebs, there were tons of Q&As and panels scheduled, as well as photo ops and dealer goodies. There was even a "Monster Mash" costume party and contest.

I've trolled the Hollywood collectors shows that have been housed in the San Fernando Valley several times over the past 15 years or so, and this Hollywood Xpo list is quite comparable. In past shows, some stars confided to me that they accepted invitations to these things basically for grocery money, taking the cash they got from signing autographs at tables inside the convention and heading straight to Trader Joe's or Ralph's.

Money can't be a problem for Stan Lee, but quite a few of these folks haven't worked in awhile. And as long as there are people willing to truck in from Van Nuys, Brampton and beyond to see their old TV favorites, these shows will boldly go on for who knows how long. One conventioneer seemed jazzed that Susan Olsen from The Brady Bunch was in the house. Jiminy -- she didn't even make that Christmas reunion back in the '80s.

More surprising was this name on the list: Tim Kring, the executive producer behind what was the hottest show on television four years ago, Heroes. I stuck my head in Friday's Heroes reunion Q&A session, where Jack Coleman and Nichelle Nichols were also in attendance. There were about as many people in the cavernous banquet room as on the panel.

That's television. One minute, you're a Hero. The next, you're signing autographs two tables over from Elvira and Buzz Aldrin.

One small step away from celebrity, one giant leap into Ballroom C of the Universal Hilton.

 
 
 
 
 
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